Since last fall, we’ve been agonizing about which direction to explore this year. Our 2017 travels were centered around “necessities,” such as:
- attending rallies in Kansas, Indiana, and Tennessee
- emptying out the storage unit in Michigan and visiting friends & family
- getting our enhanced CPLs in South Dakota, and
- having work done on the truck and trailer in Kansas and Oklahoma.
While we certainly had some good times, this was not exactly the travel itinerary we’d been dreaming of.
Why head east?
Some folks have a theme, like visiting all of the National Parks or all the oddest roadside attractions. Or they travel to visit grandkids, or for a specific on-site job, or to hit festivals like Coachella or Quartzite gatherings. The USA is so vast, that without a central driving purpose I’ve been finding it tough to develop a plan.
We had planned to make 2018 the year we toured the east coast. Now, the east coast covers a LOT of territory, but without doing any research I could rattle off some of the places I’d heard of and wanted to visit:
- Assateague & Chincoteague. Wild natural places with real wild horses. #BlackBeauty
- Martha’s Vineyard. Ritzy upper-crust places I could gawk at all day long.
- Ocean City, Maryland. Atlantic City, NJ. Boardwalks and fried-stuff-on-a-stick.
- Bahstahn, Philly, Gettysburg, Salem, and all places historical. (Must.read.ALL.the.plaques.)
- Washington, D.C. I’ve been to DC at least 3 times but it was always to visit a friend, so I’ve never seen the monuments or the Smithsonian but I can navigate the Metro!
- Maine – Bar Harbor, Acadia NP, Portland. Natural beauty and OMG the lobstah rolls!
- In the south, I craved a return to Savannah and Charleston to show these beautiful cities to Shawn. I’d been to both on a women-only trip 8 years ago.
- At least 2 weeks in New York’s Finger Lakes region, to spend time with my family. Yup, I miss my mom, and my niece and nephew are growing up FAST.
My other reasons for heading east in 2018 were more practical. When we do head west, we’d like to be equipped with:
- a Jeep instead of a Juke for some serious off-roading 🙂
- at least some solar panels & more batteries for power when boondocking, and
- a means to transport fresh water and black tank goo on the truck (pumping it to/from the rig) instead of moving the trailer.
Each of these things requires a significant investment and we’re not quite ready to pull the trigger on any of them yet. There are other projects taking priority. And, as indicated by the point of this post, I’m not contributing to our income right now. So there’s that….
We had some serious concerns
My Instagram feed and blogroll are full of gorgeous photos of western sunsets, mountains, lakes, deserts, and canyons in all their glory. Where are the beautiful vistas of the American east?
Then there’s the community. It seems 95% of the folks we know or follow on social media will be in the west this year. Would we be lonely if we headed east?
We’ve also heard several times that parks in the east (especially New England) are expensive and small, and our rig wouldn’t fit. THAT would be a deal-breaker!
Decisions, decisions! I started flipping through the travel books, trying to validate my instinctive desire to head to the places mentioned above.
Thanks for sticking with me through this dialogue! We’re rounding the bend…
Since roughly Christmastime, I’ve been applying to various workamping jobs across the country. Workamping generally refers to living and working onsite at a campground, but also includes some specialized jobs like gate guarding, Amazon’s Camperforce, beet harvesting, and so on. If you’re interested to know more about these various types of workamping, Lee and Tracey over at Camper Chronicles have some great in-depth posts.
Workampers generally live at the site for free and may get a few other minor perks like free laundry or electricity. Private parks generally pay a nominal stipend for hours worked, while state and national parks do not offer pay. Some positions are full-time, others part-time. There’s a lot of variability in job descriptions, hours required, and other requirements.
I haven’t held a workamping position yet, but I’ve put a resume together that describes us, my skill set, and how I can fit into various roles at a campground. I scoured several sites dedicated to workamping, and spent a lot of time completing online applications and writing cover letters.
Unfortunately, I’ve got a few strikes against me.
- We absolutely must have a decent cellular signal for Shawn to do his work (and to keep me from going stir-crazy). That eliminates a LOT of state and national parks, and some rural private parks. I had a call back from a park in Idaho that sounded lovely — but no cell signal. Sigh.
- The size of our rig has eliminated some options.
- A lot of workamping work takes place on weekends. Well, weekends are Shawn’s only time off, so I need a couple weekends off each month so that we can take in the sights together.
As time passed, opportunities posted in Workamper News started to dwindle and I was resigned that I would need to start making reservations and find another means of producing income. Then, as luck would have it, I received TWO good offers at the same time!
The first was an aquaponics system manufacturer and training center in Wisconsin, about an hour from Milwaukee. This was exciting because it would be an educational opportunity, and the job only required 15 hours a week. We’d have lots of peace and quiet, with only a few workampers living on site (no campground).
The second position was in Maine, working the front desk at a medium-sized private campground. This position required 24 hours a week, and I’d get some great experience under my belt for the next job application.
Where are we going? Drum-roll, please!
We’re heading to Bangor, Maine!
I’m so excited. Acadia National Park is one of the destinations on my bucket list, and we’ll only be an hours’ drive away. It’s two hours to Portland, four hours to Boston, five hours to Quebec, seven hours’ drive & a ferry ride to Nova Scotia, and nine hours to my family in Syracuse (we might have to meet in the middle).
The season starts May 1 and ends Oct. 15, so we will be driving the 1,200 miles from Crossville, Tennessee to Bangor as soon as the 2018 East Coast HDT Rally concludes. Hopefully we’ll have some 3-4 day weekends to travel slightly further afield while we’re there.
We’d love to visit with friends, family and followers this summer, so drop me a line if you think you’ll be in the region!