Tuesday, October 16, 2018

18/#27 It's NOT Jello And It's Frozen!

There are only 5 more days on the calendar until we leave West Yellowstone. We and all the other work campers are getting anxious about hitting the road and moving on to the next adventure. Like everyone else we are starting to get the rig ready to travel. Things need to be stored and secured, final loads of laundry are being done, and food is being prepared so we can travel without having to spend too much time cooking.

All this time we are still working our jobs here and dealing with the cold weather. The last 3 days the high temperatures have not gotten above freezing. Water hoses have been disconnected and we have been working off our on board fresh water supply. We have also been keeping an eye on our propane supply and make good use of electric heaters, blankets, and mattress pad. The last was a recent purchase and it is wonderful on these cold Montana nights.

Everything was going smoothly so we knew that somewhere we were going to run into our "jello" moment. After the cold spell had broken I went outside to dump our waste water tanks. I pulled the handle and glug, glug, stop. What the .....! I checked the sewer hose and lo and behold (always wanted to use "lo and behold") it was frozen solid in a couple of spots. I hadn't payed attention to the low spots that had developed and the water there froze solid in the shape of the corrugated hose. Well that wasn't good. Now I couldn't dump my full waste water tanks!

Soon Mary was out there with me trying to solve this dilemma. First we tried a blow dryer but the ice was too thick and hard so we got nowhere fast. Then we thought we might be able to disconnect the hose, hold it vertical, and maybe the ice would slide out. Nope, not happening. Finally we boiled water and Mary poured it down the hose while I held it vertical and eureka! (Always wanted to use "eurika" also.) The ice started to break free and all the nasty sewer water and frozen waste water flushed down the campground's sewer connection. That was great but there were 2 more hoses to do so more hot water more frozen poop water and finally the hoses were clear. Mary called them "poopcicles". Did not sound appetizing.

But were we done? No! Now I had to get back to dumping the full grey and black tanks. As I pulled the handle to empty the tanks we had a little geyser of waste water squirting through a hole the ice had punctured in one of the hoses. Out to the hardware store ( which by the way has a decent RV section) and one new hose later we were able to dump our tanks without creating a bio-hazard situation.

This could have ruined our whole day or put us in a lousy mood but like I always say "there goes the jello". Patience and a sense of humour may be the best tools an RVer can carry with them on the road. You never know what will happen next but whatever it is you just have to deal with it. Later on it becomes another story to tell around the campfire.

Well we are tired and don't feel like cooking after our poop water ordeal so we are treating ourselves to dinner out. Tomorrow we go back to work to finish our commitment and earn a substantial bonus. It may have been the only thing keeping us here the last few weeks. So I will sign off with empty poop tanks and a brand new sewer hose in our home in West Yellowstone because.....

Home is where we park it,
Frank and Mary

Thursday, October 11, 2018

'18/#26 Counting Days And Watching Weather

We are still in West Yellowstone and checking the calender every day. It has been a lot of fun here but as I've said in the past, our house is on wheels and wheels are meant to roll. After today we have 10 more days before we get those wheels rolling. We made a final trip to the big city of Bozeman for our last big shopping to prepare for our journey south. We always try to pre-cook some dinners that will be easy to heat up on the road and we will be doing that over the next week or so. Also we are doing some major laundry before we have to close up the bath house and laundry for winterizing. In other words, we will soon be on our way.

Over the past couple of days we have also been watching the weather. First of all, like everyone else, we have been following Hurricane Michael. With a lot of family and friends all over Florida it is a concern to us. Fortunately none of our extended family is in the panhandle and all are doing OK as far as we know. Some wind and some rain from the outskirts of the hurricane is all that has impacted them we are happy to report.

We have also been watching the weather here in Montana and checking the long term forecast. All the work campers are hoping for clear skies and roads when we leave West Yellowstone. No one likes to drive in inclement weather and coming down the mountain with a 40 foot RV is, well.....more excitement than any of us want. For two days we have had rain, sleet, and snow in small amounts. Nothing has accumulated but it has been a little sloppy out there. This morning we woke to about 3" of snow on the ground. It is pretty and we are enjoying the views but hopefully it will all be gone when we are ready to leave.

Now is a good time for me to sign off and get on with my day in the campground that is home for us for the next 10 days because......

Home is where we park it,
Frank and Mary

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

'18/#25 Short Timing And Full Timing

We have been doing this work camping thing for a number of years now and have found that there is one thing that has been consistent with every work camping job we have had. There is a point somewhere around the 3/4 mark of the season, and it doesn't matter how long the season, that attitudes change. Everyone is already looking down the road to the next adventure. We are all wondering how soon can we leave and get those wheels rolling. And almost without exception we are finding reasons to and not to stay.

