Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Growing Number of Migrants Live, Work on the Road

See everybody? We're not so abnormal!


Richmond, Va. -- Pleasant smells wafted from the little kitchen inside Brett and April Denson's Open Range recreation vehicle parked in the Cozy Acres Campground in Powhatan County.
Brett, a boilermaker by trade, had come in for the evening from his job on a crew building a storage tank for a Virginia client of Fisher Tank Co., his Lexington, S.C.-based employer.
April was preparing dinner while he relaxed and played with their dogs. They had been in Virginia for 2½ months, and his job was nearly done.

A couple of days later, having received his next job assignment from the foreman at Fisher Tank, the Densons battened down their belongings, dismantled the satellite dish, hitched the RV to their truck and headed off to Lawrence, Kansas.

Brett Denson, 43, has been traveling around the country building storage tanks since he was 19, part of the time alone, other times with his wife, also 43, and their three children. Their children are now adults -- and living in the family home in Kentucky -- so the Densons travel fulltime together.

"I guess it's because it pays good," explained Brett Denson about his career, while noting that using the RV beats staying at motels. "I don't know how to do anything else. I took spells where I wanted to get a job at home, but I got over it."

While some people use their RVs to chase work while seeing America, others simply live in their RVs and commute to their regular job. Some travel from place to place trading their work for a free campsite. But how many there are is anyone's guess. Anywhere from 25,000 to 250,000 working Americans travel around in RVs, motoring from state to state and job to job to earn a paycheck, according to Arkansas-based Workamper News, a website that caters to RV migrants.
"We definitely know that work camping is alive, well and growing in numbers,"
Workamper News owner Steve Anderson said. "I know that because our subscriber base continues to grow."

The biggest national RV trade organization, the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association in Reston, does not keep statistics on RV owners who travel from job to job. Spokesman Kevin Broom estimated that 400,000-800,000 people live full time on the road in an RV. "Many are also working," he said.

Jean Daniels, who owns Cozy Acres with her husband, Larry, said RV workers are frequent residents there. "They stay here until the job is completed and then they move on to the next job," she said. "We had somebody building a Jos. A Bank Clothier store and one of the guys here is doing something with that American Family Fitness facility. . . . When they built [state] Route 288, a lot of the foremen on that job stayed here. There's always people working in the area," she said. "They don't want to stay in a hotel. They have figured out that they can buy an RV and have the comfort of their own place, fix their meals and watch TV."

Sonny Allen, manager of Americamps KOA Richmond, which is near Ashland, said about 30 percent of the campground's tenants are workers traveling from job to job. They have included a computer analyst who sets up computer systems for companies, a nurse working under contract to a local hospital and an employee of a tobacco company transferred here from another state.
"The people we have in here right now -- some of them are pavers,"
Allen said. "They go around to different places and do paving projects" such as fast-food or grocery-store parking lots.

Erik Bjorklund, a 54-year-old carpenter, lives in a 26-foot Airstream RV at Americamps. He said he is kept busy by a small clientele of doctors, lawyers and other professionals. One job performed in 1993 for a urologist led to all the work he can handle. "I've never had to look for work, and I've never been out of work," he said. "I hardly have a day off." Bjorklund decided to live in, and work from, his RV after divorcing from his wife, who got their house in Richmond. "I've been here since October," he said.

Brad Herzog of California has researched and written three books based on his RV travels.
For two months every summer,
Herzog travels with his wife and sons, ages 8 and 9. He blogs and researches books. "Fifteen years ago, we didn't have a cell phone, no e-mail, no wireless Internet," he said. "Now, when you hit the road, you can be as connected as you want to be. I think that's why more and more people have found that it's pretty easy to work from the road from an RV." Herzog also noted the money saved by not staying in hotels, not buying restaurant meals, not renting cars and not booking flights "makes up for what we spend in gas."

Americamps charges $33 to $53 a day for a site with water, sewer and electricity, or a weekly rate of $275. Cozy Acres has daily rates starting at $37 and monthly rates starting at $475 plus electricity. Many campgrounds offer a variety of discount plans.

The Densons note that RV living is not for everyone, and life on the road can be tough.
A lot of the reason that some jobs pay so much is because people don't want to be gone all the time, Brett Denson said. "Some do it for a little while and quit." Also, "you're away from your extended family,"
April Denson said, and "you really have to not mind being in close quarters."

But the lifestyle offers a lot of variety. It has taken the Densons to more than 40 states. "We really like going to different places," she said. "We always have a good time." "It's better doing it when you can take your family with you, especially your wife," Brett Denson said. "It's more like a regular life."

Horse Capital of the World


We left Cincinnati on Saturday afternoon after stopping at the Meijer to get my metformin medication. For some reason the Meijer and Giant Eagle grocery stores down here are able to offer some diabetes and antibiotic medications for free to consumers. Hmmmm....and stores in Wisconsin can't do the same why? Anyway, we headed down to Lexington Kentucky and the Kentucky Horse Park which was about 90 miles away.

Lexington is called the Horse Capital of the World and Thoroughbred Cityas well as the Athens of the West. The Horse Park is home to such Thoroughbred legends as Cigar, who won nearly $10 million in his career and is the grandfather of Seattle Slew, and Funny Cide who was the first gelding to win the Kentucky Derby since 1929. The park also has 23 other breeds of horses which go on parade twice a day so visitors can see the differences in the various horses. We were going into the park but found out it costs $16 per person plus another $7 per person for a 35 minute horse ride. So for now we have decided to pass as although I personally love horses, horse racing and pedigrees just isn't our thing.

We spent Sunday just sitting around as it was much too hot to do much else and the pool was full of kids. When you get a park this big you get all sorts of people I guess. I went a did a load of laundry this morning and as I was walking to the building a golf cart with 3 girls goes flying by me. The driver could not have been more than 10...if she was 12 I am getting way too old. So when I stopped by the store to buy the Sunday paper I ask the attendant how old you should be to drive a golf cart in the park. He says 16. I say no way is she 16. He says he didn't think so either. Well, do something about it! All it takes is one miscalculation and she can't stop the thing and it flies into someone's campsite hurting the kids and the people in her way. Then I'm sitting outside doing my Sunday coupons and two guys come walking through our campsite -- I mean walking BETWEEN our firepit and the picnic table where I'm sitting not more than 6 feet away from them and they say nothing! Not "Hi, how ya doing?" NOTHING...they keep walking and talking like I'm invisible so I say "HELLO!!!" really loud. They look at me like I'm the bitch from hell. Is it so hard to be polite and at least acknowledge that you are basically trespassing on someone else's site? And they were adults! No wonder some kids act the way they do!

