Not All Who Wander Are Lost

Not All Who Wander Are Lost
June, 2019 - Mount Denali, Alaska

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Enough Cold Weather

We spent out last day in Moorhead with Korey and Cathryn. First we visited the Hjemkomst Center where their reception will be held. It’s a combination museum, convention center, Chamber of Commerce and senior center located in Moorhead. There is a very large ballroom with a nice sized dance floor. It’s a beautiful facility in a park along the river. I think it will be a fantastic and unique place to have a summer wedding reception.

The main lobby has a full size Viking ship which was actually sailed from New York to Norway. It’s a very interesting exhibit and story. The lobby will be open to the wedding guests, but the museum will be closed.


The Fargo/Moorhead area has many inhabitants of Norwegian decent. I couldn’t pass up this picture opportunity. I’m sure many wedding guests will be taking their pictures with these two lovely trolls.


As much as we enjoyed our visit with our family in Minnesota, it was time to head south to get out of the cold weather. While there, we had several days with below zero temperatures. We are not used to that kind of cold anymore!

Our drive back to Coffeyville to pick up the 5th wheel went well. There was snow on the ground all the way until we were south of Kansas City, but the roads were clear. We saw several cars in the ditch along the interstate from snowy roads the day before we traveled.

When we got home, it was 32 degrees in our 5th wheel. We had left the furnace turned on, but both tanks ran out of propane. Last year we were gone about the same length of time, but it was warmer outside. This year it was cold while we were gone, and the propane was all gone. We turned on our two electric heaters and the fireplace. The heater in the bedroom kept it warm enough to sleep. By morning it was still only 55 degrees in the living area. Time to get out of town!!

Poor Kevin was out in 16 degree weather hooking up. The landing gear wouldn’t raise the 5th wheel to hook it up to the truck. We think it was frozen. The motor stopped and Kevin had to crank it up by hand to get it hitched. He certainly got a work out.

We drove to Sandy Lake RV Resort in Carrollton, Texas, northeast of Dallas. It is a corporate campground owned by Carefree RV Resorts. I would definitely not call it a resort. There is a pool and small clubhouse, but that’s it. The sites and roads are very tight and close together. We chose this place because it is a Passport America park. The discounted rate is $20 per night. Its definitely not worth more than that. I doubt we would stay here again.

There is a full moon right outside the window. Oh no, that’s just the very close street light.


We do have a pull through site with 50 amp full hookups. Luckily, its an end site. I’m not sure how some of these rigs got into their sites with everything being as tight as it is. The temperature was in the 50s today. Much better, but not warm enough yet. It was nice to see and hear birds in the trees.


The landing gear motor seemed to be working okay while the jacks were going down. As soon as the trailer started going up, the motor stopped again. Bummer, more cranking for Kevin. At least it was pretty level so he didn’t have to crank much. We think the motor may need to be replaced. We’ll worry about it once we get to Mission.

We’re staying here until Tuesday morning. Then we’re heading to Austin for two nights. On Thursday we’ll arrive in Mission where we have a reservation for a month at the Americana RV Resort.

Today we did some laundry and caught up on some mail that Eric brought with him to Minnesota. We’re watching the Packers/Vikings football game. Its close, but our Packers aren’t playing very well. Hopefully, they’ll pull it out in the end. Sorry, Cathryn. I know you’re a Vikings fan.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Joy

The best Christmas gift we could receive from Amazon was to release us early on our last night so we could get some decent sleep before our long drive on Saturday. Our wishes were answered. We were released at 11:00 pm on Friday night with a bag of Godiva chocolates as a good-bye gift. Yum!

We slept until 7 am on Saturday. Kevin quickly winterized the 5th wheel which we left at the campground before we drove to Moorhead, Minnesota. It took us just under 12 hours with one stop for dinner, one stop for fuel and a few bathroom stops. We arrived around 9 pm. Both boys were here. Yippee!!! I feel so blessed to have been able to spend the holidays with my three guys!

On Sunday Cathryn’s family invited us over for dinner. They had not met Eric yet. We had a great time. Dinner was delicious. After dinner I got to help make lefse. It’s a traditional Norwegian dish, kind of a cross between a potato pancake and a tortilla shell. Sorry, no pictures because I forgot my camera, but it was fun working with Cathryn, her mom and her sister. After dinner we played a few games with lots of laughter.

Breutzmann and Nelson Family in Moorhead

Here we have Cathryn, Korey, Samantha (Cathryn’s sister and maid of honor), Dennis (Cathryn’s dad), Eric, me and Kevin. Her mom, Sharon, was taking the picture.

Sharon took such a nice picture of our family, except doesn’t it look like Kevin and I have arms growing out of our ears :)

Family in Moorhead

Christmas Eve we hung out at Koreys apartment, and then attended church with Cathryn’s family at the church where the wedding will be. It’s a beautiful church! Here’s our annual family Christmas picture.


Christmas Day the four of us went to see The Hobbit in 3D on the Ultra Screen. The guys really enjoyed it. I thought it was pretty good. Then it was back to Korey’s place where we made a delicious ham dinner.

Yesterday I went wedding dress shopping with Cathryn, her mom, her sister and her best friend. We went to three different dress shops looking at wedding gowns and bridesmaids dresses. I can report that Cathryn said yes to the dress, but no other details can be shared. It’s a secret :)  Let me just tell you that she will be a beautiful bride!!


The bride with both moms. Thanks for including me. It was such a fun day!

Eric left yesterday morning to head back to Wisconsin. We had dinner last night with Cathryn’s family at Granite City which is a micro-brewery/restaurant in Fargo. Dinner was delicious and the company was excellent. The manager came over to ask us if everything was okay. Cathryn’s mom told him we were celebrating their engagement, so the manager gave them a complimentary giant hot cookie dessert with ice cream. It was so big all seven of us got to eat some. Here’s the happy couple. Aren’t they so cute!


We had met Cathryn’s family once before in June, 2010. I’m so glad we got to spend a little more time with them. They are wonderful people, and we had such a good time with them.


Today we’re going to check out the reception venue and spend some more time with Korey and Cathryn. Tomorrow we are headed back to Coffeyville to pick up our home on wheels. Then its on to Texas for the winter.

A belated Merry Christmas to everyone out there in blog land.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

I’m a Winner

During Peak Season at Amazon they have what they call Power Hours. Different departments have the Power Hours at different times throughout the Peak Season. Last week Friday there was a Power Hour for pickers, and I won a $50 Walmart gift card.

Everyone who picked at 100% or over was put into a drawing and six names were drawn to win gift cards. I slid in with a rate of 103%. There have been four Power Hour events for pickers so far. I’m surprised they give out Walmart gift cards. You would think they would give Amazon cards. I’m sure I’ll have no problem spending money at Walmart.

Kevin got another letter of commendation in his personnel file. Last week he picked over 6,000 items with no errors. Such an overachiever :)   No letters for me. I’m just hanging in there until we are done!!

