The road less travelled

The road less travelled

Friday, December 25, 2015

Our 4 month expedition down the Amazon has finally ended

How do I sum up our experience for the last 4 months. I had already started a blog entry on this subject but decided not to use it. It was filled with everything I hated about the whole situation. What was wrong and what needed to be changed. It was quite lengthy.  But after a couple of days thought I decided to scrap that one for the following reasons.

When we started this, in orientation they told us quite frankly that they did not want our suggestions. They did not want to hear how things could be improved(and let me tell you there is a lot of room for improvement). All they wanted from us was to be a warm body to fulfill orders. Nothing more. Quite often you would hear them on the radio saying that they need some bodies in this department or that department. We weren't people, just bodies.

So on that note, I will say this. Could I recommend this to others? Honestly I couldn't. But if you do go there and haven't been there before you will be worked very hard.

Will we go back there? I don't want to at this point, but we may. You never know. But now we know what to expect.

So if you see me sitting around a campfire. Give me a couple of beers and I will fill you with so many stories about that adventure, it will make your head spin. You will laugh a lot and you will shake your head in disbelief a lot.

We would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

We are looking forward to getting on the road again. To see what is out there to explore.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Just finished an awful day at the Amazon

It was awful, but not for reasons you might think. The reasons that I am talking about are more from a personal aspect. Reasons that I will share as a public service so that someone else in the future may benefit from it. My explanation may be a bit explicit for some. Just a warning.

When we went to work here in August, it was very hot in the warehouse. So much so that I was chaffing in areas not meant to chaff in. So my son tells me about a type of underpants that professional athletes wear. They are sold at Amazon and are expensive(remember that for future reference). The brand is called SAXX and they have a built in pouch to support some very important things. So my wife buys me a pair and I decided to wear them this morning. Nothing wrong with that.

So after a couple of hours into our shift I run into Lisa and tell her how uncomfortable these underpants where. I was just sick of them. A couple of hours later I am in the bathroom in a sitting position and I make a discovery. I discovered three things.
1. They must have the air conditioning on for one thing.
2. My underpants are inside out.
and 3. They are on backwards.

REALLY!!!!!  OMG!!!! I wasn't drinking or coming home from a bender or anything like that.

"So what did you do?"  Well I did what any married man would do. I blamed my wife for putting them in my drawer like that. Duh!

"Did you go into the bathroom and fix them?"

No! With my luck Security would walk in with my pants off and say "Why are you naked?" and the only answer I would be able to come up with would be "Just waiting for the next customer?" Plus they sell those here and that would be hard to explain. So I suffered through the entire day. Walking around with what felt like a giant wedgie and the total lack of support for certain things. So when I discuss the importance of well fitting underpants with my wife and mother-in-law, who both by the way don't want to talk about it for reasons I can't get into right now, I can give them today as an example.

In conclusion I can only think of two explanations for why this might happen. First getting up at 5 o'clock in the morning just doesn't work for me and this life style. And two, this job is so mind numbing that I don't know how to dress any more.

I hope this helps others.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Hell week by the numbers

We did it! Hell week is in the bag so to speak. Hell week is our term for this week, not our employers. We work for the largest on-line retailer so hell week starts with black Friday. It then goes through a long holiday weekend and through cyber Monday. So with out further adeau.

Steps-?
Miles-?
Calories-?

Apparently both of our step counters said "To hell with this" and committed suicide the same week. Cheap Wal-mart crap. Should have shopped Amazon I guess.

What I do know is that we worked 55 hours starting Friday. I know, crazy. But now I remember why we quit the working world. It sucks. Black Friday is history along with Cyber Monday. It was more hype than anything. It seemed like any other day to us, and the only perk we got out of it was that we each received a 5 dollar Kroger card(Kroger is the local grocery store) for working 11 hours on a day we already planned to work. Cha-ching!

22 days and a wake up!

This reminds me of a saying from one of my all time favorite movies. That is "The Outlaw Josey Wales". Starring one of my all time hero's, Clint Eastwood. That saying is this-

"Don't piss down my back and tell me it's raining" How fitting.

Guys are probably remembering that now and girls are like "what???" Because it really isn't a chick flick although Clint was in "The Bridges of Madison County".

Oh, and some more numbers. We have 24 hours off till we go back again and there are 24 beers in a case. Coincidence? I think not.