On Monday we drove around Lexington a bit. It seems like a very nice larger city and is, of course, homw to the University of Kentucky and boy are the fans evident everywhere! We did an apartment shop of one of the communities near campus and let me tell you I don't know where places like this were when I was in school! Everything, and I mean everything, is included for $640 a month. Amenities like work out area, free WiFi in public areas, high speed internet in the apartments, fully furnished with leather sofas, washer and dryer.



Besides being the home of UK, it is also the home of Lexmark corporate and has a Jif peanut butter plant that produces more peanut butter than any other location in the world. It is the hometown of actor George Clooney, Confederate States of America President Jefferson Davis, country singer Vince Gill, talented family members Ashley, Wynonna and Naomi Judd, and President Abraham Lincoln and First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Fibro Blog Posting

I have decided to start a blog to chronicle my trials and tribulations of living with fibromyalgia and also fulltiming in the hopes of helping and also learning from others who may stumble upon my writing and decide to participate in the blog. The following post is one that I just wrote and is very long. It details the nighmare I have just lived through in trying to get my medications while we are on the road. So if you are open to a long, involved story, read on! If not, just remember that although $4 prescriptions sound great, they aren't when you can't get them!

I have not had the chance to tell this story yet, mostly because it was an extremely stressful experience and partly because it was not really resolved until this past week. Many of us who take one or more prescription narcotics have had some sort of negative experience, be it reluctance on the part of the physician to prescribe the medicine as needed or on the part of the pharmacy in dispensing it to us for one reason or another. I my experience and in reading other blogs and talking to other chronic pain sufferers, prescription narcotic use is looked at by many people as being somehow wrong, as if there is something shady that we are doing, as if we really do not NEED the medication and are just "faking" pain in order to get our "fix". For example, we know that we should take our required medication at the correct times every day in order to not fall into a possible flare up and to keep the pain at bay. Some of us most also take these meds in order to comply with pain contracts with our doctors. If we are tested and there is too little in our system we can be dropped by our doctor just the same as if there is too much in our system. My own mother has stated that this is ridiculous and that I shouldn't take my pain meds unless I really NEED them and that I have a "low pain tolerance" because I take my pain meds when I am not flat out, lying down in agony. Personally I believe I have developed a tolerance to my pain medications as well as some physical dependence in that if I would stop them "cold turkey" I get the same physical symptoms as an addict coming down off whatever drug he or she has been taking. I firmly DO NOT believe I am addicted as if I were addicted there would not be any spare pain meds in the house! I would not be ABLE to say, "I don't need my hydrocodone right now, I'll wait a bit" as I would be an addict also! With that said let me tell you about my horrendous experience trying to get my May and June medications.
I am currently on three medications that my doctor will only prescribe month to month. While this is extra work for me, and I would imagine for her also, I can understand why she does this. She works at the Potawatomi Health Center in Crandon and there is a very high incidence there of patients who abuse the drugs that they are given in one form or another which then puts her in a bad position both with the DEA and also professionally. While I understand her reasoning I resent being lumped in with everyone else and being treated like an abuser.

The first medication that I am on is cyclobenzaprine which is a muscle relaxant. I have no idea why there is a problem with this drug as it is not subject to the Controlled Substances Act. I currently take this medication twice daily for a total of 60 per month.
http://www.drugs.com/cyclobenzaprine.html (The monthly totals will be important later in the story.) The second drug I can only get monthy is tramadol. This drug also is not subject to the Controlled Substances Act so I am not sure why I get so much grief. I currently take 3 of these pills twice daily for a total of 180 per month. http://www.drugs.com/tramadol.html And the last "naughty" medication that I take is hydrocodone. It is a Schedule III drug which means -- The drug has a potential for abuse less than the drugs in schedules 1 and 2. The drug has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Abuse of the drug may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence. I currently take 8 hydrocodone a day or a total of 240 per month.

I went online to the Walmart website on Monday, May 26 to order a refill for the three prescriptions. I always try to do this early as the pharmacy has to contact the doctor, the doctor has to fax in the required information, the pharmacy has to fill the order and then mail it. Mailing can take anywhere from 3 to 5 days depending on where we are in the country. I then call the Walmart in Rhinelander and inform them that I need the meds mailed to Goshen Indiana where we will be the following week. It was always a crap shoot as to the attitude I would get each month when calling the store and giving my new address. Sometimes it was accepted and changed with no problem and sometimes I would get treated like an alien for "again" having a new mailing address.

According to information I was given later on, my meds were mailed on Friday, May 30 from the store and addressed to me c/o General Delivery in Goshen IN. On Thursday, June 6 I go to the post office in Goshen and there are no meds. I go out to the truck and get on the phone to the Walmart to double check that they had been mailed. I was assured that they were mailed last week and they read off the address to me. Now Walmart does not mail any prescriptions with a tracking number. All medications that go out are mailed regular mail so they are not able to be tracked. I go back to the post office on Friday, June 7 and still no meds. The post office refuses to even try to assist as the package is not trackable. I ask for the postmaster's name and phone number as proof that I did not pick up a package containing my drugs. After a ton of grief I am able to get his first name and the actual direct number to the office in Goshen as we were leaving the area and heading to South Bend for Bill to work next. I then call and make a complaint with the customer service line at the Post Office. Reluctantly, as I did not have a tracking number, they take down my complaint but I have to give them my home address so instead of the complaint going to the Rhinelander Post Office it goes to Pickerel. Within a half hour I get a call from Becky, the postmaster at the Pickerel office, and she is not happy about the complaint. I try to explain to her that I wanted the complaint to go to the Rhinelander office and not Pickerel but they took it from my address. Now does that make any sense? Just because I live in one area does NOT mean that the problem with my shipment is from the post office in THAT area! So she tells me that she is going to close the complaint -- basically as it is not her problem. So I have to call back and again speak with someone who tells me that my complaint is resolved....NO IT ISN'T! Finally I get her to understand that my problem is with Rhinelander WI and Goshen IN and anywhere in between that may have handled my package -- it shouldn't matter WHERE I live!

