"if you are not living on the edge, you are taking up too much room"

Friday, March 30, 2012

family stuff

Thursday was our scheduled day off and we decided to make the drive to Plainfield to visit Rudee's parents. The sun was out but the temperature was a little cool so we took the Dakota. Plainfield is about 70 miles east of here and we opted to take the 4 lane US 40 instead of I-70 since they were still doing a lot of road construction on the interstate.
Once we arrived it was time for lunch :-). Rudee's Dad was not feeling 100% and didn't want to go outside so we took Rudee's Mom to a local restaurant and then to her favorite place .... Kohls! She was one happy camper.
We spent the afternoon visiting with them and then headed for Jamestown where we surprised the grand kids by picking them up at their school. Amanda, our daughter, met us all in Lebanon at Pizza Hut and we had dinner out with them. Our son in law Ryan had to work and was not able to join us but he will get a lot of left overs because our eyes were bigger than our appetites and we ordered way too much pizza, pasta and breadsticks. :-)

We made it back to the 5th wheel in time to watch Swamp People on TV and then called it a night. Today is a work day and the campground has a large list of reservations. Looks like it's going to be a busy shift getting everyone registered and parked. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

learnin' the ropes

Tuesday was a day off for these two "workin' RVers". We spent most of the morning getting things at our site a little more comfortable. We pulled out the vinyl enclosure for the front of our 5th wheel and it was a little dirty from last year so we tossed it and our patio mat into the back of the Dakota and headed for the car wash for a good scrubbin'.
Once we got them both cleaned up we returned and put them in place. Now I have my Harley back in it's own garage :-). Rudee picked up sticks and swept our patio area while I put out our awning and got it staked down with our awning straps. These straps were named by my daughter who just happened to be with us when I purchased a set of awning tie down straps and after seeing me fighting trying to put them together and attach them to the awning announced that only a "sucker would buy those". We all got a pretty good laugh out of that and a name was born. :-)
Turns out she was probably right because I tossed those cheapo straps in the trash after only a couple of uses. Nowadays I use a set of ratchet straps hooked to a bungee cord that goes around the awning tube. The ratchet strap then hooks into one of those screw in the ground dog leash anchors. They work pretty good for "sucker straps" :-)
I also got the grille out and we decided to put it to use. Rudee pattied up a couple of burgers and I cooked them up for lunch. She also made a nice salad and we ate outside at our picnic table.
I guess I over worked myself the last couple of days because by 2pm I was tired so I took a nap!
Tuesday evening was spent watching TV and surfing the internet.

Wednesday it was back to work. We went to the cafe' here at the park and took advantage of our free breakfast that is part of our work camping package. I had volunteered to help the owner move some construction supplies this morning and that took us about an hour. The rest of the morning we just relaxed in the 5th wheel until time to go to work at 3pm.
I picked up our golf cart from the "parking shed" and picked Rudee up for our commute to work. Traffic wasn't too bad today, only one camper walking their dog :-)
I dropped Rudee at the office and found the owner to see what needed to be done. He gave a short list of things to accomplish and I started with feeding the donkeys. They get a coffee can full of grain sometime around 3pm so I took care of that and saw they were low on water so filled that up as well. Next on my list was to do some mowing with the push mower. The park has a zero turn rider but it doesn't fit everywhere so I mowed the fenced in doggy park and the area between the office and cafe' by hand. While I was doing this the campers started arriving so I would stop mowing to escort them to their sites. I also filled my very first propane bottle solo! Keith had shown me how to do it during my training on Monday but this was my first time all alone.
Rudee was kept busy in the office as we had a steady stream of RV's arriving to check in as well as current guests shopping and purchasing in the store.
Things slowed down some after 6pm and I was able to cross off the last chore from my list. The campground had their maintenance building burn down over the winter and a new pole barn has been built and they are finishing up the inside. Keith had spread some gravel around the building and I manned the rake and smoothed it all out to a level surface. This took me about an hour and boy was I pooped! This old fat boy is not used to manual labor! Looks like it will be a Ben Gay night tonight! :-).
Our final hour was not as hectic and Rudee was able to finish her work, run her reports and close out her cash drawer without too many interruptions. While she was doing that I made some trash runs and gave the donkeys their evening hay.
Once 8pm rolled around we were both ready to lock the doors and call it a night. I dropped Rudee off at the 5th wheel and parked the golf cart. Tonight will be a quick sandwich and then some TV before heading for bed.
Tomorrow is another day off and then we have to work the next 4 days straight ..... Oh My!! :-) I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

it's been a long day!

