Saturday, August 3, 2013

'13/#13 I've Got To Blog More Often!

I keep wanting to blog but I am so tired I fall asleep before I can turn the computer on. And when I do get on line my brain fails me and I can't think of anything to say. Well here goes another try. I have been working full time here in Zephyrhills while Mary has been in the office part time training. I know I am supposed to be retired but there is a plan. Last year has thrown us a few curve balls and we want to take care of everything before we hit the road again. We want to spend more time with the kids and grandkids, we had a few bills pop up unexpectedly, and I have been dreaming about a new truck. We calculated that if we stay still for a few years all will be taken care of before we head out on the road which we plan to take us out to the west coast. A new truck would be real nice for that!

The company we hooked up with here in Zephyrhills is awesome. They pay decent, they care about their employees, and the location is ideal for us. Yes, I am working a little harder than I had planned but I am outside and enjoying the fresh air. I am actually getting used to the work and the Florida heat and feel pretty good at the end of the day. We are looking forward to the winter residents arriving at the end of the summer.

Like I said, we want to spend more time with family and we have. We have been over to Pinellas County almost every weekend since we arrived here in Pasco County. We love seeing everyone and being able to share birthdays with the summertime birthday celebrants. We missed those summer birthdays while we were traveling. Apparently we were missed too because having Grandmommy and Granddaddy around is making the birthdays special also.

As far as the new truck that will come once the bills are paid. At lot of people might say "why didn't you just stay at the PO instead of working after retirement". My answer to that is, we are still retired and have had some wonderful adventures we wouldn't have had if we had stayed at the PO. Also this work is not a career move, it is a job. When it has fulfilled our needs we will move on. That is the joy of workcamping. We only work when we want or need to and the rest of the time is ours. Once the bills are gone and my butt is in a new truck on my financial terms we will concentrate on traveling again. Now is the time to work and travel so that we won't have to work as much  as we get older.

We are heading to Pinellas for another birthday this weekend and then we will go to the east coast to see the uncles in the next few weeks. After that we plan to sit still for a little while. This much traveling, in our big truck, with the price of diesel has put a dent in the old wallet. $200 in the tank this week and probably again after our trip to the east coast. If I don't stop burning diesel how am I going to get that new truck! You can see where my priorities are.

Well I think this actually going to get posted before I take a nap. So this is goodbye from our home here in Zephyrhills because.....

Home is where we park it,
Frank and Mary

Saturday, June 29, 2013

'13/#12 A New Home, A New Adventure

We are no longer in Alexander Springs. As much as we liked the area and had made some awesome friends, management was making living and working there intolerable. We found a new RV park with better jobs, better pay, and what seems to be competent management. On top of that we are almost 2 hours closer to the kids and grandkids, and at least an hour closer to the uncles on the east coast. As a bonus we don't have to travel 45 minutes each way just to get a gallon of milk. It is a win, win, win all the way around. Our new home is closer to civilization so we can get satellite TV, make cell phone calls, and connect to the internet. It's nice to be away from it all sometimes, but then you start to miss it all and want it back.

Mary will be working in the office doing all that is implied by that. Phone calls, computer billing and reservations, and anything else that is involved. I will be working in maintenance. For now that is grounds keeping. I run the lawn tractor, weed whacker, and generally keep the place looking nice. I'm sure there will be more once I get familiar with the park and all the amenities.

We are pretty much settled in so we decided to do a little spring cleaning. RVers live by the "one in, one out" rule to keep the rig's weight down. I always joke that Mary follows that rule....when she buys herself one thing one of mine gets thrown out. Well it appears that Mary has not followed the rule at all. After going through the closets I got rid of one sport coat and a denim jacket. Mary filled 3, YES 3, large trash bags with stuff she hasn't worn in a while, won't ever wear again, or has never worn in the first place. That doesn't count another bag of stuff that we will be passing on to the grandkids. We now have 30 extra empty hangers to store. At least they don't take as much space as full hangers. When the rain stops I will load the truck (hopefully only one trip) and head to the dumpster or Goodwill. I can talk now but the next spring cleaning project will be the garage. That is when Mary will be able to talk bad about my pack rat habits.

