Monday we were up early, left VDO in Mesa by 7:30 am to drive to Casa Grande Ruins in Coolidge, where we will be volunteers for the next three months. We arrived by 8:30, spent the next couple of hours getting set up--after we parked the rig with an audience of 6 to 8 men volunteers and paid staff at the monument. Here we have free laundry, so I did four loads of wash. Then, at 3 pm we met with the volunteer coordinator, chief of interpretation and head ranger, as well as another new volunteer couple, for two hours of orientation. You better believe we were exhausted when we returned to our trailer at 5 pm. Tuesday we went to work at 8:30 and were there till 5 pm. Now we are off for four days.
It is always this way when we start a new volunteer assignment. Long hours and stress when we arrive. When we haven't been working for several months, the 7- to 8-hour days are hard to adjust to. So, why do we do it?
First and foremost, I think we volunteer because we want and need the challenge, the stimulation, the chance to learn new things and use our minds. Travel is interesting, but we don't want to travel all the time. We are living on the road because we found being retired and staying in one place all the time (our stick house) was boring. So we don't want to stay in one place for a long time on the road and be bored. Volunteering helps us to not be bored. In some volunteer positions we learn new skills. Sometimes we learn about new areas of the country and we are able to stay long enough to begin to understand how the locals live. When we volunteer in interpretation for the National Park Service, we learn lots of information.
Neither of us has ever been interested in Native Americans. But studying the Hohokam culture in southern Arizona has been fascinating and we have developed so much admiration for what those people accomplished here. The study we did to prepare our interpretative tours has challenged our minds and our views of prehistoric peoples. That is wonderful!
It also is good to be able to give back to our community and our country. For so many years we have enjoyed our state and national parks and they are so short of funds that it is difficult for them to stay open without volunteers. We are glad we can help out.
It is also nice that volunteering pays for our RV site. That means a savings of $20 to $30 a day. So we are helping to keep old age at bay while we save money.