Workamping and Moving On

What’s Workamping, you say? We didn’t know what it was either until we started this whole adventure.  Workamping is really popular for full time travelers to be able to offset some of the costs of traveling.  We first talked to some people about this when we were in Florida.  We met two very nice couples who were working at the state park.  They told us about their experience, basically a few hours a day greeting people, spreading bug killer (for fire ants) and cleaning the restrooms.  For a few hours a day 5 days a week and in return they had a full hook up site.  Many campgrounds offer workamping jobs to long-term travelers.  The campers agree to work a certain amount of hours for the compensation of a free stay at the campground (they usually offer a FHU site and some have restrictions on what type of rig you can bring to their property).  They want to be sure if something is parked long term that it doesn’t look bad.  Some places even offer hourly wages as well as FHU sites.  You must be willing to stay somewhere for a lengthy amount of time because the minimum for most jobs is two months.  We found the site http://workampingjobs.com/ really helpful to look for campgrounds who were hiring.  After our trip back from Florida we decided to put in our resumes on the site and see what happened.  We had an option of targeting specific regions of the country.  So, we talked about areas of the country we would like to spend a few months exploring and came up with four regions.  If we had a request from one of those regions, we would jump at the opportunity.

Shortly after putting in our information, we received an e-mail from an RV site in Montana near Glacier NTL Park.  This was Sherry’s top region to visit!!

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Our ‘work’ vehicle. The campground is large, so we were grateful to have this baby to get us around!

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Sherry putting out the ‘closed’ sign – even though most people just ignored it and walked on in!

Timber Wolf Resort (http://www.timberwolfresort.com) is a really nice campground with RV sites, tent camping, and cabins.  FTer exchanging e-mails with the owners and a few phone calls we decided this was too perfect an opportunity for us to pass up.  Our ‘duties’ as workampers were to clean and restock bathrooms, housekeeping cabins, and watering flowers.  It was not difficult work, and we enjoyed getting out and having a job to do each day.  The days where the campground was busy and there were a lot of beds to make were not the most fun days, but like we said, the work was never hard or strenuous. IMG_2340 We also had some interesting ‘finds’ in some of the cabins…  Gave us pause to think why people would leave certain things…  We were occasionally thankful for rubber gloves.

The work gave us a chance to be out and about meeting people in the campground and getting a little exercise while we were at it.  But don’t get us wrong, we weren’t hauling stuff around on our backs.  The owners had some sweet toys that allowed us to maneuver around the campground easily.

OH, we also met a bear while on our duties.  At the end of August we saw a black bear moving through the woods near some of the campsites.  We CAREFULLY watched the bear from the doorway of the camp comfort station.  LOL  Wouldn’t you know, we didn’t have our cameras!!

The best part really is having the opportunity to explore an area and to take our time.  Most days, after we finished working, we would run out and hit one of the near trails (we were only 9 miles from West Glacier).  If we didn’t hike, we went in and looked at the sights in Whitefish, Columbia Falls or Kalispell.  It didn’t take us long to fall in love with this area.  We met some wonderful people and enjoyed the genuine friendliness of most of the locals.  If you are in the area, don’t forget to visit the Huckleberry Patch for some pie or other yummy treats.

After being at the campground for 2 1/2 months, it was hard to think about leaving.  It was long enough to feel like we were getting settled into a new home.  Christine and Phil, the owners of Timber Wolf, are really wonderful and treated us very well while we worked for them.  For our first experience in Workamping, we feel that we got really lucky to be able to work for them.  We would highly recommend Timber Wolf to anyone visiting the area.  The RV sites are shaded, and the park itself is very picturesque.

Now it is onward to the next adventure!  See you soon!

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The worst part of the job was putting the linen on the top bunk! Sherry always ended up with bruised knuckles and head!

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Watering the flowers! It was SO dry this season.

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Cleaning up a cabin…you never know what might be lurking under the covers! Beware of the left-behind undies!

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Sherry stripping a bed.

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Breaks are always good!

 

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These pretty babies are also on the property. NO, we did NOT have to clean up after them!

 

Two Months, Togetherness and TATTOOS!

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Home Sweet traveling Home.

