Friday, July 30, 2010


Current location: Chester, CA

45 rpm....remember those little records?

I-45...the shortest primary interstate highway

45 half of a soccer match

+45...the international dialing code for Denmark

45...the number of years since I was born in this lifetime

Yes, today is my 45th birthday!! And I am utterly amazed at where I am at this stage in my life. It is still unbelievable to me that I am living my dream at such a relatively young age. When we first began dreaming this dream, it was discussed in terms of retirement. What age exactly that was, I don't know, but I'm sure it was sometime after 65. Then we started talking about how to achieve this dream early and figure out a way to retire early at 55. I'm not sure if that was Tracy's 55 or mine, but it just seemed like a good milestone.

But, ultimately, we couldn't find a good reason to wait and so here we are. When I stop to think about it, it is really mind boggling that we actually went through with it. I am proud that we had the courage to 'just do it'. I am honored by the support we have received, both by those who know us personally and those who only know us through this blog. I feel a certain amount of responsibility to succeed at this lifestyle for all those who are living vicariously through us and for those who will eventually follow us down the road.

I still think we are just a little bit crazy. How could we not be? I admit that I kind of like the idea of bucking the norm of society and finding our own way through life. We have no agenda other than to be happy. We still have to find ways to support ourselves and that brings it's own set of anxieties, but that's just part of the big puzzle of life and I am confident that we'll find all the right pieces.

But mostly, on the first day of my 46th year, I am just amazed at my good fortune. I am sharing my life with my soulmate and we've found a way to live life on our own terms. How could I be any happier? I can hardly wait to see what the next year has in store for me. Yes, this is a good life.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A New Perspective...And A Refreshing Get Away

Current Location: Chester, CA

Last week I wrote about how the summer was beginning to wear on me. What a difference a week can make! Several things have happened in the past week which have encouraged me to rethink and appreciate my own situation.

First of all, our neighbors left and the cabin has not been rented for the last 4 days. Our serenity has returned, although just for a short while. But we decided to take advantage of the peacefulness while we had it and spent one of our recent days off at home. Admittedly we felt a little invaded upon. But I have to remind myself that for the majority of our time here, we have this area to ourselves. No doubt, we are spoiled.

Secondly, I shifted my mindset a little. I reminded myselft that most of the campground guests are on a brief vacation from the stresses of their lives. This is their brief opportunity to let loose and relax. Because this may be their one chance in a long while for vacation, they want everything perfect. And in some cases, they don't know how to let go and end up sharing their stress with everyone who steps in their way. Whether it's a weekend or weeklong vacation, they eventually have to return to their overburdened lives, the hustle and bustle of the city, the heat of the valley, or whatever it may be. Me...I am lucky because once their vacation is up, I still get to stay here.

The third thing that happened which gave me pause was that I talked to one of my former coworkers. This was a person I worked with very closely; she was actually my client of sorts. Talking with her brought back so many familiar emotions. Things haven't changed much since I left. The same frustrations which caused me to want to leave still exist. The pressures and the anxieties have not gone away. It was a very strong reminder of why I am where I am now and how happy I am to be here!

The fourth thing was that one of our blogger friends, Ken and Nanette, abruptly and without warning, lost their workamper job for the summer. This was completely unexpected and left them in a bit of a financial pinch, but they were able to maintain a positive outlook and have already landed another opportunity for the remainder of the summer. Their whole experience reminded me to focus on the positives. Although I'm sure they had their moments of anger and feeling victimized, they did not express one negative word towards their former employers in their blog. If they can handle what could have been a crippling situation with such an attitude, certainly I can deal a little better with the occassional grouch. And if nothing else, it reminded me to be thankful for what I have because I really do like where we are and what we're doing.

Lastly, was a personal message from our friends and mentors, Howard and Linda Payne . They were working here last summer and Linda felt much the same way about the same time of year. She shared their blog entry written on July 22 last year, in which they were feeling the need to escape. I found it ironic that my post last week was written on July 19, almost exactly a year apart. Reading their entry helped validate my feelings - that it was ok to feel the need for a break. No matter how good something is, it eventually can become tiring.

