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!
Homer, Alaska

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Just a short note to wish one and all a Happy Thanksgiving. We are thankful indeed for the ability to lead the life we have chosen, and grateful for the many many great people we are meeting as we travel around the country. We are missing our family on this day, but know we will be together with several of them in four weeks! Have a safe, happy and gourmet experience today :-).

Our million dollar view while here in Kentucky..one of the things I am thankful for!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Post Neglection

It happens every fall around this time; all of a sudden I realize its been days, if not weeks, since I've written anything. And I always feel bad, neglecting my journal in this manner. After all, not only do I write to keep interested folks current on our whereabouts, but also to keep a record of where we are, what we're doing, and how things are going. So even if things aren't all rosy, I really need to keep things updated. I think every single one of us in this lifestyle is always assessing how things are, and where we go from here; figuratively, as well as physically!

I'm always saying this nomadic lifestyle is a constant work-in-progress. Howard and Linda Payne over at RV-Dreams constantly say no one way of full-time rv'ing is right or wrong, and this is true. What works for us may not work for someone else. Sometimes, even what we think will work for us, doesn't, and has to be adjusted. This has been a radical change of mind-set for me. I've always been a planner, thinking through a process, deciding a course of action, and once decided, seeing it through. Change was always difficult for me...if something is working, why change it? It was so much easier just to flow along with things the way they always had been.

But after awhile, it wasn't enough. Thankfully, Al and I have always seemed to evolve to a new level at the same time. It is way too easy for partners to move in different directions and not realize it until it is too late. I am grateful that we were able to make the decision together that this is what we want to do and find the means to do it. We had always dreamed of roaming the country in our later years (but not too later!) and have found the means to do so through workamping. Yes, I am envious, a bit, of folks we meet on the road who are completely retired, and have the financial means to travel without working. But then, I have to stop and think, I AM still doing what we've dreamed of, seeing the country and so many wonderful sites. So I mentally slap myself to stop the whining, and get on with it!

We've had a tough year, no doubt, as so many other of our RV-Dreamer group has. It hasn't gotten any easier towards the end, as my family is dealing with a family member with several serious health issues. For awhile it looked like I might have had to leave my post here at Amazon and go back to Florida, but thanks to two wonderful family members, the immediate crisis was taken care of and I think that we can get things done via phone until we go back at Christmas. I think a lot of full-timers our age are finding that it is difficult to deal with elderly parent issues from afar. Although, truthfully, if we weren't out here on the road, we would still be back in New York, with our business, and probably the issues would be even harder to deal with.

And I think that may be the crux of the whole argument that I've been having with myself the last few months. I still have no regrets at all about our decision to change our lives, we both feel it was definitely the right thing to do. I was questioning the timing of it though, and talking to a co-worker about it this summer. She came right out and asked me, would any of these things have NOT happened if we hadn't gone out on the road? Maybe we wouldn't have had the truck and trailer issues, but there were always issues with vehicles and the house that needed to be addressed. Our parents would have still gotten older; Chelsea would still have gotten cancer; Al still would have his heart issues (along with a myriad of other physical problems due to our jobs); in short, problems don't go away just because you changed your life. So wherever you are and whatever you're doing, they still need to be dealt with.

Many of you know that our trailer is going back to Indiana after New Year's to have more work done to it at the factory. We have been so disappointed with the durability of it. We are strongly considering trading it in after we get the issues fixed (before something else goes wrong!). I am looking for input from folks with fifth wheels who have POSITIVE experiences with their rigs. We simply can't afford to change rigs every few years, and need to have a reliable, sturdy rig for our travels. I realize that every rig will have issues, but I think we've had more than our share in less than three years: two holding tanks replaced, one fixed; propane leak in furnace system; one side wall replaced because of broken welds, a second one being replaced in January; converter replaced; oven replaced; shower pan replacement pending; tire blow-out causing side wall damage (luckily no worse); front cap paint damage from the sun (the new dark gray paint isn't doing so well for Keystone); and the myriad of smaller items that have broken, come loose, etc. that Al fixes himself. I will say Keystone has stood by the rig and repaired the structural damage, but it is a major hassle (and expense) to haul the rig up to Indiana in the winter. I'm grateful I have a place to stay while the work is being done, but what if I didn't? We plan on a couple of days at the Tampa RV Supershow inspecting rigs and seeing what kind of deals they're giving.

Tonight ends our third week of eight at Amazon. Al is already starting overtime tomorrow in AmCare. I am home tonight because my department was told last night they were giving VTO tonight.....voluntary time off. Saturday is still on the slower side, and they were bringing in new trainees again tonight, in preparation for Peak coming. I am in outbound (packing), and our overtime hasn't started yet....it should pretty soon though! So I took the VTO tonight, rather than go in and spend the 10 hours doing something like scraping the old tape off the floors and putting down new tape. Been there, done that my first year...didn't care for it!

Green River Lake State Park is more crowded this year than in prior years. A combination of one campground closing and word getting out about what a beautiful park it is has brought more folks here to stay. I've met a few of my readers here, and at work. Its always fun to hear "Aren't you Al and Karen...." and then have a nice conversation. Unfortunately, simply because of shifts, we don't get to socialize too much with folks working day shift. We simply don't see each other much! The busiest time in the campground seems to be between 3PM and 4PM...folks out walking dogs before heading in for night shift, and 4AM and 5AM as folks come home from night shift and others are getting up for day shift. Its a good thing there's not too many non-Amazon workers in the park :-).

