Saturday, March 8, 2014

We are working as volunteers at Myakka River State Park near Sarasota Florida!


We arrived March 1st to begin our 4 months as volunteers at Myakka River State Park.

Myaka entrance 053

Many of you may not know how interesting it can be to live in your RV fulltime, or maybe even part time, and volunteer some of your time at a state park!  You provide valuable muscle to a resource that protects and yet showcases Americas wild beauty and wildlife! What a way to retire!!! We have several people working in this park escaping the harsh winter up north. Connie and Cecil leave their small farm in Michigan and volunteer those cold winter months in warmer, sunny Florida at the wonderful state parks here. A volunteer is requested to work 2 to 4 months and be required to work 10 to 20 hours a week and in return get a campsite with full hook-up.  This is a win-win for you and for the State Park Service!  Every state has state parks and every state has volunteers. This is the link if you are interested in volunteering.

http://www.floridastateparks.org/getinvolved/volunteer.cfm

  Here, at Myakka River, Chuck and I are cleaning cabins.  There are 5 cabins built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The cabins are snuggled in with the beautiful oaks and tall palm trees.

Myaka cabin 5 059

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myakka_River_State_Park

We were asked to arrive on Saturday March 1st.  We got here about 3pm and they brought us to the best site possible for us! We love it here!  Most of the volunteers are down near the office actually in the park. Still other volunteers are over in the STOP camp across the highway. We lucked out and are the only volunteers here, sharing our space with the park rangers.

Myaka  camp 044

We have a lovely space with no real close neighbors and plenty of room to walk with the dogs. One of the trails from the park run right behind us!

Myaka Chuck 046

I found an old long handled fishing net propped up against a tree.  The net was long gone. Didn’t take me long to re-purpose it! I had a hummingbird feeder, but no good branches to hang it from.  I took the net frame, turned it upside down and had Chuck bungee cord it to a post and hung the feeder! YaY!  No Hummingbirds yet… but I am sure as soon as they discover it…..

Myaka feeder 041

On Sunday, the volunteers all gather at the STOP camp for a yummy covered dish dinner! Seems this is a Sunday tradition. It is a good way to meet other volunteers and share experiences. All the home cooked food was wonderful!  I made my green chili chicken enchilada casserole, the dish was scraped clean! This is where we have covered dish on Sunday and volunteer meetings.

Myaka meeting 051

Monday we pulled out our camp chairs and decorations and settled down to enjoy our Kindles. Work begins on Tuesday.  Tuesday was more of an orientation than actual work day.

Myaka Shirley & Ed 057

Shirley and her husband Ed are also volunteers working the cabins. She came in to show us how to read the ticket for what cabins needed cleaning and how to bundle the sheets and towels needed for each cabin.

Myakka  linen 055

Wednesday Phil came to take us to cabin 5 and taught us how cleaning should be done and what was expected of us. Thursday we had another day of learning from Mike. Thursday was an awful day! Not because of the cabins but because of the rain! It rained and thundered the whole 4 hours we worked! We dragged in more mud and dirt into the cabins than what was in there to begin with making more work for ourselves!  Mike was more detail oriented than Phil so we learned a bit more that day.
Almost as soon as we got off work, the rain stopped!  Chuck and I were soaked clear through! As soon as we got in the door we shucked off the wet clothes and put on dry warmer clothes! I didn’t feel like cooking so we took off exploring and landed at a Chili’s restaurant off Bee Ridge Road. We had a bubbly waitress named Kylie who was fun and a good waitress. She had never heard of workamping or of volunteering and the benefits so we enlightened her.  Of course she has several decades ahead of her before she retires!

Myaka wild iris 064

The wild iris is beginning to bloom in the park! So beautiful! We enjoy working as volunteers. We have worked as volunteers in Utah at Spring Hollow campground near Logan Utah,  and Zion River Resort near Zion National Park, in Mimbres NM near the Gila Cliff Dwellings. Although we enjoyed working at those places, our favorite gig was in Truth or Consequences NM at the River Bend Hot Springs! Loved working there and we loved our boss Jake and all the folks we worked with that summer but most of all we enjoyed soaking in the hot springs there and tubing down the Rio Grand River!
Life is what you make of it!  We like traveling and seeing life in different places and spaces. Workamping allows you to intimately get to know a place, with 3 or 4 days off you can explore and hike and try all new restaurants!  You might want to consider this life style one day. Chuck and I are able to live off of our SS every month and volunteering keeps us busy and happy!
Here are some links to explore. Most private campgrounds want a commitment of 6 months. Most State Parks ask for 2-4 months commitment.

http://www.workampingjobs.com/

 http://www.workamper.com/

http://www.workamper.com/membertype/

Hope you enjoyed finding out more about volunteering as a way of travelling. It’s free rent and it’s where ever you want to be! What a way to retire!

be who you are

22 comments:

  1. I've never considered cleaning cabins while I volunteer. I've been on the road just about eight years as a volunteer. :)

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    1. Not really hard work. Strip the beds, throw on a bundle of linens and towels (the guests make up their own bed), wash dishes, clean out the fire place if used, sweep, mop, dust. Clean it like your momma was going to be the next guest! We don't even wash the linens, they get sent out!

