Not All Who Wander Are Lost

Not All Who Wander Are Lost
January 17, 2017 - Florida Keys

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Relaxing in Houston

We had a nice but quiet Christmas Day in Dallas. We went to the matinee showing of the new Hobbit movie and then Kevin grilled some delicious rib eye steaks for supper. We tried to Skype with our son Eric who was at my mom’s house for dinner, but his cell signal wasn’t good enough so we talked with everyone there and wished them all a Merry Christmas.

We were able to Skype with our son Korey and his wife Cathryn. They spent their first Christmas as husband and wife in Moorhead, Minnesota with Cathryn’s family with below zero temperatures. I’m hoping next year our entire family will be able to be together for Christmas again.

The campground office in Dallas had a list of outdoor Christmas light displays in the area. I talked Kevin into driving to the nearest one to our campground. We weren’t quite sure what to expect, but we certainly weren’t expecting to wait in a line of traffic for almost an hour just to get into the subdivision.

It was a subdivision where many of the residents had nice light displays. Some of the houses had nothing. It was pretty, but not worth waiting for an hour. I took some pictures, but most of them were blurry. Here’s the best one I got.

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Oh well, we didn’t really have anything else to do so it was fine.

The next day we left Dallas and headed to Houston. We are staying at Trader’s Village RV Park in Houston. They have three flea markets with campgrounds next door in Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. Both the campground in Dallas and Houston are nice enough with concrete roads and camping pads and very clean grounds. The hookups are good. However, I wouldn’t say either park is a destination kind of place, just a decent place to stay for a short stay in the area. The wi-fi is being upgraded at this park, so we haven’t been able to use it here in Houston. That’s a real disappointment. Good thing we have our mi-fi.

Also, the sites in both campgrounds were pretty tight. Not as bad as some places we’ve been at, but still a bit tight. To make things worse, lots of people have more than one vehicle and park in the road. As you can see in the picture, the people next to us on the left have two trucks, each one parked in the road on either side of their fifth wheel. They have a trailer behind the fifth wheel with a motorcycle, so their entire site is full of the camper and trailer.

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Yesterday we walked over to the flea market next door advertising 1,500 exhibitors. The grounds have many storage unit type buildings. Exhibitors rent a storage unit and leave their wares inside and just open the door each weekend. The parking lot was full by afternoon. There certainly is a lot of variety of items for sale.

You can buy a used car; live animals including puppies, birds and snakes; live plants, produce, cell phones, furniture, appliances and all kinds of junk wonderful stuff. I even saw two of the storage units that were outfitted as hair salons. We did buy some new socks for Kevin at a good price and some produce. The puppies were really cute, but we don’t want to be tied down. They sure were cute though!!

Today we’re expecting a visit from a friend we first met while working at Amazon three years ago. We worked with Carol for two years. Last year she got a job selling real estate at an RV park in Texas, so she didn’t come to Amazon this year. She was going to be in Houston while we’re hear, so she’s coming for dinner today. It will be great to get caught up.

Tomorrow we’re going to the Houston Space Center and on Tuesday we’re meeting some fellow bloggers for lunch. On Thursday we’ll be leaving for a week in Galveston. The weather has been pretty nice. Today the sun is shining and the high is supposed to be in the mid 60s. Kevin is happy to be wearing shorts again!

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

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

We want to wish everyone a very

Merry Christmas!

Nativity

Kevin and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a new year filled with peace and joy!

This will be the first Christmas we will be away from all of our family members. I certainly miss everyone like crazy, but I’m handling it better than I thought I would. Most of that is due to the fact that I know our kids will be joining us in New Orleans in a month for a cruise. Also, we are planning to Skype with the kids tomorrow. That also helps a lot.

We made it out of Kansas yesterday morning around 10 am. It took some doing on Kevin’s part to get all of the ice off of the slides so they could be retracted properly, but he managed to get everything working without any casualties.

I was surprised how far we traveled before the icy landscape disappeared. We were almost to the Texas border before the ice was gone. Every once in a while the sun would peak out, and the scenery just sparkled.

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As it got warmer, pieces of ice started falling off of the truck. There were quite a few semis on the road that were also losing sheets of ice. Hopefully, no one behind us got hit by any flying ice! It was a long (for us) 6-1/2 hour drive to Grand Prairie, Texas, just south of Dallas, but we arrived without incident. Always a good thing! We’re staying at Trader’s Village RV Park. It’s a pretty nice place. They have some cute Christmas decorations in front of the office.

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There is a very unusual fifth wheel parked behind us. It has decals on it from Travel Units, Inc. and says Custom Designed. It looks to be well over 40 feet long with 3 axles, 8 slides and 3 air conditioners. It must weigh a ton. We’ve seen a few of these custom built units in our travels, but never one this big. What amazes me is how most of them don’t have many windows in them.

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Today we drove into Dallas to check out Dealey Plaza where President Kennedy was shot. As a first grader, I clearly remember the principal coming on the announcements that day and letting us know the sad news. My teacher cried, and we were sent home early. I also remember watching the funeral coverage on our black and white TV with my parents. That event left a very lasting memory on an impressionable six year old.

The former book depository where Oswald fired the fatal shots from has been turned into a private museum. I didn’t feel it was worth $16 each to go inside. I really just wanted to see the area. It looks just like the pictures we’ve all seen hundreds of times.

