Welcome to our Adventure!

Al and I are thrilled that you have found your way to our blog. We hope you enjoy reading our journal and viewing our photographs of the natural wonder of our United States of America. Let's hit the road together!
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Friday, October 28, 2011

Training

The past couple of days we have been busy training for our positions. Al has been thrown straight into the fire, working days from 6:30AM to 5PM. He did find his first day very interesting, as he was assigned the "shadow" someone from each department for an hour or so, in order to see what different positions do and what kind of injuries may arise. So he got to see it all, from receiving docks, inbound receiving, stowing, picking, sorting, packaging, shipping distribution and shipping docks. He was amazed at how much "stuff" goes in and out in one day...he says its actually unimaginable until you actually witness it! He was off yesterday, but will now be on every day through Tuesday. I hope today, now that he will be in the AmCare office, that his supervisor will be able to give him his permanent schedule.

I have done two nights of training in "receiving". My mind is in a complete whirl, as they throw a lot of information at you in a short amount of time. Unlike "stowing" or "picking" which involve miles of walking, we are stationary at a computer terminal next to a conveyor belt, which has the boxes off the shipping trucks coming down the belt. We need to grab a box, slide it onto our station, enter the contents into the system, and load them onto carts for the stowers to take back into the warehouse. Thank goodness there are good anti-fatigue mats to stand on while working! The actual process is easy-peasy, but it's all the "weird" things that happen that complicate the process. Damages, no PO's on the boxes, items needing prep work before receiving, and there are some items that are high-value that we are not allowed to received, and must be removed to a different area for receiving. But we do have trainers working with us this week and next week, before throwing us out on the main lines, and even then, there are "problem solvers" working each line during shifts to assist with the oddities that come your way.

The one thing I find really confusing is the shifts. This week I'm working Wed. Thu. and Fri. Next week is the regular "H" shift of Sun. Mon. Thu. and Fri. Then, starting Nov. 6., my regular "H" shift hours of 5PM-(supposedly) 4AM start Sun. Mon. Thu. Fri. But THEN, starting Nov. 12, Saturday night shifts start, and "H" shift switches to Fri. Sat. Sun. Mon. So, I'm not sure if that Thu. I still go in, as the Sat. would put me at overtime. I have to find out about that, and who we need to ask. I also say supposedly 4AM, because that would actually give to a half hour of overtime each shift. I've been told that "inboard" hours are 5PM-3:30AM (ten hour day plus 1/2 hour meal break) and "outboard" hours are 5:30PM-4:00AM. So I need to clarify that as well.

So far, I am rating the overall experience an "ok". I've never dealt with this kind of a work experience before...that is, inside a warehouse with no views to the outside, rigid adherence to a time clock, and the overall "sheep being herded" mentality. But, for a workamping gig, it does pay well, they go out of their way to see your needs are met ( they do pay for your site in full, they've provided honey wagon service once a week here at the state park, they've given us free wireless internet passes to use here, we are allowed to receive mail directly at the park, the camp host delivers it to your site), so no complaints about that. I'm not happy with the fact that we were both given night shifts, but hopefully we won't have the exact same nights each week and the dogs will only be alone for a couple of nights. We have started to meet others in the park, and there are several more coming in the next wave of workers coming next week. I think we'll do all right, and I just need to remember, it's a job, not a career, its fulfilling a need that we have (make some money!) and each day gets me closer to being back in my flip-flops in Florida for the winter!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

First Few Days

We have settled into our campground here at Green River Lake State Park, and we really enjoy this one, especially compared to the Heartland RV Park across from Amazon itself. It's only perk there is that you are able to walk to work. Otherwise it's a gravel parking lot with RV's set together as close as possible. Even though this gig is all about the job, I would have really hated it there, and I also feel the dogs would not have liked it either. Here in the state park we have a little bit of room, green grass at our site, a beautiful view of the lake, and plenty of space for the dogs to play. There are not too many of Amazon's "CamperForce" (our new name) here, I think many people didn't like the fact that there is no sewer hook-ups here. They do pay for a weekly honey wagon service though. So far we are quite satisfied at our choice of a campground for this gig.

