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Make Money and Travel – Judy Kerns, still at it at 66

I am living the dream…my life on my terms. Making a living, no fixed office and the freedom to move and work from wherever I like. So can you.

This Make Money and Travel series exists as a source of inspiration. By sharing examples of real people around the world making money from anywhere and living the lifestyle they want, proves where there is a will, there is a way.

Meet Judy Kerns. I first heard of Judy in an email from her son Ron. After Ron saw our HGTV House Hunters RV Episode he reached out: he began with flattery telling us how great we are….then he began to tell us about traveling in a station wagon and RV with his parents, and how his mom is still travelling and living the RV lifestyle as a 60 something single woman. My first thought….sounds like one cool woman that we need to meet.

World's Far

So I sent Judy a note to say hello. Several emails later I found out she is a “mee-mee” to five grandkids, a cancer survivor, and she recently lost her husband at the young age of 68 (Judy was 64). Somehow through all of these hurdles she still lives in her trailer part time, travels all across the USA in her truck visiting family and friends and works from the road half the year in Mt. Rushmore National Park…all at age 66! After a year of “old school” style pen pal correspondence I finally found the perfect place to share her story with all of you: right here on make money and travel.

You see we feel Judy’s story is inspirational for all and worth sharing; however the major takeaway I’ve received after a year of getting to know Judy: Anyone, of any age, with any budget, against any odds can live the full-time travel lifestyle…it just takes a little outside-the-box thinking and a whole lotta guts. But I’ll let Judy do the rest of the talkin’.

Love camping

 

A Brief History – The Colorful Life of the Kern Family

While raising the kids our life was what most people would consider “Normal”, We had a nice house in a good community, he worked for General Motors, and we put all three kids through college. Traveling was something we always enjoyed, so before the kids finished High School our family vacations included 42 states. We were young when we had our kids, so we were still young by the time they finished college. My husband was offered a chance to retire at the age of 48, all the kids had finished college and we still had a lot of living to do, we knew we were never going to be rich (in money), so we decided to be rich in living life to the fullest and making memories, so glad we did, as he passed away at the age of 68, so we had 20 years of living our life our way, and that was priceless. I remember how my husband would respond when we would meet someone new and they would ask “where are you from” we would get a silly grin on his face and say “Anywhere USA”. Greensboro is where my oldest daughter lived during when I had cancer. In December of 2007 we were traveling from Texas, after seeing our son, to N. Carolina, where our two daughters lived, they were about 100 miles apart, when we got a call that I my mammogram showed cancer, so we spent the next six months with my daughter in Greensboro, NC for my surgeries and treatment. Then when my husband got sick we were in Pigeon Forge, TN., when they said it could be cancer we were only six hours from my Cancer Doctors, and decided to go back there for him.

I’m actually from Michigan, and my husband was from W. Virginia, we moved to Michigan after High School to find a good job, I always told him, “He came there to find me.” So Michigan was where we raised our family, and where my husband retired from GM, and now that is where he is buried, so it is defiantly still HOME.Now that I’m alone, I’m still traveling just without the RV. My RV is stored in Florida and is now my winter home, I spend three months a year there, it is in a wonderful, friendly park and the people there have become my winter family. When I’m in my RV I feel like I’m home.

The rest of the year, I’m traveling spending time with my three kids, who live in three different states, my brothers, sister and husband’s sisters are in four other states, and now Mount Rushmore for about five months in the summer, and the people there are wonderful and have become my summer family.
People have asked me, don’t you want a permanent place to live and have a normal life, my response to them is

“Normal; is only a setting on a washing machine, it’s not life.” Traveling, that’s my Normal.

 
 

THE JOBS

The job I have right now is in the Gift Shop at Mount Rushmore.
My Husband and I were full-time RVer’s for eleven years and during that time we worked at a number of different jobs; such as, Dollywood; Yellowstone NP; a 20 cottage resort in Estes Park, CO; a National Forest Campground in Oregon; the Sugar Beet Harvest in North Dakota; Amazon.com in Kentucky; and even the Talladega Nascar Race in Alabama. Each of these jobs and locations gave us a new place to explore, we love the freedom and the adventure.

With Dolly Pardon-1

Talladega

Then two years ago I lost my husband to cancer, which changed so many things. I still have my RV, I keep it stored in Florida where I spend my winters, I just don’t tow it anymore, however I have not let that stop me from my traveling. Our three children are in three different states, so traveling is something I will continue to do as long as I can. Working here at Mount Rushmore is a way for me to keep busy.

