This will be a short blog. Last blog I talked about travelers and work campers and vacationers, but this one is about the locals. Today we took the girls to the Keystone Community Center where the local community members and the fire department put together a picnic for the foreign workers and other seasonal workers. It was just their way of welcoming us to the community and for us to get a chance to meet some of the locals. There was the usual food and games and socializing that goes on at any normal picnic with an international flair. The older attendees talked and got to know each other while the younger ones did the same and made plans to go to the local volley ball field to have some fun.
It was a nice turn out and a great way for the local community to show how much they appreciate all that the seasonal workers do for the local economy.
Well it has been a busy two days so I am keeping this short and getting some rest here in our home in Keystone South Dakota because...
If you have been following our travels at all you know that we have been to some wonderful places and seen some amazing things. Mary posts photos on Facebook all the time but the pictures do no justice to what we are seeing. As much as we enjoy all these places and sights, the thing that makes the biggest impression is the people we meet. When we stay in one place for a while, like we are here in Keystone, we get to meet and make friends with some of the locals. That gives us a better perspective of the area we have chosen as our temporary home. We find those hidden gems that a tourist just doesn't have the time to find on a one or two week vacation. I like to call us born-again locals. By the time we leave we have become part of the community and take with us memories of not just places but people that will stay with us for a lifetime.
We also meet a lot of travelers in our adopted home towns. Some are on vacation and others are here, like us, for an extended period of time. Vacationers are always amazed at the concept of work camping and with few exceptions are envious. I always tell them that we love it but the lifestyle is not for everyone. Then there are work campers like us who live the gypsy life. The work camping community is large and diverse, so as work campers we share our experiences with each other. This is a big part of the network of work camping opportunities. We also make lifetime friends with many of our fellow work campers. To this day we keep in touch and get together when the logistics of our travels allows.
And then there are other extended stay workers. Most of our work camping jobs are seasonal so a large part of the work force is made up of young people looking to make some money and have a life experience that they can keep and maybe use in the future. Here in Keystone we have a group of international student from several different Asian countries. We work side by side with them and as much as they are learning about life in the United States we are learning about their lives in their respective home countries. Mary and I have semi-adopted a group of these girls and have taken them on some outings and are planning on doing so throughout the summer. As you can see we have already taken them to Mt Rushmore. We have also taken them shopping at the local stores for their daily necessities. They know the value of a dollar and want to go to Rapid City and shop at Walmart and The Dollar Tree. Smart girls! We will plan that trip after their next pay day.
Well I am going to sign off for now. We work later this afternoon and need to get ready. So good bye from the two of us and our new friends here in our home in Keystone South Dakota because......
It has been two weeks since my last blog, but as they say, time flies when you are having fun. The jobs we have here in Keystone are very new to me and it is taking me a little longer to get comfortable with the routine. Mary has worked similar positions and is adapting much quicker. I am at work right now, so the fact that I have some time to blog must be an indication that I am getting the hang of the job. Our bosses Randy and Robinn have been awesome. Patient and awesome. In spite of several screw ups they seem to be pleased with our work.
Since we have been here we have had a few opportunities to do some sight seeing. One day we drove into the city of Custer and then into Custer State Park. We only did a small portion of the park. We wanted to drive the Needles Highway and see Sylvan Lake. Needles highway was quite the driving experience. It was well paved but very narrow. Driving a dually wheeled pick-up just made the road seem narrower. The scenery was beautiful and then there were the tunnels! The first tunnel was one lane and two way. Everyone was courteous and alternated turns passing through. The second tunnel was the same but a group of car buffs decided it was their tunnel and at least a dozen cars crept through not letting anyone pass in the other direction. Mary and another passenger from our side got out and stopped traffic so the line of cars that had formed on our side could pass through. We weren't in a hurry but there is still no need to be rude!
Thinking that would be the worst experience of the day we pressed on. The third tunnel called Needles Eye had me sweating bullets! The fenders on the truck barely cleared the sides. It was so close that I had to swerve back and forth to avoid the rock formations jutting out from the walls.
Exiting the tunnel I finally breathed again and was grateful for the parking lot at Sylvan Lake. The lake was surrounded by sheer rock walls and was freezing, yet people were still kayaking and paddle boarding. We walked around a bit and relaxed after my tunnel ordeal and headed on back home.
