The Beginning

        We will begin by telling you about how we got started in the full time rv life. We are both retired, me from the USMC and my wife was a waitress for over 30 years. We met in 1999, I was a widower and she had just gotten out of a bad marriage. She was a secretary at a car dealership and I was making extra money by driving cars cross country for the dealership. We met there and after a lot of me chasing her we finally got together and late in 2000 we got married. We lived in a small house in Kentucky and bought a former resort that had been closed for many years. It was in bad shape and we completely rebuilt it as our home. It was a 2 story log cabin with a big in-ground pool, 2 large ponds and also had a triplex and a duplex on the property. We remodeled them and rented them out for extra income.

        We took several trips on cruise ships and both of us discovered we really liked traveling, but, on the cruise ships you would get to a port and only had time to see the city you were in. We did take a few long tours of the different places but it just wasn’t the same as having a car and going where you wanted to go. We bought our first camper and started camping, mostly here in Kentucky but we did take a few trips to Florida. Our first camper was a bumper pull, 26ft, Coachman coachmen camperwith no slideouts. We pulled it with a Chevy gas engine 3/4 ton 4 door pickup.

        In 2002 we decided to take a long trip to see family in the northwest, in Montana. We arranged to meet them in Glacier National part for a 4 day visit. This was their choice since they were from Montana and knew the area. We headed out for Montana, never driven that far before, much less pulling a travel trailer. We made our way out of Kentucky, into Illinois, then Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, South Dakota, Wyoming and finally Montana. This was the longest vacation we had ever taken and did not realize just how far it was until we drove it. We arrived at Glacier and went to the Apgar campground right on Lake McDonald. We picked a site and was just amazed at how big the park was and how beautiful it was. Our family showed up a little later and we sat and talked around a campfire. They live in Montana and told us of all of the things to do in Glacier. We made plans for sightseeing trips and a hiking trip for the next few days. We were not fulltimers at this time, only campers on a vacation. We walked around the campground looking and talking with people and met what we thought was a park ranger. It turns out they were campground host in Glacier. They told us what they did and how much fun it was. They did not get paid much, only a $50.00 a month stipend. They wore uniforms and looked like rangers, carried radios and bear spray. Their uniforms were paid for by the park. Their rv site in the campground was the only site in the park with full hookups, water, electric and sewer. No other sites in the whole park have any of the services and the campground host received them for free while they were there.

         After talking to them we met a young lady who worked there also, she was in training to be a full ranger and helped run the campground. We ask her how did people get the jobs of campground hosting in the park. She said it was very hard to get one and that there was usually a long waiting list for the jobs. We talked to her for quite a while as she was a very interesting and lovely young lady. She said she would call someone and see if there might be any jobs available for the next year and let us know. The next day she gave us a name and number to call and when we did we were told to go to the park headquarters and fill out some paperwork for a background check. We did and we were told we would be a campground host for the 2003 season in Apgar campground. We were thrilled and really did not know what we had gotten ourselves into.

Will continue with more soon.





We left Glacier later that day and headed back to Kentucky. We wanted to see some things we had never seen before so we laid out our route to go home a different way than the way we went there. We would go down thru Utah, see the great Salt Lake in Salt Lake City. It is really a big lake, supposedly you can swim in it and you can not sink, don’t know if that story is true or not as we did not take time to go swimming. Our trip was pretty much going really good until we were a few miles from Gunnison Colorado. I looked in the mirror and saw a lot of smoke and flames, pulled over really quick and ran to the passenger side of the camper and saw the rear tire was in flames and smoke rolling. Opened the camper door and grabbed the fire extinguisher and put the fire out, it was the tire burning. We had been just driving along enjoying the beautiful scenery along the road. We were high above a large lake and a sign close by said we were in Black Canyon.

Got the jack out and raised the rear axle up and the wheel just wobbled on the spindle.  The bearings were completely shot. Took it apart and was really lucky in that it did not hurt the spindle, but the hub and bearing assy was shot.  The rear bearing race was frozen on the spindle and I tried everything to get it off but was not having any luck. There was no traffic going by and no phone service to call for help. I just did not have enough tools to get the race off of the spindle, I needed a chisel and did not have one in my tool box. About that time I looked up and a state road dept. pickup truck pulled up. The guy got out and asked if we needed help. I explained our problem and he said that he did not have any tools in his truck, except, he said he had just stopped up the road because he saw something laying in the middle of the road. He walked over to the bed of his truck and reached down and came up with what looked like a brand new orange colored chisel. It was not in a tool box or anything like that, just laying in the bed of his truck where he tossed it after picking it up from the road. He gave it to me and said this might help. It was exactly what I needed. He said he had to leave and when I ask him how I could return it to him he said just keep it because it was just laying in the road. I thanked him very much and went to work on the spindle. The chisel worked and it came right off with no damage to the spindle. We unhooked the camper so we could go into town to get parts to fix it but since we did not want to leave the camper on the side of the road in this remote area, so Karan got the 38 revolver and a chair and said she would sit and guard it while watching the lake until I got  back.  I headed off to Gunnison, I think it was about 5 or 6 miles and just as I got into town I saw a NAPA auto parts store. I just knew I could get the parts there but when I went in and showed them what I needed they said they could not help me. I ask them if anyone in town would be able to help me and they gave me a response that made me think they were just sending me on a wild goose chase. They told me to go to the Muffler Shop up the road. Well, I did go up there and turns out they build trailers and had all of the parts I needed. He ask me what happened and I told him the story. I did not even ask how much it would be because we had to have it. He came out with a brand new spindle, a set of bearings, a new seal, nut and cap. He said just wait a couple of minutes and he would put it all together for me and grease it up. I just knew this was going to cost me a fortune. The people in there were some of the nicest people I had ever met. In a few minutes he came out with everything put together and laid it on the counter. I ask how much I owed him and he looked up and said $29.00. I could not believe it, but he said they liked helping people when they could. Next I needed a new tire and rim but he did not have one in the size I needed so he sent me to a used tire store up the street. They had a good used one and charged me $10.00 for it. Amazing that we got everything we needed so cheap and from really nice people. I headed back to the camper and it did not take any time to get it put together and back on the road. We headed to Pueblo, Colorado to stay at the KOA campground there for a few nights as I had family that lived there, not knowing what was ahead of us on Hwy 50. Everything was so beautiful here, mountains, lakes and forest. We came upon what we would call a big hill in Kentucky, but here they call it a high mountain pass, very high.

