Wednesday, September 29, 2010

#123 I'm Not A Boyscout but.....

First let me thank everyone who has been commenting on the blog. It's nice to know you are reading & enjoying our adventures along with us. Some of the comments come through signed anonymous which is fine but if you would like us to know who you are please sign your comments. Also we have a lot of new followers that we just met at the Escapees Rally & anyone who knows me knows I have trouble remembering names & faces. So if you are one of our new friends, hints & clues would be greatly appreciated. Nothing too specific but maybe where we met, rig type, what we talked about, etc. We want to keep up with you as much as you keep up with us.

When it comes to being prepared they say "It's better to have it & not need it than to need it & not have it" so we have tried to anticipate every situation & be ready. We did our big laundry day & will do a quick trip to get everything washed before we start working. There was a trip to the grocery store for sandwich ingredients & snack & comfort food. Mary also insisted that I get another pair or 2 of jeans so we didn't have to do laundry any sooner than necessary. Mary had plenty of jeans but they all were dragging on the floor. Now this isn't too much of a problem unless you are working in ankle deep mud so we spent the evening putting hems in all her jeans. It looked like a little sweat shop with Mary pinning & me sewing into the wee hours.

In our preparations we also put together a little first aid kit & will be packing extra socks & shoes. We got out a couple of coolers to take lunch, drinks, & snacks. You have to understand, this piling station is just a giant concrete slab out in the middle of nowhere. The nearest highway is 2-3 miles away. The closest town is a good 5 or more miles & an emergency room is closer to 20-25 miles so we have to be prepared to be out of touch with civilization as we know it for our 12 hour shift. No break rooms, no lockers, & bathrooms are porta-pottys. This is roughing it compared to what we were used to in the Post Office.

Tomorrow we are going to treat ourselves to breakfast & dinner out. We will then call it a night because we have to be on site bright & early Friday morning at 7am. 32 years of mostly night shift means that if I saw 7am it was on my way home from work. This rising with the rooster is going to take a little getting used to but we will adapt. I will close with this thought, the next blog you read might just be from a "beet piler". So until then good night from our home in Fargo ND because....

Home is where we park it,
Frank & Mary

Sunday, September 26, 2010

#122 Another Milestone

Today, September 26th, marks the 5th anniversary of our RV lifestyle. It doesn't seem like it has been 5 years since we picked up the trailer in Middleburry IN. Looking back it has been a heck of a ride & one we don't regret at all. If you follow our blog you can see that it has been the adventure we had hoped for & more.

This morning we decided to find the piling site where we will be working & check it out. We did just that & while taking some pictures got stuck in the mud real good. Mary was pretty upset but I tried to keep her calm. Mud is quite a bit slicker than snow but driving out of it requires similar techniques & I had plenty of that experience from my years living in NY. Mary learned to drive in FL & has never had to drive in snow. Well after a bit of rocking back & forth I got out of the mud. The big difference between snow & mud at this point is stick-a-bility. Where snow will melt & fall off, mud has a tendency to dry, harden like cement, & stick like epoxy. When we got back to the campground we washed the truck & had to scrape the mud out from underneath. It was not fun & I will make every effort not to have to do it again.

The campground here doesn't have sewer hook-ups so the employment agency for the beet harvest has arraigned for a "honey-wagon" to pump out the holding tanks once a week. With our holding tanks we have no problem going a week at a time between dumping so it should work out OK. Tomorrow the "honey-wagon" will make it's first visit & we will make sure that everything is good to go. This is the first time we have dealt with a pump-out service so it will be a new experience.

This week we will try to cook as much as possible to have meals ready to just heat up once we start working. Again 12 hour days won't allow for a lot of time for the usual day to day chores so we are going to make it as easy as possible. Since I am tuckered out from our mud ordeal I am calling it a night from our home in Fargo ND because....

Home is where we park it,
Frank & Mary

Friday, September 24, 2010

#121 I Love My Wife, But......

