The ‘dog blog’ is back!

Hello everyone!  It’s me, your favorite blogging dog, back from a long absence!  For my long-time followers, you will note that I have a new photo of me blogging.  Currently, I am at my Grandparents house, while my parents are busy making money so they can afford more treats and toys for me.  My grandma just purchased her very first laptop, so I am trying to figure things out.img_1103I would have blogged sooner, but my grandma’s desktop computer is older than I am, and I just couldn’t figure it out!  My parents have come up to visit me a few times, especially now that grandma has her new computer.  Grandma called them 5 times the first night after getting the laptop, so they decided to come up and visit the next day, because getting tech support over the telephone was cutting into my playing time.  I was starting to feel neglected.

My parents were trying to set up grandma’s laptop in person, but even that was becoming a process.  Apparently grandma handed them some things she called “floppy discs” and wanted them installed on her laptop.  A long discussion took place, and soon my dad was cutting up the discs.  They are older than me!

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who still uses these?

Mom then set up her iTunes account on the laptop and was transferring some music for grandma.  More discussion occurred…

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uhmmm, no grandma!

But enough about that, time to get back to me!  I had a great summer at Luton’s Teton Cabins.  It was a great place to be a dog with working parents.  No late nights, always home on time for lunch so I never had to “cross my paws” with their long workdays.  And having 100 acres to run around, off leash, was just icing on the cake.  Who can beat this view?

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my summer home

I was excited to arrive back in Wisconsin, but not so much when I found out we are staying in a glorified parking lot.  Not big green space to play, and I always have to be on a leash.  And, I was back to crossing my paws as my parents were gone all day…no thanks!

So after a few days, they realized I was not a happy camper, and took me up to my grandparents house.  Now I am back to being the Queen Bee!  As any grandchild knows, whether you have 2 legs or 4, grandparents homes are the place to be!  I spend most of my days sitting by their back door, trying to convince them that I need to go out and play with my football.

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Let’s go play!

They are easy to convince, so I have been getting a lot of play time in their back yard.

img_1104I try to keep my grandpa’s chair warm when he is away (usually golfing).  I am so grateful that he is feeling good and fully recovered from his scary ordeal with Guillain-Barré Syndrome (you can read about it here).  We go for daily walks, which I really enjoy.

img_1084When my parents brought me up here, they packed up all my toys and treats.  Beggin’ Strips are a special treat for me, and a bag usually lasts about 2 months, because I only get a couple of them every week.  Milkbones are my regular treat.  My parents were a bit shocked when grandma called after three weeks and said they were out of Beggin’ Strips!  Well I am special, so I convinced my grandparents to give me my special treat every day!  Yay!

I also discovered I don’t even need to do anything special to get a treat.  If I stare at my treat jar for a long time, they just get up and give me a treat!  Here’s a photo of my grandparents watching television.  Notice me in the corner?

img_1071It looks like I was put in the “time-out” corner, but upon closer inspection, you will see I am staring at my treat jar on the counter  Yes, I have them well trained!

img_1077I also figured out where grandma hid my new 12 squeaker toy.  She put it up on top of a dresser in a bedroom.  So I sat and stared at that for a while, and she eventually gave in, and I was able to destroy my new toy!

img_1101My grandparents did take me to see my cousins at Camp Meyer!  I really enjoyed having even more people play with me, and snuggle up with me.

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It’s better than snuggling up with “mini me”.  This is the stuffed animal my parents sent to my grandparents so they won’t forget about me when I’m not there.  Hey, it’s cute, but not quite as good as the real me!

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The weather is starting to get a little too cold for me.  Hopefully my parents remember to come and get me before they leave for Florida.  I could use some warm weather, as I don’t have much hair.  When my parents come to visit, my mom brings up their laundry.  I crawled in a basket of sheets just out of the dryer.  My parents aren’t sure if I was just cold, or if I wanted to make sure they don’t forget about me.

img_1100I’m not sure how much longer I will be staying here, but now that I have mastered grandma’s new laptop, I will try and not go so long between blogs.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy Thanksgiving!  Hopefully the ‘turkey fairy’ will drop a few pieces in my dish!

