Working and Fellowship

This past week I spent five days helping a group of volunteers repair houses in the Birmingham, AL area. The group I went with is from Fellowship Missionary Church in Fort Wayne. The organization they work with in Alabama is Next Step Storm. This organization is faith-based  and the family that runs it is originally from the Fort Wayne area and are associated with Fellowship.

Next Step works with people whose houses have been damaged by natural disasters, like tornados or hurricanes, and those whose “storms” come from life situations like poverty. The storm in the name is an acronym – Severe Tragedy Outreach Relief Ministry. Monte and Kim Brenneman run it along with their children. They are wonderful people, full of generosity and kindness and love.

My week was spent at the houses of two different clients. We cleared the yards, repaired some of the walls, pulled down vines and bushes, scraped the houses, and then painted them. Hard work, but oh so good for the soul.

            

I found out that I could (more or less) keep up with the men who did most of the job. I also spent some time talking to the clients, listening to their stories, and sharing some of my own.

Here’s a painter crew: Stephanie, Me, client Deborah, and Janet.

Volunteers with Next Step Storm come from all over the country, mostly groups from a different church each week. Our small band included all ages from high school to retirement. We stayed in a “camp” that is a large property that includes a building containing a lounge and eating area, rooms full of bunk beds, and bathrooms with showers. There is a small kitchen where volunteers cook our meals and prepare the food for our sack lunches. I really thought I might lose a few pounds over the week, but those ladies can cook! The site also has several buildings for storage and a fleet of trucks and trailers.

        

There are several traditions that are observed at camp; one is signing your bed.

Along with the work there is time for fun. We went out as a group for dinner, one night was movie night, and one evening we had guests: neighbors and  clients past and present. One of the ladies, Miss Effy, was a gospel singer and played the organ for a sing-along.

The lounge has lots of games for entertainment. The highschoolers kept a continuous Monopoly game going all week.

The Brennemans welcome all volunteers, including youth groups. If you belong to a group who might be interested in volunteering for a worthwhile cause, I strongly suggest you check Next Step Storm’s website. They would be happy to include you.

 

 

Travel Tidbits

While traveling I’m always on the lookout for interesting places and things. Place names are especially fun. Did you know there is a Hot Coffee, Mississippi?  It’s actually an abandoned hamlet that used to be a rest stop for travelers going from Natchez to Mobile. It has lots of signs still and is a roadside attraction/photo opportunity.

There is one person I met who I want to mention. I have never found the courage to go up to someone who looks like they might be a fellow nomad until this trip. I was at a rest stop somewhere in New Mexico. There was a woman in the car in front of me who was rearranging things in the car. Looked like she had a whole home in there. So I took a deep breath, walked over and said hello to her dog. (Always a great conversation starter) We chatted a bit and I asked her if she was indeed a nomad. Well…that started a half hour talk. She told me about living in India and Mexico and I told her my story. She designs and creates jewelry and hand knit bikinis and has a children’s line. I told her about my books and she was interested in them. We talked about selling our own products, she mentioned she was starting a website and offered to put a link on it to my books!  We exchanged info and promised to stay in touch. Thus a friendship is born.

Being an introvert all my life, it’s been hard for me to make long lasting friends. I have a few who I always turn to for companionship, but I admit, most of my friendships are casual.  However, I believe I am getting much better at it.  Having a common subject to talk about is a great thing. And when it’s somewhat unusual, like being a nomad, it’s even wonderful.

One way I made a few friends here at the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous was through yet another car problem. Somewhere along the way I must have picked up a nail in a tire. It was quite flat after sitting a couple of days. There is a group of guys across the road from me who all offered many suggestions. One has an air pump, which he gave to me to use to inflate the tire so I could go into town and get it repaired. I pumped it myself, which, being older gentlemen,  they all thought was crazy. (They should have done it for me, ya know.) But my independent streak got the better of me and I persevered. I might get a pump myself, it’s great exercise.

 

 

It’s Off to Work We Go

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Jan 19   Today sessions were about working on the road. The morning was all about workamping, which is what we call working a temporary job as an RV’er.  National Parks are good for working at gift shops and concession booths. And if you have experience, you can be a tour guide, river rafting guide, horseback ride leader, and have fun doing what you love.

National Forests have campgrounds where you can be camp host. That means you are the one taking reservations, keeping the campground clean, and cleaning the toilets and showers. In return you usually get a free campsite for the season.

Being a RV transfer driver is another good way to live on the road and earn money. Transporting rigs from the factory to a dealership, or from a dealer to a campground for a customer, you can live in the RV and tow your own car to go to the next job. A woman here who does it says she makes 1 or 2 runs a month and enjoys visiting National Parks on her off days.

Other jobs are for companies who like to hire RV’ers because the work is seasonal, just a few weeks or months. Amazon has it’s own CamperForce that do inventory picking and shipping in November and December for the Christmas rush. There’s a beet harvest every fall that sugar companies use nomads for. Not at the farms, but at the sugar factories, sorting and preparing the beets for processing.

And Bob told about a friend of his who is a poker dealer and follows the professional tournaments all over the country.

Of course if you have a skill or offer a service, that’s another way to have an income. Here at the RTR I’ ve met musicians, writers, carpenters, welders, RV repair guys, seamstresses, beauticians, dog groomers, computer experts, a traveling nurse, a psychic, and a yoga instructor, all who use their expertise to make money.

So there are lots of ways to earn a living even when you’re on the road.

The afternoon was going to be a talk by a woman who wrote a book about her own workamping experiences plus how to sell stuff on EBay.. However, it’s been raining off and on all afternoon so I didn’t go. Isn’t that what retirement is about, deciding not to do something cause you just don’t wanna? hehe