Thursday, November 26, 2015

On this day of Thanks

I would like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. Lisa and I hope that you are surrounded by family and enjoying the day. And we hope that you are not sitting in line at the local Best Buy or Wal-mart because there is always Amazon.

So many of us take a few minutes to think about all of the stuff that we are thankful for. That is what I plan to do here if you all don't mind.

First and formost we are thankful for being able to have this kind of life. We are so lucky to be able to be on the road and see what we have seen. We are thankful for our families, that let us do this also. Our kids for understanding the need to do this crazy adventure and also my mother-in-law(Lisa's mom) for taking care of our mail and for always being there when the kids happen to need something when we aren't around.

We are thankful that we have two wonderful kids. It is fun watching them become nice young adults.

We have seen so many things in the last 15 months and have met some very nice people. some have become very good friends. We like to follow their adventures when ever we can and it is always a joy to run into them some where down the road.

So that is it in a nutshell. Happy Thanksgiving again.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Winning big at the famous Churchill Downs

A group of us work campers had the day off on Friday and decided to go to the famous Churchill downs.


It is a very interesting place just because of all the history there. Lisa and I have never been to a horse race track. Mainly because we are not big gamblers and also not a lot of interest in horses. This day they were racing and the track wasn't that busy. So we were able to get right next to the track as the horses were racing. That was pretty neat to see.
We never gambled on a horse race before but we picked up on pretty quick. I bet on 4 races and picked the winners three times. The horse that I picked that didn't win came in second. So I was pretty happy with those results. We didn't win enough to retire or anything like that but it really made watching the races much more fun. Actually the fourth race I bet on the horse took first place coming all the way from the back of the pack. 
Thylos my first winner in the Paddock area
There is a museum at Churchill downs that has all the history and tradition of the track. It is very interesting if you are into all of that but like I said we just didn't have that much background into horse racing. They have lots of hands on exhibits and interactive exhibits for people. 
Worst Jockey ever
Later on in the afternoon we signed up for a van tour that takes you out to the in field and the horse barns. So we got to see a couple of races from that perspective. 
Backside of the track.
This was a race that we saw from the other side of the track. You can see the twin spires of Churchill downs and the grand stands in the back ground. It was a nice day of sunshine and horse racing. I would like to thank Gerard and Linda for organizing the whole affair. 
This was an awesome bronze sculpture out front.
I won big time on this little filly.

We can cross this off the list. It was a good day spent with new friends and good times.






Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Natures calling. You better have a plan.

Natures calling is a very serious business in the Amazon. Nooooooo!!!!!! You say. Isn't it a natural occurance? Doesn't gravity just kick in and all your problems are solved? I wish that I could tell you it was that simple but(No pun intended), it is a very complex ordeal and to make it the most enjoyable time of day you better have a plan and you better be prepared for the inevitable. Let me explain to you what has been keeping me up for oh so many nights.

Now I can only give you the mans perspective because I haven't been in the Ladies room and I do beleive that the plumbing in there is different.

When we started this job in August I could not believe the facilities they had for the amount of people that work in a building this size. Remember over 2 million square feet and 2,000 employees. Walking in there, there is 1 bathroom with 3 urinals and 3 stalls. About 100 yards further into the building there is another bathroom with 1 urinal and 1 stall. But that has been closed until recently. Another 50 yards there is another bathroom with 1 urinal and 1 stall. They did bring in a temporary bathroom with 2 urinals and 2 stalls. So doing some quick simple math, that means there were 6 urinals and 6 stalls(remember one bathroom was closed) for roughly 1000 men if you just split the population in half. 166 men per stall. 1000/6=166.66.

Good news though. The construction has been completed and they have added 7 more urinals and 7 more stalls and opened the one bathroom near the front adding 1 and 1 respectively but have also removed the temporary bathroom leaving 12 and 12. So that means 83 men per stall or urinal. 1000/12=83.33. I just hope that venerial diseases aren't running rampent because it would spread like wild fire.

Those are the cold hard(again no pun intended)facts.

Here is the plan that you should be prepared for. Let's say that you are working in A bldg. and Natures gives you a little call. Okay, there is a bathroom only a short distance away. You walk over there and guess what. It is closed for cleaning. Really? Don't panic. You then start to walk to the next one in B bldg. It is locked so contractors aren't using it. On to the next one. Damn, they are cleaning that one also. The next one is at the far end of C bldg. Hopefully they aren't cleaning that one also. So the distance from the front bathroom to the bathroom in C is 1/3 of a mile. Seriously. And remember there is no running. Safety hazard. This has actually happened to me. Plus I am a person that doesn't like to be rushed.