Monday was day #1 for our work camping job. We didn't have to report "officially" until 3pm but the owner wanted me to stop into the restaurant around 9am so he could show me some things specific to handling the morning meals. One of our "perks" is a free breakfast every morning so we may as well eat while I learn :-).
Our little training session combined with breakfast lasted about 45 minutes and then we made a Wally World run to stock up on some groceries.
Before we knew it it was going on 3pm so we pulled on our "uniforms" which are KOA t-shirts with our name tags. Rudee will be wearing a more "formal" dress shirt which has been ordered but has not made it here yet.
We hooked up with the owners and Rudee started learning the computer system and how to take reservations, check campers in and ring up sales. She was a little intimidated by the computer system but it sure looked like she picked it up quick.
My first job was to replace the blade on the lawn mower. Keith, the owner, had been mowing earlier and hit something and broke the blade. He already had the broken one removed but had gotten sidetracked finishing up the repair. That little job took me all of 15 minutes and then I was ready for more.
I went back to the office and found Rudee taking her very first reservation! She was pretty nervous but did a great job! She is going to be a super front desk person!
We started to get a few RVers coming in for the night and I learned how they wanted me to escort people to their sites. We even had a couple of the cabins rented for the night and I made sure both of those were ready for guests. Luckily they have a golf cart that I can use to buzz around the campground in.
I delivered fresh cookies, a bundle of fire wood and learned how to fill propane bottles in between my escorting duties. They have a small petting zoo that consists of 2 miniature donkeys and one of my jobs is to feed them their grain and hay. I forgot to ask what their names are, guess I'll learn that next shift :-)
Before I knew it 5pm rolled around and it was time to open the restaurant. This is a full service restaurant open for breakfast and supper with a decent variety on the menu. There sure is a lot to learn though. Keith showed me a ton of stuff and my brain was swimming. I'm sure I'll forget some things but hopefully can get everything right eventually.
We only had a couple of guests in and Keith took care of them while I observed. One had a ribeye steak dinner and the other had talapia. They do have another set of work campers coming that will be doing most of the cooking. They don't arrive until late April or early May so I will be chief cook and bottle washer, at least on my shifts, until they get here.
Our shifts end at 8pm when the office /store and restaurant closes. We were both pretty tired and got in our jammies as soon as we hit the door to the 5er :-).
The day went pretty fast and both our heads were swimming with new information. I'm sure a lot of this stuff will become second nature once we do it several times. Tuesday is our scheduled day off. We will probably spend the time getting settled in some more and maybe explore a little on the motorcycle. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

new Diggs!

Friday afternoon our son Matthew stopped by for a visit. He stayed for a few hours and we enjoyed his company, we sure missed the kid's "pop in" visits when we were gate guarding. The clouds started turning dark and we could here some thunder rolling in the distance so Matthew left so he could beat the storm to his house in Lafayette. Amanda, Ryan and the grandkids arrived just as Matthew was leaving and hung out with us for awhile. We watched as storms made their way through Indiana but once again we were lucky and only had some rain and a few streaks of lightning.
Saturday morning we were up before the chickens. Our plan was to meet Rob Runion for breakfast in Brownsburg and then head to the Mid-America Truck Show in Louisville for the day. The plan was to ride the bikes down but the weatherman was calling for some more storms to move in. The radar looked pretty clear when we got up so we decided to give it a shot and headed out on the Harley.
We found Rob sitting in the restaurant waiting on us and after a quick meal we pointed the bikes South. The temperature was in the mid 50's and the sun playing peek-a-boo behind some of the clouds but at least it wasn't raining. We took the interstate down and the 120 miles went by fairly quickly.
This is our fourth year attending this show and it is huge! All the semi truck manufacturers have displays along with hundreds of different vendors. This is a testosterone driven, manly man kind of event!
We walked and walked and walked some more and still didn't see everything. Rudee was busy picking up free stuff that the vendors pass out so we are now re-supplied with pens, note pads, calenders and enough Tootsie Rolls to last until Christmas! :-)
Rob and I enjoyed looking at all the big trucks, trailers and equipment but I couldn't talk him into trading his Ford F350 in for a new Freightliner. ;-)
The clouds had increased for the ride home but we were able to dodge any rain showers. We ended up dropping the bike off at home and then hopped in the truck while Rob went to pick up Jany. We then met back up in Pittsboro, Indiana, hometown of Jeff Gordan for you NASCAR fans, for supper. We made it back to the 5th wheel around 9pm and were both dead tired after a really long day.
Today (Sunday) was moving day. We were packing up to move to our summer home at the KOA in Terre Haute, Indiana. I had already loaded the bike onto the semi when we got back from Louisville so I just had the normal tear down and hook on stuff to do.
Rudee and I make a pretty good team and we were done and ready to pull out fairly quickly. The roads in this campground are narrow, winding and have a lot of trees in bad places so I took it really slow getting out to the highway.
The drive to Terre Haute took us about 2 hours and we arrived about 12:30. We already knew which site was ours so while Rudee stopped in the office to let them know we had arrived I drove on back to the site.
Rudee backed me in and we got unhooked and set up fairly quickly. I did take some extra time to make sure we were as level as possible since we are going to be here for the next 6 months.
Not too bad a site for a couple of workin' stiffs! :-)
We have a nice patio, some green space and a nice fire pit for campfires. Rudee is already planning on planting some flowers to spruce the place up some.
The campground hosts a pitch in every Sunday afternoon for all the work campers. We were able to meet some of our fellow workers (and neighbors) and had a nice meal to boot. There are still three other couples due to arrive in the next few weeks and we are looking forward to meeting and working with them.
We did get our training schedule and will be working from 3pm -8pm with Tuesday and Thursdays off for the next couple of weeks until the rest of the work campers arrive. We should be pretty well trained by then and our days off and hours will change once everyone is up and running.
Well our first day at work starts tomorrow. One of the perks of working here is a free breakfast everyday so we plan on trying out the restaurant tomorrow morning. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, March 23, 2012

