Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Kansas Is Why People Fly

We made it as far as Kansas City Missouri on Monday night. These 500 mile days are killers. We would never choose to drive so far in such a short time if it weren't for this new job of Bill's. It is killer on my hip pain! Although we had over 600 miles to go when we left this morning we are going to try and make it all the way to Pickerel as there is no way we want to stop with only 100 miles to go.

I'm not sure how many of you have heard of Gretchen Rubin and the Happiness Project. I might have mentioned her in a previous post. She is someone who basically "had it all" - a lawyer who clerked for Sandra Day O'Connor, married to a great guy, two kids and the proverbial white picket fence who realized that she never took the time to be really, truly happy with who she was and where she was in life. I have found that in myself many, many times. I am a planner so I am always looking out a week, a month, a year, to retirement. But now that we are living what I have dreamed about doing for about 20 years, which is to travel and work before we were too old to really enjoy it, I realized that I was doing the same thing. Of course, the recession and our precarious financial situation made it that much harder to enjoy the winter in Phoenix. We were constantly working - if not battling traffic on the freeways then entering reports or looking online for more work. I realized that the winter passed by and it was not all that enjoyable except for the weather.

Well, life is way too short for that. Now that the work situation has somewhat resolved I am going to try and enjoy each day. We are being sent to the areas that I am going to post below. Granted, this is not the geographic area that we would have chosen if we were taking a workamping position, but maybe that is for the best. This way we can get to know this area and leave the more personally desirable areas of the country for later on. So every day I am going to try and find something to be happy about and post it. That way I am held more accountable. Will it work every day? Hopefully, but if not, I will pick up and try the next day. So here is my first "happiness" posting - I am happy that my brother Brad paid us $1500 of the much larger sum he owes us. It really helped to pay on the property taxes!

Here is Bill's schedule for the next two months -

April 5 Fort Wayne IN

April 7 Rossford OH

April 11 Portage MI

April 12 Battle Creek MI

April 13 Jackson MI

April 14 Okemos MI

April 15 Lansing MI

April 16 Lansing MI

April 18 Grand Rapids MI

April 20 Caledonia MI

April 22 Wyoming MI

April 25 Jenison MI

April 26 Grand Rapids MI

April 27 Muskegon MI

April 29 Holland MI

May 2 Benton Harbor MI

May 3 Granger IN

May 4 Goshen IN

May 6 South Bend IN

May 9 Valparaiso IN

May 11 Merrillville IN

May 14 Calumet city IL

May 18 Homewood IL

May 20 Chicago IL

May 23 Oak Lawn IL

May 25 Chicago IL

May 26 Chicago IL

June 3 Chicago IL

So you see by the very busy schedule, we will be moving around quite a bit

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Phoenix to Gallup to Liberal

We left Phoenix yesterday, March 27, at about 11 am after Bill had gotten some sleep as he didn't get home until almost 6am. We took Hwy 87 heading northeast out of Phoenix that went through some pretty steep mountain passes. Our poor gasser just does not like towing the Avalanche from about 700 ft above sea level to over 6000 ft. That is one of the main reasons we need a diesel in the future. We pulled in to Gallup New Mexico and decided to stay at the Fire Rock Casino just east of town. http://www.firerocknavajocasino.com/ BAD. CHOICE. On one side of the parking lot was a railroad track that I swear carried all the country's rail shipments last night. On the other side was I-40. Needless to say that along with the 19 degree temperatures and all the noise, I don't believe I slept a hour straight. Bill, of course, snored right through it all.

We crossed the state of New Mexico today and currently are in Texas heading for our stop for the night at a truck stop in Liberal Kansas. We are trying to put on 500 miles a day so we can get to Pickerel by late Tuesday. I am NOT looking forward to more prairie views. It gets really old really fast.

I added two links at the bottom right of the blog. One for the Care2 website and another for The Animal Rescue Site. If you click these links every day money will go to good causes. There are links on each of the websites for other causes such as the rainforest, literacy, domestic violence and others. I just put the button for the animals as they are my "pet" project - pun intended! I don't make any money on these links, I just think it's great to try and help a little where we can. I click everyday and hope you are able to find a little time when you are browsing to do the same.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Cheap RV Living


Although we have not paid a cent for one night of camping since we left Minnesota back in October the people features on this website have us beat all to hell. This website features people who are living in places much, much smaller than what we are living in. On the left hand side are links to people who are living in vans, truck campers and small vehicles. They are called vandwellers and at night can be in "stealth mode" which is basically parking the vehicle somewhere to spend the night without anyone knowing that you are living in it. Unfortunately the recession has made it so there are more and more people like this out there.