There are so many jobs like those I listed, but so many of them you need to have your own RV; you can easily find them through workamper.com or cooljobs.com. But, when doing this without an RV, like I am, your choices are a bit more limited. Most of the National Parks offers housing and they are some of the most beautiful places in the country. The same web sites will provide you these listings.

I work for Xanterra, they have the contract at Mt. Rushmore and many other locations around the country including many National Parks. In fact, if you chose to work for Xanterra, as the seasons change you can transfer from one location to another and experience all the parks in their system. After just one year you are able to get health care and other benefits.

As far as always having a job, we could find a job anytime we wanted one, there are so many out there in the tourist industry for those who are looking to work and travel.

 
 

The Good, Bad & Dirty

Here’s where Judy dishes the real dirt on her jobs mentioned above.  It takes a lot of guts to share all this information with no real benefit to herself. Nikki and I must have read over this information a dozen times; to learn from Judy’s experience and heartache is a blessing for anyone looking to make money and travel.

 

Working at Yellowstone National Park with Delaware-North

My husband and I worked at Yellowstone, and as far as I know there are three companies you could work for at Yellowstone: Park Service, Xanterra and the one we worked for was Delaware-North.

Kids at Yellowstone-5

Our experience working for Delaware-North was by far the worst one of all. We were charged $38 per week for our campsite, plus we had to pay for our electric and propane. We chose to buy the meal plan mainly because the closest super market was 85 miles away, and the meal plan was $48 per week, per person. If I remember right our ending balance was $250 each, and no rebate was given for living expense.That was bad, but not the worst of it; the staff/management was a very “clickish” group of people. The management was awful. They would mostly hire foreign kids, in the beginning we wondered why, but it didn’t take long to realize: the treatment of these kids was unbelievable…there wasn’t a day that went by that management didn’t have those kids in tears. My husband and I stood up for the kids, so of course we never made the click, not that we were trying. We have never kissed up to anyone in our life, and we weren’t about to lower our standards to their type of behavior. American kids would have packed up and went home, but the foreign kids couldn’t; they were treated like slaves that couldn’t escape.For the rest of us, the ones not in the click, were treated with the attitude: we have done you a favor by letting live and work in Yellowstone.Don’t get me wrong, we loved living and working in Yellowstone, it’s a wonderful place; it could have been paradise with different management.After leaving Yellowstone, one of the floor managers and I sent letters to Corporate about our experience there. The following season things continued the same, but not knowing that they were being watched, at the end of the season Corporate fired the entire store. It shows one thing, we should all stand up for what we believe in.

One very important thing I learned: whenever you are given a written evaluation KEEP IT! I made the mistake of not keeping ours from Yellowstone, only to find out at a much later date that after we signed our evaluations the store manager changed it…because of this we would never get hired back at any Delaware North location. I guess that means we didn’t make his click!I used to think it was only the Delaware North management at the Yellowstone location, but a lady I worked with at Mount Rushmore last year worked for Delaware-North at a different location, and had nothing good to say about her experience either.

 

Working at Amazon Fulfillment Campbellsville, KY

We worked for Amazon at the Campbellsville, KY Location, it was long hours and fast pace work, but we knew that going in. Amazon was so good to work for, and they appreciated all the RV’ers for their hard work. The shifts were 12 hours, the pay was very good, over $10 per hour, plus time and a half over 40 hours, and our campsite was paid in full by Amazon. They would have you do stretching excises before we started work and after our dinner break. During our training we were told: they didn’t care what the box weighed, if we felt it was more then we could safely lift we needed to ask for help.Amazon always had cases of fresh fruit in the break areas for the taking. If we reached our goal at the end of our shift a manager would be standing at the time-clock with a grab bag of gift cards all worth $5 to local business, as a thank you.One night we were working a half shift, on a night we would have normally had off, and they had a lot to get out that night so they asked us and others to stay the rest of the shift; as a thank you each person received a $25 gift card to Kroger’s.Our completion bonus from there was about $600 each.On the other hand the people I have talked to who worked at the Amazon in Coffeeville, KS had nothing good to say about their experience, where as our experience at the Kentucky location was nothing but good.

 

Working at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, TN

Dollywood was fun, but your campsite is your responsibility, so we would just break even. If you want to do most everything in the area for free, it is a good way to do it.

Dollywood

Our family and friends loved us working there, they all got into the park free, and all the shows on the strip were free to us, and we could each take one guest free each time we went.

