Workamping in Texas: Nine Month Update
Ok, we’ve been at Texas Lakeside RV Resort so long that a baby could be conceived, carried and born. (No, this is not meant to foreshadow any big announcement!) Yep, we’ve been working here in Port Lavaca, TX for nine months now. That means 33% of our time as full-time RV’ers has been spent on the Gulf Coast of Texas. Can you say “Hitch Itch”? Yes, it’s a real thing. “Hitch Itch” is that feeling you get when you stay in one place too long and feel like you should hitch up and see something else. No cream or salve can fix it either. The only known cure is to hitch up and go. But first, a quick update from the third quarter of our year at Texas Lakeside RV Resort. And since it’s been nine months, we chose to stick with the nine theme and make a couple of lists related to our time here. Enjoy!
CLEAN BATHROOMS - Yes, one of our job duties at Texas Lakeside RV Resort is to clean the bathrooms. Some workampers cringe when they see this task in a job description, but Betsy and I have discovered that it really is not that bad. Our bathrooms are private shower rooms with a shower, sink and toilet, and they are very nice. Cleaning them on a daily basis makes it not bad at all.
MAINTAIN THE POOL & SPA - Our current park has a very nice pool and spa area, which includes lounge chairs and several palapas for shade. On a daily basis I test the chemical balance of the pool / spa and add chemicals as needed. This, along with brushing the sides daily and cleaning the pool filter as necessary keeps the pool and spa sparkling clean for all of our guests.
PICK UP TRASH AROUND THE PARK - Every day, right after cleaning the pool area, I hop on a golf cart and drive around the perimeter and thru the entire park looking for trash. Anything from a dead palm frond to an empty can to a cigarette butt. Anything that shouldn’t be on the ground I pick up. Our guests pay for a clean park, so we like to keep it that way.
ANSWER THE OFFICE PHONE - Betsy spends most of her days at the front registration desk, managing the needs of the park. This includes checking people in / out, processing payments for rent and electric bills and cleaning the club house. But every day, without fail, her most consistent task is answering the office phone. The call may be people inquiring about site availability or it may be a current resident calling about what they owe. The office phone is definitely the “heart” of the park here.
EMPTY THE DOGGIE BAG CONTAINERS - Our park provides doggie bag dispensers to make it easy for our guests to pick up after their dog. Right next to these four dispensers is a box to dispose of the used bag. Guests participation is pretty consistent, but not perfect. What is perfectly consistent is the process of emptying the boxes every day to minimize odor and make them more appealing to the guests.
EAT LUNCH AT HOME, aka "SALAD HOUR" - On most work days “Salad Hour” is the highlight of the day. Betsy and I walk our ~ 30 steps from the office to Charlie to enjoy lunch. We decide on a salad of the week, Betsy prepares all of the ingredients in advance of the work week, and usually within 10 minutes of leaving the office we are sitting in our recliners enjoying a yummy salad.
RIDE AROUND BEFORE 9 AM AND DOCUMENT EMPTY SITES - The very first thing Betsy and I do every work day at 8:45 AM is hop on a golf cart and drive around the park to check on empty / available sites. Recording these sites helps Betsy know if anything has changed from the day before and helps her reconcile Campground Manager with what’s really happening in the park.
DRINK LOTS OF WATER - It wasn’t so important during the winter months here, but since Spring has turned into Summer, it has become imperative to drink lots of water. For me, working outside most of the day, it’s obvious that staying hydrated is important. But also for Betsy, who spends some time outside cleaning the bathrooms and washing windows, drinking plenty of water is always a good idea.
LOCK UP THE CLUBHOUSE AND POOL AT 10 PM - Every day that we work, the last responsibility of the day is to go out at 10 PM to lock up the club house, lock the pool gate, ride around the park to remind people of our 10 PM quiet hour and ensure our guests are following our simple parking rules. The whole process only takes 10 to 15 minutes, and it always caps off the work day before heading to bed.
POOL / SPA - There’s nothing like taking a dip in a pool on a bright sunny day or relaxing in a hot tub on a cool, clear night. So this is a must for our guests.
"BIG RIG FRIENDLY SITES" - Since we live and travel in what some people might call a “Big Rig”, a large site with easy ingress and egress is important to us. A camping trip should not be ruined by struggling to get into a small site.
PATIO AND PICNIC TABLE AT EVERY SITE - Enjoying good food with good friends and family is an idyllic picture that most people have about camping. Let’s foster that scene by providing the table. There’s nothing dining al fresco outside your camper.
SHADE TREES - RV awnings are nice for keeping the sun from beating down on you as you sit or dine outside, but nothing beats nature’s awning, a large tree with lots of leaves to provide that precious shade.
