Let’s Talk Workamping

Let’s Talk Workamping

Need to find something to do with all your extra time? Maybe workamping is for you!

This last January we spent three months caretaking for Key’s Ranch inside Joshua Tree National Park. The caretaker position there didn’t pay a wage, but we had space for the trailer, water, garbage, and reimbursement for our propane. The job description included helping park rangers with daily tours of the ranch, helping lost hikers find their way, and making sure there were no vandals on the property. It was a simple job, and the rangers at Joshua Tree were great to work with. It was an amazing experience that I am quite grateful for.

Keys Ranch

We were just recently hired for a Fire/Equipment Watch position in Oregon.  This job description includes fire watch for a few hours after quitting time for the work crew, and equipment watch during the night and weekends. They decided to go ahead and hire for the position because some jackass used their equipment tires as target practice a few weeks ago. We are paid a daily stipend with this job, which is great. We’re responsible for our own power (solar!), water, and propane. They do provide a port-a-john, and I learned today that I have to share my port-a-john with the crew sometimes. I’m not super thrilled about this, but I think I’m going to try leaving packages of maxi pads and tampons in there to keep the guys out – I will keep you updated on how that works for me. 

This is part of the area that we are keeping watch over. (Photo credit unknown)

Now you would like to know where we find these kind of gigs, right? Well, if you wouldn’t like to know, you should go read something else.

There are a lot of workamping sites available online. Most are free, but some do charge for a membership.

Sugar Beet Harvest Short term positions offer excellent compensation and attract applicants from all over the United States and Canada.

Workamping JobsHelp Wanted Ads for Campgrounds and RV Parks looking for RV workers.

Cool Works– Jobs in Great Places. Where Do You Want To Be Tomorrow?

Workers on Wheels   – Work For RVers And Campers. Sets you free with temporary, seasonal, and mobile jobs that pay.

American Land & Leisure – Here you’ll find information about the facilities we manage and about working with AL&L.

Modern Day NomadsFollow Your Dream Job: Top Travel Jobs & Inspiration for Globetrekking, Creative Professionals

Government Volunteer Positions

Volunteer.gov – Find volunteer positions within the government at National Parks, Army corps of Engineers, etc. 

State Parks – Look up individual states to find what workamping positions they may have available, like Oregon

Craigslist – If you have a location in mind, use Craigslist.org to find workamping positions. Make sure to search under Jobs and Gigs. 

Indeed.com – Use the desired location zip code and keywords to find workamping jobs. Keywords: workamping, caretaker, host, fire watch, etc.


Leaving the Desert

Leaving the Desert

“Night poured over the desert. It came suddenly, in purple. In the clear air, the stars drilled down out of the sky, reminding any thoughtful watcher that it is in the deserts and high places that religions are generated. When men see nothing but bottomless infinity over their heads they have always had a driving and desperate urge to find someone to put in the way.”Terry Pratchett, Jingo

We are leaving our caretaking gig at Joshua Tree National Park a little earlier than anticipated. It turns out that high desert winds and portable solar panels are not good bedfellows. So, we will be back on the road again on Friday to head back to Oregon for a few months, and to get our equipment taken care of.

Our time here was slammed with every kind of weather that you can imagine. High winds, snow, ice, rain, sun, high temperatures; sometimes a lot of those all in one day. It was an unusual year in Joshua Tree for rain – 2017 has seen more rain here in the first few months, than the desert has had since 2010 – I’m pretty sure we brought it with us from Oregon. So, you’re welcome desert dwellers.

Upon arrival in Joshua Tree the landscape was mostly brown and gray, with very little color.  In just a few short months the desert has exploded with shades of green and yellow, and bloomed with every other color imaginable – and we aren’t even going to be here for the biggest blooms of the year.

Keys Ranch Main House – January 2017
Keys Ranch Main House – March 2017
Orchard at Keys Ranch – January 2017
Orchard at Keys Ranch – March 2017

Back in the first week of January, I could have been convinced that the desert was just a dried up landscape with little to no life; and I couldn’t have been more wrong. The desert is alive with trees, vegetation, animals, and people. I can only think of one weekend that all of the campgrounds were not completely full. Not a single day has gone by that I wasn’t made breathless by one of the many creatures that call Joshua Tree their home. The trees and vegetation have taken on the task of making the desert beautiful. And don’t even get me started on the night skies!!