Here’s the view from down the hill looking up at the book depository (building on the far left). The window Oswald fired from is the second from the top on the right side of the building. There are two x’s in the road where the bullets hit Kennedy. The lady in the pink (in the middle of the road) is standing on the second x. I was amazed how many people ran out into the road with lots of traffic to take a picture.

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There are a number of plaques around the entire area describing the events of that horrible day. A very sad experience. This site was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1993. I’m really surprised it took so long to get that done. Fifty years later there are still people leaving flowers at the site.

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Dealey Plaza is named after a prominent businessman in Dallas history. There is a large statue of him in the plaza. The plaza is built on the site of the first home, post office and store in Dallas, and is considered the birthplace of Dallas.

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Across the street from the plaza is a beautiful old building called The Old Red Museum. It was completed in 1892 as the Dallas courthouse. It now houses a Dallas history museum.

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A couple of blocks from the actual location of the shooting is a John F. Kennedy memorial. It was dedicated in 1970 and represents an open tomb. It measures 30 feet high and 50 x 50 feet wide. Kevin is standing in front for some perspective on the enormous size of it. In the center is a granite stone with Kennedy’s name engraved on it.

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Dallas has an electric trolley car system that serves a large part of the metropolitan area. They trolleys were super long, kind of like three buses connected to each other.

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This was our first visit to Dallas. The downtown area was clean, and the buildings looked to be in good repair. Unfortunately, there were quite a few panhandlers around which made me feel somewhat unsafe. Also, we stopped in a McDonald’s a few blocks away to use the restroom. They had their own security guard next to the counter. That doesn’t make me feel very good about the area. Maybe I’m just not used to being in a large city, and that’s how I like it  :)

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

Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Blog Milestone

I started writing this blog for several reasons: to keep family and friends up to date on where we were and what we were doing, as a travel journal for myself, and to maybe help others considering the full time RV lifestyle by reading about our experiences.

When I began writing it on February 20, 2010, never in a million years would I have thought I would reach this milestone: over 100,000 page views and 100 followers.

I am humbled and amazed that so many people are interested in what I have to say. We have met several new people through this blog including fellow full time RVers. Some have become friends. It’s an amazing tool to keep in touch with family and friends and to meet new people with similar interests.

Thanks to all of you who take a few minutes out of your day to share in our journey. And, know that the comments you leave mean a great deal to me. Without comments, I don’t know who is out there. So, keep them coming!!!

We are still stuck in Kansas. We had over an inch of ice by the end of the day yesterday. Today Kevin spent quite a bit of time outside knocking the ice off of our slide covers. I couldn’t believe how much was up there. Here are a few pictures to show you what I mean. You can click on the pictures to make them bigger. Just look at the chunks of ice on the ground that came off of the slides!

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Here’s what all of the grass looked like this morning.

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Walking out there was super slippery. The amazing thing about this ice storm was that the roads did not freeze. Traffic on the highway behind the campground has been flying by at the same pace as always. From what we saw on the news, there were some accidents on some secondary roads, but driving was not too much of a problem. In fact, the media really didn’t make a big deal about it at all. The inch of snow we got a few weeks ago freaked everyone out so much more.

We’ve lived in Wisconsin all of our lives, and we’ve experienced all kinds of winter weather. This was different than what we’ve ever experienced. I hope we never have to deal with it again!!

The plan is to leave tomorrow morning if the slides and jacks cooperate. It’s supposed to get even colder, so we want to get out of here. Just a few hundred miles south, the weather is much better. Keep your fingers crossed for us!

I forgot to mention in my last post another advantage of working at Amazon. Although we were only pickers for three weeks this year, so we didn’t do nearly as much walking as last year; we both still managed to use the Amazon experience as a weight loss camp. I lost five pounds and Kevin lost seven. Now, to keep them off. That will be a challenge on the seven day cruise we’re going on at the end of January. I’m dreaming of warm tropical weather :)

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

Saturday, December 21, 2013

I’m a Winner….. Again!!!!

Miracle of miracles, I’ve won another gift card at Amazon!! I’ve definitely been on a winning streak. I’m thinking I need to hit a casino :)

During the peak season at Amazon, they have been handing out scratch off “treasure token” cards. Each card has a number under the scratch off from 1 to 50 representing Coffeyville dollars you can spend in the Amazon store. Cards were handed out for meeting performance goals and perfect attendance. Between us we accumulated 30 points.

On Thursday we stopped at the Amazon store and got three t-shirts and a shopping bag for our points. Of course, all of these items have Amazon advertising on them, but free is good.

On the back of each token was a place to write your name to be entered into a grand prize drawing. Prizes included a 50 inch flat screen TV, Kindles, power tools, and gift cards ranging from $500 to $50. I won a $50 VISA gift card. Awesome!!!

Our plan was to leave tomorrow. The weather is not cooperating with our plans. Last night when we got out of work there was a solid sheet of ice on the truck. Amazingly, the roads are not icy. We can see traffic on Hwy. 169 behind us, and the traffic is moving just fine. The metal steps into the RV are treacherous though.

They sure take freezing rain in stride around here. A few weeks ago they were totally freaked out by a few inches of snow. However, freezing rain doesn’t seem to be a big deal at all. We’d take snow over ice any day!!