The group we have been working with is great and we all get along but little things are starting to bother everyone. Some times it is the weather or maybe the camp site we are on. Work campers have even been known to turn on each other. The little quirks that we all have may have gone from endearing to annoying. Fortunately we haven't seen any of that here and hope not to through the end of the season.

It is now October here in West Yellowstone and that means the weather is changing. We have had several nights with below freezing temperatures. That means we have to get all the campers to disconnect their water hoses overnight. There was some grumbling but for the most part everyone understood. On a personal note we have been making good use of our new electric mattress pad. That and a couple of blankets keeps us nice and cozy all night. The furnace and a couple of electric heaters warm things up nicely for our morning showers and we start our day. There is talk of snow and/or freezing rain in the forecast so we will stay inside and try to keep warm and dry.

With 3 weeks before we leave our hope is that there won't be any snow on the ground or at least the roads so we can safely get out of West Yellowstone and head south to warmer climates for the winter. For now we are counting the days as short timers while living the full timers dream here in our home in Montana because......

Home is where we park it,
Frank and Mary

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

'18/#24 Ho Hum It's The RV Life For Me

I have been negligent in my blogging but sometimes there really isn't much to blog about. Time and time again I have said that this is not a vacation but a lifestyle with all the trappings of everyday life. There is cooking and cleaning and laundry and everything that goes along with taking care of a household. We also have to deal with the joys of living in a vacation area.

The past couple of weeks have marked the ending of family tourist season. School is back in session in most of the country and the families visiting the area have dwindled. We now are getting the empty nesters and retirees who are taking advantage of the "shoulder" season when there are less tourists on the road. It doesn't make it any less busy here, just a different clientele. Labor Day weekend was crazy here and in the park. We really haven't gone into the park much after Memorial Day and will start going back in now that Labor Day is past. It sounds a lot like "Snowbird" season in Florida when the locals just stay away from beaches and restaurants until the tourists head back north.

During this time we were able to take care of a number of things I wanted to fix around our home. Like I said we are home owners and have to maintain our home. Last month I replaced the fresh water pump. These past couple of weeks I had a list of things that I wanted to do before it got too cold. We had to swap out our spare tire from our trip north and replace  a center hub on the wheel. One of the shock absorbers had broken during the trip and was replaced. We also found a couple of lug nuts that had frozen in place and will take care of that soon. And finally the macerator needed replacing. If you have followed us from the beginning you know that I installed a macerator in July of 2009 and have affectionately called it "The Poop Shooter". After 9 years the pump failed and this was as good a time to fix it as any.

Well that is the excitement here in our neck of the woods. We are planning some excursions into the park now that the crowds have thinned and Mary will post more pictures. We have just 5 1/2 more weeks before we head south and I'm sure there will be more to do around our home here in West Yellowstone because....

Home is where we park it,
Frank and Mary

Monday, August 20, 2018

'18/#23 We Can't Hide, And That's A Good Thing

We just got back from our two days off and are exhausted. The daily routine of work will let us catch our breath. Now I am not complaining because we had a great time the past two days. On our days off we normally make the trek to Bozeman to do the bulk of our shopping. We love where we are but there is no place to grocery shop in West Yellowstone. We make the 1 1/2 hour drive to Bozeman and make a day of it. We take our time, go out to eat, and just make it a relaxing day. This time was a little different.

On Monday friends that we worked with in Zephyrhills had made it to Teton National Park which is a little over an hour away from us. Well, when you travel thousands of miles to get someplace and then 50 or 100 or even 150 miles separate you from friends......well that is what we consider in the neighborhood. Wendy and Charlie agreed to meet us at Old Faithful for lunch so we could catch up. Little did we know that most of the caravan they were traveling with had decided to tag along. It was great to see Wendy and Charlie and it was fun to meet some of their travel friends.

After a good time with everyone and promises to keep in touch we did a little sight seeing before we went home. It took us over an hour to travel the 30 or so miles each way with the "animal jams" stopping traffic. This is when a buffalo or elk or bear or eagle is spotted and everyone stops in the middle of the road to see and take pictures. The thought of pulling off the road never seems to cross their minds but that is what we have to deal with during the height of tourist season.

The next day we got up way to early, for a day off, to go to Bozeman but with good reason. More friends just happened to be passing through our area and we couldn't pass up the opportunity to see them. It had been a number of years since we were neighbors in Florida. With us hitting the road and them moving to Georgia social media was our main connection so an in person meeting just had to happen. Scott and Peggy met us in Yellowstone with their 5 kids ( 3 of whom we have never met) and spent almost 2 hours just reminiscing and catching up on what was new in everyone's life. They were in the middle of an adventure of their own, moving from Georgia to Alaska to start a new life. They were all excited and doing well and we couldn't wish any more for them but to be happy with everything the future holds for them. Of course they want us to come see them in Alaska and who knows?

