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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Visitors and Fires

For the past 6 weeks, fires have been burning all around us, but have not had much impact on us.  Things changed yesterday, after 20-25 mph winds started in the afternoon.  A small fire that was burning in a remote area of Grand Teton National Park jumped across Jackson Lake and spread over 5 miles.  The main highway from GTNP to Yellowstone National Park is now closed.  They had an emergency evacuation of Flagg Ranch and Lizard Creek Campground this morning.  The fire is about 20 miles from our location, and it is not headed our way.  However, with another afternoon of high winds expected, who knows what will happen.  I think the most popular website in the state of Wyoming right now is Incident Information.  You can click on that if you want to keep up with the fires in the area.

Work continues, but at a little slower pace this week.  This is a “transition time”, as we switch over from families with school-age children, to couples and families with toddlers.  By September 1st, we are back to full occupancy, for almost the entire month.  So we are enjoying our ‘calm before the storm’ which hopefully won’t involve any fire related issues!

FAMILY VISITS!

Our door is always open for visits from friends and family, and we have had two visits this month.  Our nieces, Carmen and Jasmine, were passing through on the way to Tacoma, Washington, and stayed overnight.  Jasmine, who graduated from Pharmacy School in May, has accepted a pharmacy position in Tacoma, Washington, and they were moving her stuff out west.  Makena was excited to have visitors!

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Carmen and Jasmine

After they left, Dan’s sister and brother-in-law, Linda and Doug drove out from Wisconsin to visit with us for a few days.  On their way out, they stopped in Custer, SD and met up with our friends Phil and Rudee at Crazy Horse, as well as visiting Mount Rushmore.  We were able to switch days with another couple at work, so we had three full days to play tourist.  We forgot how exhausting it is to be a tourist!  We were able to cram as much as we could in a very limited time.  There is just too much to see and do in three days.
Can you see Yellowstone in one day? No, but you can see a few of the highlights if you pack a lunch and plan on a long day visiting.  We discovered an Elk happily licking the salty grass right inside the West Thumb geyser basin. It is always fun to see wildlife up close.
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We have heard there has been an unusually high number of broken toilet seats in the park this year, due to visitors from countries not familiar with our bathroom protocol.  So I was a bit amused to find this diagram in a porta-pottie in the park.
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After our stop at the West Thumb Geyser Basin, we headed towards the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, to see the Upper and Lower Falls.
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Upper Falls of Yellowstone

The Lower Falls were just as spectacular!

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Dan, Linda and Doug at Lower Falls

After a quick picnic lunch, we headed over to the Midway Geyser Basin, home to the most beautiful geyser in the world, (in my opinion), the Grand Prismatic Geyser.

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And no visit would be complete without a stop at Old Faithful!

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Old Faithful

We spent another day touring the Grand Tetons, seeing wildlife, and then we drove down to Jackson.  We walked around the town square and stopped in at the Famous Cowboy Bar for a cold beverage.

DSC03822 (1)Since all the barstools are saddles, Doug opted to recreate the cowboy on the bar’s roof!

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ride’em Doug!

Doug and Linda discovered when you are out West, anything goes for a vehicle.  You never know what will be parked outside on the street.

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Although the time went by way to fast, we did enjoy having Carmen and Jasmine, as well as Doug and Linda stop in for a visit.  Our door, wherever it may be parked, is always open!

Quote for the day:  “Isn’t it amazing how much stuff we get done the day before  vacation?” – Zig Ziglar

Meanwhile, back at the cabins

It’s hard to believe that we have been here two months.  Time has really flown by!  Being in such a peaceful setting, with very pleasant weather, is good for the soul.  Since school has let out, the 14 cabins have been at 100% occupancy almost every night.  Work has been very busy, but we have managed to get out and do some fun activities.

My particular job duties have changed slightly, as I am now in the office 3 days a week, and 2 days in housekeeping.  These new duties started before I broke a bone in my foot, not as a result of the injury.  The office work is a split shift, from 8am – 12pm, and then back again from 3pm – 7pm.  However, from 12 – 3pm, I still am responsible for answering the telephone,  assisting guests that have locked themselves out of their cabin (seems to happen at least once a week), or guests arriving before the 3pm check-in time.  When the owners, Brad and Joanne, put in the 5 RV sites behind the cabins for the work campers, they also put in telephone lines.  So I have a regular land line telephone  in the RV to answer calls from 12 – 3pm.  Because of the unusual hours, I now get a flat daily rate of pay, instead of an hourly rate.

The office person is also responsible for cleaning the main lodge, daily cleaning of the BBQ grills, assisting housekeeping on busy days, watering flowers, and emptying the quarters from the coin-operated washer and dryers.  The job keeps me busy, and I really enjoy interacting with the guests when they check in, and helping them plan their trips to the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.