This is what the truck looked like this morning. I think that’s about 1/4 of an inch of ice on it.

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Since the roads are fine, Kevin’s heading into town to fill up the fuel tank in case we are able to leave tomorrow, and to pick up some milk. He loves his milk. A true Wisconsin boy. Here he is scraping the ice off of the windows. Chunks were flying everywhere.

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I’m so glad to be done again at Amazon. The money is great, but the work is demanding. I’m glad to have another year behind us.

There were a few new items this year that made me laugh. They have a variety of fake gift boxes to put presents into. The idea is the person unwraps the gift and the box shows something really crazy. Some of the ones I saw included talking coffee mugs, slippers with speakers in them and a video game called extreme chores where you do things like rake leaves. Too funny.

There is also 3D gift wrap for someone who is too lazy to put a bow on the package. It comes with 3D glasses and a printed bow on the paper. With the glasses the bow looks real.

And then for the serious drinker, there is The Beer Belly. It is a sling you wrap around your body under your shirt making it look like you have a beer belly for a guy or are pregnant for a woman. It holds 80 ounces. There is a tube that you put in your mouth. It’s advertised as an inexpensive way to enjoy beers at sporting events, etc. Don’t you think it would get warm from the body heat, and the ushers might notice you have a tube in your mouth? Crazy stuff.

I’ve made reservations for our stops between here and New Orleans. I was surprised how many campgrounds are full or near full over Christmas. I thought most snowbirds don’t leave until after the holidays.

We are staying in Dallas for a few days, then Houston for a week, Galveston for a week, another week split between stops in Texas and Louisiana and then arrive in New Orleans on Jan. 17th. I’m looking forward to getting out and having some adventures again!

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

Monday, December 16, 2013

Shopping at Amazon

I’ve noticed over the last few years that some bloggers have links to Amazon on their website. They ask people to shop at Amazon through this link, and they get a small commission from it.

Since we like shopping at Amazon, I thought that some of my readers must also shop there. It’s especially convenient in this nomad full time RV lifestyle because you can have pretty much anything delivered to you wherever you may be.

So, I’ve added a search box on the right side of the blog just above our picture. If you search for your item through this box, it’s supposed to take you to my affiliate link. You can then search and order just like you would normally do on Amazon’s site.

Please consider using this search widget if you plan to buy something through Amazon anyway. It certainly won’t make us rich, but every little bit helps, right?

Thanks!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The End is Near!!!

As much as our bank account enjoys the funds it receives from us working at Amazon, I am always ready to be done!!! We have one week left, that’s four 10 hour shifts; and we’re out of here! Friday night is our last shift, so the plan is to leave Sunday morning.

The weather this year has been much colder than the previous two years. We had some water freezing issues, but everything seems to be back to normal. Kevin handled it all beautifully, and this week’s highs are supposed to be in the 60s and lows above freezing, so that will be a very good thing.

I was hoping we could spend a few days in the Dallas area after we leave here. I wanted to visit the book depository area where Kennedy was shot, but it looks like next weekend is supposed to bring another arctic cold blast to the south, so we will probably head further south to Houston.

This past Tuesday was Kevin’s birthday. We had to work, so no big celebrations. We had gone out the week before to a local Mexican restaurant to celebrate. The food was just okay, nothing to get excited about. I had planned to make him his favorite poppy seed cake from his mother’s recipe. Making it is very messy because you have to make the cake, a custard filling, and homemade cream cheese frosting. I pretty much use every cooking utensil I own to make it :) Because of our limited water, Kevin said to wait and make it when we have a regular water supply again. So, I bought him another of his favorites, cheesecake.

Unfortunately, he got a bit of a stomach flu on Wednesday night and didn’t eat for two days. He’s finally feeling better, and the cheesecake is now almost gone. Today I’m making lasagna for a belated birthday dinner.

With switching to the picking job two weeks ago comes more walking. I’ve worn a pedometer a few nights, and it seems we are averaging about 5 to 6 miles a shift. We’ve lost a few pounds again, which is a good thing. Unfortunately, my strange toes have gotten blisters both years I’ve done picking. I get blisters on the bottoms of both of my little toes. I’ve tried a couple of types of shoes, but nothing seems to help. I’ve been wrapping them with bandages, so that helps, but it’s still painful.

I’ve done some research, and there are tubes you can place over your toes that are supposed to help. Also, some people swear by socks with toes in them. I’ll be checking some of these options out for next year. Walking for 10 hours with blisters on your toes is no fun. Thank goodness for ibuprofen!

Our son Eric is on a mini vacation in Dallas this weekend with a couple of his friends. They will be at the Cowboys/Packers football game today. Hopefully, the Packers can pull off a miracle win.

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

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Baby It’s Cold Outside!!!

The big news in southeastern Kansas the last few days has definitely been winter weather! The average highs around here this time of year are supposed to be in the 40s. So, when daytime highs stay below freezing for several days, nighttime temps fall into the single digits, and they get snow; it is a BIG deal!

Tulsa, Oklahoma is about an hour south of us. They had 5 inches of snow Friday. Schools were closed Thursday in anticipation of the snow and Friday when it actually snowed. Today there was a threat of a little snow and some freezing rain, and most churches cancelled services. We are definitely not in Wisconsin.

