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

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

It’s been 5 years already?!

Five years ago today, July 25, 2013, I hugged my co-workers in the CT Department at Froedtert Hospital, and swiped my badge on the timeclock for the very last time. It was the last thing on our “to-do” list to prepare for full-time living on the road.

Dan had already finished up in June with his job as a high school math teacher.  Our house in Wisconsin had sold in April, along with most of our belongings, and we picked up our fifth wheel at the end of June and parked it at Doug and Linda’s (Dan’s sister) a/k/a “Camp Meyer.”

I remember walking out the doors of the hospital to my car with a lot of mixed emotions.  Dan and I had always talked about RV’ing when we “retired,” but with working at a Level One trauma center, you see first hand how quickly life can change.  It’s what prompted me to realize we need to do this sooner, rather than later.  I had spent so much time researching the RV lifestyle and following blogs that I knew we were ready to try this.  And it didn’t take much to convince Dan…he was all-in as well.

Our future was now a blank piece of paper and we could fill in the details as we went along.   We have never looked back and not once have we regretted our decision about living a nomadic lifestyle.  Yes, we have missed weddings, graduations, and other special events, but we just can’t imagine coming off the road any time soon.  I feel like we haven’t even scratched the surface with the places we want to see and the experiences we want to share.

We have relied solely on work camping jobs for our income these past five years, and have not had to touch our savings at all.  Our very first job after we quit our careers, was with Amazon, in Campbellsville, Kentucky.  I remember thinking after two weeks of working as a Picker, what have we done?  It’s a hard, and mind-numbingly boring job.  However, the people we met and the places we were able to explore more than made up for the mundane job. If you want to read more about our Amazon experience, you can search our past blogs.

We spent our first full summer in the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota working at Crazy Horse Memorial, and our second summer at Madison Crossings store in West Yellowstone, Montana.  The past three summers we have worked here at Luton’s Teton Cabins in Moran, Wyoming. We have worked with great people and it is nice when we are able to meet up with them on the road and catch up on all of our latest travels. We also enjoy catching up with friends and relatives when we return to Wisconsin and when some of them are able to visit us somewhere along our path.

The social aspect of the RV lifestyle has been the biggest surprise for me.  People become like family in RV parks.  Everyone really looks out for each other.   And if you don’t like your “neighbor” it’s easy to move to another spot!    We have lived in neighborhoods for several years, and never really knew all all of our neighbors.  Yet in an RV park, you can know most of the people in just a few days.

WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS

Any time you have an anniversary, it gives you time to pause and reflect on the past, and think about future plans.  We have decided to make some changes going forward.  The past four winters, have been spent in Florida.  We have accepted a position to work at Westwind Golf and RV Resort in Yuma, Arizona from mid-October to mid-April.  Although it’s a six month commitment, (our longest work camping position so far), we are looking forward to exploring a new area for the fall/winter season.  A couple that we worked with at Crazy Horse Memorial, Henry and Terry, contacted us about the job openings.  Dan will be working three days a week doing golf course maintenance, and I will be in the office the same three days.  My position will be paid, and Dan’s position will cover the site rental.  In addition, we will have a $50/month credit towards electricity, and a $100/month credit to use at the RV park’s golf course, restaurant and concert tickets.

After we finish our jobs here around October 1, we will slowly make our way south to Yuma. We are leaning towards coming back here for one more summer in 2019, and are just beginning plans to go to Alaska in 2020.  Our friends Karen and Al also want to go, and we hope to have a few other couples join us as well.  We don’t plan on working that summer, just exploring, so we have already begun saving for that trip.

After that, we would like to start exploring the eastern part of the United States.  That’s our plan for now, but we know things can always change.

Another change we are considering is down-sizing to a smaller RV, either a small class A (but still diesel), or a class C.  We’ve been looking, but not very serious yet.

And so the journey continues…..stay tuned!

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

 

The 45th Infantry Museum

During our visit to Oklahoma City, we spent a morning visiting The 45th Infantry Museum. The Division was established after World War I, from the states of Oklahoma, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico.  The division was called into service during World War II, and served with General George Patton’s US 7th Army division.  After WWII, the division was just for the state of Oklahoma, and reverted back to National Guard status.

The 45th Infantry Division was again mobilized for the Korean War and fought in several battles.  In 1969, the division was disbanded and restructured into several divisions.

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45th Infantry Museum and Plane

The museum contains an extensive collection of military weapons from the Revolutionary War through Vietnam.  It also contains weapons from other countries that were confiscated during various wars.

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The size and power of the weapons changed between the Revolutionary War and World War II!

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Members of the Division were part of a raid on Hitler’s residence, and brought back a lot of his personal items.

