Friday, November 30, 2012


That's how I feel today.....let's just cancel this day by popular acclamation, and do something else......we are ONLY 3 days into our 5 day, 10 hours a day, work week, and I'm starting to feel like all I do is work and sleep with a little nourishment thrown in along the way for good measure.  Even though we only worked 1.5 hours on Monday, I have been physically in that Amazon building every day this week, including last Sunday morning when I exited that building for my one day off.  When I walk out that Amazon door Sunday morning at 4:10am in a few days I will have been in that building every day for 7 straight days.  I am only awake, and conscious.....believe me, they are not the same home for a few hours each conscious reality takes place at Amazon for 10.5 hours most every day of the week.

I don't know how people work this night shift for years on end.  I can't go to sleep right away when I get home around 4:15am, so I "unwind" a little, and go to bed at 5am.  Almost every day I wake up around 10:30 to 11am.....that's only 5.5 to 6 hours of sleep with an hour nap thrown in later.  I need 8 hours of least that's what I thought when we arrived in Campbellsville.  Apparently I don't......have I been wasting 2 hours sleeping every day, all my life, when I could have been up staring blankly at my computer screen an extra two hours every day?  I was thinking last, was the middle of the last 2 hour clear headed I felt after 9 hours of work, and averaging less than 7 hours of sleep all week....7 hours if you cobble together the sleeping in my bed with the semi sleeping in my lounge chair during the day.  It's one thing to do this as a lark for 2.5 months, but can you imagine doing this for months, or years on end?  And yet, I know that families all across this country live this life.  In many cases one spouse works the night shift and the other the day shift.....TLE works with me, so we see each other in passing on the floor of Amazon, at breaks, at lunch and at home......but how does that work in the real world where people are working just to survive, and only see their spouse in passing as they come home from a 10 hour shift, and their spouse heads out the door to do the same?  How does that work when there are kids involved?

We have become friends with several people who work here full time, and they can't even tell me how they do it.....they just do after day, week after week, year after year.  It's like we are in this sort of bad dream, but we know we'll wake up soon, and go on with our lives, but they are stuck in that dream......uh, reality.  It makes me realize how blessed TLE and I were to have normal Monday through Friday daytime jobs all of our work lives.  It's one thing to have this kind of schedule if you are young, and single with no dependents, but it's quite another if you are "married with children".

This is our first 5 day week at 10 hours per day.....there are still a few 6 day work weeks lurking in the not too distant next week.  If we are lucky we will be off Sunday and Monday, and back to work Tuesday.  If we are a little unlucky we will just have Sunday off, and working 6 days next week......23 days to go.

In last night's shift TLE and I started out our evening back on the floor for about an hour before we were called up to HRV for the rest of the night.  This is our saving grace.......the time really flies by up in is like our own little Amazon world up there.  We "pick", we pack, we resupply, we empty trash cans, break down boxes.......and we chew gum.  Our supervisor, Jan, chews gum all night, and frequently offers each of us a stick.  I'm not a gum chewer, but that gum she gives us is good do they make gum that keeps its flavor for two hours?  On a side note, I managed to get up and down the HRV stairs 6 times last night without setting off the security alarm.

Our night shift is picking and shipping out over 170,000 items per 10 hour shift right now.....that is just one shift at one Amazon facility.  Items include DVD's, video games, books, rings, watches, bracelets, ear rings, dildos, vibrators, calendars, x-rated calendars, x-rated books, various and sundry automotive parts, flashlights, more watches, and some stuff even I am embarrassed to mention.  Another saving grace being in HRV is we don't see the x-rated stuff anymore.....just expensive watches, necklaces, rings, bracelets, and an occasional really expensive cell phone.

Thankfully we have made good friends with whom we spend time laughing with at breaks and lunch, and outside of work, otherwise this experience would be completely without any redeeming value, other than the money flowing into our bank account every other Friday.

Okay, that's my rant for the can ignore the notice, and continue on with your day.  I repeat, the day is not cancelled....there is still a lack of interest, but please continue on with your regularly scheduled day.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Major Award!

No doubt if you have watched "A Christmas Story" a few times you will remember the iconic "Major Award" scene where Darren McGavin's character (The Old Man) won the "Leg Lamp", and how he proudly placed it on a table in front of a large bay window and then turned it on so passers by could share in his joy.  Well Tuesday night Amazon had a contest for the picking crew.  The top 20 work Camper Force pickers would have their names put in a hat and the winners would get a $5 gift card.  Usually TLE is a winner in these contests in our family, however, for one brief shinning moment I was top dog in the Hockwald picking world......I won a $5 Kroger gift card!  I must take time to thank all those in my life who made this moment possible, but I can't remember all their names right now.....:D  My "Major Award" is not nearly as glamorous, or memorable, or even worthy of being displayed on a table in front of a bay window for all passers by to see, but it is MY MAJOR AWARD!  On a side note.....did you know there is a website dedicated to selling this leg lamp?  It's called "A Christmas Story House Gift Shop"!

After being honored in front of a few hundred of my closest picking friends we headed off to HRV for the night......well, TLE did....after my brief moment in the sun I headed over to P-1-A-109-A-2 to make my first could I, the "Major Award" winner, be banished so quickly to Pic Mod A you ask?  I don't know, but the picking gods quickly rectified this grievous error and within a few totes I was notified via a message on my scanner that my superior picking skills were required in the HRV Pic Mod.  

Our evening at Amazon went quickly as it always does when we are stationed in HRV, but there will be no major awards this night.  We work as a team and all get the glory when things go well, and I think they went very well last night.  One notable fact from last night is that I set off the security alarm on the second level quickly the Major Award winners fall!!!  I guess my mind was still on my Major!

The outside temps dropped, again, into the mid 20's so our walk home was fast paced.  Three more days in this work week and then we only have 15 days of labor left before we begin our trek south to Florida.  I wonder if anyone there will care about my Major Award?  Probably not, but I can dream, can't I?

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

There is a light.... the end of our tunnel, and it is not an on coming train....:D  We are now 26 days away from our planned southward trajectory, and we have completed 60 days of our "DFFR" stint at Amazon......"DFFR" standing for Diesel Fuel Fund Replenishment.  

