Saturday, July 28, 2012

'12/#33 Better Planning

We have looked at our work schedule, checked our day-off activities, & compared them to our to-do list since we arrived in Cody. Things have not gone as we had planned. As most people can attest, Murphy's Law is real & we are not immune to it. There have also been some changes in our work schedule & duties that threw the proverbial monkey wrench into everything. It also takes a little time to get into a new routine when starting a new job, but as work campers/temps that time is at best short & the adjustment or learning curve must be sped up. We are at the halfway point of the season & think we have figured it out.

The Billings trip opened our eyes. Work days are for work & rest  so we can get more out of our days off. We were trying to do too much on days we had to go to work & were crashing/wasting our days off. Now we spend the work week planning our weekend & jump into it well rested. This week we will be taking the motorcycle on the Beartooth Highway to Red Lodge MT. Beartooth has me excited. Not only do the locals say it is a beautiful drive but all my motorcycle magazines have been listing it as one of the best motorcycle rides in the country. This will be an all day adventure. Again this will be an excursion out of Cody.

Billings opened our eyes to the options available to us, we just had to plan better. In Billings we went to some of our favorite chain restaurants. The Texas Roadhouse had great food & Mary got a margarita the size of her head! Olive Garden allowed us to have some Italian dishes we always enjoy. And let's not forget Red Lobster....out here in the west beef is king. There is no shortage of steakhouses but good seafood can be hard to come by or cost prohibitive. Red Lobster, while it is a chain restaurant, is consistent in quality & reasonable in price.

And there were stores! Mary has more of the shopping gene than I but it is still nice to have options. On top of that there was a real mall with anchor stores, shops, & a food court! There were a couple of things we were looking for & some other things we found that we just couldn't live without(wink,wink). Add to that the lack of any sales tax in Montana & you have the perfect shopping storm. Needless to say we came home with that back seat of the truck full.

Well it is time to go to work & plan for our next weekend so this is goodbye from our home in Cody Wyoming because.....

Home is where we park it,
Frank & Mary

Monday, July 23, 2012

'12/#32 CIVILIZATION!!!!!!!

We have been in Cody WY for almost 3 months & have been enjoying ourselves. The history in the area has come to life. It is like putting a face to a name. Text books, museums, & movies are fine but until you see the real thing in person it doesn't have real meaning. The scenery is breathtaking, majestic, awesome..... adjectives can't begin to describe. The wild life has been etched into our memories for ever. After all that we felt that something was missing.

Mary & I both grew up near big cities. I'm from Long Island just outside of NYC & Mary is from Arlington VA just across the bridge from Washington DC. We met, lived, & worked near St Petersburg & Tampa FL. Now we are living in Cody, a city with a population not much bigger than my High School. Talk about culture shock. Since we have been traveling we make a point of seeing local attractions, eating at local restaurants, & getting to know the local residents. That has made our travels the adventure that we are enjoying, but........again something is missing.

Watching satellite TV we see all the advertisements from NY & LA. It struck us that we missed some of the chain restaurants we frequent & the many different stores that are available in the metropolitan areas we were familiar with. It was time for a dose of civilization & the nearest city is Billings MT, 115 miles away. It takes about 2 hours to get there & many of our friends make the trip there & back in a day. We wanted a break from Cody so we took advantage of the hotel's employee discount & booked a room to make it an overnight stay.

Well here we are in Billings just driving around & checking things out. There are restaurants galore, stores of every shape & size, & there are people...lots of people! It may sound crazy but it felt good driving around in traffic. Not bumper to bumper traffic, just the normal flow of traffic found in most suburban communities. We have scoped out a few places to eat & will do a little shopping before we head back to Cody.

I will say goodnight for now in Billings MT away from our home in Cody because...

Home is where we park it,
Frank & Mary

Saturday, July 14, 2012

'12/#31 4th of July Continued

Things have been a little crazy around here, but I will get back to that later. First I would like to finish up our own personal celebration of our nation's birth. After the parades, the craft fairs, the shopping, & the rodeo, all under the most beautiful blue Wyoming sky we called it a day. We had fun & were exhausted so it was early to bed for us. Tomorrow, the 4th, would be another day.

To celebrate the birth of our country we felt that spending the day in our country's first national park was appropriate. Having been to the park a number of times we wanted to make it special. So what better way than to do it on a motorcycle? The freedom of riding, the exposure to the open air, & the unobstructed views for photography promised another wonderful day. The plan was to get up by 7am & avoid the last parade of Cody's 4th of July celebration. So much for plans, but who cares? It's our day off & we were just going to enjoy it! So instead our day started at 9:30am.

We had a quick breakfast & hopped on the bike. We were treated to the scenic tour of Cody via detours due to the parade. What would have been a 5 minute ride took about 20 minutes but the weather was beautiful & we didn't care. Yellowstone here we come. It is 50 scenic miles to the park entrance & then another 25 breathtaking miles to the next visitor center at Fishing Bridge. There was also an increase in elevation of over 2000'. What was a beautiful 90 degree day in Cody turned into a beautiful 65 degree day in Yellowstone. The only problem was that in our rush to hit the road we didn't pack for the change in weather. A quick stop at the clearance rack in the gift shop, 2 sweat shirts later, & a fill up at the gas pump & we were on our way.

This trip to the park we wanted to see something we hadn't been to before, so we headed north with Roosevelt Lodge & Mammoth Hot Springs our destination. Traffic in the park had picked up quite a bit since our last visit. With tourist season in full swing & the holiday it was expected but it allowed everyone to slow down & take in the scenery. That's what everyone is here for anyway, right? Not as many animals as we have seen in the past but we still managed to get into a buffalo jam. It is a little different on a motorcycle. Inside a 9000 lb truck a 2000 lb buffalo is more awe inspiring than intimidating. On a 700lb motorcycle things change. There were no issues but the difference gives one something to think about.