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Display cases are filled with “hi tech” equipment, used during the wars.  I’m not sure how effective this gas mask was.  Seems like it is just attached to a tin can.

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The museum has a large collection of pistols as well.

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img_1683Many jeeps, ambulances, and other vehicles are on display indoors.

Outdoors, the museum has several dozen tanks, aircraft, helicopters and monuments on display.  You can spend several hours going through the museum.

For me, the most fascinating part of the museum was a small display on the history of the Division’s insignia.  When the Division was established, their emblem was a yellow swastika on a red square, to honor the Native American and Spanish Heritage cultures of the four states forming the division.  The swastika was an Indian symbol of good luck. The Nazi party also adopted the swastika around the same time.  The division eventually stopped wearing their insignia, as the swastika took on a new meaning, and they did not want to be associated with the symbol.  What was a symbol for good luck became a symbol for evil and hatred.  The Thunderbird, another Native American symbol,  became their new emblem, using the same yellow and red color scheme.

img_1642We had never heard about this museum, or the history of the 45th Infantry Division before.  It was truly a little gem, and we would highly recommend a visit.  There is just so many things on display, and it was hard to pick out photos for this blog, as I have so many.

Quote for the Day:  “My first wish is to see this plaque of mankind, war, banished from the Earth.” – George Washington

Change in plans

One of the benefits of the full-time RV lifestyle is the flexibility that it offers.  Originally, we had planned on staying in Florida until the end of March, but we have departed and are currently heading west to Texas to visit with my sister LuAnn and her family.  We are looking forward to spending some time with them, and seeing a new part of the country prior to returning to Wisconsin about a month sooner than expected.

At the end of January and the beginning of February Dan flew back to Wisconsin for a couple of weeks. Originally, he was going to stay in Milwaukee and help his friend Mike with more remodeling work on his new bar and grill.  However, Dan’s plans changed a little as his father was recently diagnosed with stage 3 bladder cancer. Along with being able to help his friend with more of the remodeling work, Dan was able to drive his parents to Green Bay so they could all attend several doctor appointments and his Dad’s first chemotherapy treatment. His Dad will be doing six rounds of chemo followed by surgery at a later date to remove the bladder and prostate.  To date Dan’s Dad has finished 3 out of his 6 chemo treatments with round four coming tomorrow and the good news – none of the usual chemo side effects have shown up. He is still lifting weights three days a week and walking two miles a day. He plans on swinging a golf club as soon as the weather in Wisconsin cooperates and he will turn a young 81 in a couple of weeks. We are all praying for a complete and speedy recovery!

We did manage a bit of fun while we were here in Florida.  Dan’s brother Gary and his wife Julia flew down, and we spent several days with them in Cocoa Beach where they were staying.  At the same time, one of Dan’s good friends from high school, Kevin, was down at Disney with his wife Kathy for a conference.  We have not seen them for several years, and they live in New Jersey (Kathy is a huuuuge Eagles fan, so we cheered for them in the Super Bowl!).  All of us had an enjoyable afternoon together at Disney Springs, on one of the rare cooler days in Florida.

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Dan, Buzz (ole?) and Kevin

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Me, Dan, Gary, Julia, Kevin & Kathy

I was quite fascinated by the Lego display at Disney Springs.  Getting paid to build Lego sculptures would be a fun job!

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While Dan was away in Wisconsin, I went down to Titusville with another couple from the campground, and we waited about five hours, to witness an amazing launch of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy Rocket.  It kept getting delayed due to high atmospheric winds, and the launch window was coming to a close when it finally went off!  It was totally worth the sunburn!!  We found a spot due west of the Space Center, about 8 miles as the crow flies, to witness history!  This was our view from across the water.

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Falcon Heavy liftoff

About 10 minutes later, we were able to watch two of the rocket boosters return accompanied by their loud sonic booms.  They looked like 2 shiny UFO’s!

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2 rockets returning

I’d like to see SpaceX do a night launch with this rocket.  It would be spectacular!

Makena Update

With all this traveling we will be doing,  Makena will be spending a lot of time in her crate in the back seat of the truck. This will be a good thing. The mosquitos have been very active in Florida, and I think she has a few bites, which has caused her to scratch a lot.  With all the scratching, she has been walking a little more gingerly. I think she may have tweaked her back.  Hopefully this won’t be too much of a setback on her healing.   I did make an appointment for her in Wisconsin to see the veterinarian, so we’ll know more at that time.

I know it’s been a long time since I have blogged, but we have not really been up to too much.  Over these next few weeks, we will be seeing some new areas, so I will have more to write about soon.

Quote for the day:  “There is nothing permanent, except change.”  – Heraclitus