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Have I mentioned how much I enjoy workamping at Vickers Ranch because of the opportunity I get to do some creative woodworking projects? Yeah, I thought so, maybe once or twice. Well, here’s one I’m particularly proud of.

Vickers Ranch Handmade Log Fireplace Mantle

Last year, I arrived at the ranch in time to help install and finish a similar mantle my boss made. This year, I had the honor of doing the dirty work. So I thought I would share how to make a custom log fireplace mantle like this one I made at my favorite workamping job.

Ranch Workamping Job to Make Handmade Log Fireplace Mantle

Read on for tips, lots of photos, and plenty of fun with power tools!
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It’s turning out to be another happy workamping summer at Vickers Ranch!

One of the best things I like about workamping on the ranch, besides working with my crazy wife and a bunch of other fun folks, is the opportunity I get to be creative—with access to the tools I need to do just about anything.

Sure, ranch work is hard, but between repairing screen doors, troubleshooting toilets and washing Jeeps, I get to create fun projects like these handmade log slab benches…

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In case you missed it, we have published a new page to help answer any questions about workamping you may have!

Workamping Questions and Answers

After working as workampers at various different jobs, and writing about our workamping experiences, for more than seven years, we have added a Workamping Page here in the LiveWorkDream blog!

workamping question answers page

Got questions about workamping?

Ever wonder what workampers do? Well, that depends on the type of workamping job.

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The last time we made contact at the Very Large Array, our camera had just conked out after visiting the Trinity Test Site with our Atomic Dog Jerry.

This time around, with Wyatt leading us back from Texas to Vegas for the BlogPaws conference, we decided to take Highway 60 and hit up Pie Town again. I had actually forgotten about the VLA  until we were almost there.

I immediately remembered how cool it is! We didn’t get a guided tour like we did before, but stopping at the vista point was enogh to get a good dose of geek tourism. The pullout is large enough for a couple RVs, and there is ample warning. After all you can’t miss the dishes.

The place always reminds me of an old commercial featuring Ted Turner walking along the fenceline at his ranch. He mentions how his neighbor has been complaining, about his new set of dishes, as the camera pans to reveal a scene similar to this.

Ted likely had dish envy though. His were not nearly as large, nor would they likely reach as far! But there I go digressing again.

The Very Large Array is operated by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.  The 27 antennae—each one measuring 82′ in diameter—comprise an interferometer providing the resolution of a dish 22 miles across! Mounted on rails, the dishes can be positioned across the across the mesa, close together or miles apart.

Without getting into interference and Fourier transformation of mathematical data to make interstellar maps, suffice it to say, this place is just pretty damn cool.

Geek or not, if you’re a full-time RVer who prefers to travel the backroads of America, this is one of the more amazing roadside attractions you’re going to see. What makes it even more cool, is that it’s not just some attraction, it’s actually in use every day, looking at the far reaches of our galaxy, and beyond.

Besides, it’s just down the road from some of the best pie out there on the open road!

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I haven’t written about jack shit for far too long, so I figure I’d write write about, well…jack shit.

The way I see it, if you haven’t done something stupid with your rig, you just haven’t been full-time RVing long enough.

I’m not too proud to share our latest idiot maneuver, with hope that others may never repeat it.

What happened?

After enjoying near solitude for nearly two weeks while boondocking for free near Big Bend, Texas, we stowed everything and hopped in the truck. We had never detached from the fifth wheel since there was nowhere for us to go anyway there in the middle of nowhere. But we’re just using that as an excuse to justify not following proper departure procedure protocol.

The truck was in 4WD when it first wouldn’t move after releasing the brake. Only after dropping it into two wheel drive, and barley moving when applying the gas did the two of us realize what we had done. The second we turned to look at each other, in unison we yelled Fuck!

I jumped out and sure enough, the jacks were down. And behind them were a couple of trenches, a couple feet long and a couple inches deep. They were deep enough to make retracting the jacks impossible. After digging out both jacks from the hard desert rock with a screwdriver, and using a socket wrench to slowly ratchet one of them back up, we were finally on our way.

What a way too complete such a beautiful stay. But you know what, neither of us freaked out. If you choose to live the nomadic lifestyle, you must learn to cope with one hard truth. It is what it is. Shit happens.

Some of that shit you can avoid, if  you think about what you’re doing and keep on your toes.

Complacency kills.

Maybe we’ve learned from our mistakes. Or, chalk it up to complacency.

In our previous life, Rene once told me that the majority of motorcycle accidents involve bikers who have been riding for more than ten years. Now I know this is true for Full-time RVers too.

The second time I ever hitched up our trailer at the curb of our old sticks and bricked, I backed into it with the stabilizer jacks down. The legs on our brand new trailer bent slightly forward. No real damage was done. It was just enough reminder to always remember to raise them first.

Until about seven years later, that is. Maybe we need to start using our pre-flight check pin ribbon.

What have you done that you’re not to ashamed to share?

Replacing the jacks was easy enough.

The harder part was getting replacement trailer stabilizer jacks  that matched the bolt pattern exactly to avoid at trip to the shop for a welding repair.

The hardest part was swallowing my pride while doing the repair.

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