First of all, I’m sorry for the premature post from yesterday. I hit the wrong button and unfortunately there is no take back on emailing the follower list. I’ll be more careful in the future and thanks for those that emailed me to let me know. I couldn’t email you back immediately because of the post status…sorry again. Anyway, it continued raining for 11 straight days and finally on the 12th morning, the sun came out. I personally have never experienced that many days of straight rain and I can’t tell you how glad I am for the sun. One positive thing that came out of the experience is that we seem to have found a partial solution to the rain noise on the slide-out. We went to the hardware store looking for rubber mats used to line tool chest drawers, and instead I found a Wenzel Portable Folding Mat that is commonly used at the beach or on the floor of a tent. They cost $12, are 60 x 78 (fits perfectly on our slide-out, folded in half) and is made out of a woven mildew resistant material. They’re very similar to what most people use as an outdoor mat under their awning, but the material is thicker. Since it was much cheaper than the rubber lining we thought we would give it a try. It does significantly dampen the sound during the rain. Lee has a decibel meter on his phone, and the slide-out with the mat on top was more than 10 decibels lower than the slide-out without. Plus, the mats do more than one thing! We can also use them for picnics or days at the beach, etc. They fold up into a pretty small package and even have a carrying handle. I don’t know how long it will hold up, or how often we will actually use them but for right now I am a fan.
The rain also gave us lots of time to talk and work on some things. We have been having a problem with our sink. It’s an under-mounted sink, and the clips that hold it to the counter top are screwed into the cabinet wood around it. However, the two strips of wood that go across the back side of the sink is not part of the cabinetry, it’s just glued to the bottom of the countertop. The glue holding one of the wood pieces under the counter is failing, so the sink dropped just enough to break the silicon seal that goes around the edge between the sink and the counter. So water seeped in and caused more of the silicon to come loose, and the sink to drop even further down. Lee’s original idea was to just take it out and mount it from above so it rested on the counter instead of hanging underneath, but no surprise, the hole in the counter top doesn’t allow for that. RV fixes are always more complicated than you originally think so when you decide to work on a big project, you really need to think it through. Will you be in one place for several days? Can parts can be mailed to you since rarely are the parts available at local hardware stores? Can you easily run to a hardware store and grab other parts and materials? Since we have a solid mail solution and are familiar with the area here we decided it would be better to take care of it here than in Monterrey, where we want to spend time with our daughter. Or Pasadena during the Rose Parade events. Or wait until mid-January and risk it getting worse.
While Lee was figuring that out, I was looking for a summer job for us. The posting for many summer 2016 jobs actually come out in December and many of the more desirable positions get filled early. Originally we were fully committed to Alaska, but after looking at all the options available now nothing seems quite right. We need to make enough to cover our monthly expenses or we will have to eat into savings. The jobs with flexibility in schedule don’t pay very well and the jobs that do pay well require 40 plus hours worth of work leaving little time to explore. When I expanded the search nationally it seemed that most of the jobs seem to fall into these two categories. More importantly almost all of them require an entire season commitment. It’s one thing to sign up for a job that’s less than optimal for a short period of time, but making a bad decision for an entire summer is much more serious. If you are a person who can easily walk away from a commitment, that’s less of an issue. Sign up, check it out, and if it’s not working, leave. But as I discussed in my previous post I am not 100% comfortable with that. Plus it’s not just my requirements. Lee and I bring two different sets of desires to any job situation so it needs to at least be a partial fit for both of us. And it’s further complicated by the fact that since we are still new to work kamping we think we know what matters but there is no way we can be totally sure.