To give an overview about what this work camping job entails, I will refer you to a post that Karen wrote in June of 2014, her first summer here at Luton’s Teton Cabins, in which she went into great detail on the job duties.  click here to read the post.  Needless to say, the cabins are immaculate!  I have cleaned more ovens this summer, than I have in my entire life!

Chuckwagon Dinner

We have a good crew of work campers, and the nine of us all went to the Bar J Chuckwagon dinner and show one night.  Brad and Joanne, upon hearing that we were all going out together, surprised us by paying for everyone’s tickets.  We all had a great time at the Chuckwagon show.  We had been to two chuckwagon’s in the Black Hills of South Dakota, but this one was far and away the best one we have been to. The show and the food were awesome!

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our work camping crew

On the way down to Jackson, we were amused to spot this sign by the road…!

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too late!

Those of you that have been following the blog for a while know that we like to visit craft breweries (always good to support the local businesses!), so we made a trip down to the Snake River Brewery in Jackson on our day off.  It is  Wyoming’s oldest brewery (started in 1994), and they have a not very catchy slogan “our river runs through your liver”.

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cheers!

We did the sampler tasting of their beers, and deemed them to be “okay”.    On the way back “home”, we stopped by Mormon Row in the park to view the structures that still remain from the early settlers to this area.  Location, location, location!

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Quote for the day:  “Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.” – Marcus Aurelius

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Work Camping at Luton’s Cabins

Two weeks of work have flown by, which is always a good thing!  I must admit, it is nice to be back to work, and our bank account and my Fitbit are happy as well.  For the next four months, we will be working at Luton’s Teton Cabins, located just east of Grand Teton National Park.  This is the view we see every day from work!

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Grand Teton Range

Our job for the summer is cleaning and  maintaining the 14 cabins on the property. There are 3 other couples, and one single that we are working with.  We have a nice group of work campers for the summer.  Now cleaning cabins may not sound like the most glamorous job, but these cabins are so well maintained, that cleaning them is a breeze.  Brad and JoAnn Luton, the owners, have done an excellent job of maintaining these cabins over the years.  They actually built each cabin back in the early 1990’s, and have a tried and true method of keeping them looking brand new.  It’s easy to clean something that is already clean.

With our job, we work as a 4-5 person crew in cleaning each cabin.  There are three levels of service that we do:  Makeup, sheet change and check out.  Everyone rotates through the various jobs on each cabin:  bathroom, vanity, supplies, makeup beds or sheet changes, dusting/oiling, windows, vacuum, floor and final check.  The first two weeks, we have not been at 100% occupancy, which has helped as everyone is still learning the jobs, and what is expected.  By this weekend, we should be full (schools are letting out!), and we will get into a good routine.

We start work at 9:00am, so we need to leave our RV by 8:59am, as we have a 1 minute walk to the time clock!  Although it’s been in the 30’s in the morning, most guests have left for the day, so we can get started on the cabins right away.  Because we have not been at full capacity, we have only been working 4-6 hours each day.  Since this is a very physical job, we are happy to have the shorter days to start with.  But that will change by this weekend!

Here are a few photos of the cabins.

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PERKS

In addition to getting paid for all hours worked (and Wyoming has no state income tax), we have a 50 amp  full hook-up site for free.  There are five sites behind the cabins, strictly for the work campers.  This is our site.

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And the view out the back of the site is very nice as well.  It is a very peaceful, serene place (and it’s all free!)

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view behind our site

Other perks include free use of the on-site laundry room, including the use of the industrial washer/dryer, which is great for super large loads and comforters.  We generally average about $30/month on laundry, so this is a nice little savings.

Since the closest major city with a grocery store, Jackson, is 30 miles away, the Luton’s have also provided a freezer and an extra refrigerator for use by the work campers to store extra food. There are a couple of convenience stores that are within a few miles, but they only carry a limited supply of groceries.

All of the cabins have full kitchens, and many guest will leave food behind when they leave (since many people fly to this area).  All that food gets put into another refrigerator, and we all take turns picking over the leftover items.  So far there has been bacon, ice cream, pizza, butter, cheese, yogurt, bread and more to pick from.  And, some of our guests have left tips as well.  The money goes into a tip jar to be evenly split up among the nine of us throughout the summer.

We were also told we would have free, fast Wi-Fi this summer as well.  We were very surprised at just how fast it has been.  This was a speed test that Dan did the other day.  It was the fastest we have ever registered.

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There are several walking trails on the 100 acre property (Makena will have more to say about them in a future blog).  We have also been into the park a few times, and plan to spend a lot more time exploring the park this summer.  The Tetons, unlike Yellowstone, is a bicycle friendly park, so we plan on exploring by foot and bicycle this summer.