I guess that's about all I have tonight. I don't know if I'll have anything more interesting to post in the coming weeks, but you never know. I have a couple of videos to share if you care to watch; they are short and kind of interesting if you wish to see what goes on in the factory. It wasn't our facility, but it's fairly representative of the workspace. Enjoy, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, wherever you are.

Video of Amazon

Sugarbeet harvest: video by Larry Harmon of this year's beet pile; we worked (very briefly) with Larry and Betty last year before coming to Amazon early. I thought some of you would be interested in the video showing the beet pile at the end.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Back at Amazon

It's been a couple of weeks since I posted, we've been pretty much on the move during that time. We departed Mount Desert Narrows October 15, and traveled down to Connecticut for the night. We had decided to use the Cross Sound Ferry to reach our destination on Long Island, rather than drive through New York City; always a dicey prospect, especially with a large RV! We stayed at Ross Hill Park Family Campground for the night, about twenty minutes from the ferry terminal. I had thought about staying at Mohegan Sun Casino for free, but there are no hookups there and with Al using a CPAP machine, I didn't want to chance it. The campground was quiet, and looked nice enough, but we had a devil of a time trying to figure out how the site was laid out, and it was not very level at all. We got set up ok, though, and headed out fairly early for our 1 1/2 hour ferry ride across the Sound.

Our destination for the week was Camp Driveway at my sister Amy's house in Aquebogue NY. It was a busy week of birthday parties, a lobster bake (yes, we brought lobsters down with us!), golf and fishing for Al, and lots of visiting with family and friends. Why is it that those weeks are always the most tiring?

All too soon it was time to head towards Campbellsville Kentucky. Our start date was October 28, so we left NY on the 24th, and headed towards our first stop, Ronks, PA, in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country. Back in the 80's, in our pop-up camping days, we would go there every spring for a little golf, shopping and a lot of eating! Nowadays, if we're ever close to the area, it's just about mandatory to make a stop there. We stayed at a small campground called Flory's Cottages and Camping for two night, which provides a convenient base for us to visit our favorite haunts: Miller's SmorgasboardKitchen Kettle Village in Intercourse, as well as Stoltzfus Meats and all the other shops in town. Our pantry and refrigerator were pretty bare after our week of visiting, so it seemed a good place to re-stock! We also did a bit of geocaching while there, and reached a milestone of 250 caches found since we started August 2012.

From Ronks, we headed southwest to Kentucky, splitting the 685 miles into two nights. I had researched the maps, gps and Mountain Directory East for the most gentle ride through the mountains. We are trying a new procedure this fall, and now I am driving our Trailblazer behind Al and the rig. We want to see if the convenience of having a smaller vehicle for day to day driving as well as significantly less fuel consumption makes up for the added fuel expense of a second vehicle. We'll be keeping track of that. It is also quite handy to have a second vehicle while working at Amazon, as we don't always work on the same schedule.

The route I ended up choosing was I76 through PA, exiting in Bedford to a very nice small highway US220. The scenery going through small farms and towns dressed in fall foliage colors was quite nice. Then we picked up I68 in Maryland, and this section of the drive had the most grades. It wasn't too bad, though, and I managed just fine for my first time driving mountain grades :-). We then switched to I79 in West Virginia, and stopped for the night at Huntington/Foxfire KOA. I hadn't even thought about it being the Saturday before Halloween, and we were lucky to find their last site long enough for us! After 440 miles of driving in one day, I sure was glad as I didn't want to keep going on down the road! The campground was packed with trick or treaters, but quieted down nicely and sleeping was not an issue.

Our last push took us down I64 into Lexington KY, and I marveled at what a beautiful city it is as we drove through. It has definitely gone on my list of "must return to" and visit the sights. I hear the Kentucky Horse Park is THE place to go. Our roads led us down the Blue Grass Parkway and then onto 55 into Campbellsville. We arrived at Green River State Park mid-afternoon, and got set up in our regular site, 87. It was great seeing the folks running the park, and some of our Amazon friends who are already here!

Monday was our "meet and greet" afternoon, where Camperforce HR folks, Kelley, Jen and Stephanie, go through introductions and go over paperwork. It also gives you a chance to meet your fellow shift workers, and people staying at your park. There's quite a few more folks staying at the State Park this year, and we've got dog walking and car pooling in the works. Al and I are both on the same shift this year for the first time, Wednesday through Saturday, overtime night is Monday. He started right in with 10 hour nights down in AmCare, and I am going through "work-hardening" five hours a night this week, 7 1/2 hours next week, then 10 hours. It does help your body (feet) get adjusted to the work.

So that's where we're at now. Busy working for the next eight weeks. We may get some fun stuff in, but I'm mostly concerned at keeping the budget on track and saving some funds towards our travel out to Wyoming next spring. We're thinking about making a couple of stops along the way in San Antonio, Santa Fe and Moab as we work our way up there. It all takes dollars, so its time to make the donuts :-)! Suggestions for things to see and do in those areas are always appreciated.