Saturday, November 3, 2018

'18/#29 It's Winter Texan Time!

Our summer season is over and West Yellowstone is behind us. We left before the temperatures dropped and the snow started to pile up. That is why we are full time RVers and our houses are on wheels. That and the fact that Mary didn't know what a snow shovel was! HAHA. The trip south was relatively uneventful and we were welcomed back to Texas with open arms.

This first week back we got the rig set up for a long term stay. The truck was washed and de-bugged and we got caught up with the laundry. Then we drove around checking out some of our favorite stores and doing a little shopping. We also went to the office to get a bit of a refresher and updates on the office procedure. My mind is at that age that if I get away from a regular routine it just seems to fall out and get lost forever.

Part of our reintroduction to the area was reintroducing our stomach's to some of our favorite foods. Six months in Montana and we forgot what seafood was. Also Mary had to get her Whataburger fix. We are looking forward to some real Italian, Chinese, and Mexican food. The Mexican food is especially good being only a few miles from the Mexican border.

Speaking of the border, we are also looking forward to our trips into Progresso and enjoy the Mexican welcome for the Winter Texans. We are officially Winter Texans which is very different from Florida's Snow Birds. Snow Birds are tolerated while Winter Texans are overtly welcomed. Not just the winter communities but the towns all around us have special events and promotions aimed at the Winter Texans.

Well this is our first day back at work in our Winter Texan home here in Pharr Texas because.....

Home is where we park it,
Frank and Mary

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

'18/#28 Ours Is A Different World

With Montana behind us and Texas somewhere down the road our adventure continues. It was a great summer in West Yellowstone. We got to meet some wonderful people and make what we hope will be lasting friends. Yellowstone National Park did not disappoint and we found some hidden gems in the surrounding countryside. But now we have other things to do.

If you have been following us, you know we had an eventful trip northward bound in the spring. Some damage was incurred on the rig and we are stopping in Arizona to have it repaired. We will be there for a few days and hope to be back on the road to our winter destination in the Rio Grande Valley.

Yes we drove past the turn-offs to Bryce Canyon and Zion National park. We also kept the wheels rolling as we left Salt Lake City and Las Vegas behind us. Many of you are saying that we are driving too fast and missing many things worth seeing. Well that may be true if we were on a vacation like most people who travel the country. But we are NOT on vacation. As I have mentioned many times, this is a lifestyle and not a vacation. We have places to go and people to see and things to do just like everyone else does in their life. Ours is different than most and it maybe hard to understand but every drive is not a sight seeing tour. Just because a trip to the grocery store or the mall may take you near a museum or beach or other attraction doesn't mean you have to stop. It just means you live near places that other people would love to see.

I grew up just outside NYC and went into the city many times. Sometimes to work with my Dad, sometimes to visit family, and even sometimes to see a show or museum...but it wasn't until I moved to Florida and was well into my 40's that I went to the top of the Empire State Building. Why? It was always in my own backyard, so to speak, and that was what "tourists" did. Mary went to Disney a gazillion times, mostly when friends or family visited from out of state and that was what they wanted to see. As Mary puts it, "she doesn't have to see that #@#$% mouse again...EVER!". Why? Again it was in her own "backyard" and we tend to take things for granted that are just "there".

I know that we will go to many of these places that we pass on the road at some time, and we have seen many of them already. But right now we have places to be and people to see and things to do and that is the life we live. As a friend once said, "the RVer's neighborhood is 3000 miles wide". That makes everything in this country right here in our backyard.

So for now we are just rolling on down the road taking care of business in our home in Golden Valley Arizona ( just for one night) because.......

Home is where we park it,
Frank and Mary

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

18/#27 It's NOT Jello And It's Frozen!

There are only 5 more days on the calendar until we leave West Yellowstone. We and all the other work campers are getting anxious about hitting the road and moving on to the next adventure. Like everyone else we are starting to get the rig ready to travel. Things need to be stored and secured, final loads of laundry are being done, and food is being prepared so we can travel without having to spend too much time cooking.

All this time we are still working our jobs here and dealing with the cold weather. The last 3 days the high temperatures have not gotten above freezing. Water hoses have been disconnected and we have been working off our on board fresh water supply. We have also been keeping an eye on our propane supply and make good use of electric heaters, blankets, and mattress pad. The last was a recent purchase and it is wonderful on these cold Montana nights.

