Pleasanton Weekly

Column - December 5, 2008

Christmas trees, RV style

by Jeb Bing

Ever wonder what those people who have brightly lighted Christmas tree lots do the rest of the year? I did, so I asked Kimberly and Jerry Peterson when I bought our tree at their lot at Wyoming and Washington streets, an otherwise-bare piece of land along Stanley Boulevard just south of the McDonald's on Bernal. They're truly the modern-day version of nomads, with their only home being the RV parked next to the tree sales tent. Kimberly's from the Detroit area, Jerry from Las Vegas, and they met and married 13 years ago in Phoenix. That's still their home, I guess, since their only stationary piece of property is a post office box in nearby Peoria, Ariz. Kimberly was a corporate-type, working for American Express and other companies. Jerry was in the tile installation business. But they shared a longstanding dream each had nurtured over the years: to travel the country, live and work where they wanted, and to determine their own destiny. Just before Kimberly's brother Jeffrey died at age 40, he learned of her dream and urged her to "get going" because we don't know how much time we have. That was it and the Petersons have been on the road ever since.

Tipped off to check, they found all sorts of jobs on this special Website for adventurous individuals who want to combine part-time and full-time work with RV camping. At first, they didn't own an RV but used the Website to find temporary work that included housing, with one job as campground managers in Minnesota lasting six months and paying good money. That gave them funds to buy an RV and start traveling, again using Workcamper to check in for two-to-three week jobs, including one at the NASCAR racetrack in Daytona, Fla. With Jerry a tall, muscular man and Kimberly an experienced office manager, they won the praise of the Daytona track operators, who keep inviting them back. Daytona has also alerted other NASCAR operations throughout the country, each with fixed race dates and job opportunities, keeping the Petersons on the road much of the year. They've now visited/worked in 30 states with Pete's Christmas tree lot in Pleasanton the farthest west they've come.

Selling Christmas trees is a tough job at start, picking the best trees off the truck and mounting them individually for easy customer viewing. Pete's Trees are fresh-cut from Oregon, and they're shipped to the lot the Petersons manage or Pete's other lots in Concord, Walnut Creek, Saratoga and one on Hopyard next to the Masonic Lodge. Once they've got the holes in place and their flocking and netting machines in operation, Jerry manages the crew of high school teenagers who work the lot while Kimberly handles the cash register. Open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week through Dec. 24, both can take short breaks in their nearby RV. Pete's also has a roving team that goes from lot to lot to give managers a day off each week.

The Petersons will clean up Pete's lot before leaving Dec. 28 for a three-day visit to San Francisco, which Kimberly has never seen. Then it's off for a brief family visit in Las Vegas, a mail pickup in Phoenix and another 2,000 miles or so to Daytona where the NASCAR track wants them in place by Jan. 19. Will they be back? "We hope so," Kimberly says. "The weather's great. The city's great. We've enjoyed meeting some of the best people we've gotten to know."

For more information, check out the Peterson's Website, appropriately named:


Posted by Kimberly & Jerry, a resident of another community
on Dec 8, 2008 at 7:28 am

We were blessed to be interviewed by Jeb but never expected such an outpouring of folks in Pleasanton to approach us as they have been doing since publication. While working the lot many local people have come in to say hello and of course buy a tree and have shared their wonderful thoughts about our lifestyle. It has been the most fun we have ever had...thank you to all of Pleasanton for such a warm welcome...we have enjoyed our time here. Pleasanton will always be a very special place for us.

Posted by Kimberly & Jerry, a resident of another community
on Dec 8, 2008 at 7:36 am

Sorry...but just a slight correction...the website we use to find work is, a special place for folks just like us.

Thanks again!

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