Showing posts from 2011

It's a Beautiful Day

Well, according to John’s thermometer you can see it’s a warm day. It is but aren’t you a little skeptical? I mean really. It has been a great week with sunny warm days for us to enjoy. Wednesday we spent another day here in Georgetown. We went and had the oil changed in the truck then walked the trail around San Gabriel Park and ate at Dos Salsa. Dos Salsa was very good and if you are here and looking for Mexican it is definitely worth the stop. Their parking lot is small and busy but the public parking for the downtown area is just a couple blocks away and if you have your truck it is a safer choice. 
Thursday we headed to Austin to see the sites. We had read about the Town Lake trail along Ladybird Lake so we headed there first which turned out to be an excellent decision. Town Lake Park is just off I35 and it has free parking (downtown parking was $7, free is better). We grabbed a site on the street and headed off on the trail. We walked the trail to the Congress Street Bridge.This b…

On the move again-Yeah!!!!!

We finally left Kansas and it was certainly time. Our first stop was Thackerville, Oklahoma at the Winstar Casino’s RV park. This is a very nice park and if you sign up for their Players Card it is a great deal. The card gives you the first night free and the subsequent nights at $20 (regularly $25). That is for FHU with 50 amp, paved sites and patios, very nice laundry facilities and a free shuttle service to the casino. It is amazing that we have spent the last two Christmases at casinos and we are not big gamblers. Maybe next year we’ll break the streak. We were here 4 nights for $60, and that was a bargin.  Yesterday we were off again to our next stop, Georgetown TX. We will be here for a week before heading to Port O’Connor. We are parked at the Eastview Ranch RV Park. This was recommended to us by a fellow work camper who stays here when visiting family. It is very reasonably priced and a very clean little park. The sites though are pretty tight; I miss the state and county parks…

Merry Christmas to all!

Our wish is that this Christmas finds you well and counting all the blessings that come your way. We truly feel blessed this Christmas season. Safe travels to all our RV friends.
Janie & John

Would we do it again?

Several of you asked this question so I felt it would be good if both John and I answered this question. So today you get to here from both of us. Janie: My first reaction would be “not if I could help it”. What I mean is I would rather do some camp hosting or volunteering along the way instead of 2 months of this type of work. However if we found that we just really needed the funds I know I can do this and it definitely has some financial benefits. The pros are the money, the free rent and the people you get to know, and the weight loss from all the walking. The cons are the sore feet, the long hours, and at least in Coffeyville the lack of anything to do other than work and sleep. That last one though is almost a pro. You are so tired from the work that you wouldn’t feel up to doing much anyway. If we decided to do it again, I would definitely be more prepared. I’m not sure it is possible to get your feet totally ready for 10 hours on cement floors. It is not like hiking, even if I h…

Captain's log: Goodbye Amazon

“We’re not in Kansas anymore.” I’m looking forward to saying Dorthy’s classic line as we head into Texas for the next couple of months. Our working for Amazon is coming to a close along with the Christmas season, so it won’t be long. After working here for seven weeks, things have actually gotten easier, I think, as we’ve lost some weight and gained some strength. The final push before Christmas is next week, so we still have some eleven hour days left, but then we’re done and out of here. Merry Christmas indeed. Our jobs as pickers for Amazon are driven by the commands on our handheld scanners from the sometimes capricious computer. It doesn’t always make sense, but you must obey. Resistance is futile, and if you slack off the computer will always rat you out. We catch up with our friends in packing at breaks and lunch. Their jobs are more driven by an assembly line type of operation with lots of opportunities for any one component shutting the whole thing down. That thing is often the…

What's in my tote?