I then call the Rhinelander Walmart back to explain what was going on. I get a pharmacy tech named Donna who proceeds to tell me that there is no way that the package didn't get to me and also that I should not be on Badgercare insurance as I don't live in Wisconsin. Wait a minute! I pay both income and property taxes in Wisconsin not that it is any of your business nor your right to have any opinion on it. So I am then upset enough that I call Walmart corporate and lodge a complaint. The first person that takes my complaint skews it to sound like I am complaining that I did not receive my package that was not trackable - I am but the biggest complaint now was Donna's opinion as to my residency status.

I now call my doctor and leave a message for her nurse to contact me. My regular nurse is off that day it seems and I get a call back from a nurse I have never met. I explain the situation and this nurse basically says too bad, so sad and that I was out of luck until next month. I said that I have the postmaster's name and number if she could please take it down to vouch for the fact that I did not receive my shipment. She tells me that she is a nurse and not a secretary and was extremely rude to me to the point that I ask her point blank who her boss is. She says that day it is my doctor. I then tell her I want a call from my doctor ASAP as I do not need to put up with her rudeness.

Needless to say I did not receive a return call. The next day I call my doctor's line again and get a return call from the regular nurse. I explain everything again and state that I have the postmaster's name and number and I would like it down in my chart what has exactly happened. I also tell her of the other nurse's rudeness and she says that it was probably because there are so many people who are lying about their scripts.. I don't care as I do not need to be treated in such a manner over something where I have legitimate proof that the meds never reached me. My nurse says to keep trying to call the post office and to keep them posted on what is going on.

I wait two days, calling the Goshen office each day to make sure that the package has not appeared. It hasn't. I then get a call from a lady in Chicago from the Post Office. She explains that there is really nothing they can do as the package is not trackable. I tell her fine but I wanted them to be aware that packages with narcotics are disappearing on their watch. She also tells me that if I package is damaged in transit it is sent to a central location and destroyed. WHAT!! I ask what if you can read either the sender's or the addressee's name? She says that it sometimes does not matter.

By this time I have run out of meds. I am starting to get withdrawal symptoms such as sweats and shaking. I finally call my doctor's office and leave a voice mail asking if this was medical protocol -- letting a patient go through withdrawal symptoms because they do not have their medications. This must have shook them up a bit as I do believe that would be grounds for some sort of malpractice case. The nurse calls me and says that the doctor will fill 5 days worth of pills and would wait and see if the others turn up. So they call my meds into the Walmart in South Bend. Although I have paid for the meds that are missing I now have to pay full price again because Badgercare does not work out of the state of Wisconsin and because even if I was in the state they will not pay twice in one month.

I do not receive a call back from Walmart corporate so one night I get ticked off enough that I call again. Obviously this time the complaint I had was written up correctly as the next day I receive a call from the pharmacy district manager from Chicago. She asks me to tell her the story which I gladly do. She states that Donna does not have the right to be telling customers what insurances they should or shouldn't have (Ya think?) and that she would get with her immediately. She apologized quite a few times and said to keep ahold of her number in case I ever had any further problems but did suggest that I pay for trackable shipping. I tell her that I am done with Walmart shipping and would be having my neighbor pick up my scripts and mailing them with the rest of my mail.

So life goes on and I keep calling the Goshen post office every other day to check on the package. Nothing appears and I finally give up sometime in the beginning of June thinking I would never see the meds. For the month of June I have my doctor call in my scripts to the Antigo WI Walmart so that my neighbor, Carol, can pick them up easier than in Rhinelander and I did not want to deal with Donna again either! Here is where the numbers I stated previously come into play.

I call my doctor to fill the scripts on Monday, June 7. Carol doesn't get into Antigo until Saturday, June 12. I had given her instructions to call me if they gave her any grief or if the scripts were wrong. She calls me and says that although I had 60 cyclobenzaprine like I should, I only had 90 Tramadol instead of 180 and only 210 hydrocodone instead of 240. Carol puts me on the phone with the pharmacist and I ask if the doctor or they had dropped the ball. I then told him my normal dosages and he says that the doctor called in the wrong amount. I told him I would call the doctor and have them call in the remaining pills for this month's prescription. Although it was Saturday I immediately call my doctor's number and leave a voice mail stating what the pharmacist had said and telling her the amounts that had been dispensed.

The nurse calls me back on Monday, June 14 and says that the doctor will call in the remaining pills. I ask why the mix up and she states that the doctor "may be weaning me off of the pills and deciding not to prescribe me any more." I then tell the nurse that if that is the case I want a phone call from the doctor telling me that and explaining to me for what reason she has decided to do that. The nurse then states that she isn't sure if that is the case but I shouldn't worry this month. THIS MONTH?? What about the next month? What about the rest of my life? I am the one that has to live with this condition and I am doing my damndest to survive it and have some sort of life but I should have to worry my doctor is going to drop me? Give me a break!

Fast forward to Monday, June 21. All of a sudden I get a phone call from the Walmart pharmacy in Rhinelander and the pharmacist states that my package has shown up back there! I tell him that I was more or less called a liar by the pharmacy staff and asked how they felt to be wrong? I tell him that my neighbor will pick up the package sometime that week and he says that he thinks from now on my packages should not be mailed. I then inform him that I am not even using his pharmacy any longer due to my treatment by Donna.

On Wednesday, June 23, I call the Antigo Walmart to alert them that Carol would be picking up the rest of my monthly prescription that day. The pharmacist gets on the phone and says he "will not fill the script" until Friday, June 25. I ask him why. He states that is when my 2 week prescription expires. I tell him that he and I had discussed the fact that those pills were the remaining monthly prescription that the doctor had made an error on. He treated me like I was an out of control addict and kept repeating that I should have pills left yet. I told him that I did but that I normally got one month at time and that the pills still had to be mailed - again. I then repeatedly asked him who was in charge of that decision and he wouldn't tell me. I kept pressing the matter and he finally said HE made the decisions and I was getting no pills until Friday. I then told him to not to bother to fill any scripts because I would be getting a different pharmacy. When Carol stopped by to get the scripts as I couldn't get ahold of her to tell her not to bother, he had the nerve to discuss the fact that I had gotten my monthly allotment of pills -- 1) which I hadn't and 2) where is HIPPA when it comes to them following the law? He had no authorization to discuss my dosages with ANYONE besides myself or Bill.

