Working on Plan D or is it E?

After a strange split season working at Luton’s Teton Cabins, we have arrived back in Wisconsin, a current “hot spot” for Covid infections.  We are trying to decide what to do next, as the weather has turned unseasonably cold.  Originally, we were hoping to stay in Wisconsin at least until the end of November, then head out in search of warmer weather.

We enjoyed working a split season, even though we originally had no plans of working at all.  Normally by the end of the season, we are tired and ready to leave, but this year we stayed until October 8th.  Karen and Al also stayed until the end of the season, as we had the busiest fall season ever.  It was ironic that the four of us, who were not even supposed to be at Luton’s, were the last to leave.  We all remain optimistic that Canada will eventually open up, and we can visit Alaska in 2021 (although they just extended the border closing through November 21.)

We had several excellent pot lucks during the month of September and into October, including two prime ribs roasts.  Al, as usual, did an excellent job of cooking them.  This was a 20 pound roast, cooked to perfection.

It’s back to doing some chores at Dan’s parents house in Wisconsin.  We also have some medical appointments for Makena and I set up.  And we are working on clearing out our belongings that we have stored in my sister’s attic.  Other than that, we are just enjoying some down time for now.  My cousin Caroline gave us a giant Northern Georgia Candy Roaster squash that she had grown in her garden.  I think it weighs about 10 pounds.

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We tried roasting some slices for about an hour, and it turned out delicious!  Even if you don’t like squash, this particular style is very sweet and tasty.  No brown sugar needed to improve the taste!

We are trying to decide where to go for the winter.  A lot depends on how quickly we need to leave, but we are leaning towards heading back to Arizona for a few months.  But we are also considering heading to Texas as well.  It will all just depend on the weather.

That’s a wrap for now!  Stay safe everyone.

Quote for the Day:  “Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.” – Dr. Seuss

2020 in dog years!

Hello everyone, it’s me, Makena, your favorite dog blogger!

Keeping my peeps safe!

I know 2020 has been a long year for you humans. Just be thankful you’re not a dog. It’s been a really, really long year in dog years! This going from Wyoming to Wisconsin and then back to Wyoming has been very confusing for me. And I guess we will be going back to Wisconsin in mid-October.

We went to Wisconsin to stay with my grandparents for the summer, and help them out. After we left to come back to Wyoming, Grandpa Stu ended up in the hospital, for five days. He had a bad infection (thankfully, not Covid-19), but is back home recovering with some very strong antibiotics. He’s getting stronger every day, and I look forward to spending some quality time with him sharing a snack again!

BACK IN WISCONSIN

Just to recap things, when we were back in Wisconsin, we spent a few days visiting with my parents college friends, Mike and Sue, at their cabin. I enjoyed my off-leash time, and had lots of room to roam around. And I was on my best behavior getting along with their dogs, Bella, Rusty and Mocha. (I had no choice, I was outnumbered…!)

Begrudgingly going for a walk with the three dogs
Rusty and I were watching for squirrels
Mocha had me cornered!

I spent a few days at Aunt Linda and Uncle Doug’s house, where I have plenty of room to play off leash!

And I was able to meet up with some of my cousins. While I have stayed my same petite size, Raya has grown into quite the young lady now. But she still enjoys giving me some belly rubs!

You may recall on my parents last post that my grandma finally found a new refrigerator. While, she has her priorities (ME), and this is what it looked like when she started stocking the fridge!

My canned food – that’s all you need!

My mom decided to take advantage of having a big sink (our camper’s sink is too small for me to fit in), which meant it was time for a bath….

Spa day!

BACK IN WYOMING

And if this year hasn’t been confusing enough for me, the weather hasn’t helped either. The calendar says it’s Labor Day, but the forecast is more like Christmas! Yes, it went from 72 degrees in the afternoon, to 21 at night…yuck.

Can we go back to Yuma?

All the guests staying at the cabins commented on how pretty it looked the next day. My mom was amused watching some guests from Florida and California use the plastic spatula from their cabins to scrape their car windows!

Happy Labor Day!

My parents say their jobs are going well here at Luton’s Teton Cabins. It’s the busiest fall season ever. My mom says the office is easy now, because we have no availability, so the telephone is not ringing as much! And cleaning is quick and easy since the cabins are almost all just couples. No families at this time of the year. The snow has already melted, but I’m sure there will be another storm before we leave.