Two months?  Where does the time go?  We have already been on the road a couple of months and have acclimated to the lifestyle quite well.  It is hard to imagine that our educator friends head back to school this week.  Sean has been retired for a couple of years and doesn’t feel the back to school rush anymore.  This is Sherry’s first year not working, and we know, “boo-hoo”, but she’s feeling a little anxiety about not getting ready for another school year, or any job for that matter.  89c45d5c84a946a757d6f9067d911c8aWe do feel guilty about having a LONG ‘break’ away from the daily grind of work.  But, then we look around and stop feeling guilty and start feeling lucky!  🙂  Truly though, we wish the best to our friends in education starting back on the amazing path of enlightening youth and changing lives!  Good luck to you all this year!  You’ll surely need it!!  🙂

Now, back to the headline…

Ah, togethernesslow res-8469-2We still love it (no kidding – we would say that even if we weren’t writing this post together).  It is funny to wonder about people’s perceptions when we get the question if we are tired of each other, or ones who are aghast at the thought of spending 24/7 with their significant other.  If you truly love someone and he/she is your best friend, why is it hard to think about spending this much time together?  We aren’t guaranteed tomorrow, so we do as much as we can today.  Be a human DOING, not a human BEING.  We have not spent more than 15-20 minutes apart at a time for 60 consecutive days.   This has been the greatest part about the trip.  Our goal was to spend more time together, and we’ve definitely achieved that goal so far.  Our toughest times are when we talk about what we do after our year long adventure.  We may actually spend time apart!  Say it isn’t so!  It helps that we collaborate so well together.   For example, Sherry is the primary cook while Sean does the dishes… Most of the time.  We do occasionally switch that up, especially when Sean is baking!  This last week he made biscuits, and Sherry made vegan gravy for a nice country breakfast (the secret is using al dente lentils as the “sausage” bits in the gravy).  We cook vegetarian or vegan most of the time, but we have the occasional fish dinner (Sherry makes a killer fish taco with tequila lime sauce!).  Also out of the oven this week were some delicious blueberry scones – mostly vegan (we use real butter – no margarine or fake butter substitutes).   Despite a small galley, we have been able to coordinate cooking and cleaning.  Sherry often has to improvise while chopping vegetables or preparing food items – counter space is sparse in our little home on wheels.

Hi Res-9112-2Hi Res-8711We have also continued to do our photography business as we travel.  The magnetic signs on the truck help pass along the word.  Sean is usually the one behind the camera while Sherry directs people or edits photos.  We just completed engagement photos for a very happy and absolutely adorable couple who got engaged in Whitefish, MT.  We had so much fun with them and being together as we did that shoot.

 

 

When we aren’t out exploring, we have been playing with the dogs, reading, binge watching TV, and enjoying each other’s company.  What is the point of the first few paragraphs?  If you are going to spend a year (or more) in a 37′ RV, make sure the other person is someone you like being around.  😉  Oh, and don’t forget the other ones you love – like two furballs we call Maggie and Bates.

Maggie finding a freshly made bed and the best ray of sun on a chilly morning.

Maggie finding a freshly made bed and the best ray of sun on a chilly morning.

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Bates loves the dog park in Whitefish!

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Bates fetches (sort of) at the dog park.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tattoos – One of the bucket list items was to get matching tattoos to commemorate our adventure and life together.  While in MT we found a lovely shop where the owner made us feel very comfortable.  She reminded Sherry of a Shaman she knew in Illinois named Sandy Little Lizard.  She had a very comforting aura.  We knew after an hour talking to her that she would have to be the one that helped us create our little forever piece of body artwork.  Sherry researched a design, and we both discussed the words before we met with the tattoo artist.  The sailboat represents Tadaima, our sailboat where we were married, and the words are from a song we consider ours and that sums up this adventure perfectly…”…and then when we get to the ocean, we’re gonna take a boat to the end of the world…all the way to the end of the world.”  Feel free to let loose a few “Awwww’s” and “How adorable”.

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We have also tried to explore more of the west side of the park while the Going to the Sun road is still closed at Logan Pass.  Several days ago we went into the park to Apgar and ran the bike trail with Bates.  He loved it, but we were saddened to see the signs telling us there was an up to three hour delay just to get to the Pass.  We are still hopeful that the fire will be contained and we will be able to hike the Highline Trail – supposedly one of the best in the park.

Since we couldn’t explore more of Glacier, we decided to look into Hungry Horse Reservoir.  We had seen signs along HWY 2 about the reservoir and dam, but despite staying nearby, we had just overlooked it.  We finally decided it was time to drive back and see what we could see.  One of the main roads, paved, led back to the dam, a 600′ monstrosity holding back a beautiful lake.  The views are incredible and it is only a few miles from where we were staying!  After spending about a half an hour driving, we decided to make a dedicated trip back to the lake.  We had seen some wonderful hiking and swimming areas, and with the weather being so hot and dry, we thought it would be a perfect excursion.

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Not being bird watchers… We think this is a peregrine falcon. Any thoughts?

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The lake wasn’t as cold as others we’d been in but it was very refreshing on a hot day. There were several campers enjoying the water up and down the shore.