 

Working a Sugar Beet Harvest in Stevens, MN

Sugar Beet harvest, now that was a whole different experience, we worked it four times, and we made very good money there, but we earned every penny. Straight time was over $12 per hour, anything over 8 hours was time and a half, and we worked 12 hour shifts. For the weekend pay: all day Saturday was time and a half and all day Sunday was double time.

To give you an idea, the first year was a small crop so we were in and out in 12 days, and together we made over $3400. I was a relief person and went around doing everyone’s job giving them breaks; my husband was a sample taker. The hours were 12 hours shifts, 8 A.M. to 8P.M. or 8P.M. to 8 A.M., 7 days a week unless the weather wasn’t right. It couldn’t be too hot, too cold or too wet. The most we ever worked was 7 days without a break, do to the weather, a heavy rain, would be a welcome relief.

sugarbeets

The next three years we harvested beets it was a bumper crop season, we were there about 30 days. During that time I was the pillar operator and chew chief making over $15 per hour on straight time, my husband liked being the sample taker, because it gave him time to talk to the truck drivers. We did not work all 30 days, the weather would not permit it, but at the end we made over $7500 each year.

sugarbeets sample taking-1

The company paid for our campsite, our completion bonus was a percentage of our hours, which added up pretty good.This job depends so much on the weather, the next year we decided not to do it, but friends of ours went and the weather was so bad, the crop had to be turned under and nobody even got 40 hours that year, so it cost them more to get there in their RV’s then they made for their hours.

sugarbeets_piler

For the sugar beet job we were hired by Express Personal for the Crystal Sugar Company. Express was in Grand Forks, ND; from there you would be assigned to a drop station somewhere along the Red River Valley between Fargo and the Canadian border. We were always sent to Stevens, MN.

 

Working at a Private Cottage Estes Park, CO

For six months in 2009 we helped run a 20-cottage resort in Estes Park, Co. The couple that managed it was wonderful to work for. The work was hard, cleaning cabins (the cabin were all top notch and kept spotless). Our campsite was on the property, a beautiful location with the Thompson River running through it. The pay was $7.75 per hour and we paid nothing for our campsite. Electricity, propane, cable, WiFi, a landline phone and laundry were also free to us. The only expense we had was our food, and a number of times Carol (Manager) would have a meal fixed for us!
Besides cleaning the cabins, I worked in the office a couple days a week, to give the managing couple time off. My husband also helped with watering flowers and light grounds work. They appreciated our hard work, as our completation bonus was more the twice what we had been promised, a very nice surprise. We would have gone back, but our goal was to spend time in all 50 states, and we only had Oregon and Washington to go, so that would be our next destination.

 

National Forest Campground Manager Klamath Falls, OR

In the summer of 2010, we ran a National Forest Campground between Medford and Klamath Falls, called Lake of the Woods. That job paid very well, as Oregon minimum wage is more then most, if I remember right it was about $8.70 per hour. We were paid a salary based on 32 hours per week, whether we worked it or not, so our income per month was a little over $2,000 together. Our site was free, water, electric and sewer, plus they supplied us with a 100 lbs. propane tank, at no cost to us. So, our only expense was our food and on our two days off: sightseeing.

Oregon Job

We really wanted to work there, as Oregon and Washington were the last of our 50 states; this was a very big part of our bucket list. At that time the park was run by Thousand Trails, not sure if they still have it.

 

Working at Talladega NASCAR Race Lincoln, AL

The only other job we worked together was the Talladega NASCAR race in 2006, very short term, just four days, but it was a good way to go to the races. Not only was it fun, they were good to us, a very good experience.

 

THE HOURS

Based on the jobs we’ve had the norm is 32 to 40 hours a week. Here at Mount Rushmore it is about 40 hours; I work the mid-day shift, so I go in about noon, have lunch in the EDR (employee’s dining room) and punch in at 1:00pm and punch out about 9:30pm, during that time we have two paid 15 minute breaks and a 30 minute dinner break that I punch out for.

I like the mid-day shift as it gives me time three mornings a week to attend a line-dancing class, and plenty of time on Sunday to attend church. I have two days a week off together, so there is plenty of time for sightseeing, hiking or just being a tourist.

 

THE PAY

The pay varies from state to state, as most of them will start you with minimum wage, with a small raise for returning each year. Most of the jobs we worked at over the years provided our campsite and full hook-ups for free, and a few others had a small charge. Here at Mount Rushmore there is an employee campground they charge $6 per day for full hook-up.

