Review: Four Months Living In A Bread Box

  • YES, Randy is getting on my nerves (along with Kona, Zoey and Piper…well not Piper).
  • YES, we are over budget
  • NO, I have not touched anyone’s mat/weights or tents
  • Reality about our four months and the questions we field regularly.

The Top 8 Questions I’m Asked

I still cannot believe I’m technically considered a “FULL TIME RV’er”.

Just to quickly recap…because I’ve got new readers asking…I thought I’d hit a few FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions).

Current Sitch: we are living in a 2017 Forest River Cherokee, 27’ with one slide out along with two dogs and a cat. We are earning minimum wage as a Camp Host (I think it is Minimum Wage) working up to 8 hours a day for a concessionaire contracted by the US Forest Service.

The Top 8 Questions are:

1) When did you start Full Time RV’ing?

2) How is it living in the small space with Randy 24/7?

3) What brought you to this life? Do you like it? Why are you doing it?

4) Where are the closest showers?

5) Do you have to clean toilets? What are your duties as a Camp Host?

6) What has been your biggest challenge?

7) How much do you spend monthly?

8) How long are you planning on doing this?

My Responses…

Normally standing out in the middle of a campground, at the kiosk or near our trailer

1) When did you start Full Time RV’ing?

Officially June 1st 2017. We began planning for this at least a year prior but could not tell anyone about it until we felt confident it was really something we could do both mentally and physically.

2) How is it living in the small space with Randy 24/7?

Not bad. You get to understand the full extent of getting older together. Bodies make sounds and smells which are exaggerated in a small space – BOTH of us and the pets too. Tonight, for example, I walked into the house to feed the pets and stepped in a pile of poop left by Zoey (who is currently pissed at us for…we are not sure) then cleaned the cat box (thankfully Zoey doesn’t eat cat turds). In that scenario we work together well! Now if one of us gets gas it’s a whole other story. There is only one person that can fart near you and you have to take it: your spouse.

I’ll add “how is it living in a small space with two dogs and a cat?” NOT EASY. There is one thing I cannot stand and that is the sound of Kona or Zoey gnawing on themselves accompanied with the scent of wet dog. I gag and I’m irritated completely unable to concentrate. Right now, this very moment as an example, it is 6:00am and Kona is right here with me licking his “man parts” and Zoey is stuffing her face and tongue in between her toes over and over and over and over…it is something she’s done for years. It’s a miracle I’ve written this far.

3) What brought you to this life? Do you like it? Why are you doing it?

LIFE IS TOO SHORT! You do not have control of your future no matter how much you think you do. We want to check out the planet together and originally intended to just go where the wind would take us. We both dialed into researching “how to live full time in an RV” which connected us to various blogs and social media sites. That’s where we discovered Heath and Alyssa Padgett’s Make Money And RV page on Facebook. There was a post from a senior executive for the concessionaire who posted a HELP WANTED PLEASE CONTACT ME and we did. He needed a super part-time couple to manage a camp site. We’d never ever done it before but thought we’d give it a shot and applied. We got the job and worked our butts off like we have at every job we’ve ever done. That got us a transfer to another camp site to finish out the season – and it doubled our hours. So, our plans to budget and manage our finances just got a boost and that has helped manage a few unpredicted issues.

Longer term answer: We have worked since the age of 14 and when we met (on E-Harmony) we prioritized making enough of a living to provide what we could for our 4 kids. In the past decade we have lost some of the most loving family and friends. Too young. Too soon. It began the process of “awakening”. What in the WORLD are we doing killing ourselves to make a living with no plan otherwise.

Since we both LOVE the outdoors We decided to leap untethered into a world we knew little about. It has been a process of accepting “what is will be” at least until we figure out how to change it.

4) Where are the closest showers?

There is a resort just outside of the campground. Pine City or Pine Town. They have showers for the public. Bring quarters and don’t bother if it is freezing out. Science is science and the pipes will be frozen. They have a store with basics you may need for camping comforts but it doesn’t open until 3pm I’m told. We stopped in to check it out and found them to be pretty unfriendly and unwelcoming…so we don’t recommend shopping there.

