After leaving Imperial National Wildlife Refuge where we volunteered for over four months during winter 2005-6, we returned to the Denver area. We could have stored the fifth wheel and reverted to living in our house. Instead, still in our “experimental” mode, we parked at Cherry Creek State Park, three miles from our house, to test our resolve to this mobile lifestyle.
For years, the urge to ditch our old lifestyle and hit the road as full-time RVers nagged at us. Sell the house, downsize our belongings, and live the simple life became our mantra. But did we have the courage to chuck it all after 40 years in the Denver area and 30 years in the house where we raised our kids? Certainly we didn’t want to make the leap without having a purpose for our travels.
After accepting the volunteer position with Imperial National Wildlife Refuge 40 miles north of Yuma, Arizona, for almost five months we would live among five other couples, all strangers to us, all experienced full-time RVers. Never having left home for more than a few weeks at a time, this was our first exposure to life on the road in a neighborhood of full-time RVers.
Living and meshing with others is one aspect of volunteer life on a refuge. The other is work.
As our first season at Imperial National Wildlife Refuge progressed, we discovered more interpretive opportunities. Sue McDonald drove us down Red Cloud Mine Road, past the Painted Desert Trail, to what one volunteer had named “The Bee Wash” after a pocket of bees he’d observed nesting in a crevice of the rock wall.