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

Friday, December 27, 2013

not slowing down much

Thursday morning I made a few more calls trying to find the motor I needed to fix the slide outs and jacks. None of the RV dealers here in central Indiana carried them but they all offered to order one for me. :-(
I took my search back to the internet and after trying several search phrases stumbled across a company in Fort Wayne, In. who boasted of having a large warehouse full of hard to find items for hydraulic systems. I knew it would be a long shot but gave them a call anyway. Sure enough they could order one but had none on the shelf. The guy asked me what I needed it for so I explained our situation, full time RVer's visiting family for the holidays and trying to live in a leaning, skinny motor home. I left out the part about not having any underwear, it didn't seem like appropriate "guy" talk. :-)
He told me they actually manufacture hydraulic systems to sell and said he would check the systems they had built to see if any had the motor I needed already installed on them and would call me back. I didn't hold out much hope for him to even call back much less luck out and they actually have the motor but sure enough, about 30 minutes later, he called and said he had not one but two motors! I told him I could be there shortly after noon and he said he would remove it and have it ready to go for me. Now all I had to do was get Rudee out of bed and convince her that driving 3 hours (one way!) was a good idea. :-)
She was a good sport about it though and we were soon headed North, I guess she was as ready to get back to normal living as I was.
The drive was a long one but I finally got my hands on a brand new replacement motor! We made it back to the motor home about 3:30 pm and I got it installed about 10 minutes later. Here is a photo, the new motor is behind all those bundles of wires and relays. I still have another motor being shipped to us and we'll hang onto that one for a spare so we are not in this predicament again.




ahhh, now we're living! I never realized blue jeans were so ...... scratchy. :-)

Friday I decided to tackle another project. One of the advantages of working at Amazon is the 10% employee discount on their products. We took advantage of it by purchasing two new flat screen TV's. Our motor home is a 2002 so the TV's in it are pre-digital, large, heavy monstrosities. We decided to tackle the living room first. The old TV was removed along with the DVD player and the separate VCR.





I moved our Dish Network receiver to sit below the new TV instead of in the cabinet beside it. I also ran the cables for the new Blue Ray Disk player Rudee got me for Christmas which will sit in the right side cabinet where the VCR used to be. Once all that was done I attached the swing arm mount to the side of the steel TV "box" that serves as the framework for our entertainment console above the dash. Next it was time to hook everything up and see if we could get it all to work right. I guess I measured pretty good because the TV fits perfectly and we even get a picture on it! :-)



Looks pretty good up there. We still have to figure something out to fill the space between the bottom of the TV and the satellite box. We are thinking of just covering some cardboard material with black cloth and attaching it to the cabinet but I may look for a "sound bar" that would fit so we can blast away on those Blue Ray movies. :-)
We still have the bedroom TV to replace but I'm hoping it will not be as intimidating as the front one was. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

family time

We wanted to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas. One of the biggest reasons we worked for Amazon this year was to have the opportunity to spend the holidays with our family. We have been really busy the last couple of days. Monday evening I kicked Rudee out of the kitchen and made two large batches of noodles. She had finally finished her baking and candy making so I really didn't have to push her too hard, she was tired. :-)
Tuesday morning we were out the door early and, along with daughter Amanda and grandson Nicholas, headed toward Rudee's Mom's house to get things ready for dinner and family time. We spent all day cooking, cleaning and setting up tables, chairs etc. Her family all live within a few miles of each other and have the tradition of gathering at the old home place on Christmas eve. Over the years, as her family grew, we moved the gathering from the living and dining room to the attached two car garage. Rudee's Mom is in her 80's and not able to do all the work needed to host such a large event so we were thankful we were able to get everything ready for the rest of her family to enjoy. Just another advantage of this full time RV lifestyle. :-)

Christmas morning was spent inside our daughters house watching the grandkids open their presents. Amanda made a nice breakfast for us and we had a great time with them. That afternoon we gathered everyone up and drove over to our son in law Ryan's brothers home where we had another nice meal. We had a great time and it sure made working those weeks at Amazon worth all the aches and pains. :-)

I am getting closer to getting our slideouts and jacks fixed. We initially thought we were going to have to take it to an RV repair place to have it replaced but I did a little more research on the internet and it didn't look too hard. I decided to give it a go, so Monday morning I got the tools back out and removed the motor. I then called an alternator/starter repair place in nearby Crawfordsville, Indiana and they said they would take a look at it. We made it a family event and loaded up the grandkids and headed out. We dropped the motor off and they did a quick test, yep it's bad. They don't have that type of motor but said they would try and fix it for me so I left it with them. We did some shopping and were eating lunch when the shop called me and said it was ready. They took it apart and it was "full of rust" so they cleaned it up and got it working again. We finished lunch, picked up the motor ($32.00) and headed home. I quickly got the new motor installed and then headed inside where I nervously pressed the button for the living room slideout. The motor started but only ran for a couple of seconds and quit again :-( RATS!
I checked all the wiring again and we had power to everything so I took the motor back off again. Ryan was home from work by this time so we tested the motor using a battery charger for power and got it working again. We installed it on the motorhome once again but it still would run when under the load of turning the hydraulic pump even though we can turn both shafts by hand. I decided to order a brand new motor and have it shipped here so we are still living with the slideouts in. The motor we removed was an aftermarket one made in Slovenia so this part is apparently a replacement for a past failure of the original part. I think carrying a spare one might be in our future rather then having to wait for one to be shipped because I have yet to find one on a shelf at any of the local places.

We have also had some other issues. The temperatures have been really cold here with the lows in single digits. Before leaving Kentucky we filled the water tank up since we knew we would not be able to hook up a hose to their house since it is a couple of hundred feet from the spigot to our rig. Tuesday morning we woke up and a water line had frozen somewhere so now we had no water flowing! I had prepared for the cold by placing an electric heater into our "wet" bay and our wireless remote thermometer said it was almost 40 degrees in the bays. Since we had such a busy day planned I didn't have time to search out the problem and the temps were not going to warm up much anyway. Once we got home Christmas eve I checked the wet bay and, even though I thought it wasn't needed, I turned the electric heater up a notch to see if that helped. The last thing I did was move a hose that was attached to the water filter so I could close the compartment door and it was frozen! That hose is what I hook the outside hose to when using an outside water source. This way the water passes through a filter before entering the coach. I had left the other end hooked up to the outlet into the rig and it was also frozen. Hmmmm, I think I might have found the problem. I unhooked the hose, crossed my fingers and shut everything up again.
Sure enough sometime during the night things thawed enough to let the water flow again and we have not had any other problems! :-)
Our plans for the rest of the week will be pretty laid back. I have two TV's to replace here in the motorhome and hope to get those projects completed and of course the new pump motor will need installed (I'm getting pretty fast doing that!). Besides the good news of being able to take a shower again Santa Clause was nice enough to leave me a package of underwear under the tree. Life is good again! I'll keep you posted.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Done!!

Our last shift at Amazon was Friday night. Rudee and I both ended up watching the clock way too much while we worked. I guess we were hoping it would move a little faster. Several times I glanced at it thinking, surely another hour had passed only to find out it had only been 15 minutes. :-)
When we returned from our lunch break at 10:45 pm they announced that all of the Camperforce (that's our "official" title at Amazon) were to be dismissed at 2:00 am to report to the large break room downstairs for our "mustering out". Let me tell ya, that old clock almost screeched to a halt after that! We finally made it and headed downstairs to the "party". We got checked in by an HR person and was given yet another T-shirt. Several managers got up to speak and pretty much all said the same thing. We were then dismissed and our very first Amazon experience came to an end. The work was probably the hardest work we had ever done and I can't be prouder of Rudee. We both hung in there in spite of the aches and pains. As soon as we exited the building I gave her a hug and yelled out "we did it!', I was pretty excited to be done. :-)
Here is a photo of us and our fellow Camperforce co-workers.


