One Month at Alligator Lake

alr10302016-6One month at Alligator Lake Recreation Area here in Lake City, Florida has started out pretty good. We are still trying to establish a good routine that works for us and our volunteer coordinator. It’s not a hard gig by any means and the people have been extremely nice. The coordinator has been very open about some of the supplies we have asked for to keep doing our jobs as we think it needs to be done. For instance, we asked for a small blower to keep the rental pavilion clean between users, a nice long water hose and roller cart to hold it on so that we can keep the bathrooms and pavilion’s harder to reach areas cleaned and we asked for a battery powered inside light for our Gator so that we can see what we are doing at night while we are emptying out the trash barrels. We usually start about 30 minutes before closing to check the trash barrels, pick up any trash we come across and, hopefully, encourage our visitors to start packing up and head towards the gate. We also have to check the outer packing lot for hikers on the trails. For some reason people come into the park close to closing and start down the trails that are clearly marked as longer than the time they actually have to complete it.

Currently, we open at 8:00 and close it at 7:00pm until after the time changes then it will be at 5:30 until March. Which, I’m sure will have it’s own kinds of challenges. I really hate mornings but all I really have to do is open the gate on time each morning Tuesday through Sunday and on the first Saturday of the month open at 7:30 for the bird watchers club. Generally, after I open the gate I drive around the picnic tables to pick up any trash that I missed the evening before. The great thing at this assignment is that the park is closed every Monday. Hurrah! One day a week where I can sleep in. As I said before in the evening we reverse the process close the main gate, the employee entrance gate and check the trash barrels to determine if they need to be emptied. If there is less than half we try to leave the trash bags in but will continually have to pick up trash by the barrels each morning, if we do, because of the night critters pushing over the barrels and spreading around the trash around. Pretty frustrating really because we have to either waste trash bags or pick up more trash each morning if we leave them in.

We have been toodling around on the Gator getting to know the trails around here. The park personnel has kept them and still keep them well. We just have to pick up the drink bottles, miscellaneous bits of trash and then empty the little trash bins that are nailed to posts along the way. It’s pretty here and we do have a nice view. The coordinator has even agreed to check on the possibility of adding a 220 electric socket in the storage building we get to use so that we can add a washer/dryer. Possibly even a refrigerator.

We have decided to stay here for about a year. That takes us out of the Full-Time RVer category but I hope to have the time to add to our hand crafted inventory as well as write a couple of books. Another factor in our decision is that we may have a cracked engine block. We were having a tune-up done on the RV and my mechanic found holes in the header and then found water in the oil. The park coordinator has been so understanding and really wanted us to stay for a year. Hopefully, once we are finally ready to go we hope to have a few volunteers ready and willing to take our place here. A few things we want to warn you about this assignment though. They take their background checks very seriously. Not only do they do a sex offender check but they take your fingerprints for a complete check with the local, state and federal authorities. They also do reference checks.

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Till next time.

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Osceola National Forest WrapUp

onf09202016-6Our Osceola National Forest Wrap-Up post for our assignment as day use park hosts. We enjoyed our six months within the Osceola National Forest and hope that more of our fellow full-timers will give them a chance next summer. The campsites provided in the day-use area are very nice with full hookups, a washer and dryer to use and even great showers in the bathhouse next to the beach. There are only 2 day use park hosts at Olustee Beach and we could have used another couple during our stay to help with the opening/closing, cleaning the bathhouses and restrooms, keeping the Group Landing area cleaned between camping groups as well as mowing the grass, weed-eating, and blowing off the sidewalks, roads and parking lots. Since we were the only volunteers in this area we worked 7 days a week. However, only about 2 or 3 days were spent doing the actual mowing, blowing and cleaning. All the other days we just opened and closed the gate and picked up trash around the park.
Continue reading “Osceola National Forest WrapUp”

Next Stop Alligator Lake

alr08252016-9Our next stop in our workamping journey will be a little different that what we are use to doing. Alligator Lake Recreation Area is located in Columbia County Florida (Lake City area) and they offer a semi-permanent positions for workampings in both their Falling Creek Falls Park and this one. They have a stable parking pad here with water, electric and sewer on site. There is even a little shed next to it we can use as extra storage which we have gotten use to here at Olustee Beach Day Use Area. The only thing is they do not have a washer/dryer available for us to use nor an extra shower in the shop area which we like very much here. But, the coordinator stated that she would have no objection for us adding one if we like. They do offer FREE internet and Basic Cable and mom is looking forward to that. Finally, they stated that we can stay as long as we would like but would really like us to stay through next summer. It seems that their regular winter workampers are moving over to the Falling Creek Falls Park and we contacted them at the right time.

Strangely, we are really looking forward to being in one place for a year. Even the 6 months we were able to stay in the Osceola National Forest was a nice change from the Florida State Parks 2 to 4 month assignments only. I do imagine though once the year is up we will be ready to resume our regular volunteering in the state parks and moving every couple of months. In the mean time, we will be using this time to get our RV fixed up, being able to write more (I do have outlines and am research a couple more books I want to write), and get some serious crafting done.

We are hoping to convert an old vintage travel trailer into a “Shop on Wheels” over the next couple of months and plan out a year’s journey of craft shows and being a traveling retail shop instead of working just for campsites. To that end we will be launching our first T-Shirt Funding Campaign at the end of this month. We hope you will look over the page and mark your calendars as the launch date is September 30, 2016! We need to sell only 500 T-Shirts in order to reach our goal. We have even found the perfect fixer upper 1964 Shasta travel trailer that in located just over the Georgia line. Hopefully, the owner will not sell it before we can get the financing. Anyway please visit our Southern Women Crafts website for more details. We have information, pictures of the T-Shirt, style, sizes and pictures of the Vintage Travel Trailer we are hoping to get.