My housing is in a dorm and the charge for my room is $10 per day, this includes utilities, Wi-Fi and transportation to and from work. My meals are also provided for $21 per week and I get 21 meals (3 meals per day). So out of my paycheck they deduct $91 per week, for my housing and food.

My situation is quite different; I get a pension and social security so my working is out of need for something to do, but during the time we were RVing, that little extra money came in handy, it gave us extra “fun money” as we would call it.
My husband retired young at the age of 48 from General Motors, he had his 30 years in, and I’m so glad he did, it gave us 20 years to do full time what we had only done part time before: Travel Together.

When he retired, some friends asked him, “Do you have enough money?” He said, “What’s enough? Just remember life is short and money is replaceable.”

 

In October of 2010 we toured our 50th state, a big check off our bucket list, not knowing he had cancer at the time, then in July of 2011 he passed away, so I continue with no regrets just wonderful memories…and those memories are priceless.

 

TOOLS

The only tools you need when working in the tourist industry is a computer for your job search and applying for the job; if you don’t have one you could use a library computer for free. A cellphone, but everyone has one these days. Most important is being dependable and a people person, being willing to go the extra mile for the guest you are serving.
 
 

CLIENTS

I guess I will call my “clients” my employer; in the jobs I’ve had it is as easy as making a couple phone calls, giving your employer a 110% when you get the job, then you’ll have no trouble getting the next job.
 

UPs

The main thing that comes to mind is that its keeping me busy; just giving me something to do other then sitting in a rocking chair waiting to die. After traveling for so long with my husband, I don’t think I would be happy buying a condo and looking at the same four walls day after day.

I love visiting with the guest and I get to meet so many interesting people everyday.
Last, the friends I have made from the seasonal co-workers, plus the full time employee’s; they have become my summer family.
 

DOWNs

The only thing that comes to mind is doing this alone, without my husband and without the RV. Dorm life is do-able but nothing compares to having your own home on wheels to go home to each night.
 

HINDSIGHT

The one thing that comes to mind is how we let the bad experience at Yellowstone prevent us from trying to work at other National Parks. Since I have been alone, and now working at Mount Rushmore, I have come to realize you can’t assume anything in life. As my experience at Mount Rushmore couldn’t be better, my husband would have enjoyed it there, wish we had done this one together.

Another small thing: As we traveled, there might be an added attraction to see with a fee, I would be the one to hesitate and my husband would come back with his little saying,
“Just remember life is short and money is replaceable, so let’s enjoy life.”

 

As Judy likes to say “Normal is nothing but a setting on a washing machine” and we’d sure say her life is nothing like normal. If you want to learn a little more about Judy and her Husband there is a great article written in the paper from her “hometown” of Greensboro North Carolina: Judy: Normal is for Washing Machines.

If you know someone like Judy, or you find her story compelling please share your thoughts in the comments below. The concept behind this Make Money and Travel segment is to inspire others to live life the way they want! And if you should find yourself in Mt. Rushmore National Park swing by the gift shop and say hello! Safe Travels Judy, hopefully we’ll see you soon…you are one inspiring lady!  Thanks for sharing your story with us.
 

2015 Update

We finally had the opportunity to meet up with Judy at Mt. Rushmore, swap travel stories and share a meal together. She is indeed just as vivacious and inspirational in person as she is in this interview.  The love for her children, the tenderness in the stories of her husband and her insatiable desire to keep traveling left us with a renewed faith and a greater appreciation for our nomadic lifestyle.  If you get the chance to meet Judy, don’t pass it up!

Mt Rushmore

Famous for my "how-not-to" videos, and typically the man behind the camera, sometimes I’m forced to be here in the “spotlight”. When you see my face you’re probably reading something more technical than adventurous, but either way I do my best to tell it like it is and infuse my opinions into the commentary…after all this is a blog and not MSN.

Comments (68)

  • Loriann

    Thank you so much for putting Judy’s life experiences traveling on your website. Made me smile and also filled me with compassion knowing your traveling this journey alone. Glad you had that time together…..Keep the faith, I’m sure the best is yet to come!

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  • Mary Beth

    I was so inspired by Judy’s’ keep on keeping on spirit,’ and honest information about your different job experiences. I love hearing how you shared all this with your husband but have found a way to keep your winter and summer communities. THANK YOU JUDY. The world needs more people like you.

