Friday, July 29, 2016

The Honeymoon is Over

The Honeymoon is definitely over in our new home. Don't get me wrong. We do love this new fifth wheel. Maybe that wasn't the best title for this.  Yes, this is a used rig and buying used you really don't know what you are getting yourself into. Doing a thorough inspection when we saw it, we knew that there where minor things that needed repairing or just maintaining. But living in it now for two weeks we are finding out the pros and cons of this rig versus our last rig.

Pro: First of all there is the quality issue. This Cardinal is built so much better than our last rig. It feels more solid and we do love the double pane windows for outside noise and insulation.

Pro: The six point leveling system. Push button ease.

Con: The six point leveling system. I thought that this would make it more stable. Not feeling people walking around and such. But it is almost as bad as our other one. The jacks pop in the morning and in the evening. Upon some research we have learned that it is from temperature differences. It can be a 40-50 degree difference from morning to evening here in Yellowstone. We feel that we are leaning a bit also. Maybe the ground is softer on one side or something. We are not parked on concrete so there may be some settling.

Pro: The double door refrigerator. There is now room for beer in it.

Con: Everything I need in the refrigerator is always and I do mean always in the door that I didn't open.

Pro: The construction seems better.

Con: The construction. It seems that no matter how much you spend on a rig, the manufacturers still take short cuts in building them. Staples for example. Why do they always staple shelves and panels together. You touch a panel the wrong way and it pops the staples loose. We developed a leak in the bathroom sink. So I took the faucet off the sink to look at it. It is nothing but plastic with a metal finish. You can't even take it apart to repair it. So with my big caulk gun I hope that I can stop the leak till I can get to civilization to replace it.

Pro: Cats.

Con: Buying a used RV with mice installed. We awoke our second night to the cats horsing around much more than they usually do. Lisa turned on the lights to see what the hell was going on at 3 in the morning and Moose was playing with a mouse. It was dead. Now he has the taste for blood. Also, every now and then we witness the cats just staring at a wall. I need to take a basement wall apart just to see whats in there and to put some sticky traps in there. But again when we get to civilization to buy us some traps. So hopefully when we go to sleep, we can sleep better knowing the cats are on duty.

Con: There are now 5 steps to get into our new rig rather than the 4 in the other one. So if you do the math, I have to climb the equivalent of 583 feet higher each year if I go in at least a thousand times a year.

Con: Our old screen door had a little spring loaded lever to unlatch our door without sliding that panel back. You just had to push down on it and whammo! The door opened. Now I have to go to the door, slide open the little panel, find the lever, push down on the lever, open the door, close the door, climb down 5 steps and then close the sliding panel. With all that extra work I will have arms like Arnold.

Con: Still don't know where everything is in here. "Lisa! Where are the spices! Where are my underpants! What side of the fridge has my beer?"

Con: Our last fifth wheel had a handle to help you up the steps. Just in case you where at a margarita party earlier. This one doesn't. Now I have to crawl up them which is a little less dignified for the margarita champion of Quartzsite.

So that is it in a nut shell. A nut shell the size of 39' X 8'.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Happy Be-lated Anniversary to Us!

With our very busy week last week, we kind of over looked our anniversary. "What a cad! What an insensitive Baffoon! What a Louse!" You might say. But the anniversary I am talking about is our lifestyle anniversary. WHAT! No I did not come out of the closet. I was never in the closet and yes I do know what bathroom to use.

Enough with the Tom Foolery. July 10th marked our second anniversary of being fulltime RV'ers. The start of our third year so to speak. We went to an RV-Dreams rally in the spring of 2014, put on by Howard and Linda Payne. There we learned about the fulltime RV lifestyle. The biggest thing that I learned from that week long rally was that there is no wrong way to full time. And our second year is proof of that. It has evolved into something totally different from our first year. Our third year may even be different from our second year. Who knows?

Our first year, we(meaning I), wanted to take the year off and travel. Explore, before we started finding work camping jobs. We knew we would have to work at some point to maintain this lifestyle, but taking a year off, we could manage that. So travel we did and as most of you know, the more you travel the higher your expenses are. Camping fees and fuel cost can get very high. After all we are not driving Prius's. Although we may have spent enough to buy a Tesla or two.

