Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Workamping + A Review Of Myakka River Motorcoach Resort • Port Charlotte, Fl

My oh my, where to begin? This post is jam packed with goodness including:
A Review of the Myakka River Motorcoach Resort,
{Call it a campground if you must, but this place is nothing short of luxurious goodness}
Information About Our 1st Official Workamping Experience,
And… A Workamper… What On Earth's A Workamper!

cindy colbert; class a; cobear; co-bear; danny colbert; el jobean; florida; myakka river motorcoach resort; port charlotte; sparkles; tilly; campground; entrance; palm tree; photographer; photography; resort; workamper; workamping

We first learned about the "Myakka River Motorcoach Resort" via "The Workampers Website" where they had run an ad looking for workampers. So, let's break it down by starting at the beginning with:

What On Earth's A Workamper? Well… We Are!!!

From the Workamper website: "Workampers are adventurous individuals, couples and families who have chosen a wonderful lifestyle that combines ANY kind of part-time or full-time work with RV camping. If you work as an employee, operate a business, OR donate your time as a volunteer, AND you sleep in an RV (or on-site housing), you are a Workamper!"

Why and how we decided to become official 'Workampers'

Actually, because we lived in our RV and operated Co-Bear Photography from it… we were workampers before we even knew the term existed and/or what it was. But, here I go again getting ahead of myself so… back to before we had the RV… Have You Ever Dreamed Of Traveling… Of Living Wherever Your Heart Leads &/or wherever the wheels might roll? But then… you quickly thought to yourself, "No way could I possibly afford to do that and certainly never before retirement age!" Well… That's sort of how our adventures began and guess what… there's good news because when you have a dream, a desire and the will… then there really IS a way!

In short… We lived in Nebo, Illinois and although we loved the people there, for various reasons we knew we needed to move. But where… Ugh, we could not decide. All our kids lived at least an hour away and each wanted us to move nearby. Hmmm… We put our house on the market and began searching… and researching… and looking at houses everywhere… and… nothing. It seemed every direction we turned we hit a brick wall and frankly after awhile, as much as I dearly love each of our children with every fiber of my heart… the truth is I just couldn't bring myself to 'want' to live next door or even real close to any of them. Ha! How's that for frank honesty? Truly, I really do love them all and if need be, in a heartbeat I would literally attempt moving stars, heaven or earth for any single one of them… but… now that their grown up and don't need me quite the same anymore, I've come to like my independence of doing whatever we want, whenever we want, wherever we want :-)

While searching, I discovered that with the current poor state of the economy we could literally sell our home in Illinois and move to a similar place in beautiful Pensacola, Florida for about the same amount of money. I was shocked, delighted and now more confused than ever because while that sounded truly awesome… even that wasn't quite what we wanted.

Continuing our search, Danny was daily driving past an RV sales lot and after work one day he strolled into our home and casually mentioned half joking to me, "Wouldn't it be nice if we could just buy an RV and travel until someday we decided where we'd like to live?" Oh boy, would it ever! But… we laughingly agreed that was an impossible dream… that maybe someday might possibly come true… maybe.

Day after day and night after night I kept thinking about what Danny had said. I just couldn't get it out of my head. And then… Danny had not one, but two strokes. Thankfully he recovered quickly but immediately we knew it was time… we had to 'Get busy living or… Get busy dying!' In that moment I began seriously praying and searching google for answers. Yep, I have a huge appreciation and love for technology, google and the world wide web.

I quickly discovered an amazing website by the name of Technomadia and a group called Workampers. Immediately the knowledge gleaned from those and sites similar to theirs become power and our seemingly impossible dream… it started to sound more and more like it could become a 'Dream Come True' real life reality!

I could go on and on (and one day I'll add more details) but soon afterwards we bought our first RV now named 'Big Co-Bear', sold our house in Nebo along with practically everything that wouldn't fit inside Big Bear and set out to travel. For over a year we've enjoyed traveling where we wanted, making lots of friends, returning back home for an extended stay, house sitting for the new property owners at our old place back in Nebo and spending lots and lots of money. Because we're not actually retirement age or even remotely financially able or eligible yet… it was time to start putting our workamper plan into action. It's time to work mobile!