There are many people I'm sure who wonder how we can live in such small quarters and not have much stuff. What reading these stories brings home is that what we think we "need" and "can't live without" we really, really can if we HAVE to or, in some cases, WANT to. Is this life harder logistically even with less possessions? Normally yes. You can't just mindlessly turn on a light and the microwave or the generator will blow. You can't take an immediate shower if you forgot to turn on the hot water heater for 20 minutes or so. You can't just walk to your front porch or your mailbox and get your mail rather you have to have it forwarded to where you will be so planning ahead is necessary. You can't just turn on TV without going outside and setting up the dish and FINDING the satellite (unless you can afford a really nice rooftop self pointing system which we can't right now). You can't take a shower and let the wonderful hot water run if you are boondocking as you will drain your fresh water and fill your gray water waste tank. You have to turn off the modem at night as it will drain the RV battery and you will have to either run the engine for awhile or find another way to power the internet. You can't just let your laptop run down on battery because then you have three choices: plug it into the inverter which drains the house battery eventually, turn on the generator and waste gas and have noise or charge it in the truck and drain the batteries there. I think in a nutshell this life requires more PLANNING AHEAD and FLEXIBILITY.

Is this life for everyone? Absolutely not! There are times when even I, who have wanted this for years, is ready to pack up and head to Pickerel. Although admittedly thinking about the weather these last few months made me grateful to be in Phoenix. Could life be easier if we went to a campground instead of boondocking? I'm sure in some cases it would be and we may do that more when we don't have the mortgage to pay. But down here in the winter rates are astronomical, many parks are 55+, and some don't allow or only allow a certain number of pets. That's unacceptable to us as that was one of the main reasons we decided to RV - so the furkids could be with us.

So as far as feelings of deprivation? I can give up gardening as there are chances for me to volunteer with a community garden wherever we are - I can get my hands dirty and give back at the same time. But we are going to have to come up with some way of Bill being able to bring along the little boat. Once we get caught up there are quite a few lifts and other tow ideas that we can toss around in order to be able to do that. But other things? Have we missed them to not be able to live without them? No...of course yes, I miss the hot tub; yes, Bill misses his big TV etc. But is the trade off in what we are doing worth "missing" that stuff? Absolutely. The hard part has been having to work all the time these last few months and not getting time to go out and be a tourist down here. I wanted to horseback ride in the desert, Bill wanted to fish at Parker Dam. But now that we've got a better paying job going on we should be able to do all that from now on. What we did get to experience was really being a Phoenix resident for these last couple of months....driving the freeway during rush hour, dealing with lots and lots of people in the many different stores, being the minority in certain areas if you don't speak Spanish. That is really what made us say that we have "lived" here and didn't just "visit" and know that although we don't mind the area we definitely are not going to buy a retirement place in Sun City! Not enough trees and almost no water. The Escapees RV club that we belong to has a "retirement" location at their headquarters in Livington Texas where you can live in your own rig, get medical care and any other type of care you need right there. We are going to look into that location for when we have to hang up the keys - although hopefully that won't be for quite some time yet!

Friday, March 26, 2010

In Memory of Lizzy

We just got an email from our friends Jan and Al who Bill worked with at Amazon. They are full timers too and travel with feline furkids like we do....although they have more of them and two litter boxes to boot! One of their furkids, Lizzie, started having problems with her breathing a while ago and the doctors could not tell them what was wrong....she just kept going downhill. Today they had to let her go to the Rainbow Bridge and I am sure I know what they are going through right now as I still hurt from losing Tigre....so here is a little poem a fellow RV Petstop member sent me when I lost Tiges...Jan and Al - I hope this helps your grief a little bit...I know that my Tigre welcomed Lizzy today with a soft head butt and they are both healthy and happy right now.

Are You Ready To Come Home?

And God asked the feline spirit, are you ready to come home?
Oh, yes, quite, so, replied the precious soul.
And, as a cat, you know I am most able to decide anything for myself.

Are you coming then? asked God.
Soon, replied the whiskered angel,
but I must come slowly for my human friends are troubled.
For you see, they need me, quite certainly.

But don't they understand? asked God,
that you'll never leave them?
That your souls are intertwined for all eternity?
That nothing is created or destroyed?
It just IS .... forever and ever and ever.

Eventually they will understand, replied the glorious cat.
For I will whisper into their hearts
that I am always with them.
I just AM .... forever and ever and ever.

