Saturday, September 7, 2019

19/#26 High Prices in The Land of Enttlement

We have been in California for a full four months now and have made a few observations. Don't misunderstand what I am saying. We have had a good time and don't regret the time we have spent here but some things just rubbed us the wrong way.

Over the years we have always heard about how much food stuffs comes from California. There is talk about abundant produce and Pacific Ocean seafood. I once heard that California produces most of the almonds sold in the U.S. We have even heard California called "America's breadbasket". Well I have to say rubbish! The produce available here is far from top quality and the prices are ridiculous! If you want to see top notch produce at ridiculously LOW prices go to the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. I know a lot of it comes from Mexico but at least it is there, edible, and affordable.

Seafood is nonexistent in this part of California.  It is sad when the best seafood restaurant in the area is Red Lobster. Shrimp that we buy in the store is mostly of the Gulf Coast variety which can be bought in Florida or Texas for half the price when it is on sale. Not to mention there are plenty of good seafood restaurants in Texas and you can't swing a "dead cat" without hitting one in Florida.

In my quest to eat a little healthier I have for a number of years always kept almonds handy as a healthy snack to keep me from eating too much junk. Yes we shop the sales which pop up on a regular basis when we are in either Florida or Texas. No such sale has even shown up as a blip on our sale shopping radar since we have been in Petaluma. Trust me we have been looking and it just hasn't happened. I guess not all the nuts are living here in California. The almonds seem to have gotten out.

Speaking of "nuts", the people here may have the highest concentration of entitled mind set as we have ever seen. Old, young, doesn't matter. Economic status has no bearing on it either. RVers in $500,000 motor homes or people sleeping in the back of their car all come in expecting an ass-kissing from everyone who works in the park. Since this is a service oriented business the customer is always right. The catering to, the verbal abuse, and the ridiculous expectations are like none we have experienced before.

Let me close by saying that our stay here in California has been interesting, we have made friends, and we have had fun but I will say that we have seen enough and probably will not return. We would most definitely not choose this as a place to settle down and stay. We have about a month left here and will be making the most of our time before we hit the road. So I will sign of now from our home here in Petaluma because.....

Home is where we park it,

Frank and Mary

19/#25 Getting Down To The Last Qaurter

We have workcamped for a long time now and have made a number of observations. First is that workcamping is not always easy and is not for everyone. Second is that the compensation for the time and effort put into the jobs is relative to what is desired and/or expected. Third is the job itself is not always what is initially promised. These are all based on indivdual expectations.
The fourth and last thing seems to be universal to all the workcampers we have known. Every workcamping job time frame can be broken down into four segments. As seasonal workers we are automatically "short-timers". We know when we start exactly when our time on the job will end. That being said the season, whether it be 4 or 5 or 6 months can be defined by the same attitudes that you will find in every career.
The first quarter is when you start a new adventure, the new job. There is excitement and enthusiasm. New people to meet, new skills to learn, and finding your place in a new work environment. Everyone is happy and enjoying the "new car smell" of a new job. After all new is good,right?
Somewhere around the beginning of the second quarter of your commitment you are getting comfortable. You are getting good at the new job and your skills now allow you to do the job effortlessly and you can enjoy the camaraderie of the new people you call your coworkers. You may even start to socialize with some of them whether they are fellow workcampers or seasonal locals or even year round employees. It all sounds great, doesn't it? But you are only half way through the workcamper experience.
In the second half the job starts to get routine. It feels like you are in a rut doing the same thing over and over again. I mean the job isn't that difficult. They hire people every year to do this and train new people each and every season so how hard could it be. Workcampers after all are just temps, people hired to do a job for a specific period of time and then they are done. You also have gotten to know your coworkers better. That can be a good thing, but who likes everybody? There will be that person who gets on your nerves for whatever reason and makes you wish you could work with someone else. Sometimes that can happen and sometimes it can't. But you made a commitment and a commitment is a commitment so just suck it up!
The last quarter is the toughest. This is the end of your time, some might call it their sentence depending on the job and everything that makes up the work place environment. This why many employers give a completion bonus. If you stay until the end of your commitment you may get extra money for each hour worked or part of your living expense may be reimbursed. I'm not talking about employers who hold back money just to give it to you later, I am talking about a real incentive to stay!
There is the knowing that at the end of your commitment you will once again be back out on the road looking for the next adventure. A new season, new people, even a new workcamping job. This is why we do what we do, for the adventure. Some of our friends don't understand why we do this but as I said before it is not for everyone. Needless to say it is the way we live our lives and we are happy doing it like this. If the job is good or bad or just down right intolerable we have ways of dealing with it. I look at some of the jobs I had before I retired and think "if I can do that for"X"  number of years I can do anything for a few months", and if it is really that bad remember our house is on wheels and our plans are written in jello. We can leave at any time and seek out a new adventure.
Well I have to get ready for work. The season is coming to an end and things are slowing down. It is getting a little boring but after the hectic summer at KOA  a little boredom is welcome. Our last quarter will go by and we will be out on the road looking for our next adventure. The game clock is ticking and counting down here in our home in Petaluma because.....
Home is where we park it,
Frank and Mary