Well it looks like the rain is letting up so I will sign off and go load the truck. I also have to find the nearest Goodwill drop off since we are new to the area. So this good bye for now from our new home here in Zephyrhills Florida because.....

Home is where we park it,
Frank and Mary

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

'13/#11 Frustration!

We work with some great people but as usual there are always a few that ruin a good situation. Also not surprising the duds are the ones in charge. Here in the "springs" we are service oriented employees. We try to make the guest's experience the best it can be by making the campground and day use areas as clean and pleasant to use as possible. It appears that we have been successful based on the comment cards we are receiving. Even our supervisors are telling us we are doing a great job. So why are they changing the way we do our jobs?

Our jobs have a policy that states that it is the responsibility of the employee manage hours. Then the supervisor tells us how to manage our hours. How does one manage hours while being micro-managed? Just goes to show that the Post Office isn't the only company screwed up by management yet is still operated successfully by the employees in spite of that management. AL&L has one major difference from the Post Office. Employees will put up with a lot for enough pay and benefits whereas AL&L pays minimum wage and no benefits. That may be why this park has had 5- 6 sets of managers over the past TWO years. Heck, if you figure the hours managers put in based on their salary they are getting a lot less than minimum wage. We are happy to be lowly camp hosts at an hourly wage with a lot less headaches.

On another subject we got to see all the kids this past week. Everyone is doing great and is was fun to see them. It was a welcome break from the insanity that was Memorial Day Weekend at the springs. The park was so crowded that we had to close the gates at 10:30am all 3 days of the holiday weekend. Then there was the mess that comes with large groups of people in small areas at one time. I won't go into details for those of you who may be squeamish but the restrooms/showers need extra attention.

Well that is enough for now so I will sign off from our home here in Alexander Springs because....

Home is where we park it,
Frank and Mary

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

'13/#10 Interesting Neighbors

We have been here in the Ocala National Forest just about 3 months. I talk about our little piece of paradise with all the natural beauty that surrounds us. But I am ashamed to say that I haven't taken any pictures to share. This morning Mary called me in what sounded like a panicked voice. I ran and instead of panic I found excitement. She pointed out the window and I ran for my camera. This is what was outside our window. And then it was gone. I am now motivated to take the camera with me and take as many pictures as I can. They may not be as spectacular as these but you will see the beauty that is Alexander Springs.

We have some interesting weather lately. It has gone from hot to chilly, sunny to overcast, rain and hail, and at least several severe weather warnings with at least one confirmed tornado in the area. Toss in the "controlled burn" by the Forest Service and you can imagine that we are kept on our toes. Not only are we concerned about us and our rig there are our coworkers and all the campers that have to be warned about the dangers. Never a dull moment at the springs!

Last week we went to Stuart to see the uncles and had a great visit. This is the first time we didn't have the rig with us. They had an inflatable bed which turned out to be very comfortable. We talk and laughed and ate and had an early birthday celebration before we had to leave. We are not that far away from them so Mary feels good about being able to see them more often. I think they are just as glad as we are about this.

Well I will end this now and make sure
my camera is all ready to take more pictures around our home her in Alexander Springs because....

Home is where we park it,
Frank and Mary

Sunday, April 21, 2013

"13/#9 Still Here In The Forest

Not a whole lot to report. We are still here in the Ocala National Forest at beautiful Alexander Springs. Our work has become a routine that is letting us relax. The days consist of a few hours of medium to hard work with the rest of the day left to ourselves. Friday we finally took one of the canoes out. We didn't go far since it has been years since our last time in a canoe. A little farther each outing and in no time it will be easier for us to be out all day to do some real exploring.

Most of you know that we are staying in Florida so we can be near our family for a while. Last week we went back to Pinellas County and got to meet up with a bunch of people. We spent some time with good friends before they head back north. There was a fun dinner out with Jess and Jim. Then we went out to breakfast with our friends Alice and Larry and our youngest son Charlie. As much as we enjoyed all that we still looked forward to later that day.