Author Patricia Olson

On The Road Again

Well, Bill was able to talk to Prime Retail today and they formally offered him the job which he took. At first they wanted us to be in Minneapolis by the 31st and he said no way as we have to stop in Pickerel to get his tools. PLUS I don't think many campgrounds are open yet in Minnesota so even if we'd boondock there is a chance our water would freeze - as would we. So now they are sending him to Fort Wayne Indiana by April 5 to a Target.

We are now leaving tomorrow around noon after he gets some sleep as he has to finish up at the Petsmart tonight. Hopefully we hit no big storms through the middle of the country and can be in Pickerel by Tuesday sometime. We have to load up tools and other stuff, I have to go to the doctor so I still get my meds and we want to pull the couch out of the rig. We plan on being there for two days and leaving for Appleton on Friday the 2nd so that we can get together with the Siebers family for dinner. We will then take off for Fort Wayne on Saturday the 3rd.

Hopefully this is the start of us being able to dig out of the hole the recession has put us in. I do not want to be at the Pickerel house for very long as I will want to work in my garden and Bill will want to go fishing....that is going to be very hard this year not to miss, but we don't have much other choice - the pay for this is too good and the Census has not called so we can't count on them. Alaska just won't work right now with the pay being only $7 an hour. Hopefully by doing this a couple of years we will be able to take the lower paying jobs in the neater places of the country. At least Dozey will get a couple of days to play with Clyde.

Here is Bill's entry to Letterman's stupid pet tricks.

Monday, March 22, 2010

New Twist to Overpopulation

Endangered Species Condom Project Launched for Valentine's Day

Just in time for Valentine's Day, this morning the Center for Biological Diversity's network of more than 3,000 volunteers began distributing 100,000 free Endangered Species Condoms in every state in the United States. We also launched a new Web site -- www.EndangeredSpeciesCondoms.com -- to distribute additional free condoms, educate people about how human overpopulation is crowding other species off the planet, and give people a chance to win free condoms for life.

The condoms come in six different packages with original artwork and edgy slogans featuring the polar bear ("Wrap with care, save the polar bear"), jaguar ("Wear a jimmy hat, save the big cat"), American burying beetle ("Cover your tweedle, save the burying beetle"), snail darter ("Hump smarter, save the snail darter"), coquí guajón rock frog ("Use a stopper, save the hopper"), and spotted owl ("Wear a condom now, save the spotted owl").

"Human overpopulation is destroying wildlife habitat at an unprecedented rate," said Randy Serraglio, a conservation advocate leading the Center's overpopulation campaign.
"All of the major threats to the earth's biodiversity -- sprawl, logging, mining, dams, pollution, and climate change -- are driven by human overpopulation. Our Endangered Species Condoms are designed to capture peoples' attention, get them laughing, and get them talking about the impact of overpopulation on our small and fragile planet."

Check out www.EndangeredSpeciesCondoms.com, pass the link on to your friends, and spread the word about overpopulation.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Updated Free Food For The Week


Food City


Church's Chicken - more breading than anything
Flying J Buffet - not very good
Krispy Kreme
BJ's Brew House - expensive but ok
Sonic - food....what else to say?
Lucille's BBQ - expensive and not worth it
McDonald's - better than Sonic

Miracles CAN happen...the story of the Pumpkin Boy

This is a post I made on the RV Pet Stop board of RV.net as there have been so many crossings to the Rainbow Bridge lately....

I wanted to post a miracle that did happen as we sure need some here for our group lately....this is the story of the Pumpkin Boy.

One day in early April 2007 Lisa and Dozer were heading down to Oshkosh from Pickerel to stay overnight and do some work. They were just past Bonduel Wisconsin on Hwy 47 when Lisa saw an orange kitty dead on the right hand side of the road. Now, this is always one of the hardest things for her, driving as much as she does, and seeing the casualties, both domestic and wild, on the sides of the roads. So she quickly said a little prayer that the poor baby was at the Rainbow Bridge and happy and looked to the left. What in the world? There was ANOTHER little orange kitty in the north bound lane dragging his hindquarters and trying to get away. So Lisa pulls over really, really fast(and knocks Dozer on his rear in the back seat!) and rushes over to the north bound lane. Thank heavens there were no other cars heading north at that moment. She picks up the little orange kitty and he says "meow" AND BEGINS TO PURR! There is dried blood on his head and he obviously can not stand up. So Lisa puts the little orange kitty on the floor on the passenger side of the truck and frantically thinks what to do.