5) Do you have to clean toilets? What are your duties as a Camp Host?


Wake up > do an “A” clean of restrooms (which is checking basics are there – toilet paper, toilets flush properly, floors swept).

Pick-Up the DAR report (Daily Arrivals and Departures) for our zone. Visit each site to make sure the ARRIVAL sites are ready: no trash, fire pit cleaned out, tables washed, bear box clear and grounds raked.

Checkout time is NOON but people begin leaving earlier so we visit those empty sites and do an ARRIVAL process (then they’ll be ready and available for a Walk-Up).

Clean Restrooms “B” which is cleaning doors, walls, toilets and replenishing any basics like TP or trash liners…sweep if necessary.

Run notes, registrations, Arrival Placards, messages from kiosk to Campground hosts.

Sell firewood.

Manage Kiosk Opening and/or Closing (there is a set process and procedure to get the place ready to check guests in and out. Kiosk also includes answering any and all questions about the area of June lake: where to hike, getting to beach, where can dogs walk freely, where is the best fishing, laundry, showers, history of the area, why is there smoke in the sky (controlled burning has begun), how far is the June Loop, where is _________ (insert other campground in area), how much for this or that, what time is checkout, where can I park my extra car, are there full hook-ups, could I walk to the town of June, where is the marina (there are two), when do you close, when did you open, why do you charge $10 for the dump, who is in charge of your campground…and many more. I’ve learned TONS about this area (which makes me love it even more).

Final “A” clean of restrooms.

Be on-call 24/7 during the night for any/all of the above kiosk questions PLUS be prepared to handle drunk, belligerent and disrespectful guests bothering other guests or violating the Rules And Regulations. We have been woken at 4am all the way to 2am. Sleep with warm clothes on and a flashlight nearby just in case!

6) What has been your biggest challenge?

This is a tough one.

At Lake George we did not have internet and only spotty cell. We also did not have a stable leader to go to with questions about how to do our jobs or the rules and regulations for our campground. We had never been camp hosts before and the training we got was 15 minutes standing at the driveway in front of our trailer just prior to opening the site a quick once-over of how to write a Registration and how much things cost…and that we have to clean the restrooms 3x per day. The management was in a weird changeover and it was a hostile environment. Dog-eat-dog and we became a target because “we thought we knew how to do it better, eh!?!”. Thankfully we connected up with other hosts who gave us guidance that seemed to be in harmony with the Upper Echelons of the company. We got a lot of rave reviews from our guests and no complaints that we are aware of. We knew we would be able to manage 3 hours a day plus keep our other priorities in check (health, family, pet time). Living right on site meant we were “on” every moment we were there and we learned the only way we could really be “off duty” would be if we left the place altogether…which we did. 3 hours a day was more like 4 or 5 when you include all of the Information Center and Bear Management tasks we had to be responsible for. I made some really great friends at the US Forest Service and the workers that would visit every day often gave me tips on the laws, rules, regulations and expectations. We also became very good friends with Law Enforcement, Fire Department, Search and Rescue plus workers from other independent and private campgrounds within Mammoth.

At Oh! Ridge our biggest challenge became NO TIME to do anything but work. We were always hurrying to get our jobs finished and keep a high standard. There are lots of mini-Campgrounds within Oh! Ridge, I’ll try to name them off in order of the number of sites (which I believe there are 175 sites total): Bear, Duck, Squirrel, Rabbit, Coyote, Gull (those were what we took care of) then Owl, Fish and Deer.

We went from a 3 hour a day to a 6-8 hour a day overnight. On the one hand it was nice to be active and busy but on the other hand we had to scramble to get meals, exercise the pets (and ourselves), do laundry and keep the rig cleaned and maintained. Our “Off Duty” days were Monday and Tuesday which was a blessing for grocery shopping, postal needs and such. When we returned on Wednesday we were covering for the couple that managed Owl, Fish and Deer. We were EXHAUSTED on Wednesday and Thursday every week. We began working at Oh! Ridge on 9-11-17 which is not even a month (as of this writing). It took this long to figure out good systems that were efficient and productive with the tools we had to work with. Ha!

