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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

Monday, October 26, 2015

Season Five at Amazon!

Week One is finished at SDF1, otherwise known as the Amazon fulfillment center in Campbellsville Kentucky. The hiring procedure changes slightly each year, but the facility itself has had huge changes this past year, with an extensive renovation and re-purposing taking place. Our first four years working here the product mix was pretty much anything and everything that one could possibly imagine....and some things that you would never imagine :-). One of the fastest growing segments of sales for Amazon is apparel..shoes, clothing, underwear, outerwear, you name it, Amazon is selling it. In order to accommodate this change, SDF1 is switching from all merchandise to 100% apparel. This necessitated a different way of storing the merchandise, so all of the "pick mods" have been gutted and remodeled to facilitate better storage of these items. The warehouse is very different from what we've been used to.

We arrived a week ago Sunday at our favorite camping spot here in Campbellsville, Green River Lake State Park. Not too many folks like to stay here, for two reasons that I've heard. One is that there are no sewer hookups here, so once a week a "honey wagon" comes around to pump us out. We have fairly large holding tanks, and have not found that to be a problem. The only thing that may fill up before weeks' end is our galley gray water, but we have a "blue boy" tote that we can empty into if necessary. We are fairly economical with shower water, so long hot showers are a luxury here, but that's ok. Its also about a 15-20 minute drive from the park to the warehouse, so most folks like to stay at the closer campgrounds. We like the peace and quiet here, the beautiful views, and the dogs really enjoy the space to run.

Monday was our "orientation and safety school" day. All of our new hire paperwork is now filled out online prior to our arrival, but there are still several hours of required lectures on rules, regulations, behavior and safety that we have to go through. It can be tedious, but they try to make it as interesting as possible. This is all done during the day, whether you have been assigned to day shift or night shift. I have been assigned to nights, "D" shift, which I think I've been on every year since the first one! It was a little confusing with Al, as he doesn't get assigned to a shift by the Camperforce HR team, so he had to head over to the Amcare office at the end of the day and get his rotation figured out. With everything new this year, he is currently working the day shift for these first two weeks to get trained on the new programs, process paths (this is what they call the different department work procedures) and layout of the building.

Tuesday night I started my department training. I am assigned to the receive department, and started training on "receive/prep". I work on the line that takes in product that has been delivered that needs additional packaging of some sort. It may be as simple as putting new bar code stickers on an item, or verifying that the item is already prepped for storage, or it may be something like a box full of socks that need to actually be packaged in plastic bags, sorted, stickered, etc. Every box that comes through my station will have a different process applied to it, making for a great variety of work. Its a tiny bit like the problem solving I was doing last year, in that you have to figure out what work these items need, which screen I need to go to to get the applications I need, and then get it sorted and put on the stower's carts so the merchandise can be put away out in the pick mods. Of course, it can get a little tedious as well, like when I had a box of about 100 bras that needed to be individually sorted, scanned, bagged and tagged :-).

Our first week is only five hours a night, for three nights, considered a "work hardening" process. Starting tonight, Monday, my second week will be four nights of 10 hour shifts. This is where I really get into "vampire mode", working until 3:30 AM and sleeping during the day. Because of construction, we all have Friday and Saturday off, as the facility is completely closed those days. But, that all changes this Sunday, when SDF1 officially goes into PEAK season, and construction will be halted until the first of the year. Our regular shift starts that week, and I will be working Wednesday-Saturday nights, with Tuesday my OT night I believe. I will find out for sure this week, as our inbound departments are immediately going into mandatory overtime next week. There's a great big warehouse with a lot of empty pick mods right now, and they are going to be slamming getting those shelves filled for the Christmas orders. So starting next week, I will be getting 60 hours if I want it! Camperforce is required to do the 50 hours overtime schedule, but we can elect to do the 60 or not. Last year I did not do the 60 hours. I am going to try doing it this year, as we have a couple of bills we need to get paid off. We're not sure yet how much OT Al will get in Amcare, so I will try and go "great guns" at it.

