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

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

a few signs of Spring

We have been enjoying our days off after our long week end of ten hour shifts. Our days off are Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and our work schedule for the summer should stay fairly consistent. The ten hour days are pretty long but we sure enjoy the three days off in a row plus this will help us "condition" for working at Amazon this Fall.
Last week I ordered a new cell phone since I was eligible for an upgrade. I did everything on line and the phone arrived Friday. I activated it and have been getting used to using it and figuring out it's features, it is a Samsung 4S and so far I am pretty impressed with it.

The weather has been pretty cold here for May. The highs have struggled to get into the 40's and we have had to either disconnect the water hose or leave a faucet running each night. The wind has been pretty brutal as well. We invited Steve and Joan to ride into Rapid City with us to see the movie Draft Day. We enjoyed the movie and it was a good roll for Kevin Costner, would make a neat TV show too.

Yesterday the temps started to warm up a little and reached the low 50's but we still had some wind as well as some passing showers.

This didn't stop us from doing some sightseeing  

and we did see some signs of Spring

We met with Dan and Jonelle in Hill City for dinner. They started work this morning and will have orientation today before beginning their normal schedule. Hey Dan, this next photo is for you.

Will be kind of tight but "no guts, no glory". :-)

We will likely just have a lazy day today hanging around the rig. We are both hopeful the weather will cooperate and we can let the Harley out of it's stall and do some of this running on two wheels! I'll keep you posted.

Friday, May 9, 2014

like we never left ..... almost

I forgot to update you on my findings on our electrical issue. Last Saturday I disconnected the 50 amp extension cord and found that the "male" end had a crack in the plastic so decided to take the plug apart to investigate things a little further. Once I had the plug opened up I found our problem. The white wire had pulled loose and apparently had made contact with one of the other wires causing our issue. I was using our 40' extension cord because I thought the on-board cord would not reach. I pulled it out and could reach the pedestal but am sure glad it wasn't another foot away or we would be in trouble. :-)
Using my multi-meter I checked the campground plug and it tested OK so I plugged back in, turned on the breakers and VOILA we have 50 amp power to the coach. :-) I will be purchasing a new 50 amp male end for the extension cord because we have used the cord from time to time and it is very handy to have around.
Rudee and I both started working Wednesday. She was in the gift shop and went through training on their new computer system. Last year they were using an antiquated system and have upgraded to a more user friendly windows based system.
I worked in the Welcome Center where they had a special event occurring. We had around 300 High School freshman attending a program called "Freshman Impact" where they rotate through different "stations". There were professionals from various Police, Fire, EMS and Health Care who gave instructions on topics such as drug use, suicide and bullying. They had demonstrations set up showing how a person's body reacts in a roll over accident, first restrained by a seat belt and then unrestrained. They also had extrication demonstrations including Emergency Medical demonstrations at a mock auto accident complete with "victims". After lunch they attended a mock trial of a teen charged with OWI causing a death in an auto accident and then had to pay their respects to one of their "classmates", the victim of the accident. Very powerful stuff to say the least.
Besides all of this going on we had our regular visitors so we stayed hopping keeping everyone and everything on the right track. :-)
Last year I worked predominantly in the ticket booths on the entrance road. I really wanted to be more involved with guests so last year before leaving I discussed it with my boss. He was very supportive and this year I will be doing something new at work. My job will be as a type of "floater". I will work in the Welcome Center "area" but may be called upon to drive a tour bus for a special tour, take a van tour to the top of the mountain, run errands for the boss around the complex etc. I really wont know what I will be doing from one day to the next, sometimes even one hour to the next but that really doesn't bother me and I enjoy the variety. Plus I get to carry a two way radio, makes it feel just like the old days! HAHAHA
Most of what we are doing though is "old hat" and we fell right back into the routine. There are a few new faces but also a lot of folks we worked with last year have returned (or are year round) and welcomed us back with enthusiasm. We are both confidant we made the right decision to return and are looking forward to a great summer, the only bad thing is summer is a little slow in coming. Yesterday we woke up to this

