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’.