First Time Working In A Utility Co. Park – Getting Ready to Leave

It never fails. When we settle into a place for a few months, we are rushing at the end to get everything done.  We come to a job or location with a list of things we want to get done and places we want to see and we have months and months stretching out in front of us, and then suddenly……”Holy Crap we only have TWO weeks left” and the mad scramble begins. With experience we have learned that sometimes it is OK to leave things left undone, but both of us try to check as many of the boxes as we can. (I also try to do at least 2 purges a year, and mini-purges in between. I also like to pull everything out of the various storage compartments and nooks and crannies and put my hands on everything. Partially to remind myself of what we have and where it is (you’d be AMAZED at how easy it is to “lose” things in a 40 ft box!) and partially to see if i can rearrange things to make them fit a little better. Plus I just like to organize and putter. – Lee) 

This time around it’s not only personal tasks though, but it’s also a few work projects that we didn’t get done through the season.  As you know from reading, this job has been much busier than we originally thought it would be, and the pace coupled with heat and smoky conditions have delayed several projects.  Our bosses have been totally fine with this by the way, but there were a couple of things they mentioned at the beginning of the summer that I really wanted to try and get done.

So when I had some extra time last weekend, I decided to tackle one of the projects. At Moore Creek the roof colors on the bathroom building and the changing room building are mismatched, one is grey and the other is green.  I know that sounds kind of silly, I mean who cares about the roof color at a bathroom, but since it was mentioned more than once at the beginning of the season, I always noticed it and it started to bug me too.  Lee thought I was nuts, by the way, starting something major this close to the end of our season, but I was determined, and after some conversation with my boss, I headed out with a plan.

The weather thankfully cooperated, with relatively smoke-free skies and moderate temps.  And about one o’clock I headed up with an 8 foot ladder, two brand new cans of paint that hopefully were the right color, an extension roller, and lots of energy.  Two hours later I wondered what I had gotten myself into.

The bottom of the roof was relatively easy, as it was a smooth surface and the ladder reached easily.  What I didn’t count on was the small section between the building frame and the roof, which would need to be done with a brush by hand.  That was a bummer, and since it was pretty hot by 4pm, I decided to stop and regroup for the next day.  I also didn’t count on the bugs that hang out near restrooms, and since the wind chose that time to die down, towards the end I was being attacked by one particularly tough biting fly.

On Sunday it was a little cooler and there was more of a breeze, so armed with more supplies I headed back up.  This time I was determined to pace myself and started on the top of the roof.  Lee had warned me that this was going to be pretty tough, because the roof mold had a shingle like appearance and there were lots of nooks and crannies.  He wasn’t wrong about that, but I couldn’t stop once I started and with lots of paint and lots of breaks in between I managed to get a first pass done.

Thankfully the wind kept the bugs away, but the sun became a real issue as the day progressed.  The original roof was green and the new color was grey, so at certain angles it was hard to tell what was painted and what wasn’t.  The top of the roof was difficult in particular and since it was at the outer limit of my arm length I just did the best that I could.  After several hours I called it quits and overall I felt pretty good about the job I had done.  The colors matched almost perfectly, and although I knew a third trip would be required for touch up, I planned on using the company intern to help on Thursday.

All season long we have had an intern help with summer programs, and as he was almost finished they had scheduled him to shadow several of us as we did our normal jobs.  My turn was Thursday and I was excited to have the help to finish up.

Here was the ladder I used and the VERY long pole. Those are the intern’s legs and feet.


As you can see the roof was so steep using a roller was the only way to make it work


But the fake shingles had lots of nooks and crannies that required several passes.



The green to the right was the old color and the grey to the left was the new one, so it was tough to differentiate in bright sunlight. Pretty happy about how it ultimately turned out though!

Along with work projects we had several personal ones to get done.  Lee spent several hours, organizing and washing the truck inside and out (The last time I did a thorough interior detailing on the truck was before the beet harvest last fall, so there was a LOT of dust from that and south Texas. It turns out that the interior of the truck is a lovely gray, not brown. – Lee) and doing a mini purge in our RV storage area.  We are constantly reassessing what we actually are using and it’s not uncommon for us to get rid of things at the end of a season.  I have been focused on paperwork, doctors visits, and job searching, but I also have been making lots of new recipes.

I rarely want to try something new when we are traveling, so I took advantage of these last couple of weeks to try as many recipes as I could before we left.  I also needed to make/freeze spaghetti sauce and chili as these are common travel day meals for us. You’d think that after all the time practicing last summer I would be better at picking “winning” recipes, but I have to say my “failure” rate is still pretty high.  Failure generally doesn’t mean the food is inedible by the way, it just means that the taste, amount of work, or availability of ingredients doesn’t make the cut for me to add it to the next recipe book.  For every winner there are at least 7 losers, and as usual Lee is being a good sport about trying new recipes.  I do make sure I throw in a tried and true recipe though to make sure he gets something he likes and I made one of his favorites from my cook book, Crazy Marinade Pork Chops, last night.

Along with all the chores I was also dealing with pretty sore teeth.  It took about twelve hours for my teeth to stop hurting and the front ones in particular were so sore I had to eat all soft foods last night.  (More pork chops for me. – Lee) One of the nicest things that happened was around 7:30pm I received a call from Dr. Compton checking in on me.  I can’t remember the last time a doctor called to follow-up, and the fact that he did rates him pretty high in my book.  Finally around 8:30pm I took some Tylenol PM and just went to sleep and actually ended up getting the best night’s sleep I have had in a long time.  Wednesday morning, as promised, the pain was gone, and although the front teeth are still a little tender things are largely back to normal.