Their escape was to Juniper Lake, a beautiful lake on the outskirts of Lassen Volcanic National Park. Because it is several miles up a sometimes rough gravel road and it is not accessible from the main road in the park, the lake does not tend to attract as many visitors. This has been on our list of places to go, so yesterday we decided that it was time. We took Linda's suggestion, packed a picnic and headed out for the day. We took our beach chairs and our books and enjoyed several hours of peace and quiet. There are several trailheads that take off from the lake, but because we had Hunter with us (dogs aren't allowed on National Park trails) we couldn't explore much. We did walk, or rather waded, along the lake shore, but mostly we just sat and read and marveled at the beauty. It was a really nice day and helped to refresh us for the coming week.

imagine some pictures here...I tried to upload a few but was experiencing technical difficulties. I will post them another time.

We are planning a longer get away for next "weekend". We don't have a specific destination in mind, but we're going to pack up the car and head for the coast, with plans to stay overnight somewhere. Once again, we'll have Hunter with us, so that limits us somewhat, but we're hoping to find some beaches and/or trails where dogs are allowed. This is the kind of road trip that we love to do. We just set off in a general direction and wander. I'm really looking forward to it.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Short is all relative

Current location: Chester, CA

No, I'm not talking about Tracy! :) (hee, hee...sorry, honey)

One of the things we give up as fulltimers is a visit to a known and trusted hairstylist, along with doctors, dentists, etc. Others have written about shedding tears upon leaving their longtime providers. Back in Colorado I had my hair cut by the same lady for over 20 years. I would drive an hour after a long day of work just to go to her. Due to some unfortunate circumstances, I was forced to switch to someone new about 6 months before we left Colorado. So you would think that finding someone to cut my hair wouldn't be all that traumatizing.

And it isn't really traumatizing...I just dread doing it so I procrastinate until I can't stand it any longer. So I finally got up the nerve in May to get my hair cut here in Chester. I was very conservative, just asking for a trim. I fully blame myself because I didn't want her to cut it too short. And she didn't. It was great for a couple of weeks, but it quickly became longer than I like. My hair is very thick and straight, so when it gets to a certain length, it becomes very heavy and I need to blow dry it in order for it to look good. I prefer the ease of wash and wear and would rather not have to deal with blow drying. But because I procrastinate, I've been blow drying my hair for the last 4 weeks or so.

Once again, I reached the point of needing a haircut NOW, so I made an appointment for this morning. I had returned to the same lady...she seemed to do an ok job last time. And I had made up my mind that I wanted it shorter this time. For those of you who know me personally, I keep my hair pretty short anyway, so going short is not usually a big deal. When I went in this morning, I told her I wanted it shorter than last time, kind of spiky all over. I told her I wanted a wash and wear cut. So she asked if "finger length" was about right. I looked at my finger and thought, a couple of inches, yeah that sounds good. Then she asked if I wanted my bangs longer and I said no, about the same length as the rest (I can't stand it when my hair falls in my eyes). So she started cutting and I had my eyes closed due to all the hair falling.

Imagine my surprise when I opened my eyes. Her fingers must be really short! Maybe she said "finger TIP length". My hair is maybe an inch long. I basically have a long crew cut and she left me no bangs to speak of. Yikes!

Well, it is short and it is wash and wear! No blow dryer for me for a long time!! Be careful of what you ask for!! It's a good thing that I'm not all that attached to my hair. And now I'm really thankful that it grows fast. I guess next time I need to be a little clearer with my directions...and maybe a picture wouldn't be such a bad idea either!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Hot and Tired

Current Location: Chester, CA

Another of our work weeks has drawn to a close. It was the hottest week yet, with temperatures in the high 90's. I don't like heat and I don't function well in it. Anything above 90 is too hot for me. Today we saw a little relief...I think it's only the high 80s. And it's supposed to continue to drop over the next couple of days. Let's hope!

I have been tired the entire week. Perhaps it was the heat. Or possibly we're still recovering from the shake up of our routine last week. Or it could be that we have lost our private oasis.

