Job Hunting in Retirement

Everett and I are feeling somewhat at odds with each other.  This is to be expected from time to time in any relationship and all mature adults are aware that compromise is the shining beacon of “getting along”.  This knowledge doesn’t make it easier when in the midst of disagreement.

One of the joys of a semi-retired, full-time RVing life is the periodic bout of planning where to go next.  You know that our fall and winter plans for this year are all set and we’re suffering “hitch itch”* until we can get on the road south.  That having been said, I was still surfing the Internet with an eye toward landing our next workamping gig – for summer 2014 or the following winter.  I just didn’t want to end up as a snowbird, driving from Point A in New England to Point B in Florida year after year.  If I wanted routine, I’d have stayed in Maine, eh?  So in my open minded searching for new adventures, I found an ad for a nice little job in southwest Texas at an RV Park/motel.  The owners were a wonderful couple who had improved their property from a late-40’s style motor court into a modern resort catering to tourists (headed to the Big Bend National Park) and stargazers (they have a Class 1 Dark Sky in this part of Texas – I had to look it up, you should too).  The job would be front desk for me and general resort maintenance type things for Everett – enough to keep us busy but give us plenty of time to explore the region.  I was so excited.  This was exactly what I was looking for.  I all but accepted the job without discussing it with Everett – but having been together for more than a month, I realized that would be wrong.

“It’s WHERE?” was his first response.  “How far’s the closest Wal-Mart?” was his second.  “What’ll we DO on our time off?” was his next salvo.  The resort owner kindly provided us with some figures:  450 people live in the community, Wal-Mart is 58 miles northwest, golf and restaurants are relatively close at 30 miles west (hey, that’s barely a half hour’s drive, right?), and they’d prefer a long term commitment of 6-12 months (which I certainly understand – staff turnover can be very difficult and having to deal with it every 3-5 months would be tiresome at best).

Now I can think of a million things to do in that area on our time off – just walking the dog would be an adventure, and I should think it would be possible to get to know each and every one of those 450 residents over the course of six or seven months.  Weren’t we retired so we could s-l-o-o-w d-o-w-n from our fast-paced New England worklife?  But Everett was having none of it.  The thought of all that dark sky wasn’t attractive to him.  Star gazing?  Well that would take up ONE night.  Hiking in the wilderness?  Who wants to hike?  We’re old and have a cocker spaniel for crying out loud.  We don’t go hiking.  That’s for youngsters with black labs and special boots.  And the thought of being over an hour from any civilization was just too much for him.  Wal-Mart = civilization?  Who knew?

There may have been several days of not speaking to each other, even grumpy behavior on my part, but when it comes down to it, Everett and I are partners.  We make decisions together.  And we have decided to continue job hunting for now.**

Class 1 Dark Sky from their website

Class 1 Dark Sky from their website

*”Hitch itch” is a term I flagrantly stole from another RV-er.  Please do check them out at www.hitchitch.com!

**Though I can guarantee that the details for THIS job will remain in my “possible” file and there will be many pointed comments thrown Everett’s way over the next year about the benefits of spending time in the “boonies”!

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Labor Day Weekend

“Welcome to camp, how can I help you?”

“We’re checking in for Labor Day Weekend.  Last name is Thompson.”

“Um . . . I don’t see a reservation under that name.”

“Well that’s ridiculous, I have my confirmation email right here.  I printed it out to be sure I had the right address for my GPS.”

“Ma’am, I’m sorry, but that email is dated July, 2012 – last year.  Our computer does show you were here last year, but there’s no current reservation.”

“Well where am I SUPPOSED to be?”

You know, I felt bad for her.  She’d worked all week, pulled her family together, packed the tent, and driven 3 hours to spend 3 days camping – but had no idea what campground she’d booked.  We were full, not a single site that I could put her on.  There are at least 10 other campgrounds within 15 miles and the best I could do was give her a list of phone numbers to call.  You’ve got to respect her attitude though.  She laughed and said it was all part of the adventure!