Carol almost had just as much luck at Rhinelander when she went in to get the returned package. I called earlier in the day and unfortunately Donna had answered the phone. They must have Caller ID as she was sickenly sweet and sarcastic. I asked to be transferred to the pharmacist who confirmed that the package was there. I told her my neighbor would be picking it up later in the afternoon. When Carol gets there she goes to the counter and gets an employee who she stated "was a real bitch". Guess who that probably was? This employee then tells Carols that there is nothing there for me. Good thing that the pharmacist overheard and that Carol knew there was a problem because she calls me right away. I am just ready to have her hand the phone to the pharmacist when someone comes out from behind the counter with the package. And it only took almost 2 months to get it!

I then decided to call the Crandon Pharmacy. At this point I really didn't care whether it would cost more than Walmart's $4 medications -- I simple want good customer service and someone who understands unique situations such as mine. I spoke with the pharmacist there once the scripts were transferred and come to find out my doctor had written a script for 90 cyclobenzaprine, not the 60 that they gave me at Walmart. He also took the time to explain the time frames for the Badgercare and listen to what I told him about the situation as far as the meds having to be mailed to wherever I was as I was not in town. So far it looks like I finally have found a pharmacy who will work with me and is actually closer for Carol to pick up at.

I have learned again that cheap doesn't always bring good service. I should not have to fight so hard and every single month in order to get the medications that I need to basically survive this condition. These medications are no less necessary to me than heart medication is to someone with heart disease! There should not be such a stigma nor such scrutiny on those of us who depend on narcotics to make it through each day and have some semblance of a normal life. It was easier to pick up phenobarbital for Dozer although it is a barbituate. No questions were asked when they gave me a script for Dozer Lind-Siebers containing 60 barbituates. Somehow, some way changes need to be made for those of us who require these meds in order to live life to the fullest which is no less than we deserve.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


We decided to spend a few more nights in Cincinnati the first reason being I wanted to go to the zoo and the second one being that for Friday night the campground in Lexington that we are going to, The Kentucky Horse Park, was entirely full. As is this campground except for the lone spot by the playground that we were forced to move to. It is a real issue this time of year in finding a campground on Friday and Saturday nights. Almost all of them that we have run into so far have been full or very nearly so. The park we have been at here, Winton Woods, is a county park run by Hamilton County. It is nice but most of the sites are right on top of each other and all the full hookup sites are in a treeless area.



On Thursday we went to the zoo as it looked like it would be the "coolest" of the two days that we would be here. The Cincinnati Zoo is rated in the top 5 zoos in the country and we were surprised to find out it is in the downtown area. I guess that can be good and bad as it offers easier access to people but we wonder how they will ever be able to expand in the future.

Although all the animals were neat to see we really enjoyed the seeing the red panda from Asia, an endangered cousin of the giant panda. There were a pair of Mallard ducks in their enclosure and one of the pair was very intent on chasing them, we are not sure if they were to be lunch or not!


The other exhibit which was very interesting was that of the Sumatran rhinos. The zoo is the only spot in the country where they can be found today and there are only 300 of them left in the wild. In 2001 one of the females gave birth to a male calf which was the first successful birth in captivity in 112 years.



Alth0ugh we were not aware of it previously, Cincinnati considers itself the chili capital of the world with over 180 chili restaurants. We decided to pick up a Skyline chili shop thinking it would be somewhat like the chili we are used to --- wrong! Cincinnati chili uses different spices such as cinnamon and allspice and is of very thin consistency. They serve it on hot dogs which I find normal but they also serve it over spaghetti noodles. When you have just spaghetti noodles, chili and gobs, and I mean gobs, of cheese it is called 3 way. When you add either beans or onions it is called 4 way. To be kind we will say that the only thing Bill liked about the chili was the loads of shredded cheese -- he always complains about the lack of cheese on food at places such as Taco Bell. the only thing I liked was the spaghetti, extra onions and cheese. I am not sure if this type of chili is an acquired taste but I don't think we will be taking the time to acquire said taste! As in most situations such as this we always say "Thank God it was a shop and we are reiumbursed!"

On a more frustrating note Dozey had two seizures again early Friday morning around 5am and again around noon. He had not had any since we had him on the 1 tablet of phenobarbital every 12 hours. These two were relatively short compared with the seizures he had had before being on the medication though. I called the vet in Hammond who wasn't in Friday morning but the partner vet said to start giving him 1 1/2 tablets every 12 hours. Although modern science is stating that full moons do not cause an increase in seizures, I find it very strange that Thursday was a full moon and all of a sudden Dozey has one. We will be tracking this next month and see if the same thing occurs although it may not with him being on a higher dosage.

Bill said that Thursday night Doze was acting strange and trying to get into the front seats of the rig like he used to do. He was pacing and panting heavily although the A/C was on. We asked the vet if that happens again if we can go ahead and give him another tablet and she said we could. Here is some info on dogs being able to predict seizures in people so why could they not know it was coming in themselves?



Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Camground Living

Due to the high humidity and heat we have had to get campsites the last few nights. It cuts down on our bottom line and debt payoff schedule but we tried to see if we could stand it in the rig on Sunday night in Reynoldsburg and decided no way. We got to the Target parking lot and shopped next door at the Meijer. When we got back in the RV it felt like a sauna so we had to head about 15 miles north to Westerville to Tree Haven Campground, which is the closest to the first two stores this week in Reynoldsburg and Whitehall. Even just being in the trees without the A/C on is a world of difference. On Tuesday we moved to the southeast side of Columbus and stayed at the Alton RV Park which is just a field next to the owner's house with RV sites....no trees so the A/C really, really had to work to keep things cool.



On the way to Columbus we were heading east on Highway 16 near Newark OH when I saw something really strange looking ahead on the left. We couldn't pull over as we had a semi on our tail but as we got closer and closer I realized what it was!

It is the corporate headquarters for the Longaberger basket company and it is a building size replica of their medium market basket. Really neat!


