A&A Plans For Winter | Special Announcement
End of Week #72
Lake Mead RV Village, Boulder City NV > Boondockers Welcome Home in Bellemont, AZ > Crystal Forest Gift Shop -Petrified Forest National Park, Holbrook AZ > Rodeo De Santa Fe, Santa Fe NM
Miles traveled since last week's post = 639 miles
Total miles traveled to date = 9,574 with trailer
Wow, we have traveled some serious miles since the last post! We have cut across 2 states and are now in northern New Mexico where our good friends from Minnesota now live. Earlier this year, prior to heading to Gualala, we were supposed to come out this way for a visit, however the state of covid erupted across the country and we ended up staying in Camp Verde, AZ for another month while we waited to head northwest through California. This visit has been a long time coming and we are so excited to be here, to have beautiful weather, and to spend this quality time with our people!
We have been on the road again for 3 weeks now, and have already put in about 1,500 miles. We are on a path of about 3,500 miles, as we are making our way south for the winter. Last winter we spent about 3 months in Texas, with a lot of that time near the Gulf of Mexico, and this year we wanted to head a little further east before hunkering down for the season. The temperatures are starting to change, the leaves are falling, and we know that we definitely don't want to run into a snowstorm again like we did last year as soon as we got to Texas. After recently getting out of the extreme desert southwest heat, we want to maintain these 70 degree temps for as long as possible and get ourselves as close to a beach as possible too!
Which brings me to my next point...
A&A Plans For Winter | Special Announcement
We are officially moving to Florida!
We have known that we want to winter in Florida since before we ever even moved into the RV, however Florida can be tricky to navigate if you do not have a plan. State parks book out a year and a half and currently don't even have availability until end of 2021. And RV parks on the other hand can be extremely costly - more costly than anywhere else in the continental US, unless you have some type of workamping position lined up. Those RV parks also book up fast and are filled with snowbirds that come year after year, and retirees that have been working the same workamping jobs for a decade or more. Obviously in the RV world it is also very desirable to spend the winter in Florida to maintain warm temps and avoid snow and ice, so it becomes a competition amongst your fellow nomads to get all the best spots.
People have been telling me all along that in order to secure a workamping position in Florida, similar to the position we just had in Gualala, CA, that you have to apply over a year in advance and that it is very competitive to get into. I did not have a year in advance to work with and had been watching posts in Facebook groups and watching positions in emails I am signed up to receive from Workamper News, however nothing was really working out. I even started cold emailing campgrounds all along the west and east coast of Florida, including the panhandle, and I had a couple of good leads and then they still never completely worked out how we wanted to.
Then one day, when we happened to be on an adventure to San Francisco this summer, I came across a posting in an email saying they needed help with Christmas trees in south Florida. I applied on the spot and told Adam this could be a unique opportunity to look into, as I've heard these lots are a lot of work but that the pay is exceptional and it's of course a free ticket to Florida! Within a few hours the owner sent us over a video description to watch, giving more info about the company and the position, prior to setting up a time to talk to us further. We became even more intrigued and had a Zoom video call with her within a few days. She offered us the positions on the spot and we accepted the next day after further discussing all the details and ensuring they align with what we are looking for.
Now we are officially Christmas Tree Lot Managers for the 2020 season! We will be working together more closely than we ever have before, and I'm so excited for us to use our skills and come together to manage this lot and spread holiday cheer!
We will be working out of Margate, FL, just west of Fort Lauderdale, in southern Florida near the Everglades National Park. Ideally, we were looking to be this far south in Florida anyway, and had already been pursuing jobs down there, so we were very excited to learn about this location! We will be parking our RV right on the lot we manage and will have full hookups for our stay.
The company we will be working for is called Hart-T-Tree Farms, and they are based out of North Carolina. They grow Fraser Firs, the 'Cadillac of Christmas Trees', out of an area near the Blue Ridge Mountains, and ship them to about 10 locations throughout Florida to sell. The company has a long history, a beautiful story, and we couldn't be more excited to work for them.