When we started we were given a orange safety vest. But what we really need is a pair of depends. Well as you can see we have plenty of time to think about and worry about the big issues of the day.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Preparations for WAR!

OMG! Did Obama get us involved in some kind of conflict that we were not aware of? Did Canada finally get sick of the 2 case of beer crossing the border limits? Has Mexico infiltrated our ranks to take over all of the gardening jobs?

Well the answer to those hard hitting  questions are; maybe, probably and already happened.

The preparations of war that I am talking about are taking place along the Amazon. Many different tribes call the Amazon their home. Living peacefully amongst themselves. But as often happens, things change ever so slowly. The once peaceful natives start to get restless. One tribe ventures into another's territory, one tribe may steal another tribes fish or one tribesman may marry another tribesman's  goat. The reasons vary but are always lingering behind the scenes. Some causes may come from just over crowding.

In the amazon there are tribes called Stowers. A peculiar type of people who like to gather things and stow or hide them away in little cubbies. The more you can hide in a cubbie the better. Also when you hide those items, make sure as to block the path so that no one else can pass by.

Another tribe is called the Pickers. They like to find what the Stowers are hiding and like to give it to other people. Their generosity of giving knows no bounds, because they give and give all day long.

Another tribe is the Packers. Surprisingly they are not from Wisconsin though. They take what the Pickers give them and send it to other people.

So there are the three main tribes along the Amazon. The battles are like this.

The Pickers don't like the Stowers because they block the aisles so no one can get through. They pack the bins too full so that to get anything you almost have to empty the bin.

The Stowers don't like the Pickers because they are always interrupting their job and many times have to make them move.

The Packers get involved because they get wrong items sent to them or wrong quantities. Which could be the Stowers or Pickers fault.

Then to add to the mix there are about 50 new Amazonians a week starting that is causing for lots of over crowding. Some areas are like market day in Bangladesh. Also the design of some areas along the amazon may have been created at Happy hour at the local tavern. Long days and hot temperatures don't really help the situation.

Another side battle is the one between blue badgers(no relation to honey badgers) and the camperforce(travelling freedom fighters). Camperforce people come in for the busy season and drive off into the sunset at Christmas time. They are happy and very hard working because they know it is only temporary. The blue badgers live there and I think their will has been broken. Attitudes are low. But one good thing about the blue badgers is that they will never let a stack of totes fall over because they all seem to be leaning on them when ever you walk by them. They also think that the camperforce are taking all the good jobs. Really? There are good jobs?

I think it is Miller time!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

This morning I started life as an ant and went home a Zombie.

If you have been following our blog you know where we are and who we work for. That way I don't have to mention it because we signed a confidentiality agreement. And I don't want to violate that because I don't know if I could find another job as good. (In Campbellsville, Ky. anyways.)

With that being said I would like to discuss this new life as an ant. Do you remember as a kid looking at an ant hill and watching them going in and out non-stop. Trying, oh so hard not to grab that magnifying glass and start  burning the little suckers. But then doing it any way when no one was looking.  Or on the 4th of July, sticking firecrackers in the opening and lighting them. KKKKAAAAAA-BBBBBOOOOOMMM!!! Ants everywhere. Well that's not the kind of ant life I am talking about. Shame on you.

The ant hill I am talking about is the warehouse. Nearly 2 thousand people(ants) are moving about doing many different jobs just like in an ant colony. We are all walking these pre-determined paths, going back and forth. Do you remember looking at a profile picture of an ant hill? Just another similarity because the warehouse is 4 stories tall. Going up and down, back and forth for 10 hours. So that is what the ant reference is for.

Now we work 10 hour days walking in a giant warehouse pulling orders all day long. Walking 10-15 miles a day. Walking and trudging and trudging and walking. After hours and hours of doing that you start to notice changes in everybody. The "Good Mornings" are gone, the smiles are gone and also the "how are yous" are gone. In the south it is "how are y'all?". Before you know it the ants are gone and now you think you are in an episode of The Walking Dead. Zombiefied. Just moving to the next location you have to go to. Watching the clock tick by ever so slowly.

All in all it isn't that bad. It is hard work. We don't want to kid our selves and say it isn't. But anybody can do it if they have the right mind set. Our mind set is: we know that this is only for a couple of months, we can do it.