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

'19/#24 San Fran With Our New Little Buddies

I don't know why but we always seem to get more involved with the young people at our work camping jobs than we do with other work campers or the other workers of or nearing the age of retirement. I'm not complaining because we have so much fun and these young people inexplicably seem to like having us around. This past weekend we went into San Francisco with two of the J-1 students from Jamaica. J-1s are here to work and experience the culture of the U.S. just like we travel to experience different areas of our home country.

Shawn and Alex had almost as much fun as we did. We started with a Tuk Tuk Tour of SanFrancisco. A Tuk Tuk is a motorized rickshaw and can get around busy towns much easier than our big pickup truck. Also the driver is much more knowledgeable of the area and the sights to be seen. It was like being on our own private little tour bus of San Francisco. The boys, being from Jamaica, were freezing in the 60 degree weather and the wind in the open air Tuk Tuk. We brought extra jackets and scarves and blankets and .....well you get the picture. In spite of the cold they had a great time.

We had to feed the guys also so we asked where they wanted to eat. Of all places, they wanted McDonald's! Apparently there are no McDonald's in Jamaica and when I looked it up, sure enough the company left the island in 2005. So it was McDonald's for breakfast and lunch. Here in the good ol' USA there are McD's everywhere. Even at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco.

After lunch we went on a boat ride around SanFrancisco Bay. The boat took us along the water front, near the sea lions, past Alcatraz, and under the Golden Gate Bridge. Again the boys were freezing and we had to bundle them up on what Mary and I thought was a beautiful afternoon. Again this was something Mary and I wanted to do and were fortunate enough to share it with Shawn and Alex.

Once back on dry land we all had to do some serious tourist shopping. Walking around the shops on the water front everyone found something to keep as a memento or send home to family and friends. Then it was back to Petaluma and the KOA.  Dinner was NOT McDonald's. We decided to find a Chinese restaurant and enjoyed a wonderful meal. I would be remiss if I didn't thank our bosses from KOA for helping us out with funds to make the day special.

Well it is time to get ready for work so I will say goodbye from our home in Petaluma California because.....

Home is where we park it,
Frank and Mary

Saturday, July 20, 2019

'19/#23 Excitement Roller Coaster

Too much time has passed since my last blog. As usual lots of boring stuff mixed with a touch of excitement, and not always the good kind. Most of you have already heard about Mary's trip to the hospital and that she is OK. Just a perfect storm of self neglect led to her passing out, an ambulance ride, and two days in the hospital. On a side note this can count as my stress test for the year and I passed with flying colors. Let's not do it again!

Once Mary was home and feeling better we decided to take a leisurely trek in search of another lighthouse. This time it was at Bonita Point at the mouth of San Francisco Bay. Located on a now closed army base that was once the home of Nike defence missiles many of the buildings left just shout out military base. Good roads and an easy one mile round trip walk got us out to the lighthouse with views of the Pacific Ocean, the California coastline, and of course San Francisco.

Speaking of San Francisco, this weekend we are heading back into the city with two of the exchange students that work with us. I don't know who is more excited about the trip, Mary or the exchange students.  It will be a day of just being tourists and promises to be a lot of fun. Plus we get to help the kids experience their time here in the U.S.

Well I have to get ready for work soon I will say goodbye from our home in Petaluma,  California because.....

Home is where we park it,
Frank and Mary

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

'19/#22 Still Here And Looking More Like Summer

In my last blog I commented on how the summer here was looking nor feeling anything like we expected summer to be. Well July is almost here and things are finally changing. Daytime temperatures are regularly in the 70's with occasional 80 degree days. We actually had two, yes TWO, days when the temperature reach 90 degrees! The reaction of the locals had us believing we were on the surface of the sun but I guess that is what it feels like to them. Having dealt with months at a time of high 90's and lows in the 80's in Florida for so many years the heat wave here felt kind of nice to us. To quote Jimmy Buffet, "changes in latitudes....".

KOA has been super busy with school now out in the area. Plenty of locals come here just to get away from the routine at home. There are still a number of contractors for PG&E here and the tourists are filling everything else. In other words we have NO vacancies every weekend. This past weekend NASCAR had their race at Sonoma Raceway also know as Sears Point. The track is only 20 miles from here so we had a lot of racing fans arrive last week and staying into this week. Needless to say, another busy weekend.