Our daughter Rachel just bought herself a new home and we got to help her move in. It makes us proud to see her make a life for her and our grandkids. After the kids got home from school we helped them get their rooms set up. They are excited about us being able to visit more often and are already talking about whose room we will sleep in when we visit. I think we are even more excited about our future visits than they are.

In the next few weeks we will be visiting the uncles in Stuart. They are more excited than the grandkids about us being close enough to visit often. It will be good to see them and I know Mary will feel better knowing she can check in on them more often.

Well this is so long from our home in the forest because....

Home is where we park it,
Frank & Mary

Saturday, March 30, 2013

'13/#8 Seriously

Today's blog is going to be on a serious topic. Certain issues have come to my attention in the past week that I feel are important enough to share with you. A dear friend of ours passed away recently and  along with all the usual issues that her husband is dealing with more have come to our attention. In this digital age there are so many privacy concerns that we don't realize the difficulties that protecting our privacy may cause.

In our extremely mobile RV community as, well as other groups, we rely on social networks and other digital communications to keep in touch. Since this tragic event we have kept in touch and offered support to our friend's surviving spouse. The problem here is the survivor's inability to keep in touch because he either doesn't know how or doesn't have access to user IDs and/or passwords for the deceased's assorted accounts. We have heard through the digital grapevine that he has received everyone's condolences. I worry that on top of his suffering caused by the loss of his spouse that he may feel bad about not being able to reply to the outpouring of sympathy. Please know that all your friends know how you feel and don't need confirmation that our condolences were received.

My point here is that our user IDs and passwords, as private as we wish them to be, need to be shared to some extent. Mary and I have total access to each others e-mail and Facebook accounts. That is what we consider the trust in our marriage. It is not trusting the content of these accounts to each other. It is trusting that the information is still private even if we have access to it. In other words, even though I can read Mary's e-mail she knows that I won't unless she wants me to and the other way around. We both know that this trust will never be abused and feel better knowing that the information is available if needed.

We all make sure that wills are made, bank accounts are entrusted to a second signer, and property is not going into probate so why wouldn't we make sure our digital footprint is in the care of someone we trust. There is too much information there to just leave it floating in cyber space. Just something to think about.

I will sign off now from our somber home here in the forest because....

Home is where we park it,
Frank & Mary

Monday, March 25, 2013

'13/#7 Does A Bear Poop In The Woods?

Here we are in Alexander Springs and after almost five weeks we are getting into a rhythm. We are getting our routine down down to the point that the job is becoming not so much work as time killed. The excitement level is kept to a minimum by the peacefulness of the forest. The other jobs around the park are offering us a little extra work accompanied by extra pay with not too much effort.

Now don't get me wrong, it isn't boring here by any means. We have days where we are overrun with guests and we feel like one armed wallpaper hangers. There are other days that our managers are called to another park and we have to work short handed. Our group is awesome as everyone steps up when needed which makes it nice to work here. Today we had a problem in our park. It seems that the septic system here is having issues so we had to shut down most of the bathrooms. Now when someone asks "does a bear poop in the woods?" we say yes and the bear is the only one who can! LOL!

It is going to be fun trying to direct all the campers we have on site to the two bathrooms that are open. On the positive side we live in an RV with holding tanks and can go several days to a week without sewer hook-ups. Hopefully the problem will be fixed before that becomes an issue. There is talk about "port-a-pottys" and sewer pump trucks in our future but that won't be until tomorrow at the earliest.

Well that is all for now from our home with working shower and toilet here in Alexander Springs because.......

Home is where we park it,
Frank & Mary

Sunday, March 17, 2013

'13/#6 It's Becoming Home

We are getting into a routine here in the "Springs". The people we work with are really great and we are making some good friends. The weather is getting warmer and we are looking forward to checking out the springs.

Like I said in the last blog we aren't near anything so we haven't been anywhere. One of our very good friends was in town visiting her parents and we got together for lunch. It was nice to see Terri and her son Jeff. The past year or so we seem to always be headed in opposite directions so it was good to see them. Terri's parents and her in-laws both live in The Villages here in Florida so they will be down here more often. It will be good to see Terri and her husband Bob a little more regularly.