The weather Tuesday was heavily overcast, cold and blustery.....the kind of cold that penetrates your very soul....the kind of cold that keeps you indoors with heaters humming until you must egress for your walk to work.

Since we didn't work a full shift will recall we were invited to go home at 7pm due to system wide issues with Amazon's computers....we went to bed earlier than normal....around 12:30am.  I was up around 9am, but TLE, who doesn't really need any beauty rest that I can see, slept until near Noon.  Whilst she slumbered I did some insurance work, and caught up in a cyber way with our Cedar Key friends who will all be converging at that geographical location in less than 4 weeks.  There is scuttlebutt that TLC (The Learning Channel) wants to do a show featuring several of our clan, however, it is believed they want to do a reality show about this lifestyle, and are looking for interesting characters to follow around with a camera.  No one seems too interested in a reality show, and neither are we.  Several events have already been planned......the first, and most important, is New Year's Eve at the Low Key Hideaway Tiki Bar.

This is the typical nightly view from the dock at the Low Key Hideaway Tiki Bar, and where we plan to spend many an eve in January.

Tuesday night at Amazon started out in a similar fashion to Monday night and had us all thinking we would be sent home again.....less than 60 minutes into our shift we were all once again called back to the "Pick Desk" where we stood for 20 minutes gossiping about our fate for that evening....suddenly we were instructed to log back into our scanners and start picking, and that is what we did the rest of the evening.   Our shift picked over 165,000 items for shipping last night/morning. I forgot to mention in yesterday's offering that we were back on the main floor for two days, but will be returning to HRV Wednesday night for the rest of the week.  This week is our first 5 day week.....only 3 to go after this week is completed. There may even be a few 12 hour days thrown in the mix.....we'll see.  Last night I could have worked 12 hours.....I felt good, and my feet felt great!  I am now rotating 2 pairs of Keen hiking shoes.....Keen makes an extra wide shoe, which seems to work well for my feet.  The New Balance trail runners I bought in Seaside, OR this past summer for the purpose of rotating with my original Keen shoes just didn't work out in the 10 hour scenario, but the new Keen Zion Trail Shoes work great, and are super comfortable just like my original Keens.

When we emerged from the Amazon building at 4:10am it was 25 degrees, and everything was frozen......glad we didn't drive!  By the time we got home my exposed knees and legs were a little numb....:D  TLE wore her duster again, which also sports a hood.....she is actually quite fetching in that coat.

Wednesday will find us back in the HRV Pic of the things I love about this time of year is Christmas Music....XM Radio dedicates stations to playing this music 24/7 leading up to Christmas.  My favorite right now is channel 17, Holly.....listening to it right now as I compose this should see the smile on my mug right now!

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Choo Choo and On da Beach

First thing Monday morning I had to dump the black tank.....we only made it one week since the last dump.....hmmm......I guess we spent a lot of time at "home" last week, obviously, so it was time to dump.  Had to dress up in my warm clothes as it was only 40 degrees at 10am.  By the time I got back in breakfast was ready.

I have been holding off making our reservations for Cedar Key, FL until I was able to make an appointment at Choo Choo Express Garage (Rossville, GA....just over the border from Chattanooga, TN) to have our coach serviced (oil change, tranny service, check brakes, lube, etc), but had not been able to get an answer at their phone number.  Choo Choo has been recommended to us by several people who have coaches with Detroit Diesel 2 strokes, which is what we have.  Their shop rates are also very reasonable.  I was finally able to make contact with Joel yesterday around Noon, and we now have an appointment for December 27th to have this work done....yay!!!  

Some of the coaches being worked on at Choo Choo Express Garage

Here you will see Chris and Cherie's 1961 GMC bus ( on the right)

Right now our plan is to stay here at Heartland RV Park until December 26th and then run the 200+ miles down to Chattanooga, TN that day, and then check in at Choo Choo Express Garage the next morning.  Even if the work takes a couple of days we will still have 2 days to get to Cedar Key, FL.   In the top picture above (taken by Sean Welsh of "Our Odyssey") you will see the large 40' Neoplan bus conversion owned by Sean Welsh and Louise Horner, our "cyber friends" who recommend Choo Choo very highly.  In the second picture, also taken at Choo Choo, is Chris Dunphy and Cherie Ve Ard's (Tales from Technomadia)1961 GMC Bus conversion.  On the left you will see the 1963 Flxible Starliner Bus owned by Ben Willmore of The Creative Cruiser.  I have a lot of respect for these guys, and they all use Choo Choo Express Garage.

Our spot (D) very near the water

From there it is around 500 miles to Cedar Key, FL where I was able to book a month yesterday at Sunset Isle RV Resort beginning December 30th.  A number of friends we made when we were there last year for a short 3 days will also be checking in the same day.  Ever since we left Cedar Key the end of March we have been looking forward to returning after our Amazon gig.  We really wanted to be there for New Years at the Low Key Hideaway Tiki Bar, and now we are confirmed!  Today our high temperature will be 46 degrees, and the high in Cedar Key will be 72......looking forward to spending a month working on my tan, and recuperating from our 11 week gig at Amazon, and just having fun with good friends.  After that was done I took care some insurance stuff, and then took a nap, of course!

Okay, so Monday is called "CYBER MONDAY" at Amazon, and every where else in the retail world.  It started raining around 4pm, and was supposed to rain until 5am, so we drove the car over to Amazon, where we found the parking lot almost full at 4:50pm.....of course the day shift had not left for home yet.  Amazon really staffs up for this day, and on Monday night when we arrived there were twice as many people as normal.  As it turned out there had been a system wide computer problem most of the day shift, and things were really backed up, and there were still some issues when we arrived.  We started "picking" around 30 minutes late, and by 6:40pm we all got messages on our scanners to report back to the "Pick Desk" where we were told to stop picking for 15 minutes.  We were then sent back out on the floor to pick, and I had barely scanned a new "TOTE" when I got the universal message again to report to the "Pick Desk".....Monday is not our (D shift) normal work day, and was considered a "mandatory overtime" day for us (D shift).  At the second recall D shift was sent home....there were just too many people picking and everything was still backed up in the Crisplant (packing area) area.  so we clocked out at 7pm, and went home for the evening.  Our mandatory overtime day has now been moved to Wednesday (a day we were supposed to have off), so we will now work 5 days in a row (Tuesday through Saturday), and still get our overtime day, plus the 1.5 hours TLE and I each worked.