Between our late start & the traffic it was early afternoon by the time we got to Roosevelt Lodge. The lodge is more rustic than some of the other hotels in the park & they feature activities like horseback riding & wagon rides. It is still awesome scenery in the area but with no thermal activity & less volcanic evidence around it is not as impressive as some other parts of the park. It was getting late & we were getting tired so it was time to head home. Mammoth will wait for another day.

By the time we got back to Fishing Bridge we were getting hungry & a little saddle weary so we stopped to fill the fuel tanks on us & the motorcycle, plus give a little rest to our posteriors. After 200 miles we needed to walk & stretch a bit. Every time I mentioned that we should get going Mary cringed not wanting to get back on the bike. We had another 2 hours to go to get back home & I did not want to be riding during dusk since that is when the deer start coming out. I don't want to have a deer vs truck incident but I really don't want to have a deer vs motorcycle incident. We all know who loses in that one. So on the bike & homeward bound.

Now I mentioned earlier that photography on a motorcycle is different than in a car or truck. With no roof, window, or door pillars the view is unobstructed. As anyone who has followed our travels knows, Mary is quite the shutter-bug. This day was no exception. Mary  had to switch batteries on her camera then she started with my camera & used 2 batteries & 2 memory cards. By the time we got home she had shot right around 1000 pictures. Yes, 1000, all in one day. That is a new record for her. I have to say she got a ton of awesome pictures as usual, & once we go through them all I am sure they will get posted in the blog & on FB.

Well that is all for today, so this is goodbye from our home in Wyoming because....

Home is where we park it,
Frank & Mary

Saturday, July 7, 2012

'12/#30 Enjoying Workcamping Again!

With the registration desk behind us we jumped right back into workcamper mode. We started with 2 days off & work being the last thing on our minds. Relax, enjoy, & unwind were to be the watch words for the next 2 days.

Day 1 was July 3rd & Cody was in in full Independence Day mode. There are craft fairs, food vendors, & entertainment going on for 5 days. It all starts with the Extreme Bull Riding on June 30th. This event is the kick-off for the Cody Stampede Rodeo that runs through July 4th. July 1st is the children's parade that includes all the trappings of the regular parade but only goes for 2 blocks & also allows any kid from the state of Wyoming to participate with a group or on their own. We missed that parade but it sounded like a lot of fun for the kids.

On July 3rd(our first day off from work) we watched the next parade. Every local group & most businesses were represented. There were bands from around the state including the Wyoming State All Star Band. This band has over the years traveled to Ireland & participated in the Rose Bowl Parade & the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. Quite a resume if you ask me! Fire trucks, police vehicles, & horses of all shapes, colors, & sizes made their way down the main street in Cody. There were numerous floats promoting local organizations & also commemorating the town's history & founding father, William"Buffalo Bill" Cody. Local pride in small town America.....there is nothing like it & it is a perfect way way to celebrate Independence Day. After the parade we walked down town to the craft fair & spent a little money supporting the local artisans. Some ice cream from a local shop & it was time to take a nap. Our day was far from over!

As I mentioned before the Cody Stampede Rodeo is happening all this time. We managed to get tickets to the semi-finals on July 3rd. This rodeo is not the normal Nite Rodeo that goes on every night in Cody. This a nationally sanctioned event that qualifies some of the best cowboys in the world to go to the championship rodeo in Las Vegas later this year. This is a BIG event on the rodeo circuit. Needless to say we had a great time. There were some beautiful animals & some very talented cowboys & cowgirls. It was as exciting as any sporting event I have gone to in the past & was the perfect ending to a wonderful day in Cody.

I will continue later, so this is so long for now from our happy workcamper home here in Cody Wyoming because.....

Home is where we park it,
Frank & Mary

Sunday, July 1, 2012

'12/#29 I'm Not Dead!!!

As Mark Twain has been quoted,"rumors of my death have been greatly exagerated". It has been some time since I have blogged & I will tell you why. As work campers here in Cody WY we had somewhat mundane jobs. We enjoyed the people we worked with as well as the tourists that passed through the store. Two weeks ago there was an upheavel in the staffing. There were some firings & some quiting that left the front desk of the hotel attached to the store short staffed. The owners felt that we would be well suited to fill those positions & asked if we wanted them. Since she was between the proverbial "rock & a hard place" we said we would try it. She was very appreciative.

Well let me tell you, this job is not physical at all but is very complicated. Add to that the fact that we are right in the middle of peak season while we are trying to learn the job. It would by like learning how to make a parade float durring the Rose Bowl Parade! Needless to say it has been frustrating & stressful. We are coming home mentally drained, tense, & (most important) unhappy. It was time to step down from this "promotion" & move back to our original jobs.

Fortunately the openings were still there & we did agree to stay another week until the front desk jobs were filled. You have to remember that we are retirees who are now work campers. Our careers are over & we now work jobs, part time temp jobs at that. We do this so we can travel, see the country, & enjoy ourselves. This stressful kind of job that requires more training than we recieved is more suited to a long term job commitment. More training & better timing would have made a difference.

The past 2 weeks have been work & sleep, work & sleep and that is not how we planned on spending our retirement. Tomorrow will be our last day at the front desk. We will then be able to start enjoying ourselves & everything the Cody WY area has to offer. When we start that I will have more to blog about. So until then this is goodnight from our home in Cody because.....

Home is where we park it,
Frank & Mary