Double Feature: “1st Quarter Travels” meets “Volunteer State, Part III”

The first feature is more of a short film — just our travel map, a pair of puppies, and a collage of tranquil waterscapes.

Why so brief? Well, since we spent most of January, February and March in state parks doing service work with A Year to Volunteer (Y2V for short), and I’ve blogged 3/4 of those experiences already (see links below), there just wasn’t much else left to show ya.

So since my usual quarterly update coincides with the highly blogworthy wrap-up of our final Tennessee project with Y2V, I’m combining the two, which means you get a ROGO (Read One Get One). And, since we continue to host this blog without advertisements or affiliate links, it really is free!

Free?
Why that’s as uncommon as a donkey smiling for a selfie.
But I got that to happen in Tennessee, and now I should probably stop taking selfies because it’s going to be really hard to top this one.

Feature 1: WheRVe we been? Our travels, 1st quarter 2021

We went from FL to TX to MS to AL to GA to TN to IN, and added our 42nd RV state with that 5-day stop in Mississippi, which had always been a pass-through state for us.
RV miles traveled this quarter: about 3700 
(Map does not reflect exact routing.)

Our RV accommodations for the quarter included the friend’s driveway where we closed out 2020, a casino, a Harvest Hosts winery, 3 Army Corps of Engineers parks, 2 military fam camps, a 24-hour diner, 5 state parks, and our manufacturer’s service center.

The friends whose driveway we occupied in Florida? Avid animal rescue/foster/adopt people.
So our year began with a limitless supply of puppy kisses!
The beauty of Army COE parks is that they are always on a body of water.
Top left: Wilson H Fox in Granger TX
Top right: Twiltley Branch in Collinsville MS
Bottom: Gunter Hill in Mongomery AL

Feature 2: Volunteer State, Part III

Thanks to Y2V, we spent 6 weeks volunteering in the Volunteer State, culminating with a park named for the original volunteer himself, good ol’ Davy Crockett.

The main objective for Y2V at David Crockett Birthplace State Park was to build an outdoor stage with amphitheater-style seating. Check! Our crew of 32 also constructed a bridge, cleared a trail, removed excessive riverside vegetation, painted a couple of bathrooms, beautified the park entrance, relocated a fence, and created about 80 new signs.

And by the time our stay was up?

Our original schedule included 10 weekdays of work from March 15-26, but two were rained out.
We got it all done anyway.
If you’d like to see it in a single uplifting 13-minute video, it’s right here on YouTube.
Tim & I spent the first week on the bridge building team with Jeff & Susan of Happy2Serv, and a new Y2V participant named Gary. Since Gary & his wife had a prior commitment the following week, John & Wendy of A Road to Nowhere stepped in to help finish up.
When we arrived at the proposed site, the park rangers had only 4 telephone poles and the mere hope that a footbridge could be put there.
No plans, no other supplies, just a dream to make that bumpy, washed out part of the Homestead Trail easier for park visitors to traverse.
We evaluated and conferred.
Susan sketched out a design and came up with the supply list.
And we started building that very day.
Look what I learned how to use!
I didn’t like it (note my look to the side for help at the end) but since I’d invested in that there pair of bonafide big-girl work pants to replace the inadequate ones I’d ruined at the prior Y2V project, I was willing to risk finding out if they’d given me any sort of superpowers.
Meh. Jury’s still out.
These are my new work pants.
(Not an affiliate link; I gain nothing if you click through or purchase.)
And there’s why I was digging.
We needed deep holes for the concrete molds to help hold the bridge footers in place.
We poured concrete at the center pivot point too, and I gave it a tattoo before it set.
It took some muscle to get those four telephone poles into place, and I’m pretty sure there’s a good joke here about a twenty-mule team. I should have asked my smiling donkey for help. He wasn’t that far away!
Our engineers, Susan & Jeff, solved the central pivot puzzle by fanning deck boards, marking them, and ripping them to fit.
Yes, a straight footbridge would have been easier, but there were two boulders at the mid-point, and excavating them would have weakened the riverbank, so we angled the bridge between them.
On our 4th work day, we completed the decking, installed the rail posts, and repurposed a couple of railroad ties to create steps at each end.
From nearly nothing to a completed footbridge in just over a week — which included delays while we waited for rain to stop and for rope to arrive.
For Week 2, Tim and I parted ways, each of us contributing to a project that allowed us to work to our strengths. He helped out with construction of the amphitheater stage …
… and seating …
(photo credit: A Road to Nowhere)
… while I got to brush off my design and layout skills from … well, from wayyyy back when graphic design was done without benefit of computers.
On the signage team, I stenciled one sign after another, then passed them along for routing, then sanding, then painting.
Partway there
Finished product!
And speaking of finished products, look how nicely that ampitheater stage showcased all of us for the official Y2V group portrait.
(Photo credit: A Year to Volunteer)