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For Us Workamping Isn't Just About The Work Per Say…

Specifically for us, it's about locating phenomenal places where photography opportunities abound and that we'd truly LOVE staying at for a time, meeting all kinds of amazing people and experiencing memorable opportunities that we may not have otherwise ever been able to. Ideally were looking for places that are unique, beautiful in their own sort of way, and provide a full hookup site (water, sewer, electric) in exchange for volunteer hours worked. With our now mobile photography business, internet access is absolutely critical… so while having truly reliable wifi is a major deal, cable television is not because for the most part we rarely even turn ours on. Besides if the wifi is truly good who needs cable these days ;-) Work duties we like to exchange vary widely and include anything from teaching photography or tech related class's, serving as campground hosts, customer care, office, reservations, site maintenance, social media and/or activities assistant, etc., etc. We enjoy doing all kinds of things and creative exchanges. Someday we 'think' we'd enjoy serving as 'Lighthouse Hosts & Tour Guides' on the beautiful coast of Oregon… but that's another dream for another day :-)

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How To Become Official Workampers
  • First, join the Workamper group. Yes, there is a fee but it's nominal and truly worth every penny.
  • Next, write your resume (don't forget photos) and post it on their website (Tip: update it often).
  • Watch their website for workamping jobs or better yet sign up for the 'Daily Hotline' emails so that each time a new job is posted, you'll receive it via email and have immediate access to respond should you like the offer.
  • Next… I'd highly advise you sit back and watch the postings for awhile. Most every week day it seems there are 2-8 new listings and you'll have tons of jobs to sift through. Everything from campgrounds, house sitting, working at theme parks, state parks, security gate jobs… I'm telling ya the list is as endless as it is creative so don't be in a rush to jump at the first post you read.
  • Be sure and check out the workamper website and forums for advise such as what to require in a workamper agreement. Though it may sound silly at first… it truly is VERY important. Our biggest fears were driving thousands of miles only to discover a misleading ad and/or a boss that wanted nothing more than to take advantage of us. Yes, sadly there are those out there who will take advantage of you. Be… aware!
  • This brings us to:

How we found our 1st Official Workamping jobs…

Be A Workamper

We knew we wanted to winter somewhere warm (preferably in Florida) so I'd been watching the hotline postings closely. I first saw the listing from Myakka River Motorcoach Resort back in October of 2013 but… sadly they really wanted someone by November or at least by December… and we had prior commitments in Illinois both to Danny's truck driving job as well as to the new property owners we had sold to. Regardless, I immediately looked them up on google maps to discover they were perfectly located near Port Charlotte right on the on the Myakka River, just south of Sarasota, just north of Sanibel, a mere 12 miles from numerous gulf beaches (far enough Danny needn't worry daily about direct hurricane hits or negative salt water effects… yet close enough I could enjoy the ocean and shelling to my hearts content) ~> Can we just scream PERFECT LOCATION ~> Exactly central to all our favorite Florida spots. I then devoured their website and fell in love with hope.

After talking with Danny and lots and lots of prayer I emailed them the link to our resume and within just a day or so received a call back from Bill Winters (A prior workamper there and their current Director of Business Development). We talked… and it sounded perfect… except for the timeframe. I explained we couldn't arrive until Jan 2014 due to prior commitments and kindly requested they keep us in mind just in case they didn't find someone who fit their needs sooner.

November came and surprizingly they posted yet another ad wanting workampers asap :-/ Again, I responded with the request they keep us in mind should they not find who they were looking for. And then… Mid December came around. Why I was so nervous to call I have no idea but I was. Danny reminded me that regardless of whether or not we secured a workamping position that we were still going to Florida and living a dream come true but… for some reason I'd already fell in love with this place that I'd never even been to and I didn't want to just go there… I 'wanted' to workamp there… Seriously inter webs… It was so bad I practically drooled all over their website with hope. I guess it's a good thing they couldn't see my drool ~ LOL ~ or they may have posted Co-Bear keep away signs!

Finally… I worked up the nerve to call Bill again and sure enough, even though they'd already started with one couple, they still needed another. Somehow I remained calm through out the remainder of the conversation and he advised me that Amber Wright (Director of Sales) would probably be calling that afternoon to interview us… we hung up & I literally screamed Ya-Hoo's! To cut it short… We talked details with Amber including agreement modifications, reviewed and prayed over the agreement she emailed, then signed and returned it within just a couple short days. Our agreed plans were to arrive no later than January 7th, 2014. We knew we'd likely arrive sooner but allowed a weeks cushion just in case the weather or some other crazy life event interfered. :-) Hope's and Dream's Coming True!