Monday we attended Amazon's "social", which was a gathering of this week's starting workers at the Heartland RV Park. We were given preliminary information, and our department assignments and work schedule. Unfortunately, I was given the night shift along with Al, even though we had asked for separate shifts to better accommodate our dogs. See, we work 4 ten hour shifts a week here, which will actually be closer to 11 hours by the time you account for the lunch break and traveling to and fro ( its about a 15 minute drive from here).  We are very uneasy about leaving them alone for that long period of time! I have inquired about being put on day shifts instead,  but I don't have high hopes of that happening. Fortunately, we have met a few of the other campers now at this park, and there is a son of a pair of workers who is doing dog walking, so we will have to talk with him. There is also another woman with a golden retriever, who works days, so we may be able to swap off doggie care with her as well. I'm sure we'll figure out a way to manage.

Tuesday was our safety/orientation day, where all the new workers attended the same day and hours. Amazon is extremely safety conscious, and we were walked all over the warehouse and taught how to safely use the equipment that we will be handling. It was a bit overwhelming, the warehouse is so large! I'm really hoping I won't get lost!

Today, Al is working all day training in the clinic processes. I do think he may have the more interesting job out of the two of us! Then I go in tonight from 5-10PM, training for my job as a "receiver". For my first two weeks, I only work 5 hour shifts, as a "hardening" process. They were finding that if they started people out on full 10 hour shifts that people weren't used to the standing/walking and were more prone to injuries. It makes sense. Al's first two weeks of training are full time, but during the day. He starts his regular nightly shifts November 9. I start my regular shift on November 6.

So, that is what we are up to so far. We have found the grocery, WalMart, post office, propane and most important, pizza :-). We met up with our friends from Michigan Sunday afternoon, who are staying at Green River Stables Campground, just outside the park. They have been here for two weeks now, so are starting their full shifts this week. Their campground has a pot luck each Saturday night, and we've been invited over there this weekend. It should be fun.

So, that's it for now. I should have a few first impressions of our jobs to tell you about in a few days. Until then, have a good one!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Exploring

Green River Lake State Park
Campbellsville, Kentucky

Yesterday was spent in exploring the immediate area, finding the shopping areas, and taking a walk on one of the park's 28 miles of trails. We haven't met any other Amazon workers yet, but the campground is full to the brim with Halloween weekend campers. Once they clear out today, we will hopefully see who is left that will be working with us!

The day started out brisk, in the 30's, but brilliantly sunny.

Our temporary site...we move to our permanent site next week. I think they close off half of the campground at the end of the month.
View from the front. You can see the lake in the background. The site is terribly unlevel, we used every block we had to get it to sit straight.

View down one row towards the lake

For a state park, the sites here are pretty close together.

There are full facilities here for kids, from the mini golf course to basketball courts, playgrounds, swimming, a recreation room.



Views of the lake at our end of the campground

We walked the windy ridge trail that runs right out of the campground, and found this tree full of turkey buzzards. Ugly birds.


The dogs had to go for a swim. This is good water, they can drink while swimming :-)

There was a site decorating contest going today, some people really go all out. This was a tent in the primitive section.

A small corner decorated

Chelsea was intrigued by this spider....one of it's legs would move

Now this site was done to the max. 

Same site..see the trailer at the back? It too is decorated up like a dungeon. They must have this all set up and packed in here to bring out each year.

Close-up of the display. I can't imagine how long it must take to set all this up.

At 6PM trick-or-treating began. I had bought some candy, and we sat at the end of our site and handed it out. I ran out in about 20 minutes! I gave out more candy last night than I did in the 30 years I lived in Sag Harbor! Too funny. So we brought in our chairs, and started dinner. For dinner, we tried a new way of cooking cornish hens. I saw Alton Brown do it on Good Morning America a few weeks ago, and was intrigued. You cut out the backbone and keel bone, flattening the hens. Season with salt and pepper. Take out your pannini grill (we have the cuisinart griddler, love it!), have it heated up on high, spray the bottom grill with PAM, put the hen on skin side up, spray the hen with PAM, close the grill, place a 10 pound weight on top ( we used the pumpkin lol) and cook for 10 minutes. Perfect! The meat was juicy and the skin real crispy. It was so easy and tasted so good!