With all this stuff swirling around in my head I got a little overwhelmed. So many choices, so many unknowns, I got nervous about making a decision of any kind. And maybe we shouldn’t. My possible consulting jobs aren’t available this early nor are Lee’s possible onsite video jobs. Maybe we shouldn’t commit to anything until we are closer to the dates. But if we wait could we lose out on a terrific summer opportunity. Not to mention without a commitment things would be very ambiguous for the next several months and I although I am getting better dealing with ambiguity it has never been a strong suit of mine. These situations are where having a “take what comes” personality are a huge advantage, and I am so jealous of those people in moments like these. But if nothing else I have to be honest with myself about who I am at this moment and those feelings have to be factored in. So Lee and I sat outside in the sun, by a nice fire, this morning and I talked it through with him. As a side note, we have gotten so good at talking about things objectively and being there for each other without letting the situation make us feel like we have failed. We couldn’t manage that in 25 years in a sticks and bricks but one year on the road has accomplished it ….yay us!! After talking it through we put together a rough priority list that we could both live with. It’s not perfect and certainly doesn’t encompass everything, but it should give us basic framework to make the decision.
- How much we make. Making a ton of money is not the most important consideration. If it was we might as well go back to our regular jobs. It’s all about maintaining enough money in the account to sustain the lifestyle. Sometimes we will make a little less, sometimes a little more, and sometimes we may need to take less than optimal jobs to put money back in the kitty. That being said, for us, it has to be front and center to the conversation because we can’t sustain this lifestyle if we don’t make enough to pay our way.
- Where is the job. A beautiful place is not enough. I always thought it was. “Give me a shack with a view” was one of my favorite sayings. But weather, cost, crowds, the nature of the work, access to cell/internet etc can all make a beautiful place not so beautiful. The Redwoods for example are amazing, but not so much after 11 days of rain. Where the job is ranks second because beautiful scenery and places to explore are one of the major benefits of being full timers. And it doesn’t have to be knock your socks off beautiful either. We have found wonderful things to do in almost every place we have been. But we have to think about what a place would look like for a long-term gig.
- Who are we working for We are absolutely unwilling to be treated poorly. We have experienced plenty of that already in our lives and although we have no expectation of being catered to in any way we are also not willing to tolerate nastiness. Some people couldn’t care less about this. It truly rolls off their backs, and more power to you, but neither of us is interested. This is a tough one, because you can’t really know until you get into the position. A phone interview helps and if you are lucky you can talk to someone who has worked there, but this could definitely change everything.
- What we will be doing I thought I could do anything for the perfect place to stay and to some extent that is true, but for longer stints what I will be doing matters more. This may change with experience and age, but for right now and especially for a 5-6 month commitment, I want to work in a place where some of my skills will be utilized. I understand that some places are just looking for bodies to fill slots and I respect that, but the perfect position would be one that would be fun and challenging. This is where I think the fact that we aren’t retired hurts us. Some folks had plenty of stress and challenge in their working life and are more than content to just do what they are asked and no more, but that’s really not in my nature. At least not yet. However, if the before mentioned three items are all really good, I think I could handle it.
- How long will we be doing it We like doing short term contracts and when we envisioned this lifestyle it was with the thought that we would work short stints and then move on. All of the items above are much easier to handle if its for a short period of time. Anything is, really, but there are a lot less short term jobs than we thought and most of those have either been 100% volunteer or filling in last minute for another employee. The downside to volunteering of course is no money and the downside to filling in is the stress (for me) that comes with not having a position and the related travel plans locked in. Plus, many of the really cool jobs require longer stints and they can because they are in high demand. I totally understand employers wanting to fill blocks of time. On-boarding and training people is costly and time consuming and minimizing those events is just good business. It does put the work kamper in a tougher decision making position though.
So that’s our framework and priority. It’s amazing how long it took me to verbalize all of that, but that’s what happens when things are rattling around in your head. Now using this we need to gather more information about the jobs. That will involve internet research, phone interviews, and lots of communication with each other. I am surprised by how hesitant I am about the phone interviews. One of the downsides of having the same job for 15 years is you’re not very good at calling potential employers. I give my friend Kelly huge credit for just picking up the phone and talking to people. I wish I was more like that, and I definitely need to get out of my comfort zone and start making some of these calls. I’m hoping that with the framework in mind it will be easier to get the information I need and if not, well, we don’t have to do anything. Luckily we have some time to figure things out and I would rather deal with the ambiguity than be pressured into making a bad decision.
I will let you know how it turns out and since it is once again raining I should have plenty of time to work on it.
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