We had about an inch of snow on Friday. It was actually kind of pretty to see snow again. But that’s enough now :) 

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You can see our bikes are still out. On Monday and Tuesday we rode our bikes to work. By Friday it was snowing and very cold. The past two years when we have worked at Amazon we have dealt with the cold by filling our water tank and running the furnace to keep the underbelly warm. Both previous years we have had to do this for maybe a total of 10 days, and it never got this cold. The rest of the time was warm enough to have the hose out.

This year has definitely been colder than normal. Last Wednesday Kevin filled our water tank, and we ran the furnace again to keep the underbelly warm. However, when we got home from work on Friday night with a balmy 5 degrees outside, we had no water. Our fresh water tank is enclosed but near the back of the fifth wheel. Because it is enclosed, we’re not sure how insulated or heated it is in there. Either the water tank or the lines from it have frozen. The pump still works, but no water comes out. Hopefully, nothing is broken.

The water spigot here at the RV park is just below ground with a cover over it. Kevin had put insulation on it, so we still had water coming out of the ground. He hooked up the hose to the fifth wheel, and we have water again to shower and do dishes. He filled some water gallons for drinking water and using the toilet, and then he drains the hose and puts it away again. By the end of this week temperatures are supposed to be in the 40s again. So, that’s a good thing.

The valves on the grey and black water tanks are also frozen shut so we are being careful to not use too much water so our tanks don’t get too full. That would not be a good thing. We heard you should put some RV antifreeze in those tanks to keep them from freezing, so Kevin did that too.

Lots of people here at the park are having water problems. Even those who have heated hoses and insulated hoses, have had them freezing up. Kevin saw one guy yesterday with a huge chunk of ice where the hose meets the motor home. He was hacking at it with an ax. Ouch!!!

This morning there was a little snow again. Just enough to coat our truck’s window. Here’s the view out of our back window. We’re staying cozy warm inside enjoying our Christmas decorations and a Green Bay Packer win. This is the coldest weather we have been in since owning this fifth wheel. I must say I’m very impressed how warm it stays inside. The walls don’t feel cold at all. We keep the shades down because the windows do get cold. Our new one will have double pane windows, and I think that will help a lot with cold and heat.

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Amazon has informed us that our last work day will be Dec. 20th which means we’ll get off at 3:30 am the next morning. Our plan is to leave Dec. 22nd and head towards Dallas. Hopefully, the weather won’t be so cold that we can’t get our jacks up, etc. If it’s not too cold in Dallas, we’ll stay there for a few days. Otherwise, we’ll head towards Houston.

Korey and Cathryn WeddingKorey and Cathryn have finally gotten their wedding pictures from the photographer. They’re on a computer disc so Korey is making me a copy. They did post one of them on Facebook, so I’m sharing with my readers. Aren’t they just so cute!

 

 

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

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving comes at just the right time of our stint working at Amazon. It’s about this time that I’ve had about enough and start feeling disgruntled. Then Thanksgiving comes along, and I’m reminded of how much I have to be thankful for. Maybe I need a Thanksgiving more often to remind me of how lucky I am.

Most of all I am thankful for my wonderful family and the fact that all of us are quite healthy. In fact, Kevin and I have been healthier since we started fulltiming than ever before. We are so blessed to have two amazing sons, and this year we have a new member of the family to be grateful for. Cathryn has brought such happiness and love to our son Korey. What more could any parent wish for!

The rest of our family is doing well. My mom turned 76 this year, and is very healthy. That’s truly a blessing. We’ve had a great year, and no tire blowouts. That’s definitely something to be thankful for :)

Stowing at Amazon has been extremely frustrating the last few weeks. They have received over 10 million units and the place is bursting at the seams. They keep expecting us to find room each night for more stuff, which is very difficult.

The good news is we found out last night that we will be transferring to picking beginning on Monday night. We were pickers last year and liked that job much better than stowing. Of course, we know it will also be challenging trying to get stuff out of the extremely overstuffed bins, but we are still happy to be making the move. And, only 3-1/2 weeks left. Yippee!!!!

On Monday night Amazon provided a yummy Thanksgiving dinner for all employees. On Tuesday night they gave each employee a large pumpkin pie to take home. We’re not big fans of pumpkin pie, so in the past we have not taken the pies. This year we decided to take them and leave them in the laundry room with a note for others to enjoy for free. Hopefully, they will find a good home. I did keep a piece for myself. It was actually pretty good.

On our off time, I’ve been working on finishing a quilt I made for Eric. I actually finished the quilt top last winter, but didn’t have anyplace big enough to lay it out to get it ready for quilting. This summer I used my mom’s kitchen floor to prepare the layers, and then quilted it on my machine in the fifth wheel. I almost had it finished to give to him before we left, but I didn’t quite make it.

So, he’s seen it and knows he’ll be getting it once we return in April. Since he turns 33 on February 1st, I’ve designated it as a birthday quilt. Eric is 6’3” tall so I made the quilt extra long for him. He was happy to hear that.

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

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Great Family Visit

After working last Friday night until 4 am, we got up at 11 am and drove about 2.5 hours to Kansas City to meet up with our son Korey and his wife Cathryn. We hadn’t seen them since their wedding in August, and I was very excited to spend some time with them..