Now I want to share something from a person that is working behind the scenes. If you are reading out loud to children, you may want to stop now.

Honestly I did not know that Amazon sold so many adult novelties(use your imagination). I thought you had to go to other adult websites for that, but we are picking items of adult nature all day long. Most are wrapped in plastic. You see the items and you know what it is. Also the names give them away. So if you are the type that orders that stuff, don't worry because we don't know who orders what.

For instance if someone where to order a foot long purple wiggler(again, use your imagination). The computer just sends use to a location to pick one. We put it in a tote and send it on the conveyor to packing. The people in packing throw it in a box with an invoice with no names on it and pack it and seal it. Then the box goes to another station and the computer slams a label on it. Everything is completely confidential. Only the computer knows. At the end of the day Lisa and I always say, "You should have seen what I picked"? And then we go on the company's website to look them up. We are easily entertained.

Till the next time.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

What do you do in the Bourbon Capital of the world?

We heard that there is a Bourbon festival up in Bardstown KY. Sounded fun so we took the hour drive north to check it out. Bardstown is an old town. They have a historic downtown area that is quite quaint. And like many older towns, the streets are narrow and crowded with too much traffic for our gi-normous Dodge daully pick-up. We found a nice side street, parked and walked the historic district to the visitor center.

Now the festival is only a night thing, so we were there at 10 a.m. They have craft booths, food trucks and live bands beginning at 4 so we had to occupy our time till then. Bardstown is the Bourbon capital of the world, so they say.  There are 6 distilleries within a 20 mile radius of the town. Never having been to a distillery before we decided to pick one out and take a tour. Plus most have tastings after the tours also. Win, win if you ask me.

We chose Willet Distillery.
Willet distillery

Not knowing anything about it but it is rated the number one tour on Trip Advisor. On our way out we passed another distillery. It was huge. It was Heaven Hill Distillery.
Rick houses that store the Bourbon barrels as they age.
These Ricket houses hold all the whiskey barrels as they age. They have to age at least 2 years to be called Bourbon. Most will age them for at least 4 years to get a better quality of Bourbon. The Ricket houses at Heaven Hill are 7 stories tall. They are huge. Holding thousands of barrels in them. These distilleries make Bourbon for many different labels. You may not know Heaven Hill but you may have heard of Evan Williams, their most popular label.

Willet distillery is just as old as the others but it is very small compared to them. I think they produce 5 thousand barrels. Jim Beam is 20,000 in one ricket house. They specialize in small batch or single barrel rare selections.
Willets ricket house. Small compared to the others.
The fermenting vats.
This is bubbling because of the yeast in it.
The distiller. I forgot the actual name to it.
The still?
The ricket house with Bourbon barrels packed inside. It smells of the Bourbon just wafting through the entire place.
It smelled so good in here.
The smell is what they call the Angel's share of the Bourbon. Because it is the evaporation of the Bourbon from inside of the barrels. They naturally loose up to about 40% due to evaporation over the 4 years of aging. So Willets is trying an experiment. They had some Virginia hams inside one Ricket house to see if they would take on the Bourbon flavor. I hope it works because that sounds amazing.
Hams hanging to get flavor.
After the tour we got our tasting. We have decided that we are not Bourbon drinkers. It is definately whiskey. The first sample we got burned like your chest was on fire. The second one I chose was much smoother. I kind of liked that one. I think it was called Kentucky Vintage. I would also like to thank Willet because they asked if either of us were military. I said I was retired. They thanked me for my service and gave Lisa and I complimentary tours. That was so nice of them.

We still had time to kill so we went over to the Bourbon heritage museum at Heaven Hill distillery. We decided not to do any more tours because the process is all the same. 

We then took the short drive over to the big kid on the block. Jim Beam distillery.
Bourbon girl Lisa
Their Ricket houses where huge. Just like the company I suppose.
8 stories tall 
It was time to get back to Bardstown and check out the festival. Lots of Bourbon related crafts. If you want an original Bourbon barrel or just parts of a barrel come here to get one. They can only use the barrels once to make bourbon. So they are barrel parts all over the place. The barrel tops with the names of the distilleries were very popular. If I had a place in the camper for one I would have picked one up. They were neat.The food looked good but it was to early to eat. 

Well that is our Bourbon day. Lots of interesting facts learned today and fun was had by all.





