What doesn’t kill you might make you stronger, but what doesn’t freeze you solid makes you wonder why you weren’t smart enough to choose a February service project in The Bahamas.
Wow, was it brrrrrrrrcold that first week with A Year to Volunteer (Y2V for short) at Fall Creek Falls State Park in Spencer, TN, with temps in the teens, ice and snow, even the eponymous falls looked like they were inside a snow globe.
But other than a single snow day off for safety (which we made up the following Saturday), our Y2V team showed up, manned up, warmed up, and put it up. All of it. Like we knew we could.
And we knew we could because this was our second Y2V service project, so we’ve seen the whirlwind in action. The recap of our first (a state park in GA), and how we got involved with Y2V (wine) is all right here.
The list of objectives for Y2V at Fall Creek Falls included building two new bridges and demolishing an old one, rerouting trails, renovating a set of public restrooms, and painting guest lodge interiors. But by the time our stay was up?
All the COVID precautions Y2V participants adhered to 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.
Tim and I started off the 2-week adventure (Feb. 15-26, 2021) on the Pretty Potties Crew, a.k.a. Potty Posse, Loo Crew, or “Stall”ions.
We helped tear out the old stall partitions, toilets, sinks, etc.; then painted; then installed new partitions and most of the toilets. The park maintenance department wanted to build new sink stands, so our part of the job ended at that point.
The two of us also helped with the construction of one of two bridges designed to reroute trails.
And speaking of trails, Tim & I threw our backs (and legs, and shoulders) into some of that work too. We’ve done a lot of hiking, but creating new trails was a first for both of us.
In addition to the usual Y2V combination of hard work, fellowship, and fun, we enjoyed some unexpected and most appreciated perks. The park comped our sites, treated us to a pizza night, provided quarters for us to use in their laundry facility, and even hosted a farewell banquet for us.
Where are we now, and what’s next?
We’re still in Tennessee, working our third Y2V project, at Paris Landing State Park. Our mission here involves renovating several structures at an old Girl Scout camp, so that it can be used as a revenue-generating group camping area and outdoor education center for the park.
My mess-up: Using “we” and “our” is tricky here. 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 only the tasks the two of us worked on. To appreciate the full scope, visit Y2V’s YouTube channel, and check out Fall Creek Falls Part I and Part II.
To learn more about A Year to Volunteer and their upcoming projects, visit them on
For a period of travel predominantly dictated by where we had to be, rather than where we wanted to go, there were many more hidden gems in the mix than we expected to find. Come examine them with us?
The very short version of the story is that attempts to fix my left shoulder kept us in Texas. Attempts to fix the RV sent us to Indiana.
The same description applies to both situations: we’re not exactly sure what’s wrong, but something definitely isn’t right. Both are being examined and treated by experts; we just don’t want to publicize details on either until we can include the end of the story — or at least see it from where we stand. Stay tuned.
Our home base for most of October and November really was a base, namely Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. The RV park there is safe and spacious, convenient to our doctors and my family, and easy on the budget. Tim served for 25 years, so military bases feel like home to us no matter where they are.
That said, the noise level at Fort Sam is a little high (frequent trains, occasional choppers) and the scenery really isn’t… scenic. So when we had longish breaks between appointments, we went AWOL with a few side trips.
Finally, on December 1, we were bound for somewhere outside Texas.
Destination: the DRV Factory Service Center, in northern Indiana. I know. Everyone’s favorite winter vacation spot. Don’t be jealous. It was the opening they had, and we needed it, so we took it.
But first, we stopped in… Texas. Big state. And if we’re heading north or west from San Antonio to get out of it, we end up stopping for the night within its borders.
When Tim was evaluating various routes to Indiana, he discovered that we could stay in yet another Eisenhower State Park. And since liking Ike that much would allow us to add another RVisited state to our list, we made a reservation at the Kansas version.
After a stop at MORryde in Elkhart for a suspension check, we then had 3 nights available before our service appointment at DRV in Howe the following week. We could have split the stay between the two parking lots and paid nothing, but we seized the opportunity to go somewhere quieter and prettier.
For the holidays, we’re moochdocking in a friend’s driveway near Pensacola. We’ve stayed here before, and we were greeted by the same cat, who just happens to bear the same name as our late canine companion, Lola.
Where to next?
After a quick run back to San Antonio in January, we plan to spend a significant part of early 2021 in Georgia and Tennessee, doing service work with A Year To Volunteer. When we met founders Phil & Shar in November, we knew right away that their mission meshed well with our own values, so we registered for three of their upcoming projects. After so many rewarding stays in state parks over the years, we are excited by this opportunity to give back — with what sounds like a lot of sweat equity.
I’ll try my best to blog about each project individually, and as ever, you can follow us on Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter for updates as we go.
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.