Seasonal Jobs and Community


I’ve been noticing an interesting phenomenon here at Cedar Pass.

As the season is winding down, students who were just here working during break are heading back to college, foreign workers who were here on visas will soon be returning home as their visa expiration draws near. Between this week and next week, we’re losing a lot of people at the Lodge.

What I find curious is that having known these people for only four months or so, I’ve formed much stronger bonds with them than I have with any coworkers I’ve had before, even for the places I’ve worked for years at.

I’ve been thinking about why that might be, and come up a number of factors that contributed to this:

  • We all know we have a finite amount of time here unlike a standard job that that has no expiration date, and so the acquaintance phase is pushed through more quickly to get to the friendship phase
  • We all came here from somewhere else, and so we don’t have any other community to fall back on for social interaction except the one we make
  • This is a pretty remote area, so there are less opportunities for meeting potential new friends outside of work
  • Working at a National Park there is a lot of stuff to see, and it being new for all of us, we want to explore it. Exploring new places is more fun, safer, and more economical (splitting gas costs) with other people
  • There is no reason for us to compete with each other on the job, which can build animosity between coworkers. As in, no promotion to be trying to win, no reason to suck up to management for future gain down the road, etc.
  • Working seasonally at a tourist destination feels more like a working holiday than a real job. The mood is lighter, the customers are happier and easier to deal with, it’s an easier environment to build friendships in.
  • We’re all living in the same housing (well okay, RVers are in their RVs, other people are staying in employee cabins), staying in the same area within walking distance of each other, eating the same food, dealing with the same problems (bugs and heat right now), and sharing rides to and from work every day. It’s hard for community NOT to spring up given how much time we spend with each other and how much we have in common right now
  • We all came here with the same goal: to save up some money and make memories at a unique location that many of us will never see again.

One of my coworkers (and friends) from England is leaving today. She didn’t like working here at the Lodge for the most part. It was too remote for her and she likes cities, she wasn’t able to save as much money as she had hoped because the wages are low, she wasn’t expecting to have to rough it as much as she did, she didn’t enjoy the food that was available – but as we were driving home from work yesterday for her last time, music turned up and windows rolled down, she still teared up. “I’m not going to miss this place, but I’m going to miss you guys.”

And it’s true. I think a lot of people have romantic notions about working a park job like this, that it’s all play and no work, that all the amenities of modern living will be within easy reach, that it’s a easy way to coast through a summer saving up wads of dough.

I came in knowing that it wasn’t going to be any of these things (I’d done the math knowing what the wages were going to be, I knew no employer in their right mind would hire workers if it didn’t improve their bottom line, I knew the first sizable city was over 70 miles away) but a lot of my coworkers, especially the younger ones, didn’t anticipate this but still managed to enjoy themselves and will be sad to leave.

And I wager it’s because of the shared experience. Because we were all in it together, the ups and downs, good days and bad, we connected with each other in a way that would have been hard in a conventional setting.

Whatever else working at a National Park for a season may be, it’s an Experience. One that I recommend everyone try at least once in their lives.

* * *

This post was a bit late because I’m hard at work now scrambling around to get the job situation for after Amazon and possibly next summer sorted out sooner rather than later. My life of perpetual travel is an amazing and I wouldn’t trade it for the world – even when highs climb into the 100’s every day and hordes of biting bugs come out every night – but everything worthwhile takes effort, and for how I choose to live that means spending a lot of time searching for gigs, sending inquiring e-mails, and filling out applications.

Today I have another article going live too. I wrote a guest post for Bob over at about safety as a female solo RVer, so if that’s something you’re interested in, you should go peek at it. Bob writes a lot about vandwelling and RVing on a very limited budget, so if even a rig costing $19,500 like Bertha and Cas together did is out of your reach, you should go check him out for pointers.

And for anyone who stumbled over here from Bob’s blog, welcome to Interstellar Orchard! I’m glad to have you here and hope you enjoy your stay. The About pages explains quite well what this site is all about. If you have any questions about RVing, deliberate living, or how to survive 100 degree heat in an encapsulated fiberglass bubble (hint: RVs have wheels for a reason, avoid if at all possible. If not possible, take good care of your A/C and shower often), that page also has my contact information as well as links to my Facebook and Twitter. As you peruse IO you’ll quickly find that my readers contribute as much to my articles as I do, so the comments section is well worth reading.

Safe travels and happy trails to all of you!

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18 Responses to Seasonal Jobs and Community

  1. OpenSpaceMan August 30, 2013 at 2:46 pm #


    Great blog…good job all around style wise and with your lifestyle design.

    About 10 years ago I worked on Lake Mead, NV in the summer and the Florida Keys in the winter…the housing was included on Lake Mead but we had to rent a house in Florida which defeated the purpose of saving money. Now I realize what part was missing and I outfitted a Hi-Top van with solar and stuff so I can do the off-grid thing in between gigs. I’m going to hold on to my job in the city for a while and then go back to living like you do.

