A&A Celebrate 2 Years On The Road, With Special Surprises!
End of Week #104
*Moose Hillock Camping Resort, Fort Ann, NY > Letchworth State Park, Castile NY > Boondocker's Welcome, Orchard Park NY > Hidden Lakes Family Campground, Montville NY > Indiana Dunes State Park, Chesterton IN > Moochdocking, Stone Lake WI
*Miles traveled since last week's post = 1,275
*Total miles traveled to date = 15,766 with trailer
*Updates from the past several weeks of travel, that we had kept a surprise!
We officially hit our 2 YEARS on the road marker, this past Monday, May 24th! It's so hard to believe that it has been that long already, having traveled now through 26 states, with 88 total campsites, and over 16,000 miles of the US. In that 2 years we have visited 28 National Parks, more State Parks than I can probably count, and we have hugged just about all the coastline there is in America.
I feel it wouldn't be a proper milestone without some sort of out of nowhere surprise, especially when it comes to A&A, so of course we have a lot of updates to fill you in on for this special Nomadiversary!
A&A Celebrate 2 Years On The Road, With Special Surprises!
Quitting our summer workamping job in New York
Maybe you got the vibe from my last few posts, maybe you didn't, but either way Adam and I were harboring a bit of a secret when it came to our new summer workamping job in Upstate New York. Unfortunately, or fortunately - depending on your viewpoint, we decided it was not the best experience for us and made the difficult decision to quit and follow a new summer plan. We spent a full week working there, and about 10 days total at the campground, and each day we would discuss the way we felt, the details of our positions there, and what we thought would be the best next step forward. Honestly, we swayed back and forth a lot between trying to just find a different summer position in that general area of New England, as there are tons of open workamping jobs available, or to just try to stick it out longer at the campground. But we knew the way we felt was not going to go away, and it was only potentially going to get worse as soon as the campground opened to the public.
In weighing our options, we decided it wasn't worth it to pursue another workamping position in either New England, or elsewhere, as the jobs near us weren't financially worth it, and the jobs that were worth it were too far away to relocate to. Especially considering we are for sure coming back to the Midwest by fall for the Sugar Beet Harvest and to take care of other business. We also came to the conclusion that it was better to leave New York sooner than later, to allow us the chance to find new opportunities, and to allow them the chance to replace us before the season became extraordinarily busy. As well as we new if we were to just head back to the Midwest now, we would both have great chances to find replacement summer work, with a free place to stay with family. So as we continued to think things over, we kept landing back on the same decision: it's time for us to spend the summer in Stone Lake, Wisconsin.
On the morning of Monday, May 10th, which just so happened to be our day off, we got up really early and finalized the trailer, before heading to the office to tell all four of the managers that we were resigning. Yes, I was terrified, Adam really wasn't, and overall I think it went just about how I thought it would go. Most of the managers handled it really well, aside from the "lead manager", who had a bit of a freak out and accused us of going to a new campground in New York, and threatened to charge us $100 PER night for our campsite. We calmly, and kindly, explained to them that we did not feel this opportunity was right for us, we were going to head back to Wisconsin, and we wanted to leave now versus when the campground opened and made it worse for everyone involved. We still didn't get away completely clear, as they had the audacity to charge us $300 for our campsite, even though per our employment agreement we signed prior to arrival, it stated our campsite was free for the duration we worked there. Adam and I each worked 35 hours the week we were there, for a total of 70 hours combined, and we did not have any issues in our performance or our relations with others. In the moment I think I panicked and more or less wanted to get out of there as fast as I could, but once I was able to think things through for a moment, I decided to dispute this transaction as it fully went against what was agreed upon and did not feel right to me either.
All in all, we decided to resign from this opportunity because it did not feel right to us. That might not make a whole lot of sense to you, but without having worked a workamping position before it can be hard to completely understand how this place did not feel like a true "camping" experience, and felt more like a greedy resort we did not wish to be a part of. The jobs were not too difficult for us, and we did not have any trouble completely them, but we also did not feel like it was worth our time and energy to perform them when they did not feel aligned to us. We did not enter this lifestyle to do things that we don't want to do, so quite frankly there are other opportunities to be had. And as I mentioned in my previous few blog posts, when you are in a place where you live and work with the same people for the entire summer, you want to feel like you have a sense of community there, even if it's small - and unfortunately we did not have this feeling at all. We felt out of place, and it didn't get better each day, it got worse.