We had come upon the largest mountain pass we have ever seen. Monarch Pass, 11,312 ft high.We headed up the mountain, a lot of trucks barely crawling up the mountain. We were doing ok but not very fast pulling the camper. By the time we got to the top we were only going about 20 mph with the gas pedal on the floor. There is a rest area at the top and it was very interesting. We learned that this is on top of the Continental Divide that separates the country, with one side being the Atlantic side and one side being the Pacific side. Definitely a place worth driving to just to see and experience it. We continued on to the KOA in Pueblo, Co for the night with no more surprises on the way there. We called our family and they came down to the campground to visit for a while.

The next day we packed up and headed for home in Kentucky. No more surprises the rest of the way home.

Check back for the continuing story.



Deciding to Go Fulltime

Well almost made it home, talking all the way about our upcoming job in Glacier National Park. We made it into Missouri and kept seeing road side billboards advertising rv’s in Columbia, Mo. We decided that we wanted to stop and see what was available since ours was an older model and if we were going to be living in it maybe we needed a newer one. We stopped at the rv dealer and wow, they had a lot of different type rv’s available. Travel trailers, fifth wheels, truck campers and A, B, and C class motorhomes. We did not look at the motorhomes, just the travel trailers and the fifth wheels. The travel trailers were nice, but when we started looking at the 5th wheels we were amazed at how nice they were and how much room they had. We looked at several different ones but as soon as we walked into a 38 ft Montana with 3 slideouts we knew that was the one we wanted.

It was huge to us after using the Coachmen travel trailer. The Montana had something that none of the other 5th wheels had. The living room was up in the 5th wheel part and it had a fireplace. The kitchen was huge as was the master bedroom. We talked with the salesman and as what about trade in’s. He said they did take them and they checked ours out and the next thing we knew we had a new 5th wheel. Our truck was not set up to tow a fifth wheel so we headed on home, left our trailer there and we would be back in a few days to pick up the new one. We got back home and decided to look for another truck that would tow the 5th wheel easier than the truck we had.

I found a used F350, 4 door dually with a 7.3 diesel engine at a dealer in Paducah, Ky. Worked with them and we made a deal with them on the truck, then we headed back up to Columbia, Mo to get the 5th wheel. We got there and they took our truck into their shop and installed the 5th wheel hitch we needed. They had our new 5th wheel out backed, hooked up to a full hookup and ready for us to spend the night in it so we could get acquainted with everything on it an ask any questions before we went on the road. Our old trailer was there and we unloaded all of our stuff from it into our new one. We spent the night in it and were overwhelmed with how big and comfortable it was. Then they showed us everything about hooking it up, ask us if we had any questions and sent us on our way. We headed home pulling our new home and had no problems pulling it. It actually was easier to pull than our old trailer and pulled really easy with our new diesel truck. We got home and decided we wanted to go spend the winter in Florida. We still were not full time as we still had the house in Kentucky and that is when we decided to put it up for sale and go fulltime rv’ing. We listed the house with a realtor, gave them the keys and we headed to Florida. We looked in the Good Sam Club campground book and decided we were going to an RV resort called Rock Crusher Canyon in Crystal River Florida. We drove straight thru and got there at dark. We had called and made a reservation so the Camp Ground Host on duty knew we were coming and escorted us to our site. It was a back in site, and it was dark but we got backed in and set up with no problems. We have grandkids in Florida so we planned on seeing them all we could while we were there.

The rv park, Rock Crusher Canyon was really nice. You can check our review of this campground in the Campground Reviews link at the top of the home page.

Keep checking back for more post in the days ahead.  And please leave a comment or question. We will try to answer any questions as soon as possible.  Thanks, Jim n Karan  



Officially Fulltimers

We were enjoying our time at Rock Crusher Canyon. We did a lot of visiting with the grandkids, the best part of being in Florida.

It was not too awful long, a few months, and the realtor called and said she had an offer on the house. The offer was for what we were asking and they wanted to close in 30 days.  We headed back to Kentucky, just us and the truck, so that we could get our stuff out of the house. We sold the house with most of the furniture included so we only had to move our personal stuff. We rented a storage unit and moved what we had into it.  One thing we had was a paddle boat and we wanted to take it with us, but with having a fifth wheel now there was no where to put it. So I got what I needed and built a rack on the truck that extended over the cab and out over the hood that we could put the paddle boat on. We put the paddle boat on it and it worked perfect, we were ready to go. We closed on the house and we were officially homeless except for our fifth wheel. I guess that is the day that we officially became FULLTIMERS.

We began talking to lots of people to see how they did it. Everyone that was doing it were really glad to give advice about getting started and surviving it. We began making a list of what we needed to do. First since we did not have a home we had to get an address to have our mail sent to. After lots of checking we found out about mail forwarding services for rv’ers. We were not members of Escapees and that is one of the recommended mail forwarding services. We checked out all of them that we could and decided that we would use the one in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The reason we chose them was, 1. low taxes on vehicles, 2. no vehicle inspections 3. easy to get a drivers license and 4. because the mail forwarding service would hold the mail until we called and had it forwarded. We could also change where we wanted it sent as many times as we wanted with no extra charges. Also, the price was a lot cheaper than some of the others we checked out. It has been to long ago to remember exactly what it cost but it was not really a lot.

By now it was the first of May and we were supposed to be at Glacier Nat Park  by June 1st for our first workamping job. We checked out list for what we had to buy before we started. The main thing we had to do was buy our uniforms, which they would reimburse us for them when we arrived. Had to go to a lot of different stores to finally find the right uniforms, but we found them and were ready to go to work. We left Florida and headed to Sioux Falls, South Dakota to get everything licensed and the mail forwarding set up. We were so excited to be going to Glacier that we pretty much drove straight thru to Sioux Falls. We did stop in a few interstate rest areas to get some sleep on the way. We made it to a campground in Sioux Falls late in the afternoon. We got set up and settled in for the night. The next morning we went to the mail forwarding service office and got all of the info we needed. We left and got our new drivers license and vehicle registrations and then went back and finished with the mail forwarding service. We went back to the fifth wheel and settled in for the night planning on leaving in the morning for Glacier.