Today we left the Columbus area and headed to Cincinnati. The temperature was 96 degrees and humid. Again we are in a campground, this time it is a campground in a county park -- Hamilton County which is the north side of Cincinnati.


Bill finally got an answer from the company as to where they are sending him next. Yesterday Mack, the project manager, told him that he needed him to take some time off as there was nothing going on nearby. He said he could send him to upstate New York and the Kohl's project for next week but we would just have to turn around and come back to Ohio as Bill has to be in Poland OH on July 6 for another Petsmart training store. The difference is that this time we will actually be in the same area for THREE whole weeks! And then after the training store each of the Petsmarts will supposedly be two week projects. I can't imagine not moving every day or every other day. It will be much easier for me to find work that way which is good because with these temperatures we will definitely need to be at a campsite and have hook ups. Of course, yesterday and today he gets calls from Roger wanting him to go to call back stores in Cleveland and Massillon, in the Canton area. Wait a minute....that's like 250 miles away from here and only 2 nights of work? So Bill is going to tell them that he will gladly work next week but it needs to be a full week and full weekly per diem to make it worth our while to head back up there. One hand does not know what the other is doing at the company sometimes.

So we have decided to stay in Cincinnati and go to the zoo which we missed the first time around. Then we are heading to northeast Kentucky to Cave Run Lake so Bill can do some musky fishing. One more state to put on the map!

With the noise at times in the campgrounds and parking lots it makes it difficult for Bill to sleep in. So most days he ends up taking naps on the couch. As you can see, Pumpkin loves to join him!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Canton & Akron OH

Our time in the Akron/Canton area has been rather enjoyable. The metropolitan area is not so big that it is overwhelming but is big enough to have quite a variety of stores, restaurants and activities. Today we went to a driving range that I was able to get a Buy 1 Get 1 Free large bucket of balls from the Tropicana Juicy Rewards. If you are not a member of the rewards program and you drink alot of juice I would look into it. You basically just enter your codes on the website and then either save them or redeem as you want. I have gotten free juice for 1 point as well as the driving range coupon so far. A large bucket of balls was $10 at The Golf Improvement Center so just by taking a little time to enter my codes we saved $10. I finally made some improvement with my driver so I can move on to the other clubs and maybe, just maybe, actually play some holes SOMETIME this summer!




In the early 1900s Akron was the fastest growing city in the country due to the prescence of Quaker Oats and of course, Goodyear Tire & Rubber. For a while zepplins, or airships, were manufactured in Akron, as well as the first items to contain the previously trademarked convenience called a "zipper". The Underground Railroad was very active in the Akron area and was the home of abolitionist John Brown. Today Akron is the home to the All American Soapbox Derby http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derby_Downs as well as singer Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders, members of the band Devo, late Challenger astronaut Judith Resnick, actor Clark Gable, broadcaster Hugh Downs, Hee Haw regular Grandpa Jones, and of course the most famous Akron native in recent times, basketball player LeBron James.


Obviously Canton is famous for being the home to the Pro Football Hall of Fame but in the February 2010 edition of Forbes magazine it was listed as the 9th most miserable city in the United States. Frankly we did not see this as we have been in far worse! (Hint -- Chicago!) Canton natives include R&B singer Macy Gray, singer Marilyn Manson, US President William McKinley, musican Boz Scaggs, and former Tonight Show host Jack Paar.


Our visit to the Hall of Fame was nice. The building at first appeared very small but inside it is quite large with two stories of exhibits.

Bill enjoyed looking at all the exhibits while I focused more on the ones pertaining to Packers, except for the Brian Piccolo exhibit which I still find distressing to this day. I remember reading the book when I was in grade school and thinking it was unfair back then. Now that I realize he died when he was only 26, I find it even more frustrating.

There was some old time Packer memorabilia as they were the third team to join the NFL. Of course the Packer Hall of Fame in Green Bay has more and better items. What I DID NOT like seeing was the special case for Brett Favre's #4 Vikings jersey!

If you cannot read the inscription on the bust above, it is of The Minister of Defense, Reggie White. Like I said it was nice to see and an NFL history junkie would be in heaven. I'm just glad that Bill got in free for Father's Day so it only cost $20 and not $40!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Back at Portage Lakes State Park

The heat and humidity has gotten pretty high so we decided to head to Portage Lakes State Park again and get one of the 7 electrical sites open during the week. We will have to leave on Friday as these electrical sites are all reserved but we are then going to Maple Lakes campground nearer to the next Target in Wadsworth as it is going to be in the high 80s all weekend too. So Dozey is happy as we have A/C and he can go swimming a couple times a day.


Sunday we are heading back down to Canton and will stop at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Then Bill has some rescheduled stores in the Columbus and Cincinnati area to do until June 23. After that we still don't know, which is really frustrating. So the near term schedule is as follows:

June 17 & 18 Wadsworth OH
June 20 Reynoldsburg OH
June 21 Whitehall OH
June 22 Hilliard OH
June 23 Hamilton OH

Tonight we did a Penn Station Sub shop in Cuyahoga Falls. We didn't know what to expect as we had never heard of the chain before but the food is awesome! They serve what they call "East Coast Subs" which you definitely couldn't eat every day of the week if you wanted to maintain your weight but definitely better than any sub shops we have been to in our opinion. They have an excellent Philly Cheese Steak sub as well as fresh squeezed lemonade. If you sign up for their newsletter online you get an email with a Buy 1 Get 1 Free sub coupon. Definitely worth it if you are anywhere near one of their stores.


