A quick trip to San Diego

Happy New Year!  I made one of my New Year’s Resolutions to blog on a more frequent basis, but I’m not off to a good start!  (I have until December, right?!)

Just before the start of the year, we made a quick trip to San Diego, about 180 miles West of Yuma, to visit with Dan’s brother Gary and his family.  Julia was turning the big 60, so she booked a dog-friendly house just a block from the beach in San Diego, for her birthday/Christmas/New Year’s celebration.  We had a nice time catching up with Gary/Julia and their daughters, Brooke, Jasmine and Carmen (front row, with grandson Simon).  Chris, Gary, Luke, me and Dan in the back row.

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We were very close to the famous San Diego Zoo, and spent the day checking out the animals.  p1030357 (1)

The Meerkats were a lot of fun to watch.

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A male Nubian Ibex

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For the bird-nerds, a White-fronted Bee-eater…

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…and two female Yellow-crowned Bishop (one hanging upside down!)

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The zoo has dozens of African Penguins, which are fun to watch.

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They have one Andean Bear, which is the only bear that lives in the Southern Hemisphere.

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The Shingleback Skink looks like a two-headed lizard

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This Cuban Iguana was playing ‘hard to get’ when the zoo keeper was trying to get it back into its cage.

The Gharial, a crocodile, with a very narrow snout.

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The zoo has an abundance of flamingos.

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The Schmidt’s Red-tailed Monkey, which is also known as the black-cheeked white-nosed monkey.

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The San Diego Zoo has a Giant Panda Bear exhibit, but the line to see them was over an hour wait.  With so much to see, we did not want to spend an hour in line.  There is a bridge that crosses over from one side of the zoo to the other, and if you lean over the bridge, you may be able to spot a panda or two.  This is the best photo I could get, as it was a long distance down from the bridge.

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If you have been reading the blog for a while, you know I have been in search of a porcupine.  There appeared to be two of them sleeping in this cage, but it was hard to see.  I’m going to continue my search to see them in the “wild!”

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Simon enjoyed watching the two hippopotamus that were swimming in a giant pool of murky water.

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My favorite animal of the day was the Koala.  The zoo has several of them, and they are known to spend 20 hours a day sleeping, so it was exciting to see one of them awake.

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We thank Gary and Julia for letting us spend a few days with them.  San Diego looks like a fun city to explore, and we plan on going back sometime in the next few years to check out more of the sites.

Quote for the Day:  “I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.  Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world.  You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something.” – Neil Gaiman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spending A Sunny December In Yuma

We’ve been watching the weather around the country, and now we understand why people come to Yuma, Arizona for the winter.  While everyone else has had miserable weather, it’s hard to complain when the temperature “only” gets into the 60’s, and there is a cloud or two in the sky, and no humidity.  The weather is truly the reason to come to this area!

Work continues, with a few minor changes.  One of the gals in the office has left for medical reasons, so now there is just two of us on Thursday – Saturday.  Our office manager has come in to help on busy days.  My coworker and I have commented that we like it now, because it is busier with just two of us, and the work seems to flow better.  We’re not tripping over each other, and the days fly by.  And, bonus, the Arizona minimum wage goes up in January, to $11.00/hour, so we will get a 50 cent an hour pay increase!  We also received holiday pay for Thanksgiving, even though the office was closed.  That was a pleasant surprise!

We are trying to get into the Christmas spirit here, and put up a few decorations in the fifth wheel.  Growing up in Wisconsin, I still have a hard time getting into the spirit when there is no snow on the ground.  We were briefly watching Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer the other night, and Makena wanted nothing to do with Rudolph and barked at the television for several minutes.  I guess she was making fun of Rudolph too?

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But all was “calm” once the stockings were hung by the fireplace! It was too warm to have the fireplace on.

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Besides work, we have been busy with golfing here at Westwind RV and Golf Resort, and getting together with our friends Dave and Marilyn.

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I’ll have more “fun” things to blog about in future posts, but we did take some time to help them put in a new patio at their house.  It’s projects like these that make us happy to not own a house anymore!  Fortunately, we did this on one of the “cold” days down here.  Work, work, work…

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Everything turned out great, and they cooked us a delicious steak dinner (we will work for food!!)

