A busy start to the new year

Happy belated New Year and New Decade!!

You would think with working just two days a week, we would be living the life of leisure, and having a lot of free time on our hands, but we have just been busy, busy, busy.  This is turning out to a year of change for us, and it has been both exciting and stressful.  So let’s get caught up…

On Christmas Eve, we picked Dan’s parents up at the Mesa Airport, about a three hour drive from Yuma.  Dan’s brother and sister-in-law, Gary and Julia, rented a house in Tempe, Arizona, for the week of Christmas.  Their three daughters were also able to fly in for Christmas.  It was nice to spend the holidays with family!  Thank you Gary and Julia for inviting us over for Christmas, as well as the matching “Minnesota Go Jump in the Lake” t-shirts that we all received!

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On New Year’s Eve, we drove Dan’s parents, Joan and Stu, back with us to Westwind RV and Golf Resort in Yuma, as they were able to rent a park model for the month of January.  We didn’t have to worry too much about them, as they had a busy month of activities, with golf, dances, block parties, and cards.  We enjoyed spending time with them, during their “free” time!

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Fridays and Saturdays have been busy with work, as well as volunteering at the Friday night dances, and attending the Saturday night concerts in the ballroom with Tom, Ellen and Bob.  Dan and I are both involved in several golf leagues on our off days.  I have played more golf in the last three months, then I have in ten years.  We sell tickets for the 50/50 raffle at the dances, to raise money for Shriner’s Children’s Hospital.  Last year they raised close to $5000 from the raffle, and this year we should exceed $5,000.00.  Here we are with Henry and Terry, the Golf Shop Managers (and former co-workers of ours at Crazy Horse Memorial in South Dakota).

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We have seen several excellent concerts, including a tribute to John Denver (which my sister LuAnn would have loved)…

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as well as an excellent tribute to Linda Ronstadt.

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We did manage a few trips up to Quartzsite, one for the annual RV show, and another to meet up with friends Wendy and Terry (met them work camping at Luton’s Teton Cabins).  And Wendy and I managed to find another “big chair” to sit in.

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Today we had a ‘Mardi Gras’ parade in the park.  We decorated one golf cart, to represent the golf course.  Since we were in the parade, I only have a few pictures from the staging area of some of the other decorated carts.  In addition to candy, we threw (gently) golf balls to crowd gathered in the park to watch all the decorated golf carts.  Here we are, ready to go!

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Some of the other floats…

CHANGE IS COMING!

As I have previously mentioned, we will not be working this summer (our first time in 6 years). We will spend the entire summer in Alaska traveling with friends Karen and Al, as well as two other couples (one of which we just met this week in Yuma).

We have spent the past month or two seriously looking at various RV’s, as we don’t plan on taking our 5th wheel to Alaska.  We have looked, and talked with dealers in Oregon, Michigan, Las Vegas and several in Arizona, regarding Class A’s, Class C/B’s and truck campers.  Ultimately, we decided to go with our original plan of getting a truck camper. It will make it easier for us to get into many of the smaller campgrounds, allow us to boondock (camping without hookups) more often, and make us much more mobile.

This year, Westwind RV enforced the rule of no truck campers allowed in the park.  So we spoke with management regarding our plans of picking up our camper in March.  They advised that we would not be allowed to stay in the park.  Our friends Dave and Marilyn, who have a house in Yuma with a 30 amp hook-up, were kind enough to allow us to park at their place, for the month of March, and then we would leave.  We told our managers in the golf shop that we would only work through the end of March, and skip the two weekends in April that we were scheduled to work.  We had also advised them that we would not return next year, as we would not be allowed to stay in this park with a truck camper.  And, we did not want to rush to purchase something else after our Alaska trip.  They were fine with all of this.

Well, three days after we got all the details squared away with everyone, the corporate owner of Westwind (he owns several RV and mobile home parks), fired the managers here.  And the next day, among many rule changes, they changed the rule regarding truck campers.  Any type of RV is now welcome at Westwind RV.

So now we can stay at the park and finish out our commitment for this season.  Our last day will be April 11.  We are still leaning towards not coming back next year, as we need to see what happens with all these management and rule changes.

We have been super busy going through our 5th wheel and making piles of “stuff going to Alaska” and “stuff to keep, but not going to Alaska.”  Downsizing from 400 square feet to 80 square feet has been challenging, and a bit overwhelming.  Sometimes I just have to sit down and stare at all of our crap…I mean stuff!  Fortunately, Dave and Marilyn will let us store some stuff at their house.  They are such wonderful friends!  (we promise that someday we will return and pick it up!).  Of course we still have stuff at my sister Margie’s, brother Brian’s, and Dan’s parents to sort through as well…someday!