Let me start at the beginning. It is May 2009 & I am just waiting for June 1st, my first day of retirement. Mary, my loving wife of 21 years, comes to me all excited. She has found us work as work campers. Now I know that we had planned to work camp some once we started traveling but I just had to say something, What came out of my mouth was something like, "I haven't retired yet & you already have me working! Can't I have a year off before we start working?". Well here we are 16 months after retirement at our first job, the beet harvest. As I have mentioned in a past blog we signed up to work at Dollywood in 2011. We recently found out that if we work at Disney we can get all the grand kids in for free, so that job is probably in our future. Today my darling wife asks me if I want to work at the Tampa RV show. I snapped! If we do this I will be working more hours than I did in the Post Office!!! She got the message that we don't have to work every job that comes along. The RV show is a NO.

Anyway, today we did some driving around to get the "lay of the land". We found a grocery store & a 24 hour laundromat. 24 hours is important since we will be working 12 hour days. We also located the Post Office so we could get our mail. No problems here but you wouldn't believe how many PO's don't accept General Delivery mail. You would think if there are window services there should be Gen Del, but noooo, the PO can't do things simple like that. Another thing RVers have to deal with to enjoy the lifestyle.

Tomorrow we are going to find a place to get propane & do some more exploring. I am going to call it a night now & enjoy the time to relax until the beet harvest starts. Once it starts I expect that I won't be blogging as often or as long. 12 hour days will probably knock us out. So until I have more to blog this is good night from our home in Fargo ND because...

Home is where we park it,
Frank & Mary

Thursday, September 23, 2010

#120 We Need An Ark!!!

We woke up this morning to rain with puddles surrounding the rig. The campground we are supposed to go to is right on the river & we don't know if we want to stay there since the river is 2-4 inches from flood stage. We decided to check it out on our way into Fargo. It turns out the camping area is elevated quite a bit from the river so it will be no problem. It just sucks to hook-up & unhook in the rain. Onward into town to check in for the beet harvest. With all the papers filled out & signed there was just one thing left before we were officially hired. This is for all you postal workers out there. We had to see a safety video about "lockout/tagout", "blood borne pathogens", & yes you guessed it "slips, trips, & falls". I thought when I retired I was done with those mind numbing videos but I was mistaken.

Anyway, with that all done it was time to move the rig. By the time we got back to the KOA the puddles had grown to small lakes & the road in had turned to a river of mud. This was going to be fun. Oh, also it was raining harder! Everything got hooked up & we were ready to see if you can really go off-roading with a 40' trailer. With tires spinning, truck steering sloppy, & the trailer sloshing side to side in the mud we made it to pavement at the snails pace of 5mph. The ride to the next campground was short & uneventful but it was still raining. Once there we had to go through the whole hooking up process again & in the rain. We also tried to get some of the mud off the truck & trailer when we hooked up the hose. When it was all done we called it a day. Somehow Mary got soaked up to her knees while I stayed reasonable dry above the ankles. I guess since she is lower to the ground she is also lower to the water & that's what happens. She was miserable & a little cranky but I love her anyway.

The rain is coming down harder & isn't forecast to let up til the morning. We will go out then & find the grocery stores, drug stores, laundromats, & the Post Office. We will also be driving out to our work assignment some time this week. There is time before we start on October 1st. So this is good night from our home in Fargo ND because .......

Home is where we park it,
Frank & Mary

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

#119 BRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!

This ain't Florida. Well we went to see the Wisconsin Dells on Monday & I now know what a "dell" is. Apparently 150 million years ago Wisconsin was covered by an ocean. When the water was gone, due to global changes, the sand & silt at the bottom of the ocean was left as layered rocks. A Frenchman called it the Dalles of Wisconsin & over the years it became The Dells. The boat ride we took showed the many layers of rock & how glaciers, water, & wind have eroded the rocks into fascinating & colorful natural sculptures. We were able to get off the boat several times & walk into the crevices created by the elements. Once again Mother Nature has created what no human could & in a breathtaking way. The weather has been chilly with temps in the upper 60's during the day & lower 50's at night. It still beats roasting in the Florida heat.

Today we left the Dells with plans to stop in St Cloud MN before heading into ND. I don't know if there was a tail wind or it was all down hill but we found ourselves just 3 1/2 hours from ND at lunch time. The roads were clear & we felt OK so we took it on down the road & stopped for the night right near our ND destination. It will give us an extra day to check the area out before we start our beet farming adventure. We check in on Friday for orientation, training, & assignments. The forecast is for rain the next 2 days with daytime temps in the 60's & nighttime temps in the 40's. Brrrrr! That is why we have a furnace, quilt, & electric blanket. Heck if it gets that cold we could always stuff the dog under the covers.

