Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Why You Probably WON'T Find Your Lost Animal

Here is a really, really important article for those of us with fur kids and what to do if one becomes lost. Marilyn is a hero in my book. She started an online group (of which I am now a member) called Stealth Volunteers during Hurricane Katrina to help reunite pets with their owners. In the time since, she has worked tirelessly to set up evacuation plans that include pets and has been successful in getting formal evacuation plans in place that include pets. If you saw former New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin on the Today show or other interviews you saw where he was asked what were his regrets. He stated that a regret was that people would not evacuate without their pets. Hopefully, with or without government assistance, we now have better programs in place.


Monday, August 30, 2010

Heber City and Sundance

First of all I would like to thank those of you who are leaving me comments and feedback! It sure is nice to know someone out there is reading and listening. To me blogging is part diary, part art, and part soap box! I will do my best to return the reading on your blogs after this week and the tax nightmare is done!


With a full day to explore on Sunday we decided to take Provo Canyon Limited ride on the Heber Valley Railroad. The train pulled out of the station at 11:00 am and took a 3 hour ride through Provo Canyon.  Turn up your speakers! (You can't do much better than Willie, Waylon, Kris and Johnny IMHO!!)


We then took a drive up to Sundance Resort which was acquired by actor Robert Redford in 1969 named it after his famous movie role. When I asked at the resort I was told that he acquired it and other surrounding land to stop a large scale planned development. When they say you can't stop progress I guess they are right as he obviously was not able to stop the large scale ski resorts that were developed only 30 miles away in Park City. From Sundance came the Sundance Film Festival which is mostly held in Park City today. The resort itself is small and cozy and the scenery is absolutely out of this world. I sure wish I would have taken a sweatshirt up the lift though as it was cold, and I mean cold, at the top. My fear of heights is sure being tested in this state!  Again turn up your speakers as I am practicing with my movie editing and take a little ride on the Sundance ski lift. 

All in all it was a pretty wonderful day.....Utah is definitely more our style!

Camp Katrina Heros

Thank God for the heros on this earth! There is a special place in heaven for all of you! I only wish I could have been there doing my part.


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Provo Area Parks

We arrived at Utah Lake State Park around noon on Saturday and found an Ironman competition going on with the park being the ending point. After fighting our way to the campground we decided on a spot in the loop with the shower house as it is much nicer to shower using someone else's hot water and not our LP as well as having a decent amount of water pressure. What we didn't know at the time was that there are small gnats or midges, not unlike lakeflies, that are quite prolific near the marshes of Utah Lake. Bill opened the door to let Dozey out and a ton of them got in and are sitting on the ceiling. I got up on Saturday night to take some pain pills and I could hear them in a swarm sounding like angry bees.

We decided to take a drive back up Highway 189 through Provo Canyon which was the way we had gotten here. There were a ton, and I mean a ton, of state parks along the Deer Creek Reservoir between Heber City and Provo

The first side road we took was Squaw Peak Road that went up the mountain. There were many breathtaking views and a nice drop off on the passenger side on the way up which I was not too fond of.
At the top there was a scenic view of most of the city of Provo as well as Utah Lake as you can see by the video below.


Some of Provo's more famous residents include, of course, the Osmond family and former quarterback and football great Steve Young. Another really interesting fact, for us Wisconsinites at least, is that there are only THREE bars in all of Provo. Very strange to us as it is a city of almost 120,000!


Our last stop on Saturday was at Bridal Veil Falls. That is the one in Provo Canyon, not to be confused with the famous Bridal Veil Falls in Yosemite!

Near the top of the picture you can see why it is called "bridal veil". The two streams of water actually look like a bride in the middle with a long veil on either side.

The falls from top to bottom is 607 foot tall as seen by this picture looking up from the base.  There is a switchback trail which leads up to the left side of the falls that can be taken by people who want to hike to the base, which is where the water ends in this picture.

 But of course, as always in life, there are people who don't want to be normal and who want to climb up to the base of the falls via the swift downward flowing creek that you see here in the bottom middle of the picture.
So, of course, one of those not so normal people had to be Bill. He says he never would have been able to do the climb when he was smoking and during it wondered if he was going to have a heart attack! He forgot to take a camera with him but said he'd pass on the second climb in a day just to get pictures.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Cheyenne Wyoming


We are staying overnight at the Terry Bison Ranch near Cheyenne. They of course have a herd of bison as well as camels, horses and goats.

Here is a good shot of a couple of the bison rolling around in the dirt. They roll or "wallow" in the dirt to remove biting flies and also to remove tufts of molted hair. During the rut male bison will wallow to show off their strength.

The ranch used to have camels that they allowed people to ride but not any longer. I guess I will have to wait until we visit the Middle East to try my hand at that. These two are dromendary or Arabian camels as they only have one hump.

