Taking the Plunge
In September, we decided to take the plunge and buy a travel trailer so that we could pursue our long-time goal of hitting the road and exploring the good old US of A. We knew our lease would end October 31st, so we sold everything we could, carefully selected the tools, clothes, and household items we would keep in our camper, donated a tremendous amount of general household clutter, and put the rest into storage.
We knew that in order to make our dream a reality, we would need to take odd jobs along the way, so we signed up for a couple "workamping" websites.
Tip: Workamper.com has been a gold mine. We did not sign up for the "Pro" version, and so far, we have not needed it. We also posted our resumes on WorkampingJobs.com, and have had a number of responses from that.
Over the coming weeks, we spent numerous hours scouring Craigslist for the perfect camper. We spent hours pouring over Pinterest ideas for making a camper feel like home. We spent hours driving around Houston looking at various campers. And finally all those hours paid off. We found "the one" - a 2016 20-foot travel trailer made by a branch of Keystone.
Selling Christmas Trees
We answered "help wanted" ads on workamper.com for three Christmas tree lots - one in California, one in Arkansas, and one in Tennessee. We immediately heard back from the one in California, but when we considered the pay versus the time and gasoline required to get there, it was just not going to be feasible for us. We never heard back from the one in Arkansas. And after waiting a couple weeks to hear back from the one in Tennessee, we assumed that we had been passed over. So in the meantime, we finished out our lease, moved into our new home, and stayed in Houston, where Marvin continued to work at his job, and I continued to work on their Etsy store.
Eight days after officially moving into our travel trailer, we got a call from the job in Tennessee. We had the job if we wanted it. How soon could we be there? Eight days later, we were on the road headed for Bartlett, Tennessee, just outside Memphis, to Big Jim's Christmas Trees. Big Jim's has been in business for over 37 years, with a great clientele in a lovely area of Bartlett. We arrived in the middle of the night, slept for a few hours, and then got up to meet Jimmy and get the run-down.
The next few days were spent getting everything set up, both with the camper and the tree lot, unloading trucks, and learning about the various trees we would be selling. Having no prior knowledge of Christmas trees, we had much to learn!
But learn we did, and soon we could tell a Noble Fur from a Fraser Fur from 35 feet away. We learned how to price the trees based on type, size, and general "prettiness." We learned to handle the pines and spruces more gingerly than the furs to avoid ending the day with pin pricks and scratches. We learned where the trees came from and which ones were the most fragrant. Marvin decided that he liked the Fraser Furs from the Appalachians in North Carolina best. My favorites were the Nordman Furs, a favorite in Europe.
Each day, we watched as our piles of trees slowly dwindled. We met many great couples and families, each looking for the perfect tree to brighten their home, and we found joy in seeing those wonderful trees find special homes for the holiday.
Spending Time with Family
When the time came to close down the Christmas tree lot and leave Bartlett, TN, behind, we headed toward the coast of Mississippi to spend Christmas with Marvin's family. We cooked and baked, shopped and exchanged gifts, watched Christmas movies and had lots of laughs.
After Christmas, we headed back to Houston and set up our tiny home at a newly-opened RV Resort. We spent two nights there before flying to Northwest Pennsylvania to visit my family for New Year's. This holiday was spent with more cooking, more baking, more exchanging of gifts, more laughs, and LOTS of entertaining. I had the pleasure of visiting with many family members that I had not seen in nearly a decade. Marvin enjoyed his time outdoors in the snow, something we had not seen in a couple years.
All too soon, it was time to fly back to Texas.
Preparing for the Future
Soon we will be off on our next adventure. Our Christmas gift to ourselves was a trip to Belize, a country neither of us has visited before. We hope to see beaches and monkeys and birds and lots of sunshine. We plan to spend equal time hiking through the rainforest and lounging in the sand.
After that it will be back to work, this time at our next workamping gig, gate-guarding in the oil field industry. This job is a bit of a mystery for us. We are not exactly sure what to expect, as each gate offers its own unique pace and set of rewards and challenges. But, guess what? We're excited!
Stayed tuned to see pictures from and descriptions of Belize, as well as our take on (and hopefully some helpful tips for) gate-guarding in Texas.
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