Back on the Preserve

Craig and I made it back to the Disney Wilderness Preserve and Florida in March- right before things started shutting down due to Covid-19. We are volunteering again for a while and deciding what we will do next.

It is a great place to wait things out since there are only a few of us here on 12,000 acres! We are enjoying the peace and quiet.

Right now the Preserve is closed to the public, but things are starting to open here in Florida.

We have been keeping an eye on property and doing light maintenance and gardening. We should know more soon on where we will land next!

Managing a Pumpkin Patch and Christmas Tree Lot

Wow! It has been a while since I wrote a blog post. My internet service has been practically non-existent the past few months. We got to our lot in California the end of September. It was in a busy neighborhood surrounded by places like Costco, Home Depot, LA Fitness and fast food.

We had electric and water on site and the company had a truck come out every Monday to pump our tanks. We worked six weeks for the pumpkin patch, had a few weeks off, and then Christmas tree season lasted five weeks. Our hours were 1-9, or 9-9. Some days we stayed open until 10pm. We worked every day with no days off.

At least one of us had to be on the lot at all times while pumpkins or trees were there. We also had inflatable obstacle courses and slides for kids during the pumpkin season.

We had to hire staff, handle all of the registers, money and deposits, tickets for inflatables, safety checks, set up most of the lot, unload, water trees, provide security, deal with customers, manage schedules and buy items to run the business.

I really feel like potential managers should have to work on another busy lot for a season before managing their own lot. Our lot was small, and had much less traffic than most of the company lots, yet we felt like we could have had a lot more help and training.

Many times it was assumed we knew what we were doing (like we were one of the managers that had been with the company for years.) Luckily, Craig and I got to stay on one of the busiest lots while we were waiting for our electric to be hooked up. Those managers really helped us by showing us some of what we needed to know. Some of the newer managers left after the first week.

It was both fun and frustrating! The inflatables during pumpkins were the most annoying for me. Some people ignored the safety warnings and tried to drag infants on the 60 foot slide, make their scared kids go on for pictures, jump at the top, slide head first or try to sneak on without tickets over and over. Most customers were great though. They were from the local neighborhoods and enjoyed the lot.

It was hard finding people to work seasonally since the hours really depended on how busy the lot was. Some days were crazy and some were dead. It was also hard to judge how to schedule help. We had a labor budget we had to follow. Craig and I wound up doing 90% of the work so we would not go over budget. Many times we could not have the slides running due to awful high winds. The weather where we were caused many issues! We also had lots of competition during Christmas tree season. Costco trees were $30 while ours stared at $65. Costco, Lowe’s and Home Depot were right next door.

We made decent money and it is allowing us to travel up the coast for a few months and back to Florida. I liked the owners and wished we could have dealt with them directly more. The company had two nice dinners for us during training classes and paid us fairly. I just wish we had more support when we had needed it.

After we travel for a while, we are heading back to The Disney Wilderness Preserve to volunteer for a while!

Two Years of Full Time RVing!

It is hard to believe in September we will be full time RVing for two years. We have spent two winters in Florida, traveled to eleven states and seven national parks and Workamped at three different jobs. We are on our way to our fourth tomorrow, and will reach California on September 11th. Soon, we will have traveled coast to coast in our Grand Design Reflection!

Here are some things we love about RVing and some that are not so great.

Not great:

-Things get cluttered easily in a small space, so you need to stay on top of cleaning. We are pretty neat so this is not hard for us.

-We can’t have a lot of personal items or clothing since storage space is at a minimum.

-We can sometimes feel unsettled if we do not have a job or destination planned.

-Missing family and friends while on the road.

-Gas and RV parks can be expensive. It is still less than rent/mortgage for us. Workamping helps with free spots too.

-Parks can book up way ahead now so you need to plan routes. This is more of an issue in the summer or at popular places like national parks.

-Driving can be stressful in heavy traffic or through cities.