After dark, we took a walk to see the decorated sites while lit up.




It was an interesting experience for our first time in a campground during Halloween. For one weekend, it wasn't too bad :-). I definitely would not want that much noise all the time!

Tomorrow we start at Amazon, with the introductory stuff. Should be interesting! Until next time, have a great day!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Catching Up!

Green River Lake State Park
Campbellsville, Kentucky

I was planning on doing a catch up post on Virginia Beach on my "down day" Thursday, but we were at Douthat State Park, in Millboro, VA., near the Virginia/West Virginia border. It's a spectacularly beautiful park, but while there we had no cell service (ATT), no internet service (Verizon aircard), no satellite service, and two stations on the antenna, WHEN it wasn't raining. It was a quiet two nights :-).

We had perfect weather while in Virginia Beach, right up until the last night. Monday we did a little exploring of the area, as the family members that lived there had to work. We decided to visit the Cape Henry area, down the road from the state park. The historic area is actually on the grounds of Fort Story military base, so if you come, be sure to bring a photo ID with you and be prepared to have your vehicle searched. It's no big deal, and the young men doing the search are pleasant, but very serious.

The Cape Henry Memorial commemorates the first landfall at Cape Henry, in Virginia Beach, Virginia, of colonists bound for the Jamestown settlement. After landing on April 26, 1607, they explored the area, named the cape, and set up a cross before proceeding up the James River. A stone cross, set up in 1935 by the Daughters of the American Colonists, stands in the quarter-acre site. The memorial marks the First Landing, the very beginning of what would become British North America and subsequently Anglo Canada and the United States of America. (wikipedia)

The Memorial also overlooks the scene of the Battle of the Virginia Capes, in which the French navy prevented the British from reinforcing General Cornwallis, and led to the Franco-American victory atYorktown. A statue of Admiral Comte de Grasse and a granite memorial honor those who fought in the battle. (wikipedia)

The Battle of the Chesapeake, also known as the Battle of the Virginia Capes or simply the Battle of the Capes, was a crucial naval battle in the American War of Independence that took place near the mouth of Chesapeake Bay on 5 September 1781, between a British fleet led by Rear Admiral Sir Thomas Graves and a French fleet led by Rear Admiral François Joseph Paul, comte de Grasse.
The battle was tactically inconclusive but strategically a major defeat for the British, since it prevented the Royal Navy from reinforcing or evacuating the blockaded forces of General Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia. It also prevented British interference with the transport of French and Continental Army troops and provisions to Yorktown via Chesapeake Bay. As a result, Cornwallis surrendered his army after theSiege of Yorktown. The major consequence of Cornwallis's surrender was the beginning of negotiations that eventually resulted in peace and British recognition of the independent United States of America. (wikipedia)

The old Cape Henry Lighthouse. It was the first lighthouse authorized by the U.S. government, dating from 1792. It was also the first federal construction project under the Constitution, for an original contract amount of $15,200 (an additional $2,500 was required to finish the lighthouse).

Al and I walked up the 192 steps to the top of the lighthouse. Can you see the rest of the group, along with the dogs, waiting for us at the bottom?

The new Cape Henry lighthouse, constructed in 1881 and sits 350 feet southeast of the old one

The two lighthouses, and the cape memorial in the same shot. The cross is out of view on the left hand side.

We had also gone to visit the Adam Thoroughgood house, the oldest brick building in Virginia and one of the oldest in the country, but unfortunately it was closed. Oh well, win some lose some!

We all had dinner together at Max and Erma's, a restaurant down off of Virginia Beach's boardwalk area. It was very good and reasonably priced, we enjoyed it very much.