Saturday, September 12, 2015

A little sightseeing and a picnic

We had a long 4 day weekend here because of the construction going on at Amazon. So we did a little bit of sightseeing.
A view from the state park

We drove out to the Green River state park to check it out. It is very nice out there. It is one of the campgrounds that Amazon contracts with if you wanted to camp there and work for Amazon. The downside of that though is there is no full hook ups. You have to wait for the honey wagon to come and pump your tanks or move to the dump station weekly. We will have to go back there and do some kayaking.
Lisa checking out the Green River Lake

Then we drove over to the Army Corps. of engineers visitor center. The Green river is a dam project to help prevent flooding on the Green river. There are a lot of Dams on rivers in this part of the country. We stayed at one on the Nolin river two weeks ago and kayaked on that river.
The damn dam

Then today (Saturday) was the Amazon Company picnic. Good food, entertainment and lots of activities. They had carnival games and carnival acts. A band, and tons of food and door prizes. Lisa actually won a $100.00 gift card from Amazon of all places. :-)

Well making the best of it.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Floating down the Amazon in a paper canoe.

We are here and committed to exploring the Amazon. When we got here we were staying at the Green River Resort. It is a camp ground affiiliated with Amazon. But when we got there they are still full of their seasonal campers who just come in for the weekends, party all night and what not. Well  we get up at 5 a.m. to go to work and go to bed at 9 p.m.
Our spot at Green river. Crowded.

So we moved over to the Heartland campground. It is within walking distance of Amazon and it is pretty much just filled with people working at Amazon. So we are all in the same boat. Working and resting.
Our new spot at Heartland



This person came in after us so now we have a nice view of the mountains.
We just finished our first 40 hour week. We work four 10 hour days and in the near future when things get really busy we will work five 10 hour days. The work isn't all that hard once you get the hang of the job. We are pickers. We roam the warehouse (2 million square foot warehouse) picking to fill orders. We are on our feet non-stop moving about in this giant facility. Inside there are four floors of merchandise so you get a lot of exersize. I have lost 9 pounds already on what we call the Amazon workout.
This is my knee at the end of the day. You have to bend over a lot to get stuff out of the bottom row. I hate that row.

Now when we started we where a little nervous because of the newness of everything. And walking into this huge warehouse not knowing where you are going was a little daunting. But after getting lost once or twice in there you figure it out and you know where you are going pretty fast. People are friendly and willing to help because they have all been in our shoes.

Physically we are fine. Your first day is very long, your second day is longer. The third day you just kind of get numb and the fourth day you tell yourself that you can get through it and before you know it the day is over and you get a 3 day weekend to rest for the next week.

The reason we are doing this is that we have no pensions to live off of at this point in our lives. We do have money in the bank but we don't want to use it up too fast. So a lot of people do this work camping thing for Amazon because you can make a lot of money in 3-4 months. Then you can go and continue traveling around.

So that is where we are for awhile. Stay frosty.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Becoming productive members of society

We left Barnesville Minnesota on Aug. 18th to make our way to Campbellsville Ky. We made an overnight stop in Ashland Wi. and than stopped in St. Ignace Mi. for a couple of days.

In St. Ignace I had to fix a broken magnet in one of our trailer wheels. We did a little bit of sight seeing. We climbed Castle rock and we also took a day to go to Mackinac Island. Biking around the island twice. We then stopped over night in northern Indiana and then stopped again in an Army Corps park near Mammoth cave. We did the cave tour. Aside from the size of the cave, which is impressive, we really thought that this was our least favorite cave we have seen.

Now we have arrived in Campbellsville Ky. to work for Amazon and their busy season. We have heard pros and cons about this so we will find out first hand. The campground we are in is a little crowded but the sites are paid for so we will make due. We are not hear on vacation, that's for sure. Not used to all the dry counties here in this state.

So we will be working 40-50 hours a week. Yikes! I hope I remember how to work. Our blog posts might be few and far between and I'm betting not very exciting.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Damn cats.

We are cat people. And that means that there is nothing wrong with dog people. Some of our good friends are dog people and we just kind of overlook that flaw. But we like cats. We have always had at least one cat in our house.

When we hit the road and started full timing we had to leave a cat with my mother-in-law, who graciously accepted him into her home. We knew he wouldn't travel well at all. He was a bit quirky. She already had two quirky cats, what's one more.

But it is sad when they get old and when it is just time to let go of them. They just find a way to burrow into your heart and dwell there. So we got the news today that it was his time. We will miss him as we miss all of the cats we have had to say good bye to. We are always reminded of them when we watch our home movies. They were always around and always a part of the family.

