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, December 27, 2014

Another Year at Amazon Completed

The last two weeks of peak at Amazon were, as always, fairly intense. Overtime schedules kicked in for the entire fulfillment center, and 60 hours a week were generally available for those in Camperforce that wish to work them. We do have the option of doing 50 hours, and that is what I (Karen) chose to do again this year. Al has done 55 hours OT the last two years, but this year in his department, Amcare, it was only 50 hours. He never minded doing the extra hours, but I found that even though it felt like I would have no problem staying the extra time each night, after a couple nights of 11 1/2 hours I was really becoming overtired, and my work was suffering as a result. I just feel as if I do ok on the 50 hours a week, so that is what I do :-).

An extra wrinkle to add fun and excitement to our last week was our refrigerator decided to stop cooling again, just as it did last summer. Luckily it was the end of our work week, and we hadn't gone grocery shopping, so it was pretty empty. Out came the coolers, and we put everything in the coolers and turned it off for 48 hours. Once again, it worked perfectly after doing this procedure. It is a giant pain in the rear though to go through this, tripping over the coolers for a couple of days! We have an appointment at Lazydays January 7 for some warranty work to be done, and look at the fridge has gone on the list...although if its working fine I'm sure they will say they can't do anything.

Our last night of work was 12/20, and we worked a half night, finishing at 11:45. We had our "exit meeting" which was very nice, receiving tee shirts and our perfect attendance gift cards, and had some very nice thank you speeches from HR folks and a couple of managers. After four years working peak here at SDF1 in Campbellsville, we have gotten to know many full time employees and all seem happy to see us return each year. We really feel that Camperforce is an asset to the facility and will continue to do our best to promote it as a good and decent place to come, where folks seem to like and appreciate you for your work. After the meeting, we joined several other Camperforce friends for a final breakfast together at Huddle House. Some we will see fairly soon in Florida, while others we may not see until next year. Its never "good-bye", just "see you later!"

We turned our wheels south towards Florida Monday morning, well lunchtime but it felt pretty early to us!, and drove to Chattanooga TN for the night. We took a slightly different route, heading south on Hwy. 61 to Hwy 111 down to Chattanooga, picking up I75 south of the city. It was a very pleasant drive through the countryside, without much traffic or trucks until reaching the city. There are a couple of hills, with 6% grades, but nothing troubling to handle. We would recommend this route to anyone comfortable driving with some moderate hills.

The weather turned lousy on us Tuesday, as we drove from Chattanooga to Tifton GA for the night. Heavy rains and thunderstorms made the going slower, and it poured all night and into Wednesday morning. We were trying to get home to Florida for Christmas Eve, when the family has dinner at Al's Uncle Ron's house for his birthday. So we persevered, although it was rather amusing to see Al outside dumping the tanks and getting things ready to go in his swim trunks, tee shirt and water shoes. After changing into dry clothes, we headed out and made our way to Homosassa, where, if it wasn't sunny, at least it wasn't raining and fairly warm!

So we had our Happy 81st Birthday dinner with Uncle Ron and the family, and a quiet Christmas day at the house with Ginny and Patti. Friday we had our friends Kenny and Jodi over for dinner, and then we all went to see the Celebration of Lights at the Homosassa State Wildlife Park. Today (Saturday) the guys went fishing for grouper all day out of Tarpon Springs (so we are expecting fresh fish for dinner tomorrow) and us girls all went thrift store shopping and to a talk at the Wildlife Park on the subject of Operation Migration, the whooping crane migration project. It was quite interesting, and these folks are quite passionate about their whooping cranes!

Plans over the next few days include a snorkel with the manatees, kayaking the Silver River, lunch with friends and a wonderful prime rib dinner cooked by Al for New Year's Day. So I should have some pictures to show soon, and interesting stories, rather than the quite uneventful past ten weeks!

So we hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas, will have a Happy New Year, and is looking forward to 2015.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

We Do Still Exist!

