The month of September was a whirlwind and definitely took a few unexpected twists and turns. We began the month by leaving our campsite near Ellensburg, WA and driving west to Seattle, WA where we met up with our friends from back home and had the most amazing tour of the city as well as our first casino camping experiences.
After a week in Seattle, we drove further west and settled into the perfect campsite in the Hoh Rainforest, just outside Olympic National Park, We met new RV friends and fell in love with the Pacific Ocean.
But I haven't even had time to write about those experiences yet because we've been on the move!
As our time in the rainforest came to an end, we wrestled with where to go next. We loved the Pacific coast and really wanted to drive south through Oregon but the wildfires were still burning and we were tired of dodging the smoke and ashes. We'd been near wildfires for over a month.
We decided to head towards Utah and see the national parks that we'd missed over the summer-Zion, Bryce Canyon, Grand Escalante National Monument...they'd be perfect in the fall. But another option presented itself at the last minute. During my daily scanning of WorkamperNews job listings, I found an ad for seasonal help at a winery in Wisconsin. It seemed to fit into our plans so nicely-we wanted to head back to Indiana for Thanksgiving anyway so the winery would bring us much closer to that area of the country. The compensation package was strong-a full hook-up site and $10 per hour for all hours worked. (Many workamping jobs require a portion of your hours worked to go towards the full hook-up RV site). Fall in the midwest is beautiful and who wouldn't want to work at a winery so we decided to just apply and see what happened. I hastily updated our resumes and forwardded them on. That was on Friday afternoon. Our 7 day stay limit was approaching and we needed to leave camp on Monday so we decided to drive to Utah unless anything developed with the jobs. Early Monday morning, the winery contacted us and we Facetimed with the owner. After a 20 minute video chat, she offered us the jobs. Thrilled, we rerouted our trip and planned to drive east toward a little town called Pepin, Wisconsin.
With this decision came the realization that we would be driving over 1800 miles (28 hours) in just 4 days. And when Google tells us 28 hours, we know to add on several more to allow for towing the RV and breaks for Jane. Travel days are long and a little stressful and usually involve snapping at each other a few times throughout the day so it's good for us to keep them short. We typically keep our driving days to 3-4 hours, maybe 5 hours max if we really want to get somewhere.
On Monday, we drove for about 8 hours from Forks, Washington to Post Falls, Idaho where we stayed in a Cabelas parking lot. We woke Tuesday and continued on to Billings, Montana where we slept in a Walmart parking lot after a 10 hour day. By Wednesday, we were so ready to be done with these long drives but needed to check into our new campsite by Thursday so we drove 9 hours to Jamestown, North Dakota for another evening in a Walmart parking lot. Finally on Thursday, we had a short day with just 6 hours to go and were able to check into the Lake Pepin Campground by mid-afternoon.
Pepin, is a tiny town, population 837. It's situated on the banks of Lake Pepin which is the widest naturally occurring part of the Mississippi River. It's right on the border of Wisconsin and Minnesota. For such a tiny town, it has quite a bit to offer. There's a marina, a handful of great restaurants, a locally owned and operated grocery store, a few pumpkin patches/farm stands, a library, post office and of course, the winery where we'd be working. It's also near the birthplace of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her log cabin home featured in Little House in the Big Woods is still standing a few miles from town.
The area caters to tourists that flock to the region especially in the fall to drive the Great River Road, a gorgeous winding road that feautures river views on one side and forested bluff views on the other. Small towns dot the road and have fun lilttle shops that sell art or baked goods or souveniers. There's a pie shop in the next town over that I can't wait to visit.
Our campground is almost completely full and most of the residents are seasonal. They live in their RV over the summer while they enjoy the lake and spend the summer boating. Then they winterize their rigs and go back to their homes for the rest of the year. The residents here have VERY nice rigs and really treat this park as their home. They build decks and seriously landscape their little yards. Many have golf carts that they drive throughout the town and use to visit each other in the park. The sites are close together and have full water/sewer/electric hook-ups. We have a spot close to the laundromat (two washers/two dryers). It's also right next to the showers which we've been using because the unlimited hot water is just too amazing to pass up.
So that's an overview of our long distance drive across the country and our first impressions of Pepin and our new campground. Here's hoping it's a fun 8 week gig!
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