Good bye Scowt.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

"We are not on vacation! This is our life!" Quote from Lisa Olivieri

Being on the road is actually our life now. But every once in awhile we just have to stop and become a tourist. It's not a bad thing.

We  left Barnesville MN. last Tuesday and drove to Ashland WI. and it rained and rained. We left the next morning again in the rain. I thought I had our slide fixed but it still leaked. The water comes up from the road and gets in somewhere. So we don't want to drive in the rain if we don't have to. We then got into St. Ignace MI. That is on the U.P. side of the Mackinac bridge. Quaint little town. But when we pulled in we were hearing this loud squealing from the RV.

So the first day here I had to find out what was making that noise. I started taking the wheels apart to check them out. I found that the magnet that activates our brakes on one wheel broke and was just banging around inside the brake drum. Of course it was raining while I was doing this. Ordered a new magnet and the next day put it back together. Hopefully it works. We haven't pulled it out of the campground yet.

Now the tourist bit. Friday we went to Castle rock. For $1.00 dollar each we could climb up to the top of it for a scenic view. The price was right.
Looking at St. Ignace and Lake Huron
It's not a big climb up to the top. But a lot of people struggle with it.
My favorite view
We then went into St. Ignace and walked their boardwalk. Nice walk along the lake. Even though we are on a lake it seems like you are on the ocean. The water was so clear.
The water was so clear.
The ferry's where busy going back and forth from Mackinac Island.
Island ferries
Saturday we got up and got our bikes down to the docks. We boarded and enjoyed a nice 30 minute cruise over to the island. There are faster ferry's but we wanted to enjoy the ride over. We biked around the island which is 8 miles around.
Found a cannon so I had to get a picture.
Stopped at Arch rock. I thought we left those in Utah.
Arch rock
It was a fun day. We had lunch at the Yankee Rebel Tavern. Did some shopping and even went around the island again going the other way for a different view. Then back on the ferry for the ride back.

So a fun couple of days. On to our next destination.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Have Mercy on us.

We are still here in Barnesville Minnesota. Pronounced "Mini-so-tah" if you want to come up here and speak our language. But the clock is ticking down to where we are near the kick-off of year 2 on the road. "T" minus 6 days and counting.

Now to the reason for the title of this blog. Those that are enjoying this lifestyle will understand what I am talking about. So time is running out on us and we still have things to do. I took the truck in for service at the Dodge dealer in Fergus Falls MN. They did an oil change, transmission flush, fuel filter, and rotate the tires. Two weeks later our tire pressure monitoring system goes off for a rear tire on the truck. I check it out and find a bad valve stem. So I then take the truck to Moorhead MN. where I got the tires because I have tire damage coverage on them. They look at the tire and then say, we can't fix that because the tires are too worn.

Too worn? I thought I could get another year out of them but no. So I make arrangements to get 6 new tires. In changing the tires they notice that the front ball joints have some play in them and they tell me they are worn and need replacing. What? I tell them to put the tires on and then I will take it to the Dodge dealer in Fargo ND. where I bought the truck. They take it apart and check it out and tell me that they are fine. Everything is with in limits.

So just a couple of things to ponder then. Why didn't the Dodge dealer in Fergus Falls tell me how worn the tires were before they rotated them and charge me for that? They could have made a sale. Second. The tire place, where they just trying to get me to do the ball joints with them? That would have been another $1200 dollar bill.

I know we are putting a lot of miles on the truck and pulling the camper puts more added wear and tear on it. So I do expect things to wear and need to be replaced. But seriously, they don't need to screw us at the same time. I have had service done at 2 dealers in Florida and a dealer in Colorado and felt comfortable with the work they did and recommended.

So the title. We are truely at the mercy of these dealers. Most are honest, but you have to keep your eye on them.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Assessing our accomplishments

We came back to Minnesota for a number of reasons. Number one was to see our kids, family and friends. Number two was to get our yearly medical appointments taken care of and thirdly was to get repair work done on the house and truck.

So with that in mind we have been very busy to say the least. We stayed 3 weeks with Lisa's mom in here driveway which is no easy feat to get into. It has an S-curve to it lined with very large trees. So with the help of Lisa's mom on one side and Lisa watching the other we got in after about 20 minutes. At one point I think I was stuck. I couldn't go forward or backwards. But with a little bit of destruction to the neighbor's across the street landscaping we got in. That will be the last time till one major tree is gone. The sweat was flowing freely when I got out of the pick-up. We spent a lot of time visiting with Lisa's mom and 98 year old Grandfather. Kendra has been visiting every weekend. We have seen our son a couple of times but he is very busy working and a new girlfriend.