life in the fast lane!

A few days ago Rudee mentioned we should take advantage of our time here and go see a local museum. We have lived in this area all of our lives but it seems like we always travel to another area to see and do things. I guess a lot of people are like that, live and work somewhere only to pack up and spend their vacation time exploring another area of the country.
I have always been a huge fan of the Indianapolis 500. The race is traditionally held on Memorial Day week end and my parents, brother, sister and I would always go camping with our camping club here in Indiana. For years now the race has been "blacked out" on the local TV so the only way to keep up on the action was to listen to it on the radio. The morning of the race someone would buy a newspaper that included the photos of all the drivers, the photos would be cut out and for .25 cents you could draw one of the pictures out of the hat. What fun we had keeping track of all the drivers while listening to the race plus if you had the winning driver you got the majority of the pot!
Since those days I have attended a few of the races and have even worked there a couple of years as an emergency responder back when I still had my Paramedic credentials.
I knew they had a museum on the grounds and had been before but it had been years ago. Thursday morning I suggested that would be a fun destination and Rudee agreed.
The museum is located in the in field of the track and the admission was $5.00 each which is a pretty good deal seeing as a "car guy" can easily spend a few hours there just looking!
They have a lot of the winning cars on display including the very first one from 1911, the "Mormon Wasp" and all 4 of A.J. Foyt's winners.
We watched a movie explaining the history of the track and were able to take our time and linger over the displays we found interesting.
Here is the famous Borg Warner Trophy awarded to the winner of the Indy 500, this is the actual trophy with the winning driver and car owner each getting a smaller replica. The faces of the winning driver are added to the trophy each year, pretty cool!
This guy is NOT one of the winning drivers! :-)
This is a replica of a Roger Penske owned car driven by Rick Mears back in the day, lets just say Rick and I are built a little differently. That car was TIGHT! Hard to imagine being squeezed into that thing and then flying down the track at 200 miles per hour inches from a cement wall! Can you say Cahones' ? :-)
We spent most of the afternoon exploring the museum and, being a race fan, I really enjoyed it. They also offer a ride around the track in a tour bus for an additional $5 but we passed on that. We have ridden around the track on our motorcycle and just didn't think a bus ride would do it justice after that.
Leaving the track we made the short drive to Plainfield to visit Rudee's parents. On the way we stopped at Shoe Carnival and each got a new pair of tennis shoes. I needed the shoes for a new adventure! I had applied for a job as a work camper at Amazon and they called me for a telephone interview Wednesday morning. I guess I did OK on the interview and they offered me a position for this fall in Campbellsville, Kentucky. I will not know exactly which department I will be in but suffice it to say I will need some comfortable shoes!
I contacted fellow blogger Larry Harmon, http://mountainborn.blogspot.com/ , and got some suggestions on campgrounds. He and his wife Bett have worked for Amazon for several seasons and are the experts on surviving the Christmas rush. I will start sometime in middle to late October and work until December 23rd. Campbellsville is only about 3 hours south of Indianapolis so we are planning on spending Christmas with the family. Rudee is already excited about that!
We have no real plans for our Friday but Saturday morning we are heading south (hopefully on the motorcycle) to Louisville to attend the Mid-America Truck Show. The show is huge and I'm sure I'll get the chance to break those new shoes in a little! I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

