Sunday, April 1, 2012

Another Day, Another Dollar

When Dave and I first started talking about selling the house and living full time in our RV we know we would have to make more money than the traditional workamping jobs.  We're not old enough for social security and even though Dave is retired military, that retirement check is not near enough to live on.
So, we started doing research, or I should say I started doing research.  I found a few things that looked like they might pay enough.

Southern Cross is a company that hires people to travel the country and check for leaks in gas lines.  They provide the equipment and you provide your vehicle.  They paid a salary plus expenses.  You basically have a hand held wheeled meter and you walked the gas lines looking for leaks to register.  Didn't sound like it was for us, but it went on the list because the pay looked doable.

There also are a few management companies that provide employees for state campgrounds and these also were paid positions with free RV spots provided.  The money didn't look to be quite enough, but it went on the list because they had a lot of positions in Upper Michigan and that would be great in the Summer.  They also have some in Alabama and some other southern states, so we might have been able to switch for the Winter.

Also on the list was storage facility managers.  The only thing wrong with this job was the requirement to stay in one spot for a long time AND most of them were in cities.  OK, but we would rather be able to move and be in the countryside.
Other than that the prospects seemed weak for the type of money we were looking for.  We always figured if we couldn't find anything, we could just pick a city and get a job at McDonald's!

I was trying to think outside the box and figure out something we could do that we enjoyed AND allowed us to travel AND paid enough.  Dave and I had worked for the Country Stampede for about 9 years as the Entrance Gate Managers and then I worked in the office as temp help for 3 years.  I got to know the vendors and service providers and it occurred to me one afternoon that both of these groups traveled to more festivals than the Country Stampede!  As I was talking to one of the service providers it suddenly dawned on me that we would be a perfect fit for his company.  We were familiar with their service, had worked with their equipment and knew how outdoor festivals worked.  It was our busy time (just before the stampede that year) so I quickly mentioned to him (the CEO) what we were looking for.  He said he was interested and to contact him after festival season. (yes, there is a festival season - April through October)
I contacted him in September 2010 and by February 2011 we had a contract hammered out and set to go at the end of March 2011 for our first festival in Arizona!  This seasonal job kept us busy from April 1st to October 31st, traveling 10 states and working at 8 festivals.  We got to meet new people, see how different (and the same) other outdoor festivals were, learned some new things and worked with some really great guys!  We will be doing the festival gig again this year and are just as excited about it this year as we were last year.
Country Stampede 2011
That left us with what to do with the winter months.  We knew we did not want to be anywhere it snowed and we still had to make enough money.  In reading in one of the forums we frequent, ( one of the other members posted some answers to a question from another member about oilfield gate guarding.  The more I read, the more interested I became.  I sent him a private message to see if he could give me any additional info.  He sent me an email with an attachment which was basically "everything you ever wanted to know about gate guarding but were afraid to ask"!  He even included the names and contact numbers of about 5 companies to contact.

In August I called 3 of them, Gate Guard Services, LOMA Flowbacks and, for the life of me can't remember the name of the third (probably because that one never called me back).  LOMA called me back right away.  We had a pretty good report on the phone and we agreed we would come to Fort Worth between our last two festivals and get the paperwork done and take the security test.  A few days after that I heard back from GGS and the woman I spoke to took my address in order to send a packet of paperwork and materials to get the testing and fingerprinting done.

I really didn't have as good a feeling for GGS as I did for LOMA, so we decided to go ahead and go with LOMA.  Not that GGS is not a good company, they are.  They are actually the largest and oldest gate guard services company in the Eagle Ford Shale field.  It was just our personal feeling on our part and the report we had with Doug at LOMA.
Our home at the Circle Y ranch
Long story short, here we sit outside of Cotulla Texas on our last 2 weeks of work as gate guards in the oil patch.  We've been here since the 2nd week in November and are ready to head out to see our kids and grandkids (we haven't seen them since August!) and to start our summer festival schedule.  We've really enjoyed our time here and are definitely planning on coming back next year.