They were a great group of people who I can now call friends. :-)
Several of us met at the Huddle House restaurant for a last celebration meal before saying our goodbyes. Rudee and I then went back to the rig and got a few hours of sleep.
Saturday morning I got the rig fired up and the power cord put away. The motorhome started on the first turn of the key, not bad after sitting for two months. :-)
I pulled the jacks up and we pulled out onto the roadway so I could hook up the Dakota. Once everything was hooked up we pointed the nose of the rig North and headed for home.
The temperature when we left Cambellsville at 10:30 am was 68 degrees and once we got to Indianapolis (only 200 miles!) it was 38 degrees. Brrrrrr! That was a BIG change. Beside the temps we drove in rain and heavy traffic for the entire trip. We made a stop at a rest park a few miles from the exit to our daughters house and unhooked the truck. Rudee would drive it the last couple of miles so I could back right in their driveway. I got the rig parked and started the set up procedure. First thing on the list is to lower our stabilizer jacks. No problem, jacks came right down and were leveling the rig when they stopped. I pushed the button manually and nothing happened. Not good! I hit the "store jacks" button and they returned to their up position but would not deploy again. :-(
I checked all the fuses that I could find but nothing was wrong there. I finally crawled under the rig and checked the hydraulic motor. The solenoid on the motor would click when Rudee pushed on the buttons but the motor would not move. I gave up on it for the night since it was cold, pouring rain and getting dark. I soon found out the same motor works the slide outs too so it will be a little cozy (and bouncy) in the rig until I can fix it.
We took Amanda and her family out to the local Pizza Hut for dinner where son in law Ryan, their next door neighbor Steve and I proceeded to drain two pitchers of beer. Hey, it had been a tough day!
After dinner we headed back to the motorhome (with Rudee driving) where we finally headed to bed. :-)

This morning Ryan and I started looking for a fix for the slide out/jack motor. My first check was the batteries. I learned a long time ago that if anything is going "goofy" in an RV that it might be a bad battery causing it. Both of the batteries were "A-OK" so we moved on. The next thing to check was the ground for the motor. Ryan undid it from the frame and cleaned everything with a wire brush and I tried the buttons again ..... nothing. We then tried to "jump" start the motor by bypassing the solenoid, that didn't work either. We are pretty certain the motor is shot and it is a little over our heads replacing it so I will make some calls tomorrow to the local RV places to see if anyone can fit us in their service schedule. The good news is we are safe and sound, our rig is still "livable" with the slides closed so we can stay warm and dry. The bad news is the bedroom slideout contains our closet and my clothes drawers so I cannot get to my underwear! Rudee had all the laundry clean and put away so there is only one dirty pair that can be washed so I guess I'm "El Cammando" for a few days. :-o I know, TMI but like I always say, I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

the end is in sight!

We received an email Monday evening from Amazon announcing our "furlough" date. Our last shift will be this Friday night, so once we clock out Saturday morning at 4am we are free to pack up and leave. The only problem with that is when we get off work we are both dead tired and who wants to start out at 4 am anyway! We are planning on coming back to the rig and crashing for a few hours and then head toward our daughter house sometime that morning or maybe later depending on how comfortable that bed is. :-)

Yesterday was supposed to be the busiest shipping day of the year for Amazon. On our shift, in our department we had 39 people packing boxes and moving them down the conveyor. When we started 9 weeks ago there were only around eight of us. At one point they said we were shipping out over 3500 "units" (boxes) per hour. That is a ton of product seeing that each "unit" has to be boxed and sealed by hand. Needless to say we were both bushed when we got off work. Things should start slowing down in the next couple of days as the Christmas orders slow and people start thinking more about faith, family and food rather then about gifts.

Our last weekend off we made a trip to Horseshoe Casino in New Albany, Indiana with some of our co-workers. I found a great deal on rooms at the Casino Hotel on "cyber Monday" and we each got our rooms at $46 for the night. Larry, one of our fellow packers, plays craps and he came out the big winner. Not to be outdone I had some more luck on the penney slots. One machine I cashed in almost $200 over and above the money I put into it to get started. :-)
We had a fun night out with our friends, just the thing to recharge us for our final week. :-)

Once all the fun at Amazon ends I will write about our experiences and thoughts about being part of Amazon's Camperforce so stay tuned. I plan on tearing the antenna booster down in the next day or two so will probably be incommunicado but will update you all when we land in Indiana.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Hot water woes ...part deaux

Well I guess I was a little premature when I declared the hot water fixed. I went out the front door of the coach and there was water running out the bottom of the access door to the heater. Now what??!! I knew the pressure regulator had been dripping occasionally and had purchased a spare "just in case". Now it was pouring water out at a steady stream and it wasn't even hot water. Time to change the old corroded regulator with the shiny new one.


I got out my adjustable pliers, turned off the water and "presto, chango" had that sucker swapped out in no time!. I turned everything back on and was back in business. The water heater fired up and ran, and ran, and ran, and ran before finally shutting completely down. Now what??!! I quickly deduced it had to be the thermostat not working. There is an emergency cut off that shuts things down when the water reaches a really high temperature, like 200 degrees (YIKES!). I called the only RV place here in Campbellsville and he had the proper part so we made a stop on our way to work. Yesterday was another "presto, chango" day so I once again got my tools out and started to work. The old thermostat came out pretty easy but the new one was a little tougher to install. The thermostat is held in place by three tabs on the outer wall of the water heater case and is held tight to the inner tank by a spring that has to be compressed while turning the thermostat so it locks in place. I had to bend the tabs a little with my screwdriver and, of course, two were easy and the third one was tough to get too. Of course no job is complete with out a little blood shed and an apology to our neighbors for my language. :-)


I was able to get the new thermostat installed and after two days of operation it is back to cycling like normal.
No big news at work yet on our release date. We are still planning on our last shift being our "normal" end of week on December 21st. There has been some rumors about us getting out a day or two earlier. We are supposed to get the "official" date from Amazon sometime this week, until then it's just work, eat, sleep and repeat. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

feeling our age .....

