April 16th was the 2 year anniversary of the purchase of our Arctic Fox travel trailer. The picture of us on this blog was actually taken by Billy, Foxy’s (the name I affectionately call our home on wheels) previous owner, the day we acquired her. This year, we celebrated this auspicious date with the arrival of an email from our contact at Golden Gate Canyon State Park letting us know that they anticipated the park opening sometime this summer and would begin receiving volunteers beginning on May 10th.
This will be our first time camp hosting, and we are excited that our opportunity is still intact with all the Virus craziness this year. And that we will be able to volunteer in exchange for a free FHU (full hook up) camp site in a beautiful place near friends and family in the Denver area as we have missed our family and friends a lot.
Other friends and fellow volunteers at the Corp of Engineers Lake Thurmond Volunteer Village where we are currently living have had their plans and volunteer jobs postponed so we were elated to find out that our plans are still intact.
Our volunteer experience here at Lake Thurmond was the first one of these that we had tried, and, obviously, because of COVID-19 and the shutdown of virtually anything deemed “non-essential” across the nation, did not go as planned, but still has been a wonderful experience thanks to the wonderful Rangers and park officials here at the COE Lake Thurmond.
Hans and I were relieved of our duties on March 12th when the Visitor Center closed, but the ranger who enlisted us told us that we could remain here if we wished, so we did.
Our original plan when we came here was to occasionally pick up work out of the SWA Atlanta base or commute to Chicago or Baltimore to grab a trip. After all, we completed our 34 hour a week volunteer commitment (split between two people….. I think a single person would have to volunteer 20 hours) in two eight and a half hour shifts in two days at the Visitor Center. So we would have had five days off to do as we wished. For our service, we had a free FHU campsite on the lake.
In fact, if there is anyone reading this who is interested in a volunteer opportunity in exchange for a campsite, the COE Volunteer Village here at Lake Thurmond is excellent. The campsites are waterfront and spacious, and we also have access to a clubhouse with two free washer/dryers, a full kitchen, a home gym and TV and sofas and tons and tons of books, puzzles and videos. And the other volunteers are a really lovely group who love to get together for campfires, potlucks and company under normal circumstances. Message me and I can give you info on whom to contact.
However, after Hans was exposed to another person who tested positive for COVID-19 when he returned to Denver to take recurrent training to requalify to be a flight attendant for another year, we had to self-isolate to our campsite and were very concerned that we may have exposed our fellow volunteers, some of who fall into the “high-risk” category. We decided it was not worth the risk of going to work, potentially exposing our fellow volunteers and having to leave this paradise on the lake. That decision became really easy to make as more and more flights canceled and there was less and less work to be had or flight options to go to work if we commuted to Chicago or Baltimore.
We have not regretted our decision one bit. If this is retirement, bring it ON! We have had no trouble finding endless projects to occupy our days. After all, RVs, especially older (7 years) RVs always have something that must be fixed.
We remediated some mold we found. Hans fixed our refrigerator and probably saved us a ton of money. He is currently working through fixes for our hot water heater which seems to heat better on propane than on electric. 🤔
Sometimes there is suspense with the repairs and that breaks up the monotony. When Hans was stumped with the refrigerator at one point, he told me to get ready to pack up the food in the fridge and take it up to the refrigerator in the Volunteer Village clubhouse. 😧 I just looked at him and pretended I didn’t hear him, and he, thank god, figured whatever out.
I have been working on compiling 500 “essential” photos (I really condensed it down to only the ones that matter 🤪) from 2018 and 2019 into albums that tell our story and perpetually re-bidding our schedules as SWA slashes more and more flights until Virus Madness passes. (But somehow, even after major flight cuts, SWA is, as of this writing, the LARGEST AIRLINE IN ALL THE WORLD.)
The rest of the time, we hike around this veritable paradise where the U arranged for us to be, or take a drive to discover the mysteries hidden in the hills of Georgia, such as the Georgia Guidestones https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.wired.com/2009/04/ff-guidestones/amp, or just splash around on our paddle board or canoe and terrorize the local fish.
We will miss this beautiful place on this gorgeous lake and our sweet neighbors when we leave, but it is times like these that I realize how much I love the journey as much as the destinations. And I am so grateful for these adventures that unfold because we made the choice to open up to the unknown two years ago.