Quote for the day: “The one thing we know about the future is that it comes only one day at a time.” – Jeff Rich

Back in Wisconsin

Back in July, we implemented Plan C, and left Wyoming after working for two months at Luton’s Teton Cabins.  We didn’t do too much in Wyoming, as we had spent the last 4 summers there, and we were trying to stay safe.  We did spend a lot of time binge watching shows on Amazon Prime Video.  We were able to watch all three seasons of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and we are looking forward to season four whenever it comes out.  In addition, we streamed all six seasons of Downton Abbey.  We both loved the shows, and if you are looking for something addictive to watch, we recommend them.

Our trip back to Wisconsin was uneventful.  We can drive much longer distances with our camper than the fifth wheel.  And I drove about 200 miles the first day – Dan said it was the worst gas mileage we have had since getting the camper! (I am a bit of a ‘lead foot).  It was a 1200 mile trip with virtually no contact with anyone, as we stayed over at Cabella’s (they are very RV friendly) and packed food for meals.  Only had to stop for diesel and pottie breaks for Makena and us.  

You know you’re back in Wisconsin when the grocery store has this sign at the entrance:

img_3171Our first stop in Wisconsin was to see our friends Mike and Sue, and their new cabin on 40 acres.  They both have been working from home since March, and have been isolating as well.  It was an enjoyable time catching up with the two of them.  

When we arrived at Dan’s parents house in Oconto Falls, we were greeted with “Joan’s Wish List,” a typed up list of 20 items that she “really, really” wanted us to do!  After the first week, we had crossed off 8 items, but 9 more were added to the list.  So we started week two with 21 items.  By week three, the list had 38 items….hmmm!  As with any project, when you start something, you discover 2 or 3 more things that need to be done.  We are now in the 40’s and rising!!! 

Some things are easy, such as teaching them how to watch their local Church service on You-Tube on their television, so they don’t have to go in person.  They have been wanting a new refrigerator for three years (they bought their current one in 1991, and it sounds like a truck).  They have a specific size requirement, so they have never found what they want, or just couldn’t make up their mind, depending on whom you talk to!  We sent Stu out golfing, and took Joan to Green Bay (Stu did a happy dance when he found out he did not have to go.)  The appliance stores looked like they were going out of business, as they have not been able to get any new inventory, with the manufacturer’s shut down because of Covid-19.  That actually worked to our benefit, as Joan realized she had to make a decision, and found something that fit.  Now or next year, was what we told her.  We had a very patient sales person.  And it only took us four hours of looking!

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It was delivered yesterday, and Dan had to do a little sanding on the bottom of the cupboard to get it to fit.  The old fridge is on the upper right.  Another thing checked off the list!  

 

One thing I added to the list was cleaning out all the kitchen cabinets and oiling them.  This is something we do every time a guest checks out at Luton’s.  Joan agreed to donate a few unused items, and was impressed by how nice the cabinets looked after we were done.  That’s when she added the dining room table, piano and organ to the list to get oiled!  It really makes a difference. 

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Washing windows was another “to do” item that wasn’t on the original list.  I purposely avoided helping at first, as mother and son had a long “discussion” on the proper way to clean them!  I kept busy reading a magazine from January, on how to make 2020 “your best year ever!”  Once they worked out a compromise on window cleaning, I helped out as instructed.  

Other little projects consisted of fixing the electrical cord on Joan’s sewing machine that she bought in 1957, a Phoenix Automatic.  There’s no plastic on this machine!

Gutters were cleaned out, and we washed and scrubbed the deck.  It will be stained in a few days when it dries out.

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And Dan spent about 7 hours cleaning out Joan’s old desktop, running Windows 98.  That was another discussion I stayed away from.  

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We did manage a few fun outings.  My sister LuAnn decided to visit from Texas, and for the first time since our mom died in 1994, all of my brothers and sisters were able to get together.  So there are some positives to come out of this pandemic, as we would have been in Alaska this summer, and unable to make the party.  I was a little hesitant at going, but my brother assured me it would be just the siblings/spouses, and it would be outdoors.  It was a great time getting together, and we decided to recreate the photo that we had taken together in 1994.

My brother and sisters in 1994.  Back row, Brian, Greg, Jerry.  Front row:  Jonell, LuAnn and Margie.  I’m the youngest of the six, followed by Margie, LuAnn, Brian, Jerry and Greg.

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Here we are in 2020, in the same order as the photo above.  We are all aging gracefully!

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And here’s our Covid-19 photo, with spouses that were able to attend.  We all had big smiles:

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Dan’s niece Kami, was turning 40, so we attended a small family celebration at Dan’s sisters house.  

Here’s Kami playing ‘ring toss’ with her daughter Raya!

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And Doug had set up a “golf course” with tennis balls on their property, so we all enjoyed the new outdoor, socially distant, sporting events!  Adapt with the times!

