For the last two years since my husband and I have been traveling in our RV full-time, we have spent the summers volunteering at Oregon State Parks to be close to our family. We’ve chosen working at visitor centers near them because these type of jobs give us the most time off to visit with them, as well as time to explore the area. We spent June & July at Champoeg State Heritage Area because it’s not far from our Portland family. At their visitor center they had us rotating with two full days on and four days off! This was the a perfect schedule for us. Though I didn’t do a lot of photography during those months, I did have time to work on photography related projects. 

Volunteer hosting jobs give you a free campsite with full hookups during your stay. They also give you a volunteer state parks pass that you can use in all Oregon State Parks that charge a fee. Some host jobs provide use of their washers & dryers.  

Currently, I’m in Central Oregon volunteering with my husband at Smith Rock State Park. We work at their welcome center 20 hours a week. Living on the property of Smith Rock State Park also gives me plenty of photo opportunities. Not only here at Smith Rock but throughout the Bend area. I just love this part of the state even though it’s been pretty hot.  

After our duties are done for this month, we have no further plans to volunteer at any other state park location this year. I will be focusing on traveling and photography, starting in September.  

Last year I purposely planned to be at Smith Rock during the solar eclipse this year. I naively thought I would have a front row seat for photographing it! Hah!  Well, since 500,000 people are estimated to be descending upon Central Oregon for this once in a lifetime event, I will definitely not be photographing it. The Oregon State Parks have been planning for well over a year for the amount of people that will come to some of their state parks close to the path of totality. As a volunteer, I’ve been in meetings with rangers listening to their planning and what they are anticipating might or might not happen during the event. This park is relying on lots of volunteers to help out and make sure people stay safe and that fires don’t start. My husband and I will be working extra hours at the welcome center and jumping in to help where ever else they need us. 

Personally, I wouldn’t enjoy photographing in crowds. That just doesn’t sound fun at all with so many people! I will put on my eclipse ready glasses though and look up and witness the event. I will be more satisfied knowing that I’m helping out the Oregon State Parks. Oregon has some of the best state parks in the country and I hope to enjoy them for years to come. 

16 Comments
  1. Leon Turnbull

    We are going up there to see the eclipse. But I also think I will not photograph it, and just enjoy the experience.

    • Patricia

      Thanks for commenting Leon. I hope you and your family will enjoy the experience!

  2. Arda

    It will take many volunteers to handle the crowd. We leave a week before the eclipse. Knowing what we know now, we are grateful to be away from the crowds. With the wildland fires the visibility may be compromised. Thank you Patricia and Mike for your volunteer time. Happy and safe travels.

    • Patricia

      Hello Arda! Sounds like it is best to be out before it happens! I hope you and your husband enjoyed your time back in Oregon for the summer!

  3. That totality band running across the country has almost the opposite effect on me of where to be on Aug 21. I am curious at what the light on the landscape will be like, even if there is no eclipse in the photograph.

    • Patricia

      It will be interesting to see. There is a possibility of zero visibility due to the fires in the Northwest as well.

  4. Donna M

    I will be interested to hear about the experience after the big event Patricia. I had family in Bend for many years, love the area. I’ve never been to Smith Rock but hope to make it there someday when I am in Oregon. You are so right Oregon has so many wonderful parks & places to see.
    To bad I’m not going to be in that area on this trip just in the Medford area & then Eugene to see family. I always see as much as I can when I am there.
    Donna McClure

    • Patricia

      Hi Donna, I’ll definitely has a post with my experience after the event. Enjoy your time with your family in Eugene!

  5. Phyllis

    It should be ‘fun’. Hopefully the smoke clears before the eclipse. Not as much hoopla here at the coast. That is why we chose here instead of Central Oregon!!

    • Patricia

      Hah! You were smart ;)

  6. Susan and Jerry

    We sure do miss you here at Champoeg!! I’m anxious to see how the animals here react to the eclipse. Both the two legged and four legged varieties! Stay safe, enjoy the rest of summer and let’s try to hook up in AZ. :-)

    • Patricia

      Yes, it will be interesting to see how the animals react! We’ll definitely see you in AZ!!

  7. Annie C

    It’s comforting to know there are competant volunteers involved keeping an eye on our precious adventure lands! Thanks for the peek into what’s going on!

    • Patricia

      Thanks Annie!

  8. I’m with you, Patricia. Just don’t care for the crowds no matter how “once in a lifetime” the event is. Personally, I’ll be one of a handful of people on Santa Rosa Island in Channel Islands NP. Not the ideal location for the eclipse, but the solitude and unique landscape will be priceless.

    Good for you for supporting the parks -Smith Rock certainly is an Oregon jewel!!

    • Patricia

      Good for you, that sounds like a great plan! I hope you really enjoy the event! Thanks so much Russ ;)

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