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Falcon???

On our return, we drove through the small town of Martin City to see the north end of the lake.  We had noticed several boat ramps and primitive campsites on that side of the lake as well as a few trails.  The road turned to a wide, but rough, dirt road a few miles outside of town.  Traveling along the road, we took the first road to the lake.  That turned out to be a very narrow and even rougher dirt road, but the view at the end was amazing.  We hiked along the lake shore for a mile then sat and enjoyed a quick snack and watched the birds in the area fish.

Sean took several photos of the lake and fishing birds.  He joked that this crazy supermodel kept popping into his shots.  LOL  He was actually frustrated that he hadn’t brought along one of his telephoto lenses to catch the birds fishing.  We saw one dive into the lake, but too far away to see if it caught a fish.

We still have time here in this beautiful part of the country and hope to explore more of the gems hidden here!  We will be heading south soon and have already begun making our plans for stops along the way.  So many of our fellow RV’rs have offered advice and suggestions.  This morning, a neighbor talked to us about several spots in Southern Utah and Arizona.  Since they are along our ‘planned’ course, we will try to add them into our stops.

More later!  Enjoy the last of the summer.

Hidden Lake — Awesome, Inspiring, Gorgeous….

How many of you have been to Glacier?  Any favorite spots you would recommend as must see areas?

One of our hopes for this extended adventure was to be able to spend time in one area and see as many sites as possible.  Sites that most people on a ‘vacation’ wouldn’t get a chance to see.  The last few weeks in Glacier really have us wondering if we will be able to see and do all we want.  The park is the size of several states and is a true hiker’s paradise.  That is, very few roads and a lot of short (6 to longer mile) hikes to get to something ‘big’.  We’ve joked that we love this area so much we may end up living here, at least that would give us a chance to explore to our heart’s content.  We might also be able to keep up with our Blog posts. 🙂

Right now we are quite a bit behind on our posts.  Over the last few weeks we have visited Two Medicine, Lake Mary, several falls, Polebridge, Whitefish…  We have plans to get into the trails around Bowman Lake and definitely Many Glacier, as well as several other spots in the Park.  Forgive us if we run out of adjectives to describe this area.  Beautiful, awe-inspiring, breathtaking, each is appropriate and will surely be overused by us over the next several posts.

Setting Moon over Mt. Oberlin.

Setting Moon over Mt. Oberlin.

Sean has even begun trying to remember some of the positive adjectives used in his favorite TV show, BBC ‘Top Gear’.    We have often found ourselves at the end of a trail just awestruck by what we are seeing.

Sherry's new favorite photo.

Sherry’s new favorite photo.

On our second trip to Logan’s Pass, we decided to leave much earlier in the hopes of finding a spot in the parking lot or at least in the smaller pull off area about a half mile from the west side of the pass.  We entered the park, from the West Entrance near Apgar at about 8:30 AM.  There was already a fairly long line at the check in station and we were concerned about finding a spot.  Regardless, it was a gorgeous day, a little cooler than the last several and relatively cloud free.  For this trip, we planned pretty well and had our backpacks loaded with some hiking snacks, water and a change of clothes, if needed.  We also planned out two trails we wanted to explore.  The first was the Hidden Lake Trail, the other was the High Line.  Our priority was Hidden Lake, with a thought that we could do a little of the High Line depending on time,  Sean was looking forward to getting some great photos of waterfalls and mountain vistas.  He was bringing along two lenses and a tripod to get really steady photos.  Unfortunately, he forgot the tripod and had to stand very, very still for some shots. : )

Our drive up the Going to the Sun Road was gorgeous.  This time around, we decided to skip the turnoffs and try to make good time to the pass.  We found ourselves in a long line of cars weaving up the road. Many bicyclists made the going rather sporadic and a bit scary as we reached the narrowest parts of the road.  Still, a fun and scenic drive up to the pass.  As we got closer, we realized our chances of finding a parking spot in the lot were going to be very slim, so we did use the lower area and spent some time photographing Bighorn Sheep at the trailhead before hiking to the pass.

Big Horn Sheep near the entrance to Logan Pass

Big Horn Sheep near the entrance to Logan Pass

The park rangers at the Visitors Center were very helpful with all the visitors, answering questions and also giving ranger talks on a variety of topics.  One of the things we both have commented on is how helpful all the rangers have been.  On an earlier hike, we had one walk with us for a stretch, talking about the park, places to see and being very personable.  I wish we had gotten her name so we could have passed on a positive comment to her bosses.  Anyway, the visitors center was very crowded and we only took a short time to look around before hitting the a Hidden Lake Trail.

low res-8289The trail starts behind the visitor center and is another very well traveled trail.  In fact, most of the trail, to the lake overlook, is a wooden board walk.

low res-8282From what we gathered, this helped to protect the delicate ecosystem at the pass from tramping feet.  Periodic signs along the trail asking visitors to stay on the path helped reinforce our thought. : ).  The start of the hike we were greeted with tremendous views of ‘Alpine Flowers’, and wildlife from Marmots to Prarie Dogs and Sherry’s other favorite, Mountain Goats!

