Three Ordinary Work Days

OF visitor center through the trees on a stormy day

OF visitor center through the trees on a stormy day

Today I’d like to share with you all the flip side of the coin, the side of full-time RVing as a person of working age that you don’t hear as much about. You read a lot about what my travel days are like, what my exploring days are like, but very seldom do I post about what my work days are like. While not what people think about when they think about the gypsy lifestyle, working days make up more than half of my year on the road and are an integral part of it.

I present to you three rather ordinary work days from the last three jobs I’ve worked.

Sunday, May 31 2015 (Seasonal retail worker at Yellowstone National Park)

I’ve been setting my alarm for 7:30 am since I arrived in Yellowstone, even on days like today when my shift doesn’t start until 1:30 pm. Rising early has never been my strong suit, and if I don’t make an effort to get up early I’ll sleep in late on work days and not have enough time to get anything done. I try to get all my chores done during the work week so that on my days off I can enjoy them fully. Rarely do I feel like getting chores or writing done after work on my late days which go until 7:30 or 8:30.

Yesterday’s task was book writing. Today’s task is writing this blog post. It takes me 3-5 hours on average to write a blog post and get the pictures formatted, so if I’m blogging on a work day, that’s pretty much my whole day right there.

I was making pretty good progress when my neighbor came over to help me get the sewer line unstuck.

A couple days ago when I dumped my tanks for the first time, I noticed the water wasn’t draining into the sewer pipe well. We unhooked my waste tank hose and shoved a regular water hose (not one used to fill the fresh tank!) down into the pipe and turned it on full blast. At first it seems like it’s running just fine, but then it backs up – yep, it’s plugged somehow.

The people who were in my campsite last year say they never had this problem, so it’s something that happened over the winter. We can’t get it unplugged running water full blast down the pipe, so I’m going to need to inform my manager of the problem and he’ll have to get a hold of a professional. Ah, the joys of RVing.

The first couple hours of work are reasonably busy, but it tapers off to almost nothing in the evening. The returners say things will start picking up soon, and by July the place will be a madhouse. I like staying busy at work, the time goes by faster.

After work the Old Faithful YA crew meet at the employee pub for cheap pizza and drinks. Yes, there are enough people working here at OF to warrant a pub that’s for employees only. A small pepperoni pizza is only $5.20 and I can get two meals out of it.

I spend the last hour and a half before bed answering blog comments and being present on a couple Facebook RVing groups I’m a part of.

Tuesday, February 17 2015 (Volunteer park host at Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, TX)

Thank goodness, today’s our one non-weekend work day. Last weekend the weather was nice and it being Valentine’s day and all, the park quickly filled up and Julie and I did traffic control most of the time.

Saturday especially was challenging, couples stayed late to watch the sunset on the rock so once the park reached capacity and we closed the gates, we couldn’t open them until nearly 3 pm because people just weren’t leaving. We nearly had to close the park twice but luckily we squeezed by, we were counting cars coming in and out for a while in the late afternoon and hovered between 10-20 parking spots available for a good while before it started clearing out again.

Today’s a cleanup day. After cleaning the bathrooms we get on the Kubota and load up supplies to restock the pit toilets and buckets and grabbers to pick up litter from the back country camp areas. It’s wet from rain yesterday and cloudy most of the day, but additional rain holds off and our three hours of work go by quickly.

This is the best part of the winter volunteer work I do, the hours are short. Between Julie and I we need to put in 24 hours of work a week for our site here at E-Rock, so that’s only 12 hours of work each a week. In theory. In actuality, we nearly always work over on Saturdays because the park gets so busy that we feel bad leaving everyone else to scramble. Last winter with the University of Florida, it was 16 hours of work a week (no Julie then so I did it all myself) which I did in two 8 hour days.

But all of that extra free time doesn’t mean I’m goofing off, oh no. Instead I’m filling that time with work of another sort. I’m on a mission: to launch the e-guide I’ve been working on before we leave E-Rock. It takes a lot of time and effort to write a book, a lot more than I was thinking when I started this project well over a year ago. When we finish our shift at 11 am I hop online to put up today’s blog post while Julie cooks lunch. After eating I get to working editing the guide. Before I know it it’s nearing 3, and if we’re going to run in to Fredericksburg to buy groceries we should leave before long.

By the time we’re done with grocery shopping it’s supper time. After eating I hop back online to respond to the first couple comments for today’s post, and then Julie and I enjoy the rest of the drizzly evening quietly, sipping hot coca and reading.

Thursday, December 11 2014 (Warehouse worker for Amazon.com in Fernley, NV)

Julie and I finally drag ourselves out of bed around 3:00 pm, we have an hour and a half before we need to get ready for work.