We still aren't sure where we will be staying while we are working but I'm sure it will be close to our actual work site. Right now we are in a nice campground next to the Interstate. I think I might have even heard a train pass nearby. When we talk to other RVers it seems that campgrounds are always next to a highway or train track. It has gotten to the point that I don't know if I could go to bed without the hum of the highway or the moan of a train whistle to put me to sleep. Ahh, the life of an RVer.

Today was a long day with 450 miles traveled & with the time zone difference it has put a kink in our biological clocks. So I will call it a night from our home on the MN/ND border because.....

Home is where we park it,
Frank & Mary

Sunday, September 19, 2010

#118 Hallelujah!!!!!!

We are finally leaving Indiana. Nothing against the state but we have not exactly had fun the whole time we were here. We did enjoy seeing our friends & the rally was great but there was all the time trying to get the rig fixed in a less than efficient manner. Also the fact that I wasn't feeling up to par put a damper on things. My stomach was bothering me for some time & when I started to experience some chest pains Mary decided that the perfect way to top off our stay was a trip to the emergency room. Of course when they hear chest pains every test known to man is performed. Now I am not complaining about the care I got, I just thought there were other things I would rather be doing. After an overnight stay I learned 3 things. #1 I do have a heart, #2 it is just fine & dandy, & #3 my issues were all digestive related. I have to watch what I eat & losing a few pounds wouldn't hurt either.

Back to our adventure. We did get our rig weighed & as we hoped the weights were all within the safe range & we are good to go on down the highway. No RV diet right now but we will still lighten the load some this winter. The weighing was done as we left the fairgrounds & we decided to stay at a campground in Elkhart when I took my little detour to the ER. Once that was behind me we agreed that we had had enough of Indiana & would leave Sunday morning.

Sunday morning we had breakfast, broke camp, & hit the road. 2 hours later Indiana was in our rear view mirror. Yahoo!!! Our next destination is the Wisconsin Dells, but first we had to go through Chicago, over a bridge, & travel the Illinois toll road. I think we bought the toll road! Toll after toll after toll with 5 ,count 'em 5 axles we paid over $40 for the privilege of driving through the state of Illlinois. Oh well that is part of the RV lifestyle.

On to Wisconsin. We arrived at the campground at 3:30pm, hopped out of the truck, & grabbed a jacket. Yes a jacket, the temperature was 59 degrees & the overnight low is going down to the mid 40's.Brrr! Out comes the comforter & the electric blanket. Tomorrow we plan to check out the Dells whatever they are. Mary wants to see them & that is good enough for me.

So until I can tell you more about the Dells we will try to keep warm in our home in Wisconsin because....

Home is where we park it,
Frank & Mary

Thursday, September 16, 2010

#117 The End Is Near

It is Thursday & the last day of the Escapade. We have had a blast meeting new friends & catching up with old ones. When you are on the road you never know when you will meet up with another RVer down the highway. The weather has been all but perfect until today. It is raining off & on, & sometimes quite heavily. Tomorrow is forecast to clear some but the weekend looks like more of the wet stuff. We will pack as much today in between the rain to be ready to leave tomorrow. Also today we are scheduled to get the truck weighed. This is part of weight safety for our rig. Tomorrow the whole rig(truck & trailer) will be weighed on our way out of the fairgrounds. We will see how good(or bad) we have been about watching what we put into the rig. There might be an RV diet in our future.

I mentioned that we are headed to N Dakota to work the beet harvest. I know we are retired but I don't think anyone could be on vacation 365 days a year. We have decided to work camp at times through the year to have purpose in life & a little extra cash is always nice. OK here's the point of this little bit of rambling. While at the rally there were a few work camping opportunities for us to check out. The first was the Care-vanners. This is a group of RVers who travel around the country working with Habitat for Humanity. It is an organization that gives those in need an opportunity to have decent housing. For anyone interested in giving to charities this is one you should look at. As Habitat for Humanity says "we don't give a hand-out we give a hand up".