Labor Day Weekend is the riotous end to vacation season in New England.  It’s still summer time during the day with temps in the 80’s, but nights are starting to feel like autumn with temps falling into the mid- to low-40’s.  Plants have stopped growing and fruit is ripening for harvest.  The city folk are making their last forays into the country before kids go back to school and 4th quarter quotas demand attention.  It’s some interesting to see what people will do to squeeze the last bit out of the warm season.  As noted, every single one of 300+ campsites are rented.  The forest is full of tenters and trailers and pop-ups and motor homes.  The riverfront beach and the pool are both crowded with bikini-clad teens and some older women who should know better than to wear those things.  The boys are showing off for the girls, and the men are back at their sites drinking beer with their buddies and keeping the campfires burning from 9am to midnight.  The little kids are careening around the camp roads on bikes, trikes, and power wheels.  People who’ve never been closer to nature than their community square park are kayaking down the Saco River at great risk to life and limb.  Couples in color-coordinated Old Navy outfits and flip flops are starting their hiking adventures by attempting to climb Mount Washington (and didn’t they think I was crazy for suggesting different footwear and a backpack with winter jackets?!?!).  Families are trying to cram a drive over the Kancamagus Scenic Driveway through the National Forest , a visit to Clark’s Bear Trading Post, and the Conway Railway dinner train, all into one day.

I have to agree with Mrs. Thompson – it’s part of the adventure.  And what a wonderful adventure it is to live life to the fullest!

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Campers, Campers, Campers

CampgroundWorkamping (also known by us as “semi-retired”) is teaching us a lot . . . especially humility and patience.  So far this summer, New Hampshire’s Mount Washington Valley has been mostly rainy and cold, but there are still lots of campers.  This Sunday the rec hall was full of mud and sand after a busy afternoon.  Everett swept out the worst then mopped up the rest with a string mop and bucket.  A young boy and his father, who were playing video games, watched him.  “What’s that man doing?” asked the boy.  Dad’s reply:  “Cleaning the floor – that’s why you need to stay in school, so you don’t have to have a job like that.”

I’ve been dealing with phone calls from potential campers like this one:

Caller:  I’d like a reservation, please.

Me: What date will you be arriving?

Caller:  Well, I might be able to get off work in early August, but my friend wants to come a week earlier, and my son-in-law thinks he’ll be coming for just the weekend.

Me:  So … you’re looking for 3 campsites in August?

Caller:  What’s it going to cost?

Me: Will you want tent sites or an RV pull through – they’re different prices.

Caller:  Oh. Well I have a pop-up now, but we’re thinking of getting a 5th wheel.  My son-in-law might be tenting.  Not sure what my friend camps in.  What’s it going to cost?

Me:  Hard telling . . .

And this one:

Caller:  I’d like to reserve a tent site for Memorial Day Weekend.

Me: Wow – that’s really planning ahead. You’ll have your pick of the sites since not many are booking into 2014 yet.

Caller:  What do you mean?  I’m booking for THIS year!

Me:  Well,  this is July – Memorial Day Weekend was the end of May.

Caller:  No it wasn’t!  Memorial Day’s in September!

Me:  Oh, I think you mean Labor Day . . .

Caller:  Are you an idiot?  Labor Day’s in May.

Then there was the camper who was extremely agitated that his Kindle e-reader wouldn’t work.  He seemed to think it was our fault, something to do with our wi-fi service.  But when I looked at his Kindle, the screen showed a message from Amazon telling him he needed to register a credit card to purchase a new book.  He angrily told me he’d had the Kindle for years and already had a card registered to it and it MUST be something to do with our campground.  The look on his face was priceless when I asked if he’d recently gotten a replacement card from his bank after the old one expired.  Oops.

On Monday, a man pulled up to the registration office with an older camper and said he’d just bought it “from a guy” and could we advise him how to “de-winterize” it?  Everett went out to look it over and gave the man several tips before telling him, “It’ll be easier to show you after you’re set-up on your site, just go check in.”  “Check in?” said the man, “I’m not STAYING here!”