Well, I did tell you I wouldn't be posting very much while at Amazon, and I sure didn't lie :-). We have been pretty busy here, although our outbound shift hasn't had as much overtime as in previous years and Al's overtime in Amcare didn't start until two weeks ago, unlike previous years where he went to 50 hours a week right away. But rest assured, we are still pretty tired :-0. I feel the most difficult thing we had to deal with this year was Al's schedule, There were a few weeks where he was doing a couple of night shifts and then a couple of day shifts. It wasn't easy to adjust to that at all, and hope he doesn't have to deal with that in coming seasons. I have a healthy respect now for people who work swing shifts on a regular basis, it isn't easy at all.

We have had a few difficulties here at Green River Lake State Park that were unforeseen. Sadly, the emerald ash borer has infested the beautiful trees in the park, and all of the ash trees were slated for removal this fall. They did not know this was happening until mid-October. The consequence of this was mostly for those of us working the night shift, and trying to sleep during the day when the chain saws and bobcats were hard at work :-(. We also ended up having to move sites halfway through our time as the row we were on was slated for tree removal. Not only did they not want to work around us, but we certainly didn't want to take any chances of a tree falling on us!

It has been, shall we say, an interesting season here in Campbellsville. Mid-November they recruited 100 of us Camperforce people working here at SDF1 to move north to there facility in Jeffersonville Indiana. After they left, any of the Camperforce workers who were working on the inbound side of SDF1 were moved to the outbound side of operations. So there was a big influx of new workers in our department, which was pretty nice as we now were working with some of our friends. But then they moved some of us around to other departments as well! I was trained on what they call "problem solving" which involves taking packages that have been "kicked out" of the shipping conveyors for various reasons and trying to figure out what is wrong with the order, and then correcting it. It can be pretty easy, such as just putting a new shipping label on it, to complicated...such as a wrong item was packed and you need to figure out what it was supposed to be and where the wrong item was supposed to go....to completely stressful, such as your label printer going down and the whole conveyor line of packed items getting backed up higher than the Great Wall of China. So, as I say, its been an interesting season.

We have one more week to go. Our release date is Saturday night at 11:45. We will start heading towards Florida and the warm and sunny weather on Monday 12/22, making it home in time for Christmas Eve dinner with Al's family. We are looking forward to it, and the next couple of months when we have many plans of seeing visiting family and friends. Until then, happy shopping...at Amazon :-).

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Why We Do What We Do

Amazon nights and cold days....pretty much the sum of our experiences right now. It doesn't sound very exciting, and truly, its not. We have many friends now that we meet up with here in Campbellsville, but unless they are on the same shift as you, there is not too many chances to actually meet up and chat for awhile. We pass in the hallways, campground roads and maybe Krogers or a restaurant, but its sort of a quick "how you doing?" and off you go. Like the rest of the country, its also very cold and dreary for this time of year here. Nights are already going down into the teens and twenties, and it is currently raining to beat the band and turning to snow later. Yes, the life of a workamping full-timer is always sunshine and roses, isn't it?

I was thinking about this the other night, as I was packing away (its not rocket science, you do find your mind wandering!) and thinking I really need to update the blog, but what should I write about? There are plenty of others blogging about the daily experience of working for Amazon as a seasonal temp, I don't really feel the need....although if anyone ever wants to reach out and ask for our experiences and help we are always willing to lend that helping hand...we have several new friends that have reached out to us about Amazon and are now in their second or third seasons of working. So, I was thinking ok, I'm pretty tired tonight, and why did I give up my secure life, business, home, social network, to come out and live in a 320 square foot RV, working various jobs that include this pretty tough warehouse job? Well, I kind of thought I would let some of my pictures from the last four years explain why :-)

Bears in the Smoky Mountains National Park

Hiking and boating on the Au Sable River in Michigan

Dune buggy riding on the sand dunes of Silver Lake Michigan

Niagara Falls, Ontario Canada

Watkins Glen New York

Three Sisters Springs, kayaking with the manatees, Crystal River Florida

Geocaching with friends in Nathrop Colorado

Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

Jeeping over Imogene Pass, Ouray Colorado

Rocky Mountain National Park Colorado

The Badlands National Park South Dakota

Cumberland Falls State Park Kentucky

Kayaking the Silver River, Ocala Florida

Sponge fishing boats Tarpon Springs, Florida

Fishing villages in Maine

Hiking the carriage roads of Acadia National Park

Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada

Camaraderie at Amazon 2013

Family fun at Walt Disney World

French Quarter, New Orleans

San Antonio, Texas

San Antonio Missions National Historic Park

Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Hike to Lower Calf Creek Falls, Utah