More Upstate New York adventures
Before we departed New York, we had two last stops - one on the western edge of the Finger Lakes region, near the area where we had already visited, at Letchworth State Park. This State Park is home to the "Grand Canyon of the East", and some of the most beautiful scenery you will find in New York.
Our second destination was the greatly anticipated Niagara Falls, and the city of Buffalo. We already for sure planned to visit this region whenever we left New York, so that definitely wasn't going to change now. Adam's must-do list included eating buffalo chicken wings in Buffalo, and I really wanted to do the boat tour at Niagara Falls, so we squeezed it all in!
More to come on both of these locations on next week's travel review.
Time with friends in Ohio
Next up on the list, as we made our way west to Wisconsin, was a visit to the greater Cleveland, Ohio region to spend some time with old friends. Adam's grade school friend Nick moved out to Ohio around 8 or so years ago, and it had been a handful of years since we last saw him and his family. We were lucky enough to get to spend a long weekend at the campground they have a seasonal RV spot at, and it was a lot of fun!
We played games, ate the biggest (Amish) donuts I've ever seen, had bonfires, and Nick made us a bunch of food in his smoker! It felt really good to connect with friends, and allowed us the chance to take a break from all of our own chaos for a few days. This stop was essentially the middle of our journey west, and after we left here we really picked up our speed, and our miles!
Another National Park to add to the list
Our last stop before arriving back to Wisconsin brought us to the southern shore of Lake Michigan, in Indiana, at Indiana Dunes State Park. This State Park is unique because it is surrounded by the larger Indiana Dunes National Park, with over 15,000 acres protected. It is also a very diverse area, with 15 miles of shoreline, the biggest sand dunes in this part of the country, and a lot of oak, savannas, swamps, bogs, marshes, rivers, and prairies. Not to mention, on a clear day you can see across Lake Michigan to the Chicago skyline!
We only spent 2 nights here, and one day exploring the Park, but it was enough to get a taste of what Indiana has to offer. We did a short hike through the forest, a short hike on the sand dunes, and some time walking the beach, staring at the gorgeous turquoise hues of Lake Michigan. One thing I wish I would have known about sooner, as I didn't realize it until we were leaving, is that there is a 3 Dunes Challenge here, where you essentially hike over the 3 largest sand dunes in the park. It is a 1.5 mile rugged trail going through 552 vertical feet of sand! If you have ever hiked in sand before than you know just how difficult it is! But that's okay, we will just save it for next time we are in this area.
In traveling through both Ohio and Indiana, we also had our own special surprise as we hit the tolls for these states! To this day this is the absolute most we have ever spent in tolls, racking up over $150 in bills in just TWO days. I'll have to remind myself of this toll road next time we are in the area, as it might just be worth it to take the longer route...
Stone Lake, Wisconsin
Our 2nd year Nomadiversary brought us back to the place where our whole nomad adventure began, in northern Wisconsin. The same spot we are in now was our first ever RV campsite in May of 2019!
We arrived to Stone Lake on Wednesday, May 19th, making incredibly good time on our end. It only took us a week and a half total to travel about 1,300 miles - a route that I would probably have had us do in about 3 weeks time under normal circumstances. We still could have stretched it out that long this time around if we wanted, but we were both so anxious to get back we kept canceling stays, shortening nights, and cruising along even faster!
Our final travel day from Indiana to northern Wisconsin turned out to be our longest travel day ever - in terms of miles that is. We traveled 450 miles in one day, beating our previous record in Texas of 420 miles. Ideally, we don't like to really ever travel more than 250 miles in a day, as it gets to be so tolling on us both in driving and taking care of the cats. Thankfully for us, this time around it only took us about 8.5 hours to drive that far, unlike our adventure in Texas where I think we were on the road for over 10 hours!