At any rate we spent a nice evening at home listening to rain on the aluminum roof, and enjoying our unexpected time off.  

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Los Amigos at Los Mariachis

We walked home from Amazon at 4:15am in 23 degree temperatures, but we had prepared for the cold walk and had enough clothing on to stave off frostbite.  Elaine was wearing a long "duster" type over coat to keep her legs warm on the walk home (as you know, we both wear shorts to work) while I toughed it out with bare legs.....:D

Sunday was our lone day off before Cyber Monday so along with our other Amazon amigos we headed off in search of decent Mexican cuisine......the three local restaurants (in Campbellsville) fall a little short of what we consider good Mexican, but we had heard from one of our Amazon amigos, Michael, that Los Mariachis in Lebanon, KY had very good Mexican, so off we went around 2pm.

Liz and TLE at Los Mariachis

We (TLE*, me, Jim, Sharon, Rick and Pat) arrived in the lovely old town area of Lebanon around 2:35pm and found Michael and Liz well into their first Margarita.  Well, frankly, they serve great $3.99 Margaritas so we joined right in.  The food was certainly much better than what we had consumed in Campbellsville (Yelp gives this establishment 3.5 stars out of a possible 5 and Urban Spoon gives it a 4.....I think 3.5 is about right), but the company more than made up for any minor short comings in the food.  Don't get me wrong, it was the best Mexican we have had in a couple of months, the service was exceptional, and we will certainly return, but the conversation and company was 5 stars for sure.  Liz kept us in stitches for 3 hours.....yes, when we entered Los Mariachis it was the middle of the afternoon....when we left it was dark and the dinner crowd was starting to arrive.  I was trying to think of which story Liz told I could repeat in my "G" rated blog, but came up empty.....she is quite the story teller.  My jaw is still aching from all the laughter, and TLE's mascara was running.

After we arrived home Mike, Liz, Jim and Sharon came over to take the Newell tour, and then we were left alone to bask in the warm feelings and memories of a very entertaining afternoon with good friends.

TLE settled in to read for a couple of hours, and I watched the Giants v Packers NFL Giants won decisively 38-10.

Elaine had at least an hour head start on Sunday night's slumber time, but I joined her around getting into bed after the electric blanket had done it's job.  

Work Monday and Wednesday, then back to work Thursday, Friday and Saturday....then there will be only 3 weeks left......:-)

Thanks for stopping by!

*For those new to the blog and wondering what TLE stands for, it is simply, and accurately,  "The Lovely Elaine"

Sunday, November 25, 2012

And now for our feature film.....Cyber Monday!

TLE and I have never been part of the "Black Friday, Cyber Monday" phenomenon, so working here at Amazon is our first close up experience with just a part of it.  On past Black Fridays we have just stayed home, and we usually do our online shopping way before Cyber Monday, or 10 days before Christmas.

Finally get to put up the Santa we bought in Twin Falls!

Saturday was COOOOOOOLD!  At 1pm it was 35 degree, and this morning when we arrived back at the coach it was 23 degrees!  So glad we have the new electric blanket to take the chill off the!

The reason I know it was 35 degrees at 1pm is that I drove over to Kroger's to do some shopping for things I needed....V8, dental floss, salsa and milk.  Of course, I dressed in shorts, and only wore a hoody was down right painful walking from the car into the store.  I did have enough sense to wear shoes and forego the flip flops....:D

Since we got up around Noon the afternoon was short, and it was time to walk over to Amazon for our 4th work day of the week, but before that TLE made some great stir fry for dinner, then we got dressed and walked over to Amazon for another week 5 tens await us, and for the remaining 4 weeks we will be working at least 5 tens each week with a possible 6th day thrown in, or maybe a few 12 hour days.  The good news is we feel like we are running down hill now.  We had another enjoyable night/morning in HRV and our new team is functioning like a finely tuned car.  Everyone knows the various aspects of our job up there, and the boredom factor has not reared its ugly head.  Just about the time you wish you were doing something else it is time to switch from packing to picking, or restocking boxes, etc.  Now 7 of  the 8 people in our circles of friends are up in HRV....the 8th person has always been in outgoing packing, or Crisplant, as they call it here.....I have no idea what where the term Crisplant came from.  Anyway, our whole picking group is now in HRV, plus a few others whom we are getting to know.

Saturday night was a little less frenetic.....not quite as many people jamming up the lunch and break areas, but Monday will be busy again as all the Cyber orders ramp up.

Sunday, our only day off, will be spent with friends at a Mexican restaurant in Lebannon, KY, about 13 miles away, then a few naps and some NFL in between.

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

And then there were 4

We didn't go to bed until almost 6am Friday, so getting up after NOON made it a short afternoon......5pm came very quickly!  The weather continues to be clear, but Friday saw a drop in the daytime temperatures into the mid 50's with a promise of low 20's over night.  We apparently had a little rain after we went to bed at 6am, but neither of us heard it.

TLE and I literally did nothing except mentally and physically prepare for another 10 hour shift, but at least this time we knew the 10 hours would go much more quickly for us in HRV.  And they did! 

We are provided several box sizes for packaging jewelry ranging from, you guessed it, SMALL to EXTRA LARGE, and several sizes in between.  As you might imagine the MEDIUM box is used about 70% of the time, and we had people just going from station to station restocking medium boxes.....I think we went through a dozen cases of them last fact we were down to less than 100 boxes in reserve when our shift leader told us to stop picking so we could finish packing, and clean up before end of shift in 30 minutes.

We are both happy to report that for the second time this week we did not discuss our various foot ailments.  We each spend about half our shift now sitting on a comfortable stool at a computer/packing station putting small jewelry items in boxes, and the other half picking jewelry for others to package.  I would say we are down to about 2-3 miles of walking a night.  The nice thing is we switch from task to task every hour or so avoiding the boredom factor.  Everyone of our group that moved up to HRV is so fact we have induced a few others to join us after we spent so much time talking about how much we like our new job assignment.  I have seen big ear to ear smiles on people who only frowned and complained before.