Till next time….hoping to have our Osceola National Forest Workamping WrapUp written by next week.

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Insider’s Guide to Campground Hosting in Florida Parks!


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Rain Rain and More Rain

ONF08042016 (1)Rain, rain and more rain! Over the last couple of weeks we have been getting hit with rain almost every single days. Some days we get at least a couple of inches at a time. Thus for the last week we have had large puddles of water all over our campsite and in the picnic area. One good thing is that we cannot mow. The bad thing is the grass grows faster when its wet. The temperatures in the evening and early mornings have been kind of nice too. But we still have temperatures in the 90s. Well, duh, it is August in Florida.

We finally got the lawn mower back before this latest batch of storms hit and I had the day use area about 3/4 quarters of the way mowed after 2 days when the Fire Fighter guys showed up. They finished off what I hadn’t done yet as well as both sides of the roadway all the way to the Old Train Depot and blew off the parking area for me. THANKS GUYS! We really appreciate your help. But not hours after I had cleaned all the fallen limbs and mowed around the trees, barbecue grills, moved the picnic tables back to where they were supposed to be and large trash bins we got a little gust of wind and a huge pine tree limb fell down. Boy, talk about being ticked off. Luckily though I was in another area of the park when it fell. That would have probably have hurt. I took a picture of it (See above) and forwarded to the ranger. He came the next day and towed it off into the woods.

The recreation manager here in the Osceola National Forest has been trying to make some improvements and necessary repairs as time, money and qualified personnel allow. One of which is the new sidewalk and large barbecue/fire pit at the Group Landing. That turned out really nice and they finished it last month. Earlier in our stay here she tried to have a group of forest personnel to come in with some kind of large metal rack on a chain to try and clean out all the vegetation in the swimming area. They would pull the thing out into the water and a truck would pull it back towards shore. That didn’t last very long though after the second or third batch there were a couple of large snakes within the grass so they stopped what they were doing. After sitting around for a couple of hours waiting for some kind of tractor to come and help they decided to call it a day. The drug up vegetation stayed on the beach for about a week before a tractor and dump truck finally came and picked it up. Now the manager is having to get bids from private contractors with small dredging boats to clean up the various areas around Ocean Pond. We probably won’t see that done before we leave in at the end of September though.
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Another project that did get done was the replacement of the information signs along the Trample Track Trail. It is a short short which explains about the earlier use of the area for cutting down timber, floating the logs in the pond until they could be taking into the mill for processing. There was even a railroad track around the lake. The information kiosk were painted onto fiberglass and had gotten faded and cracked. There is more to the trail than the pictures below and I thought I had them but I will take some more to add to our movie once we get that going after we leave here.

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We still haven’t gotten another volunteer in the other workamper campsite and don’t look to have one before we leave. The golf cart they told us we had to use broke down and was in the shop for about a week. It doesn’t have lights on it so it is no use to us for night time closing. During the weekends our visitors just don’t seem to want to leave. Also, the golf cart is not 4-wheel drive nor does it have knobby tires for traction. With all of this rain we have had to use the larger ATV. We are not supposed to use it because we haven’t been “Trained” by an authorized teacher yet. There is only one of those and he/she travels around the various National Forests trying to get the park personnel trained before any of the volunteers are. Even though we have been driving them for over 3 years now. Government! Their regulations just don’t make any sense sometimes.

Anyway, that’s my rant and update for this week. Hope to be posting again and more often now that Katie has come back to help us out. Poor Mom tripped in the RV the other day and can’t put any weight on either of her legs. Nothing is broken and just barely swollen but she can’t help out for a while yet. My brother and Katie made us a nice set of wooden steps for the front of the RV but she will not be able to go up or down for a little while yet.

Till next time…..


***Help Us on Our Journey by Buying/Sharing Our Book***


Insider’s Guide to Campground Hosting in Florida Parks!


Get Our eBook version of Insiders Guide directly from Smashwords

Get the paperback of Insiders Guide directly from CreateSpace

Jolene Author Page on amazon

Paperback and eBook Versions On Barnes and Noble

Get eBook Version on iTunes iBook Store

eBook Version on Kobo Bookstore

Oyster Books is a Monthly eBook Subscription Service

Scribd is a Monthly eBook Subscription Service

Buy Jolene’s eBooks and More Acrobat Reader PDF version with pictures and an Appendix Section with samples of Volunteer Workamping Applications Samples from a county, Florida State Parks and Federal; Volunteer Handbook sections From the Florida State Parks and Florida Fish and Wildlife

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Beating The Summer Heat

ONF07172016 (1)Beating the summer heat seems to be the main occupation of almost everyone here in North Florida including us. We try to get most of our jobs done first thing in the morning or just after sunset or we will bake to a crisp even here is the shadiest park we have been to so far. There are numerous large pine and oak trees here but there really isn’t anything you can do about the over 100 degrees heat index on most days. And we are just getting started on the summer months. The lake temperature is rising and we have only had a few days of rain here and there so far. My granddaughter is again spending the summer with us and has finally learned to ride her bike! We are so proud of her and hope she will keep on practicing when she gets home again.
Continue reading “Beating The Summer Heat”