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We spent a day in Quartzsite, Arizona, about 70 miles north of Yuma, to visit with friends Terry and Wendy.  We worked with them 3 years ago at Luton’s Teton Cabins in Wyoming.  They have spent the last two summers working at a campground right near the ocean in California, and will go back for another summer in April.  Fortunately, they were not affected by the wildfires this year in California.

It was great catching up with them, and we made plans to get together again in January.  They are in Lake Havasu, Arizona for the winter.

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We spent a little bit of time looking at some of the “flea markets” at Quartzsite.  The big RV show will be in January, and we plan on going back to check that out.  At this time of the year, there is not much going on in the town, and the flea markets are mainly rusty junk and rocks.  Lots of rocks for sale!

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Buckets and buckets of rocks for sale!

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We were watching the funeral service for President George H.W. Bush, and they were showing highlights of life, including footage of his parachute jump at age 90.  After the jump he was interviewed, and I thought that his advice was perfect…

Quote for the Day:  “Get out and do something.  Get out and enjoy life.” – President George H.W. Bush

Back to work and Howling at the Moon!

 

We are all settled in sunny Yuma, Arizona for the winter, and have two weeks of work under our belt at Westwind RV and Golf Resort.    They have about two dozen seasonal work campers here, in addition to a year-round full-time staff of locals.  Various jobs are in the mail room (with 1057 sites, there’s a lot of mail), office, bar/restaurant, activities, guest services (escorting guests to their sites and helping back them in), maintenance, and housekeeping.

Dan is one of only two work campers assigned to the golf course, and works Thursday, Friday, Saturday, 6:30 – 3:00pm.  The other work camper has Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  Dan works with three other guys, who work full-time, year round, on the course.  He will be mowing greens, fairways, raking sand traps, and does some trash pick-up on Saturdays, when the regular maintenance workers are off.  The golf course is currently closed for the month of October, due to overseeding.  So he has been able to work on the course without having to dodge errant golf shots!  But that will change November 1, when the par-3 course opens to play.  He is curious to see how his duties will change, once the course opens up.  He’s also looking forward to cooler temperatures next week.  It has been in the 90’s for the last 10 days, but the humidity and dew point have been in the mid 30’s.  So it’s been hot, but not oppressive, since there is no humidity.

In exchange for his 24 hours of work, we receive our site for free, along with all utilities.  This park charges $650/month October/November/December, and $800/month January – April.  In addition, they have metered electric of 14 cents/kilowatt, and a $40/month utility fee for water/sewer/trash/recycling.  Our neighbor, who just has one air conditioner on his fifth wheel, had an electric bill of $144 for October, so we know ours would be pretty high as well, given that we have been running both A/C’s non-stop.  So it’s a pretty good deal.  Dan will not receive a W-2 or 1099 form.  His compensation is not taxed.  There are some campgrounds that do give you a tax form, and it’s best to ask that so you don’t end up with a surprise during tax season, and have to pay taxes on the site that you received.

I work in the office, also on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm.  For my 24 hours, I am paid $10.50/hour, which is the Arizona minimum wage.  It was a little perplexed filling out the Arizona wages tax form, as you do not go by the number of deductions, like the Federal form (most states do).  They have seven different tax brackets, ranging from 0% to 6%, and you have to pick one.  I just picked the middle, at 2.7%.  We’ll see how that works out in April!  Our summer job was in Wyoming, which has no state income tax, so we’ll still only have Federal and one state to file taxes in this coming tax season (Florida, our domicile state, also has no income tax).

There are seven total office workers, one works on Sunday, three work Monday – Wednesday, and three of us Thursday – Saturday.  It has not been too busy, so we are literally tripping over each other.  Hopefully things will be picking up after November 1, when most of the seasonals start to arrive.

Campground Manager is the computer software system that they use here (not to be confused with Campground Master, which is another brand).  Personally, I find the system to be antiquated, as you have to hit the “tab” key to go through the database, instead of clicking a mouse.  It just seems clunky to me.  Once it gets busier, I should get more used to it.  In addition to checking in guests, we also handle the utility bills, and hand out the packages that people receive that are delivered by the post office. (UPS and FedEx will deliver right to people’s site, so that cuts down on a lot of packages) I was surprised by the large number of QVC packages that are received.  Apparently that home shopping channel is still doing well!