NOOOO00000, we woke up the next morning and looked outside and it was all white. A major snowstorm had hit during the night. We checked the weather report and it was supposed to get worse. We decided to make a run for it as the interstate was not closed down yet, I-90.  We got hooked up and pulled out, got on the interstate. A little scared because the interstate was just one lane, with just 2 ruts thru the snow. We got in the ruts and just started going. Really slow going but we were making headway and the snow had slowed down. The road started getting better the farther we went and in a few hours  we could actually see most of the road. By the time we got to Rapid City, SD you could not even tell there had been a storm. We continued on with plans to stop and visit some relatives that live in Charlo, Mt in the Mission Mountain Range between Missoula, Mt and Glacier Nat. Park. We got to the families home and parked the rv in the driveway for the night. Had a good visit with them and headed on to Glacier Park the next morning.

We arrived at Glacier, 2 weeks early before our starting date. They had told us we could come early and stay in the park if we wanted to. When we got all checked in they gave us the patches that had to be sewn on our uniforms and told us about different places that would sew them on. We went into Kalispell and found a sewing shop and dropped everything off. By this time we were really starting to get excited. It was so green and beautiful everywhere you could look. The campground was right across the road from Lake McDonald. The campground was open but there was almost no one there. That is why our starting date was June 1st even though they usually open the first of May. They don’t need extra help early in the season. We settled in for the first night in this wonderful place.

Woke up the next morning and got the shock of our lives, looked out the window and everything was white. It had snowed overnight and there was between 1 and 2 inches of snow with the sun shining making it sparkle. It looked like something in a movie they would call a winter wonderland. The snow did not last long as it warmed up pretty quick, but it was a shock at first.

This is it for now, keep checking back for our next post on this adventure, lots of stories to tell. 


Our First Workamper Job

We still had a little over a week before we actually started to work so we started going around and checking things out. One of the main attractions in Glacier was not open yet, that was the Going to the Sun Road. It is the main, actually only road in the park, that connects the east side to the west side of the park. The road usually opens sometime in June but many times not until sometime in July, because of the snow.

The road is a narrow winding road over the mountains. It is beautiful with views across mountain valley’s and in certain places even mountain glaciers. There are areas that have sheer drop offs along one side of the road and solid rock walls on the other side. One area is called the Weeping Wall,  because there is water coming over the mountain and out of the rocks falling on the road, so when you get to that area you go thru the water. Click this link to see a video of this area of the road.

The Road’s pinnacle is Logan Pass, which is on the Continental Divide at 6,646 feet. There are many hiking trails that start at Logan pass and go in many directions. There are usually lots of mountain goats there also.

In the days leading up to our starting time we explored the park and ventured out into town.  We found what we think even to this day, what was the best restaurant we have ever eaten in. In is in a town not too far from the park entrance called Columbia Falls. The name of the restaurant is The Backroom. They have the best rotisserie chicken and it comes with baby red potatoes, cole slaw, baked beans & fry bread with real honey to put on it. You think that when you order chicken you will get maybe a breast or something like that but here you get the breast and the rest of the half chicken. And it is really good, but the fry bread is amazing. You put real honey on it and it is hard to stop eating it and enjoy the rest of the food. After you eat there you don’t walk out, you waddle out. More food than most people can eat in one meal.

Well it was time to start actual work camping the next day. We went by the sewing shop and picked up our uniform shirts and jackets that we had the NPS patches sewn on. We got up the next morning, got dressed in our new uniforms,  and went to the station to go thru our briefing about what to do. When we got there they issued us a big can of bear spray and a radio. They explained how to use both and what to do if we encountered a bear in the campground. We were to first get any people out of the area and then put our arms in the air and yell shoo bear shoo. If that did not work we would use our radio and call for the bear team. The bear team were real park rangers whos job was to handle all bear problems. The first time we called them was really interesting. The bear, a small black bear, had evidently been in the campground before, because the rangers said they knew the bear and it would leave quick. The ranger took out a shotgun and got so the bear could see him and he chambered a round in the gun. If you have been around a pump shotgun it makes a noise when you do that, kind of a cha chunk sound. When the bear heard that noise he turned and ran, ran fast into the woods. What had happened was that in the past the bear had been shot by the rangers and he knew what that sound of the shotgun chambering a round meant. The rangers don’t shoot the bears with a regular bullet, it is actually a small bean bag, but it hurts the bear enough to know that he does not want to be hit by one again, so if a bear has ever been shot with one he will run if he hears that noise.

In our orientation meeting  we found out that the number one thing was to just try to answer any questions that people had and take care of any problems they may encounter. There were several loops in the campground and we got half of them and the other host got the other half. We would just walk around the campground, meet and greet people and watch for anything they may be doing that you can not do in this national park. The number one no-no is leaving any kind of food or drink, or even coolers with food or drink in them,  out in the open if no one was in the campsite. If we found any of those items and could not locate the owners we would confiscate them, take them to our station and lock them in the building. Bears know what a cooler is and what they have in them. Then when the people do get back to their campsites and see that their stuff is gone they come and see  us and ask us if we know anything about it. The way we would handle it was up to us. If the people were nice and understood why we did take the stuff, as 99 percent of them were, we would just explain the rules to them and give it back to them. If they were really rude and arrogant with us or threatened us in any way we would tell them that a park ranger would have to return their things to them. We would use our radio’s an call for ranger assistance. When the ranger showed up we would tell him what was going on and how the people were acting. If they continued to be rude, arrogant or threatening to the ranger they would be issued a ticket and depending on their attitude with that they could be kicked out of the campground. We have seen it happen both ways but usually when the ranger would explain how dangerous it was to leave that stuff out they would mellow and just get their stuff back.

Check back soon as we will be updating this blog almost daily. Feel free to leave a comment or question if you would like.




