Here are last week’s figures, and as you can see, it was another really nice week. If it hasn’t become clear, this job really suits us when the pace is reasonable and we have lots of free free time. Now that we know the spikes in traffic are temporary, and there are more light days than heavy days, we both think it’s a good choice for future winter months. There aren’t many work kamping jobs in the winter that pay well, so this (for us) is a good choice. It’s especially good if you have an additional means of earning revenue while you are taking the job, or projects/hobbies that you want to devote time to. We have more than covered our costs, and had the opportunity to get lots of other work done. For us it’s definitely been a good deal and aside from camp hosting our favorite work-kamping jobs we have done thus far. (It improves significantly if the rate goes up. Two years ago I was seeing blogs where people were routinely making $200-$250 per day, but the drop in oil prices changed that. Most of them are $150-$175 per day now, but yesterday I saw one listed at $250 per day, so hopefully things are on the upswing, and next winter we can do the same thing for twice as much money. – Lee)
I did want to mention that although we are on the lookout for rattlesnakes we haven’t seen any. One of the guys working on the site said he killed a baby a couple of days ago and that gave us pause. The young rattlesnakes are far more dangerous because they cannot control the amount of venom that comes out and so they are actually more deadly. Our water guy came today and he had a pair of really cool boots on and when I complimented him he said they were snake boots. They look like cowboy boots, but the top part is two layers of heavy canvas with an absorbent pad between them. If you git hit by a snake, the pad absorbs the venom, which is a pretty amazing invention. Very cool, but not so good when I found out they had to be thrown away after one bite. Apparently the venom could get in the lining and if the boots were wet and you had an abrasion the venom could get into your body and make you sick. Serious business. (Still, I would rather but another $300 pair of snake boots than spend between $10,000 and $150,000 to treat the snakebite. In case you’re interested, in my mind, the worst day imaginable is to be chased, by a bear, into a rattlesnake. – Lee)
On a completely different note, I also had my much anticipated Facetime conference with my favorite author Michelle Sagara West. There were three main reasons I wanted to have this call. First, to thank her for how much her books have meant to me. Second, to see what she was like in person, and third (and foremost) to ask her about her writing process. Since she lives in Toronto, Canada she was not very familiar with the full time RV lifestyle, so we didn’t talk much about it, but I did tell her the story of how when we were downsizing I was so upset about losing my library of her books and how Lee found space for them in the RV. Of all the books in my library, which included books I had kept from childhood, I chose hers to take with me, and I even showed her where they were in the cabinet so she could see I wasn’t kidding about that.
I have been an avid reader since I was 5 years old, and since I was an only child for the first 12 years of my life, and socially awkward, books were my solace. Even after I developed more outside activities, I maintained my love of reading and have easily read a few thousand books in my lifetime. In that context, it is no small thing for me to consider her my favorite author. It’s hard to communicate that though, without coming across as a total “fan girl”, so I used that story as a way of showing her how much her work meant to me. We left that topic quickly enough and I went through my list of questions about her process. She was extremely generous with her time (the 30 minute call ended up being 90 minutes) and she answered all of my questions, and then some. We also got to talk about characters in her books and a couple of times when she quoted them I actually got chills. Nothing quite like hearing about character motivation from the person who created the character. Extraordinary.
Towards the end I felt comfortable enough to talk a little bit about the writing I have done in this blog and my attempts at writing non-fiction, which was not something I thought I would be doing. It was always my intent to try my hand at fiction writing once we went full time, and I was a little concerned that my foray into the nonfiction world might make that more difficult. Actually she seemed very interested in that and talked quite a bit about how the skills I had learned and the “voice” I had found writing the blog would serve me in the fiction world as well. As Michelle said, “Fantasy books may not be real but they are true,” and that comment really spoke to me. The last 2-1/2 years of writing this blog has allowed me to find my voice, but it has also taught me how to tell my version of the truth. It didn’t happen overnight, but my favorite posts, and generally the ones people seem to respond to the most, are always extremely truthful, and often about a painful event. If I had jumped right in and just started writing a fantasy novel I don’t think it would have been nearly as good without the experience and feedback I have gained here.
It truly was a once in a lifetime experience and I am so glad that I had it. As usual a series of “random” occurrences led to me having the experience at all and as usual I believe those occurrences, rather than being random, actually led me here. Perfect experience at the perfect time and I know it will stay with me forever. Who could have imagined I would have it living in an RV at the end of a long, dusty Texas farm road while gate guarding. Amazing world we live in.
We received a phone call from our coordinator this morning and she said she found our replacement and they will be here March 30th, a full day earlier than we expected! The way this will work is we will transfer our iPads, paperwork, vests, and sensors to them and then give them a little training. Since the couple have gate guarded before, that will mainly be around the computer portion, but they can certainly use paper (like we did) until they get comfortable. The only thing that might be a little challenging is the physical swap out of rigs. There is plenty of room beyond the gate we can use, but the section we are in is pretty small. Plus there is the disconnecting and reconnecting of power, sewer, and water and that all will take a little time. We are very excited to get that extra day, though and when I went and checked the campground where our friends will be at they actually had one opening during that time period. So we went ahead and booked it (since it’s a weekend) and if we don’t make it the first day we will just eat the $20. Now we have 7 full days left and we had better get cracking.