Quote for the Day:  “An optimist is a person who starts a new diet on Thanksgiving Day.” – Irv Kupcinet

Have sledgehammer, will demolish!

 

We are currently back in Wisconsin, and have been very busy with a new work camping opportunity.  As such, we will not be working at Amazon this fall.  We will miss seeing all of our friends that we have worked with for the past three years, but we will be back there next fall. And even though the broken bone in my foot has healed, I was hesitant to walk 13 plus miles each day on concrete.  For those interested in learning more about Amazon, just put ‘Amazon’ in the search box on our website, and you will see dozens of our prior blogs.

We are staying at State Fair RV Park, in West Allis, which is surprisingly busy for this time of the year. The manager said in 20 years, they have never had this many RV’s here this late in the year (it is open year round).  It is nothing more than a very expensive parking lot with full hook-ups.   At first we were told our water would be shut off on November 1, but with the large number of people, and the unseasonably warm weather, we should have water until at least November 25th.  They do have one section with heated water pipes, but that is full until December.

We dropped Makena off at Dan’s parents, so she is not home alone all day and she gets to chase her football around in a big yard.  This gives us more flexibility in our work schedule. Makena hinted that she is working on a blog,  so stay tuned for her post!

WORK

This summer our friends Mike and Karlyn contacted us to see if we could help them out with some remodeling work.

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Karlyn, Mike, Jonell & Dan

They currently run a successful bar and grill in New Berlin, The Varsity Club, and found a space to lease in Menomonee Falls to open a second tavern and eatery. Dan helped out with the remodeling for their first place, and they wanted us to help out again. We arrived back in WI on October 4th, and started work right away in the 5th. With the exception of going up to visit Makena and Dan’s parents, and seeing two Packer games, we have been working every day.

The building is old, but has great potential, so there is a lot of work to do. The local building inspector is excited with the changes.  We are still in the deconstruction phase. Give me a sledgehammer and I’m a happy camper!  Mike has two young guys that have been helping out, and they had done a lot of work before we arrived.  So I do not  have any ‘before’ photos.  This is what the place currently looks like.  Dan and I have started building the bar, which is shown in some of the photos.

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That bar stool was left over from the prior occupant.  There will be a full kitchen, and it will be walled back in.  The guys had to open up the wall to get all the old equipment out.

img_1089When they were taking off the drywall, an old air conditioner was discovered (the wiring was still “live”).  There are also old windows, that have been covered up and bricked over on the outside of the building.  The guys spent a lot of time working on busting out the old air conditioner, which was quite heavy.  And yes, the old ceiling was painted blue, yellow, red and green in various parts!

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There is also a basement that we are fixing up as well, for party rentals.  the guys spent 3 days breaking up the concrete and hauling it out.  This will allow the plumbers to bring all the plumbing up to code, and we will be adding a bathroom in the basement.  It was a lot of hard work, but the prior tenants had pipes running all over the place.

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img_1093This is a better shot of the basement, and the area we are building for a bathroom.   We will drywall the ceiling, and use knotty pine on the walls.  The tile floor is in good shape, one of the few things in this old building.

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As of right now, we are planning on staying here until December 6th.   They are planning on opening up the bar, called The Alumni Club Tavern and Eatery in late January. Mike and Karlyn want us to stay longer, and our fifth wheel is designed for ‘four season’ living, but we are hesitant stay in the snow. So far, temperatures have been above normal. So we will see how things go. Our Florida reservations start 12/28.

For the time being, it is just eat, sleep, work! Similar to Amazon! Hopefully we will be able to have some time to see some of our friends, relatives and former co-workers before we leave the state.

PACKER GAMES

We have been Green Bay Packer season ticket holders for many years, and try to get to at least one game each season. This year, we made it to two, both in the same week. The Dallas Cowboys game was not a good game for the Packers. Prior to the game, we attended the Jack Link’s Protein Snacks party. Good food, great people, and perfect weather all combined to make for a good time, despite the poor performance of the Packers.

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Lambeau Field

Ellen, Mary Jo (Mrs. Jack Link) and I. We have sat together for over 20 years!  It is always good to get together with everyone!