We're hoping we can carry on this schedule for the next 5 to 10 years and then that takes us to re-planning our travels after SS kicks in.

As the post title indicates this is about how we make money, so I wanted to talk some about what we are doing for money and also to let you know that workamping doesn't necessarily have to fit the more common mode of working in a campground or RV park.  There are plenty of interesting jobs out there and ones that pay well, you just have to be a little creative and do some research.

OK, tomorrow is the "B" day of the A to Z Challenge and I will be the first to tell you, that I am basically winging it.  I have no idea what subject starting with B I will be writing about, so tune in and we can find out together.

Till tomorrow then.........


  1. Doris,
    Great post, especially since we will most likely start gate guarding in May and plan to do three months.

    I, too, am winging it on the topics for the A-to-Z challenge. I like a good challenge.

    Hopefully we'll meet out on the road.

    Safe travels to you.

  2. All the best for tomorrow!

    This is me, Duncan D. Horne, visiting you from the A-Z challenge, wishing you all the best throughout April and beyond.

    Duncan In Kuantan

  3. Hi Doris,

    Isn't this A-to-Z blogging fun? Good luck with your posts! Sounds like you guyS have a nice work/travel master plan hammered out. See ya in Blogland!

  4. My family did the same thing in 1972. We traveled around Australia in a caravan. You sure learn a lot about the country and the people. Best of luck in thinking of a topic for tomorrow. It's a wonder you have time.

    1. Wow! A caravan in Australia! Now that sounds very interesting AND exciting.

  5. Great post Doris. Sounds like your summer gig is very interesting. Seems like more and more of the traditional work camping jobs are for site only and, like you guys, we need to make some $$ for ends to meet. Let us know if more of the vendors are "open" to hiring work campers as this sounds like a great option to us as well.

    Phil and Rudee

    1. I know the one we work for has no more openings..we are sort of "one of a kind" for now. But, all festivals hire workers, gates, security, ticket sales. And I'm sure there are other service vendors that would hire for the summer. I'll keep my eyes and ears open this year looking for opportunities to share.

  6. Hello, Fellow Challenger, from #424-Rockin' Chair Reflections! You are living one of my dreams -- traveling and seeing this great country of ours! I'd help you out but I'm wingin' this year's challenge, too!

  7. Hi Doris,

    Loved reading your post. It's neat how many different perspectives your are introduced to through the A-Z challenge. I'm basically winging it too. Good luck.

  8. We're in the same boat as you guys... Minus the even limited retirement income. Right now we're managing a campground in receivership in Branson, MO and we're going to spend the summer in North Dakota working at a campground. While the money isn't great, I'm from ND and haven't had a chance to spend more than a couple of weeks there since I left over 20 years ago.

    Working the festivals sounds interesting. Could be a good fit for us too.

  9. Carol, I think I read about you doing the Branson receivership somewhere else. A forum we're both on? RV-Dreams? spending the Summer in SD sounds good to me. We've only been once, to the Black Hills, but just loved it!

  10. Wow. Sounds awesome. I'm looking forward to reading more about your adventures.

    A-Z @ Elizabeth Twist

  11. Hi Doris...I'm hooked, you got room on for a roadie of sorts...aka gopher! I admire your voracity in getting thing done.
    Great "A" post - and I'm looking forward to the "wingin'it" "B"...

    Cheers, Jenny @ Pearson Report
    Co-Host of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

  12. Doris, enjoyed your post. David worked for Southern Cross for about a year. We would love more info about the of summer job you describe, so while keeping your eyes and ears open, let us know if anything opens up for next summer. Happy and Safe Travels to you.

  13. Interesting background on your big adventure. This is something my husband has always talked about doing but it just isn't in the stars for us. Welcome to the challenge!

  14. Wow, what an interesting and fascinating idea! I love my job, as a teacher, but traveling around the country in an RV sounds pretty awesome too! I can't wait to follow you this month and after to see what happens! Thanks!



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