"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing"
- Helen Keller

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Smith Center to Coffeyville

Our camping spot for 3 nights. Excel service center.

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 talk Excel into just replacing the rubber roofs. It took him 13 hours for just that job. Jim and Darren did all the work and they did an excellent job. The eternabond seal looks better than the rig was delivered. Yeah!!  What we appreciate about Excel is that they do back up their product and try their best to do right for you. So we are now ship shape and have moved on to Coffeyville.
Ours and 2 other rigs in for service.
We did stop at Winfield City Lake on Wednesday night. I knew the park in Coffeyville would not be great but the location is right so we decided to stay somewhere else for one night and this was on the way. This is a good sized lake and has lots of sites with a good number of FHU sites and the cost is $14 a night for either FHU/W&E or just electric. That is a good price so we took one of the FHU so we didn’t have to go to the dump station tomorrow. The park is ok but the roads in are awful. They are gravel and lots of washboard surface. Take it really slow, speed limit is 20mph but it should be 5mph. It was good for one night. At these prices I am sure this place is packed in the summer.
We are now at the Big Chief RV park in Coffeyville KS. We will be here 2 months working for Amazon at heir warehouse. The park is just a big parking lot with pull thrus but it is directly across the street from the warehouse and many of the work campers either walk or ride their bikes to work. We got a call this week and found out we will be pickers on the night shift and will work what is called the donut shift. The days are M,T,Th and Fri. They are 10 hour days. Tomorrow is our orientation day so we will learn what a picker really does. We do know that this job requires lots of walking. One of the bonus points is our friends Evelyn and Kevin are also working here and on the same shift. Just nice to already know a coworker.
So for the next 8 weeks we will be in the same place, I’ll try to fill you in on our jobs but probably won’t be posting more than a couple times a week (kind of like lately). Happy Halloween to everyone!
Happy Trails..................................

Saturday, October 22, 2011

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.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Changing it up

GlenElder State Park
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.
Our Little House on the Prairie

Little Church on the Prairie
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 we have been watching shows on Hulu and our son is letting us use his Netflix account to watch a couple movies. Our aircard is limited to 5G and usually isn’t fast enough to do any streaming so this has been a real treat. Now that the weather has improved we are out the door and enjoying the fall days.
Monday we have an appointment at the factory in Smith Center for some warranty work. It is all small stuff but we want it all taken care of before our warranty is up. We will head there on Sunday and park in the lot so we can start early, I think I’ve heard they want you ready to move the trailer in at around 6:30 am. We are using this week to give the trailer a good cleaning too. John is working on the outside and today I will start on the inside.
Now for the “changing it up”. When John retired he decided to grow his hair out and since that time (August 27th, 2010) all he has had done is the ends trimmed twice. He looks great with his long hair but thinks it is too much work so before we head to work he thought short would be better. We have a clipper so he decided to have me cut it buzzing it with a guard on the clippers. I was pretty nervous about doing this but I figure if it doesn’t turn out it will grow and he can go to the professionals. So here are a few photos from retirement day to today.
John at his retirement party

John before his haircut

John now!
What do you think? John hasn’t decided yet. I’m ok with it but I love him no matter what he looks like. I’m glad he decided to keep the beard for the time being. 
I’ll leave you with some fall photos from my walk.

Happy Trails......................................

Monday, October 17, 2011


Audra at Stuhr Museum of the Prairie

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 Parks for about a month or more that might be a good option. There is a lot we would like to do in Northern New Mexico and Arizona but would have to wait until early spring for those areas. We still have not seen the Grand Canyon and Lake Powell and they are all on my list. I would like to spend time in Santa Fe and Taos as well as the Four Corners area and southern Colorado. So many possibilities.
Originally we thought we were headed to the Northwest next summer but now with our son’s wedding this summer we will need to be back in Iowa at some point next summer. They are working on setting a date and that will help us know how much time we have next spring and summer we have until we need to be there. It is funny for me, I don’t need to have a hard and fast schedule and I think that rarely works in this lifestyle but I do like to have a general direction. We may still see if we can find a work camping  for the winter spring but because we are committed until January it may be a little more difficult to find. 
John making time with a cute mummy
Sorry for how disjointed this post is but I think it reflects my disjointed thinking. I have so many places I want to see and things I want to do that sometimes my brain is just reeling. We are having a quiet week at Glen Elder State park in Kansas and I am hoping it will calm my brain. We have the area we are in to ourselves and it is a nice break after all the business of visiting with family. We love our family but we also love a little solitude. This will be a good break before a couple months of work. I hope you don’t mind me thinking out loud. This is a good problem to have as problems go so I am certainly not complaining just trying to figure it out.
Happy Trails.........................