The Desert Tortoise – My absolute favorite part of our Joshua Tree journey.
The Jackrabbit – quite elusive and camera shy.
One of the many varieties of lizards in Joshua Tree – not elusive at all. As a matter of fact, they like to do push-ups when you get the camera close to make sure their muscles are prominent enough for your photo.
Ethan – Red-tailed Hawk
Mr. Wiley Coyote
Fire in the Sky – Sunset over Joshua Tree National Park
Night SKies
Stars over Joshua Tree

We have learned a lot about the desert and Joshua Tree National Park. It is a place filled with wonder and history. Do yourself a favor in your travels someday and come visit this amazing place – and  make sure to take one of the Keys Ranch tours and step back in time.

Joshua Tree National Park


Joshua Tree Facts

Facts About Joshua Trees

  • The Joshua Tree was named by Mormon Missionaries who thought the limbs looked like the outstretched arms of Joshua guiding the them to the promised land.
Joshua’s arm outstretched…begging for rain.
  • American Indians used the Joshua Tree for its many properties. The tough leaves were crafted into baskets and sandals. The flower buds and raw or roasted seeds were made into food.
Seed pods on a Joshua Tree.
  • Splints made of wood of Joshua Tree were used in treatment of injured American soldiers during the First World War.
Well…that doesn’t look like wood….is that a man in a canoe?
  • Researchers think an average lifespan for a Joshua tree is about 150 years, but some of our largest trees may be much older than that.
Let’s not be talking about my age….trust me, I look good.
  • The photographs of the Joshua Tree on the cover of U2’s 1987 album, Joshua Tree, was actually taken in Death Valley, not in Joshua Tree National Park. That particular tree died in 2000 and fell to the ground. It was vandalized in 2015; the vandals cut off one of the limbs.

    I wonder if they have found what they were looking for….
  • Joshua Trees bloom from February to April, but only during the rainy years. Joshua Trees have creamy-yellow or green flowers that are bell-shaped and arranged in clusters. The flowers produce an unpleasant smell.

    Joshua Tree bloom. Or someone is really good at putting together an Easter Egg Hunt.
  • The Joshua tree, Yucca brevifolia, is a member of the Agave family.

    Not to be confused with Agave tequilana – which is the main member of the get shit-faced agave family.


    Joshua Tree facts can be found in the following links:

    Joshua Tree National Park 



The Desert Sun

National Geographic

Geology Tour Road

Geology Tour Road – Joshua Tree National Park

Geology Tour Road is an eighteen-mile motor tour that takes you through some of the most fascinating and educational landscapes in the park. The road is unpaved, and is challenging at times – so it is recommended to have a 4-wheel drive through the second half of the loop, although we recommend to have 4-wheel drive for the entire thing. It’s bumpy, with large rocks in the middle of the road (careful of your oil pan!)

Geology Tour Road

At the beginning of the road you will find a four page brochure to help you along your self-guided tour (you can also find it online here). The brochure explains that there are 16 stops along the way.  

We interrupt this blog to share something funny, because the Geology Tour Road wasn’t the most hilarious thing ever – fun and educational, but not super funny.

So, here ya go.

The brochure has great descriptions of what you are looking for, and information on the millions of years it took Mother Earth to create each type of mountain, valley and rock.

Pleasant Valley – Marker 10
Dry Lake – Marker 13
Malapai Hill – Marker 7

Through the tour you will see many different types of rocks ranging up to 1.7 billion years old.

Pinto Gneiss & Lichens – Marker 14

There are many types of rock piles and rock sculptures, with the process of how they are created easily explained in the brochure.

Rock Piles – Marker 5
Rock Sculptures – Marker 6
Rock Sculptures – Marker 6
Rock Sculptures – Marker 6

We interrupt again…

You really do.

Along the way you will find some mines. There are multiple trails that you can hike to explore the mountains that are riddled with tunnels and shafts dug by miners in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Do watch your step!

Mines – Marker 12
Mines – Marker 12
Mines – Marker 12

After the stop at the mines is an excellent place to do some backcountry camping. Located at the Mine stop are the Backcountry Camping registrations. The camping is free, but make sure to fill out the registration so if you go missing – somebody actually misses you. There are limitations to the backcountry camping: no pets, no fires, dispose of your own waste, and make sure you bring enough water! It may sound like a pain in the ass, but the night views are astonishing.

Backcountry Camping

The last stop on the tour is called the Panoramic View and from there you can see everything that you learned about along the way – make sure to take a panoramic picture! The desert is more beautiful than you think.