vacation is almost over

We have been enjoying ourselves visiting family and friends and our first week here in Jamestown has flown by. The weather has been absolutely perfect and looks like it will continue with only a slight cool down this week end.
Tuesday we rode the bike over to Terre Haute to finalize our arrival plans. We met with Keith and Mary the owners and they showed us which site they had for us and some of what we will be doing. Looks like Rudee will be in the office and I will be an "outside guy" filling propane, escorting, delivering firewood etc. They built a new building over the winter and Keith is insulating and drywalling the interior and needs some help completing it so it looks like that is what I will be doing for the first week or two. He has a lot of it done with only the garage/workshop area left to do. Luckily he has a fork lift to do the heavy lifting so it will be just a matter of placing the panels and screwing them in.
Our site has a nice brick patio that extends around the fire pit and has all the usual amenities, water, sewer, cable and WIFI. Best of all it should be easy to back into since it is in a curve of the campground road. There are plenty of trees here so even on hot days we will have some shade to keep things cool.
Mary is ordering our shirts but already had these
Guess we are "official" :-)
They have a couple of single people already working there and two other couples in addition to us working this summer. We are looking forward to getting to know the others and getting our feet wet as "work campers".
Our original plan last winter was to start on April 10 as scheduled by the KOA but we told them we would be in the state a little early and they offered us an April 1st start date and we accepted. Tuesday he said we could start anytime, the sooner the better so we decided to move over this Sunday and get set up. I guess the vacation is over and it is back to work!
Seems like so long ago that I first learned about work camping and started doing in depth research on this lifestyle. I would read as many blogs as I could find about the lifestyle but hardly any of them wrote about their day to day life as work campers and focused on their days off. My plan is to write a little more about my daily duties along with our adventures on our days off. This way readers that are considering work camping can get a feel for what it is like day in and day out. We'll see how it goes, but Rudee and I are excited to start this new chapter and look forward to sharing it with you. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, March 19, 2012

more family things

Sunday morning we woke up to rain hitting the roof of the 5th wheel. We were going to meet our son in Lafayette and were hoping to ride the bike but it was still raining when we were ready to leave so it was another day in the pick up truck for us.
The record high temperatures here in Indiana have continued and the trees and flowers are all starting to bloom. I love spring!

The rain quit after about 20 minutes and the sun came out and started drying everything up. We probably could have ridden the bike but it sure would have been messy for the first 1/2 of the trip.
We met Matthew and his fiance' Mandie at a small barbecue place he suggested. We enjoyed our lunch and spending time with them. They are getting married in October in her hometown in Pennsylvania so most of the conversation centered around wedding preparations. We are keeping the month of October clear so we can help with any last minute details and will be staying at an RV park nearby until after the wedding.
We are already thinking ahead to next winter and not sure what it will bring. We are considering heading back to the oil fields or I may try a stint at Amazon, spend Christmas with family and then head to the oil fields. All this could be changed if something interesting presents itself, guess we'll just wait and see.

After a long lunch we headed for Plainfield to our niece and nephew's house. Their oldest son Dylan was having a birthday so they were celebrating with a cook out this evening. We arrived with plenty of time to visit with everyone and catch up on all the happenings the past few months. There was a ton of good food and instead of cake and ice cream we had an ice cream cake. Dylan will be in 8th grade and the school is offering a trip to Washington DC this fall for his class. He attends the same school that I graduated from and they were doing the same trip back then and it was one of the highlights of my time in school.. Dylan is excited about going and he is already saving his money to afford the trip. We were all happy to help out and instead of presents he got a lot of cards with pictures of dead presidents inside :-).

We made it back to the 5th wheel just as it was getting dark. One thing nice about this campground is it is very peaceful and quiet at night. We have both been sleeping very well :-).

No real plans this week except to venture out on the bike some. I might even get the urge to look for some mushrooms since the weather has been so warm. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

mostly healthy

Friday we hung around the 5th wheel most of the morning. Rudee and our daughter Amanada decided to do a little shopping and left around noon to hit the stores.
I had an appointment with our family doctor late in the afternoon in Lebanon so I was able to spend most of the day watching TV and doing laundry.
Amanda dropped Rudee off at the doctors office and I met her there for my appointment. The test results on the blood drawn on Wednesday were back and it was good news, no issues found and my cholesterol was 147! Not too bad.
The doctor gave me the usual diagnoses, lose 20 pounds, exercise more blah, blah, blah.
We made some plans to meet with friends Steve and Trish in Frankfort for supper. They have both been having difficult times at work and are looking forward to summer so they can do some motorcycle riding and camping. We had a nice dinner at Applebee's and then went to there house to meet their new puppy dog Roxy, a tea cup Yorky.
Hopefully our errands are done for awhile and we can do some "stuff". Today (Saturday) we drove to the Indiana State Fairgrounds and attended the Indy 1500 Gun and Knife Show. I had a handgun that I used to carry as a back up when working at the Sheriff's Department that had not seen the light of day for quite awhile. I wanted to do a little horse trading for something a little more suitable for taking care of the rattle snakes that like to hang around the oil fields in Texas.
Gun shows are not really Rudee's "thing" but she agreed to go to keep me company. I think it was more to keep and eye on me but who knows :-).
The show was crowded but I was able to make a deal on my handgun after some negotiations. That particular dealer didn't have anything I wanted to trade for so it was a cash only deal.
We walked around the show several times and I made a couple of offers on some shotguns but most of the vendors were just "sellers" and not "dealers". After a couple of hours I was about to give up when I found a really nice, slightly used, 20 gauge Remington 870. The price they had on it was on the high side so we dickered a little and I ended up buying it for a very fair price.
The fairgrounds is huge with several large buildings. There was also a flower show going on that Rudee thought would be nice to see so we paid our admission and headed in. The truck was parked on the other side of the property so I just lugged the shotgun along with me. I felt a little funny walking through a flower show "armed to the teeth" and got a few strange looks but I think most of the people knew about the gun show going on next door :-).
We have plans to meet our son Matthew and his fiance' Mandie in Lafayette for lunch. We have been lucky and the storms predicted have all missed us so maybe we'll ride the motorcycle. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Doctors, Doctors and more Doctors