Peak Season arrived at Campbellsville, KY with a vengeance!!  The workforce is a full capacity as of Friday.  When we first started our picking jobs there would be 20-30 pickers at our 5:30pm meeting/stretching sessions each night......last night there were around 150, or more of us getting ready to "pick" the things you have ordered online and start them on their way to you as quickly as possible!  We used to have the Building "B" break area to ourselves with plenty of room for everyone to, if you don't get there at exactly the beginning of break you stand.....that is if you can find a place to stand.  The lunch room in Building "A" is the same.....if you are not there at precisely 10:15pm you will be standing.  This week will be the worst of that as right now there are several overlapping shifts because of Black Friday and Cyber Monday (yet to come).  We'll work tonight, have Sunday off, and then work Monday and Tuesday with Wednesday off, then work Thursday, Friday and Saturday.  After this week things go from totally crazy to only mildly crazy for the next 4 weeks.  And isn't that amazing?  There are only 4 weeks to go!  Today is November 23rd, and our last work day is December 23rd.  Amazing!  And, to add to the delight it is fun watching our bank account being infused with new greenbacks every two weeks.

The next four weeks will go quickly, and then we will be heading for the warmer temperatures of Ceday Key, FL.  Getting ready to watch the Ohio State U of Michigan game in 10 minutes, take a couple of cat naps and then "gird up my loins" for another work night!

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, November 23, 2012

HRV.......Oh how I love thee!

You just never know when serendipity will smile down on you.  Sitting in one place like we have the past 7 weeks makes it more difficult for Miss Serendipity to find you, but find us she has.  Now that we have acclimated to our jobs and walking 10 miles in 10 hours on cold concrete I was confident we had what it took to finish out our last 4 weeks, but certainly wasn't looking forward to it.   A few days ago our boss, Matt (an avid Texas A&M fan by the way) announced there were some opportunities available for Camper Force people.  One of them was to work in the HRV (High Retail Value) Pick Mod, which is a self contained world unto itself.   HRV is located on the fourth level of Pic Mod "C" in Building B......if you remember, building B is the HOT, here we are now on the 4th level of a pic mod in building B.  Well, the fourth level has "4 million" fans moving the air around, and it is actually quite the winter....:D

There are several levels of security to get to the 4th level, and a bazillion cameras.  In HRV we do everything except "stow"....we pick, we put some jewelry items in boxes (called prepping), we handle restocking the "prepping" stations, we empty our own trash, and sweep our own floors.  The longest stretch you pick is 2.5 hours, then you switch to a "Prep" station for the next quarter shift.  During the after lunch quarter shift of 3 hours you switch every hour.  When prepping jewelry if you run out of jewelry to prep then you restock your station.  If it is near the end of the 10 hours you start cleaning up....empty the trash, sweep, ask questions, etc.  We are both enjoying the variety......and there is one fourth the walking, and NO heavy lifting, and no moving from building to building during your just work in one place the entire shift, but perform a variety of tasks.  The boredom and monotony factors are greatly reduced, if not completely vanquished.

Creek Side Family Restaurant

Thursday, of course, was Thanksgiving and we had plans to go to Creek Side Family Restaurant, a local buffet style restaurant located on the north side of town that is reputed to have a great Thanksgiving Buffet, so our gang of 14 people met there at 3:30pm.  The food was great, and the company even better.    We enjoyed getting to know Mike and Liz a little better.

Since we only had a "half" day of work we headed home around 5:30pm, took naps, and headed off to work around 10:20pm.  Just after our nightly stretching and announcement session those of us who had asked to work in HRV were taken up to the HRV Pic Mod to begin our training for our new jobs.  The 5 hours flew by, and before we knew it we were walking back to our "home" at 4:15am.  We're looking forward to the last 4 weeks working at our new assignment in the HRV Pic Mod......thank you so much Miss Serendipity!

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The hits just keep on coming....

I listen to XM radio a lot when we are rolling the wheels on the Newell, or when I am in the "garage"......specifically channels 5 and 6 which are the 50's and 60's when Rock 'N Roll was in its infancy.  While I do like some of today's music, my heart is in the 50's and 60's music.  TLE knows when the playlist really strikes a nerve with me, because I will say, over and over, ".....and the hits just keep on coming!".  Well, that is how the weather has been this beautiful, sunny, windless day after another.  Last night I walked to work in my short sleeves carrying my jacket.  When we exited the Amazon building at 4:05am it was in the mid 40's.....almost, but not quite, t-shirt!  However, and there is always a "however, Saturday will see a high of 39, and a low of, where is that coming from?

Wednesday was notable in that TLE did not do any shopping, and did not buy any Nora Roberts books (at least that I can find.....:D).  The shopping I did online Monday arrived, well all but one item that is being shipped separately, and will be here Friday.  

Our 10 hour shift at Amazon went fast.....the fastest yet according to almost everyone in our picking seemed we all got to pick in our favorite areas.  God answered my prayer (JK)  and allowed me to be assigned to "pick" in building "C" in the RV palletized area.  That is the easiest picking job for me.  It is nice and cool....almost cold in building "C", and there are no "A" bins requiring you to stand on your head to find the obscure item you are picking.  I was there for 3.5 of the first 5 hours, and then after "lunch" (10:15pm to 10:45pm) I spent the rest of the evening in building "C" in the palletized area again.  The time flies by there for me.

TLE and I have been recruited to pick in the high security HRV (high retail value) pick areas....essentially this is where expensive items are kept, such as jewelry.  Amazon has had good experience with Camper Force people in the HRV area.  This is a coveted job, and we hope we get chosen to pick in this area......much easier picking, and less walking.  We'll see.

Later today (Thursday) we will head over to Creekside Restaurant for their Thanksgiving buffet with our Amazon friends.  Thanksgiving is one of those days during the year that I miss my children and grandchildren the most.  Already got a call from Kate filling us in on their Thanksgiving plans.

