Settled in for summer!

After we left Wisconsin, we stopped in Minnesota for a few days to visit Dan’s brother Gary and his wife Julia.  We originally planned to stay at a local county campground, but it was booked up solid for the weekend.  Julia had met us out at the campground, and Dan rode with her to a private campground a few miles away, to check for availability.  They had not been answering the telephone.  I stayed behind with Makena in the truck/fifth wheel.  They were able to get a spot for us.  Turns out there was a Harley festival going on, so everything was pretty booked up and the gal in the office was too busy to answer the telephone.  I drove the fifth wheel all by myself, to the campground.  I have driven it a few times before, but never by myself.  Now I just need to stop looking in the rear view mirror!  I met up with Dan at the campground, and he had me back into our spot.  Never did that before!  But he provided excellent guidance, and I feel a little more confidant now.

Gary and Julia are now grandparents for the first time!  Their daughter Carmen and husband Luke stopped over with Simon, who is now two months old!  Welcome to the world Simon!

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napping with Uncle Dan

We had a nice time visiting with everyone, and headed towards Custer, SD to visit with friends and former co-workers.  The best part of working for Amazon, is the people we meet.  And we have been able to meet up with fellow Amazon Camperforce everywhere we go.  Although I forgot to bring the camera along for a few meals, we met up with Linda and two of her co-workers in Keystone, where she will be working this summer at a gas station/convenience store.  The next day we met up with Bob for a good meal at the Alpine Inn in Hill City.  We were joined by our friends and former co-workers at Crazy Horse Phil and Rudee, and both Margaret’s that we had worked with.  They have both since retired.  Bob will be working this summer at Crazy Horse and has been very impressed with the fact it is more than just a mountain carving.  You can look back in our blog to the summer of 2014 to read more about our Crazy Horse experience (or type Crazy Horse in the search box on our site).

The next night we managed another get together, and our friends Chery and Dick also joined in.  We were happy that Bob could join us again, as it is always nice to meet fellow work campers.

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Dick, Phil, Jonell, Bob, Rudee and Cheryl

 

We hope they all have a wonderful summer, and will certainly meet up with them again!  Since we had a long drive from Custer to Moran, WY, we left very early and had a pleasant day of driving.  We knew we were getting close to our summer “home”, when snow started appearing out our window!  Yes, 65 degrees, sunny and snow!

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We arrived late afternoon to Luton’s Teton Cabins, and were met with hugs from the owners, Brad and Joanne.  Wonderful people to work for!  Co-workers Karen and Al had arrived a few hours before us, and we met another new co-worker, Melissa.  There will be two additional couples coming this week.  Dan and I start on Monday, May 15th, and we are excited to get back to work again.

Most of the snow at the lower elevations (we are at 6800 feet) has melted, but the Tetons are exceptionally beautiful this time of year.

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We have already seen a moose, fox and Makena has been keeping an eye on a gopher that is just outside of our fifth wheel.  We are looking forward to another great summer!  I will post more on our jobs once we get started for the season.  This is our view for the summer, from the cabins.

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Quote for the Day:  “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” – Neal Donald Walsch

The Tetons are Calling

…and we must hitch up and go!  Our six weeks in Wisconsin has come to a close, and it is time to head West for our summer work camping jobs at Teton Cabins in Moran, Wyoming.   The cabins are located 5 miles East of Grand Teton National Park.

We have been busy helping out our friends Mike and Karlyn, getting their new business ready (Alumni Club Tavern and Eatery).  Hopefully it will open in late June or July.  Dan has been busy with finish carpentry, helping out the electrician, and other odds and ends.  My main job has been staining, sanding, staining and sanding.

Mike was able to purchase some gently used kitchen and bar equipment, so we have also been busy bleaching and polishing all the equipment.  We are very grateful for the opportunity to help out.  Mike paid for our spot at the Wisconsin State Fair RV Park, and Karlyn packed us sandwiches every day for lunch, which was an added bonus!  They even took us to see their youngest daughters last high school play “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.”  Maddie played Logainne Schwartzandgruenierre, and did an excellent job! (and yes, I kept the program so I know her characters name is spelled correctly!)

Unfortunately, we did not have enough time to see as many people as we would have liked, as we were working 6 days a week.  But we did manage a few fun outings with our friends Dave and Angie, college friend Mary, and college friends Mike and Sue.  We also met up with Laura and Mike, who will be retiring next year and selling their house.  They were very interested in learning more about life on the road.  Perhaps we will see them out on the road next year?!

We also want to thank Dan’s parents for taking care of Makena for us, so she did not have to spend all day with her paws crossed, waiting for us to get home.  We know she is always well taken care of at their house.