I know we both breathed a huge sign of relief as soon as we pulled into the driveway at my mom's cabin, where we will be moochdocking all summer. No one was up at the time we arrived, which gave us time to get settled and adjusted in our new seasonal site. :)
A special visit to the Twin Cities, Minnesota
After we took a few days to get settled in Stone Lake, it was time for our biggest surprise of all... which included a special visit to Minnesota. This past Sunday we first spent some time visiting with my dad, step mom, and step brother in Lino Lakes, before we headed out to Stillwater. Our goal in Stillwater was to completely surprise Adam's dad and step mom with our news! They had no idea we were back, and when we made the decision to quit our job in New York, Adam decided he wanted to keep it a surprise for them. This is the reason why I did not post anything on Facebook or on my blog, as to not give the big surprise away.
I am happy to report that everything went to plan, and we gave them one of the biggest shocks of their lives! I will never forget the look on Adam's dad's face when he realized it was us standing behind him at a local bar, as he tried to work through and process how on earth we could be here. They were truly surprised in the best way possible, and we got to spend the night with them, catching up, and hanging out with Adam's youngest brother, step brother, and some other friends. It had almost been a full 2 years since we last saw them, and it was definitely needed!
New summer 2021 plans for A&A
As one door closes, new doors always open up, and that is exactly the case for A&A this summer! We have new jobs lined up, we have already started working them, and we are adjusting to any new changes as they come up.
The same day we quit our jobs in New York, I was offered a part-time, temporary, remote position with the very last company I ever worked for before we moved into the RV. The job perfectly aligned with the gap in plans we had for the summer, and because I was relocating to Wisconsin it was something I was able to fully make happen. I am officially working in the HR department of Affinity Plus Credit Union, until hopefully the end of September. The length of employment could change, but at least I am working with a company I know, respect, and enjoy working for! It has been so nice to see and connect with old colleagues, and to learn about all the changes the company has gone through in the past 2 years to adjust to life during the pandemic and remote work. This week was my first full week and everything went really well. I feel very grateful for this opportunity!
Last night Adam had his first day of work back at the Chit-Chat bar, just a few miles down the road from where we are camping in Stone Lake. He helped out here 2 summers ago when we were waiting for our townhome to sell and living in the trailer in this same spot. The day before we quit in New York he reached out to them again to see if they needed help for the summer, and they got back to him right away saying they did. It is a win win for both of us and we are happy to have things figured out so quickly.
This is just another stop along the way in our nomadic life...
I feel like it's worth clarifying, as I've already had to a few too many times in the past week, that we are NOT done RVing. We are not back from "our road trip", we are not "back from vacation"... this is still our life. We still live in our RV, the cats still live in the RV, and everything is still the same as it was, we are just now in Wisconsin and not New York.
When the fall rolls around, we will be rolling out of here, just as we would any other summer job. We still have plans to do the Sugar Beet Harvest in northern Minnesota this late fall, and we will still absolutely be going back down to Florida for the winter to sell Christmas trees and bask in the Florida sun. I can't say for sure where 2022 will take us, but I know the open road will eventually have all the answers I desire.
For now, it's a much needed summer in north country, and we welcome it with open arms!
As I work through my blog plan for June, I want to quickly backtrack a little bit to talk about some of the places we recently traveled to from New York to Wisconsin. Next week's post will focus on the remainder of our adventures in Upstate New York, with a travel review of Letchworth State Park on the western end of the Finger Lakes, and Niagara Falls on Lake Ontario!
I have recently become affiliated with Amazon, through the set up of my own storefront page. Here I am able to list and link all of the items I have purchased through Amazon and would recommend for various needs. I have lists set up for fulltime RVing, camping in general, traveling with cats, health and wellness, and even curly hair! Plus, as an added bonus, I will make a small commission on any items purchased through my link.
If you want to check out more of my storefront page, here is the link: Spark Fire Swan's Amazon
I will continue to add items as time goes on, as we are always finding something new on there that becomes quite useful to our lifestyle or for our feline friends. As a rule of thumb, I only ever link things we have actually purchased, kept, and use on a frequent basis!