They live in Omaha, which was about the same distance as we were from Kansas City. We’ve driven by Kansas City several times, but this was our first time stopping. The weather was very nice both days. Saturday afternoon we headed to Weston Bend State Park for a hike. This park is on a bend in the Missouri River. The fall foliage was pretty much over, but we enjoyed a nice hike and some fresh air.

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Saturday night we headed towards downtown to Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue for some traditional Kansas City barbecue. Thanks to readers Paul and Mary for the recommendation. Dinner was very good, and we were quite full. After dinner we walked through Union Station. What a great building. I love the restored old railroad stations.

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We went back to the hotel and played some card games. Cathryn is quite an excellent game player and won both games. Then it was time for bed.

The road coming into our hotel had the most beautiful colorful trees. The sun was shining on them Sunday morning making them just glow.

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After admiring the trees, we headed to Boulevard Brewery. We had never heard of this brewery before our stop in Kansas City, but they are actually the 19th largest brewery in the country.

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In 2006 they built a new brew house on their existing property. The free tour was very interesting, and we learned that the company is quite involved in their community. That’s always a plus in my book for a business. I don’t care for beer, but Kevin, Korey and Cathryn enjoyed the tasting. I did try a sip from a few of the samples, but I just don’t care for the taste of beer. The other three all thought the beers were very good, and Kevin purchased a sampler pack.

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After the tour, we drove around the city for a bit. We were looking for some of the fountains the city is known for. In fact, Kansas City claims to have the most fountains of any city in the world other than Rome. We did see a few, but traffic and parking were crazy so we didn’t stop.

Our next stop was City Market, which was established in 1857. There were lots of produce vendors and a rummage sale. There were also some restaurants with many types of ethnic foods available. We bought some green peppers at a good price, and I made stuffed peppers in the crock pot on Monday. Delicious! The market was quite an interesting place to visit.

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Before heading back home, we decided to have an early dinner at Granite City. This is one of Kevin’s favorite restaurants. Even they had a fountain.

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Dinner was good, and it was time to say our goodbyes. We forgot luggage when we left Wisconsin for our cruise, so Korey and Cathryn brought us a few pieces from their luggage collection to borrow until we can return them in spring. Since we won’t be seeing Cathryn again until spring, we brought her birthday/Christmas present. She was happy to receive a Kuerig coffee maker and some accessories.

We’ll be seeing Korey and our son Eric in January when we take a cruise out of New Orleans with them. The cruise was planned before Korey and Cathryn got engaged. Although, she was invited, she can’t miss school so she won’t be coming :(

Kansas City was an interesting city, and we enjoyed our visit. However, the best part by far was spending time with the kids. I miss them already!

On the Amazon front, the place has been very busy. Last week 1.3 million items came in. This week that number is supposed to be 1.7 million. They keep sending us to areas where the bins are already overflowing and telling us to keep fitting stuff into them. As you can imagine, the bins are very stuffed. I feel bad for the pickers having to find items in some of the bins. We do the best we can, but sometimes we really wonder what are they thinking. After this week, only five weeks left!!

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

Thursday, November 7, 2013

I’m a Winner!

Yesterday Amazon had their annual Peak Kick-off event. They’ve had this event each of the three years we’ve been here. They set aside about an hour for some fun to reward their employees for their hard work during the peak season before Christmas.

They have a local marching band lead a parade of employees through the facility. The plant manager dresses as Santa and the other managers dress as elves and Santa’s helpers. They hand out candy, play some games and give out door prizes.

Each year we’ve been here the event has been on Wednesday afternoon between the day and night shift. That has been our day off, but we walk over to get paid an hour of overtime for attending. Yesterday they drew names for prizes including two 40” TVs, two Toshiba touch screen laptops, a few IPods, a $500 Wal-Mart gift certificate, and about 25 Amazon gift cards. My name was called for a $25 Amazon gift card. Cool!!

The first year Kevin won a Kodak camera. We already had a nicer camera, so I sold it on eBay for about $60. Last year I also won a $50 Wal-Mart gift card during a power hour event.

They hold several power hours per department during peak. Everyone who achieves 100% or better of their work target during a power hour has their name put into a drawing for prizes. I squeaked by with 103% last year during one of these and got lucky to have my name drawn.

So, I think we’ve been very lucky hear at Amazon. And, not only have we been lucky, but we had our first two week paycheck put into our accounts. After all, that’s what we’re here for. The bank account is happy, happy!

Last Sunday we drove to Cherryvale, Kansas to check out the Big Hill Lake Corp of Engineers Recreation Area. It’s a very nice area with a large lake.

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There was a nice campground with full hook-up sites for $20. Electric only sites were $17. We found a hiking trail that went along the lake. Although it was quite windy, the trees along the trail helped block the wind, and we enjoyed a great hike. I saw lots of beautiful trees in full fall color along the way to the park. However, most of the trees in the park were oak, so not much pretty color there.

Saturday we’re heading to Kansas City for an overnight visit with our son Korey and his wife Cathryn. We haven’t seen them since their wedding in August. They currently live in Omaha, so Kansas City is about half way between us. Since we won’t be seeing them for Thanksgiving or Christmas this year, we’ll be celebrating the holidays this weekend. I can’t wait to see them again!