So our first year we were traveling around like some "happy-go-lucky" schmucks. Spending like drunken sailors. And our budget for that year shows it. But with every party comes the next day hangover. Year two was our effort to shrink that down and we did.

We had our first paying job. Amazon, which was a win, win. They not only pay you but you live in the campground for free. That was a 4 month gig. So no campground fees. Next, in February we spent a month in Quartzsite Arizona. $40.00 dollars for two weeks. $80.00 for the month. We went back to Moab and worked at the OK RV park. We worked one day a week and camped for free.  And now we are working our second paying gig in Yellowstone. We pay a small amount for our site but they also pay us a wage.

After all the number crunching was done, we still came under budget of what we spent the first year. That even includes buying the Jeep and repair cost of said Jeep.  Buying the new fifth wheel goes under year threes budget. Nothing but Ramen Noodle soup this year.

So as this evolves we are working a little more. We are trying to make an effort to work in places that we really want to explore and visit. Like what we are doing in Yellowstone. "Work smarter, not harder" has always been my motto.

Are we still enjoying this lifestyle? Yes we are. We do not see a stopping point in our future as of yet.

I would like to add one more thing. I know reading a blog without pictures may be a little boring. I am sorry for that. But being in this part of Yellowstone is terrible for internet service. We barely have any cell coverage. I bought a Wilson signal booster and trucker antenna. It is not much help here. Uploading one picture can take a half hour. I do not have the patience to do that anymore here. Plus no TV or even a radio station. I actually have to look at Lisa and talk to her.


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Cats out of the Bag.......So to Speak

It has been a very hectic week to say the least. I posted a photo on Facebook, saying that "Our mini vacation was over" with a photo of our truck and camper. I didn't say anything about our "New" camper to see if anyone would notice. (We only told a few people about it) And surprise! Lots people did notice it.

For a few months we have been toying with the idea of getting a new fifth wheel. (New to us, anyways). When we were in Moab Utah we actually drove down to Tuscon and Phoenix to look at a few we found on line. We even put in an offer on a beautiful Cameo. But it wasn't meant to be, so we drove back to Moab empty handed. We got to Yellowstone and Lisa checked out some of the dealers around here. We drove to Bozeman and found one. But on final inspection we noticed some front nose damage that we could not live with and nixed that deal.

So the search continued. Finally Lisa finds a prospect in of all places, Minnesota. Anoka in fact. If we lived in MN it would have been 160 short miles away. But NOOO!!!! We are in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. Over 1000 miles away. It was a very nice fifth wheel which deserved some more thought. With the crappy cell service and internet here in the park it did make it a little challenging.

We first got in contact with some friends of ours who own one very similar to it. I shall not include their names to protect the innocent, but their initials would be J and B. We asked them questions about theirs and we have been in theirs when they were not home in Quartzite because they didn't lock their doors.

We also contacted my Brother-in-Law and asked him if he could go take a look at it because he lives just a short distance from the dealer. So he was our eyes on the ground. He even went back a second time with my sister in tow to scan it again. We talked to the salesman several times asking questions about it. Things where looking good.

After many discussions between us, we asked for some time off from work, loaded things up in the fifth wheel and pulled out of Yellowstone on Sunday the 10th of July. We left Lil' Blue as hostage to ensure that we would return. The weather was not that nice that day. Hail as we were leaving. Threatening clouds the entire trip. Our plan was to get to Bismarck ND and stop. But it was around 5 pm and the storms that where chasing us were pretty bad. We were talking about golf ball size hail and 80 mph winds. So we pressed on. We got to Fergus Falls MN about 11 pm to Lisa's mom's house. Whew. 16 hours in the saddle. End day 1.

Day 2. We slept in for a little bit because we did all of our driving yesterday. We left Fergus Falls at noon and got to Anoka around 3.

Surprised our salesman because he didn't think we would get there until late. So he showed us the fifth wheel. It was very nice. Everything we where hoping for. It is a 2014 Cardinal by Forest River. It is like night and day from what we had. He said that with our approval they will install the washer and dryer first thing in the morning. SWEET! So with time to kill, we had dinner and went to my sisters house for cocktails and giggles.

