Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Winter Wrap-up


Looks like it has been a little while since the last blog post.  O.K., a loooong while.  Last winter (December – March) was spent at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park in the Florida Panhandle where we volunteered for the fifth year in a row.  Obviously, we really like our jobs and love the area since we keep going back.  The reasons we keep going back there are plenty but sometimes you only need to look at the area to know why we love it so much.


Beauty aside, we have great friends that live there, a wonderful camaraderie with fellow work campers who have volunteered with us for the last five years, beautiful beaches and emerald clear water, miles and miles of hiking trails through mature pine forests, and also great restaurants.  The park is 1,600 acres and has nearly 25 miles of hiking and biking trails.  And if that isn’t enough there are four other state parks within 20 miles and thousands of acres to roam in Point Washington State Forest.

Betsy fulfilled most of our volunteer commitment (24 hours/week) as a tram driver in the park.  The job is great especially if you like talking to visitors who are usually in very happy moods as they are either going to or coming from the beach.  Betsy driving the tram and talking with guests most of the time left me time to make a little money.  A friend was in the throes of opening a new restaurant (Blue Mabel Smokehouse and Provisions) so I put on my apron and sharpened my knives.  The restaurant is a smokehouse with an Asian flare tossed in.  The food was fun and creative and expanded my culinary horizons.  I love food and being in a professional kitchen and exposed to new dishes and ingredients really inspires me. 


We joined other Topsail volunteers for a tour of a local brewery (Grayton Beer Company) after which some of us inquired about volunteering.  The taproom manager told us they could do better and actually hire part-time help year-round so myself and two other volunteers signed up right away.  Not only are you paid for the hours you work but you get to take home a case (or sometimes two) of beer after bottling, are allowed to drink while working, and beers in the taproom are free.  Where else is it acceptable to crack open a beer at 10 am. while on the job working?


Being in one place for four months allows us time to make friendships with other volunteers and catch up with old friends traveling through the area.  Topsail is a beautiful state park that is highly attractive with its full hook-up/cable sites set in a pretty setting with a gorgeous 3-mile long stretch of beach.  It was a private park before the state park bought it so there are amenities like shuffleboard, a swimming pool, amphitheater, club house, tram service to the beach, and more.   Since so many people love this park in the winter and come back year after year, we have gotten to know lots of people and look forward to their visits.  We have also made friends with people that live in the area and treasure our time with them in the short four months we are in the Florida panhandle.


Thanks to Topsail staff for recognizing our volunteer activities.  They provided us with the Florida State Park's "Exceptional Service and Dedication Award" which we are very proud of.  It is great to be part of a wonderful team of volunteers and staff that get to work in such a pretty place. 


Summer 2019 will have us back in Maine where I will work at Savage Oakes Vineyard and Winery again and Betsy will enjoy some well-deserved time off (as well as time to eat more lobster!). We’ll be staying in the Camden/Rockland area which we found to be a great location and in a very tranquil RV park.  Since we have spent many years going to northern Maine we are now getting to explore mid-coast Maine as well as inland.  On our way we'll spend time in Portland eating at some of their fabulous new restaurants.  Stay tuned for the food photos!  


2 comments:

  1. It's great to be able to create the life just how you want it to be.

    ReplyDelete
  2. We certainly are blessed to live the way we do.

    ReplyDelete

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