We are starting week number 6 and it is getting a little better. The feet are better than they were and now that we are back to 10 hour shifts it seems easier. One of the most fascinating things about working for Amazon is finding out what all is available and what people order from them. As pickers we go around the warehouse finding various items that have been ordered and putting them in a tote to be sent on to the sorters and packers. The things I pick are usually for different orders which is good to know because sometimes I would hate to think that tote is going to the same person. Some of them are strange combinations. So what is in my tote? Well it may be groceries, like soups, tomatoes, pasta sauce, noodles, dried mushrooms, lots of coffees and teas, basically any grocery item that is dried or canned, and I pick a lot of them. Next toys, Legos, Kinex, Plan, tons of toys from a company called Melissa and Doug, video games, and then there are adult toys many of which I don’t care…

Only 3 1/2 weeks to go!

Yep, I’m counting them down. Evelyn who is also here even has the days counted now (28). It was a long week and I think they will all be that way now until Christmas. My feet still have not adapted to the punishing hours on the concrete floors. We even went and got new shoes and inserts to see if that would help, I think they may be a little better but they still throb by the time I get home. The first day of a stretch they don’t hurt until late in the shift, the second day they hurt by noon and the third day by the first break it gets bad and by the time we head home all I want to do is get off my feet. Johns are a little better than mine but he feels it too, for him it is more his back. This is just a very physical job and I can honestly say I have never worked this physically hard at any job before. It does make me appreciate all those folks out there that do these jobs full time. That experience alone has made this job worthwhile and catching up financially is the other real posit…

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”  ~Thornton Wilder
You know what I am Thankful for? A day off!!. We survived a week with mandatory overtime and it made me glad that we are only doing this for a short time. This week was a normal one except for tomorrow. Thanksgiving day we don’t have to go in until 10:30pm and work only 5 hours. Next week is a different matter. Friday through Monday they are working 11 hour shifts and our shift has mandatory overtime on Sunday. Right now we are the only shift with mandatory overtime, several others have voluntary OT. There is a potential for actually working 52 hours but they can only work us 50 hours unless we agree to more (I guess that’s the law). I think 50 ours is plenty so if we reach that then I’ll let them know I am going home early. The work is not so hard it is just a long time to be on your feet. Today we are celebrating Thanksgiving with Kevin and Evelyn. I’ve got a pie to bak…

Starting Week 3 & Mandatory Overtime

Just a short update. We are going into our third week and our first week with mandatory overtime. That means a 50 hour week! I’m not sure I am ready for this but bring it on. It is getting a little easier, my feet don’t hurt now until the last hour or so of the shift. My back is giving me a little trouble but time will tell on that. We have seen several people quit. Some were unhappy with the jobs they were given (told they we have a different job before they came), some have found it just too physically taxing, and some were frustrated because outside of work there is very little to do in Coffeyville. While it is very physical we were told that before coming by the recruiter so I do feel we were warned about that and make no mistake it is a lot of walking and standing for long hours. Yes, there is very little to do in Coffeyville but we are so exhausted, doing nothing on our days off is all right with us. So we are hanging in there till the end (Dec. 23). This job is definitely not f…

Captain's log: On site at Amazon

We've landed in Coffeyville to help Amazon with their seasonal work. This is one of Amazon's largest distribution centers, or what Amazon calls a fulfillment center. Let the fun begin.

The first day on the job was an orientation day, which included a quick tour of the facility. I'm not sure what's going on exactly, but here's what I think is happening. Lots of trucks arrive here with stuff Amazon hopes someone will buy on their online site. This stuff is stored in locations based roughly on how big each item is; most of the big stuff stays on pallets but the smaller stuff gets put in green totes along with other stuff so that everything is all mixed up. These green totes then get delivered in mass by big pallet trucks to where this stuff will get stored in row after row of shelves sectioned off into bins. Stowers will then hide the tote's contents in whatever space is available in any bin. Pickers will then try to find this stuff and put it into yellow totes tha…

