Thursday, December 27, 2012

'12/#54 Almost Home

I hope everyone had a great Christmas. I know we did. We spent 3 days in St Augustine enjoying the decorations, holiday celebrations, the seafood, and the romantic atmosphere of this favorite town of ours. Many of you know, and for those of you who don't we honeymooned in St Augustine almost 23 years ago so this is a special place for us. When we are here we try to make time just for the two of us and the friends who live in the area understand if we don't get in touch sometimes. Romance is for two, right? In all the years we have been coming to st Augustine we have never been here for Christmas. What is already a beautiful town becomes magical with the lights, music, pageantry, and revelry of the season. I'm glad we finally were here to enjoy it but still miss Christmas with family....especially the children, old and young. We will be there soon enough and plan to have our family Christmas then.

Plaza de La Constitucion St Augustine on Christmas Eve

For know we are in Port St Lucie farther down the east coast of  Florida. We are visiting the uncles and just enjoying their company. We also have friends here that we worked with in Cody WY this summer and will get together with them. It is time to just relax and bide our time until we get back to Pinellas County and the rest of our family and friends. It has been a long time time since we have had our Grandparent hugs and I miss them and our children most of all. This may be the only down side of our RV lifestyle but the reunions are that much sweeter.

On a more serious note, I would like to tell anyone who I haven't told yet that I have the greatest wife in the world. Yes I love her but it is more than that. The day we were leaving St Augustine I had some (ahem) stomach issues and was completely out of commission. All is well now but we wanted to hit the road, partly because we had plans but more so because of the storm that was headed our way. While I was dying(a slight exaggeration) Mary got everything in the trailer stowed, the shore hookups disconnected, wheels unchocked, and the truck ready all while I was trying to get dressed. I was thrown in the truck, she hopped in behind the wheel, and headed south. She stopped many more times than is usually necessary for the 200 mile trip so I could deal with what felt like my insides fighting their way out. My point is that all of this was possible because Mary is quite capable of operating all aspects of our rig. There are too many couples with "pink and blue"(women and men) jobs that can't or won't do the jobs outside their "color" zone. Situations arise that don't allow for that luxury. Our predicament wasn't that severe but if it had been I know that Mary or I could have done it all and dealt with the situation. For those of you out there that subscribe to the "pink/blue" job theory now is the time to think twice about it. A couple is a team and both members must be able to work together on every part of the process to be successful. Driving, hooking up, breaking camp, planning routes are all part of our lifestyle and are part of each of our responsibilities. Because of this we and others like us are what I consider successful living the life we've chosen.

With a few more days in Stuart and then a short trip across Florida we will be back home. Yes I know I always say home is where we park it but home is also where the heart is. My heart is always with my wife but it is also with my children and grandchildren so home is also in Pinellas County. So this is goodbye for now from our home in Port St Lucie because ......

Home is where we park it,
Frank and Mary

Friday, December 21, 2012

'12/#53 One More For The Road

I know I said that I probably wouldn't blog again before we left Kentucky but here I am. Today was our half day at Amazon and with plans for the rest of the day I didn't think there would be time. It seems we have just become so efficient we didn't notice. All the outside hook-ups are put away, except for the power cord. Laundry is done and we got the grocery shopping done, all in record time. We treated ourselves to lunch and went home to work on the inside. Laundry was put away, the bed made, and the few Christmas decorations we had up were stowed. Pots and pans, dishes, silverware, coffee pot, and pantry have been stowed for travel. We are ready!

Tomorrow we will get up early since we have gotten used to it working at Amazon. My big concern is the power cord at that hour. The temps are forecast to be in the low 20's. A 50 amp power cord is awkward to roll up under the best circumstances but at those temperatures is will be like trying to roll up a 40' 2x4. We may just shove it into the back of the trailer or the back seat of the truck and roll it up when it warms up. I don't care, we are leaving Kentucky and headed to Florida! Soon we will not be waking up to freezing temperatures. Even better we will be with family and friends and have a belated Christmas celebration.