Our other work camping opportunity we signed on for don't laugh.....Dollywood. Yes we are going to work in a theme park named after Dolly Parton. When I heard costumes I said "NO!" but once I found out it was no more than jeans & plaid shirts I was OK. We will be working in food services & it is only 3 days a week. That will give us plenty of time to ride around the area on our bikes & relax while making a little money. We will be there some time during the 2011 season which gives us plenty of time to plan.

Well, the rain is still coming down & I have to get the truck weighed so I have to go, but while the truck is out we may head into town to do a little shopping before we hit the road. Grocery store parking lots are much easier to navigate without a 40' trailer. So this is our last day in our home at the Goshen Fairgrounds because......

Home is where we park it,
Frank & Mary

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

#116 Let The Escapade Begin!

Sunday was the opening ceremonies & orientation. One of the things they mentioned was the number of people that were under the weather due to the "Goshen Flu". It has been going around for the better part of a month so the good news is that the RVers didn't bring it we just get to share it. This could explain my not feeling well for the past couple of weeks. Where have we been while the rig was getting fixed???? Why right here in the incubator! I didn't get full-on flu symptoms, just enough to put a damper on our plans. Today I am feeling a bit better & hope to get into the swing of things. Back to Sunday, it was amazing to see so many RVers in one place. The Escapees(SKPs) have over 100,000 members so it shouldn't have been so surprising but it was to us first timers.

Monday was still not a good day for me so I stayed in most of the day. Mary on the other hand jumped in to the activities with both feet both literally & figuratively. The alarm went off at the unholy hour of 7am(remember I've night shifted for 32 years) & Mary got up to go line dancing. Yes, line dancing! The dog & I went back to sleep. As I said, I wasn't feeling great so Mary went to a couple of classes & came back to get me for lunch. Plans had been made to meet up with some of our Internet friends from the RV Dreamers. It was fun finally putting faces to the names & swapping stories about how we got into the RV lifestyle. Info was shared & promises made to keep an eye out for each other while traveling.

I know that I have mentioned that we will be working the sugar beet harvest in N Dakota. That is all well & good but we want to do more in the way of giving back to the community. When we had more money than time we gave in the ways we could, but things have changed. Now we have more time than money & are able to give more in the way of time so we are looking into groups like Habitat for Humanity. SKPs have BOFs(Birds of s Feather) that are groups with like mind sets & goals. In fact there are several BOFs affiliated with organizations that travel about to help others & we are looking into several of them. There are several seminars this week for information & recruiting that we will attend & I am sure we will find at least one that will be a good fit for us.

Well it is Tuesday & I am feeling better so onward & upward. Out into the rally I go from our home at the Goshen Fairgrounds because....

Home is where we park it,
Frank & Mary

Saturday, September 11, 2010

#115 We Made It!

Well all is finally done with the repairs. We got out of the shop by 9am & headed out to the fair grounds for the Escapade. The weather was beautiful with temps in the 70's. The heat wave is over & does not appear in the near future. Once we got set up we walked around to see where all the events & vendors will be. We looked at all the rigs that had already arrived & met up with a few RVers that we had run into at the repair shop. When in RV country it is time to fix what needs fixin'. We also registered, met a number of Escapees, & got our "hugs" which is the official greeting for the Escapees.

Our first morning here we went to the coffee & donut gathering. Primary! More greetings & more hugs with promises to get together later in the rally. The rain started so it was a good day to stay inside. We braved the rain, which was really a drizzled, to get a preview of the vendors & pre-shop for all those things we just couldn't live without or just plain wanted. Throughout the day some of our Internet contacts stopped by to say Hi & make plans for the week ahead.

Tomorrow is the official first day with opening ceremonies & orientation. This is when the fun begins & we are looking forward to it all. Meeting new friends, sharing experiences, learning from each other & the experts is why we are here. Let the rally begin!

Until the next post from our home at the Goshen Fairgrounds because....

Home is where we park it,
Frank & Mary

Thursday, September 9, 2010

#114 We're Baaaaaack!!!!!

