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.


Preservation at Keys Ranch

Preservation at Keys Ranch
Guest Blogger, M.D. Parker  (my additional comments are in parenthesis and bold…and of course, the amazing photo captions)

Things decay slower in the desert, but they still decay. Cars will rust, wood will rot, and things will slowly dissolve into nothingness; only a whisper of a memory. (If this isn’t a happy-go, lucky way to start a blog, then I just don’t know what is….). Keys Ranch is no different. Time instructs nature to take it back, every car body, wagon shell, and plank of wood. As such, preservation work becomes an ongoing affair at the ranch, and we have been lucky enough to witness some of the work in action.

The staff at Joshua Tree National Park are attempting to maintain Keys Ranch in – one ranger coined it as – “an arrested state of decay.” They are not trying to ‘restore’ it, nor are they ‘reconstructing’ it. The goal is to preserve the ranch as close as possible to what it was at the end of the 1960’s/beginning of the 1970’s, after Bill Keys passed away and the ranch came into the National Parks’s possession – This is where Cornerstones Community Partnerships steps in.

This non-profit organization works with several national parks in an attempt to help preserve our historic landmarks. Cornerstones Community Partnerships runs internships, paid and unpaid, to run projects to save our historical landmarks while provided training to underprivileged and disadvantaged persons.

During their one week trip to Keys Ranch, the Cornerstones work group, led by Jean Fulton, took on a list of tasks, including a couple they weren’t even aware of until they arrived (a severe wind storm had added some damage two days before their arrival – which at the time made us wonder if you still land in Oz, even if you don’t depart from Kansas…).

In the case of Keys Ranch, Cornerstones did everything they could to use materials that were already there in order to preserve history, before they added any new materials. If new materials needed to be used, they made every attempt to put everything back together in the same fashion as was done at the ranch up to a hundred years ago.

Bill Key’s work shed had a door falling in and was in danger of losing its roof – the metal plates clapping in rhythm with the wind.

Bill’s Workshop
M.D. Parker helped put together the scaffolding, and therefore, felt super important. 🙂

The chicken coop’s fence was about to become one with the sand, and a Joshua tree was offering its final bow.

The chicken coop before…
Cleaned up a bit. The canvass will be replaced on the coop soon.
This Joshua Tree had to be removed to make sure it was not going to fall and take out the chicken coop fence with it.

Preservation work to the rabbit cages should keep those pesky coyotes out.

Rabbit cage
New fencing to keep the ghosts of rabbit past inside, and the coyotes hunting them on the outside…

The guest cabin received new window glazing and its door frame secured to prevent the collapse of the front end.

Work on the guest cabin
Working on the window glazing…or the best cocaine party ever.

The schoolteacher’s cabin facade had been damaged, not from the elements, but from a recent case of vandalism. But the front slats, door frame and door were repaired and a new latch installed.

You can see the damage under the window from vandalism. Vandals go to that special hell – reserved for child molesters and people who talk in the theater – Shepard Book, Firefly
Cornerstones Community Partnerships workers reserving their place in that special heaven.

The one-stamp ore mill had gone through 5 rounds with the heavyweight wind, and loss by TKO. The copper plates were put back together and rail systems secured, and we got to help!

M.D. Parker did some stuff to this stamp mill…not sure what…although he told me, I didn’t really listen – I guess it fits into the same category as football.

The tack house door, one of Bill Key’s less than impressive works of art, was rotting and the first of two stages of preservation was done.

This is the tack house…which was originally a cyanide tank. Upcycle friggin’ everything, apparently!
The path to heaven is paved with remnants of cyanide? Who knew?

The main house suffered sudden damage as well during the recent winds, which the Cornerstones group wrangled together an emergency stabilization effort to keep the door and windows from breaking away forever – full preservation repairs will be done on their next trip.

Work on the main house while a tour was in progress.

All of these things, and a few other tidbits of preservation work, were performed. There was also much discussion for future projects and what would need to be done in the years to come to keep the Keys Ranch around, so that many generations can step back in time and learn what it was like out here at the turn of the last century.

One final personal note: I can’t rave enough about the Cornerstones group! They were eager and dedicated to the job. Their organization is offering wonderful opportunities to train people that would not have had the chance without them. Go check out their webpage here and you can find them on Facebook too!