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Workamping on the Maine Coast: The Way Life Should Be

We set out on a journey six months ago. After selling our house and most of our worldly goods, my husband and I moved into a 29-foot travel trailer with our dog and two cats. We left Maine on November 2 and headed south and west as quickly as we could. When I say “quickly” I mean more like Abraham Lincoln’s instruction to his general to “make haste slowly.” There is nothing fast about dragging your house behind you everywhere you go.

We spent the winter months in the southwest, particularly in New Mexico at the lower elevation state parks. New Mexico is a great place for RVing on the cheap. They offer an annual camping pass ($225 for non-residents) that allows you to spend up to two weeks in a state park for a tiny amount of money. In our case, because we wanted water and electric, we paid $4 a night. We visited seven state parks over the course of four months, some of them more than once.

Our plan for the summer of 2019 was to go to Wyoming. Because of some family situations and some administrative details, we changed our plans and returned to Maine for the summer. (That’s another plus to this lifestyle. You can change your plans. Your house is on wheels after all.) Since we’ve been wanting to spend a summer on the coast of Maine (something we never could have done being homeowners) we took a workamping job at the campground owned by some friends.

For those not familiar with workamping, the basic idea is that you trade time/work for a campsite, usually with full hookups (water, electric, sewer). The details vary depending on the campground. Some offer pay for hours worked, some include other amenities or perks. Some campgrounds are great places to work, others are horrible.  

For campgrounds in the snow belt, this is a busy time of year. Much to be done to get ready for the campers. We spent our first day raking and filling tarp after tarp with leaves. Today, we’ll clean and organize and do more yard work.

Yesterday, we set out to explore the area we are in. We visited the Andre the Seal statue in Rockport Harbor and hiked at Beech Hill Preserve.

How does workamping compare with my late profession of accounting? Piles of leaves are much less demanding. There’s no stress. The fresh air and occasional sunshine are terrific. The commute is a slow stroll across the street. No fighting traffic. At the end of the day, I drop my rake or cleaning cloth and go home for the day. I’m not worried about whether a client will make payroll or avoid bankruptcy. That stress relief is powerful.

Is workamping good for a writer? Think of all the characters that cross our paths each day. And having plenty of time in nature, or doing work that doesn’t involve a huge amount of brain power, allows my mind to spin tales and contemplate my next plot twist.

So, for now, workamping is a good fit for us. It allows us to be stationary for a few months while we more deeply explore an area. We’re making friends rather than just saying hello as we pass through. We are weaving this place into the tapestry of our life. We will look back on this time as “the summer we spent on the coast.” We have time and energy to work on our own projects. It is a good, healthy life for us. And like the State of Maine’s slogan says, that’s “the way life should be.”

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