Everything was going smoothly so we knew that somewhere we were going to run into our "jello" moment. After the cold spell had broken I went outside to dump our waste water tanks. I pulled the handle and glug, glug, stop. What the .....! I checked the sewer hose and lo and behold (always wanted to use "lo and behold") it was frozen solid in a couple of spots. I hadn't payed attention to the low spots that had developed and the water there froze solid in the shape of the corrugated hose. Well that wasn't good. Now I couldn't dump my full waste water tanks!

Soon Mary was out there with me trying to solve this dilemma. First we tried a blow dryer but the ice was too thick and hard so we got nowhere fast. Then we thought we might be able to disconnect the hose, hold it vertical, and maybe the ice would slide out. Nope, not happening. Finally we boiled water and Mary poured it down the hose while I held it vertical and eureka! (Always wanted to use "eurika" also.) The ice started to break free and all the nasty sewer water and frozen waste water flushed down the campground's sewer connection. That was great but there were 2 more hoses to do so more hot water more frozen poop water and finally the hoses were clear. Mary called them "poopcicles". Did not sound appetizing.

But were we done? No! Now I had to get back to dumping the full grey and black tanks. As I pulled the handle to empty the tanks we had a little geyser of waste water squirting through a hole the ice had punctured in one of the hoses. Out to the hardware store ( which by the way has a decent RV section) and one new hose later we were able to dump our tanks without creating a bio-hazard situation.

This could have ruined our whole day or put us in a lousy mood but like I always say "there goes the jello". Patience and a sense of humour may be the best tools an RVer can carry with them on the road. You never know what will happen next but whatever it is you just have to deal with it. Later on it becomes another story to tell around the campfire.

Well we are tired and don't feel like cooking after our poop water ordeal so we are treating ourselves to dinner out. Tomorrow we go back to work to finish our commitment and earn a substantial bonus. It may have been the only thing keeping us here the last few weeks. So I will sign off with empty poop tanks and a brand new sewer hose in our home in West Yellowstone because.....

Home is where we park it,
Frank and Mary

Thursday, October 11, 2018

'18/#26 Counting Days And Watching Weather

We are still in West Yellowstone and checking the calender every day. It has been a lot of fun here but as I've said in the past, our house is on wheels and wheels are meant to roll. After today we have 10 more days before we get those wheels rolling. We made a final trip to the big city of Bozeman for our last big shopping to prepare for our journey south. We always try to pre-cook some dinners that will be easy to heat up on the road and we will be doing that over the next week or so. Also we are doing some major laundry before we have to close up the bath house and laundry for winterizing. In other words, we will soon be on our way.

Over the past couple of days we have also been watching the weather. First of all, like everyone else, we have been following Hurricane Michael. With a lot of family and friends all over Florida it is a concern to us. Fortunately none of our extended family is in the panhandle and all are doing OK as far as we know. Some wind and some rain from the outskirts of the hurricane is all that has impacted them we are happy to report.

We have also been watching the weather here in Montana and checking the long term forecast. All the work campers are hoping for clear skies and roads when we leave West Yellowstone. No one likes to drive in inclement weather and coming down the mountain with a 40 foot RV is, well.....more excitement than any of us want. For two days we have had rain, sleet, and snow in small amounts. Nothing has accumulated but it has been a little sloppy out there. This morning we woke to about 3" of snow on the ground. It is pretty and we are enjoying the views but hopefully it will all be gone when we are ready to leave.

Now is a good time for me to sign off and get on with my day in the campground that is home for us for the next 10 days because......

Home is where we park it,
Frank and Mary

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

'18/#25 Short Timing And Full Timing

We have been doing this work camping thing for a number of years now and have found that there is one thing that has been consistent with every work camping job we have had. There is a point somewhere around the 3/4 mark of the season, and it doesn't matter how long the season, that attitudes change. Everyone is already looking down the road to the next adventure. We are all wondering how soon can we leave and get those wheels rolling. And almost without exception we are finding reasons to and not to stay.

The group we have been working with is great and we all get along but little things are starting to bother everyone. Some times it is the weather or maybe the camp site we are on. Work campers have even been known to turn on each other. The little quirks that we all have may have gone from endearing to annoying. Fortunately we haven't seen any of that here and hope not to through the end of the season.

It is now October here in West Yellowstone and that means the weather is changing. We have had several nights with below freezing temperatures. That means we have to get all the campers to disconnect their water hoses overnight. There was some grumbling but for the most part everyone understood. On a personal note we have been making good use of our new electric mattress pad. That and a couple of blankets keeps us nice and cozy all night. The furnace and a couple of electric heaters warm things up nicely for our morning showers and we start our day. There is talk of snow and/or freezing rain in the forecast so we will stay inside and try to keep warm and dry.

