Our Radical Sabbatical: The Real Work Begins

Road Trip Stops at Capitol Reef National ParkThe idea of taking a long break first occurred to us in 2006, when some mindless channel surfing led us to the TV show, Radical Sabbatical. Each 30 minute segment would tell the story of someone who had suddenly woken up to realize they hated their career, life was passing them by, and they needed a change, fast.

While reality shows are generally crap, watching how these people worked to make their dreams happen provided much of the inspiration we needed to get moving on our own dreams (well, that, and Jerry’s illness).

Neither Jim nor I had ever taken an extended break. In my 20s, my friends went backpacking around Europe after college, but I had student loans to pay, so I took the first dumb job that I could get. By the mid 90s, I was handing over my paycheck to student loans and credit card debt. And as for Jim, well, he’s always been too responsible to slack off.

Now that we had paid some dues in life, we became giddy at the thought of reverting to slackerdom. But the more we thought about it, we knew we couldn’t just split without some kind of goal in mind.

Not Just Slacking: Time Off with a Purpose

Vickers Ranch backroad Lake City COThe book, Six Months Off, helped us determine what we wanted to get out of our break. We spent some time interviewing each other about our wants/needs, our talents, and ideas about our future. Then we turned this information into a gigantic wall chart, and put it where we had to look at it every day, to stay focused on our goal.

As you can see from our relocation worksheet, we came up with lots of ideas about where we want to live. We also did a skills and talents chart. But the biggest thing for both of us, was to learn what kind of new business venture might make us happy for at least the next decade. A tourism and hospitality businesses ranks high on our list.

Getting Our Hands Dirty, Down at the Ranch

Vickers Ranch Hwy 149 Lake City COAnd so we begin our next workamping assignment. We’ve landed in Lake City, Colorado for the summer, at Vickers Ranch, a family run historic property dating back to the 1800s, on 1800 beautiful acres next to Lake San Cristobal.

Our assignments: maintenance and housekeeping — from building decks, to cleaning cabins, to gardening. We’ve only been here a couple of weeks, and already we are getting a good feel for the kind of ass-kicking work it takes to run a real resort.

With only two days off each week, you might be hearing from us a little less than before. We are done slacking off seven days a week, and are hard working fools now (or at least until the end of summer!).

12 thoughts on “Our Radical Sabbatical: The Real Work Begins”

  1. Your posts are always informative. They make me reflect on the planning that we did before taking off. You guys did a lot of it. Us, not so much. I had never heard of that television show. I will have to check it out.

  2. Not bothering at all! I just looked up Verizon’s coverage map, and unfortunately there isn’t any coverage here. We feel pretty lucky to get our AT&T signal.

    But come on up anyways! Campgrounds are empty at Lake San Cristobal. At least they were last week. Stop by and say hello!

  3. Forgive me for asking such a minor practical question, but I want to save some gasoline.

    Do you know if there is Verizon Wireless service up at Lake City? I was thinking of heading up there if there was.

    Sorry to bother you.

  4. Wow, some colorful turns of phrases going around, here’s two I just gleaned recently, one from a film and the other from a recent New Yorker article:
    “… never trust a man whose hips are wider than his shoulders.”

    This guy is now a billionaire but got there through some manipulations of the legal system in Missisissisisspi (or however you spell it):
    “We were so poor when I was growing up that if I hadn’t been born a boy I wouldn’t have had anything to play with.”

    This place looks picture perfect as the pictures are perfect.

  5. hitek, that is hillarious!

    My Dad said similar things…”use your brains, not your hands, to make a living.” Well, we tried that route. All we got were big butts and guts and not a lot to show for it. At least there’s a tangible sense of accomplishment when you’re doing manual labor.

    That’s what I say now. Let’s see what I think at the end of summer.

  6. Ha! I grew up having that kind of fun. Dad thought it was a riot to dig ditches in South Carolina summers. Oh, and nothing beats the sheer entertainment value of clearing the side of a mountain and burning the brush all summer long. Like my pappy always said: ‘If I work you hard enough, maybe you’ll grow up and get a sissy job. They pay better.’

    I don’t think he expected this to work out quite as well as it did. Now he has to tell his friends that he raised a kid whose goal was to retire at 32! And he quit and did it even though he can’t afford it, durned stubborn kid!

  7. “Our Assignments” … !?!?!

    Tell it like it is in these parts baby. The ladies do the wimmen’s work while us men folk break our backs and work our fingers to the bone. But you can’t beat the scenery, and like the boss man said our first day … “We’re just gonna have fun this summer.”


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