That was enough for the day, after all we are here until October. So good bye until our next adventure from our home in South Dakota because....
It has been a week since we arrived here in Keystone and we are starting to settle in. We are getting to know our coworkers and the bosses and it is starting to feel like we belong. We are getting the hang of the job and the bosses seem happy with how we are taking to the routine. They also like that we are willing to be flexible about hours, days off, responsibilities. It's just the way we are and it always seems to pay us back later. A sure sign that Karma does exist.
We are also starting to check out the city of Keystone. Keystone exists only because of it's proximity to Mt Rushmore. The population here in the last census was 335. That means more than 20 times the city's population goes to see the presidents, just 2 miles away, on average every day. Talk about a town built on tourism. We walked the tourist part of town, just 2 blocks long, and only a block or so away from where we are working and staying. The shops have the usual made in China trinkets found in every other tourist town in America, just themed towards Mt Rushmore. Key chains, magnets, hats, t-shirts, etc, etc etc. Then there are the restaurants with burgers and pizza, plus a few with real sit down dining experiences. We haven't tried any yet but we will. It will come in handy when the guest at our hotels start asking for recommendations.
Our next day off I think we will drive around outside of Keystone to see what there is to see and also to share with those traveling through the area. Right now we are doing our laundry so I have to go back to the laundromat near our home in Keystone SD because.....
Well, we finally made it to Keystone South Dakota and are pretty much settled in. Checked out the local shopping, most of which is in Rapid City about 20 miles away. Laundry, restaurants, propane, and hardware stores are all in the same 15 to 20 mile distance from us. The people we will be working with all seem very nice and it looks like we are going to have an awesome summer.
The weather is still a bit chilly with overnight temps dropping into the low 30's and daytime temps not quite reaching 60 degrees. It has also been raining off and on making it feel even colder. It will warm up soon, but nothing like our friends in Florida are feeling. Once it starts to warm up the tourists will start arriving and we will become busy here in Keystone.
Keystone is the closest town to Mt Rushmore so the tourist will come. We are so close that we can see Mt Rushmore from our back door. If you look close at the far left side of the mountain you can see George, Tom, and part of Teddy. Since we are neighbors we are now on a first name basis(LOL). More pics later.
It is time to get ready for work so I will sign off for now from our home here in Keystone SD because.....
We have been traveling around the country for ten years now and feel confident handling our rig where ever we go. On the road we try to give the professional drivers the road. After all they are just trying to make a living. Our rig is the size of a small tractor-trailer so we often use truck stops to fuel our truck. When we do we try to get out of the way as soon as possible so as not to get in the way of the truckers.
After all that, I have to relate an incident that has happened a few times. While waiting out a storm at a truck stop I parked way back in the truck parking area. It took me two or three tries to get it exactly where I wanted it. Once settled in we watched a couple of truckers parking near us. After watching these professionals take five or six tries to park their rigs I started to feel real good about my driving abilities. Like I said this has happened a few times at different truck stops and every time it boosts my confidence just a little bit more.
Well we are settling down for the night in our home in Hermosa SD because......
I do not have as big an internet presence as many others but I am there to keep in touch while we are on the road. I do have this blog and am considered a "lurker" on facebook but that is not where I am going. What I want to talk about is the others out there keeping an eye on us as we travel. There was some severe weather we were passing through the past few days and we monitor several weather apps to keep our travels safe. During those weather events we were getting numerous phone calls, texts, emails, and other electronic messages from friends all around the country. It feels good to have friends who care.
Anyway, we survived all the weather and stopped for an overnight stay in a casino parking lot in Iowa. It got quite a bit colder during the night and it was still drizzling when we woke up. After a quick breakfast and a second cup of coffee we hit the road. By trying to out run some of the weather the day before we were able to make good time and had made it farther down the road than we planned. This will make the rest of our trip two short days. It's always nice to get to our destination early in the day to give us time to get settled in.
Well we are settling down for the night in our home here in Plankinton South Dakota because.....