We have been really busy since arriving back in Indiana but we did get a chance on Tuesday to hop on the bike and take advantage of the summer like weather. Hard to believe that it is in the upper 70's in Indiana in March! We have been setting records for high temperatures every day this week.
Wednesday our daughter Amanda had an outpatient surgery done at a hospital in Carmel, Indiana. We were up with the chickens and headed out the door before the sun was even thinking about shining :-)
Our first stop was at our family Doctors office where I had blood drawn for some tests. I have an appointment to see him on Friday for my annual check up and he wanted time for the blood work to be back before my appointment. We then drove to Carmel to meet Ryan and Amanda. Her surgery was scheduled for 9:30 but of course they were running late. I think you could have the very first appointment of the day and they would still be an hour late!
They finally came into her pre-op room and took her back for her surgery and we retreated to the waiting room. We read old magazines, played with our phones and generally were nervous and anxious. Her procedure lasted about an hour and she did fine but had to stay in the recovery area for awhile to recover from the anesthesia. We made a quick trip to the cafeteria for lunch which was quite good considering it was "hospital food".
Both of our Grand Daughters had Doctor appointments shortly after they got out of school so we headed back to pick them up while Ryan waited with Amanda.
The girls were out of school right at 2:45 and we picked them up right on time. Unfortunately the 12 mile drive to Lebanon took us a long time because we got behind every school bus they had and each one had to stop several times to let kids off. We ended up being a few minutes late but, thankfully, their doctor took it all in stride. I guess now I know how the doctors can be late now. :-)
We dropped the girls off at their house shortly after Ryan and Amanda got home. Wow it was sure a long day with all theses medical appointments! We did get done in time to spend the evening with our motorcycle friends by attending the Wednesday night dinner ride. The weather cooperated and we had a large turn out with most of the group riding their bikes!
Today (Thursday) was another day to cross an errand off our list. We had an appointment with our tax preparer to file our state and federal returns. We were both pretty nervous since the gate guarding pay was not taxed since we were private contractors. We did have a list of items we could use as deductions but were not sure one would offset the other. After an hour and a half the news was not as bad as we thought it would be. We owe a little to the State but we actually get a small return on our Federal, they almost cancel each other out :-). We are going to try and be a little more prepared this year by paying our estimated taxes each quarter.
With all this running around we are both a little tired. My doctors appointment is not until tomorrow afternoon so we are looking forward to not setting our alarm clock before going to bed tonight.
Here is a photo of our site at Hillside Campground in Jamestown.
Not too bad until you see the view looking out our door.
Looks like we may have some rain and storms moving in the next couple of days but the temperatures are supposed to hold strong in the mid to upper 70's. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

quick update

We have been getting settled in here in Jamestown and will probably be here until it is time to move to our summer work camping gig in Terre Haute, Indiana.
This campground is a "work in progress". They have built a brand new shower house but cannot use it because the permits to put in a larger septic for it have been delayed. They have purchased an adjoining 100 acres to develop and this is causing a "hiccup" in the permits being issued. The campground itself is a dis-jointed affair of gravel sites just off the road and another row of sites "up the hill". We are in the upper part and the lower, where the new shower house is, is pretty much un-usable at the moment. They have a lot of work to do to turn this place around but they seem to be in a position to get it done. Maybe next year or the following year this will be a place that we could recommend to others, we'll see.

Sunday we got a good dose of "Grandkids" by spending the afternoon at our daughter and son in law's house just up the road. They had a great meal for us with Ryan cooking burgers on the grill and Amanda making all the fixin's. We had a great time having a belated Christmas party, opening gifts and telling stories. :-)

Monday our son Matthew came over and spent the day with us. We had a nice day with him running errands.