She decides to take the little orange kitty to the Fox Valley Referral Center in Appleton Wisconsin about an hour away which is the closest emergency vet. Upon arrival she takes the little orange kitty into the hospital as he continues to purr. The staff ask his name and of course Lisa didn't know it as he was no doubt a barn cat and she had just met him an hour ago. So she decides to call him "Pumpkin Boy" as she had been calling him pumpkin during the ride as an endearment and to calm him down. The staff take him into a room and he is examined. The doctor takes Lisa into another room and says he has "good" news and "bad" news. So Lisa says "tell me the good news" because she thought the bad was going to be REALLY bad. The good news was that there was no internal organ damage although the little orange kitty was less than a year old and had been run over pretty good. The bad news was that if Lisa wanted him fixed she would have to pay for the surgery or authorize humane euthanasia. Well, there really was NO option for her to chose as euthanasia is hard enough for her to chose when the furkid is really and truly sick.

So Lisa tells Dr. Bruce, the surgeon at the hospital who is exceptional at what he does, to go ahead with surgery the next morning. She had been saving up for Lasix surgery on her eyes but obviously Pumpkin Boy needed that money more than she did. Bill was ok with it as he said "that's who you are" which was a very big relief. The next morning Pumpkin Boy is in surgery for over 5 hours. Lisa called every couple hours to check on him and finally was able to hear that he had pulled out of it ok. He could not be taken home yet though to meet his new family, 3 felines of which would NOT be very enthusiastic about his arrival. So Lisa drove back to Pickerel until she could make the 4 hour round trip to bring him home.

The ending? Well, today the Pumpkin is like the bionic kitty...he has no pain and is able to run, jump and climb up the cupboards at the stick house as if he never was broken. He is a daddy's boy and lies in Bill's lap every night. Bill taught him how to "sit pretty" on his back legs for treats. We never did find out what it was that hit him and we know that when he gets older he will probably have joint issues but all in all he is a "miracle" and I wish us all such a miracle with our furkids.

Pumpkin then

Pumpkin now

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Phoenix Oddities

Just a listing of the things that we have found "strange" down here compared to the high-class, upper crust area we come from...

1. People on the streets with signs advertising businesses

Now I know this happens every year around tax time and the Liberty Tax Service puts some poor freezing souls on the corners in their lovely Statue of Liberty costumes, but here it seems like EVERY business hires someone to stand outside with their sign. And they are not freezing wearing Statue of Liberty costumes for the most part...AND they are making like $12 per hour as Bill found ads on Craigs List. The problem is that the majority of them have their iPod in their ears and are swinging and twirling the sign to whatever whacked out hip hop music they are listening to so you can't read the sign anyway!

2. Air Conditioners on Roofs

Now this one is not that strange but actually a good idea. Get the thing off of the ground so
that there is at least some more room in the miniscule lots that everyone seems to have.

3. Very few garages especially UN-attached garages

The storage places down here do a booming business between the lack of garages and the covenants that so many areas seem to have. A 10x20 costs about $200 a month.

4. Citrus fruit laying wasted on the ground

This one is a damn shame! There are so many orange and lemon trees that people must not look at the fruit as being food or something as we have seen so much just lay there and rot.

5.. Begging on highway entrances/exits

Now I know there is begging in larger cities but I'm not sure if the beggars mark off their "territory" and beg on the same corners and in teams like they do here? In fact, we were at a Buffalo Wild Wings in Mesa doing a shop when we first got here and as we were leaving a woman approached Bill's side of the truck and asked him for money because her kids were sick. He said no and she acted a bit pissy. So the next week we have the same Buffalo Wild Wings to do and as we are seated at the booth we look out the window and there is that same "beggar girl" as Bill calls her! And she is approaching people getting in and out of their cars asking for money. So we ask the server at the restaurant what is up with that and he says that this is "her" parking lot and she does the same thing every day. So I tell him that she had BETTER not approach us again with the same BS story or she would be getting an earful from me! Bill says he saw a show were the people who do this drive to their $250,000 houses in BMWs after working all day...I WILL give money to people if I see they have an animal, like the day that we found a really awesome kitten at the laudromat and I gave the lady who works there $10 to help pay for his food and litter. And one day I gave a $1 to a guy who couldn't finish paying for his burrito at Food City. At least this way I know where it's going..........