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  • Carol

    I love Judy’s story and the comments from everyone. I may be in her shoes sooner than later and I take great encouragement from knowing that there is a way to survive loss of a spouse….but for now, I’m where God needs me and loving every day.
    As a former Army brat who traveled a lot, the gypsy bond is hard to break……..and really…..who would have it any other way.
    Blessings to all of you on the Road ❤️

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  • Kathryn

    This is a very inspiring story. Thank you for sharing it with us, Judy!

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  • Connie

    Great story and information……my husband and I are in process of preparing our home to sell and have all those garage sales. We’ve owned our RV now for about a year and a half and are retiring from our positions end of May, 2017. Can barely wait to hit the road!

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  • julie

    i would like to be notified of follow up comments via email but didn’t realize option til after posting.

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  • julie

    i want to meet her. lacking a college education, my boyfriend and i have been traveling on seasonal min wage style jobs. primarily farming. wondering what months of the year she can me found at mt rushmore… any info?

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  • Jami

    What a beautiful soul and a true free spirit! I loved this story, keep up the great work you guys, love following you and you’re adventures.

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  • Kathleen Murphy

    Loved the story. Funny thing, my husband and I meet Judy and her husband at Yellowstone in the gift shop a number of years ago on one of our adventures. Small world . We became full timers 6 weeks ago at the age of 52 & 54. We will be back to Yellowstone around August. Perhaps we will see Judy again and reintroduce ourselves.

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  • Judy Hultzen

    My husband and I traveled for 8 years as waiters working seasonal jobs. We would always be in Florida for the winter, same restaurant, then summers we would go different places. Cape Cod, Hilton Head, Portland, OR, Boston, Bar Harbor, ME. We settled down in Bar Harbor for the last two years but I am starting to get a feel for the road again. Wanderlust is calling. Been following The Wynn’s to get new ideas. Keep up the good work!!

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  • Krista Grey

    As I plan to hit the road full time soon, I sure hope to get the honor of meeting such an inspiring and positive traveler when we go to Mt. Rushmore! Thank you for sharing your heartwarming story!

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  • Michelle

    WOW!! What a life! I had a similar dream of living in an RV and working as a travel nurse with my husband, unfortunately I got a divorce last year , so I moved home and accepted a permanent job. I’m considering going back for masters degree (FNP) but at 51 not sure I want to go into debt, even though I know it would provide me with more options and eventually more income. I have always loved travel nursing and have even travel nursed outside the U.S.. I’ve only been at my job 3 months and I’m already miserable, I hate the politics and control over my schedule. Since I’m older I am concerned about health insurance and if I had to be out sick for a long time with something serious I would not have any income whereas with my permanent job I would have disability benefits. I enjoyed this story very much and I also feel that life is short, my dad passed away unexpectedly at 65, which is another reason I’d rather travel nurse. Thanks for listening!! Love the stories and comments from everyone they lead me to believe that I’m overthinking the whole thing and maybe I should just go for it 🙂

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    • There are lots of resources and job options out there and life is too short! Don’t let fear hold you back. Maybe check out the escapees club for some additional support/guidance for a woman in your shoes.

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  • Nikki

    I enjoyed Judy’s story. One of the above comments was that a husband said traveling is for when you retire, not while you are young. We started our gypsy road life when my oldest was 7 yrs. We lived on the road for 12 years while raising a family. We had our last child in Sandpoint Idaho. We nearly had her in Las Vegas, but decided to go north instead, after living for months in a casino lot. We had an old Shasta trailer with a bunkhouse in the back. We found two for one coupons at Quartzsite AZ for a hotel in Laughlin Nevada, along with buffet coupons. We would stay from Sunday to Thursday in the hotel for $15 a night for two rooms. We ate the breakfast and dinner buffets for a family of 5 for $22 for both. That was an awesome pregnancy. All I did was rest, eat and sunbathe. On the weekend we stayed in the back parking lot with the other rv’ers My husband and oldest daughter did shows from Los Angeles to Nevada. We had two vans, a wells cargo trailer and our Shasta.We rented a place in Sandpoint ID where we did a home birth with an awesome midwife. I was 11 days from delivery, but that is another story. I schooled 3 kids on the road. We worked antique shows and flea markets. We were fortunate to be at the Top of The World Bar in Red Lodge Montana which was chosen randomly once a year. We saw the Kachina dances on 1st Mesa by chance. We slept on a beach in California, too much to say here. Don’t wait. What if you don’t make it to retirement? I am sick now with a chronic disease. I am so happy I did it then. My youngest is finishing school in two years. I am planning my escape from suburbia. I am trying to figure out what we will travel in. I am not sure how it will all work out. We still do markets. But I am going to try. There is nothing quite like the road. The people you meet, the views you will see. Oh, the experiences. Honestly, I could write a book. I have good days and bad. I live in a nice home on a river. I am unhappy. You can take the gypsy out of the road, but you can never take the road out of the gypsy. I will return.