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Arches National Park, Utah

Island in the Sky section Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Grand Tetons National Park, Wyoming

Geysers at Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Kayaking on Yellowstone Lake, Wyoming

Driving the Beartooth Pass, Montana

Hiking and kayaking Grand Tetons National Park

Fly fishing the Snake River, Wyoming

Ok, I guess I found enough reasons to keep on looking around the next bend in the road!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Sad Times

It has been a while since I've posted anything, since we arrived in Kentucky actually. I've alluded to some family issues going on, but don't really like to post such personal issues. My mom has been in poor health for quite some time now, many years in fact, but things became worse this past summer. Since the end of June she had been in and out of the hospital, bouncing between different hospitals, nursing homes and rehabilitation centers in the quest to get her myriad of medical issues under control. The most pressing of these was the need to go on dialysis, which we had been fighting against for several years, but her kidney function lowered to such a degree that it finally became a necessity. She was never able to adjust well to the dialysis, and it also caused several of her other medical conditions to go haywire on her. After battling these past several months, my mom has lost her fight and passed away peacefully yesterday morning.

Luckily, I, along with Al and my brother and sister, were able to get down to Florida in time to see her while she was still conscious and knew we were there. I cannot say enough good things about HPH Hospice in Lecanto Florida. The people who work and volunteer there deserve a special place in heaven for their caring and compassion. They certainly made my mom's last days peaceful and comfortable, as well as being there to help the family through the process, especially my sister who stayed with her until the end.

I will always appreciate everything everyone has done to help this past summer. Al's sister Ginny and our best friend Patti went above and beyond duty in assisting her, visiting her and running endless errands. Their assistance and ability to be my "eyes" were priceless.  My employers Brad and Joann for allowing me unrestricted access to the landline phone at the ranch to call hospitals and doctors as my ATT cell service was basically useless. Mom's friends from her community for visiting her and helping her get to a few appointments, and collecting her mail. And finally my sister Amy, who was willing and able to put her life on hold to give mom comfort and company her last days. Mom was blessed to have all of you in her life, as am I.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Arrival in Kentucky

12 Days, 2012 miles, and we have finally arrived at Green River Lake State Park, Campbellsville, Kentucky...ready to start our fourth season working at Amazon!

We had a pretty quiet, uneventful drive after leaving from Chalk Creek Campground in Nathrop Colorado. We dropped a little further south and picked up Highway 50 heading east out of Colorado. The drive was beautiful through Bighorn Sheep Canyon, and as we drove the twisty roads, after all summer, we finally saw a herd of female bighorn sheep, right alongside the road. I thought it would be a much nicer, quieter drive than heading out through Colorado Springs, and I was right :-). We stopped for the night in Lamar CO, on the Kansas/Colorado border. I had decided to break up the roughly 900 mile drive from Nathrop to Osage Beach Missouri into three days. I find that 300 miles a day is a pretty good limit to my driving endurance; if I don't need to go further than that, I'd rather not.

We continued across Kansas on Highway 50/400, a decent two lane highway. The only difficult thing about avoiding the interstates is the lack of large fuel stops or rest areas. I had to carefully plan where we would stop for refueling and lunch along the way. I found truckstopsonline, where I could gather information on big rig fuel stations on any highway in any state, not just the interstates. It really helped as we traveled. We stopped in Goddard KS on the second night, just outside Wichita. We then followed Highway 54 straight into Osage Beach MO, right by Lake of the Ozarks State Park. We stayed at Osage Beach RV Park, which was a very nice private RV park. One of the nicest we've stayed at. We decided to spend three nights here (they had a three night mid-week special price) and it looked like a nice area to rest for a couple of days. Unfortunately, the weather was not looking very good, so our first day there we went to the state park in the morning and took a long walk with the dogs to stretch the old leg muscles.

Lake of the Ozarks is really nice. It's very large, with fingers reaching out in all directions.

It seems like a highly desirable area, both for year round residents and summer homes. Some of the homes along the lake shore were beautiful.

It felt odd being back in heavily wooded trails again...also had to be careful of ticks again!

