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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