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    • Jami

      I love your story Nikki! Yes please right a book. I have the gypsy blood as well.

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  • What a tremendous story. Thank you for finding and sharing this for all to gather inspiration from . My family and I have been thru the Black Hills on our few treks across the country from Uncle Sam moving us around. I don’t think we’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting this lovely lady. We will most certainly take the time. Thank you both. I’ve been following your videos for a few weeks now. Stumbled upon them late one night when I could not sleep at 0200 in the morning. My wife and I, and our five kids (7 total: 2 in college) are making plans to be a nomad family after my retirement from 20 years in the military. My military career has brought us to many beautiful and interesting places all over the globe. But like the both of you, we’ve never really enjoyed what we have here in our beautiful country. That time is most definitely on the horizon. As I turn the page on the chapters of my military career, we are so ready and excited to be on the road. Your videos of your travels have sparked something in me that I have shared with my family and they are very excited. 14 months from “wheels on the ground”. I will certainly continue to follow your feeds and get some awesome ideas, as you have definitely provided them already. Thank you again. Hope to see you on the road…
    Mike

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  • This is absolutely inspiring!! As is the rest of your site! I have been trying to convince my husband that life on the road could be great. He said it’s for when we retire, not for now (we are also a young couple). A friend introduced me to your site. This sweet ladies story, as well as yours, has been an inspiration and I am hoping a little push in the “right” direction haha!

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  • Great story. Been there a couple of times. The lady is priceless. Hope you plan to visit her again. She/you could fill a book with her stories. Makes me want to hit the job road again…. Almost. Good story. Get more.

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  • Steph Dozier

    What a great piece! Jury’s story is a reminder how short life can be and the importance of considering your priorities. Very inspirational! Thanks for sharing!

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  • what a great article. I love reading stories like this and it is very timely, as Julie and I are headed to that area in a few weeks. Definitely plan to try and meet Judy in person when we are there. Thank you Jason and Nikki for continuing to be inspiration for us. We just celebrated our first full year on the road

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  • Jim Hummel

    What a heartwarming story of a wonderful family and an incredible woman. Truly an example to be followed.

    Thanks to Mrs. Kerns and the Wynn’s for sharing this inspiring story!!

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  • Judy Kerns

    I want to thank Jason and Nikki for taking the time to visit with me yesterday, while at Mount Rushmore, my co-worked were really impressed. I hope to visit with them a little more tomorrow, on my day off. If any of you are planning a trip to Mount Rushmore, please take the time to say Hi. The highlight of my day is meeting new people and visiting with the guest.

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    • Awe Judy, finally getting to meet you was the highlight of our day! Thanks for inspiring so many of us to live life to the fullest!

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    • Hello Judy, I will be flying into South Dakota on June 5th. I will be working in a gift shop at Mt Rushmore for the rest of this season, so I will probably see you there.

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  • Carol

    Inspiring and moving. Judy must miss her husband terribly, but damn that gal knows how to live! I’m going to adopt her “normal is for washing machines” and her husband’s “life is short and money is replaceable” as my mantras when I’m feeling discouraged. I’ve only recently begun my research for transitioning to full-time RV life and the concept is both thrilling and terrifying. It already seems to me that my discovery of Gone With The Wynns will be one of my most valuable resources. So excited to follow you and learn. Thanks for sharing and happy trails!

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    • Those are my two favorite quotes of theirs too! Welcome aboard and hope to see you out on the road one day soon!

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    • Judy Kerns

      Glad you liked the interview. You are so right, life is not the same, with my husband gone. But something he told me when we found out how sick he was, he said “Honey, remember there is nothing we can do about this, so you have to make the best of it.” I don’t think he knew what a wonderful gift of encouragement he gave me with those words.
      When you start out on your adventure enjoy every minute, as those memories will be priceless.