That's all from lovely, sunny Campbellsville, KY!  Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

First of all, Elaine and I wish all of you a very happy and meaningful Thanksgiving day, especially to my Mother, and  my 5 amazing children, their spouses and/or significant others, and 4 incredible grandchildren.....we miss all of you soooo much!  We are grateful for so many has been a wonderful time of seeing new places, renewing old acquaintances, and making new friends.

One of my favorite Thanksgivings in the past few years was at my sister's home in Spokane, WA back in November of 2009.  Hilary really sets a great Thanksgiving table.  It was a wonderful gathering including my brother, Dwyer, and his family, my mother, my daughter Meredith, who flew up, and, of course my sister, Hilary, and her family.  This trip to Spokane was the third of three long trips we took in 2009 in the Newell, and marked the first time we had driven and lived in sub freezing temperatures in the coach.  You can read about that Thanksgiving adventure here.

This year we will be celebrating Thanksgiving far away from family with friends here in Campbellsville, KY.  This is always one of my favorite times of the year, but will feel very different without any family members in attendance.  We will work our normal shift Wednesday night until 4am Thursday, then are off until 11pm Thursday night when we go in for a half shift until 4am.

Tuesday was another laid back day.  TLE went shopping for an electric blanket.....not to use at night, because we stay plenty warm once we warm up the bed, but when we first get in it is shockingly cold.  The electric blanket is to sort of pre-heat the bed.....yeah, I know.....aren't we the spoiled ones! TLE found a killer deal at Big Lots.....surprisingly better than the Walmart price by $20......for the same exact blanket!

I stayed home and puttered around......installed the renewal license tag on my rear license plate, and fiddled some more with the docking lights, and the LED bulbs I had installed the day before.  These LED's don't quite seat in the socket, so I'm going to have to puzzle a solution to that out.  I have an idea, and will let you know how it turns out.  On the other hand, the light they put out is a little better than the old automotive filament bulbs they is a whiter, brighter light.

Later on I took care of some insurance work, and another day was in the books.....of course there were a couple of great naps....TLE even took a 2 hour nap!  

The weather continues to be mostly clear with temps in the low 60's.......just got a text notification that my Amazon package has arrived at the office.....ordered the stuff Monday afternoon around 2pm, and it's here Wednesday by! of the boxes arrived with one of the items I ordered....I forgot that my items are coming from three different locations. What I got a few minutes ago was the White Lightning bike chain lube out of Hebron, KY via UPS.  The bulk of the stuff is coming via FedEx this afternoon, and my new rear tire will be here Friday.

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Monday I received mail from home, which included my Newell Coach registration tags from California's DMV.  This may be the last year I register my vehicles in California.  

I also received a batch of LED's bayonet bulbs I ordered on Ebay to complete the LED conversion of the last lights inside the coach, as well as the storage bays.  Now, on to conversion of the balance of the exterior running and marker lights.  I converted the front and rear turn signals, rear brake lights, and running lights back in February while we were in Mesa, AZ.  We are almost to a complete LED conversion of our coach lighting now.

One thing I noticed Monday was I felt much better after only one full day of recuperation.  Usually it has taken me the full three days off to get to that point, so maybe my body is adjusting after all.  Ironically, just about the time we get completely acclimated it will be time to pull up anchor and move to warmer climes.   And speaking of warmer, Monday's temps were in the low 60's with no wind, and just a few clouds.  

I spent the better part of the day outside, or in the "garage" (trailer).  I also took advantage of our 10% Amazon employee discount by ordering a few things on  Every night I am picking I pick things that remember I need, but forget every time I go to the store......Maglite wall mounts (for mounting the large "D" cell Maglite flashlight on the wall, replacement Maglite bulbs, new rear WTB Weirwolf UST tubeless tire for my mountain bike,  replacement jack stands, etc. (one broke).  I got a text late Monday saying they would be here about that?

That was the extent of the excitement for the day, except TLE went shopping and came home with a wonderful Salmon steak, which we grilled Monday, two formal dinners in a row....we are getting civilized again!

One more day off before we return to our "night of the living dead" jobs......just kidding....most everyone I see in the warehouse at night is alive......:D

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Being formal

Ever since we dropped anchor in Campbellsville way back on October 3rd my laptop is no longer on the dinette table, which is where is had been for much of the year and 8 months we have lived full time in our Newell Coach.  My laptop is now on what I would call a TV dinner table that sits in front of the driver's seat, which is rotated sideways while we are stationary. It has made the dinette much more accessible, and has allowed us to have more formal meals.....mostly dinners.  TLE took this picture so our friends would know we do eat like civilized fact you will see several items on the table we have purchased over the past year to add a little charm and grace to our eating experience.....crystal salt/pepper caddie (The Peddler's Mall - Campbellsville, KY), a single crystal candle holder (Thrift Store - Oak Harbor, WA), cut crystal wine glasses (Goodwill - Vancouver, WA) red placemats (Walmart), china plates (the plastic ones are gone), wine bottle with aerator (San Sebastian Winery - St. Augustine, FL), wine from Trader Joes - Louisville, KY, formal silverware courtesy my sister Hilary.  We started out with the stuff we used while "camping", but since we are just living, and not camping we have tried to upgrade  to things with a more permanent feel to them.

We were excused from work at Amazon an hour early Sunday morning, and were in bed by 4:30am.....I slept until almost noon.....TLE was up way, way before me.  We spent the day napping......watching the NFL (me), reading (TLE) and just being lazy (both of us).  There were a lot of close NFL games yesterday including the night cap between the Ravens and Steelers, which the Ravens won 13-10.  That was one grind it out, physical game!  It was in the 60's yesterday so I got out the BBQ and grilled some chicken to which TLE added some Spanish rice, a nice chopped romaine salad, and a Trader Joe's Zinfandel.