We are treating ourselves to dinner out tonight since everything is cleaned and put away. The slides will be brought in tonight so we will have one less thing to do in the morning. 5am comes around early but we will be ready. We will stow the power cord, hook up the truck, check the lights and be on our way. We will stop later for breakfast and continue our trek southward. I hope to stop for the night sometime after the temperature is above 60 degrees. I was hoping for 70 degrees but everyone is telling me about some damn cold front. Darn! We are tired of the cold if you haven't figured that out yet.

Well it is time to get ready for dinner. We will make it an early night with visions of palm trees and beaches dancing in our heads. So this is so long for the last time from our home in Campbellsville Kentucky because.....

Home is where we park it,
Frank & Mary

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

'12/#52 Happy Holidays From The Road

Shall we peek ahead to what's coming or not? Why Not? Thanksgiving has passed and marked the official beginning of "Peak" which is short for Peak season at Amazon. The month leading up to Christmas is almost gone and there is only 5 days until Christmas when we get together with family and friends to celebrate, until we get to eat another holiday meal, and until all the presents get opened. And I am sure there will be presents. Big ones and small ones, expected ones and surprizes, and of course the needed ones. You all know the traditional underware and socks that are gift wrapped and placed under the tree with the finest jewelry and most expensive electronics. It's tradition in my family and I know if it wasn't there it wouldn't be Christmas.

All of these Christmas presents come from somewhere, right? Well for those of you who believe in Santa Claus and flying reindeer and presents down the chimney now may be a good time to stop reading. I believe in Santa in my own way. I belive he works in mysterious ways through every one of us to make Christmas a happy time of year. Moms and Dads, Grandmoms and Granddads, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends are all Santa's helpers. So are the people who make the gifts. Not necessarily elves at the North Pole. People in shops and factories are also Santa's helpers. And what about getting all those presents to every child, old and young, around the world. Well I don't know about flying reindeer but I do see Santas helpers wearing the uniforms of the Post Office, UPS, FedEx, and others. I am not a nonbeliever, I just see it differently.

Included in that portal between Santa and every Christmas Tree are all the shops that make the gifts available in time for that glorious morning when sleepy eyes glitter, wrapping paper piles to the ceiling, and children and adults alike squeal with delite at the gifts Santa has brought. There are stores like Walmart, Target, K-Mart, and Toys-R-Us. And then there is Amazon and other on line stores This is not an advertisement, just an up close observation. Santa's helpers are here in force. Actually, Camper Force. That is what the work campers at Amazon are called. We come here for the shopping season to try to make sure that every Christmas wish is granted. I have picked toys and dolls and trains and puzzles. There are books and video games and DVDs by the truckload. We see computers and e-readers, radios and headsets and anything else that might be on that list for Santa. And our goal is to make sure everything is under the tree by Christmas morning.

The job is a little bit boring and the days are long but in the back of our minds we know that we are helping Santa. It is a little extra reward on top of our monetary compensation for being here through the Christmas rush or Peak. Some of us will get back to our families in time for Christmas morning and others will celebrate later when we do get there. But when all is said and done it is Christmas and nothing more needs to be said.

We just got a bit of a Christmas present from Amazon. Our release date has been moved up 1 1/2 days so we can get on the road sooner. I keep telling everyone I am not going to stop driving until the temperature reches 70 degrees. The rig will be readied in the next few days so we will be busy. This may be the last blog before we leave Campbellsville. So this is an early Merry Christmas to everyone from our home in Kentucky because........

Home is where we park it,
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
Frank & Mary

Friday, December 14, 2012

'12/#51 Amazon, A Portal Through Time

Here at Amazon I do believe that they sell EVERYTHING! I know that I have mentioned some of the things we have picked. From electronics to toys, videos and movies, food for people and pets of all kinds...the list goes on and on. There are things we have seen that I don't want to talk about and things that I wouldn't know what to say about them. We laugh, reminisce, and sometimes are totally grossed out. I know of a couple of people working here that were offended by some of the products they have to pick. I am talking about the adult pleasure category if you know what I mean.

