Black Meadow Landing on the shores of Lake Havasu above Parker Dam and the Colorado River is a community to itself. Situated on California Bureau of Management Land leased to George and Lori Field, the resort is a relaxing oasis in boondock country dominated by cactus, desert scrub, and wild burros.
A snowbird haven for RVers, the resort offers a marina and launch ramp, a swimming lagoon, a sandy beach, a restaurant, and comfortable lodging for those who prefer a motel. All registered guests have access to numerous activities, including games and cards, exercise and craft classes, line dancing, Bingo nights, and a Sunday jam session. Visitors—and Workampers—have unlimited golf privileges on a five-hole, par 4 course.
According to the Fields, Black Meadow Landing uses approximately 50 summer employees and 25 winter employees from both Canada and the United States. Some are salaried; others, non-salaried, but compensated with a site and full-hookups.
“We look for Workampers to help in our store, café, and office,” says Lori Field. “Some do general maintenance, and occasionally housekeeping at the motel. Summer is our busiest season for the motel and many Workampers do not want to clean rooms and restrooms in our desert heat. Most are retired and prefer to do less strenuous jobs—or tasks that particularly relate to their interests. During the winter months, we have some Workampers in positions that were created as they saw a need and inquired about giving us help. Ray Byers is a case in point.”
The first year Ray and his wife Nora wintered at Black Meadow Landing, he noticed concrete work going on and offered to help. “At first, George hesitated, then said I could help a ‘little.’ After he saw my work, he asked me to oversee the concrete work at the new gas dock,” Ray recalls.
A retired cement contractor, Ray admits that he still enjoys the work and hopes to pour concrete until he reaches 80 years of age. Most recently, he has overseen the pouring of 25,000 square feet of concrete for the floor of a new maintenance building on the property.
Snowbirds from Northern California, the Byers have spent three winters at Black Meadow Landing. “I love the golf course, enjoy fishing in Lake Havasu, and most of all, I love the people who winter at the Landing,” Ray says. “The location is convenient. We have a store, a restaurant, mail service, and plenty of activities.”
Two more non-salaried Workampers, Jim and Cathie Brubaker live year-round at Black Meadow Landing. From windows in their fifth-wheel parked on a mesa high above the California side of Lake Havasu, they watch friends playing golf on the five-hole course that Jim maintains.
As part of his job, he helped put in the irrigation system, and he routinely waters the course. Jim reseeds, mows the greens and fairways, and trims trees and bushes. Often, he replaces yardage markers along the edges of the course, and takes pride in keeping the course in tip-top shape for the 600 winter residents and guests at the Landing.
Daily, Jim plays golf alongside his snowbird friends. He describes separate men’s and ladies’ days on the course, as well as mixed scrambles. “Another non-salaried worker oversees the special golf events and tournaments, which are organized through the office,” he adds.
For more than a dozen years, Ernie Psikla and his wife, Rita, have also made their winter home at Black Meadow Landing. To keep himself busy, Ernie, a retired Canadian Fish and Wildlife Officer and Director of Enforcement Field Services, dons work clothes and climbs aboard a tractor with a front-end loader to position tons of rocks into roadside curbing and cactus gardens. For most of his years at the Landing, he moved the rocks by hand, using only a wheelbarrow. His beautification of the park is recognized with a street named “Ernie’s Way.” Considered the resident cactus and wildlife authority, the full-time RVer identifies the cactus species in his gardens throughout the resort and around a fountain at the entrance.
While Ernie moves rocks, Rita paints in oils and watercolors. They both participate at the park’s jam sessions and events, Rita playing the hammered dulcimer and Ernie, the guitar.
“Some of my employees are short-term, working for a season,” George says. “However, I have at least one who has been with me since 1976. Many others, like Ernie and Rita, Jim and Cathie, and Ray and Nora, return year after year.”
Wade and Barb Hull, originally from Ohio, have lived and worked at Black Meadow Landing for over three seasons. Younger than many retirees at the resort, they found their full-time, salaried jobs advertised in Workamper News. Living at the Landing year-round, Wade admits that summers are warm. “But in the winter, the sun shines all the time and the only snow is on a distant mountain,” he says.
Wade’s background is mechanical and at the Landing, he’s known as the manager for equipment, as well as special projects. Currently, the new maintenance building consumes most of his time. Barb and some other workers scrape and paint the used steel girders before Wade and owner George, with the aid of equipment, hoist the heavy trusses overhead. Wade welds them into place.
Utilizing in-house labor and purchasing equipment and materials from outside projects, the Fields continuously upgrade and add improvements to the resort.
A community that welcomes newcomers, Black Meadow Landing flourishes due to residents like Sam Wallen, who returns season after season. A familiar figure traipsing around the resort in his golf cart covered in cast-off items, he picks up baby bottles, stuffed toys, beach towels, key chains, and sand pails left behind by summer’s younger crowd. He glues the found treasures to his cart. When guests return and recognize a personal item, the man with a wide smile offers to rip it off. Most decline, enjoying the serendipity of seeing odds and ends decorating his vehicle.
Developing and maintaining a memorial rock garden atop a bluff overlooking the blue waters of Lake Havasu is Sam’s more serious work. A spot where he and his late wife shared daily picnic lunches at the Landing, he outlines small plots marked with names of loved ones who were once members of the resort community. Sam grooms the sand and tends to rock borders sent askew by the hooves of wandering burros. A poet at heart, he often tacks his rhyming thoughts to the picnic table where he and his wife overlooked the lake.
An all-season resort, Black Meadow Landing is a safe sanctuary for Workampers. A San Bernardino County Fire Department is on the property to provide emergency services to the resort and surrounding areas. A landing pad on the facility allows emergency helicopter services to med-flight residents to many healthcare providers in the area. Major shopping is available at Lake Havasu City and Parker on the Arizona side of Lake Havasu and the Colorado River.
Whether one goes to visit or to Workamp, Black Meadow Landing is an RVer’s hideaway peopled with friendly neighbors and lively activities. Boats and golf clubs are optional.