Volume 23, Number 3 May/June 2005


Randy Mayer: Caretaking as a working vacation!

Randy Mayer has been a subscriber to The Caretaker Gazette for several years. He describes one of his recent caretaking experiences out of the Gazette as a “working vacation.” He explains, “This is my second visit with Mary and Ray Batiato, owners of the Stonewall Bed & Breakfast. At first, I spent some time assisting them last summer. At that time, I helped work in a small rock garden and the large Sweetheart garden with trails on their thirteen-acre property. I also helped inside with housekeeping and preparing the half dozen rooms for guests. This year I laid out a trail with gravel on the paths to the two rustic cabins - which provide alternatives to the rooms in the house for guests who really want to get away from it all.”
Randy continues, “My career has helped me adjust to a mobile caretaker lifestyle since, working for the US government, I have had to move frequently. For over seven years, of my twenty two year career, I served as a Travel Manager in Germany, which involved not only planning tours throughout Europe but serving as a tour guide. And another part of my full time job that will help me in my transition to being a caretaker is that I have a US government security clearance, including a complete background check, which provides a further sense of well-being for perspective owners, in addition to my references.”

Randy notes that, “The Batiatos use their Gazette ad to seek assistance at Stonewall. Due to the popularity of their establishment they found they needed some extra hands around the place.” Describing how the Gazette benefits property owners as well as caretakers, Randy says, “The Batiatos have been quite successful with their responses from their ads in The Caretaker Gazette with approximately a dozen individuals taking them up on their offer of a ‘working vacation.’ And the mix is an even combination of single individuals and couples. The experience at Stonewall B & B offers a little bit of everything in work opportunities and thus appeals to a variety of people.” According to Randy, “It’s a great opportunity for those seeking a caretaking assignment – it’s hard not to find it compatible. Mary and Ray can use assistance any time of the year and for any length of stay of a few days or longer. The variety of work options includes indoor housekeeping, food preparation, woodworking, gardening, grounds maintenance, and more. Once they determine your interests and abilities, Mary and Ray will put your skills to use. The flexibility of this caretaking opportunity is probably one of its strongest attributes.”

As Randy explains, caretaking offers him a unique opportunity to balance work and vacation, “Assisting at Stonewall is a great opportunity for me, since I am still working full time for the US Army in Germany. But I’m using vacation time to ease into the caretaking and housesitting field as time permits.” He continues, “Another advantage of offering your caretaking services to Stonewall is that it frequently gives you the opportunity to meet others in the caretaking field. Last year while I was working at Stonewall my time overlapped with a single woman from Australia and a grandmother from New York, both participating in working vacations as well. This year there was a retired couple from California who finished their stay shortly after I arrived. It gives you a chance to exchange ideas and see how others are making the caretaker lifestyle work for them.”

Randy explains, “Establishing my working relationship with Stonewall emphasized one of the interesting aspects of the caretaking profession where you make contact with a complete stranger and have to establish the kind of person you are via phone, letter or email. After reading their ad in the Gazette, I first contacted the Batiatos by email and then they recommended a phone call to get better acquainted. Everything was worked out and I arrived for my tour of duty. My position works toward my ultimate goal to find recurring annual positions of one to three months length that will allow me a shift back and forth between the U.S. and Europe and still allow time to travel.”
And in case you are wondering about the “vacation” part of the working vacation. The Stonewall’s location is perfect for exploring via car or bike, (or rollerblading as Randy did) including nearby hiking trails, wineries and incredible views. Randy adds, “Exploring inside Stonewall can also take several days with its vast assortment of antiques and Americana memorabilia. If you're not out sightseeing, Ray and Mary encourage you to join them for an evening meal. Or in my case, I offered to prepare them a dinner since one of my interests is cooking. I think potential caretakers would find the opportunity of working at Stonewall an incredibly rewarding experience. I know I did.”