Early in February, Jude and I were reviewing our summer nomad options, thinking where we wished to travel in our second summer of nomad travels. We agreed that our previous summer of two weeks here and two weeks there across 15 states was an absolute adventure, but left us without a feeling of community.
We would meet interesting people and a day later they would leave or we would travel on. We choose this summer to travel less often, stay longer in places with hopes of obtaining a deeper sense of the area’s character, and experience the rich diverseness of the people who live there. All that remained was to put that plan into action. Within minutes we were checking out volunteer.gov and recreation.gov websites – the best places we knew to start a search.
We acknowledged that in order to accomplish our new focus, we would seek out volunteer positions within state parks, wildlife refuges, national parks, etc. We began the process of selection, inquiry and elimination.
Our first thoughts were of the wildlife refuge we discovered late in our previous summer’s travels in Minnesota. Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge was an absolutely beautiful (pristine and water-wealthy) wilderness in central Minnesota. We picked up the phone…
Great News! They were accepting volunteer applications for just one couple. Wow, we rushed off our application focusing on our skills and the thousands of community and organizational volunteer hours that we have contributed to so many organizations while we were in Tucson. We were exhilarated and confident.
Later that month came the news. While the Volunteer Coordinator found us very attractive, she chose another couple that had experience working in a state park. I was crushed when I learned that their experience of cleaning toilets, fire pits and campsites trumped our vast volunteer efforts to help humanity. In order to obtain the best most desirable volunteer positions, we needed experience at that level! We began a new search focused on obtaining a new level of volunteer experience.
Jude is masterful when it comes to discovering options. Within weeks, our plans were set. We accepted a camp host position in Maryland for April, May, and June. The park had a couple cancel and had an immediate opening. Greenbrier State Park was nestled in the rolling hills north of Washington, DC. Its close proximity to our nation’s capital was just perfect for exploration and immersion!
Because of our commitment ends in June, we set out to discover any options in Maine. Neither of us have ever been to that area and it just seemed that since we were in such close proximity, it was just natural to seek similar opportunities within the Maine State Parks system.
Soon, we received a call from the State of Maine. They were looking for a couple to mow, clean and maintain a new day area on Branch Lake. It was a new boat ramp that supplied public access to this popular fishing lake.
Whoa, you want me to clean around a day area that is on a lake in Maine? Where I can go fishing and Jude can go kayaking anytime we desire? Then they wanted to give us a free place to stay on top of that. Never mind that it is practically next door to Acadia National Park. The accepting “YES” stumbled over our tongues we were trying to get it out so fast!
Our summer was set! We were going to stay longer, explore more, and have a sense of the community around where we were going to stay. These early nomad travels are for the most part historical with our immersion into all that encompasses Washington DC with the Smithsonian, monuments, and the Capitol building! Then just for good measure, be in such close proximity to all the National Battlefields of the Civil War! Then finish the summer on a lake in Maine! I felt so lucky that I immediately went out and bought a lotto ticket!