And That's A Wrap
That title has soo many meanings right now for us. First, it's a wrap on our hiatus from this blog. Our last post was 1/16/22 and that was about our travels last fall up to the end of September. The title also means that we are wrapping up our 6+month stay in FL. I guess we really are residents now. It also means that we have wrapped up our workamper stints for awhile as we start to travel again and it also means that my tax season gig is wrapping up as well. There is also a wrap on Julie's arm. So what have we been doing the past 7+ months?? We will try to catch you up to speed in this blog with some highlights.
First of all, we embarked on a new workamping gig in TN; helping a fellow RV'ing family realize their dream of an event center and destination overlooking a beautiful lake in Central TN, a half hour east of Nashville. This was again a unique workamping opportunity where we helped with the remodeling of a huge estate home overlooking the lake, a little bit of help with the beginning development of a campground for guests and workampers, some visioning of an old chapel for future events, a bit of food service planning with Rick's background as a chef and then providing companionship and fun for parents of our hosts while they were busy getting the business up and running. October was a fun month of new experiences for us. Here is some pictures of our time on Center Lake. Check out Paul and Tina's amazing transformation of this property at Due West Properties. Our time was not all work, and were able to see lots of sites in the area. We were also able to meet up with friends in TN and GA. Sorry, Sally, we never got a picture together but we got BBQ at Ridgewood!
Our trip thereafter to FL was an uneventful one with a quick Harvest Host stopover in southern GA and then it was off to a new workamping gig for our longest time ever in one spot. We were unsure how we would like being in one spot for so long, but the camp location was wonderful, out on a peninsula, outside of Leesburg. We stumbled upon Warren Willis Camp and Conference Center last winter when we stayed at Recreation Plantation, outside of The Villages. We went for a visit and were immediately welcomed in and given a tour. We were soo impressed by the place that we thought our good friends and workamper buddies, the Golden's, would also enjoy this opportunity and we all signed up for the 2021-2022 winter season. We arrived at the end of October and quickly set up in our little oasis. Rick built a picnic table for our site and we purchased a fire pit which got some use with gathering with friends, new and old.
We were some of the first workampers to arrive for the season and through the months of November and December, many more workampers arrived, old and new, to make a robust group of over 50!! We had certainly outnumbered the staff as they were hit hard by Covid cutbacks, so the work we were able to assist with was much appreciated and helped make this comeback year a success. Since the property is situated on nearly 300 acres with numerous buildings on both the camp and conference sides, there was alot of work to be done to not only operate day to day but get the property back in shape after a long pandemic hiatus. Job duties ran the gamut. There was grounds work, building maintenance, housekeeping, laundry, food service and a host of other job duties. We were able to draw upon our past experiences in food service, housekeeping, organization and business skills to help get the camp back to pre-pandemic operating levels. It was alot of hard work at times but the appreciation expressed by staff and guests made it all worthwhile. We will be back this next winter season!!
A bonus to being in the area was to spend time with family and friends. Several of Julie's family now live in The Villages, including her Dad and Stepmom, who moved down from WI in June. We were able to help them get settled in to their new digs and spend some time enjoying the beautiful FL winter and visiting with other relatives who came to visit. We took advantage of the week we get off of work at the camp in late December to spend Christmas with family in WI with a Christmas Day Milwaukee Bucks game with our boys.
Another highlight was spending time with RV'ing friends visiting the area and those workamping with us. We met up with our RV'ing friends, the Wirt's, along with the Golden's and spent a great couple days at Disney in a lovely condo, compliments of the Wirt's Disney Vacation membership. The six of us also met up in mid-December to go see the Christmas lights at Weeki Watchee State Park. We also met up with fellow Grand Design RV'ing friends who were in the area and dang if we didn't miss pictures with some, we were having too much fun!
The Daytona 500 was certainly a highlight of our spring in FL! It was a great day for a race and we really enjoyed, not only the race, but all the people watching and pre-race festivities.
Another bucket list item was attending the largest RV show in Tampa. With over 1,500 RV's and over 450 vendor booths, there was no way to see it all in one day so we spent a night in Tampa to take it all in. We certainly saw many interesting RV's, were in disbelief at the unreal prices that people were paying but were able to develop a short list of RV's that may be "The One", if we ever sell the coach we have, which is still the best RV for us!
But all this fun was punctuated with the daily living activities and some lowlights, shitty lowlights, really shitty, but more about that in a minute. Shortly after we arrived, we noticed that we had a flat tire. Upon further inspection, it was a bent rim that caused it. After a call to the manufacturer, they stood behind their product in not only sending us a new rim, but also a check to have it installed...within the week WOW! Now that is customer service!