Wow, this week has been a tough one! Our only days off were Sunday and Wednesday so we really didn't have the time to recuperate. My hat is off to the full time employees who are required to work the mandatory 60 hours of overtime as well as the work campers who volunteer to do it. We are only required (as work campers) to do a maximum of 50 hours and that is our schedule for at least one more week. The good news is, since our overtime day is Tuesday, we are back to having two days off in a row. :-)

This week has not been without it's drama though. Friday Rudee was finishing her shower and hollered at me to come into the bathroom, she was smelling a "hot" smell. I went in and knew right away we had an electrical issue ...... somewhere. She had the electric heater on but we quickly ruled it out, then I checked the portable ice maker we keep on a shelf above the washer/dryer. Nope, that's not it. Then I thought about the water heater and ........ yep, you could smell the hot, burning wire smell coming through the floor area where the water heater is located. Crap! I quickly shut it off and the smell slowly went away. The water heater heats the water two ways, either by an LP gas burner or by a 120V electric heating element. We have almost always used the electric portion since the gas burner is noisy and the water heater is just below the floor at the foot of our bed, plus the electric provided at most RV parks is included in the site fee. :-)
I let everything cool down some and turned the water heater back on using LP now. Oh oh, I should be hearing the burner burning but it was totally silent. Double crap! By this time we had to leave to go to work so I didn't have the chance to figure out what the problem was with the gas side of things and was worried the the whole unit was "toast".
Saturday afternoon (which is our "morning") I was finally able to take a look at it. Our heater has "thermal cut off" which is a type of fuse that will not allow ignition if it is blown.
The problem is you can't always see if it is good or bad just by looking at it. I got a small piece of 12v wire and bypassed the fuse and "whoosh" the unit fired up! Now we're getting somewhere! I had to replace the fuse once before and when I bought the replacement it came with two of then in the package. I just had to remember where I put the other one. :-o
I showed the old one to Rudee and she had no idea where it could be. I looked in all my usual hiding places and then remembered I store some small things in a compartment in my tool box and "looky what I found".


I put the new fuse in place and we were back in the hot water business! I will tackle the electric element down the road when I have more time (and energy!).
The weather has made a turn for the worse. We went from 60's earlier this week to the 20's and 30's with heavy rain. When we came out from work this morning I had to scrape about 1/2" of ice from all the windows and there is nice coating of ice on all the tree limbs. Brrrrrrr!
We are starting to do the big countdown for our remaining time in Kentucky. Two more weeks to go! I just hope this weather gives us a window where we can get out of here safely. Our plan is to head back to Indiana for a week to ten days and then head south to Florida. We are still in the market for a work camping job (or any gig really) for this winter. We are checking into Disney but they require "in person" interviews so we may check them out further once we are there but if any of you know of anyone hiring let us know. We are not too picky our only requirements are no snow or ice! I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

gonna be busy!

With Thanksgiving over the big Christmas buying frenzy starts. I have to laugh a little at the whole "Black Friday" thing. Since when did Friday begin at 4pm on Thursday? Looks like all the stores are doing their best to get people in earlier and earlier for the mayhem.
We were invited to go to dinner Thursday afternoon with a group of fellow "Amazonians" here in our RV park. To give us time to enjoy the holiday Amazon let the day shift off three hours early and delayed our start time by three hours, thanks Amazon! :-) There were five couples and we had a great time getting to know each other and share our stories.

Friday and Saturday were our regular scheduled work days and it was also an "all hands on deck" event. Pretty much everyone who works at Amazon had to work those days. We were busy but with all the extra people from different shifts we handled the additional work load well. The biggest issue was getting in and out of the parking lot! Even though the police were directing traffic it was still a slow process moving that many people in and out.

Today (Sunday) is our only day off for a few days. We are normally off Sunday, Monday and Tuesday but with "Cyber Monday" coming up we are having to work. We will get Wednesday off and then back to work the rest of the week. We are both still a little sore after work but my hands have quit hurting and my feet are starting to "get used to the abuse". :-)

While off today I took advantage of the time to complete my next project. Several months ago I read on an internet forum about changing the fluorescent lights in the ceiling into LED lights by simply wiring in a strip of lights. I kind of forgot about it until our friend and fellow fulltimer Steve (FOSJ Blog) wrote that he had made the switch in their motorhome. This sparked the memory in me and I got busy ordering the LED lights and electrical connectors which were delivered last week. The lights are pretty easy to install, they come in a big strip and you can cut them with scissors to the length you want. I removed the florescent bulbs and cut the wires to the ballast. Then you simply wire the LED's up and peel and stick to the inside of the light fixture. The lights work great but I had some issues with a couple of the "quick connects" that came with them, they just didn't want to make a good connections. I changed out all three of our overhead lights and we really like the new lights.
Before


After


I still have one connector that is giving me a problem. I think I'll get my soldering iron out, maybe that will scare it into working right! :-)

We also decided to get into the Christmas spirit so we put up our tree! That consisted of me crawling into one of our basement storage compartments trying to find the box holding our tree which, of course, was all the way back into the farthest corner. Turns out that was the hardest part since the lights are already strung on the limbs all you have to do is spread them out and hang the ornaments.


Looks pretty festive! :-)

I'm not sure if I'll feel much like writing in the next week or so since we will be working so much. Only three more weeks to go and we'll be free again! I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wow, where has the time gone! I'm sorry I have not updated the blog but with working 10 hour night shifts time tends to get away from you.
We have started to get busier at work. We are still, for the most part, working in a different packing area but everyone is gearing up for the big "sell off" between now and Christmas. We are scheduled for some extra days next week as well as some 12 hour shifts as we head into December. :-o
Our last three days off we went back to Indiana for a couple of days to visit family. Rudee also had an appointment with her surgeon as well as her first mammogram since her surgery. We got the best possible news, no signs of the cancer! Hoorah, happy dance!



This is just one of the many things we have to be thankful for this season. We have had a tough year but it could have been so much worse and we are thankful for that. Most of all we are thankful for being able to live in a country where we are free to pursue this wonderful lifestyle and meet so many great people. Be safe in all your travels this holiday season my friends. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

week #4 almost over

We are almost done with our fourth week working as "packers' at Amazon, hard to believe we are almost 1/2 done. The week started out really cold with temperatures dropping into the lower 20's at night. We have been using our LP furnace as little as possible. Since Amazon is paying for the electricity it only makes sense to use our electric space heaters but when it gets this cold we have to make sure the furnace kicks on occasionally to heat our "wet bays" where are water hose hooks into the motorhome. We use an "extend a stay"  which I connected to our on board LP tank and this allows us to use a portable LP tank versus running the big tank low and having to tear everything down and drive the rig to town to refill. The downside to the portable tank is there is no gauge so when it's out you get cold and that is what happened to us sometimeTuesday night. When I woke up Wednesday morning the thermometer said it was only 60 degrees inside the coach. BRRRRR! I had to go outside and turn the small tank off, turn the big tank on then run back inside (the outside temperature was 22!) and reset the furnace so it would fire up again. Rudee stayed snuggled in bed. :-)
I found a place just outside of town to refill our portable tank and got that chore taken care of. Their prices were very reasonable at $20 for our 30lb tank, "see ya again in a couple of weeks guys".

Work this week has been more of a struggle. We are both sore and I am really feeling it in my hands. They are swollen and starting to ache from all the hand movements I do building and packing boxes. I have been taking Ibuprofen thinking that may help some with the swelling as well as the pain, time will tell if it works or not.
We are still a little slow with work. They have offered voluntary time off the last couple of shifts and last night they came around before our first break asking for people to clock out and if they wanted to stay home tomorrow (Saturday night) they would really appreciate it. We had already decided to stay as long as possible and losing an entire shift on Saturday just seemed to contradict why we are here in the first place, so we told them we wanted to stay. Only a couple of people left at 8 pm and they took about half of the remaining folks and shipped them out to a different department (Rudee and I stayed packing). Shortly after midnight they came around and asked if we wanted to leave at 2 am if they offered VTO to us and we said we would, next thing I know the supervisor came back over to us and said "log out and have a good night". We ended up clocking out at 1 am instead of 2 am and were a little confused about the sudden change but I guess, technically, we did volunteer to leave early but are not sure why they moved the time up on us.
The supervisor did share with us that they had 23 new trainees that would be packing boxes Saturday night so if we came to work it would not be packing. Sounds like we will be putting more tape on the floor or just doing "busy work" and it may end up being a long night. Maybe they will send us to a different department like they did the group last night. They worked in ICQA which (I think) stands for Inventory Control Quality Assurance. What that entails is they go to all the different cubby holes that hold all the millions of products and count how much "stuff" is in each hole and enter it into a hand scanner. The scanner tells them which "cubby hole" to go to and how many items should be there. The downside is there are cubby holes all the way to the floor so knee pads are provided.
I'm not sure I would like all the bending and stooping but it would be nice to learn something different while we are here. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

last project complete (for now anyway)