Here is our free site for the winter.  We are against a wall, so no one behind us, which is nice.  The sites here are big.

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HOWLING AT THE MOON!

When I posted this summer that we were coming to Yuma to work, I received an e-mail from Dave and Marilyn, a couple that we met working at Amazon.  They had moved from Florida to Yuma, as they were tired of the humidity.  Dave said the lack of humidity is much better for his arthritis.  Plus, they work summers in Seattle, for the cruise ships, so it was an easier commute for them.

Marilyn mentioned getting together to “howl at the moon,” which is apparently a popular thing to do in Yuma, out in the desert.  We met up with them, and their neighbors, Jim and Carol, and had a great time.  Howling at the Moon is held every month when there is a full moon.  A local band plays on a small stage, there are food trucks available if you want something to eat, or you can just bring your own food/beverages, plus a lawn chair.  It starts around 3:30 pm, and ends when the moon has risen above the Fortuna Foothills, about 3 miles East of our campground.

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Dan, Marilyn, Dave, Jim and Carol

The sun setting off to the West, at 5:55 pm (mountain standard time, or Arizona time, as most people call it)

The Fortuna Foothills, in the East, at the same time.  Jeeps and other off-road vehicles are very, very popular in this area.  The off-road vehicles have LED flag poles on them.  The moon will rise over the foothills.

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At 6:00 pm, the sun has gone down, making it easier to see the crowd and band from our vantage point.

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By 6:30, the last light of the sun is fading, and the lights are on the stage.  You can start to see the LED lights from the off-road vehicles.

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I started to notice everyone turning their chairs around, towards the East, to get ready for the moon to appear.  Around 6:40 pm, a glow began to appear behind the foothills.

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As the moon started to rise, I realized that I have never watched a “moon-rise,” only sunrises and sunsets.  It was just as beautiful. (although much harder to get a good picture of).  As it started to peak out, people began to howl.

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And when it had fully risen above the foothills (took about 10 minutes), the band did a countdown, and all 500 plus people “howled” at the same time!

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And that was the end of a wonderful evening!  There is no charge for the event, but they do come around for donations, to help cover the cost of the band and port-a-potties.  Any extra money goes to various charities.  We had a lot of fun getting caught up with Dave and Marilyn, as well as meeting Jim and Carol.  Hopefully we can get together again soon!

Next month when the moon is full, be sure to “howl” (or listen for us howling in Yuma!)

Quote for the Day:  “Yeah we all shine on, like the moon, and the stars, and the sun.” – John Lennon

 

 

Welcome to Yuma!

We have arrived in Yuma, Arizona for the winter, after an uneventful drive down south from Moran, Wyoming.  Uneventful, that is, after we got the brake lights and turn signals working on the 5th wheel trailer.  We were all hitched up, ready to leave Luton’s Teton Cabins, our summer job, when I went behind the 5th wheel to check the lights.  I waited and waited for Dan to turn on the blinkers and hit the brakes, and he was waiting for me to raise my arms to left him know everything was working.  The lights would turn on, and the trailer brakes worked, but that was it.  Ugh…..

Al and Karen were hitched up and ready to leave, and came over to help us out, but they had a long drive and we encouraged them to get moving.  Brad, our boss came over to help us out.  He went home to get his pick-up truck, and came back and we plugged the 5th wheel into hs 7 pin hitch.  Everything worked, which made us very happy, because we now knew the issue was with our truck, and not with the 5th wheel.  After doing some ‘google’ searches (what did we do before ‘google’?!), we narrowed the problem down to two 25 amp fuses in the engine compartment.  It was hard to get at, but we swapped one good fuse with one of the bad ones, and that took care of the brake lights/turn signal issue.

We are not really sure what caused both fuses to blow.  Dan did help out another couple working here that was having problems with their travel trailer, and had plugged their trailer into our truck.  We think that whatever problems they were having with their wiring, caused the fuses to blow.

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So we were happy, and got on the road….and then the ‘check engine’ light came on!  The good fuse that we pulled was for the urea heater, which has to do with the DEF fluid.  We figured that was why the light came on, so we didn’t worry about it, as we were only planning on driving about 200 miles that day to Fort Hall, Idaho.

