Since having retired last October, I have on more than one occasion been chided for being on “perpetual vacation.” To that, I say, “What the heck’s wrong with a perpetual vacation??” After all, I worked long and hard to earn “time off for good behavior.” So why give it up so soon? Maybe I will get to that point eventually, but for now, I still enjoy “vacation mode.”

Yes, I know, many would say, “But you should give back! Do something to support the community! The environment!” Think of the children!” 😉 But working for a corporation like American Express for 24 years, “giving back” was a requisite part of our culture. I crawled over construction sites for Habitat for Humanity. Collected used coats and blankets for New York Cares. Helped build playgrounds, participated in reading programs with underprivileged inner city kids, and did a weekly stint reading for the visually impaired at Lighthouse for the Blind. That is not to mention the all-but-enforced charitable giving campaigns.

On a side note, of all the volunteer jobs over the years, none touched me like my time at Lighthouse. I was assigned a visually impaired “partner,” an elderly man who opted to have me open his mail each week. It was always gut-wrenching to see him caress the envelopes, run his calloused, weathered fingertips across the front, and try to guess what was inside. “Open this one first. I think it is a card from my daughter.” “No sir, I am sorry. It is only an invitation for a Platinum Card.” Nothing like spending an hour with someone who has no sight to make one appreciate their own, albeit tear-filled. But I digress.

Two months and counting “down on the farm,” and I vowed not to leave until Mom said “We’ll be okay.” I am fortunate that my mother has always understood my need for independence, and my Dad has always understood my need to wander. They understand, because I inherited both traits from them.

So how to pass the time in rural Texas where entertainment venues are 30 miles away? Projects!

I hauled off enough dead limbs and cut trees to build a “burn pile” in the Back Forty higher than my head. Higher than my Dad’s “tall version” golf cart!

My "burn pile" of dead tree limbs and logs.

My “burn pile” of dead tree limbs and logs.

My workamping vehicle of choice.

My workamping vehicle of choice.

I rented a 20 yard roll-off container and hauled off 2.57 tons of junk left behind by former tenants who abandoned my parent’s rental property last December. (That’s 5,140 pounds that I single-handedly loaded into the container.) And that is not counting over 100 cardboard boxes that I burned.

Twenty yards is a lot of container...

Twenty yards is a lot of container…

...but I managed to fill it.  Final weigh-in was 2.57 tons.

…but I managed to fill it. Final weigh-in was 2.57 tons.

Apparently, the low-life tenants  didn't believe in throwing away cardboard boxes.

Apparently, the low-life tenants didn’t believe in throwing away cardboard boxes.

There is no recycling nearby, so it made for nice ambiance at the end of a long workday.

There is no recycling nearby, so it made for nice ambiance at the end of a long workday.

I oversaw the cleaning out of the septic tanks. This was always Dad’s job, but sadly, he had forgotten where the tanks were buried. So I had to help the guy try to locate the openings. I now know what it must feel like to be in a chemical gas attack! No matter where I went on the lawn, there was no escaping the fumes!

I hope this clean-out job outlives me!

I hope this clean-out job outlives me!

I helped “re-home” a bee hive, an event worthy of its own blog post.

I retrofit my Dad’s gas cans (which involved drilling vent holes) to the pre-2009 ruling of “safety nozzles,” none of which my Dad could figure out how to open. The “eco-intent” of having them be spill-proof was negated by his inability to get them open, breaking the parts, and leaking gas all over the lawnmower shed.

Unrestricted flow is requisite for farm life.

Unrestricted flow is requisite for farm life.

I got rid of junk through the local “free cycle.” Cleaned out the gutters around the entire house. Disassembled two old swing sets and one above-ground pool. And mowed their gigantic lawn several times, including a portion of the “Back Forty” so my nieces could shoot off fireworks.

Andy (Lyndsey's BF) Lyndsey and Hannah, my favorite nieces.

Andy (Lyndsey’s BF) Lyndsey and Hannah, my favorite nieces.

SO! Lest anyone think me self-indulgent, not having paid my workamping dues and not therefore worthy of “being on vacation?” Well, rest assured. I earned my time. 😉photo 1

34 thoughts on “Workamping

  1. Wow, girl. You have been busy!!! You remind me of Pat in that he doesn’t know how to sit still. I, on the other hand, have that all figured out. I’m way too sedentary. I know your parents appreciate all you do for them. Was that the lights of Venus in the background of the bonfire?
    I wish we had been able to get together while you were there. I was there a week in June. Now I’m back at the Crowe Castle in the Desert. (New Mexico)
    Love ya! Reta

    • Hi, Reta — It was a little further south, so I think it may have been the lights from the prison. LOL! Wish we had caught up too, but I am determined to find you in the desert one of these days!

  2. It seems like our retirement/RV lifestyle is a blend of work and play. When we get tired of summer jobs and house projects we take off. After a while on the road I begin to look forward to some projects around the house and “spreading out.” Bobbie drags out her art stuff and sewing machine, and helps me add flowers and lawn improvements. Of course we count hiking as work, not to mention our “yard work” is in Lovely Ouray :). Come on over, I’ll give you something to do if you miss it 🙂
    Box Canyon Mark

    • BC Mark — I think a day of “work” on the Lovely Ouray rock pile beats the best of all days down on the farm!

  3. Jeez, between the House of Pain and the House Projects you must be looking and feeling like an Amazon Warrior Queen these days! Good for you (and for your family) that you are taking care of these monstrous projects.