Overall: These challenges were not very upsetting. The Oh! Ridge experience was like a dessert compared to Lake George as far as management. The Site Manager (Karen) is a bad-ass-getter-done type of leader which is EXCELLENT for me. She met with us every day! We knew we were working on her priorities and as a team (with Sherri, Dick, Loretta and Steve) we kept Oh! Ridge humming.

7) How much do you spend monthly?

$2,500 approximately. We had unplanned animal expenses that were not cheap. Our “rent” is included in our compensation as Camp Hosts (water and power). We have to buy propane. Food here is out the roof expensive – dining out is a joke plus the quality of the food here pretty disappointing. Here, by the way, is June Lake. In Mammoth there are better choices for dining but the prices are 25-40% HIGHER than Simi Valley California (eastern Ventura County). We pay for fuel for the truck and have bills we still carry with us.

8) How long are you planning on doing this?

We plan to finish the season as needed by Karen then have an open calendar to decide what is next. Being a Camp Host for us has been a very good experience overall. We did not know what to expect so when things got hairy we sort of figured that must be “normal”. We did not let stress or the craziness that was here before we got here invade our lives. We worked hard and kept our integrity in to give more than what we got in pay and benefits.

At the end of the Lake George season we attended our Company Appreciation Luncheon where we were asked to fill in applications to return and pick our top three requested locations. We’ll see if we are asked to return. Between Lake George and getting asked to go to Oh! Ridge we wrote letters to Upper Management letting them know what we’d experienced. We have yet to hear back (and we actually hope to). That will determine whether or not we return to this particular company or work for another. THERE ARE SO MANY DIFFERENT COMPANIES TO WORK CAMP FOR and we’ve got a list of possible places across the USA.


Have you moved anyone’s tent?

Funny thing is that we’ve had people move into sites without paying and it took EVERYTHING within me NOT TO MOVE THEIR BELONGINGS. Randy filled me in on the risks involved – if something were touched and broke then we would be blamed. So, with a lot of willpower, I did not touch anyone’s stuff to move it.

Do you like what you are doing?

Absolutely love this life.

We are living in the NOW and enjoying the ups and downs…not too much planned in the future. In hindsight, my past has been filled with hopes, plans (even putting my money down to MAKE SURE) and logistics that had to be cancelled. That sucks when it happens because of wasted time and money plus the mental sadness when you fail to accomplish something.

How long will you do it?

No plans to end any time soon. We began with a “wish list” of places to visit and after meeting close to 800 people since we left Simi Valley…the list has GROWN!

Are you getting on each other’s nerves?

Yes. Everyone is getting on my nerves regularly. This is where I have to stop being so picky about things. For example, if Kona would stop BREATHING on me when I’m trying to tie my shoe, if Zoey would stop gnawing on her lady-parts 3 feet from me and if Randy would stop walking like Shrek whilst inside the RV that would be great.

We really don’t have “personal spaces” because it’s just one big space. I busy my mind with cleaning when it gets to be too much.

I don’t think ANYTHING gets on Randy’s nerves (which gets on my nerves).

How are the pets?

The dogs have always and only known a life that is with us day and night. Kona grew up with 805 Boot Camp (lots of other dog butts to sniff and lots of miles to run…all the time). Now we are challenged with continuing this fun and the new places are great for sniffing and running.

Kona and Zoey are 10 and 12 years old. They are OLD and their bodies are notably slowing down.

Did you go to Ireland?

SADLY we did not. The trip to Ireland was our beacon and the highlight of our life and we were planning around it. Our daughter gave us this gift and it was the hardest decision to make. It was, quite frankly, the most heartfelt gift I think I’ve ever received because it came from her and the road we have been on as mom and daughter was “challenging”.