What we love:

-Freedom! Travel is amazing and we love seeing new places.

-No alarm clock. Unless we are working, we wake up when we want and go by our own schedule.

-Time together. Craig and I have worked at several jobs together, so we were used to spending more time together than apart. We love working and traveling together.

-Trying local foods, restaurants and grocery stores.

-Meeting new people and making new friends at our Workamping jobs.

-Getting to really learn an area when we spend several months working there.

Tomorrow we head to Fredericksburg, Texas for some wine tasting and then across I-10 to El Paso, Tucson, Saguaro National Park, Phoenix, Sedona, Quartzsite, Joshua Tree and Disneyland before we start work managing a pumpkin patch and Christmas tree lot. Follow along on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.

Gate Guarding Pros and Cons

We are really looking forward to finishing up gate guarding in Texas on Sunday. We had considered working until the end of August, but we are ready to have a break before traveling to California! We will spend a few weeks in San Antonio until we head out on the 29th.

After three months of gate guarding, we came up with some pros and cons in case any RVers are considering trying it.


-Good money in a short amount of time. We made over $17,000 for about 11 weeks of work. We did not work all 24 hours a day, but had to physically be on site.

-Easy work mentally. It could be harder for some people physically if you have a busy gate, or you have to open and close a gate every time a worker comes and goes.

-No rent or utilities. The guard company pays for your gas/generator and takes care of water and sewer.

-Warm locations in the winter months.

-You are contract and can work for several guard companies, look for the highest pay and leave when you feel like it/give notice.

-You are not going out spending money. You can save a lot.


-24/7 schedule. No time off unless you find a licensed relief guard.

-Not being able to sleep with your spouse. Having different sleep schedules. We hated this.

-Not getting enough sleep or good sleep. The trucks are noisy, the bells are noisy and we had train tracks and a highway a few feet from our RV. The generator is also very loud. That becomes white noise.

-Bugs, bugs and more bugs. Especially if you are working night shift or early morning before the sun comes out. You will both have to work when it is dark at some point. You will get bit, crawled on and have bugs fly in your hair, face, eyes and ears every day. There are Tarantulas, Tarantula Wasps, Brown Recluse spiders, enormous moths, etc.

-Snakes and scorpions. Be careful.

-The guard sites are usually an afterthought. We have seen pictures of some nice sites, but both of ours were flooded, muddy, sandy and overgrown with weeds and thorny bushes that can scratch your RV. The weeds smelled like cat or dog pee right outside our bedroom window. Lovely.

-Very hot and brutal sun. We knew the summer would be hot. It is 118 in the shade. If you are outside for even 15 minutes, you start to feel faint. You have to wear sun block every day. Your RV ACs will get a workout. I would not even consider doing this without two ACs.

-DUST EVERYWHERE. You will be covered in dust. Your RV will be covered in dust. Everything inside will have dust on it.

-The generator and dust take a toll on your RV. Even with an EMS plugged in our clocks were always running slow or fast. Hopefully the generators did not ruin our electrical system.

-Remote locations. Our first gate was an hour and 1/2 to a Walmart or food shopping. We are also right next to the border and constantly asked if we were armed by workers. We had two young guys knock on our RV door looking for help one day. Border Patrol is always on the ranch looking for people, and when they were first digging the oil wells, the workers found the body of a young girl and several skeletons. Very sad and a little nerve wracking at times.

-You can’t drink the water even with a filter so you need to stock up on water.

-Some truckers want to drive 90mph up the 20mph road. They kick up dust you have to breathe in and nearly have head on collisions with some workers. Some of the workers hate waiting two minutes for the gate to be opened. The ranch owner wanted the gates closed due to cattle and horses, but all they see is a road block. They get agitated and take it out on you. Most are super nice though.

-You have to pay to take the level two security test, get licensed and fingerprinted. It is good for two years.