That’s what I meant by time gets away from you when you are not in travel mode. It feels like you have all the time in the world and you don’t want to start prepping too soon, but if you leave too many things undone it can cause unnecessary stress on moving day. Thankfully we are stocked up on food, the taxes will be completely taken care of on Friday, and I finally decided on a book solution for the next round of recipes. I enjoy trying new recipes, so I have several I have collected, but they are sitting on the desk because I didn’t have a program to put them in. Last night I was finally able to find a free Adobe InDesign template and downloaded it to play around a little. That program is NOT easy, and although we have the tutorials, I am really just not interested in the amount of work it would take me to get up to speed. Plus there are rules around templates and fonts for publishing that are complicated and I read some stuff about how much work putting something into an eBook ready format can take. It’s a huge undertaking and since Blurb does all that for me, I am just not ready to go down that path at this point. At least not for the recipe book format. I also learned that some of the things I don’t like about Kindle Publishing are going to exist regardless of what program I use to create the material, so long story short, for me, at this point I am going to stick with what works. The major downside of course is the inability to do revisions without paying $4.99 a pop, so I will just be very careful that I don’t need any.
The main reason I have made this decision is it is not lost on me that very soon I will have a significantly reduced amount of free time. That is a good thing, we want to be out there living our life, but I will still need to squeeze time to write the blog, process what I hope with be tons of pictures, and write the memoir I am working on. Those activities alone could easily be 3-4 hours a day if I let them. It’s times like these though that I am really grateful I write this blog. Believe it or not, I tend to be a bit of a homebody and even though we live in a rolling home the desire to just sit and veg is still sometimes very strong. Being in a beautiful place with things to do counteracts that feeling, but some days the desire to have something interesting to blog about really motivates me to get my butt off the couch and go out and do things. Just because you live in a home on wheels doesn’t mean you don’t feel like a slacker some days. The pace of travel can sometimes make going anywhere less desirable, for me at least. My love of photography and the fun of writing about the cool places really does motivate me in those cases. Plus we will be with our friends Deb and Steve and Deb is all about seeing what’s over the next hill. Her enthusiasm is contagious, if a little exhausting, and I know she won’t stand for me being a total sloth when we are with them. Love ya Deb!
I have been trying to slowly change my sleep schedule in preparation for leaving and that is working out pretty well. We have had zero traffic after 1am and that traffic has been of the wrong gate variety. Once the workover crew left they took their sign with them, and we are back to getting several cars stopping because they are looking for the ranch down the road. I went to sleep at 3am a couple of days ago and last night at 2:30am. This morning I was wide awake around 9am and decided to get up in the hopes it would be easier to get to sleep earlier. This shift in sleeping patterns also necessitates less “free time” for both of us. We actually enjoy having some time apart (not that easy to accomplish in an RV) and I have no doubt there will be an adjustment period as we get used to being with each other again constantly.
It’s not so much being together as it is sharing resources. We do have a laptop which I can use, but both prefer the main computer and new and improved desk and as you know if you’ve been reading along sharing that resource is an ongoing source of tension. When we are in a place with a beautiful outside, things to do, and nice weather it’s less of an issue, because neither one of us wants to be on the computer, but when rain or conditions drive us inside the computer is our default entertainment. We have always had this issue even when we were young and it ultimately led to every person in our house having their own computer/desk area. And we did try to address this head on, but using the laptop at our kitchen table just isn’t as comfortable as the desk with the huge monitor. I know, these are first world problems, but that doesn’t make it any less real.
We also started our morning by talking about Amazon. We received our preliminary offer letters and are trying to decide what type of job we prefer. There are several to choose from and the information provided is somewhat limited. Disclaimer: I am not a spokesperson or officially affiliated with Amazon in any way. This is just what I have found to be true in my experience. It is truthful to the best of my knowledge, but any of it could change at any point with or without warning, please keep that in mind. These are very physical jobs and although we are relatively young and healthy we aren’t kids anymore. We are trying to pick the jobs that will hopefully go easiest on our “weak” areas. Not so easy with the information we have. We also have to fill out some paperwork, sign and scan it, and send a separate email with our preferences. Mid shift (which we wanted) does not appear to be on the list of choices, so I made a phone call to get some clarification. Waiting to hear back before we finalize.
As much as I am looking forward to trying another one of the common work kamping positions, I know enough now to be somewhat nervous about it. Thankfully our friends Kelly/Bill, Jim/Diana, and Linda/Steve have all done it, so I have people to talk to. For example, it’s possible not all jobs are the exact same shift. The Inbound jobs and the Outbound jobs are staggered by 1/2 hour so if Lee and I inadvertently chose one Inbound and one Outbound Job we would be onsite for extra time with no pay. Some people wouldn’t care, but for us this is kind of a big deal which means we need to select jobs in the same general category. None of that information was in the paperwork we received though, so I am trying to get clarification from our contact prior to making a final decision. Personally I hate when information like that is left out when you are making a decision. I know they are trying to simplify, but those types of things matter to some people. We also heard that weekend days have an additional pay differential over regular days. Again, that information was not included in the information we received, and since we really don’t care if we work weekends, that would be important to know. The point of all this is with any of these work kamping jobs, read other people’s accounts, talk to people who have done it if possible, and don’t assume all the pertinent information is provided. That has not been our experience in any of the many jobs we have done up to this point. For what it’s worth, I generally don’t think people are hiding information on purpose, they just aren’t that great at communicating or maybe they don’t understand the types of things that are important to mobile/seasonal workers.
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Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks You can preview the kindle version on Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes. It is also available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.