The last couple of weeks we experienced days of rain, and then days of full sun. The temperatures have gotten much colder and as tourists are leaving the state the campground’s business has gotten slower and slower. Although we were originally scheduled through September 15th, we received an email from the Beet Harvest folks and they need us there by September 19th. We don’t want to rush back (since we had to rush up) so we talked to Marc and he graciously said it was fine if we left a little earlier than we originally expected. Our new departure date is September 8th and suddenly there isn’t enough time to get everything done we need/want to!
What has surprised me is how anxious I am feeling over the upcoming move. My fears are varied from the short-term (the furnace still isn’t working) to the more long-term, without a steady income coming in how are we going to pay our bills. We had hedged our financial bets by lining up the Beet Harvest immediately after Alaska and then picking up a job selling Christmas Trees over the holidays. After that I really want to try to find a consulting job in my field. There are a couple of reasons I think the consulting job is so important. First, for me, it’s not a good idea to stay out of the mainstream workforce for too long of a period, and second, since I have to work I would like to try doing something that is both fulfilling and lucrative. I am convinced at this point that we can survive on less money, but I am not sure that less money has translated into less stress. Well, that’s not true. I absolutely have less stress than I had before, but there is still stress. At this point I am simply not capable of “punching a clock” for lack of a better expression and leaving the work behind at the end of the day. And I am especially not capable of that when I live where I work.
So, the only way to find out what consulting looks like (and how it compares to other employment) is to actually do it. I am really surprised by my reaction to all of this to be honest. I have wanted to consult for a really long time and as Lee says now I have the opportunity to try it in a low-risk environment. It’s just a lot of change. Professionally in a relatively short period of time I have gone from a corporate environment to a small business environment then I will be trying “farm” work and short-term commissioned sales. You would think I was a kid again trying lots of jobs to see which ones I liked. Except these jobs are on the extreme side and I am not a kid anymore in either physical or emotional state. I am incredibly nervous about the beet harvest. The idea that I can hack standing outside in the elements for 12 hours a day, three weeks straight, and no days off seems almost ludicrous. Same with the Christmas tree sales. 12 hours a day, living in a fenced-in parking lot, no days off. Why in God’s name would I try these things if I have other choices? The short answer is because this is an experiment and I need to collect all of the data. I can read about the Beet Harvest or Amazon, but unless I actually experience it I will have no idea what I am willing (and able) to do. For years I thought of myself as a person who could dig ditches to feed her family. Well now I am going to find out. And by the way I am 100% driving these choices. Lee is fine with it as long as it keeps us on the road, but he would no more try to talk me into these job choices than he would try to talk me into selling the RV and living in a tent. That’s the level of extreme that I think of when I compare the beet harvest to a campground job and we will see if those fears are founded.
Anyway, lots of anxieties, which is kind of a shame because you would think I could coast on an Alaska high for awhile. I also really thought I had moved past some of these emotions. It’s been two years now and you would think I would be better at dealing with the constant state of change. Well I am better, that’s for sure, but less able to adapt that I thought I would be. Part of that is probably staying in one place for four months. We have made a home base of sorts here and that coupled with a steady paycheck and lots of cool areas to explore has helped me settle in. Now we are leaving all of that for the relative uncertainty of a new job and a new place. You would think that considering how poorly I seem to handle all of that I would be more interested when Lee talks about creating some sort of established annual “route”, but everything in me rebels against that. Developing a circuit of sorts makes sense. Employment is easier, you can establish schedules for doctor’s appointments, and you always have some idea of where you will be at any given time in the year, and it really helps keep your costs down. I get the allure. But for me, right now, in this moment, it is the last thing that I want. Well, not the last, but pretty far down on the list. What I love about this lifestyle the most is the ability to explore and seeing new places and if that makes it more challenging, then so be it. I’m not saying it won’t happen in our future. Whether it happens by choice or necessity it feels almost inevitable, but I keep thinking “Not yet”.
