Tuesday, April 30, 2013

How To Find Workamping (Part One)




Life is so beautiful. 


Many folks ask me about workamping. There are both volunteer situations and paid deals. Some require couples, others accept singles or a couple with just one person workamping. Length of position varies from one month to year-round indefinite. Both government and the private sector offer a wide selection of unique situations.  

Typically all require you to live on site in your RV.  Your lot and utilities are generally provided at no cost in exchange for working or volunteering part time. Some places will employ you fulltime or seasonally with some wages and a site included.

This is not a get rich quick scheme but if you have a sense of adventure and love living in your camper in unusual places, this could be right up your alley. 

If you expect to earn a lot of money, then this may not be for you at all.  However, there are some seasonal situations like RV Elves with Amazon. You work long hours seasonally, earning paychecks.  

Check out some of the latest workamping openings at:
http://www.work-for-rvers-and-campers.com/work-for-rvers-and-campers-blog.html

More listings are available at:
http://volunteer.gov/

Also  the US Army Corps of Engineers has a site at:
http://www.usace.army.mil/Missions/CivilWorks/Recreation/VolunteerClearinghouse/VolunteerOpportunities.aspx

All three of these sites are free to use. Some state park systems have their own separate listings as well. 

End of Part One


Monday, April 29, 2013

Drying Out

Life is crazy. I am making more repairs.  The computer died again. How many times can I raise it from the dead?

I am working on a borrowed one but I guess I have to seriously figure something out soon. 

Harley dog is not feeling well. If he doesn't spring back by tomorrow, then I guess we better go break in a new vet for him. It's hard when you lead a gypsy life to have regular docs. 

The rains have abated for the moment. I even hung a load of laundry to dry on the line today.  Yellow pollen is everywhere, I am washing it off of everything. 

More later.  My recent pictures are held hostage by my non-starting computer. 

In the interim, enjoy this dawn over the Atlantic I took a mere 10 days ago.



Bucolic Byways

Views along the byways of South Carolina. 



Both sides of the road had these vivid yellow fields of  blooms. 


This red headed woodpecker comes knocking around my campsite daily. I literally hung out my coach window to catch this picture of him about fifteen feet away.


For the past few days, steady rains have kept this boat ramp parking lot mostly bare.  Seen below is the view of the parking lot from my driveway up on the hill. Below is the Tugaloo river, an upper branch of Lake Hartwell. 


Spring is beautiful. 


This pastoral site greets me every spring as I return to my seasonal workamping.  


Friday, April 26, 2013

Living Large In A Small RV

Living Large In A Small RV

My RV is 28 feet long, built in 1994 and has no slides to enlarge the indoor area. It's my only home. All my worldly goods and my little doggy call this home.  

I bought it after relocating to America from the Caribbean, where I had spent 23 happy years of working, playing and sailing. One day I woke up in intensive care at the island hospital. A month later I left the hospital, sold and gave away my Caribbean things, then came to America. Uncertain about my future, I bought this little old motorhome as temporary housing. 

Home is where we park it. 


First start with a silly small dog. At 6 pounds, they won't take up much room at all. (Not unless you count the toys, the doggy camp chair, the toys, the quilt, the puppy fluffy bed, the afghan, the toys, the sweaters, the jacket, the food, the feed bowls, the toys, the leash, the harness, the toys...  nope a little dog doesn't take up much room at all!)  



Next, go outdoors and expand!

This is my new screen door handle from Camco ordered from Amazon .  It's a mystery why RV manufacturers refuse to give you a door handle. There you are inside, flailing about, trying to pull your door shut with no handle. I have lusted for this part for a long time. I am super happy to finally have it installed. A door handle!  Who'd a thunk it?  



Now for the mystery. What on earth could fit in this small flat bag that would transform a diminutive RV bathroom?


outdoor RV shower enclosure  by dear miss mermaid

It's a pop-up shower stall for the great outdoors!   My little old wheel estate came with an outdoor cabinet that houses a handheld shower hose with hot and cold water taps. 

As warm weather permits, I can shower outside in a huge 42 inch square shower stall that is 76 inches tall. It collapses to fit into the tiny round bag. Simply amazing!

Now my little old rig can boast it comes with a bath and a path...
portable outdoor shower for RV by dear miss mermaid

The white water hose shown, is for the street water connection to the RV. The shower taps and handheld shower are housed in the opened cabinet just beyond the water hose. 