We have been busy the last couple of months updating the interior of the motor home. We are always aware of our budget and want to be as frugal as possible so we always keep our eyes out for a good deal. That is how I found a virtually brand new leather sofa sleeper several months ago. We bought it sight unseen and a friend picked it up for us so it was waiting in Indiana for our return this fall. That was only the beginning. We soon had new coverings on our window valances as well as replaced the recliner with one we found at an RV surplus dealer. We also replaced the old, worn out slideout awnings with new, heavier vinyl. These projects were all completed before we had to leave Indiana for our jobs at Amazon.
Once we got to Kentucky the work on the rig slowed down some but didn't stop. We installed our new blinds shortly after we arrived here with sets we purchased at Lowes. We also wanted to replace the front captains chairs because the leather was cracked and had ground in dirt that we couldn't clean no matter what we tried. The price of new chairs, even at the surplus places, was a little more then we wanted to spend. I found these at Camping World so we gave them a try.


While not as "fancy" as new chairs, they look decent and our bank account didn't suffer too much.
The last thing we wanted to change was the nasty looking curtains that cover the windshield. That was what we were looking for at Camping World when we found the seat covers. We found out they have to be special ordered so started looking for alternatives. I found some on line that were two pieces but ours are three pieces because our entry door is at the very front. You have a panel for the drivers side, one for the passenger side and another for the entry door. Plus these were pretty pricey for what you get.
I ended up doing some more research and stumbled across this website http://cheap-rv-living.com/ which had an article where they had gone through the same search as us. Their answer was to purchase heavy duty shower curtain liners for their motor home. This sounded really interesting to me so I started reading some of the other articles and projects they had done. Seems like they felt the same as we did in regards to doing things on a budget. I mean, why spend a fortune when there are alternatives and doing it yourself saves a ton of $$'s over paying someone else. I read several of their web pages until curiosity got the best of me and I had to put a face and name to them. I clicked on their profile link and "Hey, I know her!", it was Robin who is one of our co-workers at Amazon! Talk about a small world moment!
The next day at work Rudee told her the story and we got to ask her a lot of questions in person. :-)
We decided to give the project a try and found some very nice, heavy duty liners at Wal Mart. They are the same shade as our new seat covers so everything matches pretty well.
We used the existing hooks to hang the new curtain and then trimmed them for length. We ended up having to make a run back to Wal Mart to buy another panel, we had originally purchased three and it took all of them and part of a fourth to cover everything.
Here is the old


and the new



So here is how it all breaks down, budget wise:
"new" leather couch: $350
new leather euro recliner: $275
captain chair covers: $56.00
new blinds: $350.00
recovering valances: $22.00
slide out material: $280.00
windshield curtain material: $40.00
for a grand total of $1373.00. That is about half the cost of a new couch alone. Not too bad at all!
We are done remodeling for now but you know, a larger flat screen TV in the living room would be nice ...... I'll keep you posted! LOL


Sunday, November 10, 2013

a third!

Yep, we finished week #3 at Amazon and are 1/3rd of the the way done. The work is pretty mindless and repetitive but you are busy enough that the time goes fairly quickly. We are both tired and sore when our shift ends as we hobble, moan and groan our way to the parking lot. :-) We have been using a lot of
these



My shoulder muscles are bothering me the most. I find myself stooping over a table for hours on end and am trying to watch my posture while working to help relieve those muscles.
We have both noticed our hands have swollen the last couple of days so we are not wearing our rings until either the job ends or the swelling subsides.
When the orders are slow Amazon offers "VTO" which stands for "voluntary time off". Our department was offered VTO three days this week. The first was Wednesday night (actually Thursday morning) at 2 am. We declined since we had less then 2 hours to finish our shift, plus it was our first 10 hour shift and we wanted the accomplishment of finishing. They offered it again Friday evening so we took them up on it versus being sent to another department to work. Last night when we got to work we did our start up meeting, stretches and got our work station assignments. When I got to my station the conveyor belt was empty. No totes full of "stuff" to pack. There is usually a line of totes on the belt for as far as the eye can see, Oh Oh. Our supervisor started making calls and a few totes started arriving but not nearly enough to keep more then three or four people even remotely busy and there were twelve of us. The announcement was made that we should start cleaning and restocking the entire department so that is what we did until our first break when they offered VTO once again. A few of my co-workers took them up on it but we decided to stay since it was pretty early in our shifts. There were still no totes after break so they had Rudee and I putting colored tape on the floor of a new area they are setting up. The different colored tape outlines "parking places" for skids, carts, trash cans etc. That took us to our lunch break when they offered VTO once again. Our supervisor said he needed to get the department down to just three people since they had another 13 coming in for training on the second half of our shift. We decided to go ahead and give up and go. We had stuck it out for 5 hours doing "busy work" and just wanted to be done with it. We ended up with three of our co-workers needing a ride so we all piled into the Dakota and headed for the Huddle House restaurant where we had a great time eating, talking and getting to know each other better. We had a great time!

I'm not sure what next week will look like, we will have the five work campers who joined us last week and have been working 5 hour shifts now working the full 10 hours, plus 13 new employees that are training. I sure hope the work is going to be there for us, otherwise our area is going to be the cleanest packaging area in Amazon history! :-) I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Really??!!

We survived our first long shift at Amazon. We are both sore and that last hour went really, really slow. I guess we were both doing a lot of clock watching. :-)

When we arrived at the campground here there were not very many sites available. We chose to move in next to blogger buddies Jessica and Harry http://rikerrvdays.blogspot.com/ who have been here for several weeks. I think I mentioned that we had to ask a guy (our other new neighbor) to move his truck, he was using our site as his parking space. He was not real pleasant doing this and said he would move it so we could back in but would be parking there since "that is where I park". Well he moved it and we have all parked our vehicles in a grassy area in the middle of this small campground.
This morning when we got home at 4:30 am the center grassy area was packed with cars and trucks so I moved our gas grille a little and parked on the gravel area next to our front door like a lot of the others do. When I got up early this afternoon this is what I found:



I waited a couple of hours thinking he may just be unloading something but it was obvious he was just trying to make a statement. Amazing how some grown "adults" can act like a 4 year old! I took our trash to the dumpster and the fellow parked on the opposite side of him came out too. He was also blocked in by this dimwit. He said the guy put up a fuss when he arrived and didn't want him parked blocking his view. I decided to call the campground owner and he came right over and talked to the guy who then moved his truck onto his own site so we can all get our vehicles out now. I guess we will just see how it goes. I'll keep you posted

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

playing tourist

We finished our "work hardening" days at Amazon and are getting ready to move to our normal shift of 10 hour days, well actually it's 10 hour "nights" in our case. We will report for work tonight at 5:30 and get off at 4:00 am. I sure hope we are ready and can handle the standing, stooping, lifting and bending!

