We just finished up our two month stint volunteering back at the New Kent Forestry Center in Virginia (follow this link for our post from last year). It was very enjoyable working with most of the same crew from last year. Lee and Edie joined us again after spending a few weeks back home in North Carolina on their way back from Florida. Our supervisor, Jeff, was great to work for as usual. He makes it an easy, comfortable place to return to year after year. We always enjoy sitting around after work talking and listening to his stories. We also got to know his wife, Wendy, who is super sweet and friendly.
I spent most of my time on the zero-turn mower, keeping the grass around the main office and other buildings looking pretty.
Lee concentrated on keeping the pine orchards mowed with the big tractor while Art does a lot of hand trimming, Round Up spraying and general clean up. Mary Ann and Edie did a lot of cleaning in the office and conference center and spent one day helping out with a big school group that came for a field trip on the nature trails.
We arrived just in time for the pines to release their pollen. It was an impressive sight! Somehow, an entire tree will release its pollen in one huge burst. You could see it exploding off of the branches in huge yellowish green clouds of pollen dust. It was almost like fireworks going off. The air had a haze to it for about two weeks as tree after tree released its pollen. Of course, living in the middle of thousands of pine trees meant that everything in sight was coated with a thick layer of pollen. It was everywhere and we would kick up a cloud of yellow dust just walking around the campground.
The highlight of our time in Virginia was spending time with our grandson, Duncan.
We went up two days a week to spend the day with him while Damon and Chelsea were at work. He was a lot of fun, always on the move and into something. He is very curious and enthralled by anything with buttons or dials. He also loves his great-grandfather’s Wheel Horse tractor that has been handed down to Chelsea and Damon. Duncan goes into a tantrum when we have to pull him off of it to do something else.
He was just starting to talk when we got there and would learn new words almost daily. We took some field trips with him such as story time at the library or going to visit the farm animals at the park and the huge aquarium at Bass Pro Shop. He had more fun pulling all the gadgets off the racks and shelves than looking at the fish. We got to visit with Damon when he came home for lunch and would often stay to have dinner with Chelsea.
We got together with Chelsea, Damon and his family several times during our stay. We spent Easter Sunday with them and took a trip to see the birthplace of the great racehorse, Secretariat, on the weekend of the Kentucky Derby.
Meadow Farm in Caroline County, Virginia is no longer a functioning horse farm but several of the barns and the foaling shed where Secretariat was born have been preserved.
Groundshaker, one of Secretariat’s great-grand daughters lives there and we got to spend some time with her.
The tour guide told us a great inside story about Secretariat. It seems that during one of his training sessions he broke loose from his groom, bolted across the pasture, jumped the fence and across busy Route 30, right in front of an oncoming pick-up truck. Luckily, disaster was averted. He wasn’t hit and was quickly caught and returned to his stable. The interesting part was that this story somehow didn’t get back to his owner, Penny Chenery, until almost 40 years after it happened.
Of course it was a sad day when we had to say goodbye to everyone, especially Duncan, but if we were back in our old life we would never have had the extended, quality time with them that our workamping lifestyle affords us.
We were also in the right place at the right time for a surprise visit from our friends Keith and Jamie. They are living a similar lifestyle to ours except they live aboard a sail boat instead of a motorhome. They had just sailed into South Carolina from the Virgin Islands after spending several years cruising the Caribbean and Panama. They were driving up to New Jersey for a wedding and we were a convenient stop over for them along the way. They picked up some delicious BBQ for dinner on their way in and we had a fun night comparing adventures and plans for the future. They are spending the summer sailing out of Montauk, NY for a day charter outfit, sailingmontauk.com.
Our two months really flew by but we were able to get some maintenance and projects done on The Breeze. We put in a new backsplash behind the stove, fiberglassed a cracked battery box, replaced a defective GFI plug and managed to give the roof and exterior a thorough cleaning.
We also had some fun times, of course, with a couple trips up to Richmond for hikes along the James River and a picnic in a nice park overlooking the city. We hit a winery with Lee and Edie and also had a great time with them at the Stone brewery in Richmond.
Our departure for North Carolina was delayed by a few days due to mechanical problems with the truck. We were due to leave on Saturday of Memorial Day weekend and take our time getting to our next destination but when we stopped to gas up the truck on Thursday we noticed fluid leaking from a rear wheel. It turned out to be a bad rear axle seal. We managed to get it into the shop on Friday but they weren’t able to finish it by closing time. They were closed for the rest of the long holiday weekend so the truck wasn’t ready until the following Tuesday morning.
It was an unexpected delay and expense but on the bright side we were able to spend another day with family while they were camping for the weekend at Westmoreland State Park.
We were still able to get to our next job on schedule but it was a no nonsense drive on the interstates and a quick overnight at a Walmart to get here by early afternoon on May 31.
Next up: Our new home and job for the next five months.