Apgar Campground

Well, the season was moving along really good. We met some of the nicest people in the world while camp ground hosting. I think the reason they call this camp ground hosting instead of workamping is because we do not actually do any work. We do not do things like in the public sector campgrounds like clean facilities, lawn work, or work at a front desk. Here our job is to be seen and answer questions from the tourist and help with any problems they may have.

The only part that might be considered is the one thing we did was to check to see that each camping spot that was occupied had a payment tag on the post in front of the site. If there was not one on the post we would make contact with the camper and inform them where to get one and ask that they do that. It is an honor system as far as paying, no one to actually collect the money. The camper fills out an envelope with their information, puts the money in the envelope, tears of the end tag to put on the post and deposits it into a box that one of the rangers picks up each morning.

I am one of those people that can drive anything. We had an older couple drive in one morning in a 42 ft motorhome, high end fancy one. We only had a couple of sites that they would be able to park in. They had come in and stopped at the entrance to the loop that had the sites they could use. I went up to the motorhome just as the driver was coming out, with his walker. He could barely walk but was driving this huge motorhome. He said he could not get to the site because he was not able to maneuver it they way that was needed to park it. He basically could not back up with it. To get into the site a person with one that big would have to pull up and then back up several times to make the turn into the site at the end of the loop. So, I got to drive this fancy motorhome down the loop and park it for him. It really feels good to be able to help people like that, but it is kind of scary that there are people out on the road like that. Sort of an accident looking for a place to happen just based on reaction time. They were able to drive it out the next day as the loops are all one way and he was pointed in the right direction.

After a while we decided that walking the miles each day around all of the loops might be easier on a bicycle. So we went into town and found us a pair of really nice bikes. We were able to just cruise around all of the loops but still stop and help people or answer questions.  We used the bikes for a few weeks and then decided that maybe a battery powered scooter would be even better. So we went into town and ended up with 2 scooters. They were pretty neat and because they were battery powered we were able to use them. Gas powered scooters were not allowed in the campground. Ours were just as quiet as the bicycles.

The campground host are the only ones in the entire park that have any hookups for their campers. All sites in the campground for public use are just campsites with no hookups of any kind, In the bath houses, one in each loop, there is electric where people could use electric razors or charge their phones or anything else that needed short term electric. There were water spigots scattered thru the loops so that people could fill their campers and there were dump stations to dump the tanks. A lot of people used the small portable tanks on wheels to dump their tanks in and then roll them up to the dump station to empty them, that way they did not have to move their campers to dump.

By now we had been here for over a month, enjoying everything about the park and the people in it. It was close to the end of July and the big thing was the forest fires that were in different areas of the park. We could see lots of smoke up in the sky from the fires, they were all on the other side of Glacier park at this time. But about July 25th a new fire had been outside of the park and was burning and could possibly head towards the area we were, Apgar Village and the Lake McDonald valley.

Then on July 28th, one of the rangers came in and told us we needed to tell all campers that they had 2 hours to pack up and evacuate the campground and that all of us campground host would have a couple hours after we got everyone out to get our stuff packed up and evacuate. So we started going around every loop and telling everyone they had to leave as soon as possible. In about an hour the ranger came back and said that the fire was heading our way faster than expected and we needed to evacuate immediately, not just the campers but us also. It was really smokey and smelled like we were sitting in the middle of the smoke of a campfire.

We got all of the campers out and we headed out also. And just in time as the flames were at the top of the ridge overlooking the campground. A big red glowing tint in the sky at the top was very scary. We went into Columbia Falls and found a place to stay. Smoke was so thick as the saying goes you could cut it with a knife.

We stayed around for about 4 days and we were told that we could go home as the campground would not be reopening anytime soon, if at all for the rest of the season. The fires slowed down and just smoldered and many of the locals had gone back to homes in the area, until August 10, high winds blew up the Robert Fire again. Within a matter of hours, it ran up the western shore of Lake McDonald, generating enormous flames. As night fell, the Lake McDonald Valley was hastily evacuated again. The valley remained full of smoke for weeks as the fire continued to expand. For nearly two months, from mid-July to early September, there was no significant rain. At last, on September 8, heavy rains finally came and basically put the fire out. By the grace of God the Apgar campground was spared. The fire burnt around the area but somehow the campground did not burn. As seen by some of the pictures on this post the fire was huge and devastating.

We had left and decided to head back to Florida but take our time and see some things we had never seen before. Our first stop was to be Mount Rushmore so that we could add it to our list of been there done that.

That’s it for this part of the story. Keep checking back for more on our adventures. Click the link below if you would like to be notified when we add new post or content on the site.



Headed to Florida

We had decided to take our time going to Florida this time and see some things we have never seen. The best part of going fulltime rv’ing is that you are usually not in a hurray to go anywhere, so you have time to stop and see things and places that you have only heard of.

The one place we had never been to was Mt. Rushmore.

We looked up campgrounds in the area and decided to go to Custer State Park, in Custer, SD. It is the oldest and largest state park in SD. We arrived in Custer and decided to stay in Blue Bell campground. The park was beautiful with large pine trees everywhere.

We got up the next morning and headed to Mt Rushmore, about 20 minutes away from the state park. We arrived and it was totally amazing. There were some workers hanging from ropes in front of the monument. We were told they were just cleaning them. The story of how these were made was amazing. This is a story that the NPS tells about the monument.

October 4, 1927 – October 31, 1941

Mount Rushmore is a project of colossal proportion, colossal ambition and colossal achievement. It involved the efforts of nearly 400 men and women. The duties involved varied greatly from the call boy to drillers to the blacksmith to the housekeepers. Some of the workers at Mount Rushmore were interviewed, and were asked, “What is it you do here?” One of the workers responded and said, “I run a jackhammer.” Another worker responded to the same question, ” I earn $8.00 a day.” However, a third worker said, “I am helping to create a memorial.” The third worker had an idea of what they were trying to accomplish.

The workers had to endure conditions that varied from blazing hot to bitter cold and windy. Each day they climbed 700 stairs to the top of the mountain to punch-in on the time clock. Then 3/8 inch thick steel cables lowered them over the front of the 500 foot face of the mountain in a “bosun chair”. Some of the workers admitted being uneasy with heights, but during the Depression, any job was a good job.