Reviewing The "Myakka River Motorcoach Resort"!
~ Where We Arrived January 1st, 2014 ~
It Is A Brand New Premier Luxury Class A MotorCoach Waterfront Resort
Officially Opened Just This Year!

First… Check out their website at "www.Myakka-River.com" and then return here for for our first hand personal review. They've worded everything perfectly and tell what their resort is about so much better than I could. With the exception of the mini putting green (currently being replaced in favor of other client amenity requests), and on site massage and manicures not yet being available (coming soon I understand), I've yet to find any inaccurate information (and that's only because time hasn't allowed them to update recently). One thing they don't emphasize enough is how genuinely friendly everyone is… the Staff and Guests alike are all remarkably down right a wonderful group of people.

Truly, This place is SO NEW that google maps still shows it during the construction phase and most GPS units including our Garmin and/or Apple Maps don't realize the brand new road 'Myakka Avenue' even exists yet. But… once we figured that out and which road to take… piece of cake! If you have trouble locating the resorts address of 14100 Myakka Ave., Port Charlotte, FL 33953 just search for Kerrigan Circle, Port Charlotte, Florida. If your heading west on 776 you'll turn right onto Kerrigan Circle and Myakka Avenue is the third street off the circle on the right. Most GPS units will advise you to take Sturkie Road which is just past Kerrigan Circle… while you can drive a motorcoach down Sturkie it's a narrow road so your much better off turning onto Kerrigan Circle regardless of which direction your coming from.


Once you've found and made your way to the end of Myakka Avenue, your first view is of the entrance is pictured below. Ladies and Gentleman… this photo does not do it justice ~ It's WOW!!! You'll notice the resort is fenced and includes a coded security gate serving as it's single access road! We LOVE that added bit of security. If passing through to visit you'll need to come during office hours OR pre-arrange an appointment so someone can meet you at the gate. I made that mistake once when someone called to say they'd be coming by on a Sunday to view the resort… being a small town girl I'd forgotten they couldn't just drive on in and afterwards I felt just horrible :-/ Hopefully I'll not be making that mistake again.

class a; cobear; el jobean; florida; myakka river motorcoach resort; port charlotte; campground; entrance; palm tree; photographer; photography; resort

I'll change the following 2 photos out for better images eventually but for now…
A couple quick iPhone shots shows us parked on site #50

After quickly checking in at the office where everyone warmly welcomed us with friendly smiles, Bill guided us to our site #50 so we could spend a few days just relaxing and becoming familiar with the area. As you can see from the photos, all the sites are plenty spacious, brick paved, beautifully landscaped and maintained with the utmost of care and excellence.

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The view from our site is phenomenal and at sunset
it treats us to new daily sights such as these:

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class a; cobear; el jobean; florida; myakka river; myakka river motorcoach resort; port charlotte; rv; campground; photographer; photography; resort; sunset
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Adjoining the clubhouse is the grand staircase which leads up to the sunset deck providing a jaw dropping view of the Myakka River and a heated swimming pool that everyone can enjoy with both a casual swim area and 75 feet swimming lanes.

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class a; cobear; el jobean; florida; myakka river motorcoach resort; port charlotte; campground; club house; photographer; photography; pool; resort; swim

Next to the pool is the whirlpool spa hot tub… one of our favorite spots to relax!

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cindy colbert; class a; cobear; danny colbert; el jobean; florida; myakka river motorcoach resort; port charlotte; campground; hot tub; iphone; jacuzzi; photographer; photography; pool; resort; spa; swim; whirlpool spa

Inside the clubhouse you'll find the welcome center and front office, a huge entertainment area, kitchen area, a game room where Danny has been beating me at shooting pool (note the has been… I will win), a large screen television where everyone just enjoyed the Super Bowl game and party, an amazing fitness room complete with more exercise equipment than I'll ever use (not pictured), showers, restrooms and of course the must have laundry facilities (again not pictured). Although there are currently only 2 sets of washer and dryers, they plan to expand this in the future. In the meantime you can find an excellent laundromat just a few miles from here… if your like Danny who does all our laundry and prefers doing every load at once (Yes, I Know I'm Blessed).

