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.
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.
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.