You may have noticed, on our itinerary, that our plans for the winter were “evolving.” Things don’t always work out the way we plan or the way we want them. We had intended to return to Death Valley – the land of perpetual sunshine and warmth – for a second winter but the flooding in Death Valley changed those plans. Although we were originally told that there would be work for us to do, the Volunteer Coordinator called us the week of Thanksgiving and told us that we should find another place to go for the winter. The damage was much worse than originally thought and even the full-time rangers were seeking other positions for the next year.
We appreciated his honesty, but one month before winter positions start is not the time to be looking for a job! There are plenty of volunteer jobs in the National Parks but most of them fill up quickly – especially the good ones. The parks have a limited number of RV spots and can only take as many volunteers as they have RV pads. We started calling around and had several good conversations with Volunteer Coordinators. We thought we had lined up a spot at Aztec Ruins in New Mexico and waited two weeks for that to fall into place. But they decided to go a different direction for the winter. During the two weeks of waiting we turned down a place at White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. When Aztec Ruins didn’t pan out, we called White Sands back and they had just filled the spot the day before.
So we kept calling and filling out applications at volunteer.gov – our go-to place for job positions – and tried not to be anxious. I was ready to do Habitat for Humanity or United Methodist Mission work but Tom really wanted to wait and see what happened with the national parks. Finally, Saturday morning, we heard from one of the parks we had called that we were being offered a job if we wanted it. King’s Mountain National Military Park is the site of a Revolutionary War battle in South Carolina. It is part of four parks: Cowpens, Ninety-Six, and the Overmountain Trail that are linked together as part of the Revolutionary War in South Carolina. They don’t usually have volunteers in the winter because it is such a slow time, but they are willing to take a chance with us. We will be doing a variety of activities: working in the Visitor’s Center, the bookstore, writing programs, doing maintenance. In short, anything we can do to help the rangers and the park.
We are excited about spending the winter in South Carolina. It isn’t too far away and we haven’t really spent much time there. We have been to the beaches of North Carolina and Georgia but not much of South Carolina. We took a carriage tour of Charleston once and spent a few days at Hilton Head. We have been to the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee, but not really the mountains of South Carolina. King’s Mountain just over the border from Charlotte, North Carolina and we have several friends living in North Carolina so we are hoping to have some time to visit folks. And I have never been to the Grand Canyon of South Carolina – so we will have to find that! There are lots of state parks in the area so we will have plenty of hiking and a beautiful area to explore.
The same day we got the offer from King’s Mountain, we also got an offer from Mojave in California. Totally remote, no cell service, two hours to the grocery store, next to the train station Visitor’s Center, gorgeous desert scenery – hmmm. Maybe next year!
Now we are enjoying Christmas and brushing up on our Revolutionary War history. It is amazing to me how little I know about the actual war. I’m pretty clear on the events leading up to it, but the war itself is a totally new learning opportunity. I’m sure you will be hearing plenty about it in the coming months. As I learn – so will you!
It is good to know where we are going in a couple of weeks. King’s Mountain, South Carolina, will be a new experience in the evolving plans of living life on the road.