Thursday, October 28, 2010

#133 Heading Home?

We say home is where we park it but our hearts are home when we are near those we love. It has been 7 months since we got hugs from the grand kids so we are on our way back to FL. We also planned to make all our doctor appointments once we got back to FL & are finding it easier to get appointments earlier in November due to the up coming holidays. That gives us another reason to head back a little earlier than originally planned.

The last couple of nights we spent reminiscing about the past 7 months. Without even looking at the hundreds(thousands?) of photos we have taken, this has been the most amazing trip we have ever been on. We hope that everyone who has followed us on Facebook & the blog has enjoyed it along with us. This winter we have made some tentative plans to keep busy but as with all our plans these are also written in jello.

The last blog talked about our checking out campgrounds for 2011. Some have expressed interest in where we decided to stay. I am sorry to say that we will not share that information. In this age of Internet security breeches & identity theft we DO NOT give out information on where we are or where we are headed. We will share info about where we have been so those who follow us can benefit from our experiences.

Today was a long day on the road & we are excited to be getting back to FL. So I will sign off so we can have dinner & call it an early night. This is a one night stay, so goodnight from our home in Ashburn GA because .....

Home is where we park it,
Frank & Mary

Saturday, October 23, 2010

#132 Tourist Trap #?????

Well we finally made it into Pigeon Forge but getting through it was another story. In Florida we have Orlando, in NC there is Cherokee, & Tennessee has Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge. From the visitors center in Pigeon Forge to the entrance to the Great Smokey Mt National Park which is only a few miles took us at least 45 minutes. Like all the above mentioned tourist traps traffic is bumper to bumper.

The reason we are in Pigeon Forge is to make plans for 2011. If you follow the blog you know that we plan to work at Dollywood in the summer of 2011. We are here to find a place to stay next year. Since we will be there for an extended period of time we want a place that will suit our needs the best. We felt that a look around in person was better than just making reservations based on ads, directories, or even word of mouth. Well we found a place & made reservations for next year.

The next week or so we will be relaxing before we head to Fl. We found out a couple of RV friends have checked into the park so we will track them down tomorrow & catch up. So tonight I will call it a night from our home in Tennessee because .....

Home is where w park it,
Frank & Mary

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

#131 Miracles Do Happen!

Well we arrived at our RV park at 4pm Tuesday after 410 miles & 1 hour lost crossing time zones. Yes that means that we actually got on the road before 9am. The time was unbelievably 7:08am. It was early & it was still dark but the wheels were rolling. The trip was uneventful & long. We arrived at an Escapees campground which was an experience. As usual there were the usual hugs but we were surprised that there was no charge at check-in. We only had to settle up when we checked out.

Wednesday we were supposed to go into Pigeon Forge but as we have been known to say...our plans are written in jello. Instead we slept in, after all we did have a long day the day before. We decided to defrost the fridge & freezer. How exciting, but like I said this is not a vacation this is our life. We think it is an amazing life, warts & all. Tomorrow we will be getting up early to get the truck's oil changed. Hopefully after that we will get into Pigeon Forge.

We are looking around the Pigeon Forge area for a campground for next summer. If you will remember we signed up to work at Dollywood next year. We will need a place to stay for an extended time so we would like to find a nice place. This trip is more of a fact finding expedition to make next summer more enjoyable. Success is all in the prep work.

Well I am now calling it a night from our home in Knoxville TN because....

Home is where we park it,
Frank & Mary

Monday, October 18, 2010

#130 Let's See What Happens

Tomorrow we leave Memphis & head for Pigeon Forge. It will be a long day on the road so we will try to get on the road early. We are also crossing into another time zone which means we lose an hour. If you follow the blog you know what that means. Yep, 9am. Mary says no way we are going to get going early. Things are all set to leave in the morning which improves our chances.

Well we are going to try to get to bed early, another "doesn't happen often" but we'll see. Since I don't want this to be my fault, even though we all know it is always the husbands fault, I am going to make this short & sign off now. The next post will keep everyone up to date on whether we made it on the road before 9am. So good night for the last time from Memphis because....

Home is where we park it,
Frank & Mary

Sunday, October 17, 2010

#129 No Elvis & Not Much More

Well we got here early Friday & spent some time just exploring Memphis. We first drove by Graceland & from what we could see it was a destination for tour buses & Elvis die-hards. Driving around the Graceland area all we saw was run down, dilapidated, & depressed neighborhoods. From there we drove north towards Beale Street, the home of the blues. There were some neat old neon signs & a few B-B-Q places but it was mostly tourist trap Memphis style. Once again we are somewhat less than impressed by the man-made than that made by Mother Nature.

We have spent time at the RV park walking the dog & just sitting by the Mississippi River watching the river traffic go by. We have seen numerous flocks of geese flying south in the traditional Vee formation & knowing that we are not far behind is a good feeling. We can cross Memphis off our list of places to go & move on down the road. With the size of our country the list is long & will take time. This is the life we have chosen & we love it.