The work was exciting, but dangerous. 90% of the mountain was carved using dynamite . The powdermen would cut and set charges of dynamite of specific sizes to remove precise amounts of rock.

Before the dynamite charges could be set off, the workers would have to be cleared from the mountain. Workers in the winch house on top of the mountain would hand crank the winches to raise and lower the drillers. If they went too fast, the drillers in their bosun chairs would be dragged up on their faces. To keep this from happening, young men and boys were hired as call boys. Call boys sat at the edge of the mountain and shout messages back and forth assuring safety. During the 14 years of construction not one fatality occurred.

Dynamite was used until only three to six inches of rock was left to remove to get to the final carving surface. At this point, the drillers and assistant carvers would drill holes into the granite very close together. This was called honeycombing. The closely drilled holes would weaken the granite so it could be removed often by hand.

Visitors to the site were very interested in the honeycombed granite and would often ask, “How can I get a piece of rock like that?” The hoist operator would usually respond, “Oh, I can’t give that away. I’m holding onto it for a buddy of mine that works up on the mountain.” The visitor would respond, “I’ll pay, I’ll give you $2.00 for it.” The hoist operator’s reply was, “Nope, nope, I’d really catch it if I gave away my buddy’s piece of granite.” If the visitors were very determined to get a piece of that granite, they would make another offer. “I’ll give you $6.00 for that piece of honeycomb granite.” The hoist operator would pretend to pause and think about it… then he would say, “Alright for $6.00 I’m willing to take the heat.” The hoist operator would give the visitors the piece of honeycombed granite and take their $6.00. The visitor would leave very pleased with their rare and hard won souvenir. The hoist operator would wait until he was sure the visitors were gone and he would get on the phone to the top of the mountain and say, “Boys send down another one!” Another piece of honeycombed granite was sent down, ready for the next visitor looking for a special souvenir from Mount Rushmore.

After the honeycombing, the workers smoothed the surface of the faces with a hand facer or bumper tool. In this final step, the bumper tool would even up the granite, creating a surface as smooth as a sidewalk.

From 1927 to 1941 the 400 workers at Mount Rushmore were doing more than operating a jackhammer, they were doing more than earning $8.00 a day, they were building a Memorial that people from across the nation and around the world would come to see for generations.”

We walked the trail that takes you up below the monument. It is overwhelming to learn that this was made by people using dynamite and then finishing it with jackhammers. We left the monument and just wanted to drive around the area. We noticed that on another mountain near there was a lot of work going on. We stopped and ask some people what that was and it turns out they were carving another monument into a mountain. This one was going to be the Indian Chief Crazy Horse.  Just the head is larger than all of the Mt Rushmore heads put together. The monument will be 641 feet long by 563 feet high when finished. This monument was started in 1948 and has no date to be finished. Work continues each day and this is all being done with donations and money taken in by the visitor center there. No government money involved.

  The first picture is what the monument looks like from a distance, the second picture is a closer view of the face and the 3rd picture is what the monument will look like when it is finished. The people in the picture are the sculptor(Polish sculptor) Korczak Ziolkowski with his 10 kids and his wife. Although he died in 1982 his dying wish was for his wife Ruth, now 86, and their 10 children to finish the sculpture. Ruth is president and CEO of the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation, and seven of the children are working on it to this day.

After checking out the area we were riding thru Custer park and we came upon a cattle guard gate going into the park. Standing at the gate were some donkey’s, or later we found out they were burros. As we approached the gate we stopped as we did not know what they would do and we did not want to hit them. The burros approached the truck window and as it got close it leaned in the window and looked around. We had some candy mints and gave each burro one of them. They took them and ate them then backed up and just looked at us. We drove on and they just stood at the gate like guards waiting for the next vehicle.  We ask in the park about the burros and we were told they are called the begging burros of Custer state park. They stand at the gate and wait for people to stop and give them anything to eat.

We found a brochure that the campground we were staying at had an old fashioned hay ride and chuck wagon cookout that you could take back into the back country area of the park. After you rode the wagon train back in, they had campfires set up and served dinner just like back in the old days. On the wagon we had an older gentleman that told us stories about the old west as we rode along in the wagon. Everyone set around the campfire and listened to stories and ate the dinner they had prepared.  They also played music and sang old west songs. Then they had all of us stand up as they played what they called the Chicken Dance, then taught us how to do the chicken dance. The first time in my life I had heard of it and then doing it. Lots of crazy fun.

The next day we left Custer and headed up to Spearfish, SD. We had seen a brochure about the Passion Play. We had heard about it at some time or another and thought we would like to see it. We camped at a campground next to the place the passion play was performed. The passion play was done in Spearfish, SD in the summer and then the performers traveled the world performing it in the winter. It had been seen by over 11 million people when it finally closed and quit performing in 2008, after 70 years of performing daily. We got tickets and saw the show that night. It was a fantastic show, and so realistic that many time during the show you  would be in tears.    

The next morning we got up and headed down the road. We would go back to Kentucky to visit family and then head on to Florida for the winter. We had talked to the people at Glacier and we were told that we could come back next year if we wanted to to do the Campground Host job again. We immediately said yes and we were told that next year we would be going to a different campground called Fish Creek. Apgar campground was close to Lake McDonald with a road separating them, but, Fish Creek was directly on the water. It is a beautiful campground, our personal favorite in Glacier. We were really excited to be going to it and couldn’t wait for the spring to get here. But, we still had the winter ahead of us and we planned on being in Florida to not be in any cold weather.

This will end this post, but check back for more in the days ahead. You can click the subscribe button if you would like to notified when we add more content to the website.  

Winter in Florida then on to Montana

We stopped in Kentucky and visited with family and friends. Everyone still thinks we were crazy for selling everything and living in a camper. It is really hard to explain to someone what it is like to decide to sell everything and leave everyone and everything that has been an integral part of your life.

