If I Get Off of This Mountain
In 1969, “The Band” released a song called “Up On Cripple Creek”. It starts out…
If I get off of this mountain,
There’s one place I want to go,
Straight down the Mississippi River
To the Gulf of Mexico.
Who knows where my hare-brained scheme might take me. I might not get any further than Hard Labor Creek State Park thirty miles down the road from Bethlehem in Rutledge Georgia. The first few weeks of the H-B-S will be spent learning how to live in this camper. Being as when I bought it, it had been winterized, it didn’t make sense to try to cram in a weekend somewhere locally, fumble around, have to re-winterize it then abandon the camper again for the next five months. So, not a single night has been spent camping.
But a fair amount of researching has been done about this lifestyle. There are thousands of people who full-time RV and many, many opportunities out there.
In Florida and in Texas, I have seen RV parks filled with “Snowbirds”, retired northerners who winter in their RVs in the warmer states. These people bring their rigs down each year and park for a few months in the one spot.
Others have a more nomadic lifestyle and three guesses which group I fall into. There are ALL kinds of nomads, though. One calls herself “RVSue”. She is a retired school teacher from Athens Georgia. She and her two dogs have a van equipped with roof-mounted solar panels for power out in the middle of nowhere, and a 17′ “Casita” trailer. Click here for Casita layout. She Blogs daily and seems to have found her home in the Arizona desert, camping alone – free – on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) property.
This her set up. Click on the image to visit her Blog.
She does move around a little from one BLM site to the next. Occasionally she has neighbors and I guess weekly, at least, she has to go into the closest town to stock up on food for herself and her dogs, as well as do a laundry. She posts on her web site, “No drop in visitors, please.” While she is in her glory, hers is not a lifestyle I would seek.
Somewhere in the middle are opportunities that I thought could be worth trying. “Workamping” is a term used where you can get ‘free’ hookups – water, sewer, power – in a campground or RV park, in exchange for 24 hours per week of light work or maintenance. You may work in a gift shop at a Jellystone Park, man a Visitor Center at a state park, or pick up trash, cut grass and paint fences at a private park.
Twenty-four hours per week is not a lot for hookups that might otherwise cost $600 per month. And it keeps you occupied, healthy and constantly meeting people. Typically, though, a commitment of between one and three months is required.
For some reason, the state of Louisiana has tickled my fancy. There are a couple of opportunities with the National Wildlife Refuge. The one that appeals the most is at the Bayou Cocodrie National Wildlife Reserve in Vidalia Louisiana, about twenty minutes west of Natchez Mississippi, a place I’ve long wanted to visit. Here’s the job description…
Bayou Cocodrie NWR is seeking enthusiastic, friendly volunteers to assist staff in the day to day operations of the refuge. Most duties will require the ability to work independently.
Administration: Duties include but are not limited to greeting visitors, answering phones, providing refuge information to the general public, filing, computer data entry, selling annual use permits. These duties are secondary to general maintenance and will be limited in time compared to the outside maintenance duties.
General Maintenance: Duties include but are not limited to: trail maintenance, light painting, mowing, assisting staff with equipment repairs, etc.. Ability to work with hand tools and small mowers required.
Valid drivers license required to operate government vehicles.
Some opportunities including computer access and working with children will require a federal background check which will be handled by the refuge.
Volunteers will be required to provide their own factory-built RV. In return for 24 hours per person, the refuge will provide full hookups, including 50 and 30 amp electric, water and sewer. A minimum of 3 month commitment is preferred.
“Cocodrie” is Coon-ass for “crocodile”. “Coon-ass” is slang for “Cajun”.
Similar opportunities exist with in Georgia near the Okefenokee Swamp, another area I find fascinating. Maybe I’d be better off there, a little closer to home.
Closer to civilization but still in Louisiana or, as my grade-school friend Karen, a resident, would call it – Lousy-ana – is in Bossier City, across the Red River from Shreveport. (The ‘ss’ in Bossier is pronounced with a soft ‘j’ sound, as in ‘soup du jour’. BO-jher.)
The Red River National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters is located along the Red River in Bossier Parish, in northwestern Louisiana. Here’s what they are looking for.
Volunteers will assist the Refuge with day to day operations and be exposed to a wide range of tasks. Flexible work hours; may include some evening hours. Tasks include staffing the visitor center and nature store, greeting the general public, answering questions and providing information to the general public, counting visitors, general building maintenance, lawn care, gardening, trail and sign maintenance, assisting with environmental education and outreach programs, helping with wildlife surveys and leading/or assisting with refuge tours. Some opportunities including computer access and working with children will require a federal background check which will be handled by the refuge. A valid state driver’s license is required to operate government vehicles.
A minimum of 28 service hours for each individual per week is required. Volunteers will be required to provide their own factory-built RV. Refuge has two sites with full hookups, including electricity, water and sewer. Free Wi-Fi internet service is available. A building for RV volunteers having laundry and shower facilities will soon be available. Commitment of at least 3 months is preferred.
Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and Texas all need exploring. And after reading RVSue’s blog, perhaps even Arizona. Maybe starting in the middle is as good a place as any.
Bob Seger said it best…
Stood alone on a mountain top starin’ out at the Great Divide
I could go east I could go west it was all up to me to decide
Just then I saw a young hawk flyin’ and my soul began to rise
And pretty soon
My heart was singin’
Roll roll away, ahmoan roll me away tonight
Gotta keep rollin’ gotta keep ridin’ keep searchin’ till I find what’s right
And as the sunset faded I spoke to the faintest first starlight
And I said next time
We’ll get it right