Our appointments are going well. No major medical issues to worry about or minor ones. Our new kitten has been fixed and she is ready for the road again.

Repairs to the house and truck are a little more involved. When we were in Florida at the RV-Dreams boon docking rally our water heater quit working on propane. It worked on electric, however we didn't have electric at that time. So every time we wanted a shower we would have to turn on the generator. Annoying to the neighbors I'm sure. So that was on the list to get fixed in Minnesota. Then when we were in Colorado, I looked under the rig and noticed some sagging. Looked inside and saw that our fresh water tank bracket was bending. I put a tie down strap on it and hoped it would make it back to MN. It did without falling on the highway.
Underbelly re-inforced with hardened steel.

Lisa is a master with caulking so she attacked the shower and re-caulked that and fixed our shower handle. I replaced our interior door knobs. The bathroom one broke after a million trips to the pooper. I upgraded our TV antenna to a HD one. Have not broken down and gotten a dish yet. Probably won't. Wheel bearings were re-packed. Supposed to be done yearly but a year goes by fast. It was 2 year on the last time it was done.
Razer HD antenna. Looks like a big spatula. :-)

The truck had it's usual maintenance done to it. I had a grill guard on the front of the pick-up. But one winter in Minnesota made it start to rust like crazy. The ocean air didn't help much either.So I took it off and it is getting Line-Xed as we speak. That should prevent any rock chips or rusting. When we were in Moab Utah for Jeep Safari they were Line-Xing everything. Looked pretty tough.

That raps up mainly what we have been doing. A few odds and ends to take care of and a few more people to see and have some frosty ones with them.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Our first 525,600 minutes on the road.

This is our wrap up of our first year in this lifestyle. I am going to go first with my thoughts and then Lisa is going to put down here thoughts.

July 10th is our anniversary date for starting this crazy adventure. It took us 4 years to plan this out and also to get rid of everything like our house, car and all of our household stuff. Also we had to acquire a truck and fifthwheel in that time period also. We had to prepare our families and friends on what we were going to do. Especially getting our kids settled into their places and hopefully have good jobs to get them going. We gave them good dependable cars to get them through the harsh winters in the north. So once all the preparations where in place we could hit the road with confidence.

So we finally hit the road. When we hit the road we told everyone that we were going to be traveling. I assumed that we would travel more, but in reality we didn't travel as much as I thought. Several reasons for that. The more you travel the more expensive it is. Fuel costs. Driving a diesel pick-up pulling a huge camper is not cheap. Campground fees. If you stay longer in a camp ground you can get weekly rates and even monthly rates. If you spend one or two nights in a campground it is more expansive. You have to take into account also the type of campground you stay in. Private being more expensive than State Parks or Army Corps. Parks. Activities that you want to do and places you want to see. Everything costs money.

With rose colored glasses we hit the road all excited and everything. But reality caught up to us pretty fast. That being the money thing. Am I happy that we did this? Yes, very happy. Wouldn't change a thing. We now know that our money isn't going to last so we have to make some changes to our plans. We know that we couldn't see the entire country in a year which is fine. It gives us things to explore and places to find in the future.

In a nut shell. I love the lifestyle. The freedom to go anywhere. The places that we have seen so far and also the many knew friends we have made along the way. Our kids are doing well, so that's a plus.

Lisa's turn:

Best things about this lifestyle:
     Freedom.
     Seeing new places.
     Experiencing new things.
     Meeting new people.
     Having time to explore an area.
     Spending my days with Dino in a very small space.


Favorites:
     Rocket launch at NASA in Florida:
          This is when I finally realized how lucky I was to be able to live this lifestyle. Sitting on the tailgate of the truck watching the sunset, waiting for the launch. It took me a while to adjust.

     Roman and Kendra coming to Orlando and Moab for visits:
          It is so great to spend a week or two of quality time together with them without interruptions.

     Moab, UT:
          I love so much about this place! The scenery, the outdoor activities, our first workamping job and the great people we met

     Key West, FL
          We didn't spend enough time here but loved it. We need to go back.