Once a person has experienced some of this wonderful country, things that you have only heard of when you were a kid, it makes you just want to see more and more. When we were kids in school we saw pictures of deserts, but when you see one in real life it is completely different. More on the differences in later post.

We had begun looking for possible workamper jobs in Florida as we were headed that way. We found one that was available working as a volunteer at a state park near Clermont, Fl. The name of the park was Lake Louisa State Park. We were not real sure what we would be doing just that we would have a place to stay for the winter at no cost for helping in the campground. We arrived at the campground and was told where to go park and that someone would be around to explain what we would be doing. We parked and waited for someone to come around. No one the first day showed up. The second day we just relaxed around the camper and waited, still no one showed up. We decided that if no one showed up the next morning we would just leave. If that is how they ran things then we did not want anything to do with it. Sure enough, by noon on the 3rd day no one had come to talk to us so we just packed up and left. Never did hear a word from them.

We decided that we after looking at our Good Sam campground book that we were going to go to Hudson Florida and stay at an rv resort called 3 Lakes RV Resort. It had a good review and ratings so we thought we would try it. We were new to the workamping lifestyle so we really didn’t know where else to look for a workamper position.

We arrived at the park and got checked in and assigned a site. We went to the site and immediately noticed how narrow the roads in the park were. I pulled up past the site a little and there just was not room for me to be able to back it in. There were other rver’s there that came out and said I would need to pull into the empty field across from the site to be able to back it in. Not a good idea. I pulled out into the field and got lined up to the site and started backing up, but as soon as the wheels on the camper hit the edge of the pavement the back wheels just spun and sunk in the sand.  The people around me said to just lock it in 4wd and come on back. The problem was that my truck was not a 4wd truck.  One of the other campers that was parked next to where we were gonna be told me to just unhook and he would back it in with his 4wd truck. We unhooked mine, he pulled me out and then he backed up to mine, hooked up and backed it into the site. I felt bad about not being able to back it in but our neighbor said don’t worry about it, I was not the only one that had to have help for the same reason. The sites were plenty big but the roads were really narrow.

We met a lot of other people in this park that were either snow birds or full time rver’s. Everyone was super friendly and had lots of stories to tell. With us being new to this full time rv’ing, we listened to all we could. Getting advice on what to do and not to do, how to find workamping jobs and just general advice on traveling with our only home. While we were there Karan’s dad came down and stayed with us for a week. He was not sure about our new lifestyle of living on the road but encouraged us to do what we thought was best for us. He really liked our Montana motorhome because the living room was up above the fifth wheel and even had a fireplace.  Most of the other rver’s wanted to see our trailer because they had never seen one that had the living room up in the front of it. This was something fairly new at this time.

We spent the rest of our winter taking day trips to visit family in Florida and checking out Universal Studios. We really enjoyed our time with no cold weather and no snow. When May arrived we decided to head out towards Glacier National Park for our second year as campground host. We decided to take our time going up and just enjoy the drive.

To save money we decided to stop at interstate rest areas instead of going to campgrounds every night. We could still use shower and toilets and stop every couple of days at a campground to be able to dump our tanks and add fresh water. Our first planned stop was going to be in Columbia, Mo at the rv dealership where we bought our Montana. They had an area behind the dealership that had full hookups and we were told when we bought ours that we were welcome to stop and spend a day or two for free.

That was the beginning of our next major move. We arrived there and our salesman came out and met us. The usual questions about how we were doing and how we liked our trailer. We told him we loved it and he wanted to show us the newest model they had just got in. Ours was a 38 ft with 3 slideouts. We went with him to look at the new one, it was a 40 ft with 4 slideouts. Of course we fell in love with it as soon as we went in. We told him it was really nice but we could not afford it since we were still paying on the one we bought last year from him. He said let him do some figuring and then decide. A little later he came out and made us a deal we could not turn down. He gave us every penny we had paid on our first one and got financing that made the payment the same as we were paying on the first one. So, the next morning we began taking everything out of our old one into the new one. Since the new trailer was a little heavier the dealership did some adjusting on our fifth wheel hitch to make it ride where it should. The new Montana had a few things that our other one didn’t have, with the main difference being the new one had electric leveling jacks and our first one had manual ones. Driving down the road I really couldn’t tell any difference at all. So on towards Montana we went.

That’s it for this episode, check back soon or sign up for updates when new post or links are added.  


Forward to Montana for Year 2

We headed for Montana for our second season of camp ground hosting in Glacier National Park. We were on I-90 in Montana and decided to stop for a couple of days somewhere. We got close to Clinton, Montana and saw signs advertising an RV campground called Bearmouth RV Park and Chalet. We decided to stop for a couple of days and check out the area. It was beautiful with all of the mountains and rivers running along the interstate.

We saw the campground off to the right side of the interstate. The next exit was the way to get there. Just from what we saw from the interstate looked really nice. It was right on the river with mountains on the other side. A huge log chalet was the office and also a bar/restaurant upstairs.

We got of the interstate and drove up to the office. They were not real busy as this was early in their season in May.  We talked to the people there and immediately liked the people and the campground. We got a site almost right next to the crystal clear river.  To early in the season to go swimming as the water was ice cold. We got settled in and went up to the bar to see what was in the area.

They told us about a ghost town not far from here that we should go and check out. It was called Garnet, Montana ghost town.


They told us the history of the town and how it is actually haunted. This is how the town is officially described by the BLM. They are actually the people that take care of the town.

      After sundown, the spirits of the town’s former residents reportedly come out to engage in what used to be their daily activities. Locals have reported hearing eerie piano notes struck from inside the old saloon, often accompanied by the chatter of distant voices.

     Some local residents claim the ghosts hide in the shadows of the town. There are also reports of transparent figures in period clothing walking between the buildings, though there have never been any sightings actually captured on video.

During a visit to Garnet, Bureau of Land Management historian Allan Mathews reportedly saw the figure of a woman standing in the window of the town’s old hotel. He was never able to confirm whether he’d actually seen a ghost that fateful day…

We decided to go there the next afternoon. They gave us directions to get to it. The next day we just went driving around and checked the area out.  We did come upon something that was really strange. It was at the next exit on the interstate, still calling itself as Clinton, Montana,  advertising a Testicle Festival.