Panoramic View – Marker 16
Desert Blooms

One more time….

That’s a schisty joke.


Barker Dam – Joshua Tree National Park

Barker Dam – Joshua Tree National Park


The Barker Dam trail is an easy 1.3 mile loop that takes you through the desert, around and over large rocks, and then by the dam itself.

The trail…
Barker Dam Loop
A beautiful day in the desert for a short hike…

The dam was built in 1900 and stood at nine feet tall. In 1949 Bill Keys added an additional 6 feet. An inscription at top reads: Big Horn Dam Built by Willis Keys, W.F. Keys, Phyllis M. Keys, 1949-1950. Barker Dam is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The backside of dam
You can see the line of the original dam, and where Bill Keys added the additional six feet
This year has had heavy rains for Joshua Tree and the dam is holding a lot of water…
Barker Dam Reservoir
The creek after the dam wall
A small built in reservoir after the wall was built to hold water for cattle…

The dam provides water for all kinds of desert wildlife, and makes the nearby desert bushes very green. At any given moment, you can see many types of birds and bighorn sheep.

Great Basin Fence Lizard – Why fence? Does he need a fence? Do we need a fence to keep him out? Is he undecided – on the fence?
Western Scrub Jay

Throughout the trail there are many interpretive signs offering knowledge on the nearby trees, shrubs, and animals.

I think this is a California Buckwheat…it looks like dried Baby’s Breath up close.
Joshua Tree
Joshua Tree Feet
Very green near the dam
More greenery…
These are the limbs of a Manzanita Tree. During times of drought the tree will hold itself back to reserve water. You can visibly see the changes throughout the tree. The gray limbs were times of dry weather, and the red growth is when there is plenty of water.
The Manzanita Tree produces a small fruit, similar to an apple.

Toward the end of the trail you will find a cave-like area with petroglyphs.

The Petroglyphs were drawn on rocks to lead the way to nearby water and food.
Petroglyph cave

For more information you can check out the following links.

Barker Dam 

Climate Change Threatens an Iconic Desert Tree

No More Joshua Trees?

Imperiled by climate change, Joshua trees could be declared a threatened species…


Write on the Road Q&A

I put up a request for questions so that I could put together a Q & A as a blog post.

No one asked me anything. Which is fine. I don’t feel unloved at all.

It’s fine, really.

But since no one really wanted to know anything about us, I am going to go ahead and make up some questions that I would want to ask people…(you should have just acted like you cared, is it so much to ask, really?)

Q: How old are you?
A: I am 39 and Mr. Write on the Road is 41

Q: How are you able to to uproot your lives and travel?
A: We have a sufficient monthly income. We are not rich. We have a budget that we have to follow, which can put a damper on some things, but we find ways to entertain ourselves.

Don’t try this at home. It’s illegal.

Q: How does sexy time work in a travel trailer full time?
A: Well, it is always good to postpone sexy time until the trailer has been leveled and stabilized. Most of the time things work the same as they do in a sticks n’ bricks…except hanging from the rafters for wild, crazy monkey lovemaking…we don’t have rafters.

Is that a banana, or are you happy to see me?

Q: Favorite place you have visited so far?
A: Roswell, NM for me. It was fun and crazy…which made it feel like home for me.
Mr. Write on the Road says Roswell for the cheesy fun. Arches National Park because of the awe-inspiring natural beauty. And Plomosa, because it was creepy. But probably Lincoln, NM …. the history and how we followed the trail of Billy the Kid from Ft. Sumner to Lincoln…. that was really cool.. and a little creepy too when you think of the places we stood and who lived and died in those exact spots. — He really just can’t give a direct answer, so I’m not asking him anything else.

Q: What do you miss most from your previous life?
A: My kids. They are amazing adults that I am happy to claim as my best friends. (I didn’t ask the Mr. – We would all be here for hours, I’m sure.)

Q: How does the hygiene thing work living in such a small trailer full time?
A: It’s not really that different than living in an apartment. There is no luxuriously soaking in a near boiling bubble bath with a glass of wine, candles and good book….wait. Where was I going with this?  Oh, yea. Showers are regular, we brush our teeth on a regular basis and take the stinky laundry to the laundromat. It’s really all the same, just on a smaller scale.

Ahhh. Yes, please.

Q: Are you sick of it yet?
A: Not even close! There is still so much to see and do! Our country is amazing, with amazing people, and I can’t wait to see more!