COFEE SHOP - Betsy and I have definitely become quite fond of our coffee, whether it be iced, hot or blended with ice cream. We think every campground guest deserves the chance to purchase the same at a welcoming shop.
SOME TYPE OF WATER FEATURE (e.g., ocean, lake, river, pond, creek) - We’ve always been drawn to the water, and everything related to it. Whether it be a small fishing pond or one of the great oceans, a water element is almost a must at our campground.
PLAYGROUND - Parents love to take their kids camping and kids love nothing more than a park to play at while they are there. We’ve seen some cool playgrounds in our travels and think our park should make that list.
CAMP STORE - Who hasn’t wandered into the camp store while on a camping trip and bought something? Sometimes it’s something you forget, like ketchup; something you need, like a 12V light bulb; or something you want, like a s’mores making kit. No matter what it was, having a place to buy it is important.
RV / BOAT STORAGE - Sometimes you bring too many toys to fit on your site, or sometimes you need a place to put your RV until you come back for your next visit. Either way, having a lot with plenty of space and easy access is appreciated by many a camper.
A STRAY CHOCOLATE LAB DRINKING FROM THE LAKE - In the center of the park is our four acre catch and release lake. It makes for a nice view out the rear window of Charlie, and one day we noticed it also made a great drinking spot for a thirsty, stray chocolate lab who wandered onto the property. He seemed like he knew what he was doing as we’ve seen him more than once stopping by for a quick slurp!
GUESTS WITH GREAT PERSONALITIES WHO WE MEET IN THE PARK - Betsy and I always enjoy sharing funny stories from our work day, and they usually involve a guest in the park. We love all of our guests, but you know that guy or gal who you can stop and talk to for a couple of minutes and they always leave you with a smile on your face or a giggle in your belly.
THE NEW PUPPY "JADE" PULLING ALL THE WEEDS IN HER SITE - A couple of weeks ago I was chatting with one of our new guests at the park and got to meet his puppy Jade. Jade was only 13 weeks old and her favorite pastime at the park is to assist the maintenance staff by pulling all of the weeds out of the ground on her site. What can I say, she’s good at it and it saves us from spraying chemicals to get rid of the weeds.
WHEN A GUEST ASKS WHAT THERE IS TO SEE IN PORT LAVACA - Working in the office Betsy will quite often get the question from a new guest, “What is there to see in Port Lavaca?” Some locals chuckle when they hear this question, but for a small town on the Gulf Coast there is always something for Betsy to recommend, whether it be a restaurant, park, beach or fishing spot.
WHEN BETSY DISCOVERED IT WASN'T REALLY A HUMAN "SNICKERS" BAR IN THE POOL - When the little girl ran into the office and said there was something brown on the bottom of the pool, Betsy was not excited about going outside to check it out. Fortunately, it was not a human “Snickers” bar in the pool but rather a couple of leaves stuck together which was easily retrieved with the pool net.
WHEN THE LOCALS PANICKED ABOUT THE TEMPERATURE DIPPING INTO THE 20'S IN JANUARY FOR A COUPLE OF HOURS - A lot of RV’ers head to Texas for the winter months to hide from the cold in the northern US. Most head further south than Port Lavaca, and end up in the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas. It definitely made us chuckle to hear the mild panic from the locals when we had some nighttime temps dip into the 20’s in January. You may want to protect your water hose for a couple of hours, but I’m thinking it’s not a sign of the end of the world.
THE LOOK I GET FROM VICTOR WHEN I TRY TO TALKING TO HIM IN ESPANOL - Victor is the full-time maintenance guy I work with at the park. Victor’s primary language is Spanish, but he can communicate pretty well in English also. My bi-lingual skills are not quite up to his level, so when I try to speak to him in Spanish I usually get this strange look from him and then we both end up laughing. Guess I need more time on Rosetta Stone!
WATCHING ISABELLA (4 YEARS OLD) RIDE AROUND THE PARK ON HER SCOOTER OR BICYCLE - Isabella and her family moved into the site across the street from us in April. Betsy and I immediately knew we were in for some smiles and laughs the first time we saw her riding around the park on her scooter in a purple tutu, with no shoes. Her outfits may change but her bleach blond hair, rosy cheeks and inquisitive comments will never grow old.
9. TRYING TO COME UP WITH NINE THINGS THAT MADE US LAUGH - It’s not that Betsy and I don’t laugh, because we do that on a daily basis. (often at ourselves!) But trying to come up with things at the park that have made us laugh had us laughing more than normal. Ok, we may be a little strange, but it was a funny exercise to complete.