One Week Down and a Surprise Visit

We survived our first week on the job. Taking the example of Evelyn who is on week three, we left this morning thinking one week down and seven to go. We were hired to be pickers and are doing the night shift on M,T,Th, & Fri. This week, however, it was Sunday orientation and then M, T, & W. So we are off now until next monday at 5pm. We work 10 hours with a 30 minute lunch so our hours are 5 pm until 3:30 am. It is a long shift and you are on your feet for all but about 45 min. Ten hours on your feet is definitely a challenge and by the end of the shift all you want to do is get off your feet for awhile. We also have to get into bins at floor level to retrieve items and so we are doing squats all night long. I’m guessing this week I’ve done several hundred squats. Between walking and squats I am getting back into shape. The other work campers say it takes a couple weeks before some of that gets easier. This place is pretty amazing. It is over a million square feet and some of …

Smith Center to Coffeyville

This week found us parked in the parking lot of the Excel Service Center in Smith Center KS. Next month our Excel will be 2 years old and our warranty will be up. We have had a few minor things and a couple not so minor issues that needed to be address and we haven’t been happy with the repairs we have gotten at the dealer and since we were headed this way it just made sense to head to Smith Center. It took about 2 1/2 days to get it all done. About a week ago John found a small crack in the fiberglass on the front cap. He cleans that area often so we are pretty sure it is new in the last couple weeks so it went to the head of the list. The other major item was the eternabond taping of the two larger slides. They got the fiberglass fixed the 1st day but the eternabond tape proved to be a job. The dealer had taped over it to try to fix it so Jim (our tech) had to scrap off all that eternabond to start over. He said if he knew how difficult it would be he probably would have tried to ta…

So long Glen Elder

There is nothing like a sunset, no matter whether you are in the desert, by the ocean, the North Woods, Lake Superior, the Midwest including here in Kansas. So tonight I will let the sunset we had last night speak for itself.

Changing it up

We are at Glen Elder State Park in northern Kansas and when you look around we are definitely on the prairie and it made me remember reading the books about Laura Ingles Wilder when I was young.  So this is our “Little House on the Prairie”. It has been very windy here until yesterday and the wind calmed, the sun was out, it was an incredibly beautiful fall day. John worked on cleaning the rig and I went for a long walk with my camera.
There really isn’t a lot for us to do here unless you are a fisherman. They have a couple short hiking trails but that is about it. There are 3 campgrounds for RVs and a marina. This week not having much to do has been great. We were looking forward to some down time before we head to our jobs with Amazon.  The first few days were cold and very windy so stayed warn inside, read books and watched some TV. We can’t get much on the antenna but we have a wi-fi hot spot right next to us and since we are the only ones in this campground it is screamin’ fast so…


Have you ever felt like you had so many choices you couldn’t make a decision?  Lately that is how I have been feeling even though I know there is no right answer. We’ve begun to think about what we want to do this winter and I can’t make up my mind and John has no preference. We are working November and December so that is taken care of. We were thinking about the Gulf coast and I have found a spot in Port O’Connor that I made a reservation for the month of January but I’m not entirely sure that is where we want to go. So maybe go there and then head to Florida? But Florida is pricey and we are trying to get caught up financially from an expensive summer.  So now we are thinking about returning to the Southwest. 
We really enjoyed last winter and there is a lot that we still haven’t done yet. We loved New Mexico State parks and they have a season park pass for their parks that is $225 for out of staters. The pass then makes campsites $4 a night. If we take advantage of the New mexico P…

More Friends and Family :)

The last week or so has been full of visits with friends and family. We arrived at Two Rivers State Park near Waterloo, Nebraska. John had a good friend near here that we made plans so meet. This is part of the group that calls him “Doc” and we did get together with them at a wedding in St. Louis this summer. Al and Judi live on a Lake about 20 minutes from this park. I also have friends that live close to this park, Teri and Alan, but Terri is in Florida on business and Alan was out of town too, so I struck out. I did get to see them last year on our way through so will try to catch them next time through the area. One of the benefits of this lifestyle is getting a chance to visit with old friends. Tuesday afternoon we drove to Al and Judi’s for dinner. They have a great house on a lake with a beautiful view. We also took a boat ride around the lake. We really enjoyed the visit. John has enjoyed reconnecting with Al and Judi. They had already left Cedar Rapids before I met John so for…