The reason we chose not to go was animal related. Our pets, as I said above, are old. Zoey has body problems pretty much every hour and a while we were at Lake George she had some sort of pain that drove her to SCREAMING (I’ve never heard a dog scream) in pain and writhing all over the backseat and peeing. Randy almost crashed the truck it freaked us out. Then there’s Kona who THINKS he is a 16 year old Ultra Runner and always ALWAYS overdoing any physical activity which then results in hobbling, swollen joints and clearly suffering for days after. Lastly we have Piper who will (most likely) run away in search of us if we leave her. She has become our Private Security Guard and Personal Herder. We went away on a holiday when she first joined our family and the reports I got were she had left her tootsie-roll gifts beneath my desk chair – like LOTS of them. Maybe if the pets were newer to our lives? Not so dependent on US in particular? They are truly our furry children and leaving them with our dear friend would have put a lot of strain on that friendship (GUARANTEED), our pets and definitely taken the fun out of our trip abroad.

Our daughter was the coolest cat when we broke the news to her…she understood our dilemma and what a RELIEF that was. We still plan to go abroad!

How are your kids?

They are incredible! We are in regular contact with them about how life is going.

One is in Utah busting out College.

One is in Oregon busting out College.

One is in Santa Barbara busting out a career in the field she graduated from College at.

Amanda’s final resting place was decorated by friends in our absence but we feel her presence with us every day. Just a shout out to those of you that have taken the time to visit and snap a photo: THANK YOU so much. You do not know how deeply moving it is to see her gravesite so beautiful!

Published by Sarita Shoemaker

I love my kids, husband, pets, the Earth and family. My Top 5 feelings: gratitude, honor, honesty, respect, encouragement. Pretty certain this is how most of us would answer the prompt "About Me". Enough about About You?

7 thoughts on “Review: Four Months Living In A Bread Box

  1. I LOVE LOVE LOVE reading your blog (the silent blog stalker;) and I admire you and Randy so much for doing what I don’t think I would have the nerve to do (even camping in Holiday Inn!). Sorry you did not get to Ireland – it WILL happen. Miss you both!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow you spent a lot of time to do this blog. It is so much appreciated because I miss you guys more than I can express to you in words. Getting a glimpse into your world since you left Simi makes me feel almost a part of it.
    Life for me is starting to normalize again. I go into my season of depression every year at this time and unfortunately this year we had the run over that same period of time. Exhausting to say the least. Today is the first day the fog has lifted and I’m feeling myself again.
    I’m grateful every single time you provide us with a story so that we can stay connected and share in your experiences both the good and the not so good!
    Love to you and Randy!


  3. Loved the Q & A blog this time. All good information to put out there. In any job there are hidden components. Thanks for sharing those well disguised facets of the R.V. World of camp hosting.

    Pets can definitely be a bit of an anchor (in a good way), and I totally get that portion. Can’t relate to the dog sitch but certainly the kitty cat responsibility. They truly own us! (By the way, is that a backwards apostrophe mark on Pipers chin?? – soooo cute!)

    One question…when you do manage to have 3-4 hours off, who’s watching the camp? Is it a free for all – like – Woo Hoo…hosts are gone..time to let loose and then all HE** breaks loose as the fires are raging and s’mores are thrown around?? Are there such a thing as “relief” or “sub” camp hosts?? Is that another job people have? Just curious..🙂
    Is it even possible to relax when you’re “off the clock”? I imagine it’s ALWAYS on your mind and there isn’t an off switch (especially because of your strong work ethic). That would be hard.

    OK…2 questions.. sorry!
    Are you able to keep up on current events and/or news without a tv? I know your internet is scattered and not consistent. I always get behind on news when I travel and was wondering if it’s the same for you guys. Is that part tough?
    WHAT??!!! 3 questions?!! Or probably even more than that! – Now I’ve definitely overstayed my welcome. 😉

    Take care of yourselves and turn the music up when the dogs (&Randy) make bodily noises. 😂😂😂

    C-ya 💕💕


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