At most we have two more nights of work. I’m really hoping they release us earlier. Our plan is to drive to Moorhead, Minnesota on Saturday unless they let us go earlier. Best case would be they don’t make us come in at all on Friday. Then we can travel a day earlier. It all depends on how many orders they have. So, no more ordering :)

I am super excited to see our boys. Korey’s fiancĂ© Cathryn has invited me to join in on a dress shopping expedition on Dec. 26th. I appreciate that she’s included me. Since I don’t have a daughter, its great to be included in the bride activities.

I picked an item at Amazon the other day that everyone must have. A singing Justin Bieber toothbrush. NOT!!!

I hope all of our Wisconsin friends and family are enjoying the snow they received yesterday. Stay safe on those roads!

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

One More Week–Maybe

candleFirst of all, I just need to say how heavy and saddened my heart is. There are no words for the horrific tragedy in Connecticut. I worked in elementary and middle schools for over 20 years, first as an aide and then as a Guidance Department secretary.


When I first started working in schools in 1988, the doors were not locked and there was just a sign on the door asking visitors to check in at the office. By the time I left in 2010, all outside doors were always locked and visitors had to be buzzed into the building. We not only had tornado and fire drills, but we also had intruder drills and special code phrases for an intercom announcement if there was ever a dangerous intruder.

I can’t begin to explain why our world has come to this. What evil must reside in the heart and soul of a person to commit such a horrific, senseless, cowardly and selfish act. All I can say is my prayers are with all of the families as they deal with their grief. I can’t wait to see my boys and give them a great big hug!!

On the home front, we have five days or less to work at Amazon. We were contracted to work through Dec. 23rd in order to receive the $1 per hour completion bonus. Yesterday they told us we would be released on Dec. 22nd and would still receive the bonus. Since Saturday is our day off, we will be done Friday night at the latest (actually Saturday morning at 3:30 am). Since the bonus will be over $500, we won’t be leaving early.

Last year they released us on Dec. 21st. I really wanted to be at our sons in Minnesota by Friday night. I’m still hoping they’ll let us go early. Free shipping on their site ends on Tuesday. I can’t imagine there will that many orders after Tuesday where people are willing to pay priority shipping. Best case for us would be we work Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday is our day off so they could just tell us on Tuesday that we are done and don’t have to come back. Keep your fingers crossed. I’m really anxious to get out of here and see my kids!!!

I picked some more odd items this week. These are all food related. I never would have guessed you could buy creamed coconut, powdered goat milk or powdered peanut butter. Strange. Toys and Kindles are definitely the most popular items.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

One Million Plus

That’s the amount of items that were shipped out of our Amazon facility here in Coffeyville last week. Wow!! It was another 50 hour week for us. The upcoming week should be the busiest of the peak season with mandatory 11 hour shifts for the regular employees. CamperForce workers have a mandatory 50 hour week with the 11 hour days being optional. I will not be working 11 hour days. Kevin is thinking about it. Fifty hours a week is enough fun for me :)

We don’t know when our last day will be. We are contracted to work through Dec. 23rd, but will most likely be released early. Last year our last day was Dec. 21st. We’ll be leaving our 5th wheel at the campground and driving to our son Korey’s place in Moorhead, Minnesota. Its about an 11 hour trip. I’m hoping to be there on Dec. 22nd. Korey’s fiancĂ©, Cathryn, has invited me to make Lefse with her family if we are there on Saturday. Her family is Norwegian, and Lefse is a traditional Norwegian flatbread. That would be fun.

I came across a few more unusual items while picking this week. I really had to do a double take when my scanner told me to pick poultry flavored toothpaste. What??? It turned out to be toothpaste for pets. The scanner doesn’t always give the full description, so it just said poultry flavored toothpaste. Yuck!!

You can buy a 28 oz. can of marinated cactus. That was a new one for me. We saw Saguaro cactus jelly while we were in Arizona, but I didn’t know the cactus itself was eaten.

packer toasterOr maybe you’d like to have your favorite team logo on your toast. “Toast your Team” toasters are available for MLB or NHL teams. Just what every household needs.




There are several birds (I think they’re sparrows) living in the Amazon warehouse. Every once in a while I’ll be picking in the upper levels and can hear them chirping. The first time I heard it, I thought I was imagining it, but then I saw them sitting in the rafters. I’ve even seen them on the floor picking up scraps. I feel sorry for them being stuck in a warehouse. I wish Amazon would find a way to catch them and release them back outside where they belong.

Tomorrow is Kevin’s 57th birthday. Too bad we have to work. I’m making Parmesan Chicken for supper before we go to work. I also bought some cheesecake and carrot cake cupcakes for his birthday, two of his favorite deserts. 

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

First 50 Hour Week Completed

We made it through our first 50 hour week. We should have at least two more. I’m guessing they’ll release us before the end of the week of December 16th. Kevin actually went in for an extra half shift on Wednesday night, so he worked 55 hours last week. Today we’re off and then tomorrow it starts all over again.

I did not work extra hours on Wednesday. I stayed home to rest my aching feet. Amazingly, even with all the walking, the blisters on my little toes are slowly healing. I’ve been using antibiotic cream with band-aids and some moleskin wrapped around the band-aid to keep them protected.

My backside is also doing better. It hurt pretty bad for the first couple of days. I was able to continue to visit AmCare twice a shift to ice it. Last night I didn’t need any icing. Its feeling much better.

I think a little bragging is in order. Kevin received a commendation letter for his HR file for his work during Thanksgiving week. He picked almost 5,000 items with zero errors. I have not received any letters for my file. The good news is I haven’t gotten any bad reports. I’m just plodding along in the middle somewhere. That’s okay with me. I’m giving it all I’ve got!

I continue to marvel at some of the strange items I see while picking. Did you know you can buy an electric do it yourself back shaver with an extension handle to help you get to all the spots. Or how about a shower gel dispenser that looks like a large nose. The shower gel that comes with it is green and you can guess where the gel comes out. Just what everyone needs in their shower.

Melissa and Doug brand toys are still a hot item this year. I’ve also been picking a lot of little action figures from something called Skylanders. I don’t know what that is, but I’m guessing it has something to do with a video game. We’ve also seen a lot of dolls from something called Monster High. Again, never heard of it.

Diapers were a hot item this week. Amazon has a diaper program, and I’m thinking lots of diapers are shipped out at the beginning of the month. We both picked a bazillion boxes of diapers the last two days.

Clothing is another big seller at Amazon. Last year we shipped a lot of the brand Bebe. This year Bebe has begun shipping their own product and no longer contracts with Amazon. However, the brand Lacoste is a hot seller from Amazon. Some of the clothing items have price tags on them. I can’t believe how expensive the Lacoste stuff is. A polo shirt for $100 or a kids t-shirt for $50. I figured they must be heavily discounted on Amazon’s website, so I took a look. The polo shirts online are still $85. Maybe we’re cheap, but I’m not spending that kind of money on clothes just to have a little alligator logo on it.

