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!

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.

Volunteer State, Part II: that time we made a Girl Scout cry

I last set foot in a Girl Scout camp more than 40 years ago. The memories, and more than one annoying camp song, came flooding back when we arrived at Paris Landing State Park, the site of our 3rd gig with A Year to Volunteer (Y2V for short). The creaky metal bunks, the smell of dusty cabins, the sound of wooden benches scraping the dining hall floor, the bug bites, the tall trees and crunching leaves — all were right there with me again.

That’s me bottom left, with my friends from Troop 73 in Frostburg, MD.
Several of us remain in touch via social media, and we’ve determined that the year was 1979.
Not sure how many of us can still sing “We are all from Camp White Rock” in its entirety, though.

The objective for Y2V at Paris Landing was to renovate structures at an old Girl Scout camp that the state had purchased for the park in 2009, and had fallen into disrepair. By refurbishing Camp Hazlewood’s dining hall, bunk cabins, counselor’s cabin, and bathroom/shower houses, we gave the park a giant leap forward in their vision of offering the site as a revenue-generating group camp, special event venue, and outdoor education center. 

And by the time our stay was up?

This local newspaper article about our work caused quite a buzz amongst the women who had spent childhood summers at Camp Hazlewood. One who came out to thank us in person, Vicki, was moved to tears, and that got the waterworks going for more than a few of us volunteers too, so yes, we really did make a Girl Scout cry, and in the best possible way.

Here’s the video, with Vicki right at the intro and again at about the 11-minute mark (but don’t skip through all the impressive “befores” and “afters” to get there).

Let me walk you through the camp and show you what we did.

First order of business: Y2V founders Shar & Phil laid out our objectives, safety requirements, and COVID precautions.
All 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.
The camp is a short drive from the main state park campus and marina.
We could have taken a more direct route across the inlet, but I don’t think all Tim’s tools would have fit in a kayak.
This is how the bunk cabins looked when we first arrived. Those rooftops definitely put the rust in rustic.
And the interiors put the … ugh. I don’t even know.
Let me just say we were thankful for our COVID face masks when we swept them out, as in addition to the thick layer of dust, there were lots of droppings and a few dead mousies.
Swept the roofs too. More than once.
But before that? Tim worked it with the safety harness, making this… a Safety Dance?
We replaced a lot of torn screens.
And scrubbed the bejeebies out of the cot frames, and the mattresses that were still salvageable.
After a week of cleaning, rust scraping, sweeping, caulking, patching, replacing, and priming the metal panels on the 7 cabin rooftops, we finally got to slather on the Girl Scout green topcoat.
And also after that week of cleaning, rust scraping, sweeping, caulking, patching, replacing, and priming the metal panels, the ill-fitting old hiking pants I’d been using as work pants had had it.
I could live with all the paint spatters and rust stains.
The big revealing tear on the seat? Not so much.
Dumped and replaced!
With cabin rehab complete, and only two work days remaining, Tim and I were assigned to help with kitchen renovation in the counselor’s cabin. A different team had already removed the old cabinetry and installed the new, so we got to add the finishing touches.
Countertops, sink, knobs and drawer pull: done!
The two of us did not serve on the dining hall renovation team, but I am still going to boast about what they did.
Look at that Before & After!
I don’t know everything that went on over there, but I can tell you that while trudging through mud and dodging wasps, those troopers hacked down overgrown brush, ripped off the existing siding, built at least 3 sets of new doors, installed new siding, and painted the whole shebang — including the original Jolly Hall sign.
And here we all are inside the new & improved Jolly Hall, for our official group photo on the last day of “camp.”
(photo credit: A Year to Volunteer)

Each of our Y2V experiences has provided a perfect combination of rewarding work, fellowship, and fun, and more than a few additional perks. At Paris Landing, the park comped our sites, their friends organization treated us to a pizza picnic lunch, spring came, and Tim took me to Paris for my birthday dinner.

Ah, springtime in Paris (Tennessee).

Where are we now, and what’s next?

We’re still in Tennessee, working our fourth Y2V project, at David Crockett Birthplace State Park. Our mission here involves constructing a new amphitheater and footbridge, creating signage, building a trail, and more.

Next stop: DRV service center in Howe, IN, for RV repairs. Again. It’s complicated.

My mess-up: Using “we” and “our” is tricky in these posts. Sometimes it means the whole Y2V crew, sometimes it means a small Y2V team, and sometimes it means only we two Rohrers. I hope nobody thinks that Tim & I are taking credit for having our hands in every single project or doing any one of them on our own, because we just don’t have that many hands. In this post, I’ve described the tasks the two of us worked on, and bragged on one that we didn’t. To learn how we got involved with Y2V in the first place (wine), read this.

For more about Y2V and their upcoming projects, visit them on

Paris Landing State Park was our third service project with Y2V. Others were/will be

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’ll get vaccinated when our age group is eligible.
 ~ The rrrrOHHHHRRRerrrrs, March 2020 – ?