Speaking of The Villages, if you have never heard of The Villages, it is a retirement, no, is the retirement community. With 92,000 residents in almost 6 square miles, every form of shopping, restaurants, golf courses, tennis, and more than I can mention it is a world unto itself. It could be a small state. The second most popular form of transportation after cars is golf carts. There are golf cart dealers, golf cart service centers, and of course reserved golf cart parking everywhere. I just hope the people who are driving these carts are not doing so because they cant drive real cars.

Well I will sign off for now from our home in Alexander Springs because....

Home is where we park it,
Frank & Mary

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

'13/#5 Settling In

We are now in the Ocala National Forest. Our jobs are easy enough and only require 20 hours a week. We get paid for all hours and get our site with electricity included. On top of that there are extra hours if we want to earn a little more money. Add that we get to live in a beautiful part of Florida and we think we've got a pretty sweet deal.

It has been almost a week since we arrived. Most days we have been working and getting a feel for the place. We are also trying to find all the places we will need while we are here. Remember we are in the middle of the forest so the nearest intersection is 10 miles away and the closest "downtown", and I use the term loosely, is another 5 miles down the road. If we want real grocery stores or a shopping center add another 5-10 miles. The closest mall is at least 30 miles away.

Again that is the price of living in paradise. Soon I will get some pictures of paradise and put them in the blog. For now we are getting in the swing of things. So I will sign off from our new home here in the Ocala National Forest because .....

Home is where we park it,
Frank & Mary

Friday, February 15, 2013

'13/#4 There Goes The Jello

We have been in Tampa for 2 weeks and it looks like we will be moving on once more. No real problems just time to move on. Our time here has been pleasant and we will look back on it fondly. We will also consider Bay Bayou as a home in the future.

Last year we applied for a position in the Ocala National Forrest. It has been quite a while since then and thought we were not going to hear from them. Then the other day a call came asking if we were still interested. Of course we were and said so. It seems that our application fell through the proverbial crack in the system and just came to their attention. This job pays much better and offers more opportunity for future travel around the country. Things appear to still be going our way. Yes Mary has been working here at Bay Bayou, but with limited hours and no work available to me in the foreseeable future this is an opportunity we just couldn't pass up.

We will be a couple of hours away from the kids and grand kids but it is still in Florida and close enough to be able to see them fairly regularly. We will also be some place where we can take the grand kids to see what Florida used to look like. The Ocala National Forrest has so much to offer. The rivers and springs, the wildlife, and the flora can be breathtaking. There are also canoeing opportunities right here where we will be working which should be fun if not entertaining if I remember our adventures with our children when they were that age.

Hopefully my new hitch will be here today and we will be ready to move as soon as all the paperwork is completed. National Forrest also means government, which means paperwork. It can't be avoided. With any luck we will be in our new home by this time next week. Our official title will be campground host which means anything from showing people their sites to cleaning the bath house. We will also have the opportunity to work in the gift shop and entrance gate to earn some extra money. We also get a site right here in the middle of this tropical paradise. Who could ask for more?

Well I have some things to do to get ready for our next move so I will sign off for now from our home here in Tampa Fl because.....

Home is where we park it,
Frank & Mary

Sunday, January 27, 2013

'13/#3 When Life Gives You Lemons.....

We are glad to be back in Florida with family and friends but it has not been smooth sailing. Since we returned to our "home base" here in Largo there have been a few bumps. First our reserved site in Vacation Village was occupied. When we spoke to the office we were basically told "too bad". This park has been going down hill for years and this year is the worst. We decided to find a new "home" despite being so close to family and having so many friends in this park. Once setting up on another site we did our usual check of the rig after having traveled for a distance. We found that our 5th wheel hitch had broken and came to the conclusion that we had driven across the state with a broken hitch. Thoughts of what could have happened makes me shudder not to mention the cost of repairing or replacing the hitch was an expense we didn't need. This past week we had a couple of cold nights and mornings and the furnace decided it was time to stop working. Another expense we didn't need. So what to do with all these issues popping up?