I am surprised to say that I feel more at home here in Ohio than I ever did in either lower Michigan, Indiana or Illinois. I think it may be the fact that there are so many trees and lakes where we have been which is, of course, natural to us. Although very nice, it still is not nice enough where we would want to come back all the time. So the search continues until we find a place we like better in the summer than our little 5 acres in the northwoods.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Update on the Crew Curse

Well, I was right in the fact that Roger did not tell Mack he had asked us to bail Alex out because according to Bill last night Roger was spitting mad at me for going over his head to Mack. I guess I really don't care as why should we be out of that money? These crew issues have not been Bill's fault but it is making his job really, really difficult. For example, he just worked with 4 temps at the North Canton store. He talked to them about doing Akron and Wadsworth. Normally to go out of the city they would get a surcharge but he told them they would have 4 more days of work if they would go to the other two stores -- which are no more than 20 miles away. That way he doesn't have to train 4 more people from the ground up. Well, this morning at 6am Labor Ready calls and the temps want gas money to go tonight. So now Bill will have to train 4 more people AGAIN. This is getting ridiculous!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Bill and the Crew Curse

Well, it's official. After three times of losing a crew Bill is officially cursed. We had plans yesterday to do to the Pro Football Hall of Fame and were sitting around the campsite having coffee when Roger, Bill's boss, called. I took the call and Roger said that Bill wouldn't have a crew for Sunday night so I handed him the phone. It seems that the three crew members, Alex, Angela and Nathan had gone out on Saturday night with the two electricians as they were all staying in the same hotel in Wooster. Many drunken hours later Alex and Angela got into an argument at the hotel as one of the electricians had his arm around her when they were leaving the bar supposedly. This argument went on for hours and early Sunday morning Angela decided to up and head back home to Kentucky. Everything escalated from there and got physical with Alex getting scratches from Angela and he and Nathan trading punches and someone one of the electricians getting involved. The police were called and they carted Alex off to jail and Angela and Nathan left for Kentucky.

So by the time we got called it had been a few hours that he had sat in jail and that they had headed for home. Roger said he couldn't find the temp agency phone number (which is funny as I found it in like 30 seconds) and wanted to know if we could bail Alex out of jail. Oh, and one other thing, bail was $354 but he DEFINITELY had it and would pay us right back. In the meantime, I call the temp agency to order 4 workers for that night although I am not quite sure how this is my job? They call right back and say they will have them there --- the weird thing is that a few weeks ago when something like this happened on a Sunday Bill was told that they couldn't get temps for him on a Sunday night! I managed to do it just fine and I am not even authorized to order temps!

So we cancel our plans, drive the rig down to the North Canton Target store, pull the $400 out of the safe and drive the 30 miles to Wooster. When we get there they buzz us in and then the deputy says he has no change for the last $100 bill. So thankfully we had $54 between the two of us. THEN he asks if we want to put the bail money in our name or Alex's. Well of course we say our name and then he informs us if Alex doesn't show up for court on Tuesday and the bail money is in our name we would then be responsible for his fine -- to the tune of $3000 and change! Ok...put it in his name. When he gets out his is very apologetic and polite during the drive back to the Target. Come to find out she had taken all of his clothes and tools as well as the car. So Bill drops him off at the motel in the same lot as we are staying in by the Target. He had gone into a C store to the ATM and came out with only the ticket. We thought that meant that she had cleaned out his account or something but later we find out he has $300. He tells Bill that he will be in the store as Bill really needs him as the last two stores are more complicated than normal. A few hours later I go over and hang a care package on his door (after much pleading with the manager who doesn't want to give out the room number due to confidentiality issues! Argghh). Anyway, I leave him two Aeropostale t shirts, an Aeropostale sweatshirt and the usual toiletries as he had absoluately nothing but the clothes on his back. She even took his cell phone.

Bill goes into work at 8:30 PM to tell the electrician to stay away from Alex. At 10:00 he calls me to call the hotel as Alex had not shown up. So I take the truck and go over there. Surprisingly he answers the door and says that he is all messed up and can't work. I tell him that if he doesn't show he will be throwing away his job as Prime will fire him. He is all upset about her and I try telling him that obviously SHE wasn't thinking about him earlier in the day when she made statements that sent him to jail. I told him that Bill and I would go to court with him on Tuesday and vouch for him. He says that he is afraid as the county has a zero tolerance for assault and he will no doubt spend 6 months in jail and loose his job anyway. He says that he is thinking about leaving but that he is worried about the money we put up. I said that he had told Roger he would pay us right away and that we had put the bail in his name. He said that then he was probably leaving as he had no reason to return to Ohio and they wouldn't follow him with a warrant for a misdemeanor. I tell him to do what is right for HIM and not her. I said to think about what he will do for a job back in Kentucky with the unemployment still so bad and then left as there wasn't anything more I could do.

Bill came in this morning and said that he hadn't shown up so he told Roger who said Alex was fired. Roger said that we needed to knock on his door to get our money as Alex only makes $9 and that wouldn't be enough to pay us our $354 with what he made last week after taxes. That ticked me off as Roger had ASKED us to bail him out -- I consider it to have been a request from the company. Bill said that he never would have bailed him out if he knew he wouldn't show up for work. So I knocked on Alex's door...he had to have been there yet as the A/C was running. I also left a note stating we expected repayment. Then I went back to the rig and called Roger's boss Mack. I told him pretty much in no uncertain terms that I expected Prime Retail to withhold Alex's check and we needed our $354 back -- ALL of it, not partial payment. So far we have heard nothing -- nothing from Alex and nothing from Prime. It is bullshit that we are sitting today without that money and have to wait until Friday to get it much less wonder if we are getting it all back.

I am not extremely worried as I trust Mack to do right by us but my impression is that Roger did not tell him that he asked us to bail Alex out. I think Mack was under the impression that we did it on our own. Here again, we try to be nice to someone and we get burned. It is getting ridiculous.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Is Frugality the New Black?

I just had to laugh when I read this post by Melissa, who along with Shelley, writes the blog Stockpiling Moms. I get their daily emails and they really put the work into writing a helpful and informative blog on saving money.

I laughed as I remember feeling like the "odd man out" for many, many years just as she did! People would think it was great that I saved so much but they would think it strange and would never, ever try it themselves no matter how many receipts or spreadsheets on my savings I would show them! Unfortunately it had to take the Great Recession for some people to realize that the money that is saved when shopping is tax free income! I routinely save over 50% a year (yes I DO keep a spreadsheet!)! That adds up to literally thousands of dollars that I don't have to share with the IRS or the State of Wisconsin. Why should I go out and get a part time job for minimum wage, have to punch a clock and pay taxes on my income when I can spend maybe 5 hours a week and save thousands per year? I don't get how people just don't get it....here is Melissa's post reposted here with her blessings.

Frugality is the new black!
by Melissa on June 2, 2010

Is frugality the new black? Have you noticed how many couponers are out and about each time you shop? It is amazing to me. When I first started using coupons and building my stockpile I felt like I was “odd man out”. Now it seems to me that frugal “is in”. Because of the recession it not only became a necessity to use coupons and stockpile but it became a way for people to survive. Now I find that being frugal is “in” and I like it!