On our 3 days off we decided to be tourists and check out some of the local area. We took a nice drive through the winding back roads to this place.


We took a great tour and learned a lot about distilling "spirits". Here is our tour guide Lindsey.



Both of us are fans of the TV show Moonshiners and now understand a little more about what they are doing when they are "cooking the mash". :-)


One little tidbit I never knew was the distilling process releases a "mold" that attaches to the wood of the buildings, fences and surrounding trees leaving a black residue. They say it is not harmful to humans or the trees but it is the reason they paint their buildings black. :-)

They age the liquor in charred white oak barrels for around 7 years.  The barrels are stored in a large 4 story warehouse where they are moved from the top floor to the bottom over the course of the 7 years.

Once the bourbon is aged it moves to the bottling room where it is bottled, capped and hand dipped in their signature wax sealing process.



The last stop on the tour was the tasting room where we sampled their product in different stages. Cheers!


The first was pure moonshine watered down to 90 proof. Then we tried their aged Bourbon and some that had aged too long. Frankly my tongue was pretty numb after the moonshine so the rest of the samples were more for fun. :-)

To regress a little bit, Sunday evening we were watching TV when Rudee lost a cap from her tooth. Luckily she didn't swallow it and have to go "searching" for it the next day or two like our buddy and fellow fulltimer Steve did at FOSJ. :-)
I called a dentist first thing Monday morning before leaving for the distillery and got her an appointement for Tuesday. The appointment was for 11 am and we had to hustle a little to make it on time since our sleep time is still a little screwed up. We walked in the door at 10:58 and I was a little worried. The office was pretty fancy inside with ornate wood desks and trim. Oh, oh this may be a little more expensive then we had hoped.
Rudee started filling out the paperwork and someone in the waiting room said "Hi, Phil and Rudee". Needless to say we were a little surprised that someone would know us here in the waiting room of a dentist in Kentucky. Turns out it was co-worker and fellow fulltimer Karen http://wishuponanrvstar.blogspot.com/. We have been "blogger buddies" for awhile now and she is working the same shift and area at Amazon ... cool!
They re-attached Rudee's cap in short order and only charged us $25! What a deal! Should any of our readers happen to need a dentist while working at Amazon in Cambellsville, check out The Smile Center.

Once we were done at the dentist we checked out some of the other campgrounds that Amazon pays for their workcampers to stay at. We are happy where we are at, it is quiet and fairly close to work and shopping but we wanted to see the others too. The nicest commercial one is about 17 miles from town, large level sites, WIFI, and even a large buried storm shelter for bad weather but 34 miles round trip several times a week just doesn't work well for us. The local State Park is also on their list and is a wonderful park with paved sites, WIFI and sits right on a lake. Beautiful! The downside is they do not have sewer hook ups. Amazon pays for a pump out service that comes in once a week but since we have our own washer and dryer in the rig it just would not work well for us.
While at the State Park we looked up Larry and Betty who had arrived last week end. I have followed their blog, Mountainborn for quite awhile and we have swapped emails from time to time but never met face to face. They were home and we sat out on their patio sharing stories and had a great visit. We were soon joined by Karen and her husband Al who had worked the sugar beet harvest with Larry and Betty. Small world we live in! :-)
Tuesday evening we checked out the local movie theater. They have 6 screens and we chose to watch Last Vegas. The movie was entertaining and we had a fun "date night". :-)

Today we are both being lazy and trying to rest up for our first long shift. We should be OK but I'm sure we will be tired once it's over. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

quick trip "home"

With our scheduled work days changing we found ourselves with 4 days off in a row. We decided to go back to Indiana to visit family before the we are too tired from working to make the drive. :-)
We are 3 1/2 hours from our daughters home so wanted to take advantage and get some quality "grand kid time". We spent our evenings (and nights) occupying the guest room at my Mother-in -laws home and ventured out from there.
Sunday was pumpkin carving day at our daughters and we found them in their neighbors back yard putting scary faces on gourds. :-)



We had a great time hanging out with the kids and even picked up some ripe persimmons that we gave to Rudee's sister.



Amanda's neighbor, Steve, slow roasted a pork loin on his grill that we all shared for supper. He did a fantastic job, it was the best tasting meat we have had for a long time.

Monday we met with our son, Matthew, for lunch and got caught up on everything they have been doing. They just returned from a trip to Gatlinburg to celebrate their one year anniversary. Sounds like they had a great time.

Tuesday arrived way too soon for us and it was time to head back to Kentucky. We slept in some Tuesday morning trying to shift our sleeping habits towards working night shifts and ended up getting on the highway around 1 pm. Traffic was heavy with lots of semi trucks and we started hearing talk on the CB radio of a back up ahead of us due to construction. We ended up jumping off the interstate before the back up and took US 31 to avoid the "interstate parking lot". We stayed on 31 all the way to New Albany, Indiana where Rudee noticed a sign for the Horseshoe Casino. We made a quick detour and found ourselves in their parking garage in no time. :-)
When we visit a casino we always put ourselves on a budget and stick to it. We played a few slot machines with poor results and slowly worked our way through the different floors of the "boat that never sails". We were getting close to leaving (our budget was running low) when I got on a machine that started hitting and kept hitting! Rudee was my cheerleader and I ended up cashing out over $300 from that one machine! That was more then enough to recoup our prior losses as well as come away with a nice profit. :-)

Wednesday was our first day back to work. We are now on 7 1/2 hour shifts working 5:30 pm until 1:30 am. We get one paid 15 minute break and an unpaid 30 minute lunch. We are both working at getting our speed up and keeping our mistakes to a minimum. :-)
We were both a little sore and tired after work. My back muscles are sore while Rudee is complaining about her neck hurting. I guess we will be buying Tylenol by the case for the next several weeks. :-)
I'll keep you posted.

Friday, October 25, 2013

1st week at Amazon

We have one more day to work and our first week at Amazon will be in the books. The last two nights we have been getting used to our new jobs in "single toys". Basically what we are doing is putting peoples orders into boxes and sealing them up so they can be shipped. When you order something from Amazon the first step at the warehouse is to find your item in one of the thousands of cubbyholes on the shelves. This is the job of the "Pickers" who then put the item in a tub and onto a conveyor belt. The tubs are all coded  with UPC labels so the computer knows where to route that certain tub.  Sometimes these tubs  find their way to our work area which is just a series of work stations adjacent to the conveyor. When I go into work we have a meeting, stretching exercises and get our work station locations. Once at our stations we sign into the computer and are ready to start packing. The first thing we do is pull one of the totes off the conveyor and place it in our work station. We scan the label with our code reader and the computer tells us what should be inside the tote. We then grab the first item and scan it's individual label. The computer then tells us what size box to use to pack that particular item so we pull the flattened box out of the stock that is within reach all around our station. The next step is building the box. They have tape machines that also read the size of the box from the computer and, with the touch of a button, spits out the length of tape you need to tape up the bottom of the box. Next step is to scan and attach a new UPC label to the outside of the box. We then place the item in the box, put in the little air pillow "space fillers", close and tape the top of the box. We have a second conveyor belt that we put the packed boxes on and they are then headed to the shipping area to have the address labels applied and then out the door they go! Then repeat and repeat and repeat! :-)
The work is not hard and the hours seem to fly by! We are both enjoying our jobs and the full time workers have been very friendly and patient with us. :-)
They are changing our schedule a little though. We are on nights working "D" shift and originally we were off Saturday, Sunday and Monday. During the peak season they switch D shift days off to Sunday, Monday and Tuesday and that occurs next week so we are going to have a four day week end! :-)
We decided to head back to Indiana to see everyone before the mandatory overtime starts and we are too tired to move! :-)
Next week we move from 5 hour shifts to 7 1/2 hour shifts before going to our regularly scheduled 10 hour days the following week. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

and the remodel continues

One of the additional things we wanted to do during our visit to Indiana was to replace the day/night shades in the motorhome. We didn't know we wanted to do that before we replaced the valances but afterwards it was apparent they had seen their better days. Getting called to Amazon early put a crimp in our plans to get this job done. What a pleasant surprise to find a Lowes store here in Campbellsville. We had already researched which blinds we wanted and Lowes sold them. Cool!
Monday night I measured all the old blinds and we took that info with us to Lowes once we were off work Tuesday. They cut the blinds to our measurements and we were in business! The blinds we chose are stringless (YEA!) Levolor Cellular Shades. We chose a sand color and decided to use "light filtering" blinds in the living area and a "room darkening"  style in the bedroom.