There’s also a brand of underwear called ExOfficio. Supposedly, this underwear is designed for the traveler. You can wash it out easily because the fabric is super quick drying. Its also treated with some type of anti-bacteria chemical so you can wear it for more than one day. They sell for $20 a pair. Sounds kind of gross to me.

As you can imagine, wandering around the warehouse for 10 hour shifts can be pretty boring. You have to do something to keep your mind occupied (and not thinking about your sore feet). I sing Christmas songs to myself. It helps pass the time.

Last Monday they had doughnuts and juice for us at our first break. This coming Monday they will be serving us a holiday dinner of Beef Brisket and trimmings. I think its very nice of them to give us some special meals and snacks during the peak season.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

A Visit to AmCare

Amazon has an onsite health center called AmCare. On Friday night, I ended up visiting there four times.

Friday night was an 11 hour shift, and I was worried about how in the world I was going to manage it. I’ve developed blisters on the bottoms of both of my little toes. My little toes have a weird shape, and I’ve had this problem before when I walk too much. I’m dealing with it using band-aids and ibuprofen, but my feet were really hurting on Friday night.

About two hours into the shift, something very unexpected happened. I was picking Leap Frog toys directly off of a pallet. Sometimes you pick items from bins, and sometimes directly from pallets.

When you pick from pallets, you have to open boxes and take the items out. The load of boxes on the pallets are usually wrapped with shrink wrap. I was down to the bottom row of boxes on the pallet. I had put one foot onto the pallet to reach the boxes in the middle. As I stepped back, my foot got caught in the shrink wrap around the bottom of the pallet. I fell backwards onto my bottom and back.

I was pretty stunned, but got up right away. Although I fell pretty hard, nothing felt broken, just bruised. I finished packing my tote and put it on the conveyor. Then I headed to the manager to report the accident. We’ve been told over and over to report any injury.

She took me to AmCare where I was met by the EMT on duty. She had me fill out a report and had me sit on some ice for my bottom and back. She also offered me ibuprofen. How embarrassing. There was also a representative from the safety committee who came and had me explain what happened. Then I had to show my manager and the safety lady the pallet and explain how it happened. The next time I walked past that area, the shrink wrap was gone from that particular pallet.

I was told to return to AmCare every two hours for the rest of the shift to ice my sore areas. That meant four visits to AmCare where I sat for about 30 minutes icing my bottom and back for a total of 2.5 hours of resting time during my 11 hour shift. So, I think the fall was a blessing in disguise. I got paid for the full 11 hour shift, but was able to rest my feet for a good part of it :)

Yesterday my bottom was a bit sore, but not too bad. I think I probably bruised my tail bone as the soreness feels as if it is deep inside. My back is feeling fine.

While at AmCare I asked the EMT if she had any tips for sore feet. She gave me some mole skin pads to put on the areas that get blisters and recommended getting diabetic socks to help circulation in the feet.

Yesterday we went to Walmart and I picked up two pair of diabetic socks for $8.50. Wow, that’s quite expensive, but if they help it will be well worth it. I have good shoes, just weird little toes.

This week we start our 50 hour weeks. That means we work Sunday nights in addition to the regular four nights we have been working. We’ll see how it goes. Depending on when they release us, we have about four weeks or a little less to go. I will survive, and the income will allow us to explore Texas this winter without working. Still a good trade-off for us.

Kevin is doing fine. He seems to be able to handle being on his feet much better than I do. Sometimes I feel like such a wussy!

Our son Eric called us yesterday to tell us some good news. He was very happy to report that his boss had called him into the office to let him know that Eric is doing a great job and the boss is very happy with him. He thanked Eric several times during the conversation for doing a great job and being very reliable. He also told Eric he would be getting a very nice end of the year bonus. Congratulations Eric!!

You may remember I mentioned that Eric is an HVAC service technician. With the record heat this past summer, Eric worked many, many overtime hours and was quite exhausted. Its nice to know the boss appreciates and rewards that hard work!

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all. We’ve had another fantastic year and have so much to be thankful for.


Its been just over 2-1/2 years since we began our fulltime RVing journey. We are so grateful we are able to live this lifestyle. When my feet are hurting in that tenth hour some nights at Amazon, I remind myself its only for a few more weeks and so worth it to fund this journey!!

We are grateful for our family which will soon include our future daughter-in-law Cathryn. We are grateful for good health. We’ve been healthier in the past few years than ever before. This life sure seems to agree with us!

We are even grateful to The Goodyear Tire Company. Although we’ve had so much trouble with our 5th wheel tires, we just found out they will again cover the damage to our unit as well as pay for the replacement tire and the roadside assistance fee. We’ve had the fourth tire sent back to them and are waiting to see if they will also replace that last original tire before we settle our claim with them. Considering these tires are five years old, we definitely feel they must realize the original tires were defective or they would not be fully covering our damage five years later.

Tonight we are working a shortened shift at Amazon from 9 pm to 3:30 am. We get paid time and a half holiday pay so that’s a good thing. Tomorrow night we work an 11 hour shift. Then Sunday we start our mandatory 50 hour weeks. They’ve told us the next 3 weeks will be 50 hour weeks. Yeah for overtime pay! Last week they told us Sunday and Monday would also be 11 hour days, but a few days later they told us only Friday would be 11 hours. Last year all of those days were 11 hours.

Amazon opened seven new fulfillment centers this year. I think that’s the reason for the slower work here this year. The orders are just more spread out across the country. I heard on the news that Amazon is hoping to begin competing with stores by beginning to offer same day delivery. For that to happen, they need to have more facilities. We’ll see if we actually get the overtime they’re predicting.

As I walk around the warehouse for an average of 7 to 8 miles per shift, I’ve seen lots of different items. It’s amazing the stuff people buy. One new item this year is the "talk to me potty”. It’s a potty chair that praises the child for doing their business. Too funny. There’s also a DNA testing kit for multi-breed dogs. One of the saddest things I’ve come across is a test kit to determine if there is alcohol in breast milk. Really????

Thank you to all of you who read my blog and leave comments. I hope everyone has a very Happy Thanksgiving.

 Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Another Day Off

On Monday night at work we were told our shift would have a mandatory day off on Tuesday. That’s the fourth time we’ve had mandatory time off for a total of 31.5 hours lost.

Yesterday Amazon had their Holiday Kick-Off event. They paid everyone an extra hour if they wanted to attend so we walked over. Coffeyville Community College had their drum line there to perform. They did a good job, although I was expecting more members. Our son Korey was a percussionist in high school so I’m very familiar with drum lines. This group only had 9 members, with 3 snares, a quad, four different sized bass drums, and 1 cymbal.