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    2. Congrats Judith, for being a volunteer for 8 years! This is our 4th year.

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  2. Sounds like you guys are doing great!

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    1. Come visit us Chinle ! We would love to meet you and show you all this swamp land! LOL!

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  3. I like the improv hummingbird feeder. And glad you have a peaceful site to live for the next 4 months.

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    1. Thanks Page ! I should have been listening to Phil but the empty fishing net caught my eye and my imagination and I walked right out of the conversation and picked the net up knowing what I was going to make of it before it even touched my hand! It works very well, still waiting for a few hummers!

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  4. Super post, Geri! Entertaining, informative, and inspiring. Your campsite looks cozy and peaceful. Love the holder for the hummingbird feeder. It looks like it was meant to be that.

    My memory of Florida rain is it arrives about the same time every day. Maybe you'll be able to work around it because when it rains in Florida, it really does RAIN!

    I hope Radar and Doogie like their new home . . .

    Sue

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  5. Hi Sue! Glad you liked it.... of course now I remember several other things I should have added.... will go back and do that next. I love that I was able to re-purpose that old wreck of a fishing net into a useful holder for my hummer feeder! I'm not usually that bright with creative ideas! Much of Florida is in a drought and has been for a few years. The panhandle has seen a lot of rain, but not so much south of SR 60. I appreciate all the rain we can get! Love hearing rain drops dancing on the roof of the MotherShip!

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  6. This sounds like a pretty easy gig and you sure got the cream of the camp sites. Love your innovative hummingbird feeder.

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    1. :-) Glad you like the feeder!! Still no hummers and it has been up for 4 days..... hope they find it soon! I have been enjoying your explorations of South Africa!

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  7. What a lovely spot..... We are trying to figure our some workamping gigs. Did you go through the state link for that park? Or just happen on it....I thought it was hard to get into the FL parks but maybe I'm wrong. Either way....the setting there is just stunning! Way to go on the feeder....perfect!

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  8. We went thru the state park link, BUT we printed it out, filled it out and hand mailed it to each park we were interested in working. We were called to Myakka a week after we mailed it and the day after we were called by Hillsborough River State Park, where we will go after we leave here in July, We work here March 1 to June 30 then up tp Hillsborough from June to end of Sept. !!!

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    1. P.S. You can probably do a search for Alabama State Parks and bring up a volunteer application, IF Alabama is where you want to work. We were told by our boss here, that they are deluged by online applications and the ones they read first are the ones that come delivered by the mailman! So print it out, fill it out and mail it to the park or parks, where you would like to spend some time!

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    2. Gee, looks like Chuck has already figured out how to be a state employee-sleeping on the job! (and I can say that, being as I'm a state employee).

      Geri, thanks for posting about your workkamping/volunteering at the park. I've known about it, but kinda put it out of mind because I wanted to be free to do my own thing, ya know?

      But this past weekend I was playing around with numbers, trying to figure out how I might be able to shave a couple of years off my potential retirement date. Read your post and clicked on one of the links just for grins. Lo and behold, I see postings for private parks in the Mission/McAllen TX area looking for people during the winter and wanting them to stay the full 6 month season! I had already formulated a plan in my mind, to cut down costs, to travel 6 months then winter for 6 months (I am not a boondocker at heart, but a few days here and there could be fun). Just the thought of living 6 months for 'free' has me giddy! So thank you.

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    3. I am glad that one of the links I provided was able to help you consider a new window on your future. Good luck with that!

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  9. Geri that makes perfect sense....and I'm so happy you shared that with me! Now we can formulate a plan to seek out somewhere we really want to be and not get lost in the pool! Again, thanks so much!!!!

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    1. You are welcome! Good luck in finding the right park! Another hint I just found out about, if you want a summer gig.... write SUMMER at the top of the page and highlight it! Plan on waiting 3 months or so for a response. We got fast responses because nobody wants to work in Florida in the summer! You have to get your foot in the door somehow! After you are in one or two parks... you are more likely to get the job you want at the season you want!

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  10. Very well stated. It took us a few months to realize these facts. Now we are regularly booked 6 to 9 months ahead. We pick where we want to be then find a gig. You get to live the area and not be rushed like a tourist. Have fun.

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  11. I see you wintered in T or C with Jake, Minnow and those wonderful Riverbend Hot Springs! We loved it there! This was our first gig as workampers! We also love deciding where we want to be and sending applications out to that area! We have never been disappointed! I also loved the Tucson area and Bisbee! You must discover Strawberry and Pine AZ !!! Wonderful woodlands camping... boondocking or campgrounds available!

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  12. You are in a gorgeous area! Our son and family live in Sarasota, and TM and I love Myakka State Park. Perhaps when we retire we'll luck out and volunteer there - close to 2 of the grandkids. ;)

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    1. This is why we are here, now 30 minutes away from grandkids!

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