Tuesday, December 27, 2016

And Yet Another Year End Review

This post is not mandatory for ya'll to read (Still talking Kentuckian). There will not be a test at the end of it. It is really for me because as I sit here and think about the last year, I feel that it has gone by too fast and I feel like we haven't really done a whole lot of stuff that we feel is exciting. Some people may look at Facebook as a nuisance. The younger generation may even look at it like MySpace. Old technology and what not. I think it is perfect for what we do and it is a great record of what has gone on in our lives over the last year and longer. I also think that it is the best way to keep track of all of the people we have met since taking this little journey. To reconnect with friends since so many of us are all nomads. So without further adue:

January-One year ago found us back in Minnesota for Christmas. Spending time with family. Our travels take us away from family and to get back and spend some quality time with our family is special. We have said that when we had a house there, we didn't spend a lot of time with family and friends. Now when we come back we know that time is short and the time we do spend with people is better. We also purchased Lil Blue.
Lil' Blue

We then headed back to Kentucky, picked up our fifth wheel and went south to the gulf to find warmer weather. We stopped in the Waveland Mississippi area. In Pass Christian actually. I really like this area. Hit hard by Katrina and never has it fully recovered. The beaches are beautiful and it gives me the opportunity to do some metal detecting. I don't get rich by any means but it is relaxing and there is always the chance to score big. Like finding a quarter.
Palm trees in Pass Christian

After a few days there we started making our way out west to meet up with friends in Quartzsite AZ. But before that we stopped for a few days in San Antonio. I have always wanted to see the Alamo. The history is amazing.

February-We made it to Quartzsite to meet up with our friends Jim and Barb. We spent the month boondocking in the Sonoran desert with them and other people we met. We explored the area in our Jeeps, did some geocaching and hiking. We even day tripped to Alagadonas Mexico.
Quartzsite AZ.

Jim, Barb and Lisa geo-caching

March-We left our friends and parted ways and we then headed to Las Vegas. It has been many years since we have been there and since we were close we wanted to visit. We camped in Las Vegas at Sam's Town which was cheap and entertaining. Vegas however was not what we remembered, so after a few days we left.
Las Vegas strip

As luck would have it we met up with Jim and Barb outside of Las Vegas in the Lake Mead area. They were boondocking out by the lake so we found them and spent a couple more magical days with them. Steve and Joan were working in the Lake Mead area so we also did some things with them. We Jeeped, hiked and played some cards.
Lake Mead with Jim and Barb
Barb declaring her love for Tater Tots
Jeeping with Steve, Joan, Jim and Barb

We again parted ways. Jim and Barb were headed to Alaska for the summer. We moved down around the lake farther.
Stewart's landing on Lake Meade

April to May-We headed over to Moab Utah because we were working a camp host job. We did this one last year and liked the campground and the people. We love the Moab area. It is one of our favorites. If you have never been there, you need to go. You will be amazed.
Snow in the La Salle mountains

Lisa 1500 feet above the valley floor

Island in the Sky

June to July-We did our little 2 month stint and started to make our way North to Yellowstone. We stopped in Grand Junction Colorado for a few days. Exploring wineries and we climbed to the top of Mt. Garfield. Very strenuous but worth it.
Mt. Garfield summit

We got a job in Yellowstone working as cashiers in a gift store. We were excited to do this because it was something new for us and a place that we would like to really explore. We were going to be there for 3 months. This place is amazing and we feel so lucky to be able to have lived inside a national park for 3 months. We got to explore the park much more thoroughly than most people ever get to. Once again our friends Jim and Barb were able to meet us in the park after their Alaska trip. (Either we are stalking them or they are stalking us.)
Yellowstone General Store, Tower Fall

Yellowstone's Grand Canyon

Grand Tetons

Grand Prismatic

We have so many pictures that it is hard to choose. July found us trading in the fifthwheel that we had started this journey with for a newer one. One that was of better quality. We had a 2011 Aztec made by Gulfstream for a 2014 Cardinal made by Forest River.

September-We went from Yellowstone back to Minnesota. We moochdocked in Lisa's mother's driveway.
Moochdocking in Fergus Falls, MN.

Enjoyed more quality time with friends and family before moving on to Kentucky for our next gig at Amazon.

October to December- We travelled to Kentucky to work for Amazon again. We really wanted to explore Kentucky this time around. Which we did. Kentucky really  is a beautiful state.
Patton Museum

Cumberland Gap

Natural Bridge, KY.