Since there is no one behind me (just forest) I have my new shower at an angle. 

So what's the ladder for?  Well, it holds the dry bath towel, the clothes I took off and the clothes I plan to put on after the shower. The shower door zips up, the windows have screens and privacy flaps. It came with strings and tent pegs so you can tie your privacy room down in case of winds. Yes, I have mine attached with lines and nailed down too. I don't want to be showering in my birthday suit when a gust a wind blows my shower away.  I know that would be hilarious to other campers, but not so funny for me. 
portable outdoor shower by dear miss mermaid

No slides?  That's right my RV is ancient and came with no slide outs to increase the living area. But that's OK. I set up my patio with shade from  the roll-out awning attached to the side of the RV, plus a patio mat, chairs, table, picnic table, a string of white holiday lights, and yes a clothes line too. This spot came with a fire pit and a grill.  I now spend 90% of my day outside.  Life is GOOD!  Spring has sprung!
lake hartwell by dear miss mermaid

Why buy a bigger RV when you can just add some extra storage space on the rear. Believe me adding in the cargo carrier was far cheaper than buying a larger RV. All I needed was some extra storage space and this fit the bill.


cargo carrier by dear miss mermaid

I am in my fourth year in my little old wheel estate. I never dreamed I would live so long and enjoy so much!  

Life is good. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

RV Recovering Nicely

I have beautiful pictures to upload but blogger is being a pill and not accepting them. 

Finally I made it (only a week late) to my volunteer workamping on Lake Hartwell.  This is my 4th year in my rolling ranch.  It's my 3rd year at this workamping assignment. They like me, I like them, we're all happy. Yippie doodle doo!

In view of my erratic health, I will probably only be doing 5 months a year of workamping. Since this 5 month gig requires brains over brawn, it's a nice situation all around for me.  It's hard for me to stay put for 5 months, but my budget needs the break in traveling costs, so it evens out. Life is good.

This past winter I workamped at a Florida state park. I loved the place, but the hours were long, and the work was heavy duty labor most of the time.  I survived 3 months, my original promise, but *phew*  I won't be tackling that again. Very special angels helped me out with some of the tasks, I just couldn't figure out how to cram 70 hours of heavy labor into 25 hours. I felt pretty beat up, wore out and run down by the time I limped away from there. 

My body spends a lot of energy just healing, leaving me weak and confused. Ah, a little confusion is good for the soul I guess.

The past 7 weeks of travel were fun fun fun!  We traversed many storms, several campground and three states. Amazing!

Repairs and maintenance incidents were chronic. Such is the life of the gallivanting gypsy in this old rig. 

The roof sprung a leak after multiple storms.  I was not too suprised in view of the thrashing the roof took during 60mph winds in Orlando while tree branches from above flailed the roof.  Next came the hail scrubbing the mold and dirt right off.  I had been parked under oak trees for 2 months last winter, but the hail cleaned it up nicely. 

Then the poop tank came loose, the tank not the plumbing so it required structural re-engineering at the RV hospital. Of course it popped loose while nearly full of poop, giving me quite a plight, but luckily only about 2 tablespoons of sewer were spilled and that was quickly cleaned up. 

I drove ever so slowly to the dump station, praying my poop tank wouldn't fall off completely leaving a holy mess.  Campers stared as I came down the road barely moving ten feet per minute.  I smiled and waved like I was new at this, too scared to drive.  

The poop tank though cockeyed and wiggly with two of the three straps rusted apart, managed to hold on for dear life, allowing me to relieve it of all its contents. 

Thank goodness for small favors!

My gasoline hose that runs from the fill cap to the top of the gasoline tank sprung a leak awhile back. Good grief.  I've had a hard time finding anyone willing to work on it who knew what they were doing.  I was scared to death when buying gas, because it dripped so badly. I was afraid it would hit the hot muffler and KABOOM!  Bye bye mermaid and monkey dog. It only leaked when I bought gasoline, but not while parked. Sheesh. 

I managed to drive the RV enough to get the tank down to less than an eighth full, but still it was heavy when the surgeon removed it to reach the cantankerous awkwardly placed hose.  Yucky poo!

When everything was put back together, it was discovered that when the poop tank came loose, it managed to knock the plumbing out of the gray water tank too. Oh my gosh. No one had noticed this until I happened to dump a dish pan load of water down the drain after they took the RV off the ramps. 