    I stumbled on to the working at the resort thing by accident…hard work and long hours but your dealing with people on vacation…way different than they are in real life, right you are.

    I see so many we’ll layed out blogs out there…did you teach yourself HTML ? I’m way older than you and would appreciate any advice you have on how you learned to put together your blog.

    I came here thru Bob’s blog.

    Good luck at Amazon…a friend of my brothers worked a Christmas season at Amazon in Phoenix and he never left…they hired him fulltime. He’s been there several years but he said he was pretty beat up initially…I think it’s the size of 26 football fields.

    • Becky August 31, 2013 at 12:23 am #

      Hello OpenSpace, welcome to IO and thank you for commenting.

      The cost of housing where you’re working definitely plays a big part in your bottom line at a job. I actually interviewed for 3 different resorts this summer, Yellowstone and Lake Powell besides the Badlands, and the reason why I ended up here was because I calculated that I’d be saving more money – even though it paid the least per hour. That’s because the cost of living here is super cheap, my RV site is $2 a day and the meal plan is $35 a week, the other two places couldn’t approach that. Boondocking regularly between jobs stretches your money even further, sounds like a good plan to me. 🙂

      I don’t know one iota of HTML, I purchased the theme of this blog from WooThemes (the link is at the very bottom of the site), uploaded it onto my WordPress site, and all I had to do from there was WYSIWYG stuff like border sizes, colors, fonts, and designing the logo. It cost $70 for the theme, but I think the cost was well worth it for a more professional and easy to use design like this.

      As for Amazon, I can’t remember the exact square footage of the Coffeyville site but it’s huge: 3 stories tall and 27 miles of conveyor belts if that gives you an idea. It’s hard work physically for sure, but I have the advantage of an active lifestyle and young age on my side – I really didn’t mind it last fall when I worked the holiday season. I wrote extensively about it last year when I was doing it because it’s such a popular and good option for RVers who need to make money, might be worth checking it out by using the search box at the bottom and typing in “Amazon CamperForce”.

  2. Richard Myers August 30, 2013 at 4:39 pm #

    Hi Becky,

    Great post, as always! I think your second point about not having a ready-made community except the one you make is key. You got the chance to create a community that had no preconceptions or accepted norms and that is quite liberating. All that baggage and expectation that comes with an existing community was absent , so you made the community that worked best for the majority over a limited time. And the great thing is that you get to do that next time and the time after that.

    It is very like going to an RV park for a week, but at a deeper level. When I go to a new RV park, I meet people, we form instant friendships, have potlucks, etc. Refreshing and horizon expanding.

    Best of luck with the future plans.


    • Becky August 31, 2013 at 12:26 am #

      Heya Rick,

      Thanks and glad you liked it. And now that you mention it yeah, it does bear a resemblance to what happens when you stay at a RV park for more than a couple days and spend enough time out and about to introduce yourself to others.

      Time will tell if working seasonal jobs always goes like this, but I’m hoping it does because really it was a good time.

  3. Larry August 30, 2013 at 11:27 pm #

    Hi Becky, I just came over from Bob Wells site. I am glad you decided to go for the Gusto while you are still young. I have dreamed for a long time and may have waited to late to go. But I see some encouraging words in your writings. Like Making small changes , as you suggested there are places near me that I have not seen. You may be aware of the following website, Just passing along some places you can stay during your travels from point A to B..I have Not stayed at any of these but if you wish Check it out. Thanks Again for your writing and encouraging words. I wish you the best in your travels. Larry

    • Becky August 31, 2013 at 12:35 am #

      Hello Larry and welcome to IO,

      Older folks tell me all the time that they wish they’d gone RVing when they were younger, and younger folks tell me that they only wish they could live like I do. I tell them “You can!”, but they don’t all believe me. So I write on IO and explain how I do it and try to encourage others to make the leap, and I hope that I make a difference for those who are on the fence. The hardest step is that first one, once you get to a certain point momentum carries you forward.

      I can’t tell you if full-timing is right for you, but I can say that it’s never too late to live a life more in alignment with your dreams. If small steps is what you can do, then you should. If the opportunity ever comes up to do more than that, I hope you’ll take it.

      Thank you very much for that link. Someone had shared it with me before but I’d thrown it up in one of my vast favorites folder and completely forgotten about, it’s good to get reminders from time to time. 🙂

      Safe travels and happy trails Larry.

  4. Viking August 31, 2013 at 11:06 am #

    Hi Becky,

    Enjoy your blog ! Just a few comments after reading the article on Bob’s site.

    I’m amused by the women who would use the bumper sticker decoy decal subjects such as ‘pro hunting’ , ‘pro gun’ , etc. While in their real life its probably more like ‘COIXZIST’
    a ‘PEACE emblem’ and the like..

    So instead of a charade, why not look into the very real personal protection benefits of actually owning a gun as per the real message of the ‘pro gun’ decal ?