As luck would have it, my brother Jerry was singing with his friend Bobby Way on my birthday back in April at an American Legion Post in Brookfield.  Mike and Karlyn joined us for a fish fry before the show started, and my sister Margie and husband Greg came later on.  We were surprised to also run into my cousins Mark and Janet, whom I have not seen in several years.  A good time was had by all!

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Margie, Janet, Jerry, Mark and I

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Greg, Dan, Jonell, Jerry, Margie, Karlyn and Mike.

We made a lot of progress on the bar, and below are some “before” and “after” photos, showing that we have actually been working!  The building had old windows that were bricked up from the outside, and covered in drywall on the inside.  My project was to remove the drywall and window.  Dan built boxes to go inside the window, and these photos show the progression.  They will be used to display memorabilia when the bar opens up. (and yes, the prior walls were multiple colors!)

The bar has a basement that will be used for party rentals.  Mikes dad Jim designed the new walls in the basement.  The ceiling will be dry walled, and the tile floor will remain.

 

With the exception of the tile on the bottom step rail, the bar is now finished.  It has a bowling alley for a top.  Before…

 

And after…

And a final photo of Mike and Dan testing out the bar back in December before we left for Florida, and on our last day of work.

We wish Mike and Karlyn much success with their new business in Menomonee Falls, WI!  We look forward to seeing it this fall, when we stop through Wisconsin before we head down to Kentucky to work at Amazon in October.

Quote for the Day:  “The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude.” – Oprah Winfrey

 

 

 

 

NASA: Space Shuttle Atlantis

If you have not visited the Kennedy Space Center Visitor’s Complex in the last several years, there has been a big addition to the complex.  The Space Shuttle Atlantis was added to the list of attractions a few years ago.  They did an excellent job in designing  a unique building around the shuttle.  When you enter the building, you will view two short movies about the history of the shuttle program, before the curtain rises and you walk right into the nose of the Atlantis.  For many, it can be an emotional experience.

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What surprised us, was learning NASA started to work on the shuttle program back in 1969, during the Apollo program. Their goal was to develop a reusable spacecraft.  After 12 years, space shuttle Columbia was launched on April 12, 1981.  A total of five shuttles were built.  Two of them, Challenger and Columbia, were tragically lost in 1986 and 2003, respectively.   The Atlantis building contains a nice memorial to the astronauts that made the ultimate sacrifice.

The Atlantis was first launched in 1985, and flew its final mission July 8 -21, 2011.  In its 26 years of service, Atlantis made 33 missions with 207 astronauts, and flew a total of 126 million miles.  The shuttle is displayed with its cargo bay doors open, and the control arm out.

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The main purpose of the shuttle was to build the International Space Station (15 countries have worked together on this project), and launch and repair the Hubble Telescope.  The Atlantis building contains many interactive displays, were you can learn about the many experiments the astronauts undertook in space.  You can spend several hours just going through all the displays.  So many things that we take for granted today are a result of the space program.

This is what the bathroom looks like for the astronauts.

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The building also has a model of the Hubble Telescope, which was named after American astronomer Edwin P Hubble.  It was launched April 24, 1990, and is about the size of a school bus.  It is about 354 miles from Earth.

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In 2018, NASA will be launching a new telescope, James Webb Space Telescope, named after the NASA administrator who was a major part of the Apollo program.  It will be about the size of a tennis court, with a 21 foot mirror, and will eventually be 930,000 miles from Earth.  This is a 1/125th scale model of the telescope.

 

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The building also contains the Shuttle Launch Experience, which is launch simulation, included in your admission, along with many other simulators where you can land a shuttle, dock the shuttle and use the robotic arm.  Dan’s brother Gary and his wife Julia were down visiting in Florida and we spent a day at the Visitor’s Center.  We all tried to land the shuttle.  Julia was the only one of us that successfully landed the shuttle.  The rest of us crashed!

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We have made several visits to the Center before we left Florida.  Our annual pass does not expire until February of 2018, so we do plan on going back when we are back in Florida.  We still have several movies left to see, and they always seem to be adding in more exhibits.  They have some added tours that can be taken for an additional fee, and we would like to do those as well.  So next year I will have a few more posts on the Center.

We would highly recommend a visit to the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex.

Quote for the Day:  “The dream is alive.” – John Young, after landing the first Space Shuttle STS-1 at Edwards Air Force Base April 14, 1981.

 

NASA: Apollo Saturn V

After writing about the future of NASA, it’s time to visit the Apollo Saturn V building, located at the Kennedy Space Center.  When President John F. Kennedy stated on May 25, 1961, “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth” NASA was faced with the task of developing a rocket that could achieve this mission.  The Saturn V rocket was developed and used successfully from 1968 to 1972.  The only way to see this rocket, is to take the complimentary bus tour to the building where an original, unused rocket is on display.   It is an impressive sight, and the building has been remodeled with some new displays.

