Workamper News Article!

I am very happy and excited to share that I had an article published in Workamper News!  They ran an ad, I believe back in August, for stories from people who had taken their RV to, and workamped in, Alaska.  I knew immediately I wanted to write and send my story. I wasn’t sure they would publish it, but I thought it was original and could be a serious contender.  

Other stipulations were it could only be 1,000 words, and it had to be submitted with an original picture that you took while on your trip.  

As I sat and typed, I realized how hard it was to tell how many words were being put on the page. I was using a mini keyboard and my tablet. I know I have a terrible habit of going on and on and on and with a 1,000 word limit, that was not an option! 

I sent it to my daughter, who has an M.F.A. (Master in Fine Arts) in English, Creative Writing, and owns a business coaching people on their writing.  One nice thing about a coach verses just having someone “fix” it, I actually learned from the process.  She asked very specific questions, and made suggestions of things I can do to help myself.  After a few exchanges, it was ready for submission.  I was so nervous! 

As a side note, if anyone wants or needs help with any writing project – you can contact her through her Facebook page Maeve Stoltz, and/or can just click follow/like it to recieve notifications of her tips and helpful hints. 

To be completely honest, with finishing up our summer jobs in NJ, seeing Billy and then all the wedding things, I forgot all about it.  

Then on October 31 – yes – Halloween! I opened my email after a long 10 hour Amazon day, and there it was!  Sharee from Workamper News was telling me my article was included in their Nov/Dec 2017 issue!  She congratulated me and asked where can she send a couple extra hard copies!  

Of course, as I told Bill, I immediately signed into Workamper News to see the online version – and there it was the picture I took and my own words!  I took screen shots and texted them to everyone I could think of!  

Since I know some of you don’t subscribe, I’ll include the article in it’s entirety below. The picture below is the one printed with the article. 

Glaciers, Puffins and Whales – Oh My!

Way back when I was in 5th grade, my bucket list was born.  

My teacher assigned each child in her class a state to do a report on, and my state was Alaska. When I went home and opened the encyclopedia for “A,” what I read sparked my imagination. Glaciers, puffins and whales – oh my! I knew someday I would have to leave my small New Jersey town to see them for myself.

Fast forward forty years, my husband, Bill, and I had been living as full-time RVers for almost two years. After months of planning, and securing jobs on the Kenai Penninsula, we found ourselves crossing the border into Canada from Sumas WA. Bill was behind the wheel of our Ford F-350 diesel DRW truck, towing our 40’ Heartland Landmark 5th wheel. My dream of traveling to Alaska was coming to life!

As we moved past Customs, my excitement couldn’t be contained. I took pictures of everything, almost getting myself in trouble at the border crossing. After only a couple of days, my face hurt from constant smiling. And we were only in Canada! Alaska was still several days in front of us.

I did wonder – just a little bit – how would our summer go? Would the jobs be we hoped? We had never worked for a privately owned campground, and I was anxious about how it would go. We were traveling a long way to get there, so I had a lot of time to think. Our friends and travel companions, Steven and Linda, asked us (mostly kiddingly) to skip the jobs and join them on the rest of their “vacation mode” journey. Believe me, it was tempting. The cost, however, without workamping, would be more than our budget could bear; we needed the income to mitigate the expense. 

My anxiety faded as we headed north through British Columbia and the Yukon, which was beautiful, with amazing vistas and wildlife sightings. There were not words to convey the awe at turning south on the road to Haines, Alaska. The snow-capped mountains surrounded the road on both sides and had us stopping at each pull-out for pictures. “Wow!” became my new most-used word.

After five glorious days in Haines, we had to move on to where we would be spending our summer, on the shore of Kenai Lake, between Moose Pass and Seward. I was jumping around in my seat as Bill drove down the Seward Highway for the first time. Around each turn in the road was a new view. One area, just south of Anchorage, called Turnagain Arm, featured mountains meeting the water, with puffy white clouds floating near their summits. It took our breath away!

Three weeks to the day after entering Canada, we pulled into the driveway at Renfros Lakeside Retreat. Bill parked us in front of the log-built lodge and went in to meet our new boss, Gary. As I remember that moment, I am feeling some of what I was feeling then. Exhilaration! Forty years of anticipation came to a head, and as we introduced ourselves to Gary, I found myself unabashedly bursting into tears. I explained, as best I could, how I waited for this a long time. Gary hugged me tight and told me it was okay. 

After regaining my composure, we walked down to the RV Park, so Gary could show us our site. As we set up, I realized that each day the mountains would greet us, right outside our front door. We walked down to see the cabins, set on the shore of Kenai Lake, and my jaw about hit the ground! The mountains were all around the lake, which was the coolest shade of green. Glacier sediment caused it to look like clouded sea glass. I had never seen water that color before.  