In the meantime, we've had great fun catching up with our many friends here. Our first week here the weather was beautiful, and Friday we had a picnic here in the park with a group of "RV-Dreamers" that are here working at SDF1 with us. Once you get going on the different shifts full time, its very hard to get a group together, so we try and do it before the PEAK schedule kicks in. Last year's potluck was a huge success, so we decided to get one together again this year :-). "RV-Dreamers" refers to all of us that are followers of Linda and Howard Payne, who have been full timing very successfully for over ten years now. Their website RV-Dreams and rallies are instrumental in getting a lot of folks started, ourselves included. We've met so many great people and have such good friends through our contacts with RV-Dreams, and I swear they are all the nicest people you want to meet!
RV-Dreamer SDF1 Camperforce picnic attendees: from left to right, first sitting then standing)
Michelle, Dino, Lisa, George, Nancy, Kelly, Peggy, Al, Neil, Harry, Richard, Bonnie, myself, Jessica, Laurel and Bill.

We had a great afternoon and gathered a couple of new recipes as well! We were missing our dear friends Pat and Diana Brown, as they arrived Wednesday but had to go for a quick trip back to Huntsville AL for a family funeral. But not to worry, we got together with them last night, along with Bonnie and Richard, and continued our tradition of having a pizza night out together. We got together with them a few times last winter, kayaking, and such, and have become great friends. Bonnie and Richard have an RV lot nearby in Chassa Oaks now, and Pat and Diana spend the winter in Florida, and we look forward to seeing more of them this winter. The best part of this life has been all the wonderful people we have met and continue to meet. Jessica and Harry we have known "virtually" for a few years, and are fellow former New Yorkers. Laurel and George we've known since the 2011 Sevierville Rally, and cross paths occasionally. Nancy and Neil we've also known since the 2011 Sevierville rally, and have become very good friends with as well. Michelle, Peggy, Dino and Lisa were all new folks we met, and we hope to get to know them better. I had a really nice long chat with Kelly and her husband Bill, and think we're going to get along just great! They'll be in Florida this January, and I hope to get together and do some kayaking before they leave. They're headed west after that, with the ultimate goal of traveling to and working in Alaska this summer.

So, Amazon life is chugging along, and the busy weeks are going to kick right in. The next seven weeks will go quite quickly, and then we'll be headed to Florida for another winter of family and friends. Oh, and I forgot to answer Sherry's question in the comments last blog, but yes, we are headed back to Wyoming, to Luton's Teton Cabins, for a third season. Our friends John and Carol Herr are returning to their jobs working for the Grand Teton Association, and we look forward to having more adventures with them in this beautiful area. We also look forward to meeting new people at work as well. I'm starting to plan our trip west in the spring, and this year will be taking a different route, exploring the areas of Savannah GA, Charleston SC, Asheville NC and Lexington KY on the way out. If anyone has "must do" activities in any of these places, I'm all ears! 


  1. Sounds like you've gotten the routine down there at Amazon and have gathered a great group of friends that make returning a lot of fun. I sure hope you volunteer for those night hours. I'd hate to think they are making you do that. 10 hour days on your feet seems horrid enough without having to do your days during the night.

  2. I'm so glad that we all got together before we're too exhausted to. It was a lot of fun!

  3. Makes me tire just reading your schedule! More power to you, and yes, the friends must make it much more tolerable.

  4. Sounds like quite the working schedule...at least it's for a very limited time. I think your choice of campgrounds is great...we'd do the same thing. Nice to have lots of friends around.

  5. If you are spending any time in Asheville, be sure to visit the Biltmore Estate. It will take the greater part of a day but if you have never seen the mansion and grounds, I'm sure you will be glad you did.

  6. Lexington Horse Park is wonderful and there is a Rail to Tails accessible from the campground!! Also, be sure to visit the Battery in Charleston and just walk the streets downtown. I believe James Island County park is a nice Campground and has a shuttle to downtown if you prefer not to drive and park. For some amazing views and a bit of exercise, you can always walk to the top of the Cooper River Bridge. Parking is available on both sides of the river.

    Now, put your time in and don't completely wear yourself out. Perhaps we will cross paths in Florida this winter,