On a sad note we just learned that RV friends of ours were recently run down & killed while out for a walk. We only met them a few times but RVers develop friendships quickly & I know they will be missed. This only reinforces our feelings that life is short & meant to be lived. We are better for knowing Margie & Bruce and send our condolences to their family.

Tomorrow will be spent getting ready to leave Memphis. Our Next stop will be Pigeon Forge TN. This will be another long day on the road so the more we can get done the day before we leave the earlier we can get on the road. Maybe even before 9am, HAHAHA. So this is goodnight from our home in Memphis TN because.....

Home is where we park it,
Frank & Mary

Friday, October 15, 2010

#128 Miles To Go Before I Sleep....

The last two days are the kind of days RVers have in between the adventures that make blogs interesting. We left Minneapolis with Memphis TN as our next destination. That means about 900 miles of driving with 2 overnight stops. Lots of road, lots of farms, & lots of wide open spaces. Basically lots of America. That is the one thing that always seem to make an impression on us, the wide open spaces. Whether it is acres & acres of farm land or miles of rolling hills it is the expanse & openness that always seems to get to us.

We set our alarms for 6am & finally hit the road at 9am. Our first night was in a little RV park in a city park in Independence MO. After 400 plus miles we parked, hooked up our electric, had dinner, & called it a night. We didn't even unhook the truck since we wanted to hit the road early. We set the alarm for 6:30am & slowly got started. By the time we got rolling it was 9am. It seems that no matter what time we get started we don't get the rig rolling before 9am. I can't explain it. Our next stop was Sikeston MO.

The RV park was very nice but it was out in the middle of nowhere. This is not a destination RV park but it is a very nice stop over on the way from point A to point B. Since the next day was only about 150 miles & the fact that we can't seem to get on the road before 9am anyway we slept in. We made a good breakfast & hit the road by 10:30am. We were headed to West Memphis where Mary found an RV park right on the Mississippi River.

As we approached our destination Mary once again got into an argument with TomTom. Now I'm not saying that TomTom is perfect or that he takes us on the best route but he usually gets us where we want to go. I'm more inclined to follow TomTom until I know that it is wrong where as Mary gives up on TomTom as soon as the directions vary from the guide books or RV directories. On top of it all she gets mad at TomTom like he did it on purpose. It's a machine not a person with evil intentions. Maybe it's an evil machine?

Well we are now camped on the bank of the mighty Mississippi & it is pretty neat watching the tug boats moving barges up & down the river. We aren't talking about 1 barge at a time we are talking a lot of barges tied together. The first tug had fifteen barges & later on we saw a tug with 35 barges tied together moving on down the river. There are benches & we plan to just sit there one evening, maybe with a bottle of wine , & just watch the river traffic go by.

The weather is forecast to be beautiful so we unloaded the bikes & plan to use them as much as possible to check out the Memphis area. We also cleaned the bikes, scrubbed the bugs off the front of the truck, & did a load of laundry. After all that we checked e-mails & blogged. Now we are going to call it a night so we can get an early start on the Memphis experience. So it is another good night from our home but this time in Memphis TN because ....

Home is where we park it,
Frank & Mary

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

#127 She Came, She Saw, She Shopped

Well it was day 2 at the Mall of America & this time it was for real. There was shopping to be done & Mary is the girl for the job. We also got to see more if the mall with daylight shining through the skylights. It gives the whole Nickelodeon area a different look. You can check out Mary's pics on FB.

Back to the shopping, I kid Mary about having the "shopping gene" but in reality she isn't that bad. Like I said before, as RVers we can't buy everything we want. We have to always consider space & weight. Now that isn't to say that Mary didn't do some shopping...but it was shopping that needed to be done. Signs in the stores reminded us that there are only 72 shopping days until Christmas. How depressing. Anyway, there are grandchildren to shop for & others I can't mention because then they will just keep asking what we got for them. When all was said & done the only thing we really bought for ourselves was lunch & an ice cream for dessert.

After 4 hours we had had enough of the Mall of America. As I said before....we came, we saw, we shopped, we're out of here. Tomorrow will be a long day on the road but we will not be setting up. It is just an overnight stay on our way to Memphis where we are going to try to find Elvis. We are working our way south to FL & will check out a few sights along the way. So this is our last goodnight from our home in Minneapolis because....

Home is where we park it,

Frank & Mary

Monday, October 11, 2010

#126 Fargo In My Rear View Mirror

No more beets, no more roads paved by jackhammer, & soon no more 40 degree mornings. It wasn't all bad but we are glad to put this experience behind us. Westward 250 miles & we find ourselves in Minneapolis MN. Now for those of you who don't know much about Minneapolis let me educate you. This is the home of the Minnesota Twins who are now out of the playoffs. This is also the home to the Minnesota Vikings who right now at half time are losing to the NY Jets. But most important(at least to Mary) this is the home of the Mall of America. This largest shopping mall in the US is like the mother ship to my darling wife as well as all other admitted shopaholics.