Then there are the things that I just can't believe are still around. I am not talking about used items that Amazon is selling for e-Bay vendors. I am talking about new, in the package, fresh from the factory products. I have seen blank and prerecorded VHS tapes and cassettes. Does anyone even have the equipment to play these things on anymore? Then there was the AM/FM Sony Walkman. Wasn't that the 80's? The other day I either picked or saw black and white, color, and Polaroid film. 35mm film at that. I guess someone hasn't heard about digital photography. Talk about a blast from the past!

Now I go back even further. Original Lincoln Logs, Erector Sets, and remember the balsa wood airplane gliders that went together in 2 minutes? You know slide the wings through the slots and throw.  But there is more. I picked plastic army men and multiclored cowboys and indians. Is that even politically correct? It brings me back to a more innocent time. We have picked more Candyland, Monopoly, Clue, Life, and Battleship games than I have seen in years. There are more favorites such as Hungry Hungry Hippos, Ants in Your Pants, Jenga, Don't Break the Ice, and recently Mouse Trap. I guess the kids these days are having some wholesome fun or the adults are just reliving their childhoods. Mary was all excited when she found original Gumby and Pokey characters. And what would family game night be without some popcorn. I have picked enough Presto Hot Air Popcorn Poppers to run a movie theater. The last one of these I owned was in 1987 and I bought it at a garage sale. So much for microwave popcorn.

Anyway, we just found out that our last day will be Saturday December 22nd. We should be on the road Sunday and in sunny and much warmer Florida by Christmas. With a couple of stops planned we should be back in Pinellas County before New Years Eve. So with 7 more days to work(but who is counting) we will say good night to everyone from our home in Kentucky because....

Home is where we park it,
Frank & Mary

Monday, December 3, 2012

'12/#50 Amazon... A Strange Place

We have been here for a month and have had some time to observe. What we have seen has surprised, amazed, stunned, and befuddled us. We laugh and complain about the way management does things. The products we pick make us shake our heads and wonder about the people at the other end of the Internet. And then there are the people we work with. Some are regular employees and then there are those like us. I'm talking about the seasonal workers that will be gone by Christmas. We have our fellow workcampers who are primarily senior citizens and there are the locals either taking whatever work they can find or taking a second job for some extra cash.

When we pick items to fill orders everything is random. Products are not stocked in any order. Plush toys, auto parts, peanut butter, and books could all be in the same cubby. Once you find the item the next thing you have to pick could be 2 levels down and on the other side of the building. It makes no sense. I now have the mindset that I am there to walk and walk and walk, and if I happen to pick an item....well that's a bonus.

The products we see are another story. I believe that Amazon carries everything! Books, CDs, videos on every subject imaginable. Toys, tool, and trinkets that most of us would never use or even know what to do with. Then there is the food. Yes, food. Mary swore she was doing someones grocery shopping one day. Peanut butter, ketchup, ramen noodles, tuna, and cereal. There is dog, cat, bird, rabbit, fish and reptile food for your pets. And then there is the adult entertainment. Not just books and videos. I'm talking about lotions, personal massagers(wink,wink), bondage kits, and other apparatus' that I don't want to talk about or don't know what they are for. And like I said any of these things could be sharing a cubby waiting to be picked.

Our fellow employees also have gotten our attention. Like all of our travel experiences we have met some wonderful people. There are workcampers in their 70's doing jobs that would kill people 30 years younger. Some of the younger workcampers are traveling and home schooling their kids. The locals working this as a second job are dragging. You can see the exhaustion and feel for them. Then we have the regular year round employees. They fall into one of three categories. Either they don't care either way about the seasonal employees, or they are happy for the help during the busy Christmas season. Then there is the third group that looks down their noses at us and act like we are second class citizens. It doesn't matter to us it just determines who we do or don't talk to.

One thing we have noticed about our fellow employees is the number of doppelgangers we have seen. Almost every day we seem to find someone who could be a twin or close relative of someone we have known. There are so many that remind us of past postal employees we feel like we are at home. Well we are enjoying our 2 days off and are looking towards 6 days weeks until we leave. We figure we will be working about 18 more days before we head to Florida, family, and friends. So until the next blog here's wishing everyone a happy and healthy holiday season from our home in Campbellsville KY because...

Home is where we park it,
Frank & Mary