Here’s a quick peak at what we have put an offer on, and will pick up next month.  A 2008 Host Truck Camper.  Once we pick it up, I will have a blog with more pictures, as well as an update on the downsizing!

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We hope all is well with everyone!  Until next time!

Quote of the Day:  “In any given moment we have two options: to step forward into growth or step back into safety.” – Abraham Maslow

 

 

 

Back to work for the Winter

 

Life is pretty good in Yuma, Arizona, the sunniest place in the United States!  The park we are working at, Westwind RV and Golf Resort, is slowly filling up, as the Canadian and American snowbirds make their way south.  We are about half full, and should be close to capacity in January.  It has been a lot of fun catching up with the many friends and co-workers we met last year, that have returned again for another season.  In addition, our friends Tom, Ellen and Bob have joined us this year at Westwind to work.  They all seem to be enjoying their jobs, and the warm, but not humid, weather.

This year, we have new jobs, which we are both enjoying.  Last season I had a paid (minimum wage) job in the office, three days a week, and Dan worked three days on the golf course, which covered our site rent, and all utilities.  This year, we are working in the Golf Pro Shop, two 10-hour days a week.  We really enjoy working just two days, Friday and Saturday.  Here’s a few pictures the inside of the Pro Shop.

 

It’s small, but we have a great view of the first hole out the window that you see above on the right.

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Our view

We have seen many “interesting” shots off the first tee!!  Here are some views of the course, which is a nine-hole Par 3.

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This is the first hole straight ahead, with #3 on the left, and #9 fairway on the right.  One of Dan’s duties is to fish out all the balls in the pond (and there are many!).

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In exchange for our two 10-hour days, we receive our site for free, all utilities, and a $640 voucher each month which can be used at the onsite restaurant, golf shop, and concert tickets.  Our duties are taking tee times, selling merchandise (clothing, hats, gloves, golf balls), and keeping the patio area outside the Pro Shop clean.  It’s as easy as it sounds!  I don’t miss working in the office, but I do miss working with Lori and Roy.  We were able to get together for dinner, and talk about future work camping opportunities and places to explore.  We both have a lot more travel adventures in our future!

Another bonus of coming back to Yuma is getting together with friends Dave and Marilyn, that own a house here.  We have had several get togethers, and met up for the Howling at the Moon on November 12.  It was Tom, Ellen and Bob’s first experience, and they all seemed to enjoy the strange little gathering in the desert.

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Howling at the Moon

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Bob, Jim, Carol, Marilyn (Dave behind in blue shirt)

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Ellen, Tom and Dan as sun was setting behind

The sunsets in Arizona are always full of color

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And then it was time to start “howling!”  If you are ever in the Yuma area, and it’s a full-moon, you need to partake in this free festival!

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We hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving.  It looks like most of the country is going to be hit with some storms, so stay safe!

Quote for the Day:  “Of all possessions a friend is the most precious.” – Herodotus

On the road again!

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

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Keeping my peeps informed!

We are on the road again!!!  While my parents are busy driving from Wyoming to Yuma, Arizona, I’ll get you all caught up.  We have finished up with our fourth and final summer at Luton’s Teton Cabins, just five miles east of Grand Teton National Park.  Once again, we were the last work camper couple to leave.  My dad steam cleans all the carpets, so it takes a while to get thru all 14 cabins and the lodge.  I have enjoyed my time here, because I can run around off-leash on the property.

The one problem, for me, with being the last to leave is the weather.  It always snows before we leave, and it gets cold.  It was 17 degrees when we pulled out this year.  But it sure is pretty!  This was our view from Luton’s on Saturday, October 5, when we left.  It had snowed the day before.

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I think I caught a cold or something, because I’ve gotten sick the last two mornings before we left.  My parents had to wash my favorite blankets two days in a row, and I’ve been sneezing a lot.  But now that we are on the road again, I am doing better.  I spend all day in my crate in the truck, so I have been getting a lot of rest.  It’s my “safe place.”  My parents say I’m an excellent traveler.

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We are going back to Westwind RV and Golf Resort in Yuma, Arizona.  I’m looking forward to the warm weather and sunshine!  My parents told me they will have new jobs this year, and will only be working two days a week.  Yay!  That means more time for me!  They will have an orientation day on October 15th, so I’m sure my mom will get back to blogging and have more information on their new jobs after that time.  And their friends Tom and Ellen will be working at Westwind this year.  They stopped over at our house a month ago, and brought their new puppy, Duffy, with them.  He promptly sniffed my butt and ate all of my food.  I don’t like him….

