Visit with Family at the Local State Park

My sister rented a family lot at our local state park, Watkin’s Mill. I had reported about this park in a prior blog post. Several of us got together to enjoy the holiday. By the time we arrived Mary had already made friends with one of the camp hosts who came by when his shift ended on both Saturday and Sunday. The host, Tim, is a solo volunteer and I had a chance to pick his brain.

Although Karen and I elected not to camp in our tent with the group, we did spend some time around the campfire. The park is just five miles from our home. We dropped by for visits rather than braving the downpour of rain over the weekend. In usual fashion Mary, and her friend Russ, had setup camp with the best amenities available for tent camping. I wish the entire family could have been there. Years ago our father, his parents and the immediate family used to hold events where everyone camped out and enjoyed meals together. Our family camping trips still occupy my best memories.

I took a few photos with my cell phone at Watkin’s Mill:

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View of Park

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Mary uses this shower tent as a portable outhouse. And no, the wagon is not part of the outhouse operation.


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Well spaced lots with trees

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Cardboard for wet ground – Maybe buy some plastic stepping stones?

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Two room tent – nice

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The blue shelter is for cooking, the other is for eating


Tim, the camp host, has been on the road full time over six years. His mostly trouble free Dodge dually truck has over 250,000 miles on it and he says he has had little problems out of his 13-year-old Carriage Cameo fifth wheel. He was disabled in an auto accident. Sold his insurance business and hit the road. He volunteers exclusively at state and national parks, volunteering for his camping spot. He does not plan to come back to Watkin’s Mill because the park requires 40 hours of work in exchange for the lot. As a solo camper he works all 40 hours while couples split the time with 20 hours each. He commented the park is wonderful however. Several other workcampers are first timers and Tim has been trying to explain to management their 40 hour requirement is a bit excessive. We drove around as he pointed out a few spots they are able to get 40’ rigs into. We talked about his typical work day and general experience traveling around the country. He says once you work within an individual state park system, or the federal system, it’s not that hard to call around and find a job. Tim usually plans three months or more out when booking his next work assignment. Believe he is heading to Arkansas to work near Hot Springs which is an area he has been wanting to see. Tim says he lives on his disability payment only and plans to come off the road whenever his trailer or truck gives out. He is from New York, has a talent at finding four leaf clovers and found one for Mary.

The volunteers parked next to Tim had a newer Heartland Big Horn. Wish I would have had the opportunity to tour it. BUT, that opportunity has presented itself in another way. Next week Karen and I are getting together with Cheri and Dean of the Travels with Bentley blog. They are part timers and are heading through Kansas City on their way north. They travel in a Big Horn. So we will get a chance to learn how part timers travel, tour the Big Horn while making new friends.

On a more personal note, sitting around the campfire, looking at folks parked in their trailer amongst the trees caused me to reflect a bit on my own life.  Karen knows I spend a lot of time “dwelling” on going full time. For me, planning and checking things off the list in preparation for retirement is making it easier to cope with daily life and helps curtail my desire to hang it all up now and just leave.  Some execute their transition to full time on the road in a matter of months. We are taking five years to do it, with nearly two years already done. These “baby steps” towards the end goal really are making it easier to accept the negative parts of daily commitments. I thought to myself at the campfire how nice it was to be with others who for at least a moment, forgot about it all and enjoyed life.

So planning for retirement has also been a way for me to not have a “short timers” attitude at work. I love my job, for the most part. Suppose I’m nearing the top of my profession in experience and have really achieved all the goals I set out to obtain. I’m ready to move on which is something my father told me would happen when it’s time.  It’s amusing when I have to enter someone’s driver’s license expiration date on a report I think about if I’ll be retired or not by the next time they have to renew their license. I sit around at work and listen to dedicated coworkers talking about the job and what happened that day. I sure will miss them when the time comes. Karen and I started off with an eight-year plan, then figured out how to reduce it to five years.  Just three to go. Believe I’ll make it a point to spend a little more time enjoying life every day – like I’m sitting around a campfire.


new flash News Flash …..  Thor Industries has purchased the once family owned Jayco. I’ve also read Dutchman, a division of Keystone (Thor) bought the Lifestyles Luxury RV plant but not the brand. And Augusta RV is building a 34’ Ambition. A couple on the forums is picking up their 34’ in October.

8 thoughts on “Visit with Family at the Local State Park

  1. Going to have to keep this park in mind in Sept. My wife and I are going to Colo. for a wedding and we are taking are new High Country 305RL for our first long road trip. I really do feel your pain as I am waiting for Cindy to retire this Jan. and we are going to start our full time adventure. At least I hope so as we have the house up for sale and that needs to sell before we are comfortable making the move. Great story as always, thanks for the good read.


    • Russ, you should not have a problem getting that 35′ rig in the park, but I’d call ahead. The park is nearly around the corner from the Jesse James family farm and museum in Kearny Missouri. There is a large lake as well with a paved walking trail. Watkin’s Mill has a wonderful museum and tour of the large mill. Plenty to do if you decide to stay a couple of days. These are all back-in sites as far as I could tell.

      I’ll have to pick your brain sometime on your decision to purchase the rig before the house sells. I’m trying to put some notes together about how others have transitioned to full time.


  2. I admire your penchant for introspection and planning. Unfortunately, I am saddled with an impulsive nature, and I would perhaps have avoided some big mistakes when we bought our first two RVs if I had given more thought to what we were doing. And yes, the last couple of years before retirement were the hardest; occupying the time as you do seems doubly useful…whatever it takes to get to the promised land.


    • Hi Shawn. I was skipping ahead in Mike’s blog to the parts about the weeks before retirement, then on to their decision to go fulltime, then their purge of stuff and left off at the first day they were free of their RV port house.

      The last two years of our planning has really moved along. The three years we have to go will surely race along. I’d think we will be making major changes a year in advance of leaving which should help move that along. The blog retirement ticker shows 4.8 years right now, but we are saving to leave earlier (and are on schedule).



  3. Cheri and Dean are in for a treat to get to meet the two of you, my bet is you are on the road in two years or less!


    • Hi John and Sharon, been watching your blog as you moved through the fly-over states.

      Two years or less to hit the road sounds fantastic… but… we are going to try and make it till late 2019. House is paid off in 11 to 18 months. Maybe purchase a truck and trailer in two years or so. Saving up vacation time for our last year of work so we should be able to take a few longer trips before retirement. Staying an extra year at work because the county has a special retirement plan which I’m eligible for in October 2019. It’s not much extra each month, on top of the state retirement, but it’s worth staying. Not that I’m counting, but I have to work 1,000 hours into 2019 to be vested in the county plan. I’m going to call the benefits person and see if overtime counts towards the 1,000 hours – LOL


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