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On our way back from Doug and Linda’s house, we heard a loud noise, and thought we ran over something.  Then Dan discovered the turbo was not running on the diesel.  Turns out on Ford 350’s from 2011 – 2015, it is a common occurrence after 100,000 miles that the hose connected to the turbo charger, called the intercooler outlet tube, blows out.  So we are waiting for the local Ford dealer to try and locate a new part, which is a bit of a challenge since they are behind on inventory.  We are hoping to have it repaired next week.

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Had I posted this blog a few days ago, the post would have ended here.  But as any RV’er knows, and actually, as anyone living on planet Earth in 2020 knows, plans can change at a moments notice.  So now we are on to “Plan D!”  We have received several telephone calls, text messages and e-mails from everyone that we worked with at Luton’s, asking us if we could come back to finish out the season.  Apparently one couple, that has worked their the past 4 summers,  suddenly quit.  Despite the pandemic, it has been a very busy season at Luton’s (many lodging places did not open up this season), and they really need help.  Brad and Joanne, the owners, have always treated us well.  And we were amused by all the text messages and e-mails from our co-workers, so we have agreed to go back and finish out the season.  We will leave around the 20th, as we still have some appointments (and more things on the to-do list) to complete. 

We do plan on returning to Wisconsin in mid-October, and hope to actually spend more times visiting with some friends, even if it has to be with mask and six-feet apart!

Quote of the Day:  “Life imposes things on you that you can’t control, but you still have the choice of how you’re going to live through this.” – Celine Dion

 

Moving on to “Plan C”

Just a quick update.  We are still in Wyoming, working at Luton’s Teton Cabins, but will be departing for Wisconsin after the first week of July.  Our original plan was to go to Alaska this summer, crossing into Canada in mid-May.  With the border shut down, we moved on to Plan B, which was to wait here and see if the Canada/United States border would open up, and then do a slightly abbreviated trip to Alaska. Since all indications are that Canada will keep the border closed, through July, and possibly longer, we have scrapped our Alaska plans, and moved all of our reservations to 2021.

It was never our intent to spend the summer here in Wyoming, although it is a great place to be (no humidity, no mosquitoes, and a beautiful view).  But we don’t want to take any hours away from anyone that was planning on working here.  Our friends Dan and Nancy are planning on working here this summer, and they will arrive around the last week of June to start their training, and then we will depart for Wisconsin.  That was always our “Plan C.”

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Going to see the Grandparents!

Dan’s parents were thrilled when we told them the news (after expressing disappointment that we were not going to Alaska), and I think they are working on a large “honey do” list of chores for us to help them with.  Dan says, “not too long Mom.” They had been planning on hiring out some local handymen to help them out, but we are just not comfortable having lots of people coming into their house right now.  They are both in the higher risk category for COVID-19, and we don’t feel it’s safe to have a lot of people coming and going right now.

It’s about 1400 miles from Moran, Wyoming to his parents house in Wisconsin.  With being fully self-contained in our camper (see Don and Kathy, I didn’t say ‘truck camper’!!) we can make it there with very minimal contact to the outside world.  So we can continue to keep ourselves in our own little “bubble”.

As for our winter plans, we still have not decided on anything concrete.  As the way 2020 is going, we simply can’t plan that far in advance!  We are on a month to month deal right now.

Quote for the day:  “Live, so you do not have to look back and say, “God, how I have wasted my life.” – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

 

Back to Work…for now

With temperatures staying above 100 degrees for an extended time, it was finally time to leave Yuma, Arizona, and head to cooler weather, while we wait for the Canadian border to open.  Our air conditioner on our truck camper was running all day, trying to keep up with the heat.  Yes, it’s a dry heat, but it’s still hot!

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This forecast looked much better to us, so off we went to Moran, Wyoming.

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We left on May 2nd, and planned on taking a few days to get to Moran, but at our first stop in Utah, we discovered that our refrigerator would not work on the propane setting.  So we continued on, planning on staying at a campground for the night, with hook-ups, so we could try to run the refrigerator on electric.  As we approached the town, we noticed lightning to the West.  After checking the radar, which was a big red blob, and reading the special weather bulletin indicating 40 mph winds and pea size hail were coming, we just decided to continue North to get ahead of the storm.  Dan ended up driving around 600 miles that day, and we stayed overnight at a Wal-Mart for the first time ever.  With the store closing at 9 pm, it was very quiet.  Since it would be in the 30’s at night, we were not too concerned about the refrigerator getting too warm.

