January 2020 Newsletter

The latest in our series…


Dennis & Pat Moran

By Dale Dauten

You remember the little newspaper called the Pennysaver? I do, but I had all but forgotten that it once was the Match.com of its day – people would place an ad in the “Personals” section and readers were invited to write a letter expressing interest in possibly getting together.

(You may also remember these song lyrics, said to be quoting a romance ad:

“If you like Pina Coladas, and getting caught in the rain

If you’re not into yoga, if you have half a brain.”

The song is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fsj2wdFDmLk. And if you remember the title of the song and who sang it, you’ve got a better memory than mine. *Answers below.)

Those old memories came back as I talked with Pat and Dennis Moran because thirty-some years ago, Dennis placed an ad in the Pennysaver and Pat wrote a response. There were a number of inquiries but, as Dennis told us, “My sister read the letters and she picked Pat.”

Back then, Pat was teaching elementary school in South Bend, Indiana, and Dennis was working in the hospital, doing tough jobs like cleanup in the ER and Surgery. The sister was right: the two fell for each other and got married. Dennis wanted to share one of the joys he’d experienced growing up: camping. So they bought themselves a pop-up camper and took off. Well, the camper was new but the car wasn’t – the engine blew in Iowa and they spent a week there, waiting to get it fixed. Pat recalled that “It was a hundred degrees and ninety percent humidity.” Nevertheless, they soon tried again, and getting out on the road became a passion for both of them.

The couple began to daydream about living on the road. Being a teacher had lost its luster for Pat and, after 25 years on the job, she took early retirement. Reflecting back on a teaching career, Pat told us, “I was burned-out. We had too many kids in the classroom and everything was about testing – it was test, test, test. So for three years before I retired I started looking for something else. And we started talking about work-camping.” (That last term is often collapsed into “workamping.”)

By the time Pat was done with teaching, Dennis had put in 32 years at the hospital and he, too, was ready for something new. In 2007, they signed on for their first workamping adventure, lakeside in West Yellowstone, Montana. That was the start of five years on the road, and it included winters at Silveridge — Rhonda Ciacco had spotted their resumes online and hired them.

They loved their new life, but parental duty eventually called them back to Indiana. One of Dennis’s daughters from a previous marriage was going to nursing school while raising a baby. So Pat and Dennis lived in Indiana for five years, helping out. However, with the daughter through school and doing well, and the baby no longer a baby, “We looked at each other and said, ‘Why are we still here?’”

That’s when Rhonda called again. They hitched up their 42-foot fifth-wheel, got the two dogs, Chance and Cleo, and headed to Arizona, this time to The Resort. You’ll see Pat in the Office and Dennis working with Maintenance. Then, once the season is over at The Resort, they’ll be back on the road, heading to Colorado, to work at a KOA.

* “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)” by Rupert Holmes