We had a wonderful & restful week with our friends in Poland IN. The best friends are the ones you are most comfortable with & these friends are the best. Their home was our home, there were no expectations, & as usual time went by way too quickly.While there we ate, slept in, ate more, worked on the rig, slept in again, did some laundry, slept in, ate even more, talked, laughed, & just enjoyed ourselves. Yes, we are fat but well rested.

While working around the rig we noticed a few minor things that needed to be fixed up on the repairs that were done at the repair shop. We called them & said we would be back in the area on Thursday & expected things to be taken care of as soon as possible. We arrived & were directed right in to the shop. Immediately 3 techs were looking at the issues we had & started working. Quite a bit of caulking needed to be redone with time needed for it to cure so we are setup inside the building for the night. We would rather not have had to come back but at least we aren't in a hotel. Foxy can't understand how she can look out the door & still be inside. I'm not going to try to explain it to her, she's a dog!

Hopefully we will be out of here first thing tomorrow morning because the Escapade Rally starts this weekend. We are scheduled to check in Friday & have plans to meet with a number of fellow RVers that have connected over the Internet. The rally should be a blast.

The techs start arriving anytime from 7am on so we have to get up early. That means going to bed early so I will sign off from our home back in Elkhart because......

Home is where we park it,
Frank & Mary & a confused Foxy

Monday, September 6, 2010

#113 Just Some Thoughts

First, thank you for all your well wishes on us getting back into our "at home" routine. It is like any other home that is having major repairs or remodeling. The mental relief of getting back in your own bed, eating in your own kitchen, & having all the rest of your own comforts of home at hand is worth more than money can buy.

We are now back at our friends home outside Indianapolis, but this time in our own beds in their backyard. We are here for 5 days including the Labor Day holiday instead of the 2 weeks we had originally planned. With no specific plans, except enjoying the company of friends, we are enjoying sleeping in most mornings. I hope to get a few minor projects finished while we are here but if not there is always the next time or the time after that. Family & friends come first.

When we leave here we will head back north to Goshen IN for the Escapade. This is a major RV rally sponsored by the Escapees RV organization. This particular rally is significant because they are celebrating the 50th Escapade. We look forward to meeting up with friends, both those we have & haven't met. Escapees(aka SKPs) are a close knit group that not only share a common lifestyle but a common goal of helping each other. SKPs are more like friends & family than an organization. We have been SKPs for some time but have not had the opportunity to meet with the group on this scale before. We have been told it is quite an experience & look forward to it.

Also, I want to add a thank you to those of you who are responding to my blog. I am happy to know that it is being enjoyed. To those of you who are "living vicariously" through the blog until it is your time, I would like to pass on a message of inspiration we saw on a roadside sign. It said,

"A dream without a plan is just a wish"

which I take as dreams can come true if you put the effort into it. We are living proof of that concept. Whether it is moving to the mountains, living on the beach, traveling the world, or adopting the RV lifestyle.....keep dreaming & keep working towards that dream & maybe we will cross paths somewhere down the road. Until then, from our home in Poland IN because....

Home is where we park it,
Frank & Mary

Friday, September 3, 2010

#112 Getting Back to Normal

Aaaahh, back in our own bed. The rig is all together again & we are just about ready to hit the road. We will stay here 2 nights just to make sure there are no surprises & the work is complete to our satisfaction. Something always needs to be done, a nail here or a piece of trim there, but it is best to find it before we leave. Being a thousand miles down the road won't help us get it fixed. If all goes well we will be on the road Saturday morning & will spend the holiday weekend with friends.

Today we spent the day putting everything back in order in the rig. It gave us an opportunity to go through our "stuff" & get rid of more things we didn't need. The weather has turned around quite a bit. The temps are no longer around 90. It is now in the 70's during the day & upper 50's at night. The wind has picked up also. It's not hurricane Earl but 25-35 mph is more than enough to shake the rig. Tomorrow we will get up early, load the bikes, dump the tanks, & will be on the road. We can't wait.

It's hard to believe that we have been on the road for 5 months & that we will be back in FL in just over 2 months. It has been a blast & we are positive that we made the right lifestyle choice for us. We miss our kids & grandkids so are looking forward to getting back to FL, but this time as full fledged Snowbirds.

So tonight we say good night back in our home in Elkhart because....

Home is where we park it,
Frank & Mary