Although we were told that camels can be mean and "spit" at people, which is said to smell worse than skunk spray, I had no problem with these two. They even let me pet their noses a bit.
Here are my favorites -- the goats! They had about 8 or 10 of them. When we first approached the fenced in area one of them came running out of the run down barn and came up to be petted just like a dog.


Cheyenne is the capital and largest city in Wyoming. For a state capital it is very small, with a population of just over 50,000. But then again, much of Wyoming is a whole lot of nothing.....in a good way in my opinion.

The Cheyenne Depot Museum Foundation has a fund raiser that makes custom 8 foot high boots for anyone who would like them. There are several different styles of boots around the town, mostly in the downtown area. 
Cheyenne is the corporate headquarters for companies such as Taco John's and Sierra Trading Post as well as having large distribution centers for Lowe's and Walmart. It is also a leading center for alternative energy, especially wind energy as it is one of the windiest cities in the country -- sorry Chicago!

Cheyenne Frontier Days, which is held the first week of July, is the largest outdoor rodeo in the country. This year's concerts included acts all the way from Kiss to Brooks and Dunn and Alan Jackson.  The most well known former resident is sportscaster Curt Gowdy who has a nearby state park named after him.

And in ending a little something from the great George Strait.

She said don't bother comin' home
By the time you get here I'll be long gone
There's somebody new and he sure ain't no rodeo man
He said, I'm sorry it's come down to this
There's so much about you that I'm gonna miss
But it's alright baby
If I hurry I can still make Cheyenne
Gotta go now baby
If I hurry I can still make Cheyenne

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Where Is It?

Time for a quiz! Where were these two pictures taken?

a.  Nebraska
b.  Kansas
c. Colorado
d. South Dakota

If you picked C you're a winner! The Eastern part of Colorado is pretty much high plains topography....no mountains until you hit Denver.

Quiz #2. In what state are we traveling in this picture?

a. Wisconsin
b. Minnesota
c. Nebraska
d. North Dakota

Always, always when in doubt pick C! That is how I made it through college. Seriously, this is the sign for Oshkosh, Nebraska and boy did it look weird to us. There are also townships in Minnesota and North Dakota named Oshkosh.

We left Wichita about 4:00 pm on Tuesday and were able to make it as far as Hays Kansas where we boondocked in the Home Depot parking lot. We then hit the road around 10:00 am on Wednesday and with a few stops along the way we pulled into Cheyenne Wyoming around sundown. Instead of trying to find the campground in the dark we boondocked again at the Flying J. Personally I would rather boondock at a truck stop than at a Walmart as after I get used to the running truck engines again they work kind of like white noise for me and I sleep pretty good. Bill doesn't like it so much though. We awoke on Thursday morning to something making noise in the passenger side rear of the rig. We couldn't figure out what it was until we looked and realized that they were watering the dirty lawn (which had a creek next to it) and it was hitting the RV.  We headed over to the Denny's in the Flying J and had breakfast.....well at least I did. Bill ordered an omelet and clearly specified 'no green or red peppers'. So he gets the first omelet and sure enough, it had peppers in it. The server takes it back and says a new one will be up in two minutes. She brings the new one and Bill starts to eat and lo and behold he pulls out a short white-ish colored hair from the middle of the cheese. So he pretty much lost his appetite.  The manager came over and ended up taking his food off of the bill -- well duh! He didn't get anything to eat. Personally I think that they should have comped the entire bill, especially after TWO screw ups. And here we thought the Flying J restaurants would be getting better now that they are Denny's.....maybe we just are the lucky ones with finding bad restaurants.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Change In Plans....Can You Believe It?

Ok....now I KNOW that not everyone is a planner like me...and I'm ok with that....but it would be nice for once, just once, to have a general idea of where we need to be within the next week and then to have that stay the same! As of 8:30 pm last night when Bill left for work we were under the impression that we would be heading to Birmingham Alabama by way of Tunica Mississippi to check out the casinos. Thank heavens that I did not make any reservations nor pick up any jobs for the part of this life that is mine because as of 10:00 am today we are now heading to Utah for what looks to be about 6 weeks.

Now as I've said before I am very happy that Bill has a job now....it is much less stress on me! But frankly what is not good is that I feel like I can't plan anything ahead which is very important to me.  Maybe it came from being a teacher and knowing that "no game plan - dead in the water". I normally have a few weeks ahead plan, a few months ahead plan and a few years ahead plan going at any given time. The few months ahead and the few years ahead plans are ok -- basically get all the bills paid off so we can travel and work at our own pace and not 70 hours a week. It is the few weeks ahead plan that is getting shot to hell with great consistency. In order for me to maximize my time and get the most jobs I would really like to know our schedule two weeks out.  That is essential for me to get the maximum amount of jobs and plan the most efficient route. So right now I am feeling frustrated about my work. I know that I can take it easier right now with Bill making what he does but that is really, really hard for me to do as I never relied on anyone in the past and it is a difficult mindset to get into. Hopefully once this project gets easier and the company actually hires people who stay it will be easier for me too.