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We even ran into Sasquatch at the party!

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The game against the Chicago Bears on Thursday night was much better, although the weather was about 40 degrees colder!

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Lambeau at night

We had some ‘spiritual’ fans stop by our tailgate party!

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Quote for the day: “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all the darkness.” – Desmond Tutu

From Wyoming to Wisconsin

Shortly  after we finished our last day of work at Luton’s Teton Cabins, we finished our packing, hitched up and headed to the Wind River Casino in Riverton, Wyoming, about a 2 hour drive.  The casino allows RV’s to overnight for free in their parking lot. (I like free!)  The main reason for our fast departure was to get over the Togwotee  Pas during the afternoon.  At 9600 feet, it is not unusual for it to have snow or fog early in the morning, so we wanted to get ahead of the weather.  We drove through snow in May, and we did not want to repeat that on our way out.

On our last day, we received another $10 in tip money, so we decided to use that as our “play money” at the casino.  I enjoy playing the video poker machines, and put the $10 in a machine, and happily cashed out $200.16 after getting 4 aces!  It was a nice casino, and the only one we have been to that does not serve alcohol (which was probably why it was so quiet in the casino!).

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Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

Unfortunately, we had a dead battery after just a few hours of being parked.  We had put the refrigerator on propane, and that is all we were running.  We think the cooling fans must draw a lot of power, because we also ended up with a high temperature alarm on the refrigerator.  We were hitched up and our front hydraulic levelers were down, so we couldn’t detactch to jump start our battery. We decided to call Coach Net (the RV roadside assistance that we subscribe too) and waited for them to send a service technician.  After a 90 minute wait, the technician arrived and jump-started our battery, and we were on our way.  This was all free (remember, I like free!) under their service.  We highly recommend that anyone with an RV, get an appropriate roadside assistance program.  We use Coach Net, but have also heard good things about the Good Sam’s Roadside Assistance as well.

Once we were back on the road, we headed to Custer, South Dakota for two nights.  Dan was able to reset the error code on the Norcold refrigerator, using a magnet on the back side of the refrigerator.  A service technician showed him this trick when we had this error code once before.

We stopped in Custer to visit with our friends and former co-workers at Crazy Horse Memorial.   We met Rudee and Margaret for dinner on Saturday night, and spent a very enjoyable 2 hours getting caught up on their lives.  Rudee’s husband Phil, had to work late, so he was not able to join us.  We missed seeing several other couples, who had already departed for the season.  Hopefully we can catch up with them in Florida!

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Dan Jonell Rudee & Margaret

On Sunday, we got up early to do the 10K Volksmarch at Crazy Horse.  This was my second time doing this very popular hike, and Dan’s first time.  It is the only time that you can walk to the top of the mountain carving.  This is a bucket list item for many people, and it is definitely worth it.  It was a beautiful day, and they had over 4400 people doing the hike.  Admission to Crazy Horse is waived if you bring in three cans of food for the local food pantry, and the cost of the hike itself is just $3.00.  There are port-a-potties, snacks for sale and water refill stations along the route.  Wouldn’t it be nice if all hikes had this along the way?!

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On the way down, we ran into Adam, one of the son’s of Korczak Ziolkowski, the original sculptor of Crazy Horse.  He was guarding “the armpit” as he put it.  We were impressed by the progress since our last visit in 2013.

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Both Phil and Rudee were working that day, so we met them later at the restaurant for dinner.  We also saw Monique, one of Korczak’s daughters, and talked briefly with her about the progress over the last 3 years.  It was a wonderful visit, and it was great to see many of our friends and co-workers that were still there.  Monday morning we hitched up and continued on our trip back to Wisconsin.

We stopped for the night in Blue Earth, MN.  The town has a nice fairground with a campground.  And the cost for one night?  Free!  (are you detecting a theme here?).  Blue Earth is a nice small town, that is home to a famous roadside attraction.  The Jolly Green Giant Statue!  The town is home to the Green Giant/Seneca Company.  The statue is 47.5 feet, and sits on an 8 foot base.  His feet are 6 feet in length, which equates to a shoe size of 78!