The only thing you can be sure of is that things will change. Like I've said before, our plans are written in jello. Our plans to work in Michigan didn't work out. The work ethic that has served us well for many years apparently created a conflict of personalities with another work camper couple. Since we were the "newbies" and not planning to return like the other couple we were asked to leave. To avoid any drama on a minimum wage job we took our pay for the time we worked and hit the road.
Many people have asked how we deal with the uncertainties of living on the road. Well we left Silver Lake and found a fair ground with camping facilities for the night. Fair grounds are famous for reasonable rates and this one was no different. While we relocated Mary put out feelers for another work camping job. Just 24 hours after being asked to leave we got offered jobs for $13 an hour near Mt Rushmore. It looks like the jello is starting to set again.
We went shopping and bought a few things. Tonight we are cooking our butts off to have some meals precooked for the road. If all goes as planned we might just hit the road tomorrow morning and be in South Dakota by the weekend.
I'll blog again soon but for now this is so long from our awesome smelling kitchen in our home in Mt Pleasant Michigan because.....
After our tire incident in Florida the rest of our trip was uneventful. A little bit of rain was the only detriment on our journey but it did not slow us down. We were able to stop and see a friend of ours in Indiana and made excellent time. This allowed us to get to Mears a day early.
The site we are on has perfect sight lines for our satellite and once leveled we got our home set up for the season. Our site is a little out of level so we will have to make a set of stairs to make up for the height of the bottom step. When we got here the temperature was 53 degrees but the wind made it feel like 41 degrees. I guess we aren't in Florida any more! The weather apps are putting out frost warnings for the next few days. This morning we woke up to 32 degree temps. Well I woke up, Mary stayed under the covers until it had risen to at least 40 degrees.
The park owner came over to meet us and give us some info before we start working later this week. He seems as nice in person as he was on the phone. We are looking forward to a good summer. Today we will build our steps and go meet some more of the workcampers.
Right now it is time to get to work around our home here in Mears Michigan because...
We are in St Augustine now and are going to do some tourist stuff. If you know us or have been following here on the blog, you kow that St Augustine is special to us as it was the site of our honeymoon. Or as I like to call it, the scene of the crime. If all goes as planned (and we know how that goes) we will not be back in the area for quite some time.
Speaking of plans and plans gone awry, after last year's multiple tire failure episodes we checked the rest of our tires on the trailer and found one that was getting close to it's expiration date. Yes tires have a date on them as well as a life expectancy. Look up DOT tire codes on Google to read more. The plan was to get to Michigan and replace that tire sometime over the summer. Oh well, our plans are written in jello so....the tire let go on the way accross I-4. We got off the road and Mary and I had it changed and were back on the road in about 20 minutes. Best wife ever!
We got to St Augustine and again working as a team we got the rig all set up, situated, utilities attached, and inside set up for the few days we will be spending here. Mary found a tire locally and we went and got it, brought it back, and with my wonderful wife got it on the trailer and the spare stowed. A shower and a short rest and we treated ouselves to dinner at Harry's, one of our favorite restaurants here in St Augustine.
The more we travel and the more people we meet the more I count my lucky stars that I have a wife like Mary. I see way too many couples traveling where the wife either sits in the vehicle or at the picnic table while the husband does all the work. Watching it bothers Mary even more than it bothers me. What would happen if something happened to the husband? Wives need to know everything about their RV. They need to know how to drive it, hook it up, connect all the utilities. Being out on the road can leave one in a very vulnerable position and you need to be prepared. There are many wives out there that do know what to do and do their share as well as husbands that share the cooking, cleaning, and laundry duties. That is the way it should be! Marriage is a team effort and more so is marriage on the road. I have the best partner to travel throgh this life and on the road and I don't ever want to take her for granted.
Well into down town for more touristy stuff so I will sign off from our home here in St Augustine because....
Only two more days until we embark on the next stage of our adventure. Over the years many people have had opinions and/or made comments about our chosen life style. I came across this poster a while back and I have to say that it sums up how we feel. Everyone has dreams about the future and things they would like to see or do. We are living our dream and that is the advice we give to so many people. If there is something you want to do, make plans, find a way, make it happen. I read on a marquee somewhere "A wish is just a dream without a plan". If you want something go out and get it. No one is going to just give it to you.
