Thursday, December 30, 2010


Since James still had to commute back and forth to Lake Arrowhead quite frequently to finish up his projects I do all of the ‘host work’ by myself so James can spent the hours he has to make on the various projects they want him to do.

The first one he tackled consisted of making 4 new horseshoe back boards to replace the ones that were falling apart. They wanted it done before the busy holiday ‘season’. He did a great job!


I usually clean the bathrooms real good on Monday after most people have left and spiff them up on the following days when needed.
Since there weren’t too many people staying during the week there wasn’t much else to do so I started working on weeding the cactus gardens, pruning back bushes and cleaning up the sites which is an ongoing project over the winter months.


Joe and Deanna are a great source of information about workamping and the RV lifestyle and we spent many evenings together around a campfire, picking their brains. They also introduced me to a domino game called ‘Mexican train’, lots of fun and apparently a must to be able to play as a workamper and also to ‘s mores’, which I had never had before! Yummm!
I, at my turn, introduced them to ‘coffee time’, which in Holland means a sit down coffee around 10 or 10.30 in the morning (every morning) drinking 2 small cups of coffee with some cookies while exchanging gossip and how your day is going so far.

On Christmas Eve we grilled steaks and stayed up late. It was a crystal clear and very cold night so we bundled up in blankets wearing shawls and gloves. It was absolutely gorgeous. Not a sound to be heard, the stars were out in full force and we think we even saw one falling, or was it Santa …?


On Christmas day we had our 2nd potluck at Agua. I’m glad I inherited a lot of great recipes from James’ Mom who always had a lot of church potlucks to go to. This time I brought a fruit salad with cream also known as ‘Ambrosia’. No calories in this one!

                                                                                                                                                                          Of course we had sold most of our christmas decorations but I had kept a few small ones so I had put  
the RV somewhat in the 'Christmas spirit'.  Merlin always loved to climb our trees in the previous years so after we came back from the potluck it was no surprise that he had tackled this one too,        
and  had knocked it over!         


Who, me..? Nahhh...
Also, we had been keeping an eye on new jobs posted on for next summer and had sent our resume to a few 'contenders'. We'd like to spent some time at the beach if possible and were thrilled to get a call from Turtle Rock RV resort in Gold Beach, OR, just after Christmas.
We set up a little telephone conference during which we were both interviewed by the owner and were approved on the spot!
It's great to have something 'secured' for next season, one less thing to think about!


Monday, November 29, 2010


Finally our last week arrived! We had a little farewell party in the RV during which we showed off our hard work and said goodbye to the neighbourhood.

We left very early on Sunday morning the 21st, in order to not hold anybody up while we crawled down the hill at a snail’s pace.  I had been quite nervous about this part of the trip but the newly installed Pac Breaks did exactly what they promised us they would do and we made it safely down the hill.

To install the breaks had not been that easy to say the least! The Banks breaks we choose to use at first turned out to be not compatible with the truck’s model so we had to look into something else and that while we almost had no time left before we had to leave! It involved some frustrating trips up and down the hill and than when they installed the current ones it took them several attempts to get them to work properly.


It took us a day to get to Vallecito, we took it slow and took breaks often to walk the dog and re-assure the cats that they were going to survive this ordeal. I was driving behind James because we had decided to keep our faithful Subaru since James needed a car to commute to Lake Arrowhead where he was still finishing up some big projects that would provide us income over the winter. 
Everything went pretty smoothly except for the fact that we took the road up and through Julian which in hindsight was not a smart thing to do since we had to climb 4000 feet and the road was very narrow and insanely windy! It took us forever since we had to go slow but we made it to the other site, down into the desert and arrived around 4.30 pm at Agua Calliente from where the rangers accompanied us to our host spot at Vallecito a couple of miles down the road.