Does anyone out there in blog land have any suggestions of things to do in Kansas City? We’re looking for ideas. I know there are supposed to be lots of fountains, so we’ll probably check that out. There’s also a microbrewery tour that I found so we might do that Sunday.

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

Saturday, November 2, 2013

A Trip to Tulsa and a Full Work Week

Last Saturday we drove the 70 miles to Tulsa to look at a fifth wheel and to check out the city. We had a good reason for wanting to look at this particular fifth wheel, because we had actually ordered a similar new one the week before from Freedom RV in Wisconsin.

Now that we’ve been fulltime RVing for almost four years, we had a very good idea what features we wanted in our home on wheels. Our current fifth wheel is very nice, but it is missing a few features we wanted. The three main features we really feel we need are a larger refrigerator, two air conditioners, and dual pane windows.

Our current home is a 2008 Jayco Designer. We have been Jayco owners since 1981 and have been very satisfied with the product. This will be our sixth Jayco trailer. We have ordered a 2014 Jayco Pinnacle 36REQS. The new unit will be about 41 feet, which is 4 feet longer than our current one. We bought the new truck last year with the intention of upgrading our fifth wheel in the future.

There is lots of debate about buying a used unit that is only a few years old. Many feel that all of the kinks are taken care of by that time, and you can get a better price. But, we wanted to buy a new one and order it with the exact options we wanted. We plan on keeping this one for a long time.

P1150080Camperland of Oklahoma in Tulsa had a similar unit on their lot. It’s not the same interior color plan, but we wanted to take a look and take some measurements. Here’s a picture of the outside. It comes with the automatic levelers, so that will be nice for Kevin in getting things set up outside.

Here’s a picture of the interior from the brochure. Again, these are not our colors, but you can get an idea of the floor plan.

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The interior woodwork is a cherry finish. It’s a little darker than we would have liked, but that’s the way most fifth wheels are now.. I’m sure we’ll get used to it. Otherwise, we really like it. Because of the larger refrigerator, I’m not sure there is quite as much kitchen storage as we have now, but I’m sure we’ll figure it all out. I really like the fact that there are windows on all three sides of the living area for lots of natural light.

We have been researching this new purchase for about a year and negotiated with several RV dealers throughout the Midwest. It took some doing, but we think we got a decent price. We will pick it up in April when we go back to Wisconsin.

While in Tulsa we went to their fairly new River Walk Crossing area. There is a large outdoor area with a few restaurants, shops, an outdoor amphitheater, a large movie complex and apartments and condos along the Arkansas River. Many of the storefronts were still vacant. It looked like it was all quite new.

There is a walking path along the river. The river itself was quite low, and there were old tires and garbage visible down there. I think it would look much nicer if they cleaned up the river itself.

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We were there early afternoon, and there weren’t many people around. There was a band warming up for an evening event.

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This is a very nice sculpture garden at the entrance from the parking lot.

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This River Walk area is near 96th Street and Riverside Drive. We drove all the way down Riverside Drive to 21st Street which is near the downtown area. There are several parks and a biking/jogging trail all the way along this drive. It looked like a very nice place for a bike ride. All along there are numerous bronze wild life statues. Very nice.

Here’s a statue right on the river near downtown.

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We finished our first full 40 hour week at Amazon. Working as stowers is not too bad. My back and feet hurt by the end of the 10 hour shift, but that’s to be expected. My biggest problem is lack of sleep, but that’s also to be expected. Kevin prefers the night shift, so I deal with it. If it was just me, I’d work days. But, hey, only seven weeks to go! I’m working for a new fifth wheel. That’s a great incentive :)

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

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Hardening Week is Done

We’ve completed our first week at Amazon as stowers. The first week is a hardening week, which means you only work five hour shifts instead of ten. So, we worked 5:30 to 10:30 pm this week. I wish it would be like that the entire time we are here. However, then we’d only make half the money.

We are stowers this year, which means putting the products on the shelves. It’s not a hard job. You take a large cart full of stuff and put it on shelves in the area you are assigned to. It’s really amazing how much stuff you can fit onto those shelves. You can spend hours in one row just filling those bins with anything you can imagine.

Amazon uses random stowing, so there is all kinds of stuff in every area. Everything is scanned, so their amazing computer system always knows where everything is.

Stowing is an okay job. Since you can fit so much in an area, you aren’t really moving around that much. Just slowly working your way up an aisle. My back was hurting after five hours, so I’m sure the ibuprofen will be needed for ten hours.

There is a chance that as the Christmas season gets closer, we will be moved to pickers. I would prefer that, but time will tell.

Today we’re going to Tulsa to look at some RVs at Camperland RV of Oklahoma. You just never know what we might find. We’ve never been to Tulsa, and I hear they have some nice parks along the river in the midtown area. There is rain in the forecast, so we’ll see how it goes.

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

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Training Finished

We arrived at Big Chief RV Park across the street from Amazon in Coffeyville, Kansas on Tuesday afternoon. I had made a reservation back in April, and called the week before we arrived to confirm. I was told there was no problem, they had a site for us.

