A&A Week 55 Life Updates | Workamping In The Redwoods
End of Week #55
Gualala River Redwood Park, Gualala CA
Miles traveled since last week's post = 0
Total miles traveled to date = 7,955 with trailer
We are all doing well out here in California, including the bengal babes, who have been more than enjoying themselves in the forest. Roscoe tries to climb a redwood tree everytime we go for a walk and they can never get enough grass to eat when we are out there too. The weather has been steady for us again, kind of cooler and damper in the trees, and we haven't really ventured away much in the past week because of all that we have been doing to get ready for the park to OPEN. But more to come on that below...
This past weekend we had a great time hanging out with the other workampers and some VIP guests in the park. We had dinner and played a dice game at a campsite and Amanda had more than her fair share of tequila. :) Then over the weekend we also went for a hike in the river with another workamping couple here, and we almost made it the whole way to the ocean! The river is fairly low but still got up to our waist and almost our chest in some spots, and we definitely almost got stuck in the mud a time or two, but we had an absolute blast doing so.
I have so many other exciting updates for you about our workamping jobs here in Gualala, so I want to just dive right into them today - starting with the state of California.
As of last week, California has FINALLY opened camping across the state, and Mendocino county has also announced campgrounds can open at 75% capacity until July 3rd. (& We are hopeful that after July 3rd that will be extended to the full 100% capacity.) This has been the moment we have been waiting for since the end of April when we arrived on the north coast. The campground we have been living at finally will be opening its doors to the public this Thursday, June 18th, for Father's Day weekend, and we could not be more excited about it.
Thursday will also mark 8 weeks since we arrived here in Gualala, and we are ready to finally get started with the reason we came out here in the first place. It has been everything from lonely, peaceful, and beautiful sitting here and enjoying this empty park in the Redwoods for the past few months, but the shift in energy is exactly what we desire right now. Adam and I are excited to see the park full of life and happy campers, that finally get to leave their homes for a vacation in the woods.
A&A Workamping In The Redwoods
You might be asking, what is workamping? A common job source amongst full-time RVers and other nomads is something called workamping, where you essentially stay at a campground of some sort (private, state, public, national) in exchange for work and oftentimes receive other hourly pay or incentives. The jobs and locations vary across the country and are typically all seasonal for summer or winter months.
Adam and I fully went into this RV lifestyle expecting to pick up workamping jobs along the way, but didn't plan any sort of timeline around when to complete our first one. Workamping jobs are a great way to experience a certain part of the country you may not otherwise not, and to allow yourself several months to immerse yourself fully in the opportunity. You get to know new people and places and you get to still travel and explore too!
We interviewed for our positions in Gualala back in early February, prior to covid19 blowing up across the United States. To our benefit, the job ended up working out as the perfect place to stay put for the summer months while the country continues to sort itself out. Since around March, the status of our job has been mostly uncertain as California had completely shut down and has only just recently begun opening back up.
Gualala River Redwood Park, Gualala, CA
In a lot of ways we feel like we hit the jackpot in finding this job on the coast. The positions came with a free campsite at a $60 a night park, free hookups, free firewood, and free laundry. And on top of all that we both get paid hourly for our work as well. There are a lot of workamping jobs out there that only give you a free site for part-time work, or some that even make you still pay a monthly rent out of your wages. Not to mention this location in northern California is unlike anything either of us have ever experienced before. If it wasn't for getting this position we may have never made it here, never ventured on highway 1 and really would have spent less time in California overall. This can be a quite expensive state to camp in if you are looking for amenities and it is most certainly out of our typical price range.
Gualala River Redwood Park is a special place and a gem of a campground - situated in a canopy of protected redwood trees (the tallest trees in the world), along a protected river, and just 1 mile from town and from the ocean coast. Highway 1, also just a mile away, is full of many coastal viewpoints and beaches, in what is a pretty rural part of northern California. The nearest large towns are all 2 hours away no matter which way you drive, and this is one of those small towns where everyone knows everything about everyone.
Our jobs here in the park are part-time, at about 20-30 hours per week for each of us. Adam is working a maintenance position, learning a lot of new skills and experiencing outdoor things he has never done before - but seems to excel at greatly. I have been working in the office, handling reservations and I will be assisting with check-ins and other administrative tasks - also definitely my strong suite. It is really weird for us to both be working together in a job setting and to now be spending so much time apart - as both things are things we have are not used to in this lifestyle. Adam and I have also never worked at the same place before, and we have been together pretty much 24/7 for a year now so it's weird to go an entire day now without seeing each other, even if we are still close by. I might see him drive by quickly on the golf cart to run somewhere or deliver something, but I typically won't interact with him that much as we will each be pretty busy in our roles. It is also an adjustment for us to be working in general, as neither of us have done so in this capacity for over a year now. Going from having all the free time in the world to working 30 hours a week is a bit exhausting at first, but I know that we will come to find a routine in the madness too.