We got about 4" of snow and it was pretty cold when we rolled out of bed. I was prepared though and had filled our on board water tank before disconnecting the hose so we wouldn't freeze up. The night before we found Amazon buddies Dan and Jonelle had arrived in their 5er and I had the chance to visit with them for a few minutes. Shortly after I took the photo I spotted Jonelle outside and she was cleaning the snow off the windows of the Dakota! Thanks Jonelle! I wasn't sure how I was going to do that since I have no idea where my ice scraper got to. :-)
We got the chance to spend some time with them last evening when we all went out to dinner. We had a great time and the restaurant even gave us a 10% discount for being work campers in the area. Nice! We took them to Crazy Horse afterwards to show them around a little so they will be familiar with the surroundings when the start work next Wednesday. We also showed them some of the local "sites", maybe they will expand a little more on their sightseeing on their blog liv2rv. :-)
Looks like we may be working through the week end but I have not seen the schedule past today. We have asked to work four 10 hour days versus our five eight hour days from last year. My boss has agreed and my days off are Mon, Tues and Wed. Rudee has a different boss and should have the same schedule but we have not heard "officially" yet. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

getting settled and doing some exploring

Saturday we made a Wal Mart run to stock up on supplies and once we got back I was able to make our site look a little more like "home" by getting the chairs, grill and clothesline out.

 That evening we were invited over to Steve and Joan's rig where they taught us a couple new (and fun!) card games. We played "golf" and "fruit salad", we had a great night and look forward to a lot more. Their days off of work are Saturday, Sunday and Monday ...... weekends off SERIOUSLY? :-) So we decided on Sunday to do some geocaching as a way to explore the area some. I'll let the photos tell the story.

Monday we ran a few errands and then had a lazy night at home watching TV.
Today Rudee and I decided to do some more exploring on our own and headed out in search of "out of the way" places. There are miles and miles of Forest Service roads winding through the mountains around us. They are not in the greatest condition but that is what makes it an adventure. We turned off the "main" gravel road onto this one because a sign said there was a dam and it was "only" 9 miles. :-)

We found some signs of past civilization.

I'm not sure how long it has been abandoned but it looked to be really, really old.
We finally came upon a small pond and the dam.

We took a break to explore a little on foot and to sit and enjoy the sound of the waterfall. :-)
Eventually we came upon the ghost town of Mystic, South Dakota. There were still a couple of houses around but not sure if they were occupied or not.

We saw this at the edge of town near a wide spot in the road.

Looked like two graves side by side and another, smaller one nearby. Made us think that it was maybe a married couple and a child.They were marked with white wooden crosses, with the graves outlined with rocks. They seemed very old and neither had any other markings so we were left to wonder what happened here. Maybe a homestead where the occupants fell ill or had some kind of catastrophe, interesting spot for sure.

Lunch was at a small pizza place in Keystone and then we continued our tour through Custer State Park. Rudee told me she needed her "Buffalo fix". This close enough for ya Honey. :-)

The parks and towns are just starting to come to life and it wont be long before the tourists return in droves. I have to report to work in the morning to help with a special event and then Thursday we both report for "orientation", I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

See ya soon ........ :-(

We had delayed our departure for long enough so we decided that Wednesday morning was "D" day. We were up early so we could spend a few minutes with the Grandkids before they had to leave for school.

Bye bye Guys, Love you all bunches and bunches, big alligator tears made their first appearance about now.
I disconnected the hoses and cords and hooked on the bike trailer before going out to breakfast with our daughter Amanda. Once we were back at the house we said our good byes to her and had our second round of alligator tears before heading back out onto the road.

Without a doubt leaving family after a visit and knowing it will be months before seeing them again is the hardest part of our lifestyle. We love you guys and will miss you more then you could ever imagine.