Saturday, October 15, 2011

More Friends and Family :)

View off Al and Judi's deck

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.
Al and Judi
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 me the joy is getting to know these friends of Johns that I have heard so much about.  Thanks Al and Judi for a great dinner and boat ride! 
Gary, John, Audra, and Sharon
On Wednesday we moved to Grand Island Nebraska and Hall County Park. My youngest brother lives hear with his family and we always enjoy our time with them. Gary and his wife Sharon have 4 children. The three boys are 25, 22, and 19 and then there is Audra at 9 years old. They also are hosting a foreign exchange student from Austria, Finn.  Alex their middle son just graduated from Briar Cliff College and is living at home while he checks out his next step. Aaron the oldest lives in Souix City and is working as an insurance underwriter. Austin the youngest is the kicker for the Southern Missouri State football team and working on an accounting degree.
Finn kicks off

Gary, Finn, Sharon on Parent's Night
All of Gary’s boys have been talented kickers and soccer players. Aaron and Alex played college soccer for Briar Cliff College. Austin decided to go with football and kicking instead of soccer in college though he was recruited for both. Alex was also recruited for football but chose the soccer route. Now however he has decided to pursue kicking and is trying out for several Arena Football teams. He has a tryout today with the Des Moines Barnstormers. He and his brother Austin hold several Nebraska kicking records. I wish him well as he follows his dream. 
Playing bags with Alex
We went to the Grand Island Central Catholic football game on Friday night as their exchange student, Finn, is playing football as guess what? Yep that would be the kicker. It was parent night so I tried to get a couple photos of the parent recognition and the game. It was a cool night but we lasted into the 3rd quarter before heading back to the house for hot chocolate.
This morning Gary and Finn took off for Fargo ND to watch Austin’s game. This afternoon we joined Audra and mom Sharon at the Stuhr Museum of the Prairie and Pioneers. The museum is actually right next to the park where we are staying. They have preserved the buildings of a small railroad town, several farms, churches, a one room school house and an earth lodge and teepee of the Pawnee Indian tribe. When we paid our entrance fee they failed to mention that none of the buildings were open. Sharon and Audra had visited this before so we were all surprised to find all the buildings locked up for the season. You think they would have mentioned that. They were getting ready for a Halloween celebration tonight so we did get to see all the halloween decorations. It is a very well done preservation and educational museum but I would visit when the buildings are actually open.
Turkeys were  hanging out in the campground.
Tomorrow we head to Kansas, the park here is closing for the season so it is time to move. We are starting our journey southward towards our job with Amazon in Coffeyville KS. We have a week to ourselves and then a visit to Smith Center and the Excel factory. We have several issues for them to look at and our warranty is up in November so we want them to check things over. We are looking forward to our next stop and some down time before our job starts. We are going to have to start getting up a little earlier. I think one of my favorite parts about retirement is getting up when I’m ready and not to an alarm clock. Working November and December will be a rude awakening.
Happy Trails..........................