Tuesday was a chore day. I needed to get some laundry done, we took the dogs down to the beach for a last romp in the water, and picked up the campsite, putting everything away as we were leaving on Wednesday and it was going to rain on Tuesday night, quite heavily at times. After a last dinner together with the whole gang, it was time to depart and go our separate ways. The ladies continued onto Florida, and Al and I left for parts west.



Pictures of the dogs playing courtesy of my brother-in-law, Tim.

Wednesday was a travel day, from First Landing State park to Douthat State Park, where we stopped for 2 nights. As I said, it's a beautiful park, especially this time of year with the leaves in their full fall foliage mode. Unfortunately, the weather did not co-operate this time, it was raining for our drive, it rained heavily all night, and was still cloudy, gray and cold on Thursday. We did take a ride to see the Natural Bridge of Virginia. It was very touristy and actually crowded for a cold weekday I thought, but the dogs were able to come with us and it was something to do and neat to see.


Douthat

The Natural Bridgeknown as Natty B by locals, in the eponymous Rockbridge County, Virginia is a geological formation in which Cedar Creek (a small tributary of the James River) has carved out a gorge in the mountainous limestone terrain, forming an arch 215 ft (66 m) high with a span of 90 ft (27 m). It consists of horizontal limestone strata, and is the remains of the roof of a cave or tunnel through which the creek once flowed. Natural Bridge has been designated a Virginia Historic Landmark and a National Historic Landmark. (wikipedia). The property was once surveyed by George Washington, was owned by Thomas Jefferson, and is now owned and operated by a private company.

Cedar Creek, the unassuming body of water that formed the arch over millions of years, and dumps into the nearby James River

A re-constructed Monacan Indian village on display. There was an Indian guide dressed in a traditional raccoon coat, with the tails hanging down, that really had Chelsea very interested!

Lace Waterfalls, at the end of the gorge that we were permitted to walk to. 


We found this guy fishing in the creek. He didn't seem to care about the people walking around, he was intent upon catching some lunch.

Some beautiful fall color

Friday was another travel day, the last for a couple of months now. We arrived at Green River Lake State Park, KY, our home while we are working here at Amazon in Campbellsville, KY. Our first days are Monday and Tuesday, when we go through a "social", testing and orientation/safety talks. Then we start in earnest on Wednesday. It should be interesting, and I'll post about our experiences here and anything we find interesting in the area as I have time. I'm expecting to be working hard! Today and tomorrow will be learning about the town and finding our shopping areas. The campground is very busy, it's a Halloween weekend and the sites are all decked out. I'll take some pictures as I go along!





















Monday, October 17, 2011

Morning at the Beach and More Visiting

It has been beautiful here, and we are loving being at the beach. Especially the dogs! Vicky, it is great here, the beach has very few people around so it is easy to go off to the side, and let the dogs off leash to play fetch. I would recommend, though, coming in the spring off-season rather than now. The sand burrs in the fall are terrible, and Chelsea won't even go outside except to go to the beach. They are so sharp, and get stuck in their pads.

All pictures today are taken by my girlfriend Patti, who played with my camera down at the beach!
Acorns on live oak trees...they are called live oak because they don't go dormant in the winter, they keep their leaves all winter.

We asked a ranger what these fruit were, he told us persimmon

The boardwalk over the dunes to the beach. We are asked to only access the beach via the boardwalks, to better protect the dunes from erosion and damage


For allergy sufferers, an unwelcome sight..goldenrod! makes pretty pictures though

Early morning bird tracks in the sand




Does life get any better than this? They are having such a great time!

A pole for every bird!

Pelicans in flight

Sanderlings in flight...they are all over the beach


Beach scenes

Need a pair of sunglasses?


Across the dunes

The afternoon was spent visiting family and viewing their homes here in Virginia Beach and Norfolk. We then gathered for dinner back at the condo, with us cooking chicken at the campsite and salads brought in from the store. I will say the mosquitoes here are absolutely the pits, which is why we don't eat together at the campground for dinner. As soon as dusk falls, they are out in droves. And it would be a bit tight to have a group of 8 trying to eat inside the trailer!

I hope you enjoyed the pictures, and we'll see what we can into tomorrow!