Every time I am out on a coupon run I find myself bumping into so many people with binders just like me. I see people of all ages and gender strategically using coupons. If I don’t see a person with a coupon binder I almost always see someone with their small accordion file or envelope of clipped coupons. It seems to me that the person without coupons is the person who is in the minority these days.

I decided to look up the definition of frugality. According to Webster – Frugal is characterized by or reflecting economy in the use of resources. According to Wikipedia – Frugality is the practice of acquiring goods and services in a restrained manner, and resourcefully using already owned economic goods and services, to achieve a longer term goal.

I definitely feel like frugality is the new black! I no longer feel “abnormal” using coupons or that I am doing something wrong when I net a free product. It is very “in” to use coupons strategically and to save money. What do you think? Do you agree that Frugality is the new black?

Portage Lakes State Park Akron OH


We decided to get a campsite again as the humidity is quite high today and it is in the 80s. We decided to try out Portage Lakes State Park as it is centrally located to the next three stores that Bill has to work and in case we decide to stay due to the weather. This location only has 6 electric sites so seeing as tonight is a Saturday they are naturally full. If we decide to stay we will move to one of the electric sites on Sunday night. We would really like to stay the entire time but the non-electric sites are $20 a night and the electric ones are no doubt more. It doesn't sound like much until you realize that means 10 nights are $200 and a month is $600....rather steep when you are still paying a mortgage!

The campsite we picked is a little walk through the woods to the lake. The trail is quite muddy from all the rain we have been getting here but that doesn't seem to stop Dozey.....as you can see here he is quite happy to chase a stick in the muddy water. We are trying to exercise him as much as possible so he can lose the weight he has gained on the medication....it is much easier to do here than in the blacktop campsites at Target!

Tomorrow we are going to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton as men get in free for Father's Day. Normally admission is $20 per person. Bill wasn't sure if he wanted to go but it is one of those things that he wants to at least say he visited seeing as we are in Canton.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Central Ohio

I haven't had time to post much these last few days as there has been a terrific amount of work for me both in Columbus and now here in Mansfield. I know why there was a bunch of work now in East Central Columbus but I'll get into that later in the post! Also I have been a bit upset since last Friday as we got a call and were being served foreclosure papers on the Oshkosh house. The lady was in our driveway in Pickerel and was wondering when we would be back. Ummmm...who knows? I told her that and she said she would call me back next week and I said that I didn't think she understood --- we really DON'T know! Another instance of trying to explain this lifestyle and someone just not getting it. She thought we were on vacation or just being difficult. When I explained where we were and why she said she would have the papers overnighted to someone here in Ohio, which she did and they served them on Monday. I will be posting a very long thought about this wonderful recession and the effects it has on personal relationships later on. I am calling it "The Collateral Damage of the Great Recession" so if you don't want get philosophical with me, please go ahead and skip the post! I wrote most of it the night we found out they were foreclosing and of course I couldn't sleep. Although I know this blog was set up to be mostly a travel and adventure blog it really helps me to get things out because 1) Bill mostly just doesn't understand my stress as he refuses to worry. Plus this foreclosure could have been stopped a year ago but he refused. So we do not see eye to eye on this situation at all. No wonder his blood pressure is only 110/70! And 2) I don't want to always dump on someone in a phone call where they have to listen. Everyone has their own problems too. This way you can choose to read the post or not.


We ended up getting a campground at the Alum Creek State Park near Columbus on Saturday night as it was so humid. It was a very nice park and we would have loved to stay longer as it was only 10 miles from the Target but they charge $28 a night and boondocking is far cheaper when the weather cooperates. It was nice being able to turn on the air to cut the humidity and as we had picked a shaded spot, the temperature was much lower just being there and not in an asphalt parking lot. At least the weather is the only problem right now as the stores are going better now for Bill as he is working with three experienced people who are regular Prime Retail employees.


When we first arrived in Columbus it looked pretty good. "Good" being not dangerous or run down and I thought everything was great seeing as it IS the state capital as well as the home to Ohio State. So I picked up quite a few Marathon audits that were out there not taken yet. Well, we found out why they weren't taken for sure! Bill decided to come along with me and play chauffeur on Sunday. We were in the East Central part of town when all of a sudden there were speeding squad cars everywhere and a chopper in the air circling in tight circles right around a block near where we were. I had Bill turn down to see what was going on as we hadn't seen so much excitment even in inner city Chicago. We did turn once and saw someone being led to a squad with cuffs on but then Bill said no way. I talked to people at the Marathon nearby and they say it happens there all the time. But as one guy put it, "We have to work and be here". I looked online in the Columbus newspaper and couldn't even find anything mentioned about it! It MUST be common here which with a metropolitan area population of more than 1 million is to be expected I guess. It is actually rated 38th in the nation in crime.

Interesting facts about Columbus include that it was named for Christopher Columbus and was the first city to have a water filtration and softening plant which reduced deaths from typhus. It is used frequently as a "test" city by retail and restuarant chains as it is considered a "typical" American city due to it's wide mix of races, incomes and urban and rural areas. People born in Columbus include gymnasts Morgan and Paul Hamm, football player Archie Griffin, Olympic athlete Jesse Owens, the founder of Wendy's Dave Thomas, Eagles band member Joe Walsh, country singer Dwight Yoakam, country band Rascal Flatts, author R.L. Stine, and of course golfer Jack Nicklaus. In fact, Jack's golf tournament was held in Dublin, which is a suburb, last weekend but Bill didn't remember in time to go.


On Tuesday we moved to Mansfield where we are right now until moving on to Massillon this afternoon. Mansfield is a more comfortable sized city for us at about 50,000 people. Even so there was a full afternoon worth of work for me. We were going to get a campground and did try to get one at the Richland County Fairgrounds as they had advertised in the Escapees book to be $15 a night and open year round. Well, guess what? This is the second time we have driven to a campground advertised in the Escapees directory only to find them not open and no one returned a phone message. So we ended up going to the Target. We are glad we didn't spend the money for a campground as it rained all Tuesday night and Wednesday until late afternoon and was in the 70s instead of being in the 80s as reported.