Saturday, October 8, 2011

A Windy Week in Storm Lake

Another Beautiful sunset on Storm Lake 

The sun has been shining and the weather’s warm but the wind has been crazy. Since Tuesday we have had sustained winds above 20 mph. The first couple nights the wind died down at night a little but Thursday night there was no let up an by Friday morning the sustained winds along the lake were now 30-35 mph with gusts up to 50. I think these are the worst sustained winds we’ve had since living in the trailer. Makes me glad we are as heavy and compact as we are. 
Lake Trail
Thursday, despite the wind, John and I went for a bike ride on the Lake Trail (it runs along the lake front). On the way out the wind was at our back, so not too bad. It is a very wide sidewalk part of the time then city streets and then back to the trail; all in all a very beautiful trail about 5.5 miles long. When we turned around to ride back is when we realized how strong the wind was. It was a long ride back and there were a few times along the lake that the wind was actually pushing us sideways. Arriving home my arms were as tired as my legs from trying to keep the bike upright in the wind. I’d say it was a good core workout. :) 
Friday we decided to walk instead since the wind was so bad. Once again on the way into town the wind was at our back. Instead of staying just on the trail we veered off and went through town making a loop back to the trail. Away from the lake it was a pleasant walk. Storm Lake has many beautiful older homes and a nice downtown area. When we  got to the last section we were back along the lake and it was like hitting a brick wall. I don’t think I have ever taken a walk on flat terrain where I had to work so hard. We walked about 4-5 miles all together but when we finished it felt more like 10.
Gabe and Melissa
The wind finally let up last night and we headed down to Early where Gabe was making us dinner. Gabe has worked in various restaurants and is a very good cook so it was a treat. We had fish tacos with a cajun twist and they were excellent. We have enjoyed spending time with Gabe and Melissa. They are enjoying their first home and adjusting to small town life. Having grown up in a more metropolitan area it has been a bit of a culture shock to live in a town of 900. John and I having both grown up in small towns encouraged them to give it time and soon the young kids from the city won’t seem so strange to their neighbors. Melissa is enjoying teaching but she has her hands full. She is the art teacher  for grades K-8. Since it is her first year she is developing curriculum for all those grades and that is a challenging task. Next year will be much easier, I think, when she can take what she has and just make modifications or add new things. I know my first year teaching was an incredible amount of work. 
We will spend one more day here with Gabe and Melisa and then it will be off to Nebraska. We are going to stop near Waterloo NE to visit some friends and then head to Grand Island to spend a little time with my youngest brother Gary and his family.
I did want to end with this quote:
 “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” -Steve Jobs
R.I.P. Steve Jobs, 1955-2011
Happy Trails..............................

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Busy, busy, busy

Gabe fishing at sunset on Storm Lake, in front of our camping site

I have been remiss in my blogging as of late. We spent last week in Cedar Rapids (former home) and were out visiting almost every night as well as running errands every day. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, that’s not a pace I really like but sometime it has to be done. It was a good week of seeing family and tying up loose ends.
We spent time with Mitch several nights and I never feel like I have enough time with him but I know as a grown up he is always ready for mom and her hovering to end. We really did have fun this visit.
Autumn and Kolton
We also wanted to see my niece Autumn and her family as we had yet to meet their newest addition Corbin. They delivered Corbin in Virginia just and a week later were moving back to Iowa. Corbin was having a bit of a fussy night when we were there but we know that babies do that so we took it all in stride. His brother Kolten took up the slack and entertained us. He likes to show off his muscles and watch OOoo (or otherwise known as Curious George--I like OOoo better). It is nice to have them back in Iowa and where we will at least get to see them when we are back visiting.
Kelvin, now that's how to relax!
Our next stop was my nephew Jordan’s, not to be outdone by his sister, he and his wife Rachel have a little one born in August too. We did see them before we left but was good to see how this little guy was doing. Kelvin was born 5 weeks early, luckily he weighed in at a little over 6 lbs, he was still considered a preemie. You would never guess that if you see him now. He is bigger than his cousin Corbin who came right on time. He seems to be a pretty mellow fella. When he falls asleep it is a study in total relaxation.
Our last stop was to spend time with the Woods family. Trudy had Friday off so we got in a long coffee time at Paneras in the morning. Trudy is the one I miss the most so catching up on girl talk is a priority. Saturday we spent the evening with the whole Woods family and with another friend Judy, husband Ed and son Michael. Trudy, Judy and I spent a lot of time together pre-husband days. There were ski trips, Iowa Hawkeye games, camping trips and general craziness of the young and single days. It was so good to catch up on her life too.
Sunday was moving day. Now it was off to see the oldest son, Gabe and his girlfriend Melissa. They live in Early IA, which only a town of about 600. It is just 10 miles south of Storm Lake. When we moved them into their house we checked out the campgrounds on Storm Lake. There are two, one is Sunrise park, a nice park across the street from the lake. It still has a pretty nice view. The other park is part of Lakeside Marina which is actually in Lakeside, another small town on the lake. The two towns actually run together and the two campgrounds are only a few blocks apart. Being fall we really had our pick and we chose the Marina which has sites right on the shore. as you can see from the header photo it is a great site. Beautiful sunsets and the weather, though a little windy, has been beautiful. This is getting long so I will try to post again later about Storm Lake. So until then..
Happy Trails............................