2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the tragic accident to Apollo 1, and they have added a nice memorial to the three astronauts that lost their lives in the fire.

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After watching a brief video, and then a simulated countdown of an Apollo launch, with all the original launch command room equipment, you walk right smack into the five F-1 engines located on the first stage of the rocket.  Using a mixture of liquid oxygen and kerosene fuel, it could reach a speed of 6,000 miles per hour in three minutes.

 

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A side view of stage one.

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They have a small-scale model of the entire rocket, and spacecraft.  At 363 feet, it is difficult to photograph the original!

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The second stage of the rocket on display.

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The third stage will take the spacecraft out of Earth’s orbit.

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The Apollo spacecraft on top of the rocket consists of three components:  the Lunar Module, Service Module and Command Module.  The Launch Escape System (below right)  is attached to the command module.   The photograph below displays an unused command module (with heat-reflective silver coating)  attached to a service module below the rocket.

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The building contains the command module from Apollo 14, which shows how scarred the spacecraft gets from re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere.

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Apollo 14 command module

 

Apollo 15 was set to carry this Lunar Module to the Moon.  However, NASA decided to also send up a Lunar Rover, so the module was redesigned, and this one was never flown in space.  It is a crazy looking thing, that seems to be wrapped in gold-colored aluminum foil.  The bottom half (with the “foil”) remains on the surface of the moon, and the astronauts return to the command module in the top half.

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A Lunar Rover, built from spare parts, is on display in the building.

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Along with a spacesuit from Gene Cernan.

 

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There are many additional displays and a few movies to view in the Apollo Saturn V Building.  With the bus tour, and stop at the building, you can easily spend 2 – 3 hours viewing the exhibits.  It is definitely a “must see” on your visit to the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex.  Next up: the Space Shuttle.

Quote for the day:  “We hope that if anything happens to us it will not delay the program.” – Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Commander Apollo One.

 

 

 

Celebrating 150 years of birthdays!!

Hello everyone!  It’s me, Makena!   For those new to the blog, I’m a Jack Russell Terrier  who occasionally takes over my parents blog.  It’s always good to get the dog’s perspective! My mom was going to post another blog about their visit to Kennedy Space Center, but today is a very special day….my 10th birthday!  And even better, I get to celebrate it with Grandpa Stu (Dan’s dad), who turns a fit and fabulous 80 today!  Tomorrow is Aunt Linda’s Birthday (Dan’s sister).  Linda is the BIG 60!!  So altogether, we are celebrating 150 years of birthdays!  Whew, that’s a lot of candles.  Hopefully the smoke detector won’t go off!

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Keeping my peeps informed!

Now in human years, I am 56 years old (based on age and size of dog).  Sorry Aunt Linda, you still are older than me!

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Happy Birthday Linda!

 

Grandma and Grandpa came over to the RV park for a visit today!  They took me over to the dog park to play football with me!

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I love playing football!

And I had presents and birthday cake too!

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Is this for me?

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A new football from my grandparents!

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More presents and a card!

Grandma baked a delicious cake for grandpa and me!

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Happy Birthday to us!!

I know it was good, because I snuck in a quick lick!

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I tried for more, but grandma and grandpa blocked my route!

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Sadly, this will be our last day in warm and sunny Florida.  Tomorrow my parents will be hitching up the fifth wheel and heading back to Wisconsin to help out their friends, Mike and Karlyn, finish up remodeling a new business.  So I will be spending the next three days riding in my crate in the back seat of the truck.  I don’t mind, because every 2 or 3 hours they stop and I get to walk around and  pee about 15 times at a gas station or rest area.  Sometimes my mom thinks I have two bladders!

Since it’s been a while since I have blogged, I will catch you up on a few other events.  For Christmas, my parents bought me an  orthopedic dog bed, to replace my old one that didn’t have much padding left.  They also bought themselves new throw blankets.  While the bed is nice and comfy, I decided they don’t need two blankets.  They can share one, and I have claimed the other as my own!

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New bed and blanket!

Although my parents didn’t bring me over, I did get to smell a pizza cooked over a campfire one night.  Bob and Betty, our next door  neighbors here in the RV park had a happy hour campfire and cooked a few pizza’s over their triangle grill.  I’m told they were delicious.  I did not get any…

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Master chefs Bob and Betty

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Bob, Betty, Dan & Roger

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Ed, Sheila, Dori and Sue

Last night my parents went out to dinner in New Smyrna Beach with three couples from the campground that will not be coming back here next year.  They will be traveling out West next winter.  We wish them safe travels, and hope to see them sometime down the road!

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Roger, Sheila, Paul, Diane, us, Betty and Bob

It has been another good year in Florida.  Hopefully warm weather will be waiting for us in Wisconsin? As always, thanks for following along on our journey!

Quote for the day:  “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?” – Satchel Paige