It wasn’t the easiest spot to move into and James had to unhook and re-hook again a couple of times to make the turn, during which he bend the landing legs (minor detail), but we finally got it done. The spot is beautiful, under a great roof structure which keeps us out of the worst of the wind, rain and sunshine, all of which conditions we encounter rather forcefully during our stay. We also have a good view of the entrance which makes it easy to spot new arrivals.


We met our neighbors and co-hosts, Joe and Deanna, who turn out to be the nicest people we could ever have wished for to have as our first co-workers.
We had a couple of days to settle in before we had to start working so we slowly set up ‘camp’.


We tried to set up the screen room too but gave up on it after 2 days because the winds turned out to be way too much and it kept blowing away and rattled the awning in a way that I was afraid it would rip off. The cats seem to feel right at home, they take the desert as one huge litter box and kept themselves busy hunting all the little critters that hide in it.


Sadie loves to chase the jackrabbits during the day and the little bunnies that show up in the evening. She never got one but enjoyed trying. We keep her on a long line most of the time but if we have no guests she can roam around free and for her walks I walk her off-leash outside the campground.

Our job here consists of meeting and greeting the campers that come in and check that they have payed, although we have nothing to do with the financial site of it, they have to deposit there fees in the ‘iron ranger’, a pole with a slit in it through which they have to slide the envelop with money.


We also have to keep the bathrooms clean and the grounds looking tidy but however we want to do that was left to us. As long as we make 20 hrs between the 2 of us and were a ‘presence’ for a couple of hrs during the 3 days we have to work each week, it's fine.
James is also drafted to work on a couple of projects during the time we will be here and I am asked to give tours of the historical Stage Coach building on site for 2 hrs. on Sundays and maybe upon request during the week.
Quite a challenge for me because I was never too comfortable talking to a group but after the first couple of times I found I was actually enjoying myself and started to look into the history of the place in order to be able to tell people more. I also met a lot of people that knew much more about it than I did and that was fun too; I learn something new every time!


Not too long after we arrived we had our first potluck dinner at Thanksgiving, the first of many to come, at Agua Caliente which was a bigger campsite down the road from us. We got to meet most workampers and rangers and had a great time and great food!


It was truly special to be with such a great group of people during the Holidays, being used to only the 2 of us most of the previous years.  It turns out to be an unexpected benefit of this ‘lifestyle’. We gain a whole group of family and friends and when we got ‘enough’ of each other we each go our own way! I like it!  I made James' Mam's layered ‘overnight salad’.

Monday, October 25, 2010


Help arrived in the form of my Mom, who came to visit me from Holland for 3 weeks! She loves to have something ‘to do’ and especially to decorate so while she was here we managed to paint the inside of the RV.
I always painted my walls in all the houses I’ve lived in, I just don’t like the white so we painted some of the RV’s walls an ochre-ish yellow and some of them a nice mossy green. It came out beautiful with the carpet and tiles being a chocolate brown. 

I had read about an interesting moderation to give the cats access to the down'stairs' basement where we could place their litterboxes and food dishes so they'll be out of sight and 'smell'.

James cut a hole for a cat door at the side of the steps to the bedroom, into the pantry of which he closed of part of the bottom area. He than cut a hole through the back of the pantry into the basement and built a ramp to get down to it. He even installed a little light that comes on with the same switch as for our night/foot light in the bedroom so they have a light there at night.

The ramp going down in the 'basement'

During the day we leave the door to the basement on a crack so they can come and go as they please and we don't have to open and close the front door all the time. The litterboxes and food dishes are easily accessible through the basement doors.
I think it's absolutely ingenious!

We did some shopping for new linens and stuff to go with the new color scheme and picked up a lot of other items that I had on my list. It was nice to have somebody there to help me choose since I’m hopeless in that department. Off course we took some time off to do some fun things too!

At the Country Club

Lake Arrowhead

At the 'Getty'.