Employees at Bill's company keep dropping left and right. Last Sunday the store here in Wichita had six no shows....they just disappeared off the face of the earth. I am not sure what the answer is -- obviously it is very difficult on many people to travel constantly without going home, live in hotels and eat out all the time. But you would think with this economy that they would be happy to have at least this! I know we are although it is not the optimal situation.

Bill went to went last night at 9:00 pm and didn't get home until 10:00 am so we couldn't get an early start today. We are paying the extra $7 to the campground to stay until 4:00 pm -- how chintzy huh? We are then heading north to I-80 through Nebraska and Wyoming and finally Orem rather than take I-70 through Denver and the steeper mountain passes. Plus I know if I go through Colorado I won't want to leave! It is about a 1000 miles so we are hoping to get to the Salt Lake area by Saturday. Our first home base will be the Utah Lake State Park and then we will play it by ear. Hopefully it cools off some and we can boondock in the National Forest and save some cash.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Now To Wichita........

Bill's crew finished with their store last night and now he has to head to Wichita to help finish a different store. Rumor has it, although we don't know for sure of course, that he is supposed to be in Birmingham Alabama by Monday morning for a store there. They are thinking now that stores will only take two weeks instead of three (although I'm not sure how they think that will work!) but then we are "supposedly" heading up to New York state near Buffalo....huh? Weren't we just in Youngstown Ohio? We aren't the happiest with this as although we like the idea of traveling we don't like the idea of spending so much on fuel to get there and the ridiculous routes that we are doing.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Insurance and the New Health Care Bill Part 2 - Blue Cross/Blue Shield of GA

I would like to share a post that I made on Freedom With Fibro, the fulltiming fibromyalgia blog that I have.....until we rein in the insurance companies and the charges for healthcare we will all continue to suffer. If anyone has any good thoughts or ideas to post, please do! Somehow, some way we need to give everyone access to timely and reliable health care but it seems like a losing proposition right now. Let me know your thoughts on this matter as it is something I am very passionate about as I live with two pre-existing conditions but deserve to be able to AFFORD insurance the same as anyone else.

We received some information from Bill's company about the health insurance that is offered to some of the employees. I hesitate to even call it health insurance at all as it is basically only good for health catastrophes. This insurance for the eligible employees would go into effect on September 1 although the benefit year runs with the calendar. So basically there would only be three months in which to try and make the deductible for 2010.

To start it off the cost for an employee and spouse would be $714.18 monthly or $164.81 per week. The real kicker is that there is a $9,000 deductible! Now I can understand one OR the other....high premium and low deductible or low premium and high deductible but this plan is HIGH premium and HIGH deductible! It is almost not doable for most people.

Then to add insult to injury if you have not had insurance for the 63 days leading up to September 1st there is a 12 month pre-existing condition clause which says that any illness or injury that has been treated in the 6 months prior to September 1st will not be covered until the member has had the insurance for a year. So in some cases people will be paying this huge premium, have a huge deductible and not have anything covered for the most pressing needs -- the illnesses or injuries that they already have. Granted medications are not included in the exclusion but with the Walmart $4 prescriptions many of the associated costs of taking meds have dropped significantly especially if the meds are generic.

So to put it into real numbers here is what it would cost us to get insurance from the company.

$714.18 x 12 = $8,570.16 Yearly Premium

$9,000 Deductible

$17, 570.16 Total Baseline Out of Pocket

$9,000 Maximum Out of Pocket From 80/20 Coinsurance

$26, 570.16 Total Out of Pocket Until Insurance Covers 100%

THIS is why the health reform bill did not go far enough. These costs are ridiculous.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Remember The Previous Kansas Posts?

Well I stand by my previous posts! Kansas is just not where we like to be unfortunately. The recent heat wave has not helped at all as we are in a campground with tiny, little trees that don't give any shade whatsoever. Last week we had 6 straight days of over 100 degrees. And of course now is the time that we are paying extra for our electric. The A/C runs constantly and just barely gives us any relief.  It is hard for me when I am working at home as the windows and doors are all shut and absolutely no way to work outside in all the heat. I feel like I'm in a cave! But hopefully this week will be better with temperatures only in the 80s.

