Yes, we’re still riffing on the GPS theme set by MsBoyink the other day when she posted that she had lost her satellite reception. Over the past few days we evaluated some options and made a decision that is definitely a recalculating of the nature of our adventure.
What is it?
We’ve accepted a camp-host position in Port Angeles, Washington at a beachfront RV park for the summer. We’re due there July 11 or 12, and will remain in one (gasp!) spot until late September.
Why would we do such a thing? A number of reasons:
- Firstly, financial. The unexpected trailer roof repair has our credit card balance higher than we’d prefer. We’d like to get that paid down so that when we do sell our house we aren’t just using any proceeds to pay off credit cards. The most effective way for us to save money is to stop moving - that kills our fuel cost. From there the biggest cost is a RV park spot. Rather than pay for the summer at a monthly rate we decided to trade for it with our time. We’ll work some hours each week in trade for a site with full hookups and wi-fi. In our case we’ll also get a small monthly cash stipend to boot.
- Community. While we’ve met many people on this trip - family, online Jeeping friends, online ExpressionEngine friends, and new friends, those meetings and get-togethers are as a rule short. We can still stay connected using the internet, but we’re anxious for some longer-term relationships to grow. We hope to find a local church to plug into for the summer. We’re hoping the kids can possibly find some summer friends (we’re not sure yet if the somewhat remote nature of the RV park will allow this, but we can still hope).
- Responsibility for MsBoyink. MsBoyink has a critical role in our travels. She’s the route-planner, the destination-finder, the navigator and keeps us all fed and clothed. However, she often voices frustration with not being able to contribute financially through working a job. She’s looking forward to a new role with some new responsibilities and having her efforts directly impact the family bottom line.
- Responsibilities for kids. The kids are 14 and soon to be 13 - it’s time they experienced a summer job. Don’t be misled - they don’t get a free ride in the RV. They are responsible for doing dishes, helping setup and tear down the trailer for travel, and completing their schoolwork. But it’s time they experienced a new boss. They need to have the experience of working for someone else and having customers to keep happy.
- Business development time for Boyink. I have some ideas for new products and services to offer and need some concentrated time to work on them - time I can’t find in the busy-ness of moving every few days.
- Exercise for Boyink. Being a web developer I basically get paid to sit still and then have to pay to move (with gym memberships etc). I hate the inefficiency of that - so with this role I will be looking to do the most physically demanding tasks I can get. This way I’ll get paid to move and the benefits of that movement won’t just apply to me.
- It’s summer. We’ve already seen parks pick up in traffic with summer vacationers. So far we’ve been lucky to get in where we’ve wanted to but going forward that’s a risk. Many parks fill up for the summer and without reservations you don’t get in, and we’re just not ready to try and plan things far enough in advance to make reservations. This way we’ll wait out the busy season in one place.
So how did we find this job?
We used the Workamper website where RV parks can place ads looking for camphosts and candidates can place ads looking for RV parks. Initially we responded to ads being placed, but we’re offering a different solution than most parks are asking for. They expect these jobs to be filled by retired people, not by a family. We were turned down by a couple for whom it was obvious that we just weren’t going to fit their formula. We ended up placing our own ad, where we could better explain and introduce ourselves. During this time we were really unsure that we’d find anything - it’s actually a bit late in the season for parks to be filling these slots. Our “Plan B” was to head home early and move around the yards of family and friends for the summer and try to get our house on the market sooner.
We gave ourselves two weeks - if we didn’t have anything come up during that time we’d pull the trigger on Plan B.
A couple of days later we were contacted by the owners of the Crescent Beach & RV Park in northern Washington. They had seen our ad and were interested in having us as camp hosts. We scheduled a phone call and talked, and I just had this overwhelming feeling of “rightness” for a few reasons:
- Miranda loves to beachcomb, and this park is right on the water (one of our duties, in fact, will be to walk the beach to pick up trash).
- The owners are Christians and home-schooled their now-college-age children. It sounded like the owners had already started putting a list together of stuff our kids could do - so they’re experienced and willing to help our kids fit into the equation.
- It’s close to so many places and people we’d like to visit. I don’t think we’ll get bored. Included in that is Seattle (with EE people for me and a baseball team for Data) and another full-timing family we made friends with in AZ who are camp-hosting a couple hours away.
- It’s ~15 miles away from a town big enough to have a Wal-Mart. Not that we need to shop at a Wal-Mart but it’s good to know the town is at least that size.
- There are other camp-hosts - so there will be a chance of building some deeper relationships with others.
- We consistently heard positive feedback on this area from people who’ve lived or visited there.
While those reasons are all well and good, for me the most attractive thing about this arrangement is I never imagined myself spending a summer in that little corner of the country. We didn’t even really know if we’d get up that way before wanting to turn east again. There’s something exciting about being able to look an idea like this, shrug, and say “Why not? Let’s go for it” without an overwhelming amount of planning. We thought about the position overnight and then committed to it.
Ditching Suburbia Manifesto Shirt
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We’ve got people expecting us. ;)