I know I have been painting a pretty bleak picture of our experience at Amazon the past couple of weeks.  I am attempting to portray the experience without any sugar coating, and maybe I have gone a little overboard, or been a little too dramatic at times.  Overall our experience has been a positive one, and we have been treated very well by the Amazon Camperforce people.  And, to their credit, they spent a lot of time going back to our initial interview trying to convey how difficult, and physically demanding this job is.  Of course, we understood intellectually that it would be difficult, but there is no substitute for real life experience.  In a couple of weeks Amazon will be hosting a job fair for us work campers to give us an idea of other short term work opportunities that area available across the country.  We are very interested to check those out.  There is a reason WORK is called work.....if it were play they would call it PLAY.......our goal in taking this temporary job was to replenish our savings, and put aside fuel money for the next couple of years.  An added benefit are the new friendships we have made, and continue to make.  The atmosphere here at Heartland RV Park is similar to that of a rally, so that adds another pleasant element.

This week we will still be on our new Wednesday through Saturday schedule, but we will work a half shift Thanksgiving night (Thursday), not starting until 11pm, but we will be paid time and a half since our shift starts on Thanksgiving!  Next week as we transition to 5 ten hour days we will only be off Sunday, going to work Monday and again Wednesday, and then working Thursday, Friday and Saturday.  The next week we will be working Tuesday through Saturday, which will be our schedule the last 3 weeks, plus any overtime we are given.

OK, time to start that second pot of coffee.....thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, November 18, 2012


Not surprisingly after 6 weeks a number of people who had the same start date we did have raised the white flag, pulled up anchor and moved on to greener pastures.  I just don't think it is possible for some to understand how physically demanding this Amazon gig is.  The fact we are still here can mean one of several things......A) We are too stupid to know we cant' do this,  B) We are masochists,  C) We love Kentucky winters, and why not work at Amazon, too?, or D) All of the above.  Seriously, there are times around midnight each work day when I feel still feel good, and think the last 5 weeks will be a breeze, but then 3am comes and my feet are barking at me, my eyes are crossing, my mind won't focus, and both my hands are cramping......then, then I wonder how I can do this for 5 more weeks.  It's the last hour that gets you every time.

Saturday night/Sunday morning marked the end of 6 weeks on the job at Amazon.  Seems hard to believe that much time has passed......this is the longest we have sat in one place since Spokane where we spent 5 weeks........we still have 5 weeks to go before we roll the Newell tires again.

As I walk up and down miles of isles picking products that may have just been ordered online minutes before, my mind drifts to some of the great places we have visited  in the almost 10 months we have been nomads.  The mind has a way of distracting us from the sometime unpleasant present by taking us to "happier" places we have been, or the promise of "happier" places in the near future.  It is one of my coping mechanisms to pass the time.  Boredom is as big an enemy as the physical punishment our bodies are taking.  Boredom makes the second hand slow way down, and makes the 3am to 4am hour seem like 4 hours.  According to my calculations TLE and I  each "pick" between 4 and 5,000 individual items every four day work week, so that means collectively we have picked between 50 and 60,000 individual items since we started working, and we are just 2 of hundreds doing our specific job 24 hours a day at just this one facility.....I think in Kentucky alone there are 4, or 5 of these facilities.  I wish I could take a picture of the interior of the Amazon facility, but phones, cameras, and electrical devices of any kind are not allowed inside.  Mind you, the floor square footage is 1,000,000, but all three buildings have 4 levels covering around 40% of that square footage.

Last Sunday I ordered a new pair of Keen hiking shoes, and some honey TLE wanted, and those two orders, coming from other Amazon facilities were in our hands by Tuesday morning.  Someone just like me picked those items, put them in a "tote", then on a conveyor belt, which took them to someone sitting at a packing station, who put them in boxes, and mailed them to, Amazon!

We go back to work for our 7th week of self induced punishment on Wednesday, but between now and then my feet are elevated, I nap on and off, and I cherish every minute of down time between now and then.  Before we know it we will be sitting on the beach in Cedar Key, and our sojourn here will become a fading memory briefly revived each time we spend one of the dollars we earned here on fuel, or craft beer, or whatever may strike our fancy.  Now back to the game!

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Happy Days

The ladies: TLE, Sharon, Pat, and Liz......the guys: Clarke, Jim, Rick and Mike

Lunch Friday at Happy Days American Grill and Ice Cream Bar in old town Campbellsville on Main Street.....of course.  The smiles say it all!

Friday, November 16, 2012


It appears that in the last week of October, just as I had surmised, I hit my "picking" stride at Amazon when I averaged 113% of plan....basically I exceeded expectations by 13%.  Of course, as I have previously noted, TLE has exceeded expectations every singe week she has been here and has the paperwork to prove it.  Even though my goal has been to hit the "acceptable" rate of 85% to plan.....this is the expectation for seasonal workers, which we are, at Amazon, I am happy I can do that well, and not feel like I am pushing it too hard.  The full time employees, who have been doing this longer, are expected to be at, or near 100% since they are more experienced.

Wednesday night was another cold one.....we drove the 'Bird over to work that night, and when we came out there was a layer of ice on everything.  The ice scrapers TLE bought work well, but it still takes too we bit the bullet Thursday night and walked.  Frankly, even though it was 30 degrees at 4am, we were still warm from our 10 hour shift.....I actually felt warmer walking home than to work at 5pm the night before!  I worked in all three buildings last night, but spent most of my time in building "C" picking from the pallets in pick mod R3.....I actually like this work better as it doesn't involve "standing on my head" to peering into the dark recesses of a ground level "A" bin....everything is right out in the open, however, I do get to use my company issued box cutter a lot!  I think I picked in one 30 minute period over 100 Kindle Fire's, and not to be out done, well over 100 of the remastered Blue Ray, The Godfather series.

Unfortunately, I was up way too early on Thursday.....I think I only slept 4.5 hours......I made a little of the sleep deprivation up with a 1.5 hour nap from 2 to 3:30pm, but by 2am this morning I was very, very tired.  Instead of watching TV until almost 6 like I did Thursday morning, I showered, and was in bed by4:40am.......that combined with me not getting up until 10:45 has contributed enormously to my good disposition today.....that is until I saw the news that Hostess Bakeries is closing its doors.......NOOOOOOOO!  No more Twinkies, Ding Dongs......."say it ain't so Joe!"!  I don't really care about Wonderbread, but I feel really bad for the 18,500 employees who will be joining the ranks of the unemployed today.

