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

 

 

 

 

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

 

The ‘dog blog’ is back!

Hello everyone!  It’s me, your favorite blogging dog, back from a long absence!  For my long-time followers, you will note that I have a new photo of me blogging.  Currently, I am at my Grandparents house, while my parents are busy making money so they can afford more treats and toys for me.  My grandma just purchased her very first laptop, so I am trying to figure things out.img_1103I would have blogged sooner, but my grandma’s desktop computer is older than I am, and I just couldn’t figure it out!  My parents have come up to visit me a few times, especially now that grandma has her new computer.  Grandma called them 5 times the first night after getting the laptop, so they decided to come up and visit the next day, because getting tech support over the telephone was cutting into my playing time.  I was starting to feel neglected.

My parents were trying to set up grandma’s laptop in person, but even that was becoming a process.  Apparently grandma handed them some things she called “floppy discs” and wanted them installed on her laptop.  A long discussion took place, and soon my dad was cutting up the discs.  They are older than me!

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who still uses these?

Mom then set up her iTunes account on the laptop and was transferring some music for grandma.  More discussion occurred…

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uhmmm, no grandma!

But enough about that, time to get back to me!  I had a great summer at Luton’s Teton Cabins.  It was a great place to be a dog with working parents.  No late nights, always home on time for lunch so I never had to “cross my paws” with their long workdays.  And having 100 acres to run around, off leash, was just icing on the cake.  Who can beat this view?

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my summer home

I was excited to arrive back in Wisconsin, but not so much when I found out we are staying in a glorified parking lot.  Not big green space to play, and I always have to be on a leash.  And, I was back to crossing my paws as my parents were gone all day…no thanks!

So after a few days, they realized I was not a happy camper, and took me up to my grandparents house.  Now I am back to being the Queen Bee!  As any grandchild knows, whether you have 2 legs or 4, grandparents homes are the place to be!  I spend most of my days sitting by their back door, trying to convince them that I need to go out and play with my football.

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Let’s go play!

They are easy to convince, so I have been getting a lot of play time in their back yard.

img_1104I try to keep my grandpa’s chair warm when he is away (usually golfing).  I am so grateful that he is feeling good and fully recovered from his scary ordeal with Guillain-Barré Syndrome (you can read about it here).  We go for daily walks, which I really enjoy.

img_1084When my parents brought me up here, they packed up all my toys and treats.  Beggin’ Strips are a special treat for me, and a bag usually lasts about 2 months, because I only get a couple of them every week.  Milkbones are my regular treat.  My parents were a bit shocked when grandma called after three weeks and said they were out of Beggin’ Strips!  Well I am special, so I convinced my grandparents to give me my special treat every day!  Yay!

I also discovered I don’t even need to do anything special to get a treat.  If I stare at my treat jar for a long time, they just get up and give me a treat!  Here’s a photo of my grandparents watching television.  Notice me in the corner?

img_1071It looks like I was put in the “time-out” corner, but upon closer inspection, you will see I am staring at my treat jar on the counter  Yes, I have them well trained!

img_1077I also figured out where grandma hid my new 12 squeaker toy.  She put it up on top of a dresser in a bedroom.  So I sat and stared at that for a while, and she eventually gave in, and I was able to destroy my new toy!

img_1101My grandparents did take me to see my cousins at Camp Meyer!  I really enjoyed having even more people play with me, and snuggle up with me.

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It’s better than snuggling up with “mini me”.  This is the stuffed animal my parents sent to my grandparents so they won’t forget about me when I’m not there.  Hey, it’s cute, but not quite as good as the real me!

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The weather is starting to get a little too cold for me.  Hopefully my parents remember to come and get me before they leave for Florida.  I could use some warm weather, as I don’t have much hair.  When my parents come to visit, my mom brings up their laundry.  I crawled in a basket of sheets just out of the dryer.  My parents aren’t sure if I was just cold, or if I wanted to make sure they don’t forget about me.

img_1100I’m not sure how much longer I will be staying here, but now that I have mastered grandma’s new laptop, I will try and not go so long between blogs.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy Thanksgiving!  Hopefully the ‘turkey fairy’ will drop a few pieces in my dish!