So I will try the beet harvest and Christmas trees, and Amazon, and whatever comes in between. We will stay in the desert this winter to keep costs down, we will work at more campgrounds, we will do what we need to do to stay on the road. But it may look different. My blog posts will be different. Not every place we be will be Alaska, or even close to it. I started this to accurately reflect my life, but in some respects the blog has driven my choices. I get off the couch and do things so I have something to write about. I show my life in pictures and budgets with the occasional introspective post thrown in. We have managed through our choices to have both work and play, but the upcoming months are definitely going to be more about work, and that’s fair. Alaska was the experience of a lifetime but it needs to be paid for one way or another. If Lee was sitting here he would probably jump in at this point and tell me I needed to calm down. We have money in the bank, we have employment lined up, and things are unlikely to be as extreme as I am painting them. He’s really good at being the voice of reason when I get a little carried away. And he is right. One chapter is ending and another is beginning and as always, we will see where that leads us.
Oh and then because God has a sense of humor he gave me a real problem to deal with. Not an ambiguous, what-if scenario (I suck at dealing with those) but a real honest to goodness problem which ironically I seem better at dealing with. Lee took the truck to Wasilla to get the brakes and AC checked and when he came back from running errands the front end was dissembled, he was told the truck was undriveable, and it could take as much as a month to fix. Needless to say he was extremely upset. The next morning I called the dealership (keep in mind it’s 2-1/2 hours away or I just would have driven there) and left a voice message for the service manager Stan. I nicely explained that we didn’t live here and I was due to start a new job on the 19th and could he please call me back with an estimate of how long the service would take. This was at 8:31am.
|I called back at 11:05am and after offering to wait on hold was eventually transferred to Stan’s cell phone voice mail. At this point I reached out to our friends Jo/Ben and Kelly/Bill. I knew Jo and Ben would be driving right by the dealership and I asked if they would stop on the way if no one from the dealership called me back. Yes this is an unusual request, but they are those kind of friends. Driving 5 hours round trip to have an in person conversation was not my first choice, but I knew I would do it if I had to. Thankfully while I was on the phone with them Stan called me back. He was extremely polite and after looking into the situation told me he couldn’t get the parts until next Wednesday or Thursday but he would put me to the top of the service list “since I lived out of town.” Best case scenario the work would be done by September 9th worst case, September 12th.|
|So I had two choices in that moment; play nice or “go Jersey” as my friends like to say. I chose to play nice and spent the next 10 minutes personalizing the issue and basically throwing myself on his mercy. Why you might ask? Well, Alaska. Don’t kid yourself, these folks have their customers over a barrel and they know it. There are only three Ford dealerships in the entire state and I have no reason to expect my situation would be any different with another one of them. If they decide to keep me waiting for a month it is entirely within their purview. Do I have other options? Sure, but none of them are really good ones, so since all it will cost us at this point is taking our time getting back through Canada we will let it go. That assumes of course that they keep their word. I like starting with appealing to people’s better angels, but if that doesn’t work I have absolutely no problem “going Jersey”.
Side note: Lee did receive a call that evening from the original service coordinator. She verified that she had ordered the parts, but stated our claim was still not approved because they had to send pictures to the warranty company. Sounds like BS to me, but I will have to give the warranty company a call.
|On the plus side I finally got to see Northern Lights and it wasn’t even planned. Lee and I walked outside at 11pm last night before going to bed we looked up and they were all over the sky. I always thought northern lights were like lightning or they pulsed but these were different. They reminded me of after a firework has gone off and what happens to the trails of light. They also looked like someone took a paintbrush and lightly made a stroke on a canvas. They move and change and the colors on occasion held hints of purple along with the green. It was amazing and we stood outside for 30 minutes watching them. I tried to get a picture with my camera but no luck. Lee was able to snap a couple of pics with his phone but they don’t come close to showing how amazing they looked in the sky. Big major check on the bucket list. Some things in life exceed their press.
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