Thursday was sunny, but chilly.  We didn't go out, or do anything.....we just rested up for the 2nd round of our four day work week.  Still trying to figure out what the hell the Lakers are doing.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, November 15, 2012


One of the fascinating things about this mobile lifestyle we have chosen is the people we meet along the way are so open, and easy to get to know.  It is rare to run into a fellow nomad who does not have a compelling life story, and who is willing to tell it if you give them a chance.  We first noticed this phenomenon when we were camp hosts at Rancho Jurupa.....the people there were so friendly, and east to make friends with.  It is easy to prejudge someone based on your first impressions, and remarkably, and thankfully, I have been wrong almost 100% of the time....:D.  It makes me wonder sometimes what kind of first impression I give.....don't you wonder, too?  It really doesn't matter what their religious, or political affiliations are.....there is an immediate connection....a shared lifestyle that bridges most, if not all differences.  The bottom line?  It is much easier to get to know people, and make friends in this nomadic lifestyle.  We are still in almost daily contact with people we met in Cedar Key where we stayed just 3 days back in March, and the same goes for so many others we have met along the way.

I still possess one of those large leather bound Day Runners that has a section for business cards.  I am going to have to add more space for "business" cards as we have collected a lot of them on our travels.  When I say "business card" I'm just using a generic term for a card with someone's contact information.  Obviously, most of the people we meet are retired, so their "business card" is a hand out to pass on limited personal information so the connection will not be lost.  Before we left on our adventure we printed up some business cards, and have just about run out.  I think it's time to redesign it, and print some more.

The 10 hour shifts are starting to go by more quickly.....the biggest issue to overcome each night is boredom.....the physical part has receded into the background....sure there are still aches and pains, but they are less noticeable day by day.  Some nights I do a good job of not getting bored doing the same thing over and over again.  It is easy to get so focused you don't see what is going on around you, and, believe me, that is a typical state of mind for a lot of people doing this job.  I have been startled more than once when I am picking an item to realize another picker, or stower has been standing behind me, or sometimes right in front of me while I finished my finding and pulling an item. This is a pretty universal problem.  I make myself stop once and a while and just look around....if I am on an upper level I look up and down the long rows below me to see if there is anyone I know working there, or just simply to change my focus and take in the enormity of the Amazon facility.  Sometimes the views remind me of the vast warehouse shots in "Raiders of the Lost Ark".  

Last night we got to work in building "C" for the first time.....nothing special about building "C", but it is a change of scenery, and, frankly, a little cooler temperature wise.....building "B" is at least 10 degrees warmer.....I prefer the cooler temps.

We drove the 'Bird again last night as the forecast was for temps in the mid 20's at 4am, and it was all of that.  Thankfully TLE purchased a couple of scrapers to make short work of the ice on the windshield.   We watched the "X" Factor and then went to bed around 5:15am.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Bond......James Bond

We were greeted by a cloudless, windless day Tuesday.....but COLDDDD!!  I got up around 9am.....The Lovely Elaine a lot later....:D  TLE had some more shopping to seems there is always more shopping to do.....and I had a few tasks to occupy myself whilst she was gone.  First on the list was to jack up the trailer, take off one of the wheels, and brake drum to verify the exact electric brakes I need to order to replace all four assemblies.  All the brake shoes still have lining on them, but no point in waiting for them to get to metal on metal, plus the magnets have lost some of their power......electric brakes utilize magnets to engage the brakes.....don't ask me exactly how that works, because I have no idea....I just know that they get weak overtime, and it's time to replace them.  

The cool thing about these brakes is all I have to do is unscrew 5 bolts on each assembly, remove the old assembly and bolt on the new assembly, and connect the wires.  All that remains then is to adjust the brake shoes as needed.  I'll get to work on that in a couple of weeks.  I was able to verify that I did, indeed, have Dexter brakes, and that the ones I had sourced were exactly what I had.....they will cost me about $106 per axle for all four brake assemblies.

Next task was to repair the EZup cover that had torn during the rain storm when rain accumulated on one side.  This is probably the last time I will repair this one...I have another much newer one, but am waiting for this one to give up the ghost, and that time is fast approaching.

Finally, I wanted to get a coat of wax on the front the waxing efforts kind of stalled out after I finished the rear cap.  Now all I have remaining is both sides and she'll be good for 6 months.

We had planned to see "Skyfall" at the local cinema at 4:15, but our neighbors, Jim and Jacque are leaving Wednesday and invited us to a farewell dinner at Campbellsville U at 5:30, so we accepted and decided to make the 6:40 showing instead, and that worked out well.  We'll be hooking back up with them in Florida in a couple of months.  They'll be work camping down near Tampa for a few months at a Methodist retreat center.

"Skyfall", the latest James Bond offering, was, in my opinion, one of the better James Bond movies in a while.  It was a lot more low tech, and reminded me of some of the earlier Bond moves like "From Russia with Love".  Daniel Craig does an admirable job of portraying the iconic super spy.  TLE and I both highly recommend this Bond movie.

By the time we returned "home" the temps had dropped into the mid 30's, and would get into the low 20's before the night was over, but as always we were as "snug as two bugs in a rug".....I know that's an odd saying, but those of you from my generation will recall their parents using that same phrase on more than one occasion.

Wednesday we return to the work a day grind for four days.....we have Sunday off, then back to work Monday and Wednesday night due to Thanksgiving.....back to work for a 5 hour shift at 11pm Thursday night, full shift Thursday, Friday and Saturday....that will be a tough week, especially Black Friday.

Over and out from Heartland RV park.....thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Lazy Bones Jones

That is what I used to call my oldest daughter when she would sleep all day Saturday way back in high school.  Well, that was us Monday.....well, we didn't sleep all day, but closer to Noon, and then, due to the "Noah's Flood" like conditions outside we didn't do anything, not even go to the movies like we had planned.  We just didn't do anything other than mostly vegetate all day long.  Sometimes you just need a day like that.....I know you know what I mean.

The rain was continuous, hard at times, and unrelenting until about 4pm.  There were small lakes of water appearing in our neighborhood of coaches, and with the rare exception of someone walking a dog, we didn't see many people outside for any period of time.  TLE ran a couple of loads of laundry through Mr. Splendide, I did some insurance work, and then we spent what was left of the afternoon watching a few more recorded espisodes of TV programs.  