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  • Staci

    Great story!! I have just become a member of Gone with the Wynn’s, so just going over as many stories as I can read!! My parents full time RV’ed for about 9 years, spent most of the winters in Palm Desert CA though and the rest where ever their wheels took them.. They didn’t work and travel, just the travel. Now they have a home base again but still travel about 9 months out of the year.
    My husband and I will start full time RVing in 2 years and look forward to traveling the US of A!!! Hope Judy is still at Mt. Rushmore when we hit it. I have already made a note to look her up!!!
    Thank you Nikki and Jason for sharing

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    • Judy Kerns

      I just started my 4th summer at Mount Rushmore and if they continue to be as good to me are they have been,
      I hope to be here many more years. It is a great way for me to stay busy, which is what I really need and the bonus is all the wonderful people I get to meet.

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  • Lisa Holt

    Shoooot! We were just at Mt Rushmore last month. I absolutely would have loved to have met her.

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  • I usually follow your blog closely, but somehow I missed this wonderful Q&A by Judy. I’m glad that I was browsing and stumbled upon it! As two 20-somethings traveling on the road full-time, it’s so wonderful to imagine a future life on wheels together. Judy’s life is such an inspiration; I am happy that she continues to travel even with the loss of her husband. I also really enjoyed reading her assessments of the work experiences at the different companies. Her honesty is refreshing and I’m sure it’s very useful to travelers who might be looking for a seasonal job. Thanks for sharing! Keep on truckin’, Judy!

    –Rachel

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  • Brenda Kerns DeLauro

    Thank you for writing this article on “Our Family” . As I look back when my brother,sister and I were growing up and seeing our beautiful country the only thing I can say we were pretty lucky and blessed kids. As I tell everyone when I speak of our travels growing up and seeing the country in our Pontiac Catalina Station Wagon I could not have asked for better “Back Seat Mate”
    Enjoy your travels and all the best to you both.

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  • Ron Kerns

    Thanks Jason….for the article on my mom! This is cool….though, that first picture in the article….from way too long ago! oh my….I am going to have to talk to her about that!

    Oddly enough…when I tell people about my parents traveling constantly around the country for 10 years as full time RVers…..the most popular question is….”How do they get their mail???”….

    Funny question.

    Anyway….great piece…will have to post a link to this off of my Facebook page….

    talk to y’all soon!

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    • Are you kidding, we were so excited your mom was willing to share her story with us and everyone else. You have a truly unique family!

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  • Now that is one inspiring Lady. Thanks for sharing Judy story and her amazing adventures.
    As a former aged care nurse I have heard so many elderly residents say “Oh I wished we had travelled, but we left it too late” and that is why I never ever want to stop travelling and living in our Motorhome 🙂

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  • Evelyn

    Judy, you are truly an inspiration! I’m 60, single, life’s not over! I currently drive semi. Have driven Motorcoach all over US and CA. I’m considering delivering RV’s from manufacturer to dealer (inersting job). I met Bill and his wife in Medford OR last summer. They were hosts at a national park in OR. Now, I stumble across your site and know there’s someone else that loves the beauty and opportunity in this country. As I was driving round the Grand Canyon on I-90, smelling the fresh blanket of pines, I couldn’t help but thank the person who wrote “America the Beautiful”!

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  • Rich

    Awesome story, makes me wonder if I can talk my wife into it when I retire. Keep up the great work on these articles…

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  • Excellent interview and article. In a country that is largely still focused on the “American Dream”, owning and buying bigger and more, it is refreshing to read about Judy and her husband.

    Judy’s philosophy, values and humble approach to life are something we can all aspire to. My husband and I have been traveling, working and living in our RV for 6 months now and looking forward to much more of it.

    Thanks to you, Judy for sharing the financial side of your work life too, which I know can be hard to do on the internet. Thanks to the Wynns for highlighting this unique lady.

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  • Gene Turner

    A great story. A terrific attitude. Truly an inspiration. At he end of this year… we will be on our way to explore… can’t wait. And reading this makes us even more anxious to get going.
    As my wonderful wife says… Keep Calm… Drive On.

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  • Rae

    I wish I had the guts to live that way. My excuse is I want to be near my kids & grandkids. Someday maybe we will at least take a year and travel around the USA. Judy is such an inspiration.

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  • Thai

    Wow! That was so interesting-thanks for sharing!

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  • Mark

    Wow, thanks for posting this. Judy is one of my new heroes.

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  • paulvan

    A great story!

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  • sandra

    Perfect timing for this post as we are about to embark on our RV adventure. Getting all our ducks in a row, and super excited. Thank Judy for sharing your experiences, what a rich life.