    The best home (rv) invasion protection is a 12 gage pump action shotgun, which you’ll probably never have to use.Because just the sound of it being cocked in the dark, will send most people running away. Really, take a look at one at any sports store.

    As for deoy decals, if it doesn’t contradict ones politics too much, the small and simple ARMY or MARINES make a meaningful statement.

    Lastly, the “Big Man Boot’ decoy caused a chuckle ! ( boots that’ll never be filled ?) Just leave the Birkenstocks outside, but don’t forget the shotgun !

    • Becky August 31, 2013 at 1:30 pm #

      To be honest Viking other than having a can of mace near the entrance to the RV in case I ever get a knock at an odd hour or in an unfamiliar place, my main tools are just keeping aware of my surroundings and avoiding empty desolate looking places in cities or alongside highways.

      A gun can be a real good tool for personal safety and help a lot of women feel more comfortable going it alone. I just like to stress that anyone who’s going to carry one take the appropriate classes and know how to use it.

      I wish I could remember who the woman was who had the blow up decoy in her vehicle, not sure if she had a blog or was just a commentor on one of the forums I frequent. 😛

      Thanks for commenting and welcome to IO!

  5. k&p Catalano August 31, 2013 at 5:26 pm #

    Hi Becky!
    It looks like your article on safety on Bobs site was a success based on the new commenter’s here. Congratulations! Another great post as usual! You give us so much to think about and prepare for. The time you take is very much appreciated!
    k&p Catalano recently posted..A Gallery of ArtMy Profile

    • Becky September 1, 2013 at 12:36 am #

      Thanks K, glad you liked it!

  6. Bob Wells August 31, 2013 at 8:36 pm #

    Hi Becky, thanks so much for your guest post, it was terrific!! If I am repeating myself forgive me, but one reason I prefer National Forest Campground host jobs is the elevation. You can avoid that extreme heat.

    I can almost guarantee you a job with my old company California Land Management. They run campgrounds in California, Oregon and Colorado. In CA and OR they staat you at $8.50 an hour and give you a free camp site. At most of them you will never need your AC! Here are there current job openings, but obviously there isn’t much now.

    Again there is a job waiting for you there next summer if you want it. .
    Bob Wells recently posted..Guest Post: Safety for the Single Female TravelerMy Profile

    • Becky September 1, 2013 at 12:43 am #

      I’ll keep that in mind Bob!

      I’m hoping for East next summer, because I want to perform at a renaissance festival with my best friend who lives in SC, we’ve been trying to pull it off for years, positioning positioning.

      Still, camp host at $8.50 an hour + the site for free is hard to beat. How far do you need to travel to find internet though? I’ll add that site to my list of places to keep an eye on and let you know how other opportunities pan out. 🙂

  7. Rosemary Rizzo September 3, 2013 at 9:53 am #

    Just came to your blog from Bob’s. I so admire women who travel on their own. Met a super lady named Sue several yrs ago in Quartzsite Az and she has a fun blog too. My husband and I plan to go full time by nxt year.
    Looking for a 3/4 ton truck to pull a 27-30 travel trailer. Cant wait to get out of Los Angeles.
    Keep safe in your travels and thanks again for all the tips. If you are in California, in the Ventura area at the end of October we have a Fiberglass rally that is wonderful.


    • Becky September 3, 2013 at 2:49 pm #

      Heya Rosemary, thanks for commenting and welcome to IO.

      Would that Sue you talk about be RVSue? I follow her blog too, fun stuff.

      I’m glad to hear that you’re thinking of a 3/4 ton instead of a half ton for that length of travel trailer. So many people try to get by with less truck, but you need to think about not only can it get the trailer moving but can it also stop the trailer, tow it over mountains, and will it hold up to the abuse over time.

      Good luck getting on the road, maybe we’ll meet some day. I’d like to visit California, but that probably won’t be for a while yet. Safe travels and happy trails.

  8. JasmineElla September 9, 2013 at 11:59 am #

    On looking your blog i feel so much proudly that these seasonal jobs can help many students to earn money for their education
    JasmineElla recently posted..Whitefire TheatreMy Profile

    • Becky September 10, 2013 at 11:44 pm #

      Given the grammar but relation to the topic I’m not sure if this is a spam comment or not, so I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt. 😉

      I actually felt a little bad for a lot of our foreign students, because they all seemed to expect that they’d be making more money than they did. I’m not sure if it was false advertising on the part of the organization that helped them get here or if they were given the facts but failed to calculate out what the money would be here.

      For instance, we had several students come from England, where their Pound is worth 1.5 times our dollar. For them, the minimum wage they earned here was worth even less in their country, it was hardly worth the effort.

  9. Mike Goad April 15, 2014 at 10:23 pm #

    Your link to your guest article “safety as a female solo RVer” is broken. The new link is
    Mike Goad recently posted..Reminder of the BadlandsMy Profile

    • Becky April 17, 2014 at 2:37 pm #

      Fixed. Thanks for noticing!

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