We were able to participate in a Zoom call with my brothers and sisters while we were driving.  It was a lot of fun catching up with everyone, and hopefully my brother Jerry will be able to attend the next one.

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We have also been doing Zoom calls with Dan’s family as well.

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When we arrived at Luton’s Teton Cabins in Moran, Wyoming, Brad and Joanne (the owners) had a cabin all set for us.  We have worked for them the past four summers, and they graciously offered us a cabin to stay in, so we didn’t have to spend so much time in our tiny camper.  It’s not as well insulated as our fifth wheel was.  We were able to park and unload our stuff.  Makena was absolutely thrilled to have a big space to run around in, and I’m enjoying having a dishwasher!

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This is our view from the cabin.

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When we arrived on Sunday the 3rd, the State of Wyoming was still requiring all visitors to do a 14-day self quarantine.  That order expired the next day, but with the parks and almost all stores closed, there was really nowhere to go.

When we did venture out on Wednesday, we had to be very careful of the Elk.  Without visitors bothering them, the Elk have taken over!  We have never, in four years, seen so many Elk.  The park closures have been good for the wildlife.

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Of course, this was a little too close!

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We took Makena for her annual veterinarian visit in Jackson.  You are not allowed into the building.  You have to call them, and then they come out to get your pet.  Everything went well, and once you give them your credit card over the phone, they return your pet.  I felt like she was being held hostage!  You give us “X” amount of money, and we’ll bring your dog out to the car!

After her visit, we went to the grocery store.  Last year the city of Jackson banned plastic bags, so we were curious to see if that ban was still in place, as we had heard some grocery stores were not allowing people to bring in their own bags anymore.  But the ban is still in place, and you need to bring in your own bags, as well as bag your own groceries.  They have stopped bagging them for you.

We were also happy to see that close to 100% of the people in the store (employees and customers) were wearing a mask.  In Yuma, it was about 80%, so it’s nice to see everyone doing their part to keep others safe.  Our friend Ellen made us some masks, and we have been wearing those when shopping. We needed to go to three other stores before finding two bus fuses for our RV refrigerator. Our fridge is now running again!

Over the past week, the non-essential stores in Jackson have started to re-open, as the Wyoming closure orders have gradually been lifted this week.  As of today, you can now have a gathering of up to 25 people, with churches, funeral homes and livestock auctions exempted.  That limit is set to expire at the end of the month.  The two bookstores and a toy store have both stated they will remain closed (online orders only) as they are a “high touch” store and haven’t come up with a plan to keep everything sanitized.  And a shoe store said they will only allow two people in at a time, so they can sanitize the shoes that people try on, but don’t purchase.  Other stores and restaurants said they are going to wait until the summer before re-opening.

BACK TO WORK

We have just been hanging out in the cabin, watching movies through Amazon Prime on our iPad.  But then everything changed on the afternoon of the 13th, when they announced that Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park would be re-opening, on a limited basis, starting Monday, May 18th at noon.

Brad and Joanne knocked on our cabin door, and Brad said we need you to start work in the office tomorrow, and work every day for the next week!  Apparently as soon as word got out about the parks, the telephone was ringing off the hook!  Up until then, he had been getting nothing but cancellations for this summer.  Some people did reschedule for next year.  Although we are still getting some cancellations, we are now getting a lot of new bookings.

With Yellowstone, the only entrances that will be opened up initially are the two in Wyoming.  The other three entrances are in Montana, and they still have a 14-day quarantine for visitors (as well as Idaho, which is only a few miles from the West entrance.)

Dan has also gone back to work in housekeeping.  Mitch and Amanda, who we have worked with the past two summers, have returned again.  They did spring cleaning on a few cabins so they will be ready for visitors next week.  As with all businesses, Brad and Joanne are starting to implement a lot of changes as a result of the virus.  It’s going to be an interesting summer for everyone.

UPDATE ON ALASKA

We are trying to remain optimistic that we will be able to go to Alaska.  Canada and the United States first agreed to shut the border around March 21 for 30 days.  They extended the closure in April for an additional 30 days.  That closure is set to expire on May 21, but from what we have been reading, Canada is pushing for another 30 day extension.  Canada has done a good job in controlling the spread of Covid-19 with extensive shutdowns, testing, and contract tracing.  It’s certainly understandable that they want to keep their people safe.  And we want all of our Canadian friends to stay safe!

So for now, we wait.  Al and Karen should be arriving here next week, and then we will decide on our plans.  If we don’t end up going to Alaska, Brad asked if we could stay and work for the summer, and we may decide to do that.  But we would rather be headed North.

Quote for the Day: “Have patience.  All things are difficult before they come easy.” – Saadi