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Ho, Ho, Ho….Green Giant!

I am not sure why they put the viewing platform right under his legs, but we will leave the comment at that!!

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But Blue Earth has a few other pieces of history.  In 1917, a local man applied for a patent for his “Chocolate Dream Bar”, which was a square of ice cream, dipped in chocolate, wrapped in foil and frozen.  Two men from Iowa, however, also had similar patents filed and everything ended up in litigation.  After several years, the MN man sold his company to the two other men.  One of the men changed the name of the bar to the “Eskimo Pie”, and the other man, Russell Stover, used his proceeds to start his own candy company. Seems both men from Iowa did very well!

Blue Earth is also the mid-point of America’s longest highway, I-90.  When the interstate was completed, the East and West portions were joined together at Blue Earth.  At one point, the road was paved in gold, to commemorate the occasion.  These little towns hold a lot of our history!

We are currently in Wisconsin, at a surprisingly busy State Fair Park Campground.  I will have a post soon (I promise it won’t take a month!) on what we are currently up to.  Note:  it does not involve Amazon this year!

Quote for the Day:  “Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely.” – Auguste Rodin

 

 

 

 

Summer work wrap-up

Our summer work camping job at Luton’s Teton Cabins has officially come to an end, and I will do a brief wrap-up for those readers interested in work camping.  For those who just like pictures, I put a few of those in as well!  Our view when we arrived in May.

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Grand Teton Range

Of the 9 work campers (4 couples, one single) we were the last couple left, so we had some very busy days.  I was working both in the office, and housekeeping.  We ended up working 8 days in a row (our choice).  Brad was excited when he found out Dan had done commercial steam carpet cleaning before we were married.  The carpeting in the cabins are cleaned every fall, as the cabins start to open up after the guests depart.  Dan was able to get 12 of the 14 cabins done before we left.  Two were still occupied into October, so Brad will take care of those after the guests depart.  The cabins officially closed for the season on October 7.

At 4 1/2 months, this was the longest we have stayed at a work camping job.  The time went by very quickly though, and we never had that “how many weeks to go” count down that we have at Amazon!  Because of the length of our stay, it was also the most profitable job we have had.  Our total combined gross for the summer was $19,159.25.  This includes an unexpected bonus at the end of $500.00 each.  Our pay agreement did not include an end of season bonus, so we were pleasantly surprised when we opened up our envelope and discovered 4 paychecks!

ADDITIONAL PERKS

We had a free 50 amp full-hookup site, excellent high speed internet, a few hundred dollars in tip money (tips are split 9 ways), a great location for exploring (5 miles East of the entrance to Grand Teton National Park), free laundry including the use of a large commercial washer/dryer, and probably my favorite perk was the food lottery.

When guest leave food behind (usually those that are flying), all the food is put into a refrigerator in the housekeeping garage.  The work campers rotate in picking items each day from the refrigerator.  We had items ranging from eggs, ketchup, mustard, beer, bottled water, salad dressing, wine, butter, coffee, olive oil  and ice cream.  I think we have 4 bottles of olive oil in our pantry!  During the busy summer season, we had a lot of leftover items from the families.  In September, when it was mostly couples, we had very little food, as most of the couples went out to dinner.

NEXT SUMMER

Our original goal when we started our full-time RV life was to always work in a new location every summer. We have decided to return to Luton’s Teton Cabins next summer, however, for several reasons.  We have had a wonderful summer, and Brad and Joanne are two wonderful people to work for.  They gave us a nice bump in pay for next year, as an incentive to return.

With my broken foot this summer, there were many things that we did not do, such as bicycling in the park, and hikes longer than 4 miles.  So we have many things to do next summer.  And Dan and Al (yes, Karen and Al are coming back for their 4th summer) can keep catching dinner, as they were quite successful fishing this summer. This picture shows six nice sized cut-throat trout which are native to this area.

img_1229We managed to eat at one of the restaurants featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Nora’s Fish Creek Inn for breakfast, with Karen and Al.  I had the recommended banana bread French toast, which was excellent.  We did not get to try Pinky G’s Pizza, the other featured restaurant in the area, so that is on our list for next summer.