The regular maintenance and upkeep, like replacing a light cover we lost on the way down, cleaning the hot water heater, washing the rig, awning and roof were necessary tasks that we tackled. But none of these prepared us for a lazy Sunday afternoon when we dumped the tanks as usual with a thorough rinse of the black tank, when we lost track of time, and were quickly brought back to reality when we heard the gut wrenching sound of water gurgling and trickling off the roof! Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit...the black tank overflowed, backed up the vent stack to the roof and overflowed into the RV!!!! While Rick ran to shut off the water and open the tank valve, I ran inside, only to be met by semi-shitty water backing up in to the bathroom, hall and bedroom of the upper level. You have never seen two people move soo fast with anything available to get that cleaned up, Unfortunately some leaked down into the bay below the bedroom and the front cap. We did file an insurance claim and will have the repair work done at the Grand Design factory in May. Fortunately, our quick work to clean it all up led to minimal damage and a compliment by the insurance adjuster telling us we should really teach other RV'ers what to do in this scenario. So there's that...
Tax time this year was kinda rough with trying to balance workamping and the challenges of Covid time taxes, which brought it's own complexities. But, we made it through and look forward to a more normal year next spring.
We wrapped up our time at Warren Willis in early April, after 5 plus months, and headed for some R&R at Strawberry Fields for RV'ers in Chiefland, FL. It was a great, newer park, with paved sites and all the amenities, including a wonderful, cheap laundry room, which we always appreciate. While I wrapped up taxes, Rick was able to wash the rig since our rig was no longer under the live oaks with a continuous shower of moss. Boy was our baby dirty!
We also went for a long bike ride on another rails to trails paved path which took us to Old Town, FL and a train trestle bridge over the Suwanee River. This was a ride where we, inadvertently, tested our ebike batteries where Rick's died as we rolled back into the parking lot.
Another day we took time to explore Cedar Key and have some wonderful, fresh seafood overlooking the bay.
Our final stop in FL was in St. Augustine. We have wanted to stop and explore the oldest town in the US every time we came to or from FL but never had the time. This time was different. We carved out several days to play tourist and enjoy our time exploring. We visited the Castillo de San Marcos fort, explored St. Georges street, took a walk to the beach and enjoyed a guided golf cart tour of the old city. We even had time to meet up with new friends we workamped with at Warren Willis for a delicious dinner at the Conch House overlooking Matanzas Bay in a elevated tiki hut. What a fun experience!
The end of April had us moving through GA, stopping to visit RV'ing friends who have since settled down in St. Mary's, GA. We enjoyed catching up with both Dave & Dawn, who we workamped with at Valley River RV Resort in 2020 and Rick and Vonceil, fellow Grand Design owners, who we met while staying near Galveston, TX for a month in early 2020. Unfortunately, your seeing a trend, we didn't get pictures...ughhh. While in the area, we took a day trip to the Okefenokee Swamp for a great hike and saw some gators and other wildlife. Steffens was also on the agenda for some awesome country fried steak! Seriously addicting and a must have when we're in the area.
We then headed up the coast to Brunswick, where we went on a wonderful bike ride of Jekyll Island, which was picture perfect until... Julie unexpectedly met some soft sand that really wanted her to stop and lay in it! That tumble resulted in a trip to the urgent care and a fractured right wrist! Injuries while traveling full time are never easy or fun, but amazingly, we were able to find a orthopedic office in Savannah, our next stop who was able to fit us in, and because of our mobile lifestyle, put a heavy duty splint on rather than a cast so that we could continue or planned travels but still ensure the wrist was immobile. A follow up visit there showed the wrist was healing nicely and barring any unforeseen complications, no additional follow-up would needed.
Savannah had been a planned stop for some time as the Gramoll sisters were bringing Rick's mom for a girls trip. After 2 months of creative fibbing to his Mom as to our whereabouts, we were able to surprise her one night on an evening dinner cruise, and boy was she happy! We spent more time with everyone the next day and had a BBQ back at our site at Skidaway Island State Park.
After that quick visit we made our way to visit our dear friends, Ryan and Vicki in Jamestown, NC. We stayed at our favorite Oak Hollow Campground, a city park in High Point and spent the long weekend catching up and enjoying alot of fantastic food!
We are now making our way north to drop of our rig at Grand Design, in Elkhart, IN, for some work while we take a once in a lifetime, pandemic delayed, 25th Anniversary trip to Germany, Rome, a western Mediterranean cruise and finally a couple days in London. To say we are excited is a monumental understatement! There is alot of work still to be done when we get to IN to prepare the rig and get ready for our almost month long excursion overseas.
If you are on Facebook, you can like our Wandering by Design page to see updates as we travel through Europe. We hope to post as we have WIFI and look forward to sharing this exciting trip with you!
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