We stood distanced, grouped by RV household, and removed our masks for the photo above. When working and socializing, we took the usual COVID precautionsAll the measures we volunteers agreed to follow on our first gig were also in place for this one, with the addition of TN’s state-mandated daily temperature checks and symptom questionnaires.

Some side perks and benefits from our two weeks at David Crockett Birthplace State Park? I’m not even sure where to begin. Wait. Yes, I am.

We were within an hour’s drive of family from my father’s branch of the tree, and we gathered for a COVID-safe Sunday afternoon of much cherished togetherness.
This pendant was a gift from one of my aunties.
The rangers treated us to a homemade breakfast on our final morning, and let me just say that Ranger Gary’s people taught that boy how to make biscuits & gravy right. Very right indeed.
That evening, we went on a stroll through the park to visit each of our completed projects, and toasted every single one with champagne. It was like a pub crawl, but with a greater sense of ownership.
And speaking of toasts (see what I did there?), l got a little bored on one of our rainy days, and made my family famous homemade bread, but twisted into the Y2V logo.
There was just enough for each of us to enjoy a small slice with our champagne, and you can compare my doughy version to the official one below.

Where are we now, and what’s next?

We’re in a holding pattern in northern Indiana while our RV is being repaired at the DRV service center in Howe. Again. It’s complicated, and we won’t discuss what is still an ongoing process, but we’re hoping for a better fix for some of the issues we’ve been experiencing since we bought our 2018 Mobile Suites.

The repair schedule will keep us in the area for the next two weeks. After that we’re not sure, but some happy friends-and-family events in May require us to aim ourselves toward Texas, so we’ll just figure it out as we roll. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter for updates along the way — wherever it is.


To learn how we got involved with Y2V in the first place (wine), read this, and for more about their upcoming projects, visit them on

David Crockett Birthplace State Park was our fourth service project with Y2V. Others were


Our Pandemic Caveat
We are traveling a lot less than we normally would, and as often as possible we choose destinations that offer ample outdoor opportunities, and are unlikely to be crowded. 
When we gather with friends or family, we keep our numbers small, and we request honest communication beforehand about their comfort level. 
We continue to wear masks in public and wash/sanitize hands frequently, we limit our outings, and we will soon be able to report that we are fully vaccinated.
 ~ The rrrrOHHHHRRRerrrrs, March 2020 – ?

We started full-timing in August of 2015, but I didn’t think to do an annual review until the end of 2016, and it was just a listing on Facebook of places we’d visited. After that, I started using a quarterly format.

7 thoughts on “Double Feature: “1st Quarter Travels” meets “Volunteer State, Part III”

  1. We have been volunteering at state parks on the west coast and were in need of a chiropractor. It looks like we might not be the only ones. Good job.

    1. Oh no! We suffered lots of sore muscles, and I left out a photo of me massaging Tim’s shoulders to ease the knots, but nothing that requires medical attention. Heal fast!

  2. You sound like a very fun to be around couple! Perhaps someday we will meet as I am Susan’s cousin and we travel too.

  3. I want these things: to put up trail markers, stencil signs, eat fresh homemade bread, and wash it down with champagne. I’d add get a selfie with a smiling donkey, but I’ve BTDT. 😂

    So impressed and proud of all that seriously hard work you guys did, and I know your happy spirits were an asset to each group!

    1. I can definitely make the bread and champagne thing happen next time we see you guys! And since we’re starting the vaccination process in just a couple of days, maybe by then we’d be able to ditch the masks…

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