The general manager of the plant talked about the decline in business this year. He told us that orders are down 20% from last year at this facility. That’s been very obvious to us. He also said that overall Amazon is up 29% this year. I’m not sure if that’s business or profits or what. Apparently, they will be rerouting some orders to this fulfillment center to even things out. He  picked names, and they gave out fourteen $100 gift cards to employees. We didn’t win :(  We did get some candy the managers were passing out.

I feel bad for the people who work here year round. I’m sure having hours cut is a hardship for many of them. There is also resentment by some against the work campers. They are wondering why new employees are being hired when there isn’t enough work for the regular Amazonians. Once the Christmas rush starts, there will be plenty of work. I’m sure it’s difficult to get enough people hired and trained in time for the rush, and have to deal with all of those employees in the weeks before Black Friday.

We will definitely not be earning as much as last year, but we’ll be fine. My pension starting this year has been a big help. We try to earn enough to cover our expenses so we don’t have to dip into our savings. That’s our choice, though. We will be just fine.

I’m sure after next week, I’ll be complaining plenty about sore feet and being exhausted :)

Not much new on the wedding front. Cathryn is in the Doctorate of Occupational Therapy Program at Creighton University in Omaha. She is from Moorhead, Minnesota and that’s where Korey currently lives. The wedding will be in Moorhead. While Cathryn is home for Thanksgiving, they will be shopping for a reception venue. I’m sure we’ll know much more after next week.

Korey and Cathryn Engagement DayHere’s a picture of the happy couple on their engagement day. See the post-it notes on a string. That was part of the proposal. Korey has asked his brother Eric to be his best man. I’m looking forward to seeing all of my guys in suits. They’ll be so handsome! I know Eric will be taking his job of hosting a bachelor party very seriously!


Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

She Said Yes!

Korey and Cathryn Sept. 2012Our youngest son Korey got engaged yesterday. He and Cathryn have been dating for a little over four years. We are so happy she will become a member of our family. She’s a wonderful young lady!
Korey told us in September that he had bought the ring. Yesterday was finally the day. They called me on Skype and showed me the ring. You did good Korey!
Korey's Engaged 11-9-12
Its so wonderful to have the technology to be able to share this news with them “in person”. Their plan is to have the wedding sometime next summer or fall in Moorhead, Minnesota. I’m looking forward to the fun that’s involved with a wedding.
I would love to lose about 20 pounds before I buy a dress. I was sure hoping all this walking at Amazon would help me do that. So far, I’ve only lost a few pounds. I’m thinking I’ll have to starve myself. I’ve been wearing a pedometer. We are now picking throughout the entire facility, and I’ve been averaging around six miles per shift.
We finally worked a full 40 hour week. It definitely seems as though business is slower this year than the same time last year. It also feels as if there are less people working there this year. Next week they are having their Holiday Kick Off events. There will be drawings for gift cards and some other events.
We work the doughnut shift so we work Monday, Tuesday, have a day of rest, work Thursday, Friday and have two days off. My feet do very well the first day, but the second day they are hurting. I’m glad we don’t work four days in a row.
I haven’t noticed many big sellers so far this year. The best selling DVD has got to be The Amazing Spiderman. I’ve also been picking quite a few Kindles. It seems many people read Fifty Shades of Grey. Kevin and I have both picked many items related to bondage activities including how-to books, beginner kits of items needed, and naughty costumes. Kinky!
I’m surprised at the amount of CDs that are being purchased. With iPods and MP3 players, I would have thought CDs wouldn’t be so popular anymore.
The weather had been very nice. The last few days have still been warm, but quite windy. There is a front coming through tonight which should bring much needed rain to the area. After that its supposed to cool into the 50s for daytime highs.
Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Hits Amazon

When watching the devastation of Hurricane Sandy on TV, I never dreamed we would feel any consequences from the storm. It’s nothing compared to what those poor people on the east coast are suffering, but these types of catastrophic events have long reaching tentacles.

Shortly after the hurricane hit, orders started declining at all Amazon facilities. Its no wonder with such a concentrated population in the worst hit area. On Tuesday night we were sent home a little over an hour early. On Thursday night when we reported for work, we were told that we would only be working half shifts both Thursday and Friday nights. My feet were doing a happy dance, and I was glad to have two more nights of normal sleep. However, we’re here to make money. So far, we’ve only worked one full shift.

I’m not complaining. I know from last year’s experience that there will be plenty of LONG shifts soon. Thanksgiving is early this year, so within another week or two, we’ll be working plenty. In the meantime, we have time to relax. And, as a bonus the weather has been fantastic the past week. Sunny, calm winds, and highs in the 80s. The upcoming week is supposed to be similar with highs in the 70s. No complaints here.

Last night we attended a CamperForce get together at Pizza Hut in Coffeyville. They have a group room which was filled with fellow Amazon work campers. We met some new people and chatted with some people we already knew. Good food and good company. Here we are enjoying ourselves. I think Kevin was having an intense conversation about something.

Work camper get together at Pizza Hut

In my previous post, I had a picture of a converted bus that arrived at the campground. I thought it was the same bus that was here last year. But, I believe I was mistaken. These people have three daughters, and the bus last year had boys.

I received a comment from Greg letting me know these new people have a website at They certainly have an interesting set up. I spent some time reading about their adventures. Another example of people who seem to be very happy in a non-traditional life. Good for them!

The Green Bay Packers game is again not on TV this week. Can you believe the local FOX channel is broadcasting soccer instead. At least we have computers and satellite radio. Go Pack Go!

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Mother-in-Law Suite?

Just when you think you’ve seen it all, something surprising comes along. Today a converted bus camper pulled into the campground.

We remember this bus being here last year. The dad worked at Amazon. The mom stayed at the bus with the kids. I think they had two or three kids last year and she was pregnant with another. They also had two dogs. They’ve added some extras to the bus this year.

The main thing you notice is the second story they’ve added. It could be a mother-in-law suite, but my guess is maybe a master bedroom or a room for the kids. They now have a trailer for bikes and other things they need. They also have a car this year. Last year whenever they needed to go anywhere, they had to take the bus.

The second story is very interesting and ingenious. I hope they reinforced the roof of the bus. That’s a lot of weight up there. Also, notice the BBQ on the right front. It’s attached to some bars and swings out from the side.

Last year they were parked near us, and the kids were often outside playing. They were the sweetest, most polite kids we’ve encountered. They put up a sign in the laundry room to be dog walkers. There are a lot of people with dogs, so I’m guessing they got some work.  I wonder if their last name is Scholl. Notice the spelling on the bus.


We finished our first two full shifts at Amazon. This week we’re assigned to half of the warehouse. Next week they’ll be assigning us picking areas in the entire facility. Last night I wore my pedometer and clocked just under six miles. My feet are pretty sore by the end of the shift, but its so much better than last year. At least my back and wrists aren’t aching from the standing and packing. The good news is we’ve both lost a few pounds. I have a lofty goal of losing 20 pounds. We’ll see how that goes.