Quote for the Day:  “An optimist is a person who starts a new diet on Thanksgiving Day.” – Irv Kupcinet

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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We even ran into Sasquatch at the party!

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

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Lambeau at night

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

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Quote for the day: “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all the darkness.” – Desmond Tutu

Just catching up

We had a busy 3 weeks while “home” in Wisconsin. Unfortunately, it turned out to be more of “we need to get this done,” than a social visit. After running around to several dealers, we did receive an acceptable offer on my car, so that is one more personal item that we have disposed of! The de-cluttering continued with going thru all the drawers and cupboards in the camper, and getting rid of more stuff. There is still a lot more that we would like to dispose of, but we will save them for our next major clean.

We did manage to get in some family time, as we made it back in time for our nephew Kyle’s 30th Birthday party. It was nice to see all of the friends and relatives at his party, and we can’t thank Dan’s sister and brother-in-law enough for letting us park our rig at Camp Meyer during our stay!

Happy 30th Kyle!

Happy 30th Kyle!

We drove down to the Milwaukee area and spent a few days with my sister Margie, husband Greg and niece Molly. They have 2 dogs and 2 cats, so Makena was a bit nervous. Although she did manage to make her way up to their bedroom each night and crawled under the covers with them, much to the anger of their cats!

Easter weekend we drove up to Minnesota with Dan’s sister, for our niece Brooke’s Bridal Shower. Dan’s brother and sister-in-law Gary and Julia are looking forward to Brooke and Chris’s wedding later this summer! It was a brief visit, but we enjoyed getting together with family.

Brooke's shower

Brooke’s shower

A bridal fanny pack?

A bridal fanny pack?

 

After many months of searching, Dan found a bicycle, and I had a long overdue tune-up on mine. We will be right next to a 108 mile bike trail in South Dakota, so we hope to ride a few times a week (have to get back in shape!) We did find time to have lunch/dinners with friends Angie and Dave; an excellent fish fry at Beer Belly’s in the Milwaukee area with friends Mike and Karlyn; and a great lunch with a former college roommate, Mary. We also were able to squeeze in a night with Jonell’s brother and sister-in-law Brian and Annette along with our Thursday night Bible study group. It was great catching up with everyone!

We also had dental visits, truck maintenance and a veterinary visit for Makena (just routine, no problems). We were able to make a spur of the moment surprise visit to our former neighbors Brenda, and the Kierzeks. On a sad note our friend Mary Jo’s mom passed away, and we were able to attend her funeral in Shawano.

We are thankful to have the time to do all of these things, although we still left a lot of “until next time….” We were hoping to have time to stop in Dan’s hometown of Oconto Falls to visit with his parents and other friends and spend more time in Milwaukee to visit more friends and former co-workers. Originally, we were planning on attending a rally in Indiana in mid-September after we finished working at Crazy Horse on September 12. However, the Packers schedule came out, and the home opener is September 14, so we are now thinking of going back to Wisconsin for a week or two until we start back at Amazon in the fall. Hopefully, we will be able to complete some of our “until next time …..”

We arrived at our “summer home”, Crazy Horse in Custer, SD on Wednesday May 8th. Thanks to the generosity of Phil and Rudee of workingrvers.blogspot.com, we have a booster antennae so we can post our blog. AT&T put a new cellular “tree” up (yes it is a tree, not a tower), so they get excellent service. We have Verizon, and were barely getting 1 bar of 3G. We are now up to 3 bars, thanks to the booster. We will be looking into purchasing one soon.

There is so much to see and do here in the Black Hills of South Dakota. We plan on more frequent blogs. As always, we thank you for following along on our journey. If you are planning on coming out to this area over the summer, please let us know. We would love to get together!

Quote for the Day: “I am so busy doing nothing…that the idea of doing anything – which as you know, always leads to something – cuts into the nothing and then forces me to have to drop everything.”  Jerry Seinfeld