A MESSY, CLOGGED TOILET THAT NEEDS PLUNGED AND CLEANED - Ok, I said earlier that cleaning the bathrooms on our work days was not that big of a deal to us. Well, that all changes when we go into one of the shower rooms and find a clogged toilet. All of the sudden it’s not all fun and games any more. Armed with the plunger and the TP tongs (Toilet Paper Tongs) we haven’t come across anything we couldn’t handle. We just may grumble sometimes.
RUTS IN THE GRASS MADE BY A NEW GUEST - Our rules are pretty simple here. There’s a sign on the front of the registration desk warning that making ruts in the grass will result in a fine. You see, at Texas Lakeside RV Resort the roads and sites are concrete with grass in between. Driving on the grass, especially after some rain, results in ruts, sometimes quite serious ruts. The guest pays the fine, but I may grumble a little as I fill the tractor scoop with sand to repair the now-damaged grass.
VEHICLES PARKED IN EMPTY SITES AND / OR PARKED IN THE ROAD - Most sites at our park are designed to accommodate your RV and your tow vehicle. If you have a second vehicle, we always point out our overflow parking spots that are located throughout the park. Even with all of that guidance, on a daily basis, it still necessary to remind, warn or fine guests who have other parking wishes.
HEARING LOUD MUSIC JUST BEFORE QUIET HOURS BEGIN AT 10 PM - The park quiet hours are 10 PM to 7 AM. Since most of our guests are early risers who head off to work six or seven days a week, they usually appreciate their sleepy time. But every once in a while, right before I head out for my 10 PM rounds, Betsy and I hear that low, thumping sound that can only be one thing . . . someone playing their music too loud! A friendly reminder of quiet hours is normally all it takes to remedy the situation.
PEOPLE THAT DON'T PICK UP AFTER THEIR DOG - I mentioned earlier how the park provides doggie bags and disposal boxes to clean up after your pet. And I mentioned how I empty them on a daily basis to keep them fresh. Well, unfortunately, not every single one of our guests utilizes the tools we provide to clean up after their dog. There’s nothing worse than finding out about those people with the lawn mower wheels, or worse, your flip flops.
MISTAKES IN CAMPGROUND MANAGER - The reservation system here at Texas Lakeside RV Resort is known as Campground Manager. It is a fairly typical reservation-type system / database. So in typical, I mean sometimes it functions wrong, or has errors in it from human intervention. Most problems are solvable, with a call to Campground Manager Support and a grumble under your breath.
THE SOUND OF THE "AFTER HOURS" CELL PHONE RINGING AT 6 AM ON SATURDAY MORNING - On our work days Betsy has an “after hours” cell phone that receives calls forwarded from the office phone. An occasional call for that late guest check-in or an inquiry from a current guest of the park are really not that big of a deal. But the 6 AM call on a Saturday morning from someone inquiring about our monthly rates can make you talk to yourself.
A CUSTOMER COMPLAINING ABOUT THE HIGH AMOUNT OF THEIR ELECTRIC BILL - All of our weekly and monthly guests here at the park are required to pay for their electric usage. Every site has an electric meter and the customer is billed 11.5 cents / kilowatt hour, exactly what the electric company charges the park. On the last day of every month, we read all 178 electric meters, input the numbers into Campground Manager, which then generates a bill for the customer. Seems straight forward, right. Well, not to everyone. Betsy seems to always be explaining to a guest that yes, they used that much electricity in the past month. She even throws in a little education, detailing for them the electric usage for their major appliances.
GUESTS COMPLAINING ABOUT OTHER GUESTS, SOMETIMES FOR GOOD REASON, SOMETIMES FOR NOT - Admittedly, when we are working we cannot be everywhere, or see everything. But the eyes and ears of the park always seem to be working. Betsy usually is on the receiving end of the call or in person visit from the guest telling her that site number x is not picking up after their dog, or site number x is parked a little bit on the grass. Our job is to weed out the serious from the not so serious.
So there you have it. As we roll past the nine month mark here at Texas Lakeside RV Resort, we hope this was a fun way to give you a little insight into our job here at the park. We definitely take our job seriously here and always put our best face forward to the customer. But we also enjoy a good laugh about something a guest, or we did. Life is short, enjoy where you are and what you are doing. Our next workamping update will most likely be after we’ve hitched up and headed . . . North? East? West? Oh yea, we really haven’t decided on that yet. Geez, we got some decisions to make in the next three months! Stay tuned!
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RUSS & BETSY'S WORKAMPING REVIEWS / UPDATES:
- - - Texas Lakeside RV Resort (November 2017 - Current):
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- - - Amazon Camperforce (October - December 2016):