Last night all pickers and packers got sent home an hour early because of lack of work. This happened a few times last year as well. They bring in the work campers in September and October to train and prepare for the big Christmas peak season. So, right now they have more workers than work. At almost every shift, they offer VTO (voluntary time off) to all workers. Many of the regular employees jump at the chance because they know once the rush starts, there is no time off allowed.

Some work campers take VTO, but many say no thanks. We came here to make as much money as possible, so we’re working. They can’t make you go home unless they send everyone home. I was okay with leaving an hour early last night. I was tired and my feet were aching. Today we rest, and tomorrow we’re back for two more full days.

I can’t get my mind around how the computer system works at Amazon. Everything is scanned and placed in the warehouse. The computer knows where every item is located, assigns each picker items to pick based on orders, then tells the packers which orders to pack and in what size box, then prints a shipping label for the box. All of this is done by computer. All the workers do is scan an item, and the computer does the rest. Its amazing how it all works!!

I talked to both boys this week. Eric is doing well and is happy the hot summer days are behind him. Work is now back to a normal pace. Korey just got back from a two week vacation cruise with his friend Jeremy. Jeremy works for Disney World and gets awesome deals on Disney cruises. This year they went to Disneyland and then a 14 day cruise to Hawaii. They had a great time.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

We Survived Week One

Week one at Amazon went very well. This year they have implemented a new procedure where work campers have a hardening week. That means only working half shifts your first week. For us that was 5 pm to 10 pm on M, T, Th, and Fr. If it was up to me, I’d like those hours the entire time I was here. Of course, that would also mean less than half the pay once overtime kicks in.  On Monday we’ll start our full shifts of 5 pm to 3:30 am.

I’m loving the picker job. Its much better than the packing jobs we had last year for two reasons. One, it is very noisy in the packing plant, not so much in the rest of the warehouse. Two, we’re moving rather than standing in one spot.

The first week they program the computer to lock you into a limited area to do your picks so you can get used to how it works. We were in an area of mostly small items like books, DVDs, CDs, and all kinds of bottles of pills and supplements. With the use of MP3 players and iPods, I’m surprised how many people are still buying CDs. We both had no problem meeting and exceeding the quotas set for us.

Next week they’ll release us to pick in half of the warehouse. The following week we’ll work the entire one million square foot facility. That’s when I’ll start wearing my pedometer to report on how many miles we actually walk. We’ve been told it will be around 15 miles per shift. So far, our feet are holding up very well. I’m sure once we are running around the entire warehouse, they will start complaining much more!

We’ve gotten our first paycheck for the week of orientation. They only paid us for one of the days, so I had to send an email to try to get that resolved. Mike in HR replied that he would take care of it. We’ll see how that goes.

On Wednesday the campground owner hosted an Oktoberfest get together. He provided brats and beer and campers brought dishes to pass. There is not a clubhouse building at the campground. The foundation is poured, but the building has not been built. Everyone brought chairs and we sat on the foundation. Luckily, the weather was warm although pretty windy. I’d estimate there were about 75 people who attended. They had gotten donations from local businesses for door prizes. We won a gift certificate for a free large pizza at Pizza Hut. There is a new owner of the campground this year, and it sure was nice of him to host this event!

The weather has been very strange. The first part of the week was hot with highs in the 80s and very humid and windy. We had to run the air. On Thursday morning a cold front came through and dropped the temps by 40 degrees. We went from running the air in the morning to turning on the heater by late afternoon. There is a freeze warning in effect for the next few nights. Kevin disconnected the hose and we’re using water from the tank. Last year it didn’t get below freezing until December. The extended forecast is looking pretty good, and the winds have finally died down!

I like to cook using my crock pot, but the clean up was always a pain. Last summer, Kevin noticed our friend Betty using a product that has made the clean up so easy. These crock pot liners are only about 50 cents a piece and so worth it. Why didn’t I know about these sooner???


We don’t have any big plans for the weekend. Kevin is going to take the fourth original tire off of the fifth wheel. There is a Goodyear dealer in Independence where we will get a replacement. I’m still waiting for an estimate from Burlington RV so I can submit our claim to Goodyear.

I’m going to find a movie to rent at Redbox. Other than that, we’ll rest up for the big week ahead.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Variety Galore

We had our second orientation session on Friday. More paperwork and training videos. They talked about changes that have been made since last year. If the information is correct, it sounds like things will work more smoothly. We start tomorrow, so we’ll find out.

We’ve been walking for about an hour a day to keep working on conditioning for our 10 hour shifts on our feet. If we walk up and down each row of the campground twice, it takes an hour. There are 6 rows with 22 sites per row for a total of 132 sites. Currently about 115 of the sites are occupied. There certainly are a variety of units here.

Today Kevin and I counted how many were motorhomes or other types of RVs. We really need to get a life :) There are 52 motorhomes and 59 fifth wheels or travel trailers, pretty equally divided. Then there are a few other types of units such as camper vans.

Units run from very expensive to barely road worthy. People work here for a variety of reasons. Some are hear just to supplement a nice income. Others are barely scraping by and really need this money. We met a number of people last year who said they just needed something to do.

Most of the people in this park work for Amazon, although a few work at an oil refinery in town. Here are a few pictures of the diverse types of units at this park.

The front one looks like a work van converted into a camper. It has a sewer hose so must have a bathroom. A lone guy and his large dog live in it. The back Casita is occupied by a lone young lady. Rumor has it she is traveling the country before attending college.


These two trailers appear to be occupied by one family. They have a little boy and a dog. You’ll notice the hot tub on the right side. I don’t know if its hooked up. They also have a Dish satellite dish, everyone has their priorities.


Many units are very nice. These three motorhomes are all parked in a row and look like they cost a few bucks.


I’ve never seen a Class C made by Forest River. This one is called a Solera and has solar panels on top that take up most of the roof. I wonder if it comes with the solar panels and that’s why its called a Solera. The Class B next to it is occupied by a lone man. I can’t imagine living in such a small space.


Some work campers start working here as early as August. Its very hot here that time of year. We’ve seen a number of creative air conditioning options on some the trailers. Here’s an interesting one.


The weather this weekend has been wonderful with highs in the low 80s both days. This morning before football started we washed our windows and Kevin cleaned off the front cap of the 5th wheel. Those darn bugs sure do make a mess up there.

It’s time to start working. There’s not much to do in this neck of the woods other than count trailers :)

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

So Far, So Good

Today was our first day of orientation at Amazon. We were there for 4-1/2 hours. They explained how the CamperForce program works, showed us the diversity and workplace ethics videos, took our ID badge pictures, told us our job assignments, did the drug test, administered an easy skills test, filled out I-9 forms and fed us lunch. We also got CamperForce shirts. They had a drawing for some prizes, but we didn’t win any of those. Mostly shirts and coffee mugs.