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Before I go, I’m going to post some more photos of the Tetons that my mom took in May, and September.  The Tetons are a beautiful place, and I hope all of my readers can someday visit the park.  Good-bye Tetons, looking forward to new adventures next summer in Alaska!  Here’s a view from Oxbow Bend at the beginning and end of our season.

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May 2019

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September 2019

 

Jenny Lake is a popular area in the park for hiking.  This is a view from an overlook.  In May, the lake was still frozen.

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May 2019

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September 2019

Quote for the day:  “Once the travel bug bites there is no known antidote, and I know that I shall be happily infected until the end of my life.” – Michael Palin

 

Back to work (2 months ago…)

I admire the people that blog consistently.  I am not one of them!  We are back to work for our fourth, and final, summer here at Luton’s Teton Cabins.  I think part of my delay in writing is due to the fact we have been in this area of Wyoming for 5 years now (4 here, and 1 summer in West Yellowstone.)  There are days that I feel I’m in a rut.  As beautiful as this area is, I’m overdue for a change in scenery.

We arrived here on May 4, and took a quick drive through Grand Teton National Park.  Many areas were still covered in snow, and the ice on the lakes was just starting to melt.

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After getting acclimated to the altitude, we started spring cleaning the cabins a few days later.  All nine of us work campers came back this year.  Brad and Joanne are wonderful people to work for.  Spring cleaning consists of a deep clean of each cabin, including wiping down all the woodwork with a damp rag, and then oiling each log with wood oil.  It’s a tedious process, but it keeps the cabins looking “new.”   Many guests are surprised that the cabins are 25 years old.   Dan works on the ceilings, as he’s the tallest!

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The bedroom is ready for the season!

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After working 3 days per week in our winter jobs, it’s back to 5 days a week, and a split shift on my office days.  Karen and I split the office – 3 days office/2 days housekeeping one week, and 4 days office/1 housekeeping day the next week.  Office hours are 8 – 12 pm and 3 – 7 pm.  Between 12 and 3, we are still available to answer phones and help guests with any issues/early check-ins.  Because of the long office schedule, we are paid a daily rate.  Dan refers to me as “the bread winner.”  Housekeeping generally starts at 9 am, and we can be done between noon and 3 pm, depending on how busy the cabins are.  Usually there are 4-5 housekeepers, and we can get through a cabin fairly quickly.  Dan does 4 days of housekeeping, and 1 day in laundry, washing all the linens, towels, rugs and rags.  He enjoys the variety.

As long as office duties are done (checking in guests, answering the phone, cleaning the lodge, watering plants, cleaning grills and helping the housekeepers on busy days) we can sit and read in the office.  I’ve caught up on a lot of magazines that I can get for free through Flipster on my local library’s website.  It’s a great app to use to read magazines offline.  Here’s a screen shot of my “bookshelf” on the Flipster app.

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We took a day trip up to Yellowstone with Karen and Al.  The overlook to the upper and lower falls at Canyon Village are now open.  It’s always pretty to see, especially with snow.  I’d like to visit Yellowstone in the winter someday.

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Upper Falls

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Lower Falls

We also stopped to watch Old Faithful.  I’ve seen it dozens of times, and was a bit amused when this couple in front of me immediately stood up to take selfies!  They spent the entire time taking pictures of themselves, and not even bothering watching the eruption!  P1060272

Dan and Al have had several successful fishing outings.  Soon we will be having an employee fish fry pot luck.

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And speaking of pot lucks, we just had an excellent lobster dinner, courtesy of Brad and Joanne.  They had lobsters, clams and mussels flown in from Maine.  Al did an excellent job cooking everything, and even gave the ‘newbies’ tips on how to crack open and eat lobster.  It was an excellent feast!

And speaking of food, my goal for the summer is to clean out our pantry.  I look like a food hoarder, and I need to work on that!  Since we arrived on May 4, I have not bought anything new for the pantry.  This is what our pantry looks like today  (and this is after 2 months of eating…still a long way to go!)

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Over the winter we accomplished the goal of eating everything in our freezer before buying new food.  So nothing in the freezer is older than 3 months.  We replenished the freezer again when we arrived in Wyoming, and will work on emptying that out again over the summer.  It’s a great way to try out new recipes.  But it’s also made me wonder “what was I thinking in the first place when I bought this?”