We passed through here on the way to Fargo & Mary's shopping antenna was twitching like crazy. I had to promise that we would stop on the way back to keep her from jumping out of the truck. Well here we are & I have to say the MOA is something to see. As far as stores it is no different than any other up scale mall. The usual stores with things that real people can't use or wear or afford, food court vendors that are found in typical malls, & anchor stores that anchor malls across the country. The difference is there are 3-4 times the number of each category as your average mall. This place is huge! With 4 anchor stores, at least 30 food vendors, & over 500 shops you would think that was enough for anyone but no....there is more. In the center is a Nickelodeon Themed amusement park with numerous rides including 2 roller coasters & a log flume. This isn't a mall, this is an amusement park with stores!

We just walked around for a little while this evening but are planning to go back tomorrow.We will spend a little more time & hopefully not too much money. Living in an RV has changed the way we shop. Every purchase is now based on where will we put it & how much weight it will add. It also has to pass the "one item in & one item out" rule that should be the mantra of all full time RVers.

It has been a long day. Breaking camp in Fargo, driving to Minneapolis, & setting up takes its toll. Add the trip to the mall & we have had a full day so I will call it a night from our home in Minneapolis because....

Home is where we park it,
Frank & Mary

Saturday, October 9, 2010

#125 I'm Beet!

Well we lasted 8 days & decided that it was time for us to move on. The beet harvest is 75% done & it looks like there will be down time over the next week due to the weather. Sitting here & not getting paid when we could start our trip south seems like a good idea. We made enough money to pay all our insurance policies for the year so it was a worthwhile adventure. We met some really nice people & got a glimpse at life in another part of the country. We had both grown up near major metropolitan areas(NYC & Washington DC) so working in the agricultural field was an eye opening experience.

We are going to take a few days to clean up the rig & ourselves before we hit the road. The rest will also do us some good. We plan on being back in the St Pete area in about 5 weeks so we will take our time & see what we shall see. With plans written in jello anything can happen. We are this close to the Mall of America so we plan to stop there on the way just to say we have seen it. From what we have heard, it is more of an amusement park with stores around it. Over 500 stores!!!! Hopefully there will be too many for us to decide where to spend our hard earned "beet" money. Actually this is more of a tourist stop for us than a shopping expedition but one never knows.

There are a lot of states between here & there so I am sure we will see more of the country & the people that make it. That is the best part of this adventure we are living. We get to see parts of the country we have only heard or read about & meet the people who make each area unique. We have met some of the nicest & friendliest people everywhere we have traveled. We get to share our stories with them & they tell us about there little corner of the world. The locals seem to be as interested in our lifestyle as much as we are in theirs. It is a win-win situation of sharing knowledge & making friends.

Well we are officially ex-beet pilers & are better for the experience so it is time for us to move on. So I will call it a night so we can start getting things ready to go. So good night from Fargo ND our home for a little while longer because.....

Home is where we park it,
Frank & Mary

Monday, October 4, 2010

#124 Just A Couple Of Tired Beet Pilers

I know everyone has been in touch wanting to know what's going on. I told you the blog may be somewhat neglected while we worked our 12 hour shifts & that is exactly what happened. First let me say that I didn't know being retired could be so exhausting. 16 months away from working & jumping right into 12 hour shifts has knocked us for a loop. We come home, eat, shower, & go to bed. Sleep is instantaneous & morning comes way too soon. Also I will never take another teaspoon of sugar for granted.

Our job is basically to unload the sugar beet trucks & pile the beets for processing later. We don't physically do this. The trucks dump into a hopper & a series of conveyor belts take the beets, separate the dirt, & pile the beets. We then use another conveyor to put the dirt back into the trucks & the process starts all over again. After 4 days our pile is 20' tall & the size of a large city block. It takes 5-10 minutes to walk around it. The harvest could go on for another week or so depending on the weather. At times when things slow down we shut the machine down & climb in, over, & around the machine shoveling & scraping dirt & mud from the machine. With the machine all spiffy(wink,wink) we start with the beets again.

Today the weather has warmed up so they stopped accepting beets because they can't pile them if they are too warm. This gave us half the day off. We took full advantage of it & went home & took a nap. Then we got up & did laundry so we will be ready to go tomorrow if the beets are cool enough. If not we may get the day off or we will go in & maybe only work another half day. This has been quite an experience & the money is good but I don't know if I will do the beet harvest again.

On another note we found out that the show "Extreme Home Make Over" is doing a build right here in Fargo. There was a big town meeting to sign up volunteers & meet the crew & the potential families at the Fargo Dome on the campus of NDSU. They finally announced the family & the plans for the home. This project is supposedly going to involve moving the existing home & then adding on to it. It will be interesting to see. We won't see it while we are here but will probably watch it on TV with the rest of the world.

On a personal note I just want to send out our prays & positive thoughts for our friend Patty who is soon to have major surgery. Get well soon.

Well morning comes around soon enough, so us beet pilers are going to call it a night from our home in Fargo because......

Home is where we park it,
Frank & Mary