Lil' Blue

So that is our little tale for the year. We put on many miles and visited many areas of the country. According to Facebook I got 51 new friends. That is one over my limit so I am sorry for one of you. (JK). Next year is really up in the air for us because we have no plans past March. Where will we go and what will we do. Only time will tell. Until the next time, Be Safe and Be Happy. When I was younger there was a TV show called "Hill Street Blues" and one of the lines I liked from that show was "Do it to them before they do it to you."

Till our paths cross again.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Lessons Learned on our Second Trip Down the River

The only lesson learned is that this J-O-B sucks. It sucks with a giant moist slurping sound. I don't want to elaborate anymore than I already have because everything I mentioned in previous blogs still holds true. That would be beating a dead stick with a horse. It's a love hate relationship. We love to hate it.

I am terrible with names. So I have given so many people here nicknames that only we know. (Affectionately) Such as:
Pockets, Bubba (there are quite a few Bubbas), Gangsta couple, Bitch Face, The Twins, Speedy (he actually likes that one), Spandex Granny, The Tool, The Lemon Ballers, Doofus, Bozo, Jabba the Hut, Nasty Hat and The Genie. Also there are just too many that are just called Dumb Ass. (Affectionately)

I will miss how much this company cares about our well being. They do, they offer free bottled water all day to stay hydrated. In fact there is a pee chart in every bathroom so that you can verify the color of your urine to the chart to see how hydrated you are. It's easier for men than women I assume.

We have learned that we are not big fans of camping in cold weather. No matter how well these things are built, they just are not made for it. Our water hose froze once because we worked a ten hour shift when it was below freezing. Just too long of time to not have water flowing through it and I had even wrapped pipe insulation around it. The sewer lines froze due to the fact that one of our tank valves doesn't work, leaving liquid in the pipe. It's a good thing that propane is cheap here because we are burning through a lot of it. Still can't get toasty warm though.

On a positive note. We will be leaving here with our Bonus's. Both of us. A dollar an hour for every hour worked. Cha-ching!

As you read this we will be traveling north to the frozen tundra. So, for all of you sitting on a beach reading this, I hope your little umbrella drink tips over.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

It's Peak Season.........Or Not

We are still here in Kentucky working our J-O-B.

They call this time of year Peak season because of all the holiday shopping. That is why they hire all of us work campers and also all of the temps. They also schedule mandatory over time of 50-60 hours a week. They tell us that from Thanksgiving to Christmas* no one can take any vacation time. We must all be here as many hours as possible to full fill all of the Christmas* wishes. We were here last year for peak and this year it has a totally different feel.

For example, they are offering VOT (voluntary time off). Unheard off during a peak season. Example number two. They are starting to cancel the mandatory overtime. Again unheard of during past peak seasons. Example number three. They are asking workampers to voluntarily leave early and keep our bonus Unbelievable.

Rumors are running rampant. It appears that other fulfilment centers are taking our volume of orders. So we are just left twiddling our thumbs.

So here we sit.

*Yes I said Christmas because I am a Christian. Sorry if this offends anyone.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

SSSHHH......Can You Hear That?

Seriously, be quiet and put your ear next to the computer. There. Can you hear it now? No? Let me tell you what you are not hearing then. It is the sound of our souls being sucked out. Picture Harry Potter by the lake with a dementor above him sucking out his soul. That's what it is like for us anyways.

Yes, I am being over dramatic. It isn't that bad. But it sure feels like it.

Why? Why would you put yourself through that? Let me explain.

Picture if you will, a pie. A succulent, steaming apple pie. Cut that pie into 8 pieces. Each year you take a piece of that pie and eventually in eight years it will be gone. (The last piece may be a bit nasty also). So to make our pie last longer, we take an occasional job so that the piece of pie we take this year will be smaller. (Yes, Lisa, I am talking about money.)

Unfortunately life still costs money. (We own a Jeep now and those that own one know what I am talking about) We are working more and traveling less. But we are still traveling. We are trying to find jobs like our Yellowstone job in areas of the country we want to explore. This job in Kentucky pays well and they even give you a free place to live while you are here. That is why we decided to come back again and put ourselves through this.

We are making the best of it. We visit Lee's Special Recipe Fried Chicken every other week. If you are in the south, go to Lee's. It is so much better than KFC. (Is that sad that that is the high-light of our weeks?)  We have checked out a lot of the sites in this area.

We visited Abraham Lincoln's Birthplace.

Cumberland Falls State Park.