That first night it started raining, and kept on raining all the next day. It was a good day to stay in, catch up on paperwork, watch a movie and make some soup....so we did :-). Unfortunately, it was still raining the next day, and we had to move on as the campground was fully booked for the Columbus Day weekend. I don't care for driving in the rain, but on we went. Our destination was South Marcum Campground, a COE campground on Rend Lake, Benton Illinois. It rained the entire way, including our journey through the city of St. Louis, which I will really try to avoid in the future....maybe it would be better on a dry day, I don't know! South Marcum was an awesome campground, with full hook-up sites, level and paved, and lots of space between sites. We really liked this campground and would like to return one day when the weather is better. We stayed here two nights, as we couldn't come into Green River Lake until Sunday. The rain did hold off in the morning of our full day there, and we got in a five mile geocaching walk before the rain came down again. 

This morning we left South Marcum, and finally arrived back in eastern standard time...back in synch with the family :-). We will be getting set up tomorrow, getting the pantry refilled and ready for quick meals. We start at Amazon on Tuesday, with out orientation and safety school during the day, then my regular nightly shift starts on Wednesday. Al will find out his schedule on Tuesday, because, after all, he's special :-). 

So for the next ten weeks I probably won't have too much interesting to write about. Between work and some family issues we are dealing with, I'll be pretty busy. I'll try to make some quick updates about how work is going this year, and anything interesting we may find going on. Don't forget about us, we have lots planned for this winter in Florida :-)!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

On The Move

Just a short post to note that we are on the move across the country. We had a snow delay the morning we were scheduled to leave the ranch, but finally got rolling just after lunch...time for the snow to clear off of Togwatee Pass. We made it as far as Rawlins, WY that day, and the next day continued on to Golden, CO, just outside of Denver. We met our friends Joe and Sandi Wingert, co-workers from Chalk Creek in 2012, and have a great Italian dinner (in short supply around Jackson LOL) and a nice geocache hike the next morning. Then it was a short 2 1/2 hour drive down to Chalk Creek RV Park, where we spent a fun evening at one of our favorite restaurants, Eddylines, with our former employers, Lars and Tamara Karlsson and the girls, Karina and Jenna. The next morning we found ourselves at the Rooster Crow in Buena Vista, having a long breakfast/brunch with Jack and Joyce Aughtman, who also worked with us at Chalk Creek. We spent the afternoon driving up to St. Elmo's, doing some geocaching and admiring the golden aspens. We had our farewells at Chalk Creek with a pizza party and this morning were on our way across the midsection of the country, headed for Campbellsville Kentucky and our next stint at Amazon. No pictures, but we will be stopping for a couple of days at Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri, and hopefully the weather co-operates for a bit of exploring as we wait to get into Green River Lake State Park.

Farewell, Grand Tetons, until next spring!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Socializing, Kayaking and Fishing

These past three weeks have seemed very busy here in Wyoming. One of our couples left at the end of August and we've been pretty busy with bookings, so the work weeks have been busy. There had also been the extra, end of season work to be done. The guys did a week of painting, putting on a wood preservative to all the cabins, as well as Brad and Joanne's home and barn. Laundry has been busy with doing all the blankets, quilts, mattress pads and protectors, as well as flipping all of the mattresses. That's a total of 5 hide-a-beds, 5 king beds, and 30 queen beds! I've been busy learning the office routines in preparation for more office time next year. The lawns have been cut for the last time, and we are now entering our last few days here at the ranch for this season.

In our down time, we have had some socializing to do. Our good friends from Al's Sag Harbor Ambulance days came to Yellowstone to visit, and we drove up after work one day to have dinner with them. It sure was nice to see Ed and Judy Gregory again, and I feel badly that I didn't take any pictures! How is it that we always get so caught up in talking and eating that we forget to take pictures?? We had a nice dinner at the Lake Lodge Cafeteria in the Lake Village area of Yellowstone, and as we drove back to the ranch we had snow! Now this was the first week of September, mind
you :-)!

