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

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

 

 

Wildflowers, wildlife and wild scenery

Busy, busy, busy is how the last few weeks have been at Luton’s Teton Cabins. The cabins have been at full occupancy through the 4th of July. We have a day or two reprieve until they fill back up again. The families have now taken over the cabins, with a few couples in the smaller cabins.  Some cabins look like a tornado has gone through, with stuff everywhere!  We have to be careful where we step when making the beds.  We have met some wonderful guests from around the country, and a few international tourists as well. Our group of 9 work campers has been doing a great job, and our guests have left many wonderful reviews.

We did receive one puzzling note from a guest that checked out this week. They stated the cabin was great, but were disappointed by the mosquitoes. They felt for the amount of money that they paid to rent the cabin, we should have done something about them (the owners did spray their fields, but the cabins sit on 100 aces). The more I thought about this guests note, the more amused I became. I didn’t realize that mosquitoes should only bite people who stay in budget motels! Mosquitoes don’t discriminate. They go after everyone!

The Tetons received over 600 inches of snow this winter (normal snowfall is 400 inches). Between the snow melt and the spring rains, it has created a bumper crop of mosquitoes this year. But it has also rejuvenated the wildflowers. We have gone on several hikes so far, and I always take time to stop and photograph the flowers. I’m not really sure what they are, and just refer to them as yellow, purple, and blue flowers!


We have seen plenty of elk, buffalo and moose. I am still in search of the elusive porcupine. I was talking with one park ranger, and she gave me some areas to try, after 6 pm. Once the mosquitoes settle down in a few weeks, I plan on heading out on some trails in the evening to look for a porcupine.

On one of our hikes, we did see a bear, but it quickly ran off when it spotted us.  The only other animals that we found were long deceased.  It’s the circle of life…

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someone’s dinner

Even though it’s July, there is still plenty of snow on the mountains this year. It just makes for a peaceful setting.
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Always nice to watch the sunset from the cabins.

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Quote for the day: “Even if you fall on your face, you’re still moving forward.” – Victor Kiam