The Gritty Side of Workamping while Full-timing, Part I

Loving the kind of work you do makes all the difference in whether or not you want to get up in the morning.

This summer, I can’t say I love doing things like washing cabin linens in an old wringer washing machine or ironing pillowcases with this 1950s contraption affectionately known as “the Mangler.”

However, I do love the family who runs this 100-year old ranch.

This family make all the difference in my enthusiasm for doing the work of a 1950s housewife, dealing with the public and letting someone else be the boss instead of me. Well, a paycheck with a short-term job commitment also helps.

The last time Jim and I workamped an entire summer season was here in 2008, when the ranch had a team of four workampers. Back then I was assigned to some really gritty work, mostly cleaning cabins and doing laundry.

Historic Ironrite Linen Iron at Vickers RanchThis year, Jim and I are the only workampers. I’ve mainly worked in the office handling “guest services” which means duties like check ins and outs, making reservations, etc.

When it’s quiet in the front office, I keep the laundry running smoothly in the back.

Interacting with guests who’ve been coming here for 50 years from outposts as far away as Turkey Texas make the job even better. For better or worse, they’re some of the most genuine, what-you-see-is-what-you-get people on earth.

The ranch doesn’t need to advertise since most guests have been coming here for generations. Many of the regulars are from the dry flatlands of Texas, Oklahoma (which is really just north Texas) and sometimes Kansas.

Packer Massacre Site Slumgullion Pass Vickers Ranch Lake City CO

About 90 percent of them are terrific, friendly people but the other 10 percent of these guests need a solid smack upside the head so they can learn some manners when interacting with service industry workers.

Thankfully these “big personality” types are few and far between and most people here are kind and respectful . . . even if we are the only Democrats for 100 square miles. I proudly display my Obama for America sticker on our Dodge and nobody’s hassled me yet.

We’ve got about four to six weeks left of hard work and a steady paycheck. I’ll miss the family, the paycheck and this great location, but I won’t miss being on someone else’s schedule, Or that damn Mangler. I’m looking forward to hitting the road all over again and seeing where our wheels will take us.

Where did summer go?


4 thoughts on “The Gritty Side of Workamping while Full-timing, Part I”

  1. I really enjoyed reading about the Mangle. I even watched the whole youtube video. I’m 40 and I had never heard of such a thing. Mom came in while the vid was playing. I said. “Look at this crazy thing!”. “Oh, that’s a mangle” she said. I learn something new everyday!

  2. I remember when my mom bought a mangle. She was so excited to have that piece of machinery that would make her life easier. Now we have it even easier…..who irons sheets anymore?


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