The rest of the week looks like more of the same. We need to renew our drivers license' and we have an appointment to get our taxes done (yuck, not looking forward to that bill!). We also want to take advantage of this spring like weather and do some bike rides as well as maybe our first Indiana float trip in the Sea Eagle. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

the long trip home

Saturday morning we were all up early and finished the final preparations for hitting the road. Our caravan pulled out just before 9am and headed north. The first leg of our trip was on US 43 which is a nice 2 lane road leading into Tennessee where it changes to 4 lanes. There was only light traffic and we made good time to Columbia where we jogged over onto I-65.
Traffic was heavy in and around Nashville and we stopped for a late lunch at the Kentucky Welcome Center. Our destination for the night was the Horseshoe Casino just northwest of Louisville, Kentucky on the "good side" of the Ohio River and we arrived at 5pm after adjusting our clocks to the eastern time zone. Hooray we made it back to Indiana! I had called ahead and made sure we could boondock in their parking lot and got directions on how to access their RV parking area. We were able to position ourselves so we could open our slides and have full access to our RV, of course there were no hook ups available but we knew this going in.
We all hopped into the Dakota and ran into New Albany for supper and then came back and hit the casino for a little while. Jany was the big winner leaving with a little over $2.00 of the casino's $$. Rudee lost a few dollars and I was up a whopping $1.31! Guess it beats losing my shirt! :-)

Sunday morning I got up before the sun and fired up the generator. I promised Rudee she would be able to use her hairdryer and didn't want to disappoint her, of course this gave me a opportunity to brew myself a pot of coffee too :-)
We got on the road at 8am to drive our final 150 miles. We were both anxious to see our kids and grandkids. We made one stop for a quick bathroom break at a rest park near Columbus, Indiana. We took the loop around the west side of Indianapolis where Rob and Jany turned off to head for their home in Brownsburg and we continued on the additional 15 miles to Jamestown, Indiana.
We are set up at the Hillside RV Park which is a small park a few miles off the interstate. The only thing the park has going for it is it is less than 5 miles from our grandkids! They did give us a very good weekly rate and we have 50 amp full hook ups. There is no cable or wifi and the gravel roads are pretty narrow but it suits us just fine for the time we will be here.

The weather is supposed to be unseasonably warm for the next couple of weeks in Indiana. We are happy for that and are hoping to finish this winter without seeing any snow at all! I'll keep you posted.

Friday, March 9, 2012

rain and a lazy day

Thursday the girls decided they wanted to go hit the stores and do some shopping. Rob and I both had a couple of small projects to work on so the women went one direction and us guys went the other.

Our first stop was Lowes. Rob wanted to extend the ramp for loading his Goldwing into their Raptor toy hauler. The ramp door has a small plywood extension that is hinged to the door and he wanted to replace this piece with a longer one. My project was to change the way the controls for the winch on my Rampage Motorcycle Lift hooked up. We picked up Rob's plywood and some 12 volt connectors and headed back to "gitter done".
My Rampage has a plug on the front (drivers side) of the winch motor for the controls which is a button on the end of a long cord. The plug has always been on the wrong end in my opinion because when the ramp is extended to the ground the cord has to be stretched its full length for you to barely reach the handlebars of the bike. Rob had given me the plug and cord from his old motorcycle lift when he changed over to a new winch. His old cord and plug were the same as mine and the scheme was hatched. By running 3 wires from the existing plug to the passenger side of the truck we were able to attach the additional plug. We drilled a hole into the diamond plate covering on the bed and mounted the plug so it was flush. Now I can operate the winch easily from either side of the truck :-).

Next we tackled Rob's ramp. He had Lowes cut the new board to size when he purchased it so that chore was already done. We removed the screws from the old piece and found that it had a metal guard between it and hinge. We used the guard as a template to drill the holes in the new board and then bolted it on. Easy as pie! Now Rob can raise the ramp a little higher, using jack stands for support, and decrease the angle from the top of the ramp to the ground. This will give him an easier entry into the garage area when he rides the Goldwing in.

We no more got the tools put away when the rain started. We made arrangements to meet the girls at Applebee's for lunch. The rain was off and on the rest of the afternoon. We were hoping to cook some burgers on the grille but the dark clouds rolled in and it started pouring. We went to plan B and cooked the burgers on the stove. The rain continued all evening and into the night.