Last week Saturday we had barely arrived at the campground in Independence Missouri before we had to leave for the Westin in Kansas City Missouri and Bill's work dinner. We got to drive through some interesting neighborhoods between the two to say the least. Upon arriving we found out there was an open bar for the first hour which we thought strange as the project manager had sent out an email stating that there was NO WAY the company was buying drinks. The most interesting part of the dinner was mashed potatoes put into martini glasses and then topped with any multitude of toppings. After dinner we sat in the bar for a few hours with some of Bill's co-workers and they seem like a very laid back, party type bunch. There were at least two of the guys who were driving around the country without any sort of driver's license whatsoever! Not quite sure what they thought they would do if they were ever pulled over in this day and age. The owner of the company, Donny, and the Petsmart project manager, Mack, are both younger than I thought they would be. The gist of the night's speech was that the company is going places and getting bigger and there is more work than they know what to do with. Donny also emphasized that those who are crew leads right now like Bill would be the first people in line for promotions to district manager and project manager as the company grew. Which is great but then Bill has heard stories that people have not gotten raises in three years so maybe more work and promises of advancement soon mean that everything is starting to look up from the recession, at least for Prime Retail? We shall see.


Our campground is right next to Forbes Field Airport which used to be an Air Force base until 1973. There is a large gray plane that takes off at various times of the day and looks like it has weather equipment on it. Other than that it is fortunately quiet considering the fact that we are also right next to a train tracks.


Topeka itself is a city about the same size as Green Bay with approximately 120,000. It is also the capital of Kansas. Although we haven't seen any evidence of tornados while here, in 1966 Topeka was hit with an F5 that leveled a large amount of it. The stylist who cut Bill's hair today said that they haven't seen much tornado activity in recent years but my opinion is that the Wizard of Oz wasn't set here for nothing! Topeka is also know as one of the cities in North America that has the greatest variations in temperture, wind and precipitation.


Topeka was the site of the historic Brown v Board of Education decision in 1954 in which the Supreme Court stated "Does segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race, even though the physical facilities and other "tangible" factors may be equal, deprive the children of the minority group of equal educational opportunities? We believe that it does." This verdict would be the catalyst for integration and the Civil Rights movement.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Vicktory Dogs - A Happy Tale

There is a new book by Jim Gorant coming out on September 16 called The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick's Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption and there will be a special article in Parade Magazine this Sunday on the dogs and their rehabilitation. Without getting into the fact that I think the man got off FAR too easily, the link below shows 19 of the dogs that were taken in by Best Friends in Utah and where they are now. Just the fact that most of these dogs were able to be socialized to people and other animals is incredible! Granted there are a few that will spend the rest of their lives in a sanctuary, but at least there they have people who love them and treat them as they should be treated....not like a piece of meat. Michael Vick does NOT deserve to be free and making millions again.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Leaving Tennessee

Bill finally found out where the next stop is....he needs to be in Topeka Kansas by Monday August 9. Of course we did not find this out until yesterday as per usual. The funny thing is that the company wants him to be at a dinner in Kansas City Missouri on Saturday night. One of the owners will be there for Saturday dinner, then they are putting people up in a hotel for Saturday night and then having breakfast on Sunday. Well, unless we find a stray Lear jet just sitting around there is absolutely no way we can make it there by then. He is supposedly working a full day tomorrow at the Walmart so we won't even hit the road until Saturday morning. It is 750 miles from Knoxville to Kansas City. It is impossible to do driving a 36 ft rig towing the truck, dealing with the numerous construction zones and getting to a campground while still daylight to drop off the rig. We also cannot really stay at a hotel as the rig would be in the parking lot and would not be plugged in which is not good for the monsters in this heat as it looks like Kansas is having weather in the 90s and the campground manager I spoke with says they also have not gotten any rain in quite some time. It is unfortunate as Bill would really like to be there as he soon will be running the whole reset/remodel by himself.

I put a new feature on the blog which is the map in the middle of the right side of the page. As you can see it is a map of our travels from the time we left Wisconsin last October up to our latest trip to Topeka this weekend. I had been looking for a widget like this one for quite some time and found it on another RVer's blog. It sure helps to put into perspective just how many miles we have gone since last October 15.

I am sitting here and it is 7:50pm....Bill, of course, is not yet home from work and he went in at 7am. I have never heard crickets or cicadas or what have you be as loud as they are here in Tennessee. They are in the trees near the campground and at dusk you almost have to yell to talk to someone next to you, they are that loud. Also, there have been butterflies everywhere. Not just one here or there but multitudes and of many different types. I took Dozey for a walk near the creek by the campground yesterday and stepped into what I thought was a shallow puddle. It wasn't. Shallow that is..the mud was so deep I sank up to my ankles and ended up losing one of my flip flops as I couldn't find it in the muck! Hopefully the weather in Topeka will be somewhat cooler as it is farther north and we can get Dozey back to chasing tennis balls so he can lose some of the weight he put on with the medication.

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