As I've mentioned previously, our site is away from the campground...which is wonderful...but it is right next to one of 3 rental cabins. This is the largest and most expensive cabin so it has only been rented a couple of times since we've been here. Well that all changed last week and is continuing into this week.

We've had 2 family reunions in succession and we've found that they all like to congregate at this cabin. I can certainly understand why. The cabin has a large deck and a private "beach" (shoreline) that is separate from the rest. Last week the group that was here was mostly adults and one 5 week old baby which cried a lot. They also brought jet skis and set up quite a party area down on the beach. Our sounds of nature were overtaken with the constant grind of the jetski and smells of gas. In hindsight we'd like to have them back.

This week we have a family reunion with LOTS of teenagers. Once again, they all congregate out here. Everyone seems to feel the need to drive to this cabin (even though it's an easy 5 minute walk from the campground) so they pretty much block us in. And the majority of kids are screaming girls. Last night we had to listen to what sounded like hundreds of them in the water for a post-dinner swim. Because it was dark, they were screaming at every little thing that touched them underwater. And you know how that goes. One screams, then another, and then another until they're all making as much noise as possible. We were counting down the minutes until 10:00 quiet hour so that we could go down and tell them to shut up. Thankfully, the adults of the group finally went down and to get them all out of the water. Unfortunately, this is just the beginning. I think they are here all week, and most of the group hasn't even arrived yet.

I'm not sure who comes in after these folks but I sure hope it's a quiet ederly couple! We would still pick this spot over any other, but we sure do miss our privacy.

I fear that the summer is beginning to wear on us. We are working in the store more than on grounds because that is where we're needed right now. I miss the break from the customers that grounds work provides. We both still have one full day of grounds each week. Mine is Sunday and I really need it after 4 long days of customer service. People wear me out! I am pretty much an introvert...I guess that explains why I chose a profession of working with computers. Although I dealt a lot with clients, I also had a lot of time where it was just me and the computer. And I have to admit that I am starting to catch myself looking forward to the winter when I can hopefully return back to that kind of work for awhile.

That's not to say that I regret taking this job. Quite the contrary. We both needed a break from our old routine and this has certainly provided it. And there are many things we like here. 90% of the people are great. They're happy to be here and very appreciative of the service we provide. But it's the other 10% that wear you down. Maybe if we were only working 20 hours a week, it wouldn't seem so bad.

But an opportunity to experience and learn is what this is all about. We are learning that it is all about balance. Ideally, we will find a way to bounce back and forth between the traditional workforce and workamping; hopefully allowing ourselves a month or two off between gigs. If we could get away with limiting our work weeks to 20 or 30 hours, that would be perfect, but I don't know if our bank account will allow that.

It feels like we've been living this lifestyle for years, but we have to remember that we've only been doing it a few months. We are still figuring it out and don't ever expect to have all of the answers. But, isn't that part of the beauty? There is some anxiety in not knowing what the immediate future holds, but then again, that's what makes it an adventure. We may be feeling weary today, but we are extremely thankful that we have the opportunity to experience this life as we choose for as long as we can.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Yes, We Are Still Alive And Doing Well

Current Location: Chester, CA

I know we're way past due on posting an update. I can't believe my last post was before 4th of July! That seems like so long ago now!!

So just a quick update to let you all know we're doing well. We survived the 4th of July. As far as arrivals and check ins, everything went amazingly well. People just kind of trickled in starting on Wednesday through Saturday. We never really had a big rush of people. In that respect, it was a lot smoother than most other weekends.

The challenges of the holiday came after everyone was in. We had quite a problem with visitors, even though we asked everyone at check-in if they were expecting visitors and reminding them of our policy. But this is where we expected to have issues, so we were as ready as we could be. All in all, it was a pretty smooth weekend, although still busy and still tiring.

We went immediately from ending the holiday weekend to entertaining company. My dad and his wife stopped by on their cross-country trip. As a result, we've been busy and have barely turned on the computer in the past week. It's been great having them here but it really throws us off of our routine.

They left this morning so we have one day to readjust and relax before starting our next week of work. I'll write more later when I have time, but just wanted to calm any concerns since we've been offline and out of touch.

Hope all is going well with everyone out there and I look forward to catching up with all of you soon!