Well first we called a friend who has experience as an RV tech. He gave me some suggestions about the furnace and it turned out to be something minor. While talking to him he mentioned that the park he was staying at needed some help and had a number of vacancies. Since we were interested he got us an interview with the manager and there is now an opportunity for work and discounted camping just a little farther from where we are now.We will soon have a new address in FL. Our youngest had been working for an on-line RV supplier and told me about our hitch manufacturer's warranty policy. He encouraged me to call and I am glad I did. Reese Manufacturing was awesome! I told them my problem, sent them a few pictures, and a new hitch is on the way to me.... NO CHARGE! Reese will have my business whenever I can send it their way.

The point of all this is that things are starting to look up for us. Broken things are getting fixed, we will be saving money on rent, and we will be in a park that actually cares about their customers. We are looking forward to all the changes and feel good about the future. Yes we will be a little farther away from everyone but 30 minutes travel is not really that far considering we were considering we looking at a campground in Ocala at least 2 hours away.

We will be busy getting ready to move this next week so I probably wont be blogging until after our move. So this may good bye for the last time from our home in Largo FL because.....

Home is where we park it,
Frank & Mary

Thursday, January 17, 2013

'13/#2 Still Here For Now

We have been in Largo FL for a little over 2 weeks now and I thought I should blog about something. We are back in the same park we have been coming to for the 6+ years and you would think that they would appreciate customer loyalty but that is not the case. Before we left last year we attended their annual renewal party to lock in our site for the next winter season. We kept in contact during the summer and were assured that our reservation was in order and they were looking forward to our return. HA! Upon our return we found our site occupied and when we went to the office about it their response was "too bad". We were moved to another site that did not completely suit our needs and are now looking for another park to stay in.

I always say that our plans are written in jello and our plans for next summer have fallen in to that category. We have decided to stay in FL for about a year for personal reasons and will not be on the road for about a year or two. Therefore we are looking for a park that cares about the customer since it will be a park that we call home for some time.

This week is the annual Tamp RV Super Show and we attend very year when possible. In it's 20 year history I think we have missed it twice. We go to look for gadgets and gizmos that will make the RV lifestyle easier, check out work camper opportunities, find new destinations to explore, and of course drool over all the shiny new RVs. This year we are also looking at all the RV parks in our area to find a long term home.

 Wednesday was senior day and all us old farts got a $1.00 discount. The weather was ideal for criss-crossing the fairgrounds. We picked up a lot of info to do some research and even spent a little money on stuff we actually needed. This year we stayed away from all the gadgets that just happened to catch our eye. This year we were somewhat disappointed by the RVs on display. The RVs were very pretty and it is always fun to look at the latest and best RVs but after all was said and done we couldn't find an RV that we would buy even if we were in the market and had all the money in the world. More so than usual we found that the designers were looking at flash instead of function.

We will be going back and meet up with some friends. The RV show always gives a second day pass with all paid admissions. The show is so big that it takes two days to see it all. So I will call it a day on the blog from our home here in Largo FL because....

Home is where we park it,
Frank & Mary

Thursday, January 3, 2013

'13/#1 Out With The Old, In With The New

2012 is over and and I hope everyone had a good year. With 2013 in front of us may it be an even better year. If you have been following the blog you know 2012 has been quite an adventure. We have seen many wonders across the country and met some of the most wonderful people. We have more friends than ever in more places around the country. It gives us reasons to travel even more.

This year is starting with our return to Florida, and family and friends. We are looking forward to spending time with them and in familiar surroundings. We will be involved in the activities in the RV park and plan on spending time with our children and grandchildren. I think they are what we missed the most in our travels. Most of all we are looking forward to relaxing. We will probably look for some part time jobs in the future to keep bust and feather our nest for future travels.

For now I would just like to say we are glad to be home in Pinellas County because not only is home where we park it home is also where the heart is  and that is with family and friends.

Fran & Mary