Back home after another "critter jam" it was dinner time. We were too tired to cook so we snacked and wound down and called it a day. Tomorrow we would go to work and slow things down and maybe get around to putting the rest of our groceries away in our home in West Yellowstone because......

Home is where we park it,
Frank and Mary

Monday, August 13, 2018

'18/#22 It's Nice To Get Back Home

Since the last blog we did head home from Cody Wyoming and we did come through Cooke City. Cooke City is the North East Entrance to Yellowstone. That means that this summer we have gone through all 5 entrances to Yellowstone. The west gate is right where we are staying so that is home base. The north gate is through Gardiner and was very disappointing. The south gate was coming up through Teton National Park and if you saw the photos you know that the mountains are picture post card ready. Going out the east gate was muddled by the construction at Fishing Bridge but it meant we were going to Cody so that was OK. And finally Cooke City at the north east gate drops us into my favorite part of the park, Lamar Valley.

The ride from Cody to West Yellowstone via Cooke City is a roundabout way to go but for scenic views it shouldn't be missed. The Chief Joseph Highway crosses the Shoshone National forest through the Absaroka Mountains and is an engineering marvel. Steep climbs, hair-pin turns, and dangerous drop offs keep you on your toes as you try to safely enjoy the views.

Cooke City is a little town in Montana that thrives off Yellowstone tourists in the summer and snowmobiling in the winter and has that small western town feel. The usual gift shops, and food establishments many with wooden walkways out front add to that feel. Most important is it is the last stop before entering Yellowstone after almost 2 hours of driving from Cody.

Entering the north east gate we drove through forests with creeks and rivers keeping us company. And then the forest opens up and there is Lamar Valley. I get goose bumps because the valley looks like it must have hundreds of years ago. Thousands of acres dotted with thousands of bison, it is just awe inspiring. We stopped several times to take pictures. Then we found a large and active herd of bison. We are into the "rutting" season when the buffalo start their mating rituals. We parked the truck and just sat there for almost and hour just watching. We finally decided to move on just as the National Geographic film crew showed up to start filming for the 4 night Yellowstone "Live" that had started the day before on the Nat Geo channel. We were recording it at home so we just moved on.

After 6 hours of relaxed driving and wild life sight seeing we made it home. It was a good couple of days seeing friends and getting to see some more of this wonderful country. For now we are just glad to be in our own bed in our home in West Yellowstone because....

Home is where we park it,
Frank and Mary

Monday, August 6, 2018

'18/#21 Since We Were In The Neighborhood...

In this RV lifestyle that we live we travel thousands of miles at a time. Often we settle in places where shopping is 50, 75, or 100 miles away. So when we are less than 150 miles from friends we haven't seen in a while we take the opportunity to see them. Just 101 miles and 3 hours through Yellowstone National Park and we have returned to what I like to refer to as "the scene of the crime". Back in Cody Wyoming, after 6 years of travel, we came to see some of the people we worked with back then.

In the morning we stopped by the business office and caught up with Shandi and Angela. They were at work so it was a brief visit. We still got to catch up and reminisce a little. We found out that our boss, Judy, was not in town so hopefully we can catch up with her another time. Never the less it was good to see the girls.

Later we had dinner plans with Pernille and her family. We worked with her and saw her son a number of times at work with her. Her husband we only met once or twice and her youngest wasn't even born yet. Still we had a great time and wound up just sitting and talking for 3 hours. Again it was good to catch up.

Now, how do we cap off such a wonderful day? Why not a trip to Libations? What is Libations you ask? Well it might be the best liquor store ever. In addition to a large assortment of beer, wine, and alcohol they have booze based slush drinks. Think Slurpees for adults. Tonight we chose strawberry daiquiri and "pain-killer". Mary says the strawberry daiquiri tasted great and .... well the rum based pain-killer lived up to it's name. Two more features of Libations is a classy sitting area to enjoy your adult beverage and a drive through for your beverage on the go. Who new such a place existed?

Tomorrow we will hit the Walmart here in town for a few groceries and head on back to West Yellowstone. We will take the scenic Chief Joseph Highway and avoid the construction at Fishing Bridge in Yellowstone. It is a longer trip but it is such an awe inspiring drive.

Tomorrow it is back to the old workcamping grind in West Yellowstone. It will be good to be back in our own beds in our rig in Montana because....

Home is where we park it,
Frank and Mary