-Some gates are very busy. A busy day on our second gate would be 100 in/out. I read some gate guards had 750 in/out and not even a 5 minute break!

Well, there you have it! Gate guarding pros and cons. Would we do gate guarding guarding again? Maybe for a month at a time. Three months was too long for us. Some gate guards do this for years at a time though! If you have any questions, just ask in the comments.

Gate Guarding in Texas


Craig and I are starting our second gate guarding assignment today in Texas. The first gate lasted around three weeks and we made a little over $6,000. It was a 24 hour gate with a guard shack. Our RV was parked next it. There was a generator to hook up to for power and water/sewer tanks. It was a busy gate and pretty remote.

This gate seems a little less busy and we will be working out of our RV. It is less money, but nice to sit in or outside our house on wheels. We will make a little over $5,000 for around four weeks. It also has hook ups (generator.) Laredo is close by.

We are enjoying working together as usual. We read a lot, play cards and talk. I have been planning our road trip to California for our fall jobs helping to manage a pumpkin patch and managing a Christmas tree lot. We will visit several more national parks like Saguaro, Channel Islands and Pinnacles. In the spring of 2020, we will head up the coast to Redwoods, Oregon, Washington and Vancouver. Hopefully in the summer we can travel across the top of the country visiting several more national parks. We would like to spend the summer in Massachusetts visiting friends and family and head down to Florida next fall. We will be volunteering for The Disney Wilderness Preserve again next fall/winter 2020/21!

On the Road Again

It has been a very nice winter here in Florida, but we need to start making some money again! So we are headed to Texas in April to do some gate guarding at the oil fields. It is good money, we get an RV spot and we will still be working together. Basically, we keep an eye on things and sign workers in and out.

We decided to take the same route we took last March and April to San Antonio, Texas. We will be staying in some of the same RV parks and trying some new ones out. I will be updating our Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook along the way. You can like any of our social media on the left. We are excited to visit some of our favorite places like New Orleans and new ones like Grayton Beach, Florida.


The Disney Wilderness Preserve

We have been volunteering here at The Disney Wilderness Preserve for The Nature Conservancy since the end of October. It is going well. In exchange for around 28 hours a week, we get a full hook up RV spot, laundry, WiFi and the use of off road vehicles and tools. We don’t work every week. It is an odd schedule of 2 days on/3 days off, 2 days on/3 days off, 2 days on/9 days off. That way workampers can get away if they choose to explore some of Florida. There are three couples here including Craig and I.

We do work like-keeping the office areas clean, landscaping, answering questions around the small visitor center, checking bathrooms, cleaning garages, maintaining vehicles, sharpening tools, planting, etc. 

Our boss/volunteer coordinator, the other staff and workampers are all great. We have get togethers every week and it has been interesting talking to visitors and workers from NEON, Americorps, Disney, etc.

When Disney built Celebration and Animal Kingdom back in the 90’s, they bought the nearly 12,000 acres here in mitigation. They donated it to The Nature Conservancy to run. It saved the land from developers. The headwaters to the Everglades are here and we see heron, egrets, wood stork, Sandhill cranes, eagle, ospreys, Florida Scrub Jay, Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, alligators, otter, Gopher tortoise, snakes and more every day. We hear coyotes and see raccoon and bobcat tracks too! 

It has been peaceful here, but much less isolated than Yellowstone. We have Publix, Aldi, Walmart, food places, a post office and library five minutes away. We are 40 minutes to Walt Disney World, Universal, Sea World and shopping. We  are less than an hour to downtown Orlando.

We are enjoying volunteering here, but are ready to make some money soon! If you are in the Central Florida area, visit The Disney Wilderness Preserve. Take a nice walk to Lake Russell, one of the last undeveloped lakes in Florida! We will keep you updated on where we head next.



One Year Anniversary of Full Time RVing

As of September, we have been living in our RV for a year! We picked up our Grand Design Reflection travel trailer last September in Tampa, Florida. It still feels really comfortable and we are very happy with the model we chose.

