Cousins come a callin’

First off, thank you for all the wonderful comments, e-mails and telephone calls from our last blog post.  It really meant a lot.

Dan’s cousins, Roni and Jodi, made a long road trip from the Twin Cities to come out and visit with us for two days.  We tried to pack as much as we could in the short amount of time they had, and we think we succeeded.  The only thing they were not able to check off their list was seeing a grizzly bear.

We spent the first day on a quick tour of Grand Teton National Park, trying to stop at some of  the highlights: Colter Bay, Jackson Lake Lodge, Signal Mountain, String Lake, Jenny Lake, Lupine Meadows, The Chapel of Transfiguration, Schwabacher Landing, etc…

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Dan, Jodi, Roni

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After seeing some of  the highlights, we stopped in Moose for a little pizza at Dornan’s.  While sitting outside we were briefly entertained by a fox walking near the deck.

DSC04474 (2)The next morning we headed up to Yellowstone, making a few stops in the Tetons to view a herd of Elk,

P1000307 (2)followed by a mama and baby moose!

P1000363 (2)And no morning is complete without a stop at Oxbow Bend, with the low-lying clouds covering parts of Mt Moran.

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Yellowstone was pretty busy, but Roni said she had “positive vibes”, especially after our wonderful start to the day.  She was right, and we never had issues finding parking spots!  Our wildlife sightings continued, with an Osprey in a nest,

P1000516 (2)and a lone buffalo taking a nap along the side of the road!

P1000500 (2)The cousins were impressed with the view of the Lower Falls.

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I think Roni and Jodi may have a new future career in the park service!

P1000472 (2)No stop to Yellowstone is complete without a visit to Old Faithful.  It was Roni’s first time seeing the geyser go off.  Despite its name, it did not erupt until 25 minutes after its scheduled time.  The crowd of thousands was growing very restless, and a lot of cheers erupted when it finally went off.  Roni said it was worth the wait!

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Although their visit was very short, we had a wonderful time and are thankful Roni and Jodi decided to venture out west to see us!  Our door is always open for our family and friends to visit!

Quote for the day:  “Nobody will understand the craziness of your family better than your cousins.” – unknown

 

Don’t Take Life For Granted

A few weeks ago my brother-in-law John, suffered a stroke. He is only 67 years young. Fortunately, my sister LuAnn realized his behavior was very erratic, and called 911. They live in the Dallas area, which has many excellent hospitals. The paramedics recognized his symptoms, and took him to Baylor University Hospital, a certified stroke facility. My sister was very impressed by how quickly the hospital staff treated him. When a stroke is suspected, timing is critical.

By clicking this LINK, you can learn more about the signs of a stroke. Please take a moment to do so, as you can help save a life. Remember to think F.A.S.T.

John is at home, and going through daily outpatient rehabilitation. It has been a slow process, and his long-term prognosis is not fully known at this time. My sister is remaining positive and just trying to take things one day at a time. If you are a praying person, I know they would appreciate keeping them in your prayers.

And if that isn’t enough for my sister to deal with, she is also trying to teach her daughter Alicia how to drive!

It has been a while since I have seen John, LuAnn and Alicia, so I do not have a recent picture. The one below is from a breast cancer walk that I participated in down in Dallas in October 2009 with John, LuAnn and Alicia. That little girl just to my sisters left in the pink head scarf is Alicia, now all grown up! (Watch out Dallas, she has a learners permit!) My sister has beaten cancer, so I know she has the strength to get through this.

 

Alicia, LuAnn and John

Two Sundays ago I learned from my sister Margie that her brother-in-law, David (a/k/a Lumpy), had suffered a heart attack. He is only 58, and is recovering after having a stent put in his artery . Please keep him and his family in your prayers as well.

 

And here is the link for recognizing symptoms of a heart attack.

Hearing things like these give me a lot of mixed emotions. I have debated writing about this for a while now, but it keeps gnawing at me, so I decided to post a blog. Normally I like to keep personal matters to myself. I feel very blessed that we have been able to fulfill our dreams and live the RV lifestyle. The number one reason we are out here doing this, is because life is not guaranteed. After working in a hospital, and seeing how quickly life can change, I just wanted to get out and live life. If I die tomorrow, I can die happy.

But, I just wish we were more mobile, so we could go and help out when needed. I would love to be able to drive down to Dallas and help my sister out. We would also be able to attend more events with family and friends, such as weddings, graduations, funerals, class reunions, baptisms, etc., which we have been missing.

I don’t have any regrets about what we are doing, and I certainly don’t want to go back to a stationary life living in a house full of stuff. I just need to start looking into other sources of income that we can do on the road. I need to find a ‘work from the RV’ job, so we can be more mobile.

I have been spending a lot more time pondering the value of life. Fortunately, cleaning cabins doesn’t require a lot of thought, so I just quietly scrub the toilets while I think about things. I am thankful that we do not have television out here in Moran, Wyoming. There is just too much ‘noise’ going on in the world right now. We spend too much time worrying about things beyond our control. Too much time on social media. Sometimes we forget what is really important in our lives.

So take some time and hug your loved ones. Give them a call, write a letter (yes, snail mail) and plan a get together. Just try to enjoy life! Don’t take it for granted.

Quote for the day: “I believe every human has a finite number of heartbeats. I don’t intend to waste any of mine.” – Neal Armstrong

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

 

 

 

 

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

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.

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

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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.

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

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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