After she left we planned a couple of garage-sales and sold our bigger stuff like chairs, tables, the bed etc. and everything else we didn’t sell on Craigslist. We ended with an ‘open house’ weekend after which we put the rest out on the street marked ‘free’ and gave some away to the neighbors.
I must say, I never felt better in my life! It felt…free, free from all clutter, from all ….stuff. Not that I am a pack rat to begin with but to not have to fuss or worry about anything is just great, let alone not have to clean it anymore!

We bought some new chairs on Ebay and the cutest electric heater in the shape of a wood burning stove at Wal-Mart.
Since the oven/stove was beyond cleaning we took the whole thing out and installed in its place a small dishwasher that I found on Craigslist and an induction cooking plate for on top.
We bought a (very) flat screen TV (3/4 inch) and somehow installed it on the pull-out shelve of the entertainment area and also got a new surround system since both were taken out.
We needed a new mattress and got ourselves a nice memory foam one with a seperate plush pillowtop cover.

The 'splash tiles are vinyl self-sticking floor tiles!

We also worked on the truck. James, together with his friend Joey, cut off part of the overhead rack and turned it around,  put in a dividing panel behind the hitch so we could lock up the truck bed again, repaired some damage on the left back storage door and patched up the paint. 
I cleaned the inside of the cabin and all storage compartments, painted the inside of the truck bed and we put rubber on all floors so the tools wouldn’t rattle around.
We also had all the upholstery of the car, the truck and the ceiling of the RV, professionally cleaned.


In the meantime I had stumbled upon something that changed the nature of our ‘adventure’ in a big way. I read in the ‘blogs’ about Workamping, a way of ‘paying’ for your RV site, including hook-ups, by ‘volunteering’ as park hosts for a season.
Since that sounded very attractive we wrote up a resume and got ourselves ‘out there’, on the web, that is. Lo and behold, we were contacted by San Diego County for a park host job at Vallecito Stage Coach park, east of San Diego close to the Anza Borrego Desert State Park. They'd like us to start somewhere about mid-November.
We were ‘pre-approved’ in a telephone conference call and after sending back the paperwork and going through a mandatory medical and background check-up and fingerprinting we were ‘cleared’ and asked to report for ‘duty’ on the 10th of November.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Now we finally had the RV at our fingertips we could start ‘working’ on it when we had some time on our hands.

James took all plates off the underbelly and inspected and repaired when necessary all tanks, pipes and cables. I cleaned the disgustingly greasy plates.
He took out the bedroom slide, put it on stilts next to the camper (now that was a sight!), replaced the dry-rotted inside panel of the wall, improved the slide-out framing and put together the mirrored sliding doors and shelves of the clothes cabinet again. I cleaned the outside.

James installed the air-conditioners that were taken off when they put on a brand new roof (!) and which they never had put back on again (or yet). I cleaned the roof.

He spray-painted the front door and several panels that had yellowed from age. I cleaned the outside compartments.

James custom build a beautiful king size bed with a storage area underneath, an office desk with table that doubles as a dining room table, a couch, again with storage underneath and lots of shelves in various cabinets. I cleaned the whole inside


In the meantime we started selling everything we couldn’t get or use in the RV on Craig's list. In reading the RV-blogs I learned to do only one thing……downsize, downsize, downsize… And so we did. We didn’t want to end up with ‘stuff’ in storage since you end up paying rent for years for stuff you never miss. We sold practically everything! Which was a lot! Especially the stuff in James’ office and the garage and the 500 something books I collected over the years. Two hundred of which were in Dutch, not the easiest too sell in America so I ended up giving them away to a Dutch elderly home somewhere down the hill. They sure loved them!
I think those were the hardest to give up for me, for James I guess it were the bigger tools he had to get rid of. Although he could take some he couldn’t possibly take them all, they just wouldn’t fit.

We also spent some time looking around for places to stay this winter and checked out some campsites around Lake Gregory
We tentatively set the starting date for our ‘new life’ for November 15.