That’s it, that’s really all the free time we get on work days now that we’re working 11 hours most of the time and have a 45 minute commute. Chores and blogging need to happen on days off because that’s when there’s time.

Julie cooks, we eat, I do the dishes and respond to some blog comments. The sun has already set by the time we arrive at Amazon. It’ll be threatening to rise when we climb back into bed around 6 am after getting home from work. To me, the work itself isn’t hard, it’s the long hours and monotony that are hard. It’s the lack of free time for ‘fun’ things. I’ll probably lay in bed for about 20 minutes playing Minecraft on my phone before trying to sleep. That’ll be my fun time for today.

Luckily it’s almost over for the season, and I’ll have saved up enough money for some serious traveling after this. We’re going to cross the Sierra mountains at Donner Pass if the weather holds and meander through California. I’m going to get to see redwood trees, dip my toes in the Pacific, and hit up some more state and national parks. The reward for Amazon is big, but it doesn’t come until you’re done.

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It occurred to me as I was writing that there could easily be a part 2 to this post as well, about how to make your work days as a full-timer more productive so that you can more fully enjoy your days off, and how to make them more enjoyable so that you don’t feel like you’re back in your sticks n brick plugging away at a “real” job. What do you think? Have a great week, all!

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22 Responses to Three Ordinary Work Days

  1. Ron June 1, 2015 at 12:53 pm #

    So it is not all Fun & Games!!!
    Don’t know why I said that, it just came into my head.

    • Becky June 2, 2015 at 9:34 pm #

      Hehe, nope it’s not Ron.

  2. Oystein June 1, 2015 at 2:06 pm #

    I like how your so methodical, plan days, events and time out. Unless your filthy rich or retired, then you need to work, as your doing. I will need to work also, but in the mean time I am working hard to pay off debt. I want to be free and clear before my journey begins. I respect and admire your hard work Becky. I was in the military for 8 yrs and at my current job for 15 yrs. My current job is in law enforcement and I see so many bad, negative aspects of peoples lives, but of course positive also. I want to live, travel, explore and see the country. I tell you one thing Becky, your more happy then most people I work and deal with, including myself. Another great post, thanks. I went off topic a little, lol.

    • Becky June 2, 2015 at 9:38 pm #

      Glad you enjoyed this Oystein. Planning has had a big part in my success as a full-timer, although I know some who wing it and still do fine. Depends on the kind of person you are I guess.

      I am a much happier person on the road than I was living stationary, and I’ve met some really great people since I started traveling. I always tell people though: what makes me happy won’t make everyone happy. Everyone needs to do some soul searching to figure out what they really want from life, and then pursue that, whatever it ends up being.

  3. Tom Reed June 2, 2015 at 6:51 am #

    Well you did it again, and made a story of the mundane very interesting. Organization is the key to everything , and like all woman you have that down to a science. I have never managed to master that trait but plod on helter skelter and take longer to get everything done.(I guess it’s a guy thing…lol ) I’ll be waiting with baited breath for the next episode of your blog. Have fun and stay safe TR

    • Becky June 2, 2015 at 9:41 pm #

      Who would have thought a journal of my work day could be interesting. It really doesn’t seem that interesting on my end of things, but I remember when I was dreaming of full-timing every little thing I could read about others who were on the road I enjoyed so I suppose it makes sense.

      For the record, I’ve met some men who were very organized, and some women who really weren’t, so I think it’s more of an individual thing. 😉

  4. Jodee Gravel June 2, 2015 at 7:06 am #

    While each day at one job may be somewhat the same, and maybe at Amazon all the days are the same, but the variety of experiencing a work day while on the road full time seems so much better than the monotony of the average worker. You clearly have to be good at balancing your time to make the most of your surroundings – or completely immerse yourself and power through to get it done in a short burst – but the goals are realistic and the rewards are not only great, but immediate. Great post, thanks for sharing!
    Jodee Gravel recently posted..Down to the Wire While Wrapping Up Life in the Stix-and-BrixMy Profile

    • Becky June 2, 2015 at 9:49 pm #

      Glad you enjoyed this Jodee. One of my favorite things about seasonal work is the variety. I get bored doing the same thing every day, but I feel much more challenged, present, and satisfied when I get to experience different kinds of jobs in a year. I’ve learned how to do so many things since I hit the road.

