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

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

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


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.