Rudee and I removed the old blinds and hung the new ones one at a time. The job went fairly well as long as you don't mind trying to stand on your head while you are driving screws. :-)


Not too bad if I do say so myself!


While cruising the internet the other day I happened across an ad for a used truck topper. A small dealer had it advertised on craigslist and was only about an hour away so we drove over. He was pretty anxious to get rid of it and cut the price down to "bare bones" so we snatched it up!


I had looked at brand new ones but, with prices well over $1000.00, they just didn't fit our budget. Ya, I know the color is not a perfect match but with all the body panels having that "golf ball" look from the hail you hardly notice. :-)

We report for work tonight at 5:30 pm for our first time on "D" shift. We will be doing process training for a couple of hours and then will be doing our actual jobs with our trainer alongside us the rest of the night. We get off at 10:30 and plan to stay up for awhile to start getting our bodies used to our new sleep patterns. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

meetin' and greetin'

Sunday morning we were up early and headed for breakfast with the kids and grand kids. One last family meal before hitting the road. :-)
We enjoyed the time we were able to spend here and it passed by so quickly but we need to make a few $$'s to keep this dream alive, so off we go again.
Our first stop was south of Indianapolis at a Speedco to get the oil and filters changed on the motor home. This was our first time at one of these "big rig quick lubes" and I was impressed with their service. The price was reasonable and we were back on the road in less then an hour. Next door to Speedco was a Flying J truck stop so we pulled in and topped off the fuel and propane. We also hooked the Dakota onto the rear of the motorhome before heading back out onto the highway.
Traffic was pretty heavy as we headed south and there was a steady stream of cars coming at us as well. I guess everyone was taking advantage of the nice week end weather.
We had only gone about 40 miles when I noticed something wrong with the Dakota. I was looking in my mirror and saw the trucks mirror peeking around the rear of the motorhome. I'm not supposed to see that! I quickly checked the rear view camera and started slowing down. I could see that the tow bar was not aligned properly and knew we had a major issue and needed to get stopped. I let the engine brake slow us at a steady rate while I moved to the shoulder of the highway and slowed to a stop. Whew, we got the whole rig off the road safely. A quick inspection showed the locking pin on one of the tow bar arms was missing. I'm not sure how that happened, I always, always double and triple check the cotter pins that hold the pins in place. Rudee and I quickly unhooked the other arm and all the safety chains and wires. Since we didn't have a spare locking pin she just followed me the rest of the way. One thing is clear, we will be getting the fancy cotter pins that you lock with a key!
The rest of the trip was uneventful and we pulled into our campground just outside Campbellsville, Kentucky around 4:30 pm.  We were told (via email) that there would probably not be anyone here to check us in and to just pick any available site. We were met by some of the other residents, all of them Amazon workers, who showed us the few sites available. This park is pretty small and all the sites are being used by Amazon. We checked out the sites (there were 4 available) and chose #6. We had to ask our neighbor to move his vehicle so we could back in, seems like he has been using most of "our" site to park his big dually truck the last week or so. The sites are not large and parking tow vehicles and toads is even tighter but there is a grassy area nearby where everyone can park, it's just not right outside your door. Only a minor inconvenience in my mind.
We got set up quickly and met a few of our neighbors and, soon to be, co-workers. We also got some suggestions for dinner and headed to the Creekside Restaurant for their Sunday buffet. Good choice! Thanks Harry and Jessica!
Yesterday we had our "meet and greet" hosted by Amazon at the Heartland Campground. We saw a few videos and met some of the folks at Amazon, it was nice to finally put a face to the name. :-)
We also got our shifts and job assignments. We are working in "single toys" Tuesday through Friday 5:30 pm until 4:00 am. We had initially asked for day shifts but are not really unhappy with nights, we just need to adjust our habits a little. The big plus is we get a .60/hour shift differential. More money is always a good thing. :-)
We have our orientation later today and then start our night shifts on Wednesday. Our first week we work 5 hour shifts as a "hardening" process and then they extend the hours gradually until we are working the full 10 hours. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Packing up

We have been in a whirlwind the last couple of days. We have made final visits with friends and family saying our "so longs". Today we had lunch with our son and daughter in law at a Cracker Barrel in Lafayette, Indiana. Tonight we are having an early birthday dinner for our Grandson Nicholas since we will be gone on his actual birthday next month.
We are leaving the motorcycle and trailer here at our daughters home so I attached the trickle charger and made sure it was set to handle the winter storage. Then I gave it one last look before shutting and locking the door. :-(
I also got the motorhome ready to roll. I topped off the air in all the tires, put away the few things we had outside and greased the arms of our tow bar. We are planning to stop tomorrow at a Speedco just outside Indianapolis and have the oil and all the filters changed. Speaking of leaving, we are planning on pulling out mid morning tomorrow. We have a little over 200 miles to travel so it will, hopefully, be an easy travel day.
Our first "official" Amazon duty will be a meet and greet function Monday afternoon. We will get our photos taken for our name badges and find out what department we will be working in as well as our schedule. We are both looking forward to this new adventure but, as always, it's hard to say goodbye. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

one last project and then back to work

The hail storm last month really did a number on our slide out awnings and they needed replaced.
Here are just some of the impacts from the hail on one of awnings.


I did some research on various RV forums and the internet and decided to do the project myself, with a little help from Rudee of course. While doing the research I was referred to Tough Top Awnings. Their website had video (plus written) instructions on how to measure and order the replacement material. I measured our slideouts and entered the dimensions on their quote form on the website. Within a couple of hours I had a quote back and placed the order. The toppers arrived in a week and we were ready to begin. I viewed the installation video several times and it didn't sound too hard ..... famous last words. :-)
I gathered up the tools and got the ladders out of my son in laws garage. We started with the living room slide since it would probably be the hardest since it was the longest of the two. I followed the directions and removed the hardware they recommended, unrolled the excess awning around the roller tube and pulled it off. No turning back now!


The next job was threading the awning back onto the rail mounted on the motor home and at the same time feeding it into the slot in the roller tube. This is where I needed help and as luck would have it the school bus stopped and dropped off my Grandson right at the right time. :-) While I guided the new fabric into the rails Rudee and Nicholas held it high above their heads to keep it from catching.


We gently pulled and tugged the awning back into place and gave it a test run before I re-attached the hardware. Success! Looks really good too!