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Odds N Ends

Daylight savings time -- a time of rejoicing for me in our former life, as attuned to the light and seasons as I am. But here in Arizona they don't observe daylight savings - why does the state not observe a federal law you ask? It has to do with the fact that it can still be 100 degrees after sundown and people want to get outside and do things as noted here -

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20071018230735AA2wieR\ So if anyone is planning on calling us while we are still here, don't be offended if you call at 8am and it's still 6am for us!

Next Monday will be Bill's first day with Prime Retail at the Petsmart in north Phoenix by Hwy 17 and the 101. Of course, we are exactly opposite that right now as we are at the Lone Butte Casino in Chandler off of the 202. So we will be migrating 30 miles north as it would be just too far to drive during morning rush hour traffic as he has to be there at 8am. There are two other casinos that are farther north along the 101 that we will probably try and maybe even a Walmart near the Petsmart for a night or two. We are very much hoping that this job will work out even if we have to be on the East Coast for the summer. We will have to make a swing through Wisconsin as Bill has to get his tools for this job and I have to see my doctor to keep getting my scripts.

Lone Butte Casino has plenty of room in their back parking lot with sites painted off for RV parking. The RV in front of us for the last week left this morning and Bill went out to ask him how long we could stay before the casino set us on our way. The guy said he had been there since January 15 with no problems! So it is a bit sad that it is not closer to the Petsmart were Bill will be working. The bad part about being here is that the day after we arrived a cattle truck parked behind us and has not left yet. When the wind is right the smell is not so pretty.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Good News (We Hope)

I had received a job posting from my normal merchandising channels that wanted a traveling crew leader for a company out of Georgia. The crew leader would be in charge of a reset or construction crew in a store, have their own tools, have a computer and a digital camera and be able to be on the road for 11 to 12 weeks at a time....definitely a job for only a small group of people and Bill just happened to fit into that small group.

So we emailed the recruiter who emailed back within 10 minutes (I'm thinking she doesn't get many apps for this one!) and called him right away on Friday morning. She said she would pass it along to the company who then called Bill for an interview with two of the top guys on Monday morning. He had the interview and everything sounded great but nothing was for sure until Thursday morning when he gets a call from the Vice President of Construction who wants him to work with their team the week of March 22.

The great thing about this job is that not only does it pay a wage but also $100 per diem a day and I will be able to sign on once Bill gets going. Bill made sure that the VP of Construction knew that we could not be in the cold north in the winter working due to living in the RV and he was perfectly fine with that. The job here in Phoenix will be a total remodel of a Petsmart. They *may* have a project the week after in Utah so we would be going there if so. Supposedly most of the work will be on the East Coast but the ad did say Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania too, I'm sure they will play it by ear depending on what work is available. Bill wanted to make sure that this would be somewhat full time and the VP said that he anticipates 40 to 45 weeks per year or more. He said he would pay him $900 for the week here in Phoenix as a trial run. Hopefully, this turns into something that will work out!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

How To Eat Free (Almost) For A Week

Sure helps with the food bill!

Monday Breakfast
Juice, Fruit, Yogurt & Peanut Butter from grocery shop - Lisa
Juice, Danish and small bowl of fruit when he should eat more - Bill

Monday Lunch/Dinner
Spareribs from grocery shop

Tuesday Breakfast
Juice, Fruit, Yogurt & Peanut Butter from grocery shop - Lisa
Juice, Danish and small bowl of fruit when he should eat more - Bill

Tuesday Lunch/Dinner
Famous Dave's take out shop

Wednesday Breakfast
IHOP shop

Wednesday Lunch/Dinner
Sonic burger and fries shop - Bill
Paradise Bakery shop - Lisa

Thursday Breakfast
Juice, Fruit, Yogurt & Peanut Butter from grocery shop - Lisa
Juice, Danish and small bowl of fruit when he should eat more - Bill

Thursday Lunch/Dinner
Buffalo Wild Wings shop

Friday Breakfast
McDonald's shop

Friday Lunch/Dinner
Free Seafood Buffet at Harrah's for signing up for their players club

Saturday Breakfast
Juice, Fruit, Yogurt & Peanut Butter from grocery shop - Lisa
Juice, Danish and small bowl of fruit when he should eat more - Bill

Saturday Lunch/Dinner
Cheba Hut Sub shop

Sunday Breakfast
Juice, Fruit, Yogurt & Peanut Butter from grocery shop - Lisa
Juice, Danish and small bowl of fruit when he should eat more - Bill

Sunday Lunch/Dinner
Church's Chicken shop

If you ever get a chance to try the seafood buffet at the Harrah's Casino in Maricopa we highly suggest it -- it is awesome! Prepare yourself for a long line but it is worth it.