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class a; cobear; el jobean; florida; myakka river motorcoach resort; port charlotte; campground; club house; photographer; photography; resort
class a; cobear; el jobean; florida; myakka river motorcoach resort; port charlotte; campground; club house; photographer; photography; pool; resort; swim
class a; cobear; el jobean; florida; myakka river motorcoach resort; port charlotte; campground; club house; photographer; photography; resort
class a; cobear; el jobean; florida; myakka river motorcoach resort; port charlotte; campground; club house; photographer; photography; pool; resort

Other Onsite Outdoor Amenities Include:

Fishing, walking or relaxing along the waterfront boardwalks and private fishing pier, Tennis and Pickleball Courts, bike riding, enjoying the local wildlife (such as the alligators, turtles and birds who share the lakes), watching amazing sunsets, taking your pets to the friendly dog park and of course Kayaking the Myakka River (A kayak launch area is currently being constructed).

The Dog Park Is Now Formally Sparkles & Tilly Approved!

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So… Getting down to where the rubber meets the road:

We checked "Good Sams Rating" and found they give them a 9.5 | 9.5 | 10 • I doubt it gets better than that!
We checked "RVParkReviews" and found they give them a 10 out of 10 based on 2
We checked "RVParky.com" and found they give them a 5 out of 5

And that folks… is all the reviews we could find so far.
You just can't seem to find anything bad about this place :-)
Personally I haven't developed a rating system yet… I either like it or I don't.
And This Place --> I Love!!! --> So How About 9.9999999…

I guess if I absolutely had to suggest improvement anywhere (besides the laundry which is already planned to expand), it would be where the Wi-Fi is concerned. For the average RVer the Wi-Fi service provided via "Tengo Internet" will be excellent and all you'll ever need. Yes, you do have to create an account and password and log in… which can be a hassle… but in exchange you receive complimentary free 'Secure' wifi. Repeat: Secure! That my inter web friends we all know is important ;-) For people like me who consider good internet critical… make sure you bring along another internet source for the times you need true high speed and or for when you've exceeded the data and speed limitations. Had I personally known before coming about all the Tengo Internet reviews, I seriously might have hesitated in coming… But… that being said I'm truly glad I didn't know and instead came without hesitation. For the times when Tengo isn't quite up to par, I simply turn on my cell phones hot spot via ATT and resume blazing speed (though very carefully because cell phone data fee's grow enormously if your not super ubber careful).

Lastly, I want to thank Amber and Ralf!

These two amazing people are who've made and continue to make this place so phenomenal! A special Thank You to both of them for taking a chance on bringing us here so serve as workampers! Amber, Thank You for your ever smiling face and the astounding people / communication skills you display endlessly. I'm in awe and hope to leave this place having learned a great deal just by watching you work. Ralf, Thank You for having the vision and dreams and guts and steadfast determination it took (and takes) to turn this place into a reality! Please don't be offended because I mean the following with absolute respect but I cannot help but add that when I first observed you working, you sort of reminded me of a happy hamster running on a wheel… or maybe more like 10 wheels at once, running furiously fast and hard and practically non-stop… but always with a smile. I wondered how on earth you ever got anything done going in so many directions at once. I've since learned my initial assessment was totally false because hamsters on wheels get no where and you sir are continuously making progress and getting more done in a very short amount of time than most ever dare or imagine accomplishing in several lifetimes! It's my hope to learn that how-to from you! :-) I just realized I've yet to capture a picture of the two of you together… we must fix that asap! ;-)

PS: Don't miss the upcoming photography class's and specials available exclusively to guests of Myakka River Motorcoach Resort Only! If your not here… You should be!

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PSS: Please leave any questions about 'Workamping' or the 'Myakka River Motorcoach Resort' in the comment fields and I'll answer back both in the comments and via email if you leave a valid address for me to respond to.


Until Next Time My Friends,
Wishing You Love, Hugs & Laughter In Abundance,
Cindy Colbert ~ Co-Bear Photography
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2 comments:

  1. My name is Dorinda Gawuga. I have fallen in love with this place because of the beautiful pictures. My husband and I are very interested in knowing more information about this beautiful place in Florida. How much would it cost for our 2014 Fleetwood Excursion RV that is 33'11'' for a stay of one month around the month of August 2014? Our RV is very large and we would like a place by the water. My email is argentina1221@gmail.com or you may call at 215.500.2442. Have a wonderful day. Dorinda

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  2. This resort looks so relaxing! I love that pool! For a while now, I have wanted to put a pool in my backyard. It would be so fun to have a long one like this, it would be really nice to laps. My kids would love it, I'm sure they would be out there all the time.

    http://www.nassaupools.com

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