When we arrived, we were told that there were over 70 sites occupied by pipeline workers and Amazon campers under 40 feet would have to double up on sites. We weren’t happy with that, but went with the managers on the golf cart to take a look. They wanted us to double up with another 5th wheel that was about the same size as ours. There was no way we could fit on that site. Plus, they were already plugged into the 50 amp plug. We were not going to accept a 30 amp plug in the same box as the 50 amp.

Eventually, they put us in our own site, but had us pull forward so they could fit a smaller camper behind us if needed. We have a full hookup site with 50 amp. If someone else gets parked behind us, they would have to plug into the same box as us, in the 30 amp plug, share the same sewer hole and water spigot.

A few Amazon workers have left this campground and gone to another park in town because they were not willing to share their site. Hopefully, this will leave enough open sites so we won’t have to share. The only reason we stay here is the proximity to Amazon. We ride our bikes to work most every day which saves on fuel and time. Amazon is not happy that the campground is doing this.

Training was on Thursday and Friday from 1 pm to 5:30 pm. It was the same stuff we’ve done each year so rather boring, but everyone has to do it. There have been some changes at Amazon this year.

They are stocking much more product than ever before. There will be over 1 million items coming in each week for seven weeks. That’s a lot of stuff. For that reason, all campers have been assigned to inbound up to this point. Inbound is getting the stuff into the plant and stocked on the shelves.

We have been assigned to be stowers on the night donut shift. That’s the shift we requested, but not the job. We had asked to be pickers like last year. Stowers put the items on the shelves, pickers take them off. I think stowing will be okay. You don’t move around as much, but its not standing in one spot all the time, and that’s what we definitely didn’t want to do. There is the possibility that once the Christmas rush begins, we may be able to move to the picker job, but no promises.

Another change is that there is no mandatory overtime for campers this year. The maximum you have to work is four ten hour days. Once overtime becomes available, you can volunteer. They think this will work out okay, because the only reason campers are here is to make money, so they will still work the overtime. For me, I’ll maybe work some overtime, but I’m thrilled that I don’t have to if I don’t feel up to it.

We start work on Monday. The first week is a “hardening” week where you only work a half shift each day. Then the next week we start the four ten hour days. We work Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 5:30 pm to 4:00 am. Another adventure begins. It’s only eight weeks, so not so bad.

Our son Korey and his wife Cathryn were on their honeymoon this week. They went on a Disney cruise and return today. I can’t wait to hear all about it. It was Cathryn’s first cruise. I hope she enjoyed cruising as much as we do.

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

Monday, October 14, 2013

Visiting Iowa and Missouri

We spent four nights at George Wyth State Park in Waterloo, Iowa. We really like this park. The weather was beautiful the whole time.

We did a little bike riding and some hiking. Kevin’s brother Josef is a professor at Wartburg College in Waverly. It was homecoming weekend at the college, so on Saturday we wandered around the campus checking out the activities.

The college has a new science professor who has brought some creepy, crawly friends to his classroom. Josef took us to the room so we could see the snakes, lizards and giants bugs. Very interesting. The same science professor also has four African desert tortoises that he allows to roam in a courtyard. After the homecoming weekend, the tortoises were going home with the professor for the winter.

Tortoise

We did some hiking with Josef and his family and went out to dinner both Friday and Saturday night. It was great visiting with family.

On Sunday we left Iowa and headed to Wallace State Park in Cameron, Missouri. It’s about an hour north of Kansas City, conveniently located just two miles off of I-35. We stayed here last year, but didn’t get to explore the park because we were dealing with our tire blowout the whole time.

This year we didn’t have any tire problems (keeping my fingers crossed)!!! Today we hiked 3.5 miles. There is a small lake in the park and lots of hiking trails. The leaves have some color in them, but not too much yet.

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I was hoping for some nice reflective photos, but it wasn’t meant to happen. This is the best I could get.

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Tomorrow we leave and head to Big Chief RV Park in Coffeyville, Kansas until just before Christmas. We’ll be working at Amazon. We got a call from Amazon today confirming our job assignments. We will be working 8th shift which is nights on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and our job will be stowers. That’s the shift we asked for, but not the job.

We had asked to be pickers again like we were last year. Stowers put the products in the bins rather than taking them out. It means staying in one area of bins and filling them with products. There is some walking, but not as much as pickers. Hopefully, stowing won’t be too much standing in one spot. That’s what we definitely don’t want to be doing. We’ll see how it goes. Our orientation is Thursday and Friday, so we’ll know more after that.

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

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Repairs Done – Iowa Here We Come

We left our camp hosting position in Beaver Dam Monday morning and headed to Burlington RV for some repairs. We had an appointment to have the cosmetic damage from last October’s tire blowout damage repaired. Also, we were having them replace the skylight which got a hole in it when the tree branch attacked our roof in Texas last March. Kevin had repaired the tear in the rubber roof using Dicor tape, and that has held up very well.

I had communicated with Burlington RV during the summer to make sure all parts were here and all painting of those parts was done before we arrived. We had an appointment for 1:00 pm on Monday. When we arrived, we were told they could not get to the repairs until Tuesday morning. They have a free hookup area in their parking lot so that’s where we spent Monday night with 50 amp electric service and water available.