The drug screen was interesting. They had a stick that you had to place in your mouth for a few minutes. When the dot turned blue, you were done. You placed the stick in a vile and closed the top. This was then put into a bag and sealed. It was quite painless and nice to be able to do the drug test on site. Last year we had to drive over an hour each way to a lab and do a urine test. They did tell us that next year they’re going back to the old way of doing things. No more on-site drug tests. I don’t know why. I hope they change their mind.

I’m much more impressed with the CamperForce personnel this year. They seemed to be much better organized and concerned about everyone’s happiness. Everyone in our group got the job assignment they were promised. We have another 4 hour orientation session tomorrow. I’m not sure what we still need to do that will take that long, but we’re getting paid, so who cares.

We start our jobs next Monday. We’ll be pickers working 5 pm to 3:30 am on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday. The first week is a hardening week, so they only let you work half shifts. That means we’ll be done at 10 pm. Another week of good sleep for me :) Last year we were told there would be a hardening week, but we just started full time right away. The downside is less money, the upside is a chance to get used to the job.

We’ll still have 8 full weeks with at least 4 of them at 50 hours. Plenty of time for exhaustion!

Our travel day on Tuesday was much better than on Monday. No tire problems!! The only other mishap we had was that our large shade on the back window pulled lose on one side. There is only one screw on each side holding up that large, heavy shade. Last year the screw on the other side pulled out. Kevin has now reinforced it across the entire top. It should be good forever!

I’ve been in touch with Burlington RV in Wisconsin where we’ve had repairs done on our 5th wheel in the past. They are going to send me an estimate for repairs based on pictures I’ve sent them. That way we can submit our claim to Goodyear and wait to have the work done when we get back to Wisconsin in April. The damage isn’t that bad and is all cosmetic. We really don’t want to deal with repairs while on the road this winter. I’ll let you know what happens with Goodyear.

On Tuesday we crossed this cool bridge over the Missouri River into Kansas City.


Here’s the Kansas City skyline. The tree colors in Missouri and Kansas were fantastic.


We traveled on Hwy. US-169 in Kansas. Parts of it are four lane and other sections are two lane. Twice while we were on the two lane sections they were repaving and had traffic down to one lane. 

P1130307At the first stop, they had this lady with her stop sign standing out in the weather. It was in the 70s out, but it was quite windy. We waited there for about 15 minutes until the pilot car came to guide us through the construction. The lady switched spots with the driver and then she drove the car. At least she didn’t have to stand there all day.


At the second stop, they had this portable red light set up. It had a barrier down across the road like they have at railroad crossings to help assure cars stopped. We waited at this stop about another 15 minutes and then a pilot car came to guide us through. This red light sure seems like a better and cheaper alternative to having a person with a sign.


We arrived at the Big Chief campground in Coffeyville, Kansas Tuesday afternoon. There is a new owner this year. It looks like he is making some improvements, but its slow going. We are parked in site D-11 this year. This is one row over from where we were last year, and its on higher ground. I told the owner we did not want to be in the lake we were in last year. Here’s a reminder picture in case you forgot about our lakefront property last year.

Campsite in Coffeyville, Kansas

The owner claims he has built up that row. There are some motorhomes on those sites right behind us, so we’ll see what it looks like when it rains. It still looks low to me.

The weather when we arrived on Tuesday was 82 degrees. Its been quite windy and in the 70s since then. This afternoon they actually closed down a stretch of I-35 south of us due to poor visibility caused by blowing dirt. The weekend is forecast for sunny and low 80s. We’re off, so we’ll have to get out and enjoy.

Kevin is super pleased with our new truck. He says it tows like a dream and the brakes work much better. We also averaged almost 10 mph even while driving into the wind. We’re able to travel farther before refueling so we didn’t have to stop once for fuel while towing. This also made Kevin very happy!!

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Another Tire Bites the Dust

This is getting quite ridiculous!!! This is the third tire that has failed in the last 18 months. This tire also has the tread pealing off of it, but it also blew.

We were driving along on I-35 about 20 miles north of Des Moines, Iowa when we heard a loud POP. Kevin looked in the side mirror and saw the tire had blown. This is on the same side as the one that blew in March, 2011 only it’s the front one this time.


Luckily, we were close to an exit so Kevin slowly limped us off the exit and onto the side of the entrance ramp across the road. He did a great job keeping control of everything.

As you can see the tire was quite flat. It also did damage to our 5th wheel again. Kevin tried to put the spare on, but his jack wouldn’t raise the axle high enough. We were not in the best place for changing a tire, so I suggested we should call for help.

We got to try out our On Star on the new truck. They connected me with GM Roadside Assistance who sent out a guy to change the tire for us. The bill was $259. Wow, that sounds pretty steep. We have coverage under our trailer insurance, so I will have to submit the bill to them for reimbursement.

While waiting for the roadside assistance guy, I used my smart phone to find a Goodyear tire dealer near where we would be staying the night. After calling a couple of places, I found one with our type tire. Its about a 45 minute drive from where we’re staying tonight, so we’ll drive over there first thing tomorrow morning, pick up the tire, mount it, and continue to Coffeyville.

So, after a two hour delay we were back on the road. This is now the third tire that has failed. At most, these tires have 12,000 miles on them. I don’t care what Goodyear says, there had to be some kind of defect in these tires. They will be getting a real earful from me. I expect them to cover some or all of the cost of the tire and the damage to our unit. I also expect them to give us some compensation towards the fourth tire as we will be replacing it. We do not trust that tire at all.

We know of many other RVers with these Goodyear G rated light truck tires on their 5th wheels, and no one else seems to have had the bad luck we have had. That’s what makes me think we had a defective batch. Kevin has been so careful checking them since our first problem. He had just looked at them about 20 miles earlier at a rest stop. But, you can’t always see if the tread is separating.

As always, things could have been worse. No one was hurt, the tread did not wrap itself around the axle which would have been so much worse. The damage to our 5th wheel is only cosmetic. On Star worked very well.

Tonight we’re staying at Wallace State Park in Cameron, Missouri. It’s about 30 miles north of Kansas City. This is really a beautiful park. We’ll definitely have to come back when we can take advantage of the hiking trails. The tree colors are just gorgeous. Here’s our site. We have a pull through, paved, 30 amp electric only site with free Wi-Fi for $21 per night.


On a brighter note, we had dinner at Joe and Julie’s on Saturday night and got to spend some more time with our niece Jen and her family. We had a great time visiting. Here’s the required family picture.


Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Two Enjoyable Bike Rides

On Thursday afternoon Kevin and I went bike riding with Kevin’s brother Joe. Unfortunately, Joe’s wife Julie had to work. Joe and Julie live in Waverly, Iowa where Joe took us out on the Rolling Prairie Trail. Another very nice paved Iowa bike trail.
We rode 16.3 miles round trip. The forecast was for 60s and sunny. Unfortunately, the weather guessers were wrong again. It was much cooler and overcast. We even got sprinkled on a bit. However, it was still a great ride. Thanks to Joe for giving us a tour of the trail. Here are Kevin and Joe next to the tallest Pompous Grass I have ever seen.
On Friday Kevin and I rode about 9 miles on the paved trails in and around George Wyth State Park. There are some small lakes in the park. This one is called Brinker Lake.
Part of the trail runs along the Cedar River. As you can see, most of the colorful leaves have already fallen to the ground. It was still a very pretty ride.
Much of the Midwest, including Iowa, is experiencing a severe drought this year. According to the newscasters, this area is over 16 inches below normal. The drought conditions are very noticeable in some of the waterways. The water level on Fisher Lake in the park is very low. These Canadian Geese must be wondering what all this mud is doing here.
Last night we went out for dinner with Joe and Julie, their son Robert, and their daughter Jen with her husband Mike and their son Nathan. Jen, Mike and Nathan live in Chicago and are visiting her family this weekend. When we found out they were going to be here, we extended our stay so we could see them. It’s been almost three years since we’ve seen them. Nathan is now four years old and is such a little cutie.
We ate at a retirement community. You may be thinking that sounds a bit odd. The story is that the chef at the retirement center used to own his own German restaurant in the area. He got out of the restaurant business because of the crazy hours. He was hired at the retirement center. Once a month he puts on a German dinner in their dining room and the public is allowed to make reservations.
It’s really a win/win/win situation for everyone. He gets to prepare his German cuisine, the proceeds go to the retirement center, the public gets to enjoy the great food and visit the fantastic retirement center which is great publicity for the center. Their dining room was just as nice as many restaurants I’ve been in. The food was fantastic!! They don’t serve alcohol, but the public is allowed to bring in beer or wine. What a great idea this chef had!
Today has been pretty rainy, but that’s okay. They really need the rain. Tonight we’re going to Joe and Julie’s house for dinner with everyone. It’s so nice to have a more flexible lifestyle now and be able to spend some extended time with family.
We got a phone call from Amazon yesterday. They were confirming our assignment as pickers. The lady I spoke with assured me that we will be pickers working the 8 shift which is nights on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. That’s exactly what we wanted. Hopefully, this year what they told us and what happens will match! On Thursday we report at 8 a.m. for orientation.
Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Thursday, October 11, 2012


Yesterday morning I saw evidence (droppings) that a mouse had been in our kitchen and bedroom. That is not going to fly!!!

While we were out, we picked up some basic traps. We keep mouse poison in our basement and under the bed, but none of that had been disturbed. Kevin thought I was imagining things; but let me tell you, my mouse radar is very accurate!

Kevin promised he would set the traps before he went to bed. We were sitting watching a movie, and my ears perked up. There was a rustling noise by the garbage can in the kitchen. Kevin went and looked, but didn’t see anything. He again told me I was imagining it, he didn’t hear anything. He rolled his eyes, but set the trap next to the can. Within a few minutes, snap. He walked around the counter, and, sure enough, there was a pretty big mouse caught in the trap. (I’ll spare you any pictures.) I told you I have excellent mouse radar :)

He reset the trap just in case this mouse had friends, but no more snaps. I think we’re safe, and I was able to sleep peacefully last night!

We’ve actually been quite lucky regarding rodents in our 5th wheel. This is only the second time we’ve had any evidence of a mouse.

By the way, last night on the local news there was a story about the Field of Dreams movie site. It seems it has been sold to investors from Chicago who plan to build a large baseball complex surrounding the site. The original farm and field will remain, but there will be a complex with fields and facilities for tournaments, etc. Some locals had filed court papers to stop it, but a judge ruled yesterday to allow the sale.

One of the signs stated that they originally did rent the site out for games and special events, but the family didn’t think that worked very well and chose to keep it simple and open for all to enjoy. I’m glad we got to see it in its non-commercial state.

I got a text message from Redbox yesterday giving me a free rental code for their 10th anniversary. Amazing they’ve been around for that long. We rented Snow White and the Huntsman. I would say it was just an okay movie. Charlize Theron did a great job portraying the evil stepmother. The end definitely left things open for a sequel.


Today we’re going bike riding with Kevin’s brother and joining them for dinner at their house. Temps are supposed to be in the 60s today and sunny. Should be perfect for a nice long ride.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Field of Dreams

On Monday we traveled to George Wyth State Park in Waterloo, Iowa. It was about 240 miles, and we averaged 8.8 miles to the gallon with the new diesel truck. Kevin was very pleased with how the truck tows. He is especially happy with how much better the brakes work. I’m thinking we were definitely overweight with the old truck. The entire trip was into headwinds of between 15 to 25 miles per hour, so we think we did pretty good on the fuel mileage.

P1130278George Wyth is a nice park. Sites are 50 amp electric, but no water or sewer at the sites. Originally, we had planned on staying only three nights so we would have plenty of tank space. The fall rate is only $11 per night including electric. What a great deal. There are lots of hiking and biking trails in the park. It’s a beautiful place.

Yesterday we planned on biking with Kevin’s brother Joe. Rain and cold weather altered those plans. Instead Joe and his wife Julie came to the park and we spent the afternoon visiting. We met up with their son Robert for dinner at Old Chicago and enjoyed some delicious Italian food.

Joe told us that their daughter Jen, who lives in Chicago, was coming for a visit this weekend with her husband and son. We haven’t seen them in almost three years so we’ve extended our stay here through Sunday night. We’ll just be a bit more conservative with our water usage.

Today we drove about 65 miles to Dyersville, Iowa to visit the Field of Dreams movie site. The farm used in the filming of the movie is owned by the Lansing family. They have kept the property pretty commercial free. The site is open to the public to come and take pictures and make memories free of charge. They do have a gift shop to help them with costs. There were a few signs on the property with some interesting movie facts. About 65,000 people visit annually.

Here’s the view from the end of the drive. The baseball field is on the left behind the curve in the drive in front of the cornfield.


Here’s an aerial shot from a postcard I purchased.


Kevin posed at home plate. Can’t you just see those ballplayers coming out of the corn!


Here’s the bleachers Kevin Costner sat on with the house behind it. The movie production company actually extended the porch around the corner of the house so they could add the porch swing. The swing used in the movie was rented from a family in Dubuque and returned to them after the filming.


In the movie Kevin Costner’s character carved “Ray Loves Annie” into the bleachers. And here it is, still there.


Filming of the movie took place during the summer of 1988. Some walls inside the house were taken down to enhance filming. The owner of the house actually lived in a trailer on the property during the 14 weeks of filming. There was a drought that summer so water had to be diverted from a nearby creek to get the corn to grow. The baseball field was constructed in 3 days. The Iowa Film Board lobbied heavily for the filming to take place in Iowa. When the producer saw this farm, he knew this was the place.