Cumberland Gap.

Natural Bridge Kentucky. We went with Peg and Michele. It was very interesting because you take a chairlift up to the top. Then take a short walk through the beautiful Kentucky woods.

The Patton Museum and Fort Knox.

So our time here has not been wasted. There are a few more sites that we want to see. Next week is Thanksgiving and that means that we will start working 50 hour weeks. Which means that we will be more tired and less likely to sightsee.  So hang onto your seats. LSEP.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

A Day in the Life

BEEEEEEEP, BEEEEEEEP, BEEEEEEEP, BEEEEEEEP! Oh crap! It's 5:10 in the A.M.! How can that be? It was just 9:00 P.M.

That is how our day starts. The sun does not slowly rise over the horizon, bathing the earth in a warm glow. Birds don't just start chirping a chorus of "Wake up sleepy heads". No, this is not a fairytale. In reality I roll over, slap the alarm off, wipe the drool from the corner of my month and get up out of our nice cozy bed and turn on the coffee pot. The cat's just gave us the stink eye, wondering why anyone would get up at this hour.

Our shift starts at 6:30 in the morning. We require 2 cups of coffee to start functioning at any productive level.
This is what it is like.

We enjoy our two cups, get the other things done that need doing. We trudge out of our RV at 6:10 to walk down the hill to our job. Our high visibility vests reflecting in the street lights as we dodge the Kentucky drivers racing down the street. No sidewalks here. "Car!" We keep telling each other and then we squeeze over to the side of the road. Stay out of the grass. Who knows how many doggy land mines are lying in wait to just smother your shoe in chocolaty goodness. 

We go through the turnstiles, make 3-4 attempts at opening our locker, then say "screw it"  and just hang up our jackets and put away our lunches. 

6:25 we punch in. Grab a scanner and head over to the start up. Stretch, get told any important information we need to start our day and by 6:35 we are picking.

6:36 pick. 6:37 pick. 6:38 pick. 6;39 pick. On and on until 9:00 A.M. Breaktime! Depending on where you are in the warehouse, the walk to the break room can take you anywhere from 2-3 minutes,  up to 5 minutes. Serious, you can get 5 minutes away and at the end of the day that walk gets to be very long. You finally get to the break room, sit down with a beverage and look up at the clock. Damn! it is 9:15. I just sat down.

9:15 we log into our scanner to see where in the warehouse we have to go to start again. 

9:16 pick, 9:17 pick, 9:18 pick. 9:19 pick. So on and on it goes. 11:25 is never going to get here. Then all of a sudden it is lunch time. You didn't notice because your brain has gone numb. Again you start to head to the break room. Grab your lunch and jostle your way to a microwave. "Excuse me, excuse me". You wait your turn to finally get a microwave. However the person before you had their lunch blow up in it or you wait there because there is still time on it. So after a few moments you open it to find it empty and the person before you just never cleared it. 

11:55 line up at the time clock and punch back in. Grab your scanner and head to the startup area to stretch again and start the second half  of the day.

12:00 pick, 12:01 pick, 12:02 pick, 12:03 pick. Your body goes into auto mode. Look at the scanner, go to the location, scan the bin, look for the item you need, scan the item, look for the next location and the cycle just repeats itself over and over. Literally a couple hundred times a day. I have been picking at about 180 to 250 items in a session. So that could be 720 to 1000 items a day. Or as they want us to say instead of items, smiles.

2:30 break time! Back to the front of the building. Sit for 15 minutes and then back to the scanner. 

2:45 pick, 2:46 pick, 2:47 pick, 2:48 pick. Your mind starts to wander, when you scan an item(smile), if it is correct it lets you know with a single beep. If it is wrong it goes BEE BOOP, BEE BOOP.  I don't speak scanner but if I did I think that it is saying "F@#K YOU, F@#K YOU". Finally you look at the clock. Can it be?

5:00. Let the stampede begin. Mooooo, Moooo. One more 10 hour day finished. Trudge up the hill and fall into your recliner. Dinner and a little TV and then it is time to shower and go to bed to start it all over.

So that is it. The life of the rich and famous. Not. LSEP

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Going to My Happy Place

We finished our first 40 hour week here and I am trying so very hard to stay positive. I knew what we were getting ourselves into since we did this job last year. I knew about all of the obstacles in our way. All of the little games that stowers play on us. 

But as much as I try to not let it get to me it does. Not as bad as it was last year when we left, but it is early.