Our second surprise visit has a funny story to it. The Moran Fire department has a benefit BBQ lunch once a year the third Sunday in September. Brad and Joanne very kindly bought tickets for the whole staff to attend and have lunch together that day. I finished getting my plate of food, and as I was waiting for Al I was checking out the items up for silent auction. I noticed one item, a small child's chair handmade with what looked like a horsehair seat, and noticed a fairly high bid on it. Curious, I looked closer, and was quite startled to find that I recognized the name of the bidder...Ron Dacuk, and old family friend from back in Sag Harbor! The area code on the phone number was even the right area code for Sag Harbor, so we took a chance that it was him and called. Sure enough, Ron and his wife Jackie were on a road trip out here and had just left the picnic. How funny is that? We made arrangements to meet that night in Jackson for dinner, and had a splendid time catching up on the past four years. I just can't believe how things like that happen :-).

We had a wonderful breakfast the following Sunday at Jenny Lake Lodge with Carol and John Herr, and met their friends Patsy and Bob (volunteers at the Elk National Refuge in Jackson) and Jann and Barry, visiting full-time RV friends. After breakfast we all drove down to Jackson Lake Dam, in preparation for a float kayak down the Snake River. It had started raining, so rather than start out in the rain, we headed to Jackson Lake Lodge to wait out the squall in front of their cozy fireplaces in the lobby. About an hour later and the sun broke out, so off we headed.

Getting the kayaks ready..some of us had inflatables, others hard shells. As this was a shuttle kayak, the guys took off and left a vehicle down at our take-out point, Pacific Creek landing.

The current is strong enough that not much energy was expended in paddling...at least at this point!

Sometimes the current carried us around in a circle, and I got a shot of our scenery behind us...notice the clouds building behind Mount Moran...better keep an eye on that!

Our wildlife sightings were on the feathery side....common mergansers...

and bald eagles. Notice this one had flown down and caught his lunch. As we got closer, her grabbed it and took off up into the trees with it.

About halfway through our float, we approached tiny rapids to negotiate, and started hearing rumbles of thunder in the distance. At this point we picked up the pace, and started paddling as well as floating. It's not a good idea to be caught on the water in a storm!

We made it with no problems to Pacific Creek landing, and wouldn't you know it, the sun came back out again! We had a great time regardless, and many thanks to Patsy and Bob for being our guides. The Snake River can be a dangerous river to navigate if you aren't sure of what you're doing, and they suggested this section as a very mild but scenic float to do. Next year, we plan on taking a float trip with one of the outfitters and going further down the river.

In the area of water activities, we also had a guided fly fishing trip that we took on September 15. Al has tried fly fishing a bit in the past, in Colorado the summer we worked there, and enjoyed it very much. After we had our fishing trip back in July on Jackson Lake, where we brought home enough fish for all the staff to have a fish dinner, Brad and Joanne gave us a guided fly fishing trip as a mid-summer "thank you for your hard work" present. We were thrilled beyond belief, and were quite looking forward to our day on the river.

Our guide Steve picked us up in Jackson and we headed down to the Pritchard area boat launch. Once launched, we started floating down the Snake River as he demonstrated the techniques to fly fishing. Its very different from the bay fishing I used to do back in New York, but was fun in a challenging way.

Al had no problems picking it up...

and landed several beautiful cutthroat trout during the day. It was all catch-and-release, however, so no fish dinner this time.

The scenery was stunning, and where I did do quite a bit of casting, I was only able to land one fish...

but that's ok, I was content to enjoy my surroundings!

So that pretty much catches you up with the activities we have been pursuing. We are supposed to have a good-bye breakfast and hike with John and Carol tomorrow, but it looks like the weather is not cooperating, so it will just be a long breakfast. We have one more day of work here, Tuesday, and then Wednesday we pull out and head for Kentucky. We will be arriving at Green River Lake State Park on October 12, and starting work on the 14th. On the way we will be visiting friends at Chalk Creek, where we worked in 2012, and have a couple of days stay in a new state for us, Missouri, at Lakes of the Ozarks area. 

We've had a wonderful summer here in Wyoming, and are very much looking forward to returning next year. We couldn't have asked for a better place to live and work, the welcome has been huge and the friendships made I'm sure will last a very long time. Casey has really loved it here as well, and will be quite sad when we leave...it will be back on a leash for him! So we should be on the road again next time you here from me.