In doing our research about this opportunity and this company, we have discovered that it is very rare there is an opening for this type of position. Typically once you get in this is something you return to year after year and the company is rated very high amongst RVers and nomads alike. We were fortunate enough to have an opening as the uncertainties of covid have left a lot of workampers feeling unsure about their pursuits and thus have backed down from commitments. We have been hired on as rookies and will probably be some of the youngest lot managers this season - but we are ready to see what it's all about and give it all we have!
Our positions as Christmas Tree Lot Managers will run from November 16th until December 24th. We will be on duty about 12-14 hours per day, and one of us will be required to be onsite the entire duration of the position. We will be in charge of marketing for our lot, decorating it, hiring seasonal helpers for our busy days, and reporting all sales and inventory to the owners. The position will start out with a week training period with the other lot managers in Fort Lauderdale, and then we will begin actually selling trees around Thanksgiving. Adam and I feel this is the perfect way for us to work over the holiday season since we will be away from friends and family anyway, and don't have any other commitments to attend to.
Adam will be mostly in charge of using his sales techniques on the lot, and slinging the Christmas trees into people's vehicles. I will mostly be ringing and checking people out, and managing all of the reports and financials that we will have to track and turn in. I will also likely handle more of the hiring and scheduling for our temporary helpers. We have signed into a guaranteed salary for the position, and will also earn bonuses on all sales the lot does after a base threshold is hit. We have been told this is a busier lot and since we are younger we may be able to keep up with it more and turn it into something special this year!
Ringing in the New Year
It feels crazy to already be thinking about New Year's Eve, but it is going to be here before we know it - and some of us think it couldn't come soon enough. As we will already be very far south at this point, Adam and I have a current goal to ring in the New Year from the Florida Keys! It will likely be tough to find a spot, but we are hoping as soon as we are done with our positions we can spend a week basking in the sun, on the beach, with pina coladas in hand. We know we are going to need a good break after all the hard work of this commitment, and what better place than the Keys to celebrate and rest, relax, and recharge.
Obviously a lot of things could still come up from now until the end of the year, but either way we know the New Year will be special for us this year, as we will have just completed our first season as Christmas Tree Lot Managers.
Looking into the beginning of 2021
In our perfect world we will remain in Florida at least until the beginning of March 2021. We are, as you know, not fans at all of the cold weather and have no problem staying near the beach as long as possible. We know that staying in Florida that long may be extremely difficult, both in relation to price and availability, but we are willing to give it a try and see what happens. This year has been so odd anyway, with everything that has happened with covid, parameters taken in every state, jobs - all of it, and we are hopeful that everything will work out exactly how it should.
Ideally, we would like to stay on the Gulf Coast and are willing to even travel to the panhandle if there is more availability there. We are also completely open to the idea of taking on another last minute, short work commitment in Florida if it means we can stay there longer. So that means, if we come across an opening for lets say - January to March, somewhere ideal in Florida, we will likely apply for it to stay there longer and have a guaranteed free place to stay.
Our plans for further into 2021 are still very unknown and variable, so I don't want to go into too much detail about them at this time.
Anticipated visits and connections in Florida
There are a lot of extended friends and family members that either live in Florida or will be in Florida for the winter and we hope to find ways to connect with as many of them as possible. We already are well aware of how lonely the holiday season can feel when you are so far away from loved ones, and we think it would be a really good opportunity to see friendly and familiar faces whenever we can!
I am also remaining hopeful that Florida will finally allow an opportunity for our friends and family members from back home in Minnesota to come out and visit us. If we can solidify staying places for a month or longer it will give good opportunity for visits to be planned. There are a lot of people in our life that we love dearly that we have not seen now for a year or longer and it is extremely hard on any relationship when it is long distance. We couldn't be more grateful for the love and support from everyone in our lives, as they watch us live out our nomadic dreams, but that doesn't mean that it makes things any easier while you're on the road!
We are also well aware that a lot of the deciding factor regarding visitors will be centered around the safety in the country, and the state of covid. We would never want to put anyone in danger just so they could come visit us, and we would never want to push anyone out of their own personal comfort zone just so we can see them. Adam and I are remaining hopeful that things will continue to look on the bright side and that the state of covid will start to diminish in the US, allowing us the chance to see more people we love!
The state of Florida has recently lifted all bans on required masks and covid business restrictions, allowing indoor dining, events, and other things that were otherwise shut down.