The next two days we will be finalizing our preparations. We will also see our kids and grandkids to say our goodbyes. Monday is D-Day. "D" is for departure. We will make a few stops and see a few friends on our trip to Michigan. It should take us just about a week. We are just looking forward to having the wheels rolling again.
Well it is time to relax a moment before we get back to our travel check list. So goodbye for now from our home in Zephyrhills because....
It has been a long time since my last blog but it is time to bring it back to life. My last blog was about a death to someone close to us and all that that entails. Like many family deaths the aftermath turned ugly and someone we considered family turned out to be a lying, money hungry, back stabber. We were very disappointed and disillusioned afterward. Hence the absence of my blog. That is all I am going to say on the subject. From now on we are looking forward.
We have been back in Zephyrhills for over a month now and are ready to continue our adventure. Having worked here for 3 years and our proximity to Pinellas County meant that we would be spending a lot of time socializing with friends and family. After 6 weeks here we can count on our fingers the number of times we have eaten at home. It is nice to go out for dinner but we both like to cook and are looking forward to the meals we make in our RV kitchen. We have seen the kids and grandkids and are planning one more visit with them before we hit the road. There are one or two friends we will see to finish the list of people we wanted to see. Probably one or two last minute doctors visits and a final check on the truck and trailer will finish out our stay.
The adventure that is our life is taking us north to Michigan this year. We will stop in St Augustine and Indiana along the way to our destination in the Michigan Silver Lake Dunes Area. We have never spent any time in Michigan and are looking forward to seeing a new (to us) part of the country. Mary has lined up a workcamper position for us this summer that will cover most of our expenses and allow time to explore. We also have many friends who still summer in Michigan and would like to get together to show us their home state.
We are looking forward to our travels, but for now we are taking care of things to prepare for this next stage in our adventure. I will also try to blog more often, and please, if you are reading and enjoying the blog let me know with a comment. I get a lot more readers than commenters and would love to hear from you. As always Mary and I will put it out on facebook when I post.
Until the next post this is goodbye from our home in Zephyrhills because.....
It has been 2 weeks since we arrived in Port St Lucie and have we been busy! Grace is in her final resting place and now we are getting Uncle Don ready for the next step in his life. The house has an accumulation of 90 years of living, and did she live. After 39 years as a secretary to the Supreme Court in Washington DC there was quite a bit of political memorabilia. We found programs and invitations to presidential inaugurations from Eisenhower to Regan, group photos of the Supreme Court and staff. It was like going through a museum.
Then there was all the personal things. Memberships to the Masons, Eastern Star, and so many other community organizations. If Grace could make something better she joined and did her best, whether it was her church or the city beautification commitee, she was there. Oh, did I mention that Grace was an avid crafts person? We found one whole room full of needle point, embroidery, hook rugs, sewing, crochet, knitting, counted cross stich and more. There was a full Santa suit that was hand made years ago by Grace for her husband "Woody" that would rival and out shine any store bought suit. But there is more! Grace liked to hand sew quilts. We found a bunch of them in the house. And not just any size quilts, mostly queen and king size quilts.
It has taken us 2 full weeks to go through the house and get ready for a garage sale so Uncle Don can move on with his life. He wants to down size and doesn't need this big house and all the things and work that go with it. He is actually thinking about moving to the west coast of Florida so he will be near our kids and grandkids. I think the kids are more excited about it than he is. We have worked hard and put in some long hours to help but that is what family does. It is tough work but for real family it is a labor of love and we wouldn't have it any other way.
We are tired and will sleep well in Uncle Don's home because ours is in his driveway here in Port St Lucie because....
We made it to Port St Lucie and got the rig settled in the driveway at Grace and Don's house. Greetings, including hugs and belly rubs for Tessa the dog out of the way we just relaxed for the rest of the day. The real work will start soon enough. Time to enjoy each others company.
The house is very large and is full of years of accumulated memories, also known as stuff. We respect and love our elder family members but the stuff can be overwhelming. Now don't misunderstand, we didnt finish any one room but we did get a good start on each. Switching rooms gives us a break from the work. Keep, sell, or throw away. Decisions, decisions, decisions. We will get this done because no one else will.