Now for the bedroom slide. I did the same process as on the living room and it did prove to be easier then the front. The entire job took us a little over an hour and saved us a ton of $$'s over an RV dealership doing the job. I can't say enough about Tough Top Awnings. Their replacement fabric is heavier then the OEM and it fit our slide out measurements perfectly. The videos they have on their website were top notch and gave me the confidence to do the job.

Yesterday we got our start date at Amazon as November 4th and they said they would contact us if they had any earlier openings. This morning we had an email from them asking if we wanted to start next Monday! Holy Smoke! That's only a few days away! We decided to take them up on their offer so are preparing to leave for Kentucky this week end. I guess the projects will be on hold for awhile while we head out on our next adventure. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

more changes

With the new couch installed our attention was drawn to the opposite side of the motorhome to the old, dilapidated, stained recliner which I'm sure was original to the coach when it was built in 2002. The chair would even "leak" small pieces of foam while you sat in it!
Tuesday, with a new chair on our minds, we headed north to the Elkhart, Indiana area to check out some of the RV surplus business'. We didn't start out until almost noon and it is a 2 1/2 hour drive so we got there a little late. Luckily two of the stores were just over the state line into Michigan and were on Central time so we gained an hour. :-)
We looked at several models of chairs and the quality was all across the board, we all know that there are a lot of "cheap" furniture they put into RVs but there are also some high quality, long lasting brands as well. The latter is what we were shopping for.
We looked at (and sat in) chair after chair in several of the shops and were about to give up and head for a Lazy Boy store when I spotted a nice looking Euro Recliner at RV Surplus Salvage. I have not been a huge fan of these style of chairs but this one was very comfortable and was made by Flexsteel who have a good reputation for quality in the RV community. I sat in it for quite a while and liked it plus it's dimensions matched our old chair. There was no price tag on the chair so we inquired and their response sealed the deal. $275 for the chair and ottoman and they would even load it in the back of our truck ...... SOLD! So we did another "out with old and in with new" once we got home.
old chair:

new chair:


Makes a big difference and we are very happy with our decision.

This week end we moved to a local campground, White River Park, to camp with our motorcycle buddies. This is an annual event corresponding with the parks Halloween celebration and is always a fun time. We drove over Friday morning towing the Dakota behind the motorhome. After getting settled in Rudee looked around the coach and announced our next project! Our window valances were old, outdated and didn't match our "new" look so she decided we would recover them with new fabric. Her and Jany Runion jumped in our truck and off to Walmart they went telling Rob and I to "get busy" while they were gone. Our shower skylight was broken by the hail storm in South Dakota and I had patched it up with some duct tape and silicone to keep it from leaking. I received the new skylight a few days ago from the UPS man and it needed installed so I got out the ladder and tools. Rob and I changed out the skylight pretty quickly and sealed everything up with self leveling "goo". We were even done before the girls got back. :-)
Rudee picked out a dark gray material and Saturday morning we got started. The hardest part of this job was getting the valances off and then back on again. We had 5 valances to do and, with Rob's help, made steady progress but it still took the majority of the day to finish the job. Here is the before and after pictures.





None of us are professional upholsterers but it's a passable job for a bunch of amateurs. :-)
Today we will pack up and move back to our spot in our daughters driveway. We are waiting to hear from Amazon with our start date and Rudee has been mentioning how old and grungy the day night shades look with the new valances. OH NO! :-)  I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

out with old and in with new(er)

Yesterday we started our first "project". While in South Dakota I saw an ad on a RV Forum for a used leather sofa for sale that came out of the same model motor home as we have. I made contact with the owner and he was switching out the couch for recliners. They were also full timers and were in Indiana. We negotiated a price that made us both happy and the deal was done. I called my good friend Rob who agreed to go and pick up the couch. Since then the couch has been stored in the garage at Rudee's Mother's house.
Monday morning I started taking the old couch apart so we could get it out the door. The couches in these units are electric, reclining sofa beds. Needless to say they are bulky and heavy. I was able to separate the arm and foot board sections from the main frame and removed those first. Rudee and I then were able to carry the main section out the front door.


We had always planned on replacing the couch because the prior owners had a dog and didn't clean things up very well. The front of the couch had ground in stains where the dog would lay against it and there was always that "wet dog" smell in the cushions no matter how much we shampooed them. YUCK.

Once the couch was out Rudee started cleaning the carpet that was on the floor of the slideout. She was about half way through cleaning it when she made the comment we should really just replace it. Up it came and out the door it went! Our good buddy Rob came to our rescue once again when he rode up on his Goldwing. We made a quick run to Menards where we bought a brand new piece of carpet. Once back at the RV we cut the new carpet using the old piece as a template and had it installed in no time. Piece of cake!
Now we just had to lift a sleeper sofa over heads like Charles Atlas and then walk backwards up the steps into the motor home. :-o
I did not take the arms off the new one thinking that "they got it out that way" soooooo "it should go back in that way". :-)
The only problem with that theory is two young Amish guys carried it out and loaded it into Rob's truck. Here we are, two middle aged slightly pudgy (at least me) guys with bad backs trying to carry it back in!
Once we got it picked up and headed in the door things got "interesting". Rob was the one backing in because I was able to grab the "good end" first. :-) Somehow he ended up standing on the drivers seat with the coach lifted over his head while I had to climb over the passenger seat on my knees!
We got it in though and all it will cost me is a few chiropractor visits for Rob. :-)
The new coach is a little different in that it is a split model and the reclining mechanisms are seperate. This means there are two motors, with wiring, while our old one only had one. We had more wires then plugs. Out come the meters and we started figuring out what was what. One more run to the hardware store for some connectors and we got everything hooked up and working. Next job was to secure it to the floor of the slideout. This entails laying on your back (or belly) and reaching under the couch with your drill and driving screws through holes in the brackets that are all the way back against the slide out wall. With me laying under the coach and Rudee kneeling on the seat reaching over the back, we were able to line up all the screws and get them installed. I'm not sure if all furniture installers do it this way but with both of us crawling all over the couch together well, lets just say, I needed a cigarette after we got it all done! :-)
Here is the finished product.


Only two trips to the hardware store and nobody ended up at the Emergency Room. All in all a good day! Stay tuned for more "projects". I'll keep you posted.

Monday, October 7, 2013

got out in the nick of time!

We have been trying to keep in contact with some of our co-workers still in South Dakota. The winds they were predicting for last Monday arrived and the gusts were 50+ mph. At least one of the rigs at our old campground had the slide out awnings torn off by the wind and anything outside that was not nailed down got blown away. Thursday evening the snow started. They were predicting 6"-10" but got over 2 feet! The wind continued and they have had to deal with large drifts as well as power outages. Looks like we left at the right time! Here are a couple of photos one my full time co-workers sent me of her backyard.



We are parked in our daughters driveway and have been doing a lot of catching up the last several days. Thursday we went to Wal Mart and bought a basketball goal for our grand kids and I spent most of the after noon putting it together. I finished it just in time and they had a lot of fun breaking it in! :-)


Friday was spent with our son. We took him out for lunch at Steak and Shake and spent a great afternoon enjoying his company.
Saturday we joined several of our motorcycle buddies and took a ride down to Elizabethtown, Kentucky. The weather didn't cooperate very well and it rained most of the trip but we had a good time in spite of the weather.
I have a few projects in the works that I will be starting work on so stay tuned. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

we didn't let the grass grow

We finished our last shift at Crazy Horse, saying as many "so longs" as we could to all our friends and co-workers. We made a quick dash into Custer and picked up a pizza at our new found favorite pizza joint, Pizza Works. I also filled the Dakota's fuel tank up so we would be ready to roll bright and early.