Renfros offered eight cabins and ten RV sites. Our jobs were to turn them over, making sure all was perfect for incoming guests. The unique seven-days-on followed by seven-days-off schedule afforded us plenty of opportunity to take in all the great state of Alaska had to offer. Locally, we went wild blueberry picking; sightseeing on a Kenai Fjords tour; hiking to Exit Glacier; and exploring Seward, Whittier, and Portage Glacier. There was also plenty of time for multi-day trips, including Homer, Denali, and Valdez. No other jobs we considered had so much time off for exploring.  

Almost every day, working or not, I took a picture of the mountains and the lake at Renfros. Bill asked me, at least once a week, “Don’t you have enough pictures? It’s the same mountain”, and I would reply, “It looks different today.” Almost every day, while taking trash to the transfer station, we saw waterfalls and moose, and I snapped pictures of them too. 

I am happy to report, we never tired of the mountain views out our front door, or the views of Kenai Lake as we worked. In fact, we never tired of the views from anywhere we went, from Haines, to Seward, to Whittier, to Homer, to Talkeetna and Denali, or to Valdez. We never tired of seeing the stunning glaciers and waterfalls. We never tired of seeing wildlife – moose, grizzlies, elk, caribou, sheep, bald eagles, puffin, whales, and oh! the otters. I think the otters are my favorites.

In case the answer to the question, “Did Alaska meet my over-the-top high expectations?” isn’t obvious – of course it’s a resounding yes! Alaska exceeded my every imagining, and our workamping jobs at Renfros helped make it possible. 

I know someday we will return to the Last Frontier to continue exploring all it has to offer. We are grateful to Workamper News and the opportunities they share for full-time RVers like us, allowing us to travel anywhere, even to Alaska. To paraphrase naturalist and writer, John Muir, “Someday the mountains of Alaska will call and we will  go!”

To read more about our Alaska adventure click the links to our summary posts below. 

Getting to Alaska
Recap Alaska
Featured (top) photo info/credit: View of the Worthington Glacier from Thompson Pass on the Richardson Highway. Photo by Joanne Sommer.

22 thoughts on “Workamper News Article!

    1. Thanks Julie! When you go – take your time – enjoy the drive – you won’t regret it!

  1. Wonderful article, thanks for posting it for us who did not get the magazine. When I read the part about your arrival and making it to a 40 year dream I was touched by the emotions. I can only imagine, for now, what it must feel like to be standing in front of those views.

    Congratulation on having the article published.

    1. Thanks Mark! It was one of the most amazing days of my life! Thankfully Gary didn’t think I was a total weirdo!

  2. Congratulations Kelly on your article! Your a great writer. I found your site just as you and Bill were on your way to Alaska I enjoyed every post. Our adventure to Alaska will be in April of 2019 can’t wait. Keep up the good writing.

    1. Thank you Ken & Margaret! I did have some help with the polishing, but the story is all mine! I hope you blog about your trip to AK so I can read all about it!

  3. Very well written, great story even though I followed all of your posts while you were there last year. It was fun to read your summation! Yeay to Maeve for the help, but I’ll bet you would been published either way!

  4. I really enjoyed your article! I related to it very much because I too read a book about a state years ago – probably around 4th-5th grade – about a young girl who visited her family in Maine. My dream from that time was to visit the state of Maine. My husband and I did that several years ago and it is still the dream trip of my life. In fact I’m ready to go back again and that is our plan for next fall. (Alaska is on our bucket list!)

    We are currently in the process of selling our house and going full-time. We are both excited about it but a little apprehensive even though we’ve been traveling in our Heartland Big Horn for almost 4 years, several months out of the year. We love our time on the road together and all of the beauty our nation has to offer.

    1. Thanks for reading Cheri! I am so happy you got to visit Maine! I hope someday you get to fulfill your bucket list item of going to AK – it is awesome!
      Good luck on the sale of your home! Bill and I also had some nervousness about becoming full-timers, but it faded very quickly and we have no regrets! Keep in touch and let me know how you are doing!

  5. I am so glad you were inspired to share your wonderful experience. Coming from Australia I have only managed an Alaskan Cruise. It will probably be my only trip, so it was lovely to walk a little in your shoes. 🙋🏻

    1. Thanks Marilyn! Australia and New Zealand are also on my bucket list – not sure I’ll ever get there! If you do a cruise in AK, there are some that have a land portion also – see as much as you can! You won’t regret it!

  6. Kelly, what a great article. You really are a great writer and I love your story. I can’t wait to spend the summer in Alaska as well and your story just makes me want to do it even sooner. You should be so proud of this. Great job.

  7. That is so friggin cool! I know Sharee had contacted me about writing an article about workamping, but I wasn’t all that interested. You have a good talent! George and I are going on an Alaskan cruise in August (right before my son’t wedding!). We’ll fly into Juneau, then cruise for 8 days, then back to Juneau. We’re so excited!!

    1. Thanks Laurie! I did have a little help in the polishing – but I am pretty proud! Missing you and George here in C’ville! You will LOVE AK! Can’t wait to hear all about it!

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