Today is the day we will say goodbye to Grace. Funerals are not fun but death is a part of life. I personally hate the term "celebration of life" but Grace's life is one worth celebrating. I won't go into details but the stories about the places she went, the things she has seen, and the people she has met could entertain for hours. More important was the people who met Grace. They got to meet a special woman with style, grace, and compasion. I feel very fortunate to have met Grace and only regret not meeting her sooner. She will be missed but will be with her beloved "Woody". I can only hope to have a life as full as hers. Goodbye Grace.
We will be leaving Grace's home soon while our home is in her driveway in Port St Lucie because.....
Saturday morning I realized how early 5am comes around. That is when we pulled out of Forsyth MO and started our trek to Florida. We had talked about how we were looking forward to some warmer weather and what does mother nature do? The last few days in Missouri we have temps in the 60's and 70's. Where was that weather a couple of weeks ago? With no interstates on our route through southern Missouri and northern Arkansas it was all state and county highways until we got close to Little Rock. Then we hooked up with I-40 and it will be interstates all the way. Not necessarily the most scenic route, but this trip we wanted to cover some ground quickly. It was a long 13 hour day. We stopped for the night at a truck stop near the Alabama-Georgia border. 600 miles is a long day towing a 40' trailer. Day 2 was a little easier. All interstate, only 500 miles, and 9 1/2 hours. Also we lost an hour crossing time zones. Tomrrow we should be in Port St Lucie. An easy day of 4 hours and only 200 miles. Time for a rest.
Our second night will be spent in St Augustine. This will be one of the rare times we don't spend time in our honeymoon city or as I like to call it "the scene of the crime"! Even though we didn't stay long we did get a chance to have dinner with some very good friends that we hadn't seen in a while. It was good to see them and catch up. Tonight will be another early night. Tomorrow we will sleep in until 6:30 or 7 am and be on the road by 8am.
After 1300 miles we will be glad to be sitting anywhere but in the truck. We will spend time with Uncle Don and help take care of everything that needs to be done when a loved one passes away. As time allows, we will travel accross the state and see our kids and grandkids as well as some of our friends before we have to be on the road again.
So goodnight from our home for tonight in St Augustine because......
I need to blow off a little steam. I am not much of a presence on facebook but I did read a lot of what was posted. I was what people called a "lurker", mostly I read and posted very little. I enjoyed reading about what other people like to share about themselves. I was entertained by videos that ranged from cute to bizarre. The RV community was always interesting to me so that I could learn more about the lifestyle we have chosen and share what we have learned with others. What I didn't like was the meanness that some felt was OK to spew all over the internet while staying basically anonymous. The vile and obviously unsubstantiated political comments ( from both sides) throughout the election process made my stomach turn, but the continuation of this asinine rhetoric has pushed me over the edge. There is no way that I can enjoy facebook while the world finds this platform a place to attack from a position that has no accountability. For that reason I am boycotting facebook for the foreseeable future. I will no longer "lurk" nor post. Any information I will get will be relayed to me in person by those who can get past the incivility on facebook. I am sorry to those who might miss my presence, but anyone whom I really want to communicate with and vice versa, well, we will find a way.
In my last blog I talked about the passing of Aunt Grace and what family does for each other. Well it looks like we will be heading to Florida a little sooner than we had planned. It looks like we will be needed by Uncle Don, so we will take our jello south to a warmer climate.It will be nice not being so cold, but we would have liked it to be for different reasons.
And the prep work begins. This week is Mary's last at work and the next will be our last in Missouri. We will be getting the rig ready to travel over that time. This will entail a little more than usual because of all the winterizing we did earlier in the season. We have enjoyed our time here and as usual we have meet a lot of great people and made some good friends. Leaving is always the hardest part of living this lifestyle but it also allows us meet more people while discovering this fantastic country. We try not to say "good bye" but " see you down the road". You never know when our travels will bring us back this way so that we can talk more about our home in Missouri because.....
We are still in Forsyth MO and doing just fine. The weather has been a little unpredictable with temperatures ranging from a low of 4 degrees to a high of 68 degrees, and that is all within a period of 3 weeks. Layering has become a way of life and I am sure we will survive the winter. The wind has also made it interesting. Some days there is nary a whisper of a breeze and other times it feels like the trailer is going to tip over. It really hasn't come to that point but the trailer does rock pretty good sometimes.