On our days off we took a drive out Reyes Point. There is a lighthouse there that Mary would loved to have seen but it is under renovation. The views from the promontory made the trip worth our time. We also saw Drakes Bay where the elephant seals congregate. Earlier in the spring the beach was supposedly covered with the seals but today there were only a couple on the beach and another handful swimming near the shore. It was still cool to see the area and the seals that were there.

As I said it was worth the drive because it took us well over an hour over horrendous roads to get there. We went through a number of small bohemian, artsy-fartsy,  everything organic towns and stopped to look and take some pictures. The National Seashore is separated from the mainland by Tomales bay which was created and runs right along the San Andreas fault. We opted not to take any boat rides that day but did take some pictures.

Well it is back to work today so I will sign off now and get ready for another day of work camping here in our home in Petaluma because.......

Home is where we park it,
Frank and Mary

Saturday, June 1, 2019

'19/#21 Seasons Of Wonder or I Wonder What Season?

Well here it is the first of June a maybe summer is coming? The whole month of May the temperatures rarely reach 70 degrees and usually stayed in the upper 50's to mid 60's. Overnight temperatures were always in the 50's and occasionally the upper 40's. That explains the unattributed quote, "the coldest winter I ever saw was a summer in San Francisco". The highs for the next few days looks like it will be right around 70 degrees. The locals are dreading the summer heat when it gets up to 80 degrees! They should spend a summer in Florida,south Texas, or Arizona! Although Texas and Arizona it is only a dry heat. LOL!

On a different subject, our roomie the turkey caught my wrath and a couple of pellets from my BB gun the other morning. He or she seamed to just shrug it off but  it hasn't been back since. Maybe it got the message that it is not welcome here. We are still a bit ticked off because now we wake up at 5:45 am anticipating the "gobble" alarm. I hate that @%^%&#%#%;@ turkey!

We are in another weekend at the Petaluma KOA and the crazyness has started. Friday we had 175 camper check ins! Most of them are locals just getting away from the house and the usual weekend chores. Kids are running amok and parents are dealing with the kids with judicious amounts of beer and wine. Not so much to cause trouble but enough for their children to need better supervision. Oh well. It makes the night patrol interesting until about midnight or 1am and then all pretty much quiets down just to start up again on Saturday. This is supposed to be the routine for the rest of the summer.

It is time to start getting ready for work so I will say goodbye for now from our home in Petaluma because.....

Home is where we park it,
Frank and Mary

Monday, May 27, 2019

'19/#20 Roomie?

Things are humming along here at the KOA and we are blending in to the operation. Staying close to home with all the insanity that is the Memorial Day weekend. The campground will be full of holiday revelers and all their family, and when I say all their family I mean everyone. In addition to the 6 registered guests they can have a number of visitors for the day. I am guessing that at any given time on Saturday and Sunday there might be 1000 or more people in the park cooking, swimming, riding bikes, playing games, participating in the scheduled events, and drinking. As with any outdoor cooking and dining there will be lots of drinking and all the rowdiness that it comes with. Sounds like fun for me on night patrol!?!? Next week the park will be put back together and readied for the summer season to begin.
On a regular basis the park has a few full time fowl residents. In addition to the regular birds that come and go we also have three peacocks on property. They have been here for a while and don't seem to care about the two legged guests in the park. Recently at least two turkeys have taken up residence at the KOA. No one is sure where they came from but the general opinion is a farm over the next hill. These are not wild turkeys and have no fear of humans. They walk around camp sites and let the kids feed them which in turn ensures that they aren't going away any time soon. Actually they have been popular in the park until...

The other morning at 5:30 am we heard a loud thump on the roof of our RV. Next the unmistakable "gobble, gobble, gobble" of a turkey followed by countless "whap, whap, whaps" across the roof and another series of "gobbles".This went on back and forth across our roof for about 15 to 20 minutes. Remember I am on night patrol here so I got off work at 2am. Finally the flapping of wings, a thump on the ground, and the turkey wanders off on it's merry way. I was able to go back to sleep!
The next morning 5:30 came and went quietly but it only lasted until 5:45 when the thump,gobble, whap, whap whap process started again. This time he (or she) jumped from the roof onto the spring loaded slide toppers over our bed adding a "sproing, sproing" sound to the routine. I went outside with a long stick and chased the sleep thief from the roof and went back to bed. I now have a loaded BB gun handy for the next time we have unwanted guests at that ridiculous hour!

Well I will sign off for now from our home in Petaluma (unless the turkey runs us off) because.....

Home is where the turkey lets us park it,
Frank and Mary