Covid19 safety measures
This season at GRRP is unlike any other season the park has had before - with it's delays and covid measures. We are all constantly brainstorming on ways to handle situations that will arise, and the best ways to address procedures for social distancing and contactless check-in, amongst everything else. The park is only accepting self-contained RV's for the summer, and we definitely are encountering a lot of disappointed tent campers, but the park has also decided to close down our showers, and restrooms. We have gloves, and masks, and plexiglass screens and have created many new processes to carry us through this season. Many signs have been made, and many bottles of hand sanitizers have been put together to prepare us for what's to come.
If anything were to happen and someone were to get diagnosed with covid here in the park, it would be disastrous to us all overall. The person in question would have to quarantine here for 14 days and we would more than likely have to shut down the park completely. A diagnosed person would be the end of our season and our stay in Gualala. So I can assure you we will all be taking the safest precautionary measures possible all summer in an effort to prevent anything like that from happening!
As long as nothing happens or changes in the county and states ability to shut down due to covid19, we will now be officially stationed in Gualala, California until the end of September or even until the beginning of October. As of now our camping season ends on September 18th, with a week or so after that left to shut down the park and get situated.
For the entire summer Adam and I will have the same days off and will do as much exploring within driving distance as humanly possible. You can bet your bottoms I have a list of things I want to do and explore, and have had it ready for months just waiting for it all to open back up. We are also hopeful that sometime throughout the summer some of our beloved friends and family members will get the chance to come out and visit us and explore this part of coastal California. It has been a long time now since we have had any visitors or gotten to hang out with our loved ones in person, and we are always thinking about everyone and missing them dearly.
Gualala will now become the longest destination along our nomadic journey, as we will end up being here for close to 5 months when it is all said and done. Next month we will be celebrating my birthday here and a few more holidays with 4th of July and Labor Day weekend too. It's so comfortable staying in one place for an extended period of time, not having to pack up and move around, but at the same time I still long for the adventure of travel and sleeping in new destinations every few days too. Come fall I will be more than ready to hit the road again and hit up all the National Parks in California that we weren't able to go to this spring.
Coworkers & neighbors & friends
Amongst all the new experiences for us right now, and throughout the past year of our lives, this is an interesting situation where we are in what feels like an adult summer camp - living, working, and partying with the same people who also happen to be our direct neighbors. We see each other every day, for most of the day, and basically are living out of a small community in the woods together. A good way the managers have been describing it is that it feels like your world is getting smaller, as in a sense - there is no way to escape everyone. We are all stuck here together for the duration of the season. But I don't like to think of it that way exactly, as I don't feel stuck - I feel like I am literally at an adult summer camp.
No matter how you look at it, this is one of those experiences you will remember for the rest of your life, in fact all your workamping positions would fall in that category. As someone with a psychology background, I am truly intrigued and curious about every mixture of personalities that go into this situation. I love to analyze how interesting it is to have a group of people from all over the country come together for the good of a job and experiences. I am truly curious and entertained by every interaction, every social event, every dynamic as neighbors and coworkers, and how we all come together and engage with one another with all of our unique personalities.
We are one of 4 current couples, plus one older gentlemen that has worked here for a handful of years, that make up our team. We may be adding one more couple into the mix - but that is still uncertain at this time. One other couple is younger in age - low 30's. The other two couples are older in age, closer to the ages of our parents. Adam and I are the only ones who have never fully experienced a workamping job before, but I do feel like we are learning the ropes of this lifestyle very well. One couple is from Georgia, one from Montana, and one is from Seattle/Arizona. I think it's so cool to think about how all of our paths crossed in this way and how we otherwise would have never met each other or learned about each others lives.
At the end of the day, something like this is still an adjustment and still has its own learning curves and your occasional sense of drama. We have to be mindful to give each other space, but at the same time it is amazing to feel like you have a team, and a community to hang out with and live with in the woods after being alone for so long too.
I'm overly grateful for this opportunity and excited to see what the summer brings us!
Since things are starting to open back up here in California, and with the grand opening of our campground - I want to do a travel review of Gualala, CA and this coastal region. We have not fully explored everything yet, but it will still help paint a picture of what this area is like and what it has to offer!
*Currently under construction and paused at this time.*
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