This first year on the road has been such a learning experience about the lifestyle and myself. I am sure the next will be the same.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Doing the Limbo

No I am not actually doing the Limbo. That would not be a pretty site at all.  We have made it to the "Land of 10,000 lakes" and we are getting things taken care of. Quite a few maintenance items to take care of both with the RV and ourselves. New glasses ordered, teeth checked on and of course doctor visits. But I am sure you don't want to know how my prostrate exam went (do you?). Well you will have to google it.

So since we aren't really doing a whole lot that many people would find interesting I thought I would do a little photo highlight. A friend of mine picked 10 of his top pictures that he thought where outstanding(and they where) and he just discussed them so you would know why he thought they were what they were. So I thought I would try that also. Although I don't know if I have 10 but we will see. Be sure to enlarge the photo so you can see the detail better.
Moose
I like this one because its Moose. Also the lighting, the texture of the carpet and the detail of his fur. I like the look on his face. You can almost feel how good that sunbeam feels. Lisa took this picture with her Samsung tablet. Pretty good I thought. Although I don't want to be one of those people that you see on vacation taking photos with thier big tablets.
Beach walk on St. George Island
We were taking an early morning walk on St. George Island in Florida when we took this picture. There were many beautiful pictures this day. What I like about this one though is the beautiful colors. The contrasts from the sand, the water the dark clouds and also the falling rain. This was taken with our Canon Powershot  SD 1200 IS camera. Just a little point and shoot camera. That is what we usually have along on our adventures.
Sunset Grill, Marathon, FL.
So many places in Florida brag about thier sunsets. And of the places we have been to, they have a right to brag about them. This was at the Sunset grill in Marathon Florida on the way to Key West. 7 mile bridge is just to the right. This picture was shooting into the setting sun and the Tiki roof, palm trees and people all came out black from the brightness. I like this one because it almost could be a post card. The detail is amazing. Look at the waves on the pool. This was taken with our Canon Powershot on the sunset setting.
Canadian Rockies
I like this photo because of the ruggedness of the mountains. thier grey and white color next to the blue of the water. We have never seen water that color of blue before. Also the green of the pine trees. We should of had a 3d camera to show the depth of the entire area. Canon Powershot.
Antelope Canyon
This is a unique photo that I like. This is a picture in the Antelope Canyon in Arizona. It shows a lot of depth to it with the darkness and the light. It looks like you are looking into a cave but in fact this was taken pointing straight up with the light shinning down. Our Navajo tour guide Irene gets credit for this picture. She knew how to optimize our camera settings to get this shot. She knew more about our camera than we did. Canon Powershot again.

Well that is it. Not quite 10 but it is a start. Hopefully we will get better at photography.



Monday, June 22, 2015

Government Sponsored Vandalism

We decided to make a stop in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Such a magical and pristine place that has been held sacred by native Americans for centuries. I was amazed at the beauty of it all until we drove around a corner and saw the largest defacement of the land I have ever seen.
Mt. Rushmore
If you could see the tear in my eye.
I am trying to be funny but it probably isn't working. The Monument is amazing, although a little crowded. The bright side is, is that people are enjoying the national parks. It was extremely crowded and my only gripe is that if you buy a national park pass, it doesn't work here. The attraction is free, but if you want to park your car it will cost you $11.00. Chips are free but the dinner is extra. (Paradisso reference.)

We also found a nice waterfall to explore. Spearfish falls.
Now we are making our way to Minnesota. Home of the Mini-sodas.

I should add one more thing. We have been in the mid-west for 6 days. We have been hailed on for 4 of those days. ??????? Get me a frosty one!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Climbing the Tallest mountain

I should actually re-phrase that title a little bit. When I say climb, I really mean drove. We drove up, over and down the tallest mountain. Well I should re-phrase that also because we were no where near Mt. Everest. We drove up, over and down the world's tallest flat top mountain. The World's tallest flat top mountain is actually just outside of Grand Junction Colorado. It is called the Grand Mesa. It stands at 11,337 feet tall. and the top is flat with many alpine lakes on it. It is so big up there that it covers 500 square miles. It is quite unique.
A view from the top
A waterfall

It almost looks glacial
Lisa and I where deciding on what to do yesterday and I googled things to do in Grand Junction. Driving this Mesa was number 1. So I told Lisa to put on some warm clothes because we are going to the top. We weren't going to be fooled like when we went to Cedar Breaks and it was 34. The top of this mountain was 56 so not to bad. So again we had a day of spectacular views. It left us wondering how many more amazing things are out there to discover. Hmmmmm.
Alpine lake