Not All Who Wander Are Lost

Not All Who Wander Are Lost
October, 2017 - Mexico

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!