Winter in Florida was wonderful and we look forward to getting back there in October. The trip to Yellowstone was also amazing. We are happy we took the route we did because we got to see so much. FL-AL-LA-TX-NM-CO-WY. Two months was a perfect amount of time to travel to WY.

Our first Workamping position was very interesting. We loved being able to spend more time in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. We hiked over 100 miles, saw more wildlife than we had in the past and met many great people. In the future, I do not know if we would work somewhere so remote. At least not for so long! It was very hard to do our other work with no WiFi nearby. It was also tough to eat healthy with decent grocery stores at least two hours away.

Yellowstone Forever was a nice orginization to work for, but trying at times. The Old Faithful bookstore was always busy. Sometimes packed with hundreds of people in a very small store. The AC was broken all summer, so it was very hot and stuffy trying to stock or clean. The POS system was also broken all season and would ring prices wrong, items wrong and refused to do refunds for weeks. It was very hard to chat with customers or give good service when you had to be constantly checking your computer screen for mistakes! Craig and I both sold well over $5,000 each in memberships for YF. People were really wonderful about giving back to their park. It was hard to sell memberships when you had lines out the door some days though.

Because of the amout of people from all over the world packed into our small space, as well as not eating healthy and tons of fires surrounding us, we have been sick off and on for the entire season. Craig and I rarely get sick- maybe once every two years- so this has thrown us for a loop. We are super excited to finish out our season and head back to Florida October 1st.

Would we do it again? Yes, but not for 5+ months and not in such a remote location. Or, we would consider it if they offered workers WiFi. They have WiFi in the Snow Lodge for a charge and they also offer it to employees of the hotels and restaurants. We have other work we do from the RV that is our main source of income, so we need to be able to do that if we take a volunteer or lower paying position in the future. The Disney Wilderness Preserve where we are volunteering next does offer volunteers WiFi, but we will also be able to use our phone data there. 

In all an interesting first year and we are glad we had this adventure!

Fall and Winter Workamping Plans

Craig and I are going to be working at the Disney Wilderness Preserve this fall and winter! We are headed back to Florida to be near friends and family. And stores, beaches and WiFi;)-

We had planned on staying on the west coast for a while and returning to Florida next fall, but this position sounds very interesting.

We will be volunteering two days a week for The Nature Conservancy for our RV site. The Preserve is about 30-40 minutes from the theme parks. We will be there from the end of October until the end of April (and the summer if they need us.) If they don’t need us summer 2019, we will look at a nearby state park, Acadia or The Smoky Mountains.

We are volunteering at Bahia Honda State Park in the Florida Keys in 2020, so we will be on the east coast for a while.

We are really looking forward to volunteering at the Preserve and Bahia Honda and spending more time in Florida.


We Made it to Yellowstone!

We have been traveling since March 8th and we finally made it to our summer spot at Yellowstone National Park on May 10th!

Because the WiFi has been awful at most of the places along the way, I have not been posting much. I have tried to keep up on Instagram. Take a look on there to see some of the sites we saw along the way. When I am in town next, I will post more about the trip. It was exciting, exhausting and definitely worth it.

The Yellowstone Forever bookstore is beautiful and we are enjoying working there. One day a week we are also in the new Art and Photography Center in the Old Haynes Photography building. Craig and I love working together again!

We have done a little exploring, but there has been a lot of rain here so some places are still pretty flooded. We hope to hike more soon. We joined the employee hiking club. We will hike at least 100 miles this season. We are already near 30, so I don’t think that will be a hard goal to reach!

I was surprised to find myself really missing Florida along the way. I think we miss our friends and family and being able to see them whenever we want. It can be trying being two hours from any major store or town as well. I guess I may have to rethink wanting to live in the middle of nowhere!

Our RV site is nice and quiet and we really like our neighbors and coworkers. More posts soon!