After we talked to some of the people at the campground about it we decided it was nothing we were interested in going to. Just recently I went online to check out the so called festival and it is as nasty as it sounds.  Some people we spoke with from the area said it was pretty nasty. Lots of nudity and some really perverted things go on there. You can go online and see some pictures of the past festival and see just how nasty it is. It has been going on for 31 years and they say they have thousands of people show up. We will never be one of them.

It was early afternoon and we decided to go and check out the ghost town. We headed up the gravel road they had told us was how to get there. They told us to take the second left gravel road and it would take us to it. We got to the second road and took a left. Big Mistake. We went about a mile and it changed to a dirt road going up a mountain. Not long after that it changed to a one lane dirt road. We  had a several hundred feet dropoff on the right side of the road and up against a wall on the left side. No where to turn around as we were in the 4 door dually truck. So we kept going a ways and it was now nothing but a lane with grass in the center and 2 paths for your tires. Looking over the big dropoff on the right we could see at the bottom the remains of what looked like a Chevy Blazer on it’s roof at the bottom.  We went just a little bit farther and there was a gate on the left side that led up the side of the mountain. I pulled into it as far as I could and then proceeded to go forward and backward inching the truck around. It took a long time but we finally got turned around and headed back down, relieved that we finally were able to get off that road.

When we got back down to the main road we turned left and headed farther the way we started. Sure enough we got up the road just a little bit and there was another road to the left with a sign pointing up it and saying Ghost Town. It was getting dark s we knew we would not get to see much but we went up anyway. It really looked deserted and spooky as we got into the town. We stopped for a minute and decided to head back to the campground. About that time we saw a sign on the front of one of the buildings and pulled up to read it. Karan put her window down to try to see it in the almost dark and all of a sudden there was a voice that said Can I Help You?  On the porch was a tall man that looked dead, talking to us. He was dressed in black western style coat and clothes that looked dirty and worn. He looked like an undertaker, pale white face but still looked dead. Scared the crap out of us!  We told him we were just looking and quickly turned around and left.

When we got back to the campground we went into the bar and ask why they told us the second left. They kind of laughed and said they forgot about the road we went up. They said we were lucky as the road got even worse had we gone on and no where to turn around. They apologized but still think they did it on purpose. But, we still love the campground and will be going back there again.

We talked about going back the next day but decided to go on to Glacier and add that ghost town on a to do later list.  Headed out the next morning and got into Glacier to see where we were going to be parked. We talked to the ranger in charge and they told us we would be in loop D until they saw our new 40 ft fifth wheel. They said that no rv’s over 28 ft could get around D loop and that we would need to go around the loop because our site was at the very beginning of the loop and had to be backed into. We went to look and as you come into the campground the signs say that rv’s over 28 ft can not make the loop around D loop. That part is right, it is a very sharp and narrow road around the loop and no room at all to maneuver around and back into the first spot. And then they said that the campground host site was too narrow probably for our unit with slideouts on both sides.

After looking I said I would back it down the road, over a 1/4 mile and just back into the site. They all laughed and said I could try but they would see about us getting a different site.  We got turned around and started backing down the curvy road, slowly. I made it all the way to the campground and backed into the site. I tried to center it between the big trees hoping for enough room for the slideouts. Got it to where it looked good and started putting the slides out very slowly a little at a time. And when we got them fully out we had a little over an inch on each side so we unhooked the truck and leveled, hooked up water, electric and sewer. We were so happy that we did it. Not long after we had a lot of park personnel coming down to see the 40ft fifth wheel near D loop.

We started exploring this new campground and fell in love with it. Fish Creek campground is directly on Lake McDonald.

You can walk from the campground  directly along the lake shore. Beautiful views and crystal clear water. There are big trees everywhere and it was just lucky that the forest fires from the year before did not take the entire campground out.

Our job in this campground was the same as last year in Apgar. We were assigned loops D and C and occasionally we would help with B. There were 3 couples in Apgar working as camground host. One couple, Joe and Mary, from Pennsylvania, had been there for many, many years. They came back every year and were kind of a fixture in the park. Super nice people that everyone loved. People that came to Glacier camping over the years knew them and knew that if they had a question about anything in Glacier National Park Joe and Mary could answer it. The other couple working with us were Al and Sharon, really nice people from Cincinnati, Ohio. This was their first year doing the campground hosting in a National Park. We would work 5 days a week, no exact hours. Our job was to walk around the campground checking to be sure no food, drinks or coolers were out with no one around them. We also checked to make sure everyone had the payment tag on the post in front of their site.  Mostly we just tried to help people with any problems or questions they may have.

We met lots of friendly people in the park from all around the world. I carried a camera around my neck all the time. I enjoyed taking pictures of scenery, animals and people. I never did like seeing families taking pictures and there was always one person left out because they were taking the pictures. Anytime I would see that I always went up to them and ask if I could take the picture for them. Whenever I would see a family sitting at the picnic table together eating  I would ask them if I could take their picture. After I took it I would go back to the camper and print out an 8 x 11 photo and take it back and give it to them. A lot of times they thought I was selling the pictures and say they did not want it, but I would tell them it was free and no strings attached. Several times they cried and said they could not afford a family portrait and that was the first one they had. It just felt good to do that and I really enjoyed it. Once I asked a young couple if I could take their picture and they said as long as I did not show anyone else. I thought that was strange but I agreed. After I took the picture one of the rangers told me not to tell anyone who they were because they were famous movie stars sneeking away from the press. He told me who they were but I did not know them. I took the picture back to them and they thanked me for it. Since then she has become very famous and I don’t remember who he was.

I had someone tell me about a magazine that would pay for pictures called the Montana Magazine. I contacted them and they explained that each month they would send out a list to photographers of what pictures they needed for next months magazine. They would pay $50 for each picture they would use. The trick was that they would pick the one picture they thought was the best of all of them submitted. So I signed up for the list and started taking pictures for them. This was another way to make some money while fulltiming. Then, I expanded by taking lots of nature pictures in Glacier. We went into town and found a store that had a large selection of cheap picture frames. They were wooden and looked like something you would find in a log cabin or rustic house. We framed the pictures I took and then went to different gift shops in town and sold them. Some of the shops would just buy them and some would put them in on consignment. Cost about $3.00 total for the picture and the frame and we sold them for $20 to $25 dollars. Fun and easy hobby to make a little money.