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  • Karen

    Am I the only one having trouble with the job links above? When I click on them all it does is take me back to the top of the page. Would like to read about all her individual experiences.

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    • Kenneth Conley

      No, links worked for me, but they do open a new page.

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    • Karen, use a different browser. or clear all history and settings and cookies on your current browser.

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  • Judy….I love your husbands quote…

    “Just remember life is short and money is replaceable, so let’s enjoy life.”

    Definently words to live by.

    My wife and I learned very early in our marriage that life is short. We are both 40 years old…I almost lost her about 10 years ago due to a disabling severe illness. Ever since we live differently. Lots of folks think we are crazy because we “seize the day”…everyday!

    I so appreciate you sharing so much of your personal story…it is informative and very inspirational!

    Bless you!

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  • How inspiring you are Judy! Thanks for taking the time to share your wonderful story with all of us.

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  • Pat M.

    So glad that you share these stories with us, it gives others a chance to see what one can do.
    Enjoy each and every blog you write and all the wonderful pictures. Keep doing what you’re doing and I’m sure we’ll keep following you.

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  • OMGosh… this is a post I will re-read a dozen times! After my first read through I am saddened by Judy’s loss and yet so inspired by her determination and love for living outside the box. What an amazing woman! Thank you so much for sharing this wealth of wisdom. I hope we last as long in our full-time RV gypsy lifestyle as Judy has. It’s great to know that with a little creativity and flexibility all things are possible!

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  • Hi there. I love this story. I almost lost my husband in 2007 . I am glad to say he is very healthy right now. We have just purchased our RV… We call him Gus. My husband is a professional disc golfer. .. that’s what we will be doing for the next year. Traveling on the national disc golf tour with our 20 year old and for cats. .. this will be an adventure of a lifetime.

    Thanks for sharing her story.

    Jennifer

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  • Brenda

    Love the interview/article. Of course, I’m 63 and hardly consider myself “still at it,” as the title says. Always remember, 80 is the new 70. 70 is the new 60. 60 is the new 50, etc. 66 is a wonderful time of life. You’ve learned a lot over the years and can enjoy life like you never have before. You know the things that have real meaning and can stop messing with those things that don’t. So… again, great interview. All the best to Judy as she “continues at it.” If I see her on the roads in FL, I’ll wave!

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    • Brenda, when I wrote “still at it”, I meant not just starting out but still going strong after decades of travel. A majority of the population starts RV’ing at retirement and Judy here has been living the work/travel lifestyle for a long time and still loves it so much. People like Judy are such an inspiration to us. People think we are crazy when we tell them we don’t ever anticipate a sedentary life again. Judy is proof that you can live any lifestyle you want and for as long as you want! So it’s so encouraging that she is still at it after all these years.

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  • Thank you for another fun and informative article Wynns. Nice interview Judy….
    Speaking of work camping, I’m looking for a fabulous staff for our 2014 season, beginning in March, in incredible Santa Fe, NM.
    Anyone interested can visit our website, rancheros.com, and click on the employment page. We offer full hook up sites for your RV, salary, and many other perks. And we only work 24 hours a week!
    Send me your résumé 🙂
    Aliah
    Manager
    Rancheros De Santa Fe

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  • Redds

    Thanks for all the information love hearing your story. Hoping to start doing this late next year just trying to work out my meds and how to get them once I am full time. Saving for the RV now and off I will be. Thank you Judy .

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  • Tears, smiles, laughter… my reaction to Judy’s wonderful life and outlook (and another very well written article!) I so appreciate that their love for one another must have been so great that continuing on is the only way she could imagine. To have hit the 50th state together, what a blessing. I’m so inspired to continue my version of “make money and travel” and my own normal. My only regret now is not stopping in to the gift shop when I was at Mt Rushmore last month and possibly meeting her!

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  • Annette Bissinger

    I may have to stop by. I live 20 minutes away from her in Rapid City. I bet I have seen her one of the many times I have taken friends there.

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    • Ron Kerns

      Hi Annette….

      My mom is at Mount Rushmore only during the summer months…roughly May-September….she’s currently wintering in Florida with friends.

      She LOVES it when people come by to visit.

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  • Oh my gosh. I can’t even tell you how much I enjoyed this interview. Judy, I’m sorry about your husband. How wonderful that you got the time you did traveling with him. Thank you for sharing so openly. You really are an inspiration with your tenacity, work ethic, and bravery. Continued traveling mercies to you.

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