It has rained on and off for 9 straight days as of this posting. If I would have done more research, I would have realized that this is the norm in this area for this time of year, and actually we were extremely lucky to have such beautiful weather the first two weeks we are here. I also realize we could have it much, much worse. Our friends Jo and Ben are in Reno and they just got 8 inches of snow, Deb and Steve are with family and they are dealing with cold and snow, so definitely I will take the rain over those conditions any day. Kelly and Bill are working mandatory overtime at Amazon, five 10-hour days of labor intensive work. The rain is better than that, although they are doing well and in the home stretch. I tell myself these things to try to put the weather in perspective, but the rain is not great. It can start to be a bit like Chinese water torture with the constant drip-drip-drip. Sleeping at night has been tough for me, since the rain on the bedroom slide-out has been particularly loud and I have always been a light sleeper. Even when the rain stops, it’s still dripping under the trees, and although I got about 15 minutes of sun when I drove to Fortuna one day, other than that it has been constant gloom. And to be clear, part of me is like “boo-hoo, suck it up cupcake”, but the other part of me that envisioned an unrealistic life of constant travel and near perfect weather is a bit disgruntled. Part of the major appeal of this lifestyle is the ability to pick up and move on if things aren’t working out. That might be the number 1 reason Lee loves it so much. But the reality is although you can always leave theoretically, numerous factors can get in the way of that.
If we had not made this volunteer commitment we would absolutely be gone. Down to Monterrey, our next stop, a little early, and in the sunshine. With the rain the campground traffic has slowed to a crawl and if we asked I am sure they would release us early, but again, we made a commitment. In our old lives this would be a no-brainer. You are living in an area with people who know you and your reputation follows you. Now we are moving around and it is extremely unlikely we will ever see these people again. I like the Redwoods, and so glad we had the first two weeks, but I don’t think I would take another work kamping job here. Too dark for me, and not enough sky for Lee. Plus it is a volunteer position and doesn’t volunteer by its definition include choice?
There seems to be a spectrum for how people feel about leaving a work-kamping job. At one end of the spectrum are people who have given their word and will honor it no matter what. On the other end are people who feel that this whole lifestyle is about freedom and they always have a choice regardless of the circumstances. Most people’s comfort zone seems to fall somewhere in between and their attitude on the subject doesn’t always line up with how they behaved in their prior life. I know people who were 100% dedicated to their professions and wouldn’t have dreamed of not honoring a commitment who now feel completely different. I’ve talked to others who would stay and endure conditions that I certainly wouldn’t in order to do what they said they were going to do. Most people though seem to fall somewhere in the middle and the decision is very situational. Most people for example feel that if a work kamping job is not as advertised or the employer is not keeping their promise it is totally fine to move on. I feel that way and frankly for me that’s an easy one. When my employers in the past broke their agreements, I was being handsomely compensated and had a family depending on me, so I often accepted it. For work kamping the compensation is generally low and I no longer have children to support or a mortgage to pay. So under those circumstances I draw that line at being lied to or taken advantage of in any way. That’s my line, and like I said, a pretty easy one to establish for myself.
But where it gets tricky, at least for me, is when things aren’t so pleasant but it’s not on purpose. The weather is not good, the people are not nice, the workload is more than expected, and/or we run out of fun things to do in the area. In those circumstances the itchy feet start to kick in and the desire to move on is strong. In those circumstances, you get to decide whether to stay or go. There may be budget/campground availability considerations for early departure, but aside from that the only thing keeping you in place is whether or not to honor the commitment. By the way, most people don’t flat out say “I am leaving because I don’t like it here” to their employer. “Family emergencies” arise that give people an easy way out without a confrontation. But the reality of the choice they made still exists no matter what they tell the boss. And honestly I don’t know if this is something you could decide in advance without being in that position. You may think you are a person who would always stay or a person who would always leave, but who knows? All this freedom and choice can be heady stuff for those of us who had precious little of it in our previous lives. If you never had it you don’t know how you will react when you do.
For us thus far we have fallen back on “we can tolerate anything for short periods of time.” And this has largely been true when the length of our stays have all been under 10 weeks. What will that look like when the commitment is longer? I don’t know, and for that reason we have been trying to stay away from season-long commitments as much as possible. But looking ahead, in order to make enough money to afford this, that will likely be required. I know I want to be a person who always honors her commitments, but I also want to be a person who feels free and has choice. Those two statements right now feel like they are in direct contradiction with each other and it’s troubling. Still, for right now it’s only 7 more days and even if it rains every one of those (which I don’t think it will) I can handle it and that’s the immediate. The future will need to take care of itself for awhile.
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