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

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.


  1. "Thankfully, Al and I have always seemed to evolve to a new level at the same time." Shawn and I have said the same thing several times in our lives together. It is very fortunate, to say the least! It makes the evolution that much more pleasant. I am glad we both realized retirement (even semi-) wasn't for us. I think you and Al might think you wish for no work, but you'd miss it if it were gone completely. Some form of work is good for the mind, and the heart.

    I can't say I 'enjoyed' this blog post due to the underlying struggles you mentioned, but I do empathize with all of it. I always look forward to your updates and hope that you enjoy your KY time this year. Good luck with the RV. Wish I had a recommendation for you but in our experience, no matter what they say, these things just aren't meant to be "lived" in.


    1. Always good to hear from you Joy, and we miss you here this year. I agree, I will always look for work, just wish we didn't have to work quite so hard :-).

  2. Sorry to hear about the continuing problems with the trailer. It has to be very frustrating and stressful. I'm sure most people question what they are doing whether they are on the road or working the same job through retirement. I'm sure everything will work out.

    Not missing Amazon! My feet hurt everytime I think of our time there. You don't have much longer now! We'll be leaving for Florida shortly. Can't wait. Hope to see you there.

  3. Sorry you have had so many trailer issues! That has to be so discouraging. We have had good luck with our Heartland Landmark.

    Peak has sure ramped up for Receiving. We are on 60 hour weeks as of this coming week. Five weeks to go!!

  4. Sorry this year has been a tough one, but it is always good to hear from you. I do know that keeping a blog current is a tough job. Let's see I just finished our July posts;o(( Feel better now!!

    We know this has been a difficult year and it takes a lot to deal with constant issues. However, other than the RV issues, most of the problems are just life problems. You just have had a little too much this year!! We are in awe of how you have handled all that has come your way.

    Bill and I have always believed that we research and form a plan, execute the plan and when it no longer works for us, we make a new plan. Fortunately, like you two, we seem to reach the same conclusions about the same time;o)) If we had known about work camping during our first full-timing race across America, we may have done things differently and not come off the road. But we did what we thought was best for several years and when we knew better, we did better and got back out doing what we love!!

    It is a tough balancing act between living Your life and being their for the family. But you need to take care of yourselves and nourish your soul so that you are able to help the family when the need arises.

    We will be at the Supershow and in the Tampa area for a couple weeks in January...hope to share some nature time with you!!!

  5. We too are struggling with some of those same issues this year and although we are only RV part timers, it is still hard to know what to do--go south this year or stay home. Michael's father is 91 years old and fading, our DIL is struggling with cancer--do we stay home or do we go?? At this exact point in time, we have decided to go south but stay a little closer to home by going to southern Utah.

    And we second Joy's comment, "these things are just not meant to be lived in" with a caveat--some are better than others. But, the "better than others" are usually WAY more expensive than the majority of other rigs we all see on the road. :( Our Country Coach even though it is a 1995 is a very solid built rig and we wouldn't hesitate to live in it full time. BUT we certainly could not have afforded a Country Coach when it was new!

    We sincerely hope things perk along until you are finished at Amazon--was happy to see you had posted a blog--have been missing you guys!

  6. I also empathize with you. It seems to have been a difficult year for many. The previous comments sum it up nicely, so I'll just say "Here's to a much better 2014"! Hope to see you this winter.

  7. I too want to commend you for the way in which you have dealt with all the things that have come up for you this year. Our horrible year was 2012 so hopefully you can look back and it will be history soon. I do think you've had more than your share of problems with your 5th wheel. And as you say, it's great that Keystone stands behind their rigs as they should but you seem to have gotten a lemon and I wonder if there is some lemon law that might work to give you some money back to get rid of it. I'd definitely ask keystone if they don't think enough is enough here. Going to Indiana always to get it fixed is expensive and a pain for you. All that said, I envy you having been smart enough to start this lifestyle so early. You've got years of fun on the road that we won't have just because we waited to late. Good for you!! Good to hear from you again and to see your comment on my blog. We'll be at the Tampa show too so we'll have to get some plans together to meet up.

  8. What you said about both of you evolving at the same time made me smile because we (the other Al and Karen) always seem to evolve together as well.

    I'm sorry you have had such a hard year. We like full-timing until we have a problem with our rig (like we do now). It sure can be discouraging.

    We have been extremely happy with our two purchases from Lazy Days. We bought used both times from them. Maybe it is time to think of a new rig, and cut your losses.

    We are in an owner RV park here in Georgia and while here we have come across 2 5th wheels that were sold at very good prices. One was brand new and we heard they sold it for half of what they paid for it because they wanted something different. Apparently, they had more money than sense. Another was one was an 05 Cedar Creek that sold for $16k. It was parked permanently on the site, and the owners just came and used it a few weeks a year. Both appeared to be good deals. Maybe there are more good deals out there.

    Don't feel you are the only ones who have family issues. I guess it's par for the course with aging parents.

    The good news is that I believe Amazon is opening 2 different facilities in Florida, and maybe you could work in Florida??

    Hang in there.

  9. Sorry you had so many problems. Whether you live in an RV or a house you will have problems. I know I may get some flack about this but there are some RV's that are made for full time living. Granted they are high end rigs but they do exist. Carriage was one of them. They had a two year warranty that said we will cover you even if you life in it full time. Unfortunately they are out of business because of a family feud. But a new company with about 50 of their employees started a new company. The Company is Lifestyles. They will be at the Tampa RV show. There is also Horizon RV, a full time unit. Also Alfa, which is now part of Lifestyles, as of the pasted year. Another unit good for full time living is Mobile Suits. So full time unit do exist, but they are higher end 5th wheels. The same with motor homes, but the price is way up there on them.

  10. Change is hard and I am like you. It is especially hard for me. I have a much harder time "going with the flow" than Catherine does. We don't always evolve at the same time. Catherine was not as ready to go part-time as I was but she realized that after we had to put my mom in a care facility and had more problems with our Phaeton than I was comfortable with- I needed to be able to fully relax, which for some reason I could not do while living in the rig. We still love traveling by RV, but right now part timing suits us better. We may rent out the condo and travel full time again in the future- never say never :). We are hoping you have a great 2014. Hopefully we can all meet up at the RV show in Tampa. I don't have any suggestions on 5th wheels but agree that some rigs are more suited to full timing than others.

  11. You have handled all the issues with lots of grace. It has been a bad year for a lot of people. We will visit the Tampa RV show too, hope to see you there!

  12. It definitely has been one heck of a year for you guys . . . but it can only get better, right? Have a great winter!

  13. Yes indeed, life can be difficult no matter where or how you live. It's unfortunate that you've had to deal with RV issues as well as other life issues. Though it's another Keystone product, we have had good luck with our 2013 Montana over the past 15 months. Very few issues. Now we are out of warranty and crossing our fingers that no big issues come up!

    Metamorphosis Lisa