They had two technicians come in at 7:30 am on Tuesday and start early to get the job done in one day. We were out by 7:30 am. That’s pretty early for Kevin’s liking. We went out for breakfast and then hung out in the RV dealer’s waiting room for a few hours watching TV and using their computer.

We had heard lots of good reviews for the movie Gravity in 3D, so we went to the noon matinee. It was good, but I wouldn’t say it was outstanding. But, it was something to do. After the movie we headed to the outlet mall. Most of the stores are name brand, and the prices are way more than we are willing to spend. I did buy some underwear at a good price and bought some lotion at Bath and Body Works.

Then it was back to the RV dealer for another hour of waiting. The good news is the repairs are all done, and everything looks great. We’re spending tonight in their parking lot again, and tomorrow we head to Waterloo, Iowa for a few days. We’re going back to George Wythe State Park where we stayed last year.

Kevin’s brother lives nearby, so we’ll be visiting with family for a few days before we head to Coffeyville, Kansas for our job at Amazon. The weather has been beautiful again and is predicted to be great the rest of the week.

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

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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Scooby-Doo Where Are You?

We had another beautiful weather weekend which brought out several campers. As usual, they all left on Sunday. But, we did have a couple come in for a two day stay on Sunday. They were in one of the smallest trailers I’ve seen. It was kind of cute. They never put the bed on the side out, so I’m guessing there must be another bed in that small trailer. They even had a very big dog with them.

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Sunday afternoon we drove to the Horicon Marsh to see if there were any birds migrating through that area. The marsh is part of a wildlife refuge, and every year thousands of geese stop off on their way south. It has been quite warm this fall, and most of the geese have not arrived yet. We enjoyed a very nice hike and did see some birds. We also saw these black turtles. They have red on their bottoms. Not sure what kind of turtles they are.

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There was one group of geese in the field. At first I thought there were only geese out there, but then I heard the sound of cranes. Sure enough, there was a group of cranes out there, too. They are along the back right in front of the corn. There wasn’t much fall color yet.

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There were lots of pretty wildflowers growing along the hiking trail.

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After dark on Sunday, we saw a motorhome come into the park. It didn’t stop, but went right to a site. Our park is self-registration so this is not unusual. When we looked out the window on Monday morning, we were quite surprised by what we saw.

Ruh-roh, it’s the Mystery Machine in our park!! I walked over to take a picture, but Scooby, Shaggy and the gang were nowhere to be found.

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It turns out the owner is a retired Air Force worker who painted airplanes while in the service. He painted this motorhome by himself. He also has a very nice restored VW bug that he tows behind it.  I wonder what the inside looks like.

Our time in Wisconsin is quickly coming to an end for another year. This is our last week, so we are taking care of last minute errands and chores.

On Monday morning Kevin and I played our last round of golf at our favorite course in the area. It was another beautiful day, and we had a good time. I actually had a pretty good round. In the afternoon we drove both vehicles to my mom’s house. She allows us to store our car in her garage for the winter. She has listed her property for sale, so we may lose our car storage in the future. Time will tell.

On Monday evening we had a farewell dinner at Chili's with my mom, her friend Richard, and our son Eric. We won’t be coming back for Christmas this year, so we won’t be seeing my mom for over six months. We’ll see our boys in January when they join us in New Orleans for a cruise.

On the drive into town, I saw these maple trees. These are some of the first trees I’ve seen that are starting to get color. P1150073

Yesterday I had a Skype conversation with our son Korey and his wife Cathryn. They gave me a virtual tour of their apartment. It sure is nice to be able to stay in touch with distant family and friends.

Kevin is finishing up his work here at the campground today. Tomorrow we plan to wash the fifth wheel before we hit the road. Friday Kevin is golfing with a few friends and Saturday our son Eric is coming out to replace the motor in our air conditioner. It has been acting up lately. Eric is an HVAC service technician and was able to order the new motor for us and will install it. He asked for brats for dinner. That’s the least we can do :)

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

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Beautiful Fall Weather

The weather here in Wisconsin has been absolutely beautiful for the past two weeks. October is just a few days away, and we are still wearing shorts. Highs have been in the 70s with lots of sun.

We did get a heavy rain a little over a week ago. The clouds looked just like a wall coming in from the west. Luckily, we didn’t get any of the severe weather associated with this storm, just quite a bit of rain. Since then, it has been fantastic.

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Because of this wonderful weather, the fall color has been late in arriving. We leave a week from Monday, and I’m hoping we’ll get some color by next weekend. I love to see the leaves change.

Last week this truck pulled up at the boat launch.

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The Beaver Dam Lake Association paid to stock fish in the lake. They released hundreds of northern and walleye.

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Because of the beautiful weather, my hanging baskets are still looking great. This hummingbird spent quite a bit of time feeding.

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I’ve been busy gathering hickory nuts. In the morning I go for my three mile walk, and then I spend about 30 minutes picking up nuts. So far this year between acorns and hickory nuts, I’ve earned over $360 selling them on eBay. Not bad!

That money will help pay for an expensive day last week. We both had our teeth cleaned on Tuesday. Luckily, no cavities for either of us. But the bill was still a little over $200 for both of us. Then, we took the truck in for routine maintenance before we hit the road. That was another $200 bill. We also both got our hair cut with our favorite stylist, so a $500 day. Yikes!! But, these are things that need to be done.

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