    • Lisa — Best I can hope for is an “elder” in the Amazon Warrior tribe. 😉 But as we have discussed, “Move I must…if I stop, I’ll rust!”

  4. YOU GO GIRL! When I said you were a good sister and daughter, I had no idea you were THIS good! Wow. And if anyone gives you grief about not ‘contributing’, take that as a sign that you need to push them aside and just keep going. Life’s too short for their non-sense!! Tomorrow, when I attack my chores, I’m going to remember all that you got accomplished and hopefully that’ll motivate me to keep moving. If you can clear 2 tons of debris, I think I can manage to finish cleaning my house and organizing a few closets!!!!

    • Thanks, Lacy — Good advice, indeed! Yes, like layers of an onion, some must be peeled. 😉 Hope you got through your chores with ease. But keep in mind, that 2 tons was spread out over two weeks, so take it easy now!

  5. What the heck! Retirement is for doing WHATEVER you want WHENEVER you want. Just like I do 🙂 It is so awesome. But that is not to say that it doesn’t have to be moved around at times because life does dictate some of our path.

    • Tina — I agree, “awesome” indeed. I was grateful for my extra time, as it would have been difficult to do one tenth of what needed to be done if I were still working virtually.

  6. I renamed Suzanne “The Energizer Bunny!” Her batteries never ran down!!! I don’t see how one little woman could do so much work! Not only was the physical support appreciated, the moral support was invaluable!! Love you my dear, and thank you again for EVERYTHING!!!!!

  7. Well no wonder you just walked right through the “House of Pain” door…your projects built you up for the expert level. What a list!!! Workcamping gone wild comes to mind. Good way to work off those inward frustrations.

    • Yes, Linda, I did spout off a few expletives when cleaning up the mess those “friends of the family” left in my parents rental property,leaving their revenue stream dry. It felt really good to “smash and burn!”

  8. I can see that you cannot sit around and do nothing. Good projects, work is a wonderful provider of solace.
    Allen and Deede

  9. I’m that rather self-indulgent, self-absorbed “bucket-list tourist” retired full-time RVer– all candy! all the time! And I love and deserve it after years of hard work and being a single parent at the same time. No Suzanne, don’t you ever feel one bit guilty for not so called “giving back to society”. You are helping your parents and family when they need you and that is all that matters.

    • Evelyn — Nice to see you in my comment box. I have often wondered where you and Steve are off to in Tulip these days. And yes, I like candy too! 😉

  10. Good to have you back and to be reading your interesting posts. I have just retired after 45 + years of working and yes it is like being on holiday. But to me thats what retirement is about, being able to more or less do what you want and when you want. Intially after retiring I thought that I should be “doing” something and not just enjoying myself, but I’m pleased to say that it only lasted about a month. I have many friends nearby who share the same interests as me so there is always plenty going on. You earned your retirement so enjoy.

    • Dave! Nice to see you back! Congrats on retirement! I am delighted to hear you have settled into it with ease. It is a joyful time in our lives, isn’t it? Enjoy the freedom…I know I sure have!

  11. The work that you’ve done for your family is the most important kind of work camping, in my opinion. We do the same (without the tons of debris) when we visit my folks in Florida. Flexibility and the ability to provide a helping hand is one of the benefits of this traveling lifestyle. The scope of the projects that you accomplished is nothing short of amazing!

  12. I’m sure all that work at the gym and at the farm is helping you work through your grief, it’s good to keep busy. When you get back on the road and get a chance you’ll have to share your new strength training routine built for the road with us!

  13. BTDT with all of the big corporation charitable giving activities. It only got worse when one was in management. About 2 months before I retired, Corinne and I were having her kids over for dinnner. I was emoting similarly to your questioners – about making a contribution, an HP touchstone. My stepdaughter Leah said “enjoy yor retirement. You’ve earned it.” She was right and I hadn’t thought about retirement quite that way. My outlook on life was adjusted directly thereafter. Enjoy! (Corinne and I are enjoying Haines AK tonight.)

  14. Suzanne, this was like stepping back a couple of years reading this post. We did so many of the same projects when we spent the summer in Ohio at Terry’s parents. I can’t tell you how many times Terry and I loaded up a trailer and took scrap metal and junk away from the barn. And the burn pile was always lit. I’d say you have done your workamping!

  15. “I have on more than one occasion been chided for being on “perpetual vacation.” When I read that, I replied with a rather long rant, but then deleted it. I don’t’ want to cause issues… Those of us who are full-timing are not on perpetual vacations. We are living our lives, the same way we lived them before we set off to different locations. We just have wheels on our houses now. Lazy people at home are lazy people on the road. Prima Donas at home are Prima Donas on the road. Busy people at home are busy people on the road. AND, whose business is it anyway? Good Grief! I know many people who are full-timers who do good works ALL THE TIME, they just don’t publicize them.

    Whoops, seems I can’t comment to this post without ranting. I will say, though, you are definitely a better daughter than I! 🙂

  16. I get the same comments about giving my time to the community. It’s been 18 months for me and still not ready to let anything encroach on “my” time. One day, but not just yet.

  17. Okay the septic emptying made me laugh – your comment about fumes. You’ll never empty your black tank again without thinking of that smell! LOL We would never EVER say you are on “vacation” you are too freaking busy to say that!

  18. Sounds like you need to retire, again. Everyone deserves time to play. Too bad we can’t do that in our middle years when we have more energy. Yet after all this work it seems you still have plenty of energy to play. Such a dutiful daughter. Good on you.

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