Interesting facts about Mansfield include the fact that the majority of the movie The Shawshank Redemption was filmed in and around the city and is the hometown of actor Luke Perry. What we like about it is that there is a large field next to the Target so Dozey can play some tennis ball!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

LaFayette IN to Lawrenceburg IN

We spent Wednesday night in the parking lot of one of the LaFayette Walmarts. In the morning we decided to go and visit Wolf Park which is located in Battle Ground Indiana and is one of the primo wolf research locations in the country. It was started in 1972 by Dr. Erich Klinghammer who is like a rock star in the wolf biology field and who still actually lives on the grounds although he is in his 80s. They have many, many wolves as well as fox, coyotes and bison. Amazingly they have one wolf, Kiri, who is actually 17 years old! Unbelievable almost as wolves in the wild only live to be from 4 to 6 years old generally. They also have a litter of puppies brought in this year from another location. They are socializing them to people and will send 2 of the litter to another facility in return keeping 2 black females to add new blood to the current pack. Unfortunately you could see the new for more funds at the park as some of the areas were a bit run down, fences needed to be upgraded and repaired and enclosures enlargened in my opinion. Every Sunday afternoon they have a wolf/bison demonstration so people can really see just how hard it is to be a predator in the wild. They also have wolf howls and other educational opportunities. Our tour guide was actually a wildlife biology student from California who was doing an internship. We became supporters of Wolf Park as this kind of research and educating the public is desperately needed to hopefully put an end to the aerial gunning and wholesale slaughter of wolves which many people advocate.

Although I realize that wolves need to eat and they of course eat meat, it is very sad what they eat at Wolf Park. A volunteer told me that they get fed rabbits who don't "make the cut" due to being the wrong color. Although they do end up aiding Mother Nature's plan it is shameful that we are always in search of the "perfect" animal and the ones that aren't are disposable.


Wolf Park keeps both coyotes and wolves on the premises to be able to show people the difference in body size and features. The first video is of the resident coyotes, Twister and Willow, reacting to the group howling at them. The second is one of the retired wolves at the park. It should be very, very clear to anyone with a gun in their hand which one they are shooting at! Not that I agree at all with the indiscriminate slaughter of coyotes either but they, at least, are not endangered.

From LaFayette we headed east towards Cincinnati and decided to stay overnight at the Hollywood Casino in Lawrenceburg Indiana as they offered Buy 1 Get 1 Free Buffet coupons when you sign up for their players card. The casino is absolutely huge! In Indiana all casinos must be riverboats although they don't have to be able to sail. How hypocritical but that is another Oprah show. The Hollywood is no exception as it is on the banks of the Ohio River across from Kentucky. We were directed to park in an overflow parking lot that was really difficult to get in to as the majority of the parking is in their two parking ramps. Friday morning we went in to the casino to sign up for the players card and to have the buffet. While signing up the rep asked for our social security numbers AND we were to give them out loud where any standing by could hear. When I objected the rep couldn't understand why! Granted if we every win over $1199 at one time we have to fill out an IRS form but until then the SS numbers are on a need to know basis and they sure don't need it! Then we got to the phone number question and I said "nope" to that one too...the rep then says I can check off "no phone calls" if I want and then shows me a filled out form -- get this -- with someone's elses name and SS number filled in! What??? Plus, if I can say I don't want phone calls from you why would you want it then? Uggh....so the rep gets a snotty and says "Do you want to give me a 4 digit pin?". I cannot believe that in this day and age people are just giving out their SS numbers to entities that have no need for it at the time! Especially these older people who do it without thinking as they are not used to being careful with their number and then their identity is stolen. At least the buffet was very good, especially as it was half price!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Goodbye Chicago!

So the hectic trip over the border to Wisconsin actually went really well. We woke up in Joliet at the Cummins dealership and they were able to look at the generator right away after they opened. It turned out to only be a bent fan shroud (huh?) which was a simple fix. The guy got underneath the rig with a screwdriver and a flashlight and was done in two minutes. Obviously a bent fan shroud will make a mechanical device scream like a banshee when turned on. Bill said if he had known that there was a fan under there he could have fixed it no problem. So $55 later we were on our way north to Kenosha.

We got to the Walmart there early and as such I was able to have my eye exam done Tuesday morning instead of Wednesday morning. They did have to dilate my eyes though due to the diabetes and the fact that they have to check the veins in the back of my eyeballs for leaks. The doctor said that for the last year I had been wearing lenses with the bifocal area too strong. Which would explain why sometimes I had to put on my reading glasses even though I had the bifocal contacts on. A fine tuning to my contact prescription, dilation of the eyes and $105 later and I was out of there.

Then it was Bill's turn at the clinic. It was quite crowded as it was the low income clinic for the area. They were the only ones that would even take the BadgerCare and could schedule him in with such short notice. They had told me he needed two appointments in order to get his physical as the first one was to "establish" him as a patient. Well, that was not true, which is good. The doctor did the physical right away, highly suggested he have a colonoscopy done soon and told him to come back in the morning for fasting lab work which he did this morning.

We actually had time to hit a bucket of balls at the driving range right by the Walmart this morning before we left Wisconsin seeing as the appointment schedule went so well for once! I have now worked my way up to hitting with other clubs and not off of a tee. Like I said before, maybe some time this year I will actually be able to play the damn game!

We then left to get Dozey to his blood work appointment in Hammond IN. Dr. Doug thinks that the dosage is working well for him so there should not be any liver complications. Bad thing is that Doze gained 11 lbs which puts him at 101. Last weekend was the first time we could get him playing with his ball due to the nasty areas we were in and the fact that the Chicago area dog parks cost $50 to use.

So tonight we are sitting in the Walmart parking lot in LaFayette IN and we are both very, very, VERY happy to be away from the Chicago area. It was actually strange to see corn fields and areas without buildings. I have said it before and I'll say it again, I don't know how people actually live in cities like that but I guess if that is all you know it's all you know. I don't remember feeling trapped like that in Phoenix though. Granted there were run down and bad areas but nothing like how it felt to be in inner city Chicago. The only thing I would want to go back for is to visit the Shedd Aquarium which we were going to do this week if we had finished up with the stores there instead of being sent to Ohio.

So we are all happy, happy right now including Pumpkin as you can see. For some reason, he loves to lay upside down all the time...definitely not normal!