The great thing is we still do not go back to work until Wednesday at 5:30pm.....we still have almost 2 days of down time.  On Wednesday we start what we are calling our "hump"  week.....when we finish this four day work week on Saturday we will be over half done with our work commitment.  My dreams at night are beginning to revolve around great beach locations we have visited, or plan to visit......around long bicycle rides in balmy weather....around nights at the Tiki Bar in Cedar Key watching the sun you notice none of those dreams are about standing on concrete for 10 hours a day?  Hmmmm?

There is a promise of clear, calm, sunny skies on Tuesday, and for the next 9, or 10 days.  Rain is nice as long as it confines itself to the times I am sleeping, but when it crowds out the daytime part of my life it gets old very fast.  

We went to bed around midnight.  Normally we set both electric heaters at "zero" as we don't like sleeping with the heaters on, but Monday night's low temp is supposed to be under 30.  Even with the heaters set at 60 degrees the bedroom temperature got down to 56 at one point, but if we had not had the heaters on it would have gotten down to the low 50's inside.  The electric heater in the water bay is set at 55 degrees so nothing will freeze, and the water will not get too cold.  I can always tell when it has been running because the floor in the shower is warm, and the water coming out of the tap is warm at first.....a nice reminder it is doing its job.

That was it for Monday......thanks for stopping by!

Monday, November 12, 2012


While Saturday was "almost like summer", Sunday was more "almost like fall".  The clouds had moved in, and it was breezy, but still warmish.  This was the second day of a four day weekend, and with the advent of "drop top" weather we decided we would take the hard top off the 'Bird for the first time since Whidbey Island.  

We headed over to Campbellsville U for Brunch with our friends (Rick, Pat, Jim and Sharon) and after a laugh filled meal we bid them adieu and headed out to Loretto, KY to visit one of the numerous Bourbon distilleries  in Kentucky......Maker's Mark Distillery.  I have rarely, if ever, had Bourbon......I have always been a Scotch man, but I had heard from many Amazon friends that we should hit the "Bourbon Trail" and taste some good Kentucky Bourbon.  

Maker's Mark is only 27 miles from Campbellsville, so it was an easy 30 minute jaunt over rolling, winding country roads......roads identical to those we drove the coach on from Elizabethtown the day we was nice to drive on them in a car made for those narrow roads.  TLE was in her element as she carved through the many turns on the way to Loretto.  

We arrived at the Distillery around 1:15pm, and were surprised how many people on a Sunday afternoon were visiting this out of the way Distillery.  Tours start every 20-30 minutes and are capped at 30 people per tour.  The charge is $7.00 per person.  The grounds of this Distillery are immaculate, and it would actually be a nice place to go for a picnic, or a long walk.

 They used to have their own on site fire department

Maker's Mark makes what they call a "sweet" Bourbon.  Their facilities are immaculate.  Their formula includes 75% corn, with the balance a mixture between red winter wheat, and barley.  The sweetness comes from the red winter wheat.  They age their Bourbon in American White Oak barrels for 3.75 to 4.5 long depends on how long it takes to get it to that "special" taste.  

There are 8 of these 9,600 gallon vats that are two stories tall.  Out of this volume approximately 1,000 gallons it poured into the aging barrels seen below to age.  The water is the key to Kentucky matter which Distillery makes it.  There is no iron in the spring water used that filters through limestone.  Iron in the water tends to make the product more bitter.  Maker's Mark has their own spring fed lake on premises where all the water comes from to make their Bourbon.  

 One of the specially made barrels cut away

Two of their trade marks are square bottles, and hand dipped in red wax.  The middle bottle below is the well known Maker's Mark Bourbon.  The bottle on the left, Maker's White, is aged Bourbon not aged in barrels.  It can only be purchased at the Maker's Mark Distillery.  The bottle on the right is a new Bourbon they have begun producing called Maker's 46.

Of course, at the end of the tour we get a chance to taste their product.

In the bottling building there are a bunch of these posters....I found this one particularly humorous.

The tour, including tasting, lasts about an hour,  but it doesn't seem that long.

We arrived back home around 3:30 and spent the rest of the day napping, watching NFL football (reading for TLE), and then later spent time watching a few of our recorded TV shows (Revolution, Burn Notice, Bones and CSI N.Y.) .

It was a great day.....tomorrow, Monday, winter returns, and the forecast is for rain all day long.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, November 11, 2012


Saturday was Almost Like was balmy, light to no breeze, and a day for sitting outside for hours watching NCAA football.  I was up by 11am, and TLE, uncharacteristically, was up a short time later.  We must be getting used to our schedule......NOT!!!  Just didn't want to waste a perfectly good warm, sunny day in bed with the curtains closed....haha!

Got to see Alabama lose for the first time in a long apologies to my Alabama friends, but you have to know that everyone is always pulling for the upset of the #1 team, and Texas A&M proved to be too much.  Frankly, LSU should have beaten them last week.  Notre Dame won easily and continues to be undefeated, so the argument that they should be in the National Championship game will intensify, but a very strong argument can, and will be made for Oregon and Kansas, also undefeated.

TLE went shopping while I got out the patio furniture, the TV, BBQ and turned on the XM Radio to the 60's channel.  What a great day to be alive.  Got to enjoy it and Sunday as it will return to winter with a vengeance on Monday.

As evening approached TLE got out the filet mignon for me to season and BBQ.  That steak was very, very thick, and took me almost 20 minutes to bring to medium rare, but it was worth the wait!  TLE prepared a chopped cilantro, tomato and romaine salad with Newman's Balsamic dressing, and broccoli....that was a $40 meal at any restaurant worth its salt.

After dinner we put a log in the outdoor fireplace and sat outside for another hour watching the stars come out, and talking to neighbors as they passed by.  A perfect end to a wonderful day spent not on my feet for 10 hours....:D

After we went back inside for the night I fell asleep in the recliner for 2 hours.....what a great nap.  TLE went to bed at 10pm, and I followed at midnight.  

Sunday we will take the top of the 'Bird and go for a nice country drive after we have Brunch at Campbellsville U.

Thanks for stopping by!