Quote for the day:  “Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don’t recognize them.” – Ann Landers

 

We have arrived at our destination…

…for the summer in the Grand Tetons.  After several months of relaxing, it is time to get back to work!  We are both ready to go for the summer.  Before I get into our summer jobs, I will do a little catching up, since it has been 2 months since I last posted.  Now that we are back to work, I promise to update the blog more.

We left Florida at the end of March, when it had started to get hot and humid, and made a bee-line to Elkhart, Indiana to have some routine maintenance work done on the fifth wheel.  Tiara RV was able to squeeze us in, and we would recommend them for service on fifth wheels and travel trailers if you are ever in the area.

Our next stop was “Camp Meyer” (Dan’s sister and brother-in-laws house).  It’s Makena’s favorite “campground” and once again she was very excited when we let her out of the truck.   We parked there for about 5 weeks, while visiting friends/family and taking care of routine medical/dental visits and truck maintenance.  As usual, there is never enough time to visit with everyone, and we hope to see those we missed this fall.

Several trips were made to Oconto Falls, to visit Dan’s parents.  His dad has made remarkable progress in his recovery from guillain-barré syndrome.  Dan was able to take him out golfing, and Makena convinced the ‘grandparents’ that she needed to walk and play multiple times every day.  Grandparents are such easy targets!  We also played many games of ‘hand and foot’, and provided some iPad ‘tech support’.

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Dan’s parents

We had a few nice visits down in the Milwaukee area with friends and family, in between our appointments.  Our good friends Dave and Angie had us over for an excellent BBQ, and Mike and Karlyn took us out for a fun night on the town. We also had a delicious Cinco de Mayo dinner with college friends Robin and Mary  (forgot to bring the camera).

My brother Brian, and sister-in-law Annette had us over for a visit, and we were able to take advantage of some nice weather to get in a short hike in the Kettle Moraine Forest, along with a climb to the top of the fire tower.

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Brian, Dan and Annette

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We stayed at my sister Margie and brother-in-law Greg’s house for a few days, and had a nice time catching up with them, as they are temporary ’empty nesters’ with my nieces both away at college.  Dan and Greg snuck out for a local beer tasting, and seemed to have a good time!

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Cheers from Greg!

I was also able to get together for my annual “patio beer” with a former co-worker, Amy.

Patio Beers!It’s always nice to catch up with family and friends, but we had only a limited amount of time, before beginning our journey west.  First stop: Des Moines, Iowa.  We were able to attend the Drake University College of Pharmacy Hooding Ceremony.  After 6 years, Jasmine received her Doctor of Pharmacy degree, along with about 105 other students in the program.  During the ceremony, her father Gary (Dan’s brother) leaned over towards me and said “We now have a Dr. J in the family!”  I think he’s been waiting 6 years to say that!!  I’m not sure what he was happier about:  the fact Jasmine is now a doctor, or the fact that he no longer has anymore college tuition to pay for, as all three daughters are finished with school!

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Congrats Dr. J

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No More Tuition!

While we were in Des Moines, we were able to meet up with fellow RV’er Linda Clayton for dinner.  She will be workcamping for the summer at a campground in northern Wisconsin.  It was nice to catch up with a fellow Amazonian!  I don’t take selfies, so the picture is not very good!  When Linda and I were both Picking together at Amazon, people insisted we were sisters.imageWe left Iowa and continued West through Nebraska and up into Wyoming towards Grand Teton National Park. We will be spending the summer at Luton’s Teton Cabins in Moran, WY.  I will do a separate post in a week or two on our specific jobs and perks. If you want to see what the cabins look like, or follow along on a live web cam of the Grand Tetons, you can click on the link above.

We found this job courtesy of our friends Karen and Al, whom we will be working with this summer.  We have not been doing too much exploring yet, as I have been battling a bad cold, and the weather has been a bit chilly (27 degrees this morning!).  Today it alternated between sunshine and snow flurries which is typical Spring weather for Wyoming!

Our drive into the Tetons was interesting.  Nothing like a snowstorm in late May!

I did manage to plant some basil, cilantro and a container tomato plant.  They were outside for 2 days, and have been sitting inside the RV the past couple of days.  It should warm up next week, so hopefully they will start perking up a bit with some sunshine.

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My summer garden

The big pot was a gift from our former neighbors, The Kierzek’s.  They have four wonderful kids, and they used their thumb and finger prints to create designs on the pot.  Thanks again Adam, Faith, Josh and Ben!!  (and Kyle and Jolie too!)  Hopefully with all the love that went into the pot, it will help produce some good tomatoes this summer!

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Stay tuned, more frequent blog posts to follow!  And as always, thank you for following along on our adventures!

Quote for the Day:  “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” – C.S. Lewis