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

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

looking ahead

All I can say is "WOW" and "Thank You" for all the support we have in the RV community it truly is humbling.
Looks like I will keep on writing our little blog here and let you all know how cold it gets this winter. :-)

This Sunday will be our last shift as work campers at Crazy Horse and we will leave Monday morning for Indiana. Our new positions start on the 15th of October and it will probably be awhile before we can take some time off again. One of my duties will be to help train incoming work campers next season. They hire quite a few and it is a fun place to work and spend the summer. The pay is above average and you are paid for every hour you work plus time and half for OT. The campground is about 1/2 mile away and has full hook up pull through sites. They do not have Wifi or cable but do have a nice laundry room. The cell service is spotty here as well. AT&T put up a new tower nearby late last year so their signal is super strong with 4g internet but Verizon is weak and requires a booster to receive a decent reliable signal. There are no over-the-air TV stations so satellite is a must if you are a TV watcher like me. There is a minimal charge for your campsite (this year and last was $6.50 per day) and a bonus is available of up to .25 for every hour you worked based on your performance.
Work campers work in almost all the areas of Crazy Horse including the restaurant, kitchen, gift shop, ticketing & welcome/orientation center, bus tours and maintenance/facilities. They do like for people to work a minimum of 32 hours but preferably 40 hour weeks are the norm.
The jobs, of course, are not for everyone and can sometimes be demanding. Count on being on your feet for your entire 8 hour shift (you will get a 1 hour unpaid lunch break usually 1/2 way through your day) unless of course you are a tour bus driver and then you use your voice more then your feet. :-).
The memorial is open from 7:30 pm until around 10 pm during the summer and you can expect to work a variety of shifts. They are very good at scheduling spouses the same days off but your shifts can vary during working days. We are an example of that because Rudee works until close Thursday and Friday and then 9-8 (includes her 1 hour meal time) on Saturday and Sunday. My normal shift is 8 am - 7 pm Thu-Sun, we do work 10 hour shifts (our request) so we get our 40 hours but still have 3 days off.
Without a doubt Crazy Horse has been our best work camping experience. The hours are long at times but the work is fun and we have made lifelong friends with some of our fellow work campers. The area is a fantastic place to explore and one of the perks is a "VIP" pass given to the work campers that get you in free at a lot of the tourist areas as well as other perks. One of the golf courses nearby lets you play 18 holes for the price of nine with your VIP card plus there are many other businesses that participate in the program. So if you are looking for a spot for next summer (May through mid-October) give Crazy Horse a look and maybe you'll be our neighbor next year. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, September 22, 2014

more changes coming

The last several blogs I have written about changes, mostly about weather changes. This blog will be a bit different. Most of you that have been following us for awhile know we have had some challenges in the past couple of years. Some of those challenges were expensive and stretched our budget to it's maximum and we have struggled trying to recover. We are certainly not destitute but with our savings account all but gone we had to make some decisions. Since I am not yet 59 1/2 dipping into our IRA's is not a good option with the penalties imposed for early withdrawal. Right now our seasonal jobs (Crazy Horse, Amazon and gate guarding) supports our lifestyle but just barely. Our biggest fear is another costly repair while on the road will put us into spiraling debt that is all but impossible to climb out of while only working lower wage, part time jobs. Trust me, I have lost a ton of sleep the last year worrying about the "what if's". Another thing is we are tired of "pinching pennies". We both love being full timers and the experiences it gives you but frankly I would love to splurge and buy a can of Folgers coffee one time instead of the cheapest generic I can find on the shelf. :-)  Another reality is we are going to need to new vehicle soon because the Dakota is wearing out and will likely be needing more and more repairs. We, quite frankly, were not sure what direction our lives should take and were discussing several options when, this Spring, my boss here at Crazy Horse announced his retirement. We both enjoy working here and being involved with the process of carving the memorial. We also love the area, it is so beautiful here in the Black Hills. So with the support of several of the full time employees who approached me encouraging me to apply we made the decision that I would put my hat in the ring for his position, Director of Visitor Services. The selection process was long and involved but as things progressed over the summer my chances looked better and better. My final interview was just after labor day and I was told they would make their selection by the 19th of September. Needless to say the last two weeks have been the most stressful. The day finally arrived and I met with one of the CEO's (there are two) and the COO. The first thing they told me was that the position had been given to another candidate :-(
Then they threw me a curve ball, they offered me a different position, a brand new position created just for me! Needless to say I was humbled, flattered and confused at the same time. The salary that came with the job was within the range that Rudee and I had discussed and the job would be very similar to what I have already been doing with some added responsibilities.  I accepted the position and am the newly created Senior Assistant Director of Visitor Services at Crazy Horse Memorial. The CEO then excused herself from the meeting and went to Rudee in the gift shop. She let her know that I had accepted a position and asked if she would "help me manage the gift shop". There was not much time for her and Rudee to talk but she said they would sit down next week and discuss the details.
So what do we do now? Well first of all we are taking 2 weeks to go back to Indiana and visit family and friends. We will also take care of some medical appointments and get our medical records to give to our South Dakota doctor once we select one. We have also made arrangements with a campground that is open year round in Custer but are also keeping our eyes open for a house to rent. We have experience living in our rig in very cold climates so that isn't something new to us but we wont pass up a good deal on a house to rent either. :-)
So there is the big news, Rudee and I are putting our full time travels on hiatus and settling down in the Black Hills. We are looking at staying in or near the Custer area and, as long as our jobs work out for both us and them, we will likely be purchasing a home nearby at some time in the future. As far as the blog is concerned I'm really not sure. Do you readers want to hear from us since we are not work camping but just working? Leave a comment and let me know and I'll keep you posted.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Oh no, I said a four letter word!

I mentioned in the last blog that things were starting to change some around here. I guess that was an understatement because look what we woke up to last Thursday morning.

The snow continued all day Thursday finally quitting just before dark. We ended up with a total of 10 inches of heavy wet snow. Thursday is our first day of our work week so it was dark by the time I got home and of course our roof mounted satellite dome receiver was covered in snow and would not receive a signal. We were able to watch some movies we had on the DVR and rather then listen to the motor run on the antenna (it was constantly adjusting trying to tune in a signal) I shut it off. This turned out to be a bad thing because now it is not working correctly. I called Dish Network and everything checks out OK on their equipment so they are saying it is a Wineguard issue. I can tune in one satellite but it will not switch to the other satellite that carries some of the channels we receive. This used to be totally automatic but now has become a giant pain in the you know what! I climbed up on the roof and took the lid off the dome, no loose connections but one of the two bundles of wires going into the dish is dry rotted and splitting. I could not see any bare wires exposed but feel like this may be my issue. I plan on calling Wineguard tomorrow and see if there is any trouble shooting I can do from here to make sure the wire harness is the issue.

Work is slowing down to a more predictable pace and several of our fellow work campers have left or are packing things up to leave. We are contracted through the 30th of September so only 2 more weeks of work for us. :-) I'll keep you posted