Splat. Water dripping from underneath the rig. A new problem.

Nightmares!  Was this all a bad dream?

The RV surgeon was so ready to be done with us, but he tackled the repair on day three plus topped up my tires with his air hose. We blessed this mess.  I paid him a handsome sum for his fine services.  

He is a mobile mechanic with a shop at his remote country residence. I am sure his family was grateful when we departed, as it looked like we had moved in and settled down for a spell. Harley dog had scattered his toys around their lawn, we were eating and reading outdoors under their shade tree. I photographed some of their flowers and their lighthouse mailbox. We walked around the country neighborhood quite a few times. Even the postman was stopping by to chat us up. Then the Jehovah Witnesses showed up. Word sure gets around fast!

Finally the plumbing for both the poop tank and the gray tank were righted again.  Now I was finally able to drive safely away knowing my tanks and plumbing were all repaired and thankfully securely attached. Whoopie doodle!  

Being able to buy gas without having the fuel hose leak all over the place scaring me half to death, was a Godsend. We bought fuel in small allotments to test it repeatedly. Finally I caved in and filled up the entire tank. Wheeee!  

Nothing leaked, nothing blew up.  Life is positively grand!

We built a welcome fire for ourselves at my new old workamping site. It felt like home again. I love this shot of the jumping fire!


Monday, April 22, 2013

Lake Thurmond

Any day I wake up alive, I know it's going to be another exciting adventure on planet earth.


We finally escaped the RV hospital, my RV is feeling so much better. My friend propped me up when they handed me the final bill so I wouldn't hurt myself when I fainted at the cost. Such is life in my 18 year old RV.  I am just oh so super grateful to have this little old wheel estate to call home. 

I put another crockpot meal to cook in the sink on a rubber mat while operating off my 200 watt 12 volt to 120 inverter. I usually arrive super tired, so having dinner already made up is heaven on earth.

 We drove down country roads all afternoon to our next campground.

A whimsical mural at the International Peach Exchange in Johnston, South Carolina.


Last night I camped at Hamilton Branch state park on Lake Thurmond in South Carolina.  The campground occupies a peninsula on the 70,000 acre lake. That is the lake in the background.



Oh my gosh, the world is a beautiful place to live. This is the sunset last night on Lake Thurmond. 


The lake is low. These shells dot the red clay mud on the exposed shoreline. 

A raft of ducks occupy their own private cove on Lake Thurmond. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Spring Fling

No matter what goes wrong, laugh at it.  Finding beauty and happiness in each day is far more calming.

Enjoy the slideshow below!  If you need a link to watch the slide show, try this:
http://dearmissmermaid.blogspot.com/2013/04/spring-fling.html





Emergency Surgery For The RV

My RV has been in the hospital for three days with serious intestinal problems. One day in the emergency room, another day at intensive care and now in a hospital ward.  All three days required serious surgery.

We spent the night with the RV in critical care to comfort her.  It stormed all night.  The fridge ran a temperature our of sheer sympathy alarming us, but now seems fine again.  We had no meat on hand, but the strawberries grew fur.

Harley dog is thoroughly bewildered at this change of events, but flirts with the two dedicated surgeons every chance he gets.

More on this later as our internet is wildly erratic.



Friday, April 19, 2013

Nothing Finer Than To Be In Carolina


"Turn right, then left, I can sniff out a campground nearby."



A pleasant hike through the jungle to go find the old cabin road and the cabin of my childhood.



Hiking past the marshy lagoon. The beach in the background is barely visible. 


Instead of the cabin road leading to the cabin of my childhood visits, I was greeted with this startling sign. 


The cabin road and cabins have been consumed by mother ocean. 


Remnants of the old cabin road, which is now only visible at low tide. In my childhood, it was about 300 yards inland.

Beaches come, beaches go. When man takes over the sand dunes, then mother ocean takes over the land.  Bye bye cabins, bye bye road. Nature reclaims what is rightfully hers.


View from the footbridge over the lagoon.


A jungle paradise.


"Let me spot for you while you backup, one ear up means you're OK, both ears up mean you hit the tree..."

Dawning of a new day.  Forget the errors and terrors, life is GOOD.  Any day the sun comes up, is a fine day indeed.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Nature Is Awesome


My final morning on the coast. 

It was dark thirty when I made my way down to the beach at low tide to watch and wait.  


The sheer miracle of a sunrise. 

Nature is awesome. 


