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Couple donates time, labor to travel country

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POSTED: April 12, 2010 3:05 p.m.
Photo by Patty Leon/

Angie and Joe Bridges and their dog, Ginger, arrived at LeConte-Woodmanston Plantation on March 17 and have been voluntarily assisting the LeConte-Woodmanston Foundation with daily tasks. The couple will complete their work and set out on a new adventure this week.

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Many people dream of hitting the road in a recreational vehicle and seeing the world. Joe and Angie Bridges turned that dream into a reality and recently spent time doing charity work at LeConte-Woodmanston Plantation.
Joe Bridges is originally from Southwest Missouri and Angie Bridges is from Casper, Wyo., and since retiring, the two have taken to trekking across the United States, donating time and labor to organizations and sites in exchange for a free campsite.
Joe was a firefighter/paramedic in Liberty, Mo., for 31 years and Angie worked in retail for more than 30 years, running three boutiques in the Kansas City area called The Mole Hole.
“We’ve always been outdoorsy people and spent time on the lakes camping,” Joe  Bridges said. “When I retired, we bought a small RV and we went to Texas in the winter.”
They eventually followed the border along Texas and Mexico into California and made their way to Laughlin, Nev. They came back through the mountains and the Grand Canyon. They’ve been to Florida and down the East Coast. They traveled across the Dakotas, went through Yellowstone National Park, Glacier National Park in Montana, and have crossed most of America, except for Alaska and the Northeast. The couple traveled the world, checking out Bora Bora and cruising down the Amazon River.
After a few years, the Bridges traded their small RV for a larger one. On the side of their vehicle, a U.S. map adorned with stickers indicates all the places they have visited.
Joe and Angie Bridges volunteered frequently during their careers and they wanted to continue to give back while still enjoying the open road in retirement.
“We went online to workamper.com and they have postings all across the U.S. where you will camp for free for your labor basically,” Angie Bridges said. “It’s usually four hours a day per person and you do whatever is needed. Sometimes it’s just cleaning bathrooms or cleaning up camp sites after others leave the state parks and federal parks. And sometimes its places like LeConte-Woodmanston where it’s gardening, farm work and whatever needs done.”
“It’s been a very good experience,” Joe Bridges said.
The couple is keeping busy at LeConte by clearing winter leaves, preparing the new beds, fixing the electrical fences, repairing the wooden steps on the restored slave cabin, grading the road and clearing up downed limbs and winter debris. They also started working on the children’s garden, a new project that is sponsored by a grant from Target.
“They are great workers,” Mary Beth Evans, executive vice president of the LeConte-Woodmanston Foundation said. “It was a great idea and it’s also nice having someone on site all the time.”
Evans said the Web site had been mentioned to her before but she didn’t want to post an ad on workamper.com until they had reserved an area that could accommodate an RV.
“But I posted an ad on the Web site and I got a lot of responses,” she said. “With them wanting to come on St. Patrick’s Day and stay through April, it prompted us to get ready for it. They’ve been fantastic volunteers and we are definitely getting the better end of the deal.”
Angie said her last job was in the garden department of Home Depot.
“But I’ve been a gardener all my life,” she said as she talked about the botanical garden they worked on during their stay. The garden at LeConte-Woodmanston was the first botanical garden in the state of Georgia, according to Evans.
After a hard day’s work, the couple retreat to their RV, which has a master bedroom suite, a slide-out living room, a kitchen, two TVs and all the luxuries of home.
“If we are welcome, we would come back here,” Joe Bridges said about possibly revisiting the plantation someday.
Evans said she will post positions for new volunteers online and sort through some of the earlier resumes she received as she looks to replace the Bridges. Workers submit their resumes and are screened to ensure only qualified volunteers are chosen. For more information, go to www.workamper.com
For information on the LeConte-Woodmanston Plantation, go to www.leconte-woodmanston.org.
 

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