Marmot under part of the boardwalk.

Marmot under part of the boardwalk.

We first saw several goats standing on a snow field along the side of the Mountain.

Big Horn on the snow field on Mt. Oberlin.

Big Horn on the snow field on Mt. Oberlin.

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This little one started bleating for mommy just a few seconds after we took the photo.

It was amazing to see them walk along the steep rocky face!  It was even more amazing when we rounded a bend to see one munching on some food just a few feet away.  Fortunately, there was a family between where we were standing and the goat.  They were trying to get their children in close for a great photo opportunity.  OK, yes, that was sarcasm. : ).  It was this hike that gave us some great examples for our future ‘snarky’ post about some of our fellow tourists.  But, later for that.  This hike was just too beautiful.

As I said, most of the trail was a boardwalk.  There were several places where we walked over stoney ground and even some snow!  Crazy, snow on the ground in the middle of July!  Beautiful little ponds created from snow runoff, waterfalls and tremendous views.  low res--14

Small waterfall and snow field along the hike to Hidden Lake.

Small waterfall and snow field along the hike to Hidden Lake.

When we arrived at the lake overlook we learned the rest of the trail was closed.   The Grizzlies were feeding near the lake and doing other bear stuff that made it dangerous to hike near them.  So, we stopped at the overlook for some photos of the lake and surrounding mountains.

Hidden Lake

Hidden Lake

It was well worth the hike.  Our hope is that the Bears settle down enough for us to do the complete hike before we have to leave the area.

Gunsight MTN and Sperry Glacier in the distance.

Gunsight MTN and Sperry Glacier in the distance.

After lingering for a while, and eating a light snack, we headed back for the Visitors station.  Along the way, we decided to check out the first mile or two of the High Line Trail.

Another angle on Hidden Lake

Another angle on Hidden Lake

We didn’t go far this trip.  Just far enough to know we needed to come back prepared for a long day on the 6 mile, one way, hike.  Another must do hike for us.

For more photos from this post, go to the following link:

http://www.loveyphotography.com/Traveling-Photography/Hidden-Lake-and-Logan-Pass/

At the Trailhead for the Highline Trail.

At the Trailhead for the Highline Trail.

Avalanche Lake… and observations on the human condition.

Well, let’s start with a quick update.  Good news – our RV is feeling much better now. No biohazard problems to report! 🙂

After spending the past couple of weeks touring the main areas of Glacier National Park, we think our RV neighbors put it best: the park sometimes feels like a theme or amusement park. There are some high “touristy” areas that are packed with people, the main road through the park can have long lines, and sometimes there are too many cranky/annoying/unmannered children (and parents). We have been hitting the more popular and easily accessible areas of the park recently which probably explains some of the crowding, and no doubt they are popular and crowded because they are absolutely stunning. Don’t get us wrong, we are fine hiking with 20-90 or more of our fellow nature enthusiasts to get to a view like this one:

Gorge along Avalanche Creek.

Gorge along Avalanche Creek.

However, the park does sometimes feel a wee bit crowded and anxiety inducing. Driving along the ‘Going to the Sun Road’ we actually had a guy honk at us because he wanted to go faster… We were doing a hair over the speed limit while going around one of the trickier bends in the road. Go figure, it made the T-Shirt we saw at the gift shop make sense. The short version was, ‘Thanks for speeding around curves and passing on the Going to the Sun Road’.  Yours truly, GNP Paramedics.  Those who have experienced the white-knuckle driving of the Going to the Sun road will understand.  There are some areas where our full-size, extended bed 3500 pick-up feels like it will mash the wall or go over the cliff.

We plan to create another blog post to comment and elaborate about our top tourist “types” later, Types like the “Hurry Up, Get Out of My Way So I can See Something”, or the “The Rules Must Not Apply to Me” tourist. We have a whole list of the people we have categorized along this journey so far, so take it as a fun tongue in cheek commentary. Oh, we did not categorize ourselves. LOL. Humanity is interesting.