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Oh Poo

Holy cow poop!

I live year round in my little old wheel estate. I'm staying in a campground that doesn't offer sewer hookups.  My toilet is flushing into a holding tank that is built into the RV.  I planned to empty my poop tank (also known as black water tank in the RV industry) at the end of my reservation here, which is Friday. 

Well, my poop tank broke on Tuesday.  I found a place to repair it 100 miles from here, and guess where I am going Thursday... to get it repaired, which means I lose a prepaid night at the campground.  

Daggum it. 

I am pissed off, pooped out and up to my elbows in broken shit.  

Oh Poo.

Life is funny.

Never a dull moment.  

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Ut Oh!

My computer died. Won't light up, won't start, won't do a thing.

I used a borrowed one to post this.

Stay tuned!  It may be a few days before I get going again.


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Driftwood

Slideshow below. If you received this by subscription email then use this link:
http://dearmissmermaid.blogspot.com/2013/04/driftwood.html





Saturday, April 13, 2013

Blown Away

The beach all washed away...

Hunting Island has an incredibly gorgeous beach at low tide. But at high tide, the wide sandy expanse seemingly disappears.

Last year a bad storm knocked a tree limb loose that tore a hole in my RV roof at Hunting Island.  I was able to make an emergency repair and continue with my camping. But  many  beach side campers fled the island after the storm because the winds and salty sea spray were more than they wanted.  We were camped further back in the jungle area, behind the tall trees, so the winds were not near as brutal.

When the worst of the rains had cleared I took the dog for a walk. Just as I reached the entrance to the beach, a man and his family came walking from the beach looking oh so sad.  I thought maybe they had just laid their beloved to rest at sea. The man said to me "Don't bother going, the storm took away the entire beach  We are going home, we came here for the beach and the storm washed it away."

I was surely puzzled, but continued down the path to the beach. When I got there, it was high tide with just a postage stamp for sand. Nearly 12 hours later, low tide revealed once again the magnificent beach.

It was then I realized the man and his family didn't understand the lay of the land, or the drastic difference in high and low tides. How sad they left.

Low tide at Hunting Island, South Carolina


Friday, April 12, 2013

My Birthday!

Thank you angels and all for the wonderful birthday wishes and surprises.  I feel awesome!

Yippie doodle doo! Honk honk, toot toot!

Today is my birthday and it's wonderful! I woke up alive, the sun came up and I am camping at my favorite place in the whole wide world.

I am the luckiest person alive!


I managed to walk from the campground all the way to the lighthouse and back. I've been trying to accomplish this goal for the last three years. AMAZING!  Life is good!

Driftwood art at the beach


Harley loves the beach.
The wind is making his droopy ear stand up straight!






Wednesday, April 10, 2013

She Shells


Slideshow appears below (if I have done this correctly) If you are getting this post by email, then you might need the link below to see the slideshow. :)



The link to this slideshow is:
http://dearmissmermaid.blogspot.com/2013/04/she-shells.html

Monday, April 08, 2013

South Carolina Lowcountry

An ancient horseshoe crab washed ashore at Hunting Island beach in South Carolina


A trip through St Helena Island offers up the opportunity for fresh caught shrimp.   I use my wok for many tasks besides stir frying. In this case I brought water, Old Bay Seasoning and lemon to a boil then plunged the fresh shrimp in for just barely three minutes. Drain, peel, eat.  YUM!

A shrimp boat that needs just a little work...

Some of the active shrimp boats in for a rest at the Gay Fish Company in Frogmore, South Carolina. 

The Gay Fish Company was closed when we arrived but we found another nearby vendor to sell us fresh shrimp. 

We spent one day rolling down the highway while the crock pot was cooking in the sink.  I added small bungee cords to the lid plus a piece of rubber shelf liner, to keep the pot from shifting or banging and clanging in the sink.  It was plugged into a 400 watt inverter which coverts the 12volt house battery to 110 electricity.  The alternator on the engine, keeps the house battery charged up while I drive. This 3 quart crockpot only draws 200 watts, so it cooked perfectly with the small inverter all day while we poked around.  It continues cooking, while drawing down the house battery, when I was parked for shopping, gassing up and walking.  Anyhow, there was no need to run the extra expense of the gas generator, when the inverter could cook for me. It was nice to arrive at camp, with dinner ready to eat. 

On the way to our one night stay at Tuck In The Woods Campground