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!

makena blogging 2-09-2014

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!

IMG_0944 (1)

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!

DSC04350 (1)

I love playing football!

And I had presents and birthday cake too!

IMG_2159 (1)

Is this for me?

IMG_2149 (1)

A new football from my grandparents!

DSC04349 (1)

More presents and a card!

Grandma baked a delicious cake for grandpa and me!

DSC04362 (1)

Happy Birthday to us!!

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

DSC04373 (1)

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

DSC04376 (1)

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!

IMG_0649 (1)

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…

DSC04242 (1)

Master chefs Bob and Betty

DSC04243 (1)

Bob, Betty, Dan & Roger

DSC04239 (1)

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!

IMG_0745 (1)

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

The end of 2016, already?

 

 

Wow, another year has ended.  Time to finish up 2016, so I can start with a clean slate for 2017!

We are currently in Florida, for the next three months.  Then we will make our way somewhere, before starting up work again in May at Luton’s Cabins in Wyoming.  This is our ‘vacation’ time, and we always budget this in.  It is our own reward for this lifestyle.  But to be honest, I get really bored around mid-March.  I don’t think I could ever be fully retired.

We enjoyed our time helping Mike with remodeling his new tavern and eatery in Wisconsin. While we made a lot of progress, there is still much work to be done before opening in February.  We were able to fill five 30 yard dumpsters with demolition materials, get new window’s and doors installed, the metal ceiling in place, some of the electrical work done, and the bar built.

We did the frame of the bar, and then added in a step and two layers of plywood for the top.  It will still need the final top, which will come from a bowling alley, as well as the sides and tile on the step. We did the same for the bar in the basement.

img_1171

Mike and Dan had the ceremonial ‘first beer’ the day we completed all the framing.

img_1169

Mike was able to obtain galvanized metal roofing pieces from a barn in Illinois that was used for the ceiling.

I was a bit skeptical at first of the ceiling material, but it turned out very well.

Doing the demolition and remodeling work was a nice change of pace from Amazon. And based on what I have been hearing from others who worked at the Campbellsville KY location this year, they were either not as busy, or hired too many Camperforce, because they got very little overtime this year.  We do plan on going back to Amazon next fall, unless another new opportunity comes our way.

The nice weather in Wisconsin allowed us to stay much longer to help out. But once the temperature dropped, we new it was time to move on. We have a portable space heater in our bedroom, and an electric fireplace in the main living space of our fifth wheel. Just running both (on a 50 amp circuit) we can keep the inside temperature about 35 degrees above the exterior temperature. This is fine when it is above 30 degrees outside. But when the high for the day is 20, it gets a little chilly inside the RV unless we turn on the propane furnace.

It was also great to spend Thanksgiving with our families for the first time in three years. Although we both missed being able to walk 10 plus miles the next day (as we did at Amazon) to burn off all the delicious food.

We had a nice time catching up with everyone.  First up, dinner with my family at my brother Brian’s house.  I’m not sure what is up with my brothers hands on hips posing though!

Then it was off to Dan’s sister, Lindas house (aka Camp Meyer), for additional turkey dinners.

img_1155

We continued our ‘food fest’ with dinners with good friends Dave and Angie, along with Angie’s family.

img_1153

Since we were working in Menomonee Falls, Robin and Mary, friends since our college days, had us over for dinner as well. Mary also sent us off to Florida with a container of delicious homemade Christmas cookies!  Cheers!

img_1152

We had a nice time getting together with our former neighbors and their children.  It was great catching up with Kyle and Jolie, and Brenda and Darren.  Their kids are getting bigger and really doing well.

img_1156

 

Our time in Wisconsin came to an end two weeks ago, when we got blasted with 10 inches of snow, followed by bitter cold temperatures.  We put our slides in on the fifth wheel before the snow started.  So we had several “cozy” days before we left.

img_1162

I thought the days of scrapping the truck were over, but…  The fifth wheel next to us is staying for the winter.   They installed insulation around their fifth wheel.

img_1163

We had a great time getting together with family and friends, and we are grateful for the opportunity to work for our friend Mike.  There is still a lot of work to be done before the business opens.  As such, Dan will be flying  back to Wisconsin next week, and working for an additional two weeks.  Makena and I will be staying with the fifth wheel in Florida.  Dan will drive back down with his parents (if they can fit him in their car!) the last week of January.  It is a win-win-win situation.  Mike gets more help from Dan, Dan’s dad will not have to worry about driving, and I get several weeks to myself!

Before we left, we did pick up Makena.  She was very happy to see us and get back on the road to warmer weather.  We are very grateful that Dan’s parents kept her for the two months while we were working.  She was in good hands!

img_1177

We hope everyone has a safe and Happy New Year!  Remember, 2017 is a clean slate.  Put those fears aside, and make those goals happen! For those of you we didn’t get a chance to see this year, we hope 2017 will find a slice of time for us to spend with you…

Quote for the day:  “What the New Year brings to you depends a great deal on what you bring to the New Year.”  – Vern McLellan

 

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.

img_1097

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.

img_1088

 

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!

img_1091

img_1090

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.

img_1096

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.

img_1092

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.

dsc04060-1

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!

dsc04041-1

We even ran into Sasquatch at the party!

dsc04047-1

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

img_0316-1

Lambeau at night

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

img_0310-1

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!).

img_1328

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!

img_0270-1

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?!

dsc04006-1dsc04008-1dsc04029-2dsc04030-1

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.

dsc04035-1

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!

img_1359-1

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!!

img_1364-1

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.

DSC03585 (1)

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.

img_1014

 

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.

img_1043

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