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Hoh Rainforest outside Forks, Washington

If you have been putting off a trip to your local U.S. National Park, clear your calendar for this year’s remaining fee-free days. On these dates, entrance fees to the parks will be waived. In addition, some other special offers may apply.

April 16-24, 2011
(U.S. National Park Week)

June 21, 2011
(First day of Summer)

September 24, 2011
(Public Lands Day)

November 11-13, 2011
(Veterans Day weekend)

For more information and trip planning links, visit the National Park Service’s website: http://www.nps.gov/findapark/feefreeparks.htm

 NOTE: Don’t forget some of your local attractions this summer either! 🙂

Sites to See With Small Admission Fees

We recently saw the Tall Ship Peacemaker that has been docked for a couple weeks in Panama City. After several years of Full-Timing (and enjoying every minute of it), we actually discussed what it would be like to trade in the rig for a boat… Hmm… guess we wouldn’t have to worry about pull-thrus! 😉

We recently signed up for a day casino trip from Florida to Mississippi. We were with forty people on a tour bus for 4 hours (one way) heading down 1-10.

Now being full-time RVers, it was nice not to have to worry about driving for a change… or so I thought…Someone (and I won’t tattle) started counting how many semi-trucks the bus driver was passing! 😉

About two hours into the trip, I realized my legs were both numb. At the next stop I was happy to get out and stretch. Unfortuantely, that’s when I noticed my knees were hurting. Apparently they were shoved into the seat ahead of me so hard, I didn’t realize I had bruised them. After arriving at the casino, I was glad to walk around and regain the use of my limbs.

The return trip was the same and the three of us stumbled out of the bus toward our Chevy Silverado. After we climbed in, there was a moment of silence before the first “ahh” cried out. Then and there we made it official – no more traveling unless it’s in a Chevy. 😉

If you’ve ever stayed at a campground or RV resort over a holiday or for an extended period of time, odds are the park put on a potluck. For some a potluck is the perfect way to display their culinary talents, while for others it is a nightmare trying to figure out what to bring. 😉

We’ve been to potlucks where folks just ended up bringing a loaf of bread (or in one case, 10 slices) or a container of margarine because they didn’t cook/bake or just didn’t have a special potluck dish to make.

Most parks have an activity director (in season) or a volunteer oversee the event. Parks that require prior registration and/or ticket may have a sign-up sheet indicating what is needed or a list of categories (ie. salad, dessert) to mark down what folks intend on bringing.

Several years ago I found myself signing up for a potluck and, quite frankly, I can cook with the help of box directions, I just would rather not. 😉 But I had planned on attending by myself and I needed to take an item that would serve at least ten people.

I came up with a little appetizer idea that would be easy to store in a small RV refrigerator and if I had any left, would give me something to snack on for a few days. Surprisingly, my idea was a success and I had nothing left! Since then I have made these for a few other occasions and there were just as successful.

1 –  8 oz. Philadelphia Salmon Cream Cheese Spread

1 – 6 ct. Mission Foods 10” Sun-dried Tomato Wraps

AND

1 – 8 oz. Philadelphia Garden Vegetable Cream Cheese Spread

1 – 6 ct. Mission Food 10” Garden Spinach Wraps

Container of party toothpicks

Lay out spinach wrap and spread a generous amount of salmon spread to the edges of the wrap. Roll up wrap and hold roll in place by inserting toothpicks every inch. Slice sections between toothpick sections. Repeat with remaining wraps.

These can be stored in the refrigerator in storage baggies a day before the potluck. Right before the event, neatly arrange appetizers on a plate or serving tray. Make sure to wrap the plate or tray with plastic wrap so the wraps stay fresh. This makes about 15 servings.

Any leftovers can be stored in a baggie in the refrigerator. They make great snacks and last for a couple days.

But if you want to try your hand on something fancy, there are several websites that offer recipes, such as: http://www.potluckrecipes.net/ . 🙂

You see a work-camp job ad that sounds too good to be true… you apply. A week or so later you get a phone call or email from that employer… and you find out what was too good to be true indeed was. In fact, they seem to have forgotten what their ad stated. Or, they apologize for their ad being wrong in the first place. Okay, it happens… but several times over a few weeks?

I have been chatting with other work-campers having the same increase in “bait and switch” offers this season.  Most of the jobs have either had a cut in weekly work hours (that minimize pay) or have increased the number of work hours needed to keep your camp site (and reduces the hours of pay received for hours worked over minimum site hours – if applicable). And a few have actually cut their seasonally help date from May to June and November to Labor Day weekend. This is definitely an inconvenience for those who gave notice to their current employer, only to find out they had nowhere to go for a month (or more) between jobs.

Unfortunately, the work-camp world is not getting any better. More folks are joining the ranks of work-camping only to discover jobs are not paying what they promised. And those who had previously only worked-for-site or volunteer opportunities have found their outside income stretched in these economic conditions and in need of some sort of stipend or wages to supplement the increase in food and fuel costs.

When applying for jobs or responding to employers it is necessary to double-check everything! Don’t assume you get a free site. Some employers are now charging site and/or electricity. Their park may offer WiFi or Cable TV, but don’t assume it is free for work-campers. Many still charge a monthly or weekly fee for these services.

Create a worksheet of questions to ask potential employers. See Know Before You Go for ideas on what you should ask and verify.

It is absolute vital you get a contract, signed by both parties stating the start/end dates, compensation (wages, site, cable…),  job/duties and anything else pertinent to the position. This not only protects the work-camper, but also the employer.  It gives them assurance that you will be there throughout the season or determined period.

Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be a little smarter in your search and you’ll find the right job situation for you.

 Just a quick reminder to change your smoke detector batteries and test your carbon monoxide detectors in the RV!

 And if you are a Full-Timer, don’t forgot those yearly check-ups that usually get overlooked unless you are putting your rig in storage or winterizing it.

 Hope 2011 brings you safe travels! 🙂

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