Friday was a lazy day for us. Rob and Jany went into town and visited some antique shops, Rudee made a run to the store and I took my chair, ice tea and Kindle Reader over by the river to relax. I read, watched the boats and enjoyed the quiet for a couple of hours ...... ahhhhhh!
I did, with Rudee's help, get the bike loaded back onto the truck. She was impressed with the modification on the winch controls, Cool :-).
Rob got hooked up and loaded his bike as well. Hard to believe we have been here a week already. None of us want to leave but Rob has to be back at work and we are looking forward to seeing our kids and grand kids.
We plan on pulling out tomorrow morning and getting 300 miles or so before stopping for the night somewhere. This will give us a short day on Sunday so we can get the 5er set up and over to our daughters house for a cook out Sunday afternoon. We are going to get some Mamaw and Papaw hugs and kisses! I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Happy Birthday

Wednesday was Rudee's birthday, I won't tell how old she is but to me she is still the same 15 year old girl I met in the gym in high school.
One problem I ran into was finding some "private" time to buy her a present. She never gives me any hints or ideas for a present so I am on my own to figure out something. We all went to Wal Mart the other evening and I was able to sneak away for a few minutes and do some quick shopping. I looked in the women's clothes section and nothing special there. I went to the jewelry counter next but decided against that since I had gotten her so much jewelry for past birthdays, Christmas and anniversary's. I spied Rob and Jany walking down an aisle and grabbed Jany for some advice. I thought some perfume would be nice but had no idea what was "good". She walked me to the "perfume case" and we tested a few products before finding a bottle that used to be her favorite. I hope she still likes it!
I gave her present and card to her first thing in the morning and she liked them both ... whew :-)

Jany made us breakfast casserole this morning and it was very good. We then hung around the 5t wheels for the rest of the morning being lazy. We did take a short ride on the bikes around Florence and Muscle Shoals checking out some of the high $$ neighborhoods overlooking the river.

Rudee decided on Texas Roadhouse for her birthday dinner. We had a great time and a really good meal. The steak we shared was very tender and cooked perfectly. We both were stuffed and still brought home 1/2 of our steak for a future meal. Somehow the staff found out it was her birthday and made Rudee get on a saddle while they "treated her special" :-). Unfortunately I forgot to take the camera and my cell phone photos were all too dark :-(.

Rudee and Jany have a morning of shopping planned on Thursday. Rob and I are going to do a small project lengthening the ramp on his toy hauler. I also have a couple of small maintenance items to take care of as well. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

a little more history

Monday was pretty cool with the temperatures only rising into the lower 50's so we decided to park the bikes for today.
We hung around the campground for a while just relaxing and enjoying a slower start to the day. Our campground is part of McFarland Park ran by the city of Florence. They offer full hook up sites (no cable or Wifi) for a very reasonable price and if you are 62 or over you get an even better deal.
Reservations are accepted but they charge an additional $3.00 charge as a "reservation" fee plus you cannot reserve a certain site but it will guarantee a site available when you arrive.
The campground has a mix of angled back in sites and pull thru sites. A little heads up though, the back in sites are longer and the pull thrus are situated in the center aisle between the back in rows and look difficult to get into with a larger rig.
The park sits right on the Tennessee River. There is an access road you have to cross to get to the river but there is hardly any traffic here at all. They have a nice shower house, laundry centrally located in the camping loop. All said this is one of the better parks we have stayed at and the price makes it an even better deal!
We decided to head over to Shiloh National Military Park about 50 miles northwest in Tennessee. Rudee and I had been here before but had not been able to spend a lot of time exploring. We started at the visitors center watching a film explaining the battle. I will have to say it was one of the poorest documentaries I have seen. The film had to be at least 20-30 years old and was pretty cheesy.
We did purchase the auto CD driving tour since we were impressed with the one we did in Vicksburg. The park gives you a map with the tour stops marked but after you purchase the CD they give you another sheet of paper to follow because they have re-done the map and didn't change the CD so the tour stop numbers, roads and route do not correlate to each other. Needless to say we were disappointed with having to pay $14 for a tour CD and got lost several times trying to follow the poor directions given. We expected better.
One highlight to our visit was seeing this sight.
This is a male Bald Eagle and he is closely guarding the nest where his mate was sitting on an egg due to hatch any day. The park service has a TV monitor set up in the visitor center with a camera on the nest watching the excitement unfold. Look close and you can see the female looking over the edge of the nest.
We stopped for supper on the way back to the campground since it was getting late. Tuesday is supposed to be the start of warmer and sunnier weather. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, March 5, 2012