With 3 weeks before we leave our hope is that there won't be any snow on the ground or at least the roads so we can safely get out of West Yellowstone and head south to warmer climates for the winter. For now we are counting the days as short timers while living the full timers dream here in our home in Montana because......

Home is where we park it,
Frank and Mary

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

'18/#24 Ho Hum It's The RV Life For Me

I have been negligent in my blogging but sometimes there really isn't much to blog about. Time and time again I have said that this is not a vacation but a lifestyle with all the trappings of everyday life. There is cooking and cleaning and laundry and everything that goes along with taking care of a household. We also have to deal with the joys of living in a vacation area.

The past couple of weeks have marked the ending of family tourist season. School is back in session in most of the country and the families visiting the area have dwindled. We now are getting the empty nesters and retirees who are taking advantage of the "shoulder" season when there are less tourists on the road. It doesn't make it any less busy here, just a different clientele. Labor Day weekend was crazy here and in the park. We really haven't gone into the park much after Memorial Day and will start going back in now that Labor Day is past. It sounds a lot like "Snowbird" season in Florida when the locals just stay away from beaches and restaurants until the tourists head back north.

During this time we were able to take care of a number of things I wanted to fix around our home. Like I said we are home owners and have to maintain our home. Last month I replaced the fresh water pump. These past couple of weeks I had a list of things that I wanted to do before it got too cold. We had to swap out our spare tire from our trip north and replace  a center hub on the wheel. One of the shock absorbers had broken during the trip and was replaced. We also found a couple of lug nuts that had frozen in place and will take care of that soon. And finally the macerator needed replacing. If you have followed us from the beginning you know that I installed a macerator in July of 2009 and have affectionately called it "The Poop Shooter". After 9 years the pump failed and this was as good a time to fix it as any.

Well that is the excitement here in our neck of the woods. We are planning some excursions into the park now that the crowds have thinned and Mary will post more pictures. We have just 5 1/2 more weeks before we head south and I'm sure there will be more to do around our home here in West Yellowstone because....

Home is where we park it,
Frank and Mary

Monday, August 20, 2018

'18/#23 We Can't Hide, And That's A Good Thing

We just got back from our two days off and are exhausted. The daily routine of work will let us catch our breath. Now I am not complaining because we had a great time the past two days. On our days off we normally make the trek to Bozeman to do the bulk of our shopping. We love where we are but there is no place to grocery shop in West Yellowstone. We make the 1 1/2 hour drive to Bozeman and make a day of it. We take our time, go out to eat, and just make it a relaxing day. This time was a little different.

On Monday friends that we worked with in Zephyrhills had made it to Teton National Park which is a little over an hour away from us. Well, when you travel thousands of miles to get someplace and then 50 or 100 or even 150 miles separate you from friends......well that is what we consider in the neighborhood. Wendy and Charlie agreed to meet us at Old Faithful for lunch so we could catch up. Little did we know that most of the caravan they were traveling with had decided to tag along. It was great to see Wendy and Charlie and it was fun to meet some of their travel friends.

After a good time with everyone and promises to keep in touch we did a little sight seeing before we went home. It took us over an hour to travel the 30 or so miles each way with the "animal jams" stopping traffic. This is when a buffalo or elk or bear or eagle is spotted and everyone stops in the middle of the road to see and take pictures. The thought of pulling off the road never seems to cross their minds but that is what we have to deal with during the height of tourist season.

The next day we got up way to early, for a day off, to go to Bozeman but with good reason. More friends just happened to be passing through our area and we couldn't pass up the opportunity to see them. It had been a number of years since we were neighbors in Florida. With us hitting the road and them moving to Georgia social media was our main connection so an in person meeting just had to happen. Scott and Peggy met us in Yellowstone with their 5 kids ( 3 of whom we have never met) and spent almost 2 hours just reminiscing and catching up on what was new in everyone's life. They were in the middle of an adventure of their own, moving from Georgia to Alaska to start a new life. They were all excited and doing well and we couldn't wish any more for them but to be happy with everything the future holds for them. Of course they want us to come see them in Alaska and who knows?

Back home after another "critter jam" it was dinner time. We were too tired to cook so we snacked and wound down and called it a day. Tomorrow we would go to work and slow things down and maybe get around to putting the rest of our groceries away in our home in West Yellowstone because......

Home is where we park it,
Frank and Mary