That was good because Wednesday morning we needed to go get our drug tests for the upcoming Amazon jobs.  After our last experience trying to get drug tests while traveling, we were thrilled this was scheduled while we were still in the area, but shortly after we headed out I noticed the experiation date on the paperwork said September 12th.  Well double crap…it was September 13th and when I called Qwest they confirmed I needed new paperwork.  So we turned around and went back to the house and I started making calls.  Luckily we were able to get new paperwork reissued very quickly and I rescheduled the appointment for 11am.

Off we went again and despite pretty heavy traffic (they really need to upgrade the highway system around Portland) we made it to the location.  Well, we made it there but we drove past it initially because it turned out the drug test facility was a small 1950’s cape cod style house tucked in an industrial park.  Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate people who run businesses out of homes, but for a drug test facility it was kind of weird. There was only one guy, and although he looked professional and was very nice, it was just weird and the house itself was a real hodge podge.  There was a mix of personal and business stuff throughout the rooms and the whole thing badly needed a fresh coat of paint.  I will say the one bathroom itself was very clean, but the sink was in another room and he ran out of soap after I washed my hands.

Seriously, the whole thing was weird, but at least we go it done and hopefully we have no issues with the test like we did last time.  Afterwards we stopped at Panda Express for some lunch (still leaning towards soft foods at this point) and then we got back around 12:30pm and I started on the job search.

Things have been a little slow in this area, but I am hoping that is because it is fiscal year end for so many companies.  I recently heard on NPR that 27% of the companies are planning on hiring starting in October, so that might be a good thing.  There are jobs out there of course, but at this point I am still trying to find something on the East Coast and wanting a job that only lasts a few months is very limiting.  I’ll keep plugging away and let you know if anything breaks free when it occurs.

One thing I have been doing while searching for job is watching/listening to Project Management educational videos.  As I mentioned before I need to complete continuing education to keep my Project Management Professional certification, and I have another 21 hours that need to be done prior to March 2018.  I did apply for a volunteer job with the National Organization, and have discussed trying to take a Scrum Master class to add that certification to my bag of tricks, but the easiest and cheapest alternative is to just watch online training videos.  Thankfully they are available for free with my PMI membership and the only downside is it’s 1 PDU per hour. I am a big fan of “double dipping” when it comes to getting things done, so I have been listening to a webinar as I have been looking for jobs.  Two birds, one stone…a major tenet of my life philosophy 🙂

We also put together our upcoming route for getting to Mor-Ryde in Indiana, and it seems that finally we have a solution that works for us.  We’ve tried every combination of routing (me doing it alone, Lee doing it alone, us doing it together, and all of those seemed to be pretty burdensome.  Lee and I think about things differently, so we bring different ideas and tactics to any task which can either make things easier or more difficult.  Our current methodology for planning our route seems to work perfectly, so I thought I would share it.  Lee picks the general areas we will stop every night based on attempting to have roughly 300 mile travel days when we’re traveling on a deadline. For whatever reason I have a really hard time doing that, but the way he thinks makes it easy for him.

I then take that list of cities and try to find us campsites in the general area.  I look at Ultimate Campgrounds first (for BLM, City, and State Parks) and Passport America second for half price, easy to access campgrounds. For whatever reason this is very easy for me and I fill in the gaps with campground suggestions.  He then takes the list of campgrounds and double checks availability, location, reviews etc and we are locked in. Really pretty simple with our divide and conquer strategy and it only took us 2-1/2 years to figure out the best method for us. One of the coolest things about getting ready to go somewhere is that suddenly you realize you may cross paths with friends.  We are going to be “near” Cori and Greg, Deb and Steve, and Jo and Ben, and although we may not be able to work the schedule so we can see all of them it’s nice knowing that we are all that close to each other.  I’ve said this before, but it’s worth mentioning again that in my head I see all of our friends like little points of light all around a map of the United States.  I don’t always know exactly where everyone is, but I see those lights moving and I find that amazing and very comforting.

But back to travel scheduling.  Doing it in advance definitely makes travel easier for us and doing as much prep work in advance accomplishes the same thing.  Because despite being on the road for almost three years we can still find travel days stressful.  Lee has gone to a significant amount of work to minimize that as much as possible and we have learned to just accept that about ourselves and roll with it.  Part of it may be the way we travel of course.  Our “hub and spoke” approach usually has us staying in an area for a quite while, and using it as a jumping off place to explore so we have less “true travel days” than many of our counterparts.  But we have certainly experienced enough of them to know that a day here and a day there is never our preferred method of seeing a place.  Your mileage will definitely vary on that one of course as there are many people who are perfectly content moving every few days.  That’s just not us and so we take steps to make those days as pleasant as possible.

Anyway, this time is preparing to leave is definitely more mellow than in the past.  I believe a big part of that is knowing we might come back next summer, but I also think we are just getting better at the logistics of the lifestyle. Either way I’ll take it and hope that the stress level doesn’t rise as we get closer to the departure date. This time I even had time to fit in one last trip to the Farmer’s Market and local book store and it was nice to say farewell to both of those activities.  Estacada has been a very nice home base for us and I will miss some of the people and places we have gotten to know this summer.

Disclaimer: The company we are working for this summer has a very specific media policy. I will not be mentioning them by name, or mentioning the specific names of anyone I am working with, except for Lee.  Also, because it’s not really that difficult to figure out which company it is, I want to be clear: I in no way speak for the company or my co-workers, and am only recounting my personal experiences.  Also, any details I get wrong in this or any other post are due to a misunderstanding on my part.  

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Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is also available in paperback.


6 thoughts on “First Time Working In A Utility Co. Park – Getting Ready to Leave

  1. Great paint job Trace! Can’t say I would have tackled that steep of a roof. Certainly hope your mouth is pain free now. Lee, it sure is amazing how quickly things can accumulate in our home on wheels. That’s why we too keep purging and keeping it simple. Less is more!

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