That’s it for now, keep checking back, more to come.



Glacier National Park – Year 2

One thing we found in Glacier that we did not have in Kentucky is huckleberries. These were new to us and did not take long to find out just how good they are. Karan is an excellent cook and can make almost anything. When we found out what huckleberries were we found out they make excellent pies. So, I went out thru areas of the park and picked a lot of huckleberries. She took them and made pies with them.

Another thing that is outside of Glacier is cherry orchards. One of my favorite foods is hot cherry pie. We bought several quarts of cherries and Karan made pies. Whenever we would see one of the enforcement rangers we would invite them to stop by our camper and have a piece of pie. The pies were so good that we had people stopping by on a regular basis to have some. Karan got a nickname in the park and was called the Pie Queen of Glacier. We enjoyed meeting everyone we could and got to know most all of the rangers and we did know all of the campground host on the west side of Glacier. The other campgrounds on this side were, Apgar, Fish Creek, Kintla Lake, Bowman Lake, Sprague Creek and Avalanche Creek.

As mentioned earlier, I carried a camera around my neck all of the time. One of the ways we made money while fulltiming. The magazine that I mentioned earlier, Montana Magazine, had sent me a list of photo’s they needed for the next month. One of the things they needed were photo’s of a local restaurant that was famous for making pies. I went to the restaurant and spoke with them and then took pictures of their pies in the display case they had for sale. When I got back to the camper I downloaded the pictures to a disk and sent them to the magazine hoping some or all would be picked to be published. Well in a few weeks they contacted me and said one of my pics was picked to be published. That was great, and easy $50 added to the account. When the magazine was published they would send all of the photographers a copy. We got it and opened it up to see my picture published and really got a shock. Somehow I had accidentally included a picture of one of Karan’s pies and that is the one they published. Her pies were really pretty pies with the crust on the top criss crossed across the pies. Since it was published I figured it was better to not say anything and just let it go.  That pie sure looked good.

Towards the end of the season I was called into the main office to see Chris, he was in charge of all of the campgrounds and rangers. When I went in I had no idea why but found out real soon that I had received a complaint on me. The complaint was that I was not in uniform correctly because I wore a camera around my neck and a camera was not part of the uniform. I was asked why I carried the camera and I told him how I would see a family having fun together and take their pictures, print them out and give them the picture to help remember their trip to Glacier National Park. He said that is what he thought because he had received several letters from visitors to the park thanking him for the great time that they had and for the family pictures that the campground host, me, had given them. He told me that I could continue to take pictures of the people like I was. I was then shocked when he gave me a couple packages of photo paper to print the pictures on and thanked me for promoting the goodwill in the park. By this time most of the other campground host called me flash, because of the camera I always had with me. I never did know who filed the complaint about me carrying the camera but never heard anything else about it.


We heard something about how a person could rent a firetower to camp in. That sounded like a really neat thing to do, sleep up in a firetower overlooking the mountains and forest. We checked into it and found out that Montana does rent out the towers to people. We checked our schedule and then made reservations for 2 nights in the tower. A new adventure for us but we enjoyed adventure and we never backed away from a chance to get some. Below is the official description of the Mission Lookout tower at Swan Lake, Mt. from their rental website.


Mission Lookout towers above the forest canopy, providing guests with unrivaled 360-degree views of the beautiful Swan Range, Mission Mountains and Swan Lake. The site served for 75 years as a fire detection tower, and the current lookout has been around since its construction in 1959.

The tower can be accessed by vehicle. A parking area is adjacent to the facility. Guests are responsible for their own travel arrangements and safety, and must bring several of their own amenities.

Natural Features:

At an elevation of approximately 3,700 feet, the cabin affords views of Flathead National Forest, including the Mission Mountains and Swan Lake.

A variety of wildlife make its home in the area.



Along with the spectacular scenery, the immediate area offers visitors an unlimited array of outdoor activities ranging from fishing and swimming at the nearby Swan Lake, to watching migratory waterfowl at the wildlife viewing area.

Hunting is also popular not far from the lookout. Shooting within 150 yards of the Lookout or from/across roads is prohibited.

A variety of hiking and mountain biking trails can be found in the area.


The 15-by-15 facility sits atop a 40-foot tower. It is equipped with a built-in double bed and two folding cots, to accommodate up to four adults. The lookout also has a propane cooking stove, simple cooking utensils and a table with four chairs. A modern vault toilet, picnic area and fire ring are located at the base of the tower.

No water or electricity is available. Guests should bring plenty of water, bedding, food, firewood, toiletries and a non-open flame light source, such as a battery-powered lantern, as candles are not allowed within the cabin. Click here for more cabin details.

Nearby Attractions:

The town of Swan Lake, about 15 minutes away, has a general store with limited groceries and a restaurant.

We went on the afternoon of our first night and drove up a 2 lane dirt road to the base of the tower. We had brought everything they recommended, a cooler with ice, water, food, bedding, toiletries and a battery powered light. Candles are not allowed in the tower. The hardest part was carrying all of the stuff up the stairs. It was beautiful up in the tower with a wonderful breeze blowing and views forever in every direction. As darkness came it was even more beautiful. It was then that we discovered the only bad part of staying way up in the sky. The bathroom was in the area at the base of the tower. I did bring a spotlight with me so we had light going down the steps to get to the outhouse.  Hoping now bear were in the area, we made it and took care of business with no problems.  We were then hoping we would not have to go down in the middle of the night.


There was a gate at the bottom of the steps that you lock after you come in and no one can come up until you go down and unlock it. We were told to lock the gate when we went up for the night. We were told that sometimes some undesirable people come up there that don’t belong there. Later that night we heard a vehicle coming up the road and I went out on the deck around the tower and watched. As they got close to my truck I shined the light down at them and they took off fast. Never heard anything else while we were there. Had a great time and want to do it again some day.

Another chapter in our life, more to come.