venturing out

Saturday was windy and cold but at least there was no threat of severe weather. We decided to all pile into the Dakota and do some exploring since it was going to be too cool for motorcycles.
I drove us all back to Hackleburg where we saw the devastation of the April 2011 tornadoes. Being in emergency services most of my life I have responded to damage caused by storms but nothing compared to this. There were very few trees left standing and most of the homes and buildings stood little chance. How terrifying this storm must have been :-o.
We stopped for lunch at a little out of the way place and enjoyed some "local flavor". The food was very good and reasonably priced.
On the way back to the 5th wheel we checked out a couple of motorcycle shops and did some "window shopping". I tried to talk Rob into buying a Harley Screamin' Eagle but the $36,000 price tag kept getting in the way :-).
We relaxed at the 5er Saturday evening with the girls making home made pizza and we all enjoyed some TV.
Sunday morning we decided to bundle up and take a motorcycle ride. We rode into Mississippi and hopped onto the Natchez Trace Parkway, This is a motorcycle road if there ever was one! Slow sweeping curves, rolling hills very little traffic and no stop signs!
We made a stop for a picnic lunch overlooking the Tennessee River. Here is Rob and Jany bundled up for the cool ride!
We also stopped at Tishomingo State Park and checked out the campground which is not big rig friendly although there were a couple of spots we could probably squeeze into. They do have a suspension bridge that we walked across. I'm not big on heights and coupled with the swinging of the bridge ...... well lets just say I was not a happy camper out on the bridge! :-)
We rode for a couple of hours and then headed back to the 5ers where Jany had a crock pot full of chili ready for us! Yummy good, especially on a cold day!
We ended the evening playing a couple of games of "Spinners" a domino type game. I ended up winning both games so luck was on my side but no $$ changed hands :-(
Our plans for Monday are written in Jello, still looks to be a little on the cool side so may do some more exploring in the Dakota. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

duckin' storms

Friday morning we kept track of Rob and Jany's progress and as they were getting close the weather just kept getting worse. A large storm popped up right in their path and we were pretty worried about them. They arrived around 10:30 and said it got kind of hairy for a few miles but they made it through OK. We found out a little later that the same storms produced a tornado that did some damage near Huntsville just east of where they went through :-O.

Once they were set up they came over and Rudee had lunch ready for them. Louisiana Bouidan and homemade clam chowder. We spent most of the afternoon just chilling out and catching up with each other.

The tornado sirens started going off around 3pm so we headed for the bath house. The skies were looking pretty bad and we could see a nasty storm approaching. A police car drove up as we were walking over and stopped to talk with us. He told us the storm was coming in from the south and headed our way fast, just then he got a call that there was damage on the east side of town and he had to leave. We watched as the storm skirted just to the east of us and all we had was some rain and a short spurt of small hail. Wow, we were lucky because this line of storms turned out to be pretty powerful.
Indiana also got hit pretty hard and we spent the evening making sure all our friends and family back home were all OK (they were).

The temperatures are on a downward trend the next couple of days but looks like the storms have passed. We have not made any plans for the week end yet but we are looking forward to venturing out and checking out the area. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, March 2, 2012

travel day to Florence Alabama

Thursday we woke up to rain .... rats! We had planned to move today but were re-thinking that idea if it was going to be wet and nasty. The rain quit right after I got out of bed and then the sun peeked out so we decided to head out as it looked like it was going to be a nice day after all.

We got on the road around 9:30 and headed north on SR 15. We were staying off the interstates today and our route took us through the Mississippi countryside before skirting a little east and into Alabama before turning north again.
We passed through the small town of Hackleburg Alabama which was all but wiped out by an F5 tornado last April. There are hardly any trees standing and it was sad to see the driveways leading up to empty foundations knowing that one year ago someones home had stood there. There were several people killed by the tornado and there is still a solemn feeling you get when passing through the town. The residents are rebuilding though and we saw new houses being constructed as well as a new drug store going up. The temporary drug store is a mobile home in the parking lot so I am sure the town is looking forward to the new larger building. This area was also home to a large Wrangler Jeans factory and stories have been told of blue leans raining from the sky miles away after the factory was destroyed. Makes one all the more aware of their surroundings while traveling in an RV. We always make it a point to know the name of the county we are staying in as well as nearby counties since most watches and warnings are listed by county name. Another good idea is to find a safe place to go ahead of time should a warning be issued for the area around your RV park.

We arrived at McFarland Park in Florence a little before 3pm. This is a city park right on the Tennessee River and they have a full hook up RV park with in the park itself. We checked in and was told to take any available spot and the camp host would come by and write down which site we were in. One thing good about having Rudee following in the Dakota is I can park the rig and we can easily tour the campground to find the best site.
They have a mix of back in and pull through sites that can easily accommodate big rigs. We selected site #102 which is a long back in site overlooking the river. There is a side street and play area between us and the water but we still have a nice view out the picture window :-).

There is a site next to us for Rob and Jany who should be here before noon on Friday. We are looking forward to our week here even though the weatherman says a cold front is moving through. They are predicting high winds and storms Friday and then colder temperatures for the next several days. We have our weather radio plugged in and our route to the cement block bath house all mapped out. Hope we don't have to use it! I'll keep you posted.