The biggest thing that gets to me is the way that they think this should be done. I can not believe that this is result of all of their brainstorming. What I am referring to is the way that they have us picking items in the warehouse. And I will give you plenty of examples so that you know what I mean.

Example #1- You get to a bin that is packed full of black wallets. You think easy, right. Well no. There is one brown wallet in there somewhere and that is the one you need. This does not happen by accident. A stower had to put one brown wallet in there. Usually it is in the back and on the bottom. So a pick that should take a couple of seconds now takes minutes. Chances are that next to that bin is a bin full of brown wallets with one black one in there.

Example #2- You get to a bin with items all wrapped in white plastic bags with Chinese writing on them. They are all different items mind you. So all you have to go on is the number on the upc code. How efficient is that? Now you just start scanning everything hoping to find the right item.

Example #3- You get to a bin and you look at your scanner to see what you are looking for. It gives you a lengthy description but fails to tell you a size or color. So again you just start scanning everything. If the item you are scanning is correct it beeps once. If it is wrong it has this series of beeps to let you know it is wrong.

Example #4- The scanner sends you to the 4th floor of a pick mod and you pick one item. It then sends you to the ground floor in a different warehouse to pick one item. It then sends you back to the 4th floor you were just on to pick one item again. Frustrating, right?

Example #5- You get to a bin and it is so full of stuff, you can barely get it open. You hunt for the item you need, find it and then try to close the bin. The stower that filled that bin, stuffed it that full on purpose. It did not get that way on it's own.

I could go on and on. Now I am sure you are thinking that it is not that bad. It's not, if it happened occasionally. But it happens all day long. 10 hours a day. 

So all you can do is think happy thoughts. The only thing that gets me through this is the love of a good woman and a case of cold beer at the end of the week. lsep. 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Suddenly it Hit Me

Did Lisa finally slap the daylights out of me? Did you get rear ended by Bubba the hill-billy?

Nope, none of the above. Although I think Lisa would like to sometimes. What hit me is that driving around Kentucky, I realized that it is really a beautiful state. I know we were here last year but we just kind of stayed in the western part of the state.

Last Saturday we went to Abraham Lincoln's Birthplace in Hodgenville Ky. It was just a short drive away and I remember seeing the signs for it last year. But we never made the effort to check it out. I always find it amazing to be able to walk where giants have walked. To learn a little more history of our forefathers. To see the humble beginnings of one of our greatest presidents.

This is a small national historic park and it is also a no fee park. We drove in and went to the visitor center. Abraham Lincoln only lived her a couple of years and then his family moved a little farther north after being evicted over a land dispute. His log cabin that he was born in is here inside a beautiful shrine.

We then drove into Hodgenville because they had an Abraham Lincoln museum. It was privately owned and a little cheesy but the price of $3.00 each to get in was okay. They had lots of diorama's of Abe's life. Also a ton of oil paintings and a lot of those were just awful. 

Lisa listening to the Gettysburg address

All in all it was very interesting. So that was last Saturday. We then worked Sunday and Monday with Tues-Thur. off. 3 day weekends are nice. We picked out some sights that we want to see this time while we are here starting with the one that was going to be the farthest away. We figured that later on our energy levels would be less so we did this one first. The sight that we picked was the Cumberland Gap.

Cumberland Gap is on the eastern side of the state. It borders Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia. We drove the scenic route through the Daniel Boone National Forest. It was so wooded that I could just picture Daniel Boone or Davey Crockett walking through these woods. We stopped at the Cumberland Falls for some pictures.

The Falls


The river is very shallow and the bottom is all rock, not mud of even the kind of rocks you would find in mountain stream. It just flows over a rock layer that it can't get through.

The Cumberland Gap. I remember this from history classes in school a long time ago. I don't even know if it is taught anymore. The gap is exactly that. An area in the mountain range that was the easiest place to cross. They estimate that 200,000 to 300,000 pioneers crossed through there. Native Americans have been using the gap for centuries following animal herds.

The gap goes from where we are standing to the other mountain across the way

The pathway. It was a perfect day.

The gap from the Tennessee side

Of course during the Civil war this area was very important to both sides. So I got some good cannon photos. I love to look at cannon's.

It was a very good day. On a more personal note. One of my cousins passed away last week, which got me thinking about this lifestyle of ours. We feel very lucky to be able to do this and very fortunate. My cousin was 60. He was diagnosed with cancer a couple of weeks ago and it took him that quickly. He reminded me that we need to make that extra effort to see as much as we can because you never know. Lsep.