We had no additional issues with the truck or trailer on our drive, and opted for the more scenic US Highway 93 down through Nevada, instead of I-15 through Utah.  We were surprised by all the snow on top of the mountains in Nevada.

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We spent several nights in small little towns in Nevada, and then decided to stop in Needles, California for two nights, as we finally hit some warmer weather and sunshine.  Needles contains some of the old Route 66 roads that you can still drive on.

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Fortunately, we did not need to stop for gas during our brief stay in California!

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Laughlin, Nevada is about 25 miles north of Needles, so we drove up to check out the casinos for a few hours.  Many of the casinos will allow you to boondock in their parking lots for several nights.  No big wins for us 😦

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We continued on to Yuma, and are all set up for the winter at Westwind RV and Golf Resort.    We start our jobs this Thursday, and will be working Thursday, Friday and Saturdays.  I’ll have more on our jobs after we start, and have more details of what things are like here.  So far the weather has been excellent!!  Warm, but not humid.

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There is a US Marine air base nearby, and we frequently get fly overs by an assortment of planes and helicopters.

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The park is a mix of park models and RV spots for rent by the day, week, month or season.  Right now, things are quiet, and the park, which has 1057 spaces, is mostly empty.  Last year they were at 94% capacity throughout January, February and March.  We are looking forward to a very busy season!

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Yuma is known for clear skies, but we have had several cloudy days, which resulted in a spectacular sunset, as seen from our spot.

 

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We have no idea what our time here will bring, but we are really looking forward to our new adventures.  Take care!

Quote for the day:  “Go for it now.  The future is promised to no one.” – Wayne Dyer

Wildlife in the Tetons

As we continue on our journey to our winter job, I thought I would share some final photos from the Tetons, of our animal sightings this summer.

We have had good success this summer in seeing many birds and animals in Grand Teton National Park.  I wasn’t able to get pictures of everything, as I did not always have my camera with me.

Our first trip into the park, May 14, resulted in success when we spotted a black bear, and then saw two very small cubs running several yards behind her.  The cubs were hard to see, as they kept darting in and out of the woods.  One was brown in color, and one was black in color.

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Mama Bear

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Wait for me, mama!

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Another cub

Brad and Joanne, the owners of Luton’s Teton Cabins, own several horses.  One day on my walk around the property, I sensed something behind me, and turned around to see the horses sneaking up behind me.  Maybe they thought I had carrots or something in my pocket.  Sorry guys, no food!

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I’m not a ‘bird nerd’ so I’m not sure what these birds are.  I call this one a ‘yellow bird’

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And ‘purple/green bird’

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I tried all summer to get a picture of the Mountain Bluebird.  They are very jittery birds, and this was the best I could get.

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On an outing with Erin, one of our fantastic coworkers, we spotted a grizzly roaming around the side of the highway.  I only had my cell phone with me, so it’s not a good picture.

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Elk, pronghorn and buffalo roam about five miles down the road from the cabins.  Some days there are just one or two, other days, a large herd of them.

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Elk in foreground, Buffalo in background

 

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Hello, Mr Buffalo!

In the spring, you will see a lot of “red dogs,” which are the baby buffalo.  They like to run around and play.

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Thanks for posing for me in front of the Tetons

We always warn our guests not to stand near the fence to take pictures of the buffalo.  People don’t realize that the buffalo can easily jump over fences.  They may not look graceful, but stay out of their way!

Our biggest highlight, was “Moose-a-Palooza” when we found 10 moose in the Gros Ventre Campground when our friends Mike and Sue were with us.

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We were surprised to find two bull moose together.

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The one laying down on the left, had a “lady friend” hiding in the tall grass behind him.

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Eventually the one on the right laid down and started “chatting” with us.

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You’ve seen those “share the road with cyclists” signs…in Yellowstone, you have to share the road with buffalo!

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Unfortunately, the one animal that I have been specifically trying to find, continues to elude me….the porcupine!  Karen and Al must have felt sorry for me, as they surprised me at our last employee potluck meal with my very own porcupine!  I guess this will have to do for now.  I wonder if they have them in Arizona?

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Thanks Karen and Al!

Quote for the day:  “I’ve never met an animal I didn’t like, and I can’t say the same thing about people.” – Doris Day