We headed west on I-74 and soon found ourselves in Illinois where we were met with a thick layer of low hanging gray clouds. The wind also picked up and we ended up fighting it the entire trip. We ran into a few showers, no hard rain but enough to run the wipers occasionally. Our first night was spent at the Amana Colonies RV Park in Amana, Iowa. The park is more of a rally park (think Fairground style parking) and is huge. They are a Passport America park and offer full hookups for $18 per night for members.
Thursday morning we headed out early because we wanted to get some miles under our belts. Now that we are fulltimers I try and avoid traveling on the week ends. The biggest reason for me is it just seems like it would be easier to get a tire changed or road service if something should go wrong on the rig while on the highway.  The weather was more of the same, on again off again showers, windy and we had the same gloomy layer of clouds covering as far as the eye could see. We took I-80 west until turning North onto I-29. The traffic was fairly light, even through the larger cities and we made decent time in spite of the headwind. Once we got to Sioux Falls we turned west on I-90 which would take us to the Black Hills. Our stop for the night was in Plankinton, SD at another Passport America park. Hills RV Park is decent for an overnight stay. They have fairly long pull through sites with full hook ups and Wifi which was a little on the slow side but usable to check emails etc. They are right next to I-90 but the noise from the highway wasn't bothersome since traffic was pretty light. I would imagine during Sturgis week the noise level would change somewhat. :-)
Friday morning we woke up to clear skies for the first time since we left Indiana. The wind was still blowing but didn't seem as hard as the last two days. We headed out for our final leg of the trip. Today's drive was a shorter one, under 300 miles plus we crossed into the Mountain Time Zone so we gained an hour without even trying. :-) We made one stop at a rest park for a quick snack and bathroom break before arriving at our exit in Rapid City. There is a Flying J truck stop at the exit so we took advantage and topped off both the propane and the diesel in the motorhome. The last leg of the trip was on the winding, hilly US 16. There are several fairly large climbs between the interstate and Crazy Horse bit the road is nicely paved and once again traffic was pretty light. We arrived at our "summer home" shortly after 2 pm and got set up on our site. The sites are somewhat downhill so the front end of the motorhome is fairly high and I had to use several boards under the wheels but our side yard is a lot bigger then last year.
I did have an issue setting up. I plugged in the 50 amp extension cord into the pedestal and when I turned on the power Rudee heard a "pop" inside the rig and one of our GFI plugs started smoking. I shut it down quickly and started inspecting. I found several breakers tripped so knew it was some sort of power surge. I decided to switch to the 30 amp plug in on the pedestal and that worked fine. I have checked everything out on the coach and everything is fine except for the GFI which I will replace. I'm not sure if the problem is with their pedestal or with my extension cord. I will check the cord today and if it is OK they are going to check the pedestal on Monday. We will just stay plugged into the 30 amp until then. We had a plug in style surge protector that went missing at some point. I'm pretty sure I left it at a campsite versus it being stolen but I'm not 100% positive on where. We are shopping for a hard wired unit but need to recover from the air conditioner purchase first. Needless to say we are happy to be back on the payroll again. :-)
Once we got comfy in our site we checked in with the folks at Crazy Horse. There were a lot of familiar faces and we had a great time talking to everyone and are really looking forward to our season. Friends and fellow bloggers Steve and Joan, FOSJ, started working here on Wednesday. Joan is working in the gift shop with Rudee and Steve is driving one of the tour buses. They had to work until 6:30 so we made arrangements to go out to dinner once they returned to the campground. We are parked right next to them, they ride Harleys and Steve golfs, yep gonna be a good summer! :-)
We had dinner at the Alpine Inn in Hill City where your only choices are small or large Filet Mignon. We all chose the small and it comes with a salad, bread and potato for  $9.95. The meal was very good (as usual) and we had a great time laughing and telling stories. Once back at the camper we invited them over for some dessert of Hummingbird Cake given to us by our good friend Jany Runion as a "going away" present before we left Indiana. Thanks Jany it was fantastic!
Our first shift will be Wednesday for orientation so we have a few days to settle in before starting work. Let the summer begin! I'll keep you posted.