Mary is still working her "part-time" job and for the most part she is enjoying it. She likes the people she works with and is getting to know quite a few of the locals. Some she even refers to as her "regulars". I am not sure about the "part-time" part of it. In the last month there have been some personel issues at the store and Mary has offered to work extra hours to help out. She really likes her store manager and wants to help out any way she can. Sometimes that means more hours than she planned, or that I care for, but if you know Mary, she is going to do what she wants. Just today one of the girls has been diagnosed with chicken-pox and will be out for a week. Mary has already said she would help cover the lost hours so her schedule will change I'm sure.
On a sadder note, we just found out that Mary's Aunt Grace passed away. That leaves Uncle Don alone in Florida. We know he is okay but are still concerned as any family would be. At this time no plans have been made, so we are on hold for now. Like I've always said, "our house is on wheels and our plans are written in jello". If need be, we can be in Florida in a couple of days or have our whole rig back in just a few more than that. Family is family and we will do what is needed. For now we will just keep doing what we are doing until the "jello" gets shaken.
Sad for now in our home in Forsyth because....
Home is where we park it,
Frank and Mary
I had a little episode this week and asked Mary not to say anything to anyone. I came very close to passing out at home and had to be transported to the hospital by ambulance. Preliminary tests point tentatively to a bleeding ulcer, leading to anemia, and a blood pressure drop. We and our doctors are on top of everything and I am feeling much better. This is not the first ulcer I have been diagnosed with but it has been many years since I have had any problem. Hopefully it will be many more, or better yet never, that I have to deal with this again. The one bright side is that I have made a good dent into our annual deductible on our health insurance.
In the last blog I told you we were expecting a little cold snap, but not as cold as we've had before. They lied! It is every bit as cold as it was before. We've had two mornings with wake up temps in single digits. One morning it was only 5 degrees!!! Good news is that our winterizing, furnace, and space heaters are working out well. I have been pumping quite a bit of propane for the locals and feel for those who have run out during the night. Everyone here is looking forward to the warm spell predicted this week. We are expecting 60 degrees on Tuesday. Quite a change in just a few days. Hopefully the park's water pipes will thaw today and we can get back on city water instead of our fresh water holding tank. That's what it is for but it is a limited amount of water that won't last forever.
Mary has been off for several days now, taking care of me. She was pretty upset with my trip to the hospital and is now relaxing. Prior to the new year she had worked more hours than usual to help out some of the girls she works with and has earned and is enjoying her time off. It is also nice that she doesn't have to go out in the cold weather that we are having. Resting, staying warm, and watching trashy TV....what a way to relax!
As of now I am doing well and we are just relaxing here in our home in Forsyth Missouri because.....
Well another year has come and gone. Many people are saying good riddance to 2016 and bemoaning all that has occurred over the past 12 months. 2016, while unique, is no different than any other year. Once examined you will find good and bad has happened every year and will continue to do so forever. Some events are more important than others to each individual, but overall, for all the bad things in 2016 there are just as many good things.
As for us, we are grateful for 2016 and looking forward to 2017. Our health is reasonably good as is that of our family and friends. We are still living our dream out here on the road and 2017 has more adventures in store for us. Our grandchildren are all doing well in school and our children are doing the same in their professional lives. 2017 looks to be another good year. Like I've said before, it is not all unicorns and rainbows. We had more than our share of flat tires this year and Mary needed surgery on her knee but those are things that happen and can't be avoided. That is life. What you do about those bumps in the road and how you let it affect your future is what will determine a good year or a bad year and ultimately a good life or a bad life! Optimist or pessimist, glass half full or glass half empty? The person in the mirror will decide if you have a good year or a bad one!
New Years Eve was quiet for us. A lot like Christmas. I spent it with my best friend as I will the rest of 2017 and beyond. New Years Day will be the same while we relax and have a lazy day. The next week looks like it will be a cold one, but we are ready. It won't be as cold as it was a couple of weeks ago but it will last for about 4-5 days. Electric heaters, propane furnace, warm clothes, and warm blankets and we will be just fine. Wintering up north is not that bad. I don't know if we will do it again.... but at least we know we can.
For now we are enjoying the unseasonably warm weather for another day or two here in our home in Missouri because.....