Day 3 found us waiting for the install of said washer and dryer. Then the final John Hancock's on the paperwork. With that all said and done moving day began. Our two fifth wheels are parked side by side so that helped some. After hours and hours of moving stuff(note the nice word) I said to the salesman as he was checking on our progress "Really, we are not hoarders. I never new we had that much stuff (nice word again) stuffed in that fifth wheel."  Like with all moves, at the end you just start throwing stuff (nice word) everywhere. We said our final goodbyes around 6 and got to Fergus around 10 pm.

Day 4 was running around. Oil change on the truck. Lunch with our son in Fargo for his Birthday. Back to Fergus to stock up on groceries.

Day 5. Drive to Glendive Montana.

Day 6. Drive to Yellowstone. We got to Yellowstone to a warm welcome from our co-workers. When we left we put a note on the board. Please don't rent our spot out. So we came back to "For Rent" signs on the Jeep and our spot. And everybody came out to look and laugh.

So all is history now.  We are trying to re-organize everything and get rid of the mess inside so we can live in it comfortably. We don't have any good pictures of it yet because of the mess. But someday.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Soul Searching

We are coming up to our second year anniversary of being on the road. And with the amount of time that a person has in this lifestyle, it gives a person many opportunities to look inward. To glance into the inner soul of your being and to analyze. Not only to analyze but also to reflect upon this person that we call ourselves. Have we become the person that we thought we would become when we had all the hopes and dreams of a six year old?

When I was six, did I think that I would be a skeptical 52 year old adult? Or should I say an adult with many years of experiences that have shaped our personalities into what we have become. I think that the little six year old with all the hopes and dreams of innocence would have never thought in terms as an adult person does. Therefore, never even imagining the trials and tribulations that people go through that eventually shape and hone beings into what we eventually become.

Life often gives you opportunities. What you do with those opportunities is entirely up to you. I know now you are probably wondering what mountain I have climbed down from. You may also be wondering if I have been enlightened by the wise man or am I the wise man? Maybe the thin air has finally gotten to me and my brain has popped due to the lack of oxygen.

Well, none of the above. What I am talking about is that every once in awhile life lets you step into another persons shoes. We have been here in Yellowstone for just over a month doing a job that I have never really thought much about. And since I haven't thought about the job, it goes with out saying that I never thought about the people that do that job. The job I am talking about is cashiering.

The newness of the job has definitely worn off. The customers are nice because you always get new ones coming in and they are all on vacation. The questions we get, always seem to be the same. Some of the things we get asked are just unbelievable though. We as simple cashiers in a store in a small part of the park and are expected to know just as much information as the people that man the information stations in the visitor centers. A lot of the questions are just dumb. Remember being told when you are learning, that there are no dumb questions.

Well there are. Here are some samples:

How far can you see with these binoculars? (I can see the moon if I look at it)
I heard there where bears here yesterday. Where are they today? (On the other side of the park)
Can you tell me what animal that is on the ridge outside? (Not without seeing it)
How long will it take to clean the bathroom? (I don't know, I am not cleaning it.)
Where can you see grizzlies? (Over in the toy section)
Where are the wolves? (Next to the grizzlies)
Have you seen any animals today? (Not since I have been in the store)
Where are the animals? (They haven't let them out yet)

And it goes on and on.

Just a few tips from a cashiers point. Don't throw your money at us. If you do I will take my time to pick up each bill, straighten it, line it up correctly before I give you back your change and let you get on your merry way. Please don't give us change after you have been asked if you have the change and we ring it up in the computer. Please don't get to the counter, have your items rung up and then realize your wallet is in the car. And most of all don't write "See I D" on your credit card  and then don't have your I D. What do you want me to do then? It is a no win situation for me. If I refuse your sale you will be mad, if I go ahead with your sale you will think I don't check I D's. Also in this day and age, who thinks they can still buy alcohol or cigarettes with out I D's.

That is the tip of the iceberg. Until I have to vent again.