We are going to Alaska next summer, and have considered getting a truck camper.  It would be an exciting challenge to downsize even more.  We may even consider selling our beloved 5th wheel.  But we are not coming off the road, just changing things up.  And downsizing more will give us more flexibility.  Variety is the spice of life?  We’ll keep you posted on what we decide.  Just starting to look at what’s available right now.

We had some visitors already (we like visitors!!).  Dean and Jeannie stopped by on their way to Oregon, and we played tour guides for a day.  Our door is always open!

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Jonell, Jeannie and Dean

And we finally saw our first moose of the season (no porcupine yet!)

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Until next time, please stay safe!

Quote for the day:  “You never change your life until you step out of your comfort zone; change begins at the end of your comfort zone.” – Roy T Bennett

 

Winter work camping is done!!

We have finished up our 6 months of work camping at Westwind RV and Golf Resort in Yuma, Arizona!  It was our longest work camping job that we have done since we started our journey in 2013.  And we’re going to do it again (for 1 more year) this fall!  This season, Dan and I both worked 3 days a week, Thursday – Saturday.  Dan worked 24 hours each week, on the golf course. In exchange, we received our full hook-up site, including all utilities, for free.  I worked in the office, for minimum wage (currently $11.00/hour in Arizona) averaging about 28 hours/week.

In total, I made approximately $8,000 for the 6 months of work (I haven’t received my last paycheck yet, so I don’t have the exact gross pay figures).  Our expenses were minimal, as we did not have to pay anything for 6 months of rent/utilities.  Laundry was not included, and we spent $225.00 at the on-site laundry facility in the park.  We probably could have found a cheaper laundromat, but the convenience of walking to the facility outweighed the expense.  But the real benefits of being in one spot for so long is all the wonderful people that you meet.  Dan enjoyed working with the full-time year round staff on the golf course and in the maintenance department.  I had great co-workers that made the job fun (shout out to Lori and Roy!!), and a very patient office manager, Kathy.  We never seemed to stop learning…

This fall, Dan will only be working 16 hours/week, 3 days a week.  In exchange, we will receive our site for free, but will have to pay for electric/utilities.  He requested this, because he often finished up his work by lunch, and had to spend the afternoon making “busy work.”  Being a former math teacher, he ran the numbers, and it wasn’t worth working 32 extra hours per month to cover electric/utilities.  It amounted to getting paid just over $4/hour.  I will be back in the office, and the minimum wage in Arizona is set to increase to $12/hour next January.  So that’s a nice perk, as most winter jobs do not pay.

In addition to having a positive experience at Westwind, we decided to come back for several other reasons.  We are planning on going to Alaska in 2020, but not to work, just to play tourist.  Having an income over the winter season will help to offset the loss of income in the summer.  Also, we really enjoyed getting together with our friends Dave and Marilyn.  It was a pleasant surprise when we found out they had moved to the Yuma area and next season our friends Tom and Ellen will be joining us as well.  Tom will work in Guest Services (helping to park RV’s, read electric meters, and whatever else is needed) and Ellen will be in the mail room.  In exchange for their hours, they will receive their site for free, including utilities, and a voucher which they can use at the onsite restaurant, golf shop, and concert tickets (only the office is a paid position).

It took 6 months, but I finally saw my first rattlesnake and roadrunner at the end of March, while playing golf with Dan, Roy and Lyle (who is from Canada and rented a park model a few doors from us).

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A zoomed in view, as it was much smaller (thankfully) than I expected!

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Needless to say, you must keep the ball in the fairway!

It was hard to get a photo of the roadrunner, so this is a bit blurry.  They move fast, and are not as big as I imagined (must have been all those cartoon road runners I watched growing up….beep beep!)  And yes, they can fly, but usually just run around.

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I’m not sure what I prefer, dealing with alligators while golfing in Florida, or rattlesnakes in Arizona.  I think I’ll stick with the safest alternative, Max.  He doesn’t bite!

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What’s next?

We have a month to wander around until we start our summer job, back at Luton’s Teton Cabins.  We spent a week near Phoenix at Peublo El Mirage Golf and RV resort (very nice), just relaxing, and are now near Sedona for a few days.  We have met up with Tom and Ellen and Steve and Kathy who are all on their way to West Yellowstone for their summer work camping jobs.  I will have a new post about the Sedona area in the not too distant future.

I’m not sure what the name of this cactus is, but it was in full bloom at the RV park in El Mirage.  We were told it only blooms for one day each year.  Since we were leaving the park the next morning, I was not able to go back and verify if the flowers were still in bloom.  It was beautiful though!

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Quote for the day:  “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” – Dr. Seuss