      And yes, scheduling my time is important. It’s fun to think that as a full-timer you can let serendipity steer the wheel 365 days a year, but from my experience you really can’t if you still need to work. Still, serendipity steers the wheel more often now than it did living in an apartment. 🙂

      As I recall, tomorrow should be your first day as a full-timer! I hope it’s everything you want it to be, but I’ll also say this from my own experience: my first day on the road was more exhausting than it was fun. I was worried about every little thing, there was a lot to juggle. But you’ll likely find that the second day is less exhausting than the first, and it gets easier as you go. Safe travels and happy trails. 🙂

  5. Jerry Minchey June 2, 2015 at 7:23 am #

    I’m glad to hear that you’re working on your second book. Are you ready to reveal a title or a topic?

    • Becky June 2, 2015 at 9:49 pm #

      Not quite yet Jerry, but soon. 🙂

  6. Angela June 2, 2015 at 8:27 am #

    Thank you!!!! This is exactly what I need. I want to see more of the real stuff. The everyday stuff. How you fill your days working and not working. I’ll be first in line for the E guide. I feel like if . I have to work full time at my desk job for another year, im going to lose it!!!

    • Becky June 2, 2015 at 9:58 pm #

      So glad you found this helpful Angela! My work days really aren’t that different than work days at a regular job, except that they don’t feel as monotonous because my “routine” only lasts a few months before I move on to the next job. Plus at places like Yellowstone there are fun things to do within walking distance of the RV so even with less free time on a work day I can still get out and see a thing or two.

      As for the e-guide, the one I was writing in February when I was in Texas is now out. That one’s called “Solo Full-time RVing On A Budget”, and it’s for wannabe RVers, you can read more about it here: http://www.interstellarorchard.com/solo-budget-rving-guide/

      The one I’m working on now will probably not be out until late this year at the earliest and I haven’t released a working title for it yet, but as I get more of it written more info will be showing up.

      I remember being where you are now, plugging away at my last “real” job to save up the money needed to hit the road. I wish you the best of luck!

  7. Jim at Growing Faith June 2, 2015 at 10:10 am #

    How can you tell when you are reading something written by a great writer? The subject matter is seemingly boring, but you love reading it anyway! Perhaps it is your personality that shines through no matter what you write about. Whatever it is, I LOVE reading what you write!!! 🙂
    Jim at Growing Faith recently posted..CommandmentsMy Profile

    • Becky June 2, 2015 at 10:06 pm #

      Glad you’re finding IO enjoyable Jim, thanks for reading!

  8. Rayn June 2, 2015 at 3:01 pm #

    Part 2…yes, please! Living in the Sierras for the summer, we do everything we can to ensure our days off are all for hiking!

    • Becky June 2, 2015 at 10:06 pm #

      Alright Rayn, I’ll see what I can do!

  9. Rob Getman June 2, 2015 at 9:13 pm #

    Enjoyed some insight into the daily routine of the RV work camper. I, myself, have tried to incorporate work into my RV travels (have a couple of relationship selling businesses). This allows me to move a lot and still work to cover RV full time living. We have been on the road for 3+ years and love it. Installing solar this week to “get off the grid” and stop paying for RV sites. Staying in BLMs, Army Core Eng, National Forests & Parks for free or less than $10. Would love to see an article on your budget as an RV Work Camper. Thanks Again!

    • Becky June 2, 2015 at 10:12 pm #

      Here you go Rob: http://www.interstellarorchard.com/2015/04/10/a-revised-look-at-my-costs-as-a-full-timer/

      You’re where I want to be someday. I hope to eventually be able to earn enough money online that I can travel where and when I want without taking seasonal jobs. That day is still a ways off though. 🙂

      This coming winter might see me making the leap to boondocking finally. I wasn’t able to for years because I didn’t have: solar/generator, propane heat, or mobile internet and didn’t have the spare money to afford those things. I’ve got mobile internet now, and am looking into the other two. We’ll see what happens.

  10. helga July 4, 2015 at 12:25 pm #

    Just found your blog today! Looking forward to reading some of it.
    In this post you mentioned commenting on FB RV’ing pages ~ do you mind sharing those groups? The boyfriend and I are hoping to work-camp this winter and we’re starting our research now.
    Thx and happy trails!!
    Helga

  11. Karen July 19, 2016 at 7:57 am #

    Hi Becky! I would love to see a part 2 to this. Maybe there is one already that I missed, seeing as this post is a year old? Any advice that helps to make a work day (or any day ) more productive is very welcome. While I am still in the armchair traveling /dreaming /drooling phase, I’m sure your advice would have application to stationary life as well. Thank you for all your hard work. This blog is keeping me motivated until I can find my way to be a FTRVer myself!

    • Becky July 19, 2016 at 8:26 pm #

      Glad you enjoyed this Karen! There is no part 2 to this post, I haven’t worked a seasonal job yet this year so Amazon was the last thing I’ve done. I’ll keep it in mind for the future though. 🙂

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