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Makena has also given her approval for returning, as she enjoyed the acres of land for her to play on.

img_0878-1Our view at the end of summer, with the moon over Mount Moran.

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So if any of our readers has plans to visit Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks for next summer, let us know!  Just don’t try coming on or around August 21, 2017.  Everything is booked solid due to a solar eclipse!

Quote for the day:  “The brain is a wonderful organ; it starts working the moment you get up in the morning and does not stop until you get into the office.” – Robert Frost

Close Encounters of the Moose Kind!

I have a lot to catch up on with the blogs.  We have been very busy the last few weeks, with visitors, wildlife sightings, packing up the rig, working 8 days in a row, and driving back to Wisconsin.  I will split this up into several posts.  First up:  visitors and wildlife.

September is a beautiful time to visit Grand Teton National Park, as the colors are changing, and the wildlife are very active.  It is the third busiest month in the park, and the weather can be hit or miss.  We had some visitors of our own, Mike and Sue, friends since college, drove out from Wisconsin to visit.  Mike was going elk hunting in Idaho, so he was only able to stay for one night, but Sue was able to spend several days hanging out with us.

We managed to give them a brief tour of GTNP, including a stop at the now peaceful String Lake.  During the summer months, this is a very popular area for swimming, kayaking and stand-up paddle boards.

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Dan, Jonell, Sue & Mike

We went up by Jackson Lake, and were shocked by how much the lake has dropped since we saw it a month ago.  It should be a good crop of potatoes this year, as Idaho has taken plenty of water from the lake! Idaho has water rights to remove water from the top of Jackson Lake and due to the lack of rain they took a considerable amount this year.

dsc03956-1A short drive north of Jackson Lake brought us to the Berry Creek Fire area.  It was sad to see acres of burned forest land, but it will be interesting to watch this area rejuvenate over time.

dsc03959-1During our drive through the park, we spotted a lone female moose.

dsc03972-1Along with a large heard of pronghorns, including a mama with two hungry babies!

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After Mike left the next morning, the three of us headed out to a short 4 mile hike to Taggert Lake. GTNP has so many excellent hiking trails, and the views never get old.

dsc03990-1After our hike, we starting driving around and noticed a number of cars pulled off the road, but we could not see what they were looking at, so we pulled over and walked about 100 yards to where the crowd was standing.  And we were glad we did!  At first, we just saw a head of a moose pop out of the willows. But then mama came into full view, followed by a pretty good sized baby.  We watched them for a while until they walked back out of view.

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Dan and Sue spotted a bull moose on the way to the airport the next morning, but it was too dark to get a good picture.  So on our next day off from work, we left early in the morning to see if we could spot him again, and we were in luck.  He was still hanging out down by the airport.  The pictures are not the best, as it was early morning, and he was pretty far away.

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I did remember to turn around and take one shot of the mountains while we were watching the moose.  You can see the airport on the left.  Jackson Hole Airport is the only airport located within a National Park.

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We drove over to the same spot we saw mama and baby moose the prior week, and there was no one around (people that is), so we pulled over and started walking along the river.  Dan was about 30 yards ahead of me, when I saw him jump up and quickly start walking backwards.  Turns out he practically ran right into mama and baby moose, as they were on the opposite side of the river!  Dan was less than 10 yards from the mama moose as she looked right up at him as she was eating some vegetation. Did you know more people are killed by moose than bears?  I managed to take a quick picture of mama moose peering up at me, before we both walked away to a safe viewing distance.  I just love the expression on her face!

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We walked away from the moose to a safe viewing distance, and both of them got up and started grazing.  The baby was very curious, and would look over at us.

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We capped off our moose-filled day by having lunch with our friends Tom and Ellen.  Ellen’s daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter were visiting with them up in Yellowstone, and came down hiking for the day in the Tetons.  It was a great way to end a wonderful day!

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It was a busy, but great week with visitors.  We started packing up the fifth wheel and getting ready for our last stretch of work.  (that will be for the next blog)

Quote for the day: “We do not remember days, we remember moments.” – Cesare Pavese