Monday morning we were up before sunrise. I busied myself with dumping the tanks and rolling up the last of the cords and hoses. While I was working I heard an Elk bugling off in the distance. I ran to the door and told Rudee to hurry outside so she could hear it but by the time she came out he had stopped.
Maybe he was just coming by to tell us goodbye. :-)

We stopped our packing long enough to eat a quick breakfast and then gave out hugs to our neighbors Tom and Liz. There were even a few tears appearing as we said "see ya down the road" to these two special friends. We pulled out of our site at 7:45 am and headed for "home". We got our last glimpses of Paha Sapa (Lakota for Black Hills) in our mirrors as we headed East on I-90. We spent all morning just driving through South Dakota until finally turning to the south at Sioux Falls. On past trips we have continued on I-90 through Minnesota but decided to see some new scenery and take I-29 towards Omaha. The wind had picked up some and the crosswind was noticeable on this leg of our trip. Several miles North of Omaha we jumped on I-680 and this took us to I-80 and bypassed the hub bub of the city. The sun was sinking pretty fast but we both agreed that we were not ready to stop for the night yet, so on we drove setting our sights on Des Moines as a possible overnight spot. Seeing as it would already be dark when we stopped, paying for a night in a campground just didn't make sense so we started looking for a boondocking spot. My GPS showed there was a casino just off the interstate east of the city so I programmed it in after Rudee called them to get permission for us to park there. She talked to their security department and they were very helpful with directions and parking instructions.
We arrived at their parking lot shortly after 7 pm and picked a spot among the semis and RV's already there. After getting parked I hopped in the truck with Rudee and she drove us to a nearby Taco Bell where we picked up supper and brought it back to the RV. We ate and then headed for bed, what a long day, 645 miles with 12 hours behind the wheel. :-o
Tuesday morning we were up early again, or was it late? We had lost an hour going from Mountain Time into Central Time and were going to lose another hour later today when we crossed into Eastern Time. Our cell phones say it's one time, our watches say it's another and our body clocks say it's another. Jeez, this is so confusing! :-)
We hit another drive through for breakfast and then headed out for another day on the interstate. We were excited knowing that we would get to see the Grandkids today. :-)
While we rolled along Rudee and I would chat on the CB radio. Although it's not the same as her sitting beside me it's not that bad and the time passes quickly.
We passed through Iowa and headed into Illinois. One more state to go!
Traffic picked up in Illinois and there were quite a few more semi trucks traveling around us. I used the cruise control a lot on this leg of the trip since Illinois is mostly flat farmland and this helped the miles roll by.
We finally crossed the Indiana line late in the afternoon. We were on the homestretch now! We made one last stop at a truck stop where I unhooked the motorcycle trailer from the motor home and we hooked it onto the Dakota. Rudee pulled it the rest of the way because backing the motor home into our daughters driveway would be next to impossible with the trailer attached. We arrived at their home shortly after 4 pm and quickly got set up. Our trip today was "only" 460 miles. :-)
I know most of my fellow fulltimers cringe at the idea of traveling more then a couple of hundred miles a day. So why did we push ourselves so hard for this trip? I was asking myself this very question when the kids got home from school and they ran at us yelling "Papaw, Grandma" like it was Christmas morning. I knew then that the trip had been worth it. :-)

We have some catching up to do with family and friends while here in Indiana along with a couple of projects I've had in mind for the rig. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

packing up

Our time here at Crazy Horse is all but done. We have one more shift to work and then we will be pulling out. Our summer has simply flown by and we have thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. :-)
What a great experience this work camping job turned out to be!
I have been busy getting things "road worthy". The Harley is loaded into our cargo trailer and has been strapped down and I have the trailer hooked up to the motorhome ready to roll.
Yesterday I fired up the big Caterpillar diesel and let things warm up and ran into a small issue. The pressure was not building up in the air system and without air pressure you cannot release the brakes so this was an issue that needed attended to right away. I had a similar problem last year in Texas and "fiddling" with the manual release valves under the motor home solved the problem. I crawled underneath and tried this again and it worked. The air pressure came up to normal and all is well. :-)
Before going to work today I plan on disconnecting all the utilities and get the hoses and cell booster antenna put away. We are hoping to get on the road early tomorrow morning to start our trip to Indiana. The weatherman says we should have a stiff tail wind tomorrow afternoon, maybe it will help push us along. :-)

We got a call early last week that our Dodge Dakota was deemed a total loss due to the hail damage earlier this month. :-(
After going over all the numbers with the adjuster we have decided to keep the the truck and just live with the dents. The truck looks really ugly but we know it's history and we have it set up like we want it, plus we just bought brand new tires (the day before the hail storm!) and had the M & G brake system installed last spring. We are planning to replace the windshield once we get back to Indiana and will use the remaining insurance settlement to shore up our savings account a little.
We are waiting for the check to arrive for the damage to our RV. We will be replacing the slide out awning canvas and the shower skylight ourselves so stay tuned for another "adventure in RV repairs"! Next post will be either from Indiana or somewhere in between. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

that's using my noodle.

Rudee and our next door neighbor Liz had the bright idea of us getting together with some of the other work campers for what I have always called a "pitch in" dinner. Talking with some of our co-workers revealed that I am one of the few people who use this description and when inviting them was usually met with a very confused look. I would explain that it was a meal where everyone brought something to "pitch in". "Oh, a pot luck meal". Well, OK, "pot luck or pitch in" .... just show up with something good to eat. :-)
The girls decided Monday evening would be a good time so the plan was set in motion and before we knew it we had at least 10 couples confirmed. I decided that my/our "pitch in" would be a big crock pot full of chicken and noodles. Rudee made sure we had the necessary ingredients and then stayed out of the kitchen because I'm the noodle maker in this house! So Sunday after work I got busy and started making the dough, rolling it out and cutting the noodles. Flour was flying and most of it ended up all over me! :-) Here is the results of over an hours work.


Monday morning was cold and wet! The rain looked like it would never stop and the temperatures hung around the low 50's and there was a stiff breeze blowing too! Not a good day to have an outside gathering. The forecast promised that the rain would clear later in the day so we held out hope we could still "pitch in".
Late in the afternoon the skies did start clearing and I started boiling noodles. 


Wow! That's a lot of noodles! I was afraid the weather would keep some of the people inside and we would be eating these noodles for the next week. :-o
We pulled several picnic tables into the empty site between us and Tom (Liz's hubby) even hung some party lights. :-)
Shortly after 5pm everyone started showing up. One couple, Dick and Cheryl, brought a big load of firewood and Dick maintained the campfire the whole night. 
We ended up having 20 people eating, talking, laughing and sharing. We all had a great time and it was really nice getting everyone together before we all start to scatter in the next few days. 

Tuesday was our last day off before heading home to Indiana. We spent a little time putting our little area of the campground back like it was before the party and I also got most of our "outside stuff" put away in anticipation of our departure as soon as our work week is over. Once we got our chores done I unloaded the Harley and we headed into the hills for one last ride. 
We said our goodbyes to the winding curves on Needles Highway, the tunnels and pig tail bridges on Iron Mountain Road and to this big guy in Custer State Park.


What a great time we have had riding our bike in this area and making a lifetime of memories. So long Black Hills, hope to be back and see ya again real soon.