Now the fun stuff:  We have had the opportunity to witness a lot of beauty while we’ve been here. The hike to Avalanche Lake is no exception. The trail is very popular and easily accessible from the Going to the Sun Road. In fact, there are several parking areas specifically for this trail. We did have difficulty finding a spot, even on a Tuesday! We consider ourselves pretty athletic people for the most part, but Sherry especially had to stop a few times along this hike.

Sherry 'resting' by the creek along the Avalanche Trail.

Sherry ‘resting’ by the creek along the Avalanche Trail.

low res-8177It is only 2 miles from trailhead to the lake, but it climbs over 500 feet. The trail is very well marked and defined. It passes through some remarkable ‘ecosystems’ and has an amazing stretch near the start where the creek runs through a rocky gorge.

This deer (darling) just walked along the trail feeding.

This deer (darling) just walked along the trail feeding.

Absolutely breathtaking. The upward climb was exhausting at times, but when we saw families and children passing in the other direction, we knew that we might be over-exaggerating the difficulty. The view at the top was remarkable.low res-8174

Waterfalls feeding Avalanche Lake.
Waterfalls feeding Avalanche Lake.

The lake was fed by runoff from Sperry Glacier, most of which dropped into the valley from three waterfalls on high cliffs. We had to sit and soak it all in once we arrived. One of the funniest things, there are tons of chipmunks in the area and none seemed afraid of the people. Unfortunately, too many people ignore the signs about feeding the animals and these little guys have lost all fear of people.

Too many people are feeding these little guys.

Too many people are feeding these little guys.

We had several come right over to the rock we sat on to ‘talk’ with us.

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Avalanche Lake

The lake was spectacular and well worth our little hike.  We stopped across the lake from the falls but could still hear them crashing down the rocky cliffs.

Hard as it is to believe, we keep hearing that these parts of the park, while gorgeous, don’t compare to the harder to access areas.  Over the next few weeks we plan on hitting some of those spots.

Last note.  You can always go to our Lovey Photo website to see more photos of our hikes and travels (the link is below).  In order to save on bandwidth and our storage capacity, we have been uploading photos in low resolution format.  If there are any you see and would like to see in a higher resolution, please let us know.  Sean may do a post later (on a rainy day) about our cameras and the equipment we use both for studio and nature photography.  🙂

http://www.loveyphotography.com/Traveling-Photography/Avalanche-Lake-Glacier-Nationa/i-PXpmQ3c

 

White Water Rafting….

Hello, friends!  Before we start, we want to wish all our friends and family a very happy 4th of July!  Be safe, have fun, and don’t forget that the real meaning of this day is a celebration of freedom and independence!  We appreciate all the men and women in and out of combat who have fought for those freedoms in the past and present!

Well, our time in Glacier continues as we continue to explore as much as this area has to offer.  In our post today, we wanted to hit on just a few things.  First, we had some information in our last post about the stabilizers.  Since writing the posts, our slide out stabilizer’s arrived and we have had them in place for a few days now.  They are very simple with two adjustments.  One to get in range then a screw to snug them up under the slide-out.  We have two on each of our larger slides and can say they work great with the Kingpin Stabilizer.  When our 70+ pound Borzoi/Setter bounces around and jumps down off the chairs, we can barely feel it!  🙂

Over the last week, we have continued to explore Glacier and decided to take advantage of a white water rafting experience.  This was an 8 mile trip, most relatively mild, but enough class 2 and 3 rapids to keep it interesting.  We purchased photos from the rafting company that showed us going through one section of the river, we had the front of the raft.  Thanks to Great Northern for a great afternoon and these fun pictures.

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Photos taken by staff at Great Northern Rafting

We also wanted to say another thanks to our guide, Maria.  She was not only informative, but absolutely hilarious as we made the way down the river.

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Photos taken by staff at Great Northern Rafting

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Photos taken by staff at Great Northern Rafting

What a fantastic experience!  One of the best parts of the trip was when we saw a bear come down to the river’s edge.

Our first bear sighting!

We had one of our little point and shoot cameras with us in an underwater case and couldn’t get the best photo, but here is the little guy.

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It was a beautiful day with crystal clear water.

We have found so many fun spots to stop and visit here.  One of Sean’s favorites, so far, has been Glacier Distilling.  OK, we both highly recommend it: http://glacierdistilling.com/home/.  One of our favorite whiskeys from Glacier is Cabin Fever… In fact, we think it tastes so much like Christmas we are getting several bottles to share with friends and family when we see them in a few months.  😉

For more photos of our white water adventure, visit our website at the following link: http://www.loveyphotography.com/Traveling-Photography/White-Water-Rafting-July-1-201/

Have a wonderful 4th of July!!!

The Whiskey Barn tasting room at Glacier.

The Whiskey Barn tasting room at Glacier.