I have received another email from one of my German cousins. This one was from Irina, my youngest cousin. She sent some pictures of her family. Rainer also sent some pictures of his family. Its so amazing to see my cousins as adults around the same age as I am. I still picture them as I last saw them as young adults or teens. I am so loving this virtual reunion!!!

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Guten Tag Across the Ocean

I’ve had some very surprising communications the last two days. Let me tell you the story.

On Friday when we dropped our car off at my mom’s house, she was worried about her sister in Germany. My mom and her sister communicated by mail and she hadn’t received a letter in a while. Her sister had not been well, and my mom had a feeling something was very wrong.

My mom had an email address for her sister’s son, her nephew, my cousin, but she wasn’t sure if it was still valid. Since my mom doesn’t want to have anything to do with computers, she asked me if I would try sending a message to the email address and see if my cousin would respond.

A little background on my family history would probably be helpful at this point. In 1958 when I was 11 months old, my family immigrated from Germany to the United States. Both of my parents were born and raised in Germany.

My dad’s family, his parents and brother, also immigrated at the same time. My mom left her parents, her two sisters and their families behind. My mom was 20 years old at the time. It must have been very hard for her to leave her family and move so far away.

Over the years we visited Germany a few times and I got to meet my grandparents, two aunts and uncles, and eight cousins. Some of them also visited us. The last time I saw any of my German cousins was 30 years ago when my mom and I, along with my son Eric, flew over for a visit. Eric was 18 months old at the time.

Yesterday morning I sent an email to my cousin Rainer. I wrote in English as my German is quite rusty. I knew my cousins all learned English in school so I was hoping he could read my message. I told him he could respond in German as I could speak and read much better than write.

By afternoon I had a response with some sad news. My aunt Lily had died on Thursday. Rainer was also able to reach my mom by phone. Apparently, he had tried a few times, but my mom couldn’t hear very well and thought it was a wrong number.

Since yesterday Rainer and I have exchanged a few emails with some pictures. He is married and has a very cute little girl who has just started school. I sent him my blog address and his wife has signed up as a follower.

It turns out she also writes a blog. She is quite crafty and has created some wonderful items. I’ve joined her blog as a follower. Blogger actually translates it into English so I was able to read her entries. The translation isn’t the greatest, but between what I can read in German and the translation, I am able to understand it quite well.

I asked Rainer to share my email address with my other German cousins. I’m hoping I might be able to reconnect with all of them. The internet is truly an amazing invention. I’m so excited to be able to reconnect with my family across the ocean!

Auf Wiedersehen.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Gorgeous Fall Colors

One positive consequence of the drought our area experienced this summer has been the exceptional color of the leaves this fall. I’m glad we stayed in the area long enough to enjoy the natural splendor.

P1130271Driving around the last few weeks has been such a treat. The red and orange trees actually looked like they were glowing at times.









All the pictures in today’s post are from the park we’re at. I have seen even more beautiful trees as I’ve been out and about, but didn’t have my camera with me.







This weekend the weather has turned cold again. Highs struggling to make it to 50 degrees and lows in the upper 20s with pretty strong winds. We disconnected our water hose and are using our pump with water in the tank. Kevin had to let the water trickle at the water towers at the dump last night so the pipes wouldn’t freeze. They’ll be shutting the water off within the next few weeks.


P1130270We have 10 sites occupied this weekend. Four of them are tenters. You couldn’t pay me enough to be out in a tent in this cold weather!







Yesterday we dropped our car off at my mom’s for the winter. It is so nice that she has an extra spot in her garage for us to use. Then we went out for fish fry with a group of friends. Tonight Kevin is playing cards with a group of guys he used to work with.


2012-10-01 11.45.41We’re leaving Monday morning. We plan to drive to George Wyth State Park in Waterloo, Iowa for our first stop. We’ll stay there three nights and visit Kevin’s brother and family.

Then we plan to stay at a state park in Kansas for the next five nights. We haven’t decided which one for sure yet. We’ll arrive at the campground in Coffeyville, Kansas on Oct. 16th. We have our orientation day at Amazon on Oct. 18th.

I spoke to Amazon yesterday and they have assured me that we will have the picker job. They offered us either day or night shift. Believe it or not, I actually chose night shift. It pays better, Kevin prefers the night shift, we know two other couples that are working nights and I won’t have to set an alarm. I figure I can do it for nine weeks. I know what to expect this year, and I think that will make things easier. Time will tell.

We’re excited to be on the move again. Time for some new adventures!

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Beauty in the Sky

The harvest moon made an appearance this weekend. What a beautiful sight!

P1130267I did a little experimenting with my camera. The first shot is on the daytime scenery setting.









P1130263The second shot is on the sunset scenery setting. Either way it was a beautiful moment!









As if seeing the moon rise in the east wasn’t enough, the view to the west wasn’t too bad either. Nature certainly provided a gift yesterday evening.


The weather the past week was fantastic with highs in the 70s and crisp sunny skies. Kevin took advantage of the beautiful weather and did some maintenance projects on the fifth wheel. On Saturday he repacked the wheel bearings on the tires.

While he was doing that, I ran some errands and then came back and washed our car. We leave the car parked in my mom’s garage over the winter, and I wanted to get the dirt and bugs washed off before we park it later this week.

On Sunday Kevin flushed our hot water heater tank. We’ve been having a problem with smelly water at our bathroom sink. After much research, the consensus of opinion is the smell is being caused by a chemical reaction inside the hot water heater. We’re not completely convinced flushing the tank will fix our problem, but we thought we should do it anyway. The owner’s manual says the tank should be periodically flushed, and we haven’t done it in the four years we’ve owned our fifth wheel.

The weird thing about the smelly water is it is only happening with the water at the bathroom sink. We use hot water at the kitchen sink and in the shower, but that water never smells. Flushing the bathroom water lines with bleach about once a month has been getting rid of the smell, but who wants to be doing that every month. Now we’ll wait and see if the smell comes back.

The wonderful weather brought out lots of last minute campers this weekend. We had one reservation, but ended up with eleven occupied sites. Next weekend is predicted to be cold with highs only reaching the 50s. I’m thinking we’ll have a lot less activity in the campground for our last weekend.

The great weather also brought out the bugs. We’ve been inundated with box elder bugs and flies. We’re not alone. Apparently, the hot dry summer has produced a bumper crop of the box elder bugs. At least, that’s what they said on the news.

I think all of Wisconsin breathed a collective sigh of relief at the end of the Packer game yesterday. It sure looked like bad calls by the officials were going to cost our team another win. They were able to pull out a win in the last few minutes. Unfortunately, the Brewers are not going to make it into the playoffs, and the Wisconsin Badgers are not playing well at all.

Today we’re both getting our hair cut before we hit the road. We’ll also stop in and say happy birthday to Kevin’s sister and have a farewell dinner with my family. Busy, busy, busy!

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!