This Ain’t My First Rodeo

I really love going to rodeos, but the entire four years we have been on the road we have never been able to see one.  Usually the timing is wrong, we arrive in town right before or after the rodeo or we are working and don’t have the weekends off.  So when Lee mentioned he would love to see a Texas rodeo we were thrilled when Cori mentioned there was one every Saturday night pretty close by.  As I said, I’ve been to several, but it turns out that neither Lee or Cori have ever been to one.  That made it even more exciting, and Lee was particularly happy that after we went he would be able to truthfully say those iconic words, “This ain’t my first rodeo!”

None of us really knew what we were getting into, and were all surprised by how full the field was next to the place. We were even more surprised to see a really fantastic compound full of stuff to do.  For a $12 entry fee you get access to the rodeo and the live music afterwards, but they also have numerous food places (including a full steakhouse), a mechanical bull, live animals, and a couple of shops.  Really great concept and super kid friendly.

Love the courtyard it was like a mexican village

I thought about the mechanical bull, but not this time!

The dance areas was great and the music was good

The stands were pretty full when we got there, but we found a nice spot

For us it was all about the rodeo and I absolutely loved it.  They had numerous events with 5-6 competitors in each one and some fun kid activities in between.  The lighting was good in the arena, but not quite good enough for my long lens on sports setting, but I’ll share the best pictures I took to give you a feel for the event.

 

They started with a female drill team

 

Cowboy pairs calf roping. One ropes the front and the other the back requires some serious coordination

You can see the back legs were roped as well

Singles calf roping for women

And the men, but the men jump off the horse and lift the cow and wrap the legs

They had a guy who was a 6 time world champion and did it in 8.2 seconds. Absolutely amazing

The strength and coordination is something

 

 

This is blurry but check out the cowboy. The rope was barely on the cows neck and he was half off his horse

And the horse is trained to keep the rope taut so the calf doesn’t move.  Wonderful partnership.

They also had barrel racing. Check out how close this horse’s butt is to the ground.  The closer to the barrel the better the time, but if you knock it over it’s a 5 second penalty.

The kids events were really fun. They had a money grab where they put ribbons on the back of some calves and the winners who grabbed them won a gift certificate

But my favorite was mutton busting. It cracked me up that these little ones (aged 4-7) had to hold hands when they crossed the arena

And then they put them on a sheep running like crazy

The kids all seemed to have a good time though and it was super cute

And of course there was bull riding.  I’ve had an opportunity to see bull riding at some pretty high levels, and of course this wasn’t that, but it was fun to watch, and it’s no less dangerous than it is at large events.  The very last rider actually got his hand caught in the ropes and was being dragged by a bull and when a clown tried to help, he was thrown up and over the bull.  Eventually they got the guy off who was limping but walking, but it brought home how serious this can be, not just for the cowboys but also the clowns.  It’s very exciting to watch though and I enjoyed it thoroughly and was thrilled that Cori and Lee got to see it since this was their first time.

They had some younger kids on smaller bulls

And the grownups on the full size ones

 

You can see how alert everyone is

Those horns are no joke

It was a really fun night and before we left I paid the $5 to sit on a stuffed(?) bull.  We took some group pictures to commemorate the experience.  Greg’s always up for something fun and he was cracking me up in this pic.

Yeehaw

From Left: Lee, Cori, Me, and Greg

Lots more planned with our friends in Texas.  We looked at our budget and decided we could stay a couple extra weeks, since Kelly and Bill are heading our way.  The six of us started off together and are rarely in the same place at the same time, and the opportunity is too good to pass up!  Gate Guarding isn’t going anywhere, and we will be signing up for a gate in the beginning of November.

 


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

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 available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.

First Time at “Dachtoberfest”

One of the cool things about hanging out with Greg and Cori is they always find unusual stuff to do.  So when Greg sent me an Facebook invitation to check out Dachtoberfest, my initial thought shouldn’t have been “he’s kidding”, because that’s exactly the type of thing they like to do.  Turns out that Dachtoberfest is an event at a local racetrack sponsored by Diamond Dachsund Rescue of TexasThe entrance fee was a reasonable $3 per person, and it was very dog friendly so Hobie got to go!  Plus they had dachshund races, and who doesn’t want to see that?  

When we showed up lots of people were there and Hobie was super excited about all the dogs.  We thought he might get a complex because he wasn’t a dachsund but it turns out a fluffy white dog at a dachshund event really stands out.  Hobie wasn’t the only non-dachshund dog there, but he still got lots of attention which is exactly the way he likes it!

We were surprised by how many people were waiting in line

 

they had a small food court when we got in

 

Hobie made a friend about 2 seconds after we entered

Right after we got in, we went to check out the races.  There were lots of people watching and several heats for both the mini’s and the standard size dachshunds. Actually any dog that was a mixed dachshund was also able to compete, which I thought was great, and we saw lots of those running as well. Let me show you how it worked, because it was super cute and fun.

There were lots of people in the stands watching the races

 

When the doors opened some of the dogs were off like a shot but others just milled around. Really cute

 

The people don’t use treats the puppies just run because they love their owners

We watched several races throughout the day including some finals and we all liked watching the dogs run! The only bummer for me was I couldn’t get good shots without the gate in the way but here are some of my favorites.

 

 

It wasn’t just about the racing though they also had a costume contest and frankly who doesn’t love that.  Here are some of my favorites.

Lee loved these guys

 

All kinds of dogs dressed up

 

Several had a jockey theme

And the moms and dads got into the action

 

These was my personal favorite and the dog (whose real name is Jimmy Dean) won second place so I wasn’t alone

Not all the dogs dressed up though, so Hobie (who was costume-less) didn’t feel completely left out.

We saw a Hobie look-a-like. You can tell it’s not Hobie though because this puppy is missing the thug dog scowl 🙂

 

This long hair was a beauty and one of Cori’s favorites although yikes the hair

 

And we all loved this little guy who didn’t have any front legs but was getting around amazingly well on these wheels. Sweet puppy.

My only complaint about the event were the long lines at the food trucks.  The food was really good, but it was hot waiting in those lines and it would have been nice to have some more options. The ice cream truck was outstanding though!!  They even had my favorite kind of ice cream cone which I haven’t had since I was a kid.  Perfect on an 84 degree day!

This line took forever!

 

But the ice cream was awesome. My absolute favorite a double cone vanilla on one side and chocolate on the other. Fantastic!

It was a great day and nice hanging with friends, but it wasn’t over.  That night we decided to check out a rodeo and that was crazy fun.   Going to save that for the next post though!


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

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 available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.

 

 

 

Feeling Restless in Texas

The last week has been mostly about relaxing, although I have found myself feeling a little restless. That wasn’t helped by an unusual batch of extended rain this week as we caught the tail end of a hurricane.  We were lucky though, no wind or lightning just steady rain, but it was enough to stop the guys from puttering outside and made us all feel a little cooped up. We took advantage of the time though and went to meet some RV Dreamer friends for lunch.  We met Mikki and Jay (Chasing our Sunset) at the 2016 rally and have stayed in touch since then but never had a chance to meet in person.  Several months ago they decided to give gate guarding a try and so far are really liking it.  We were lucky enough to catch them on a rare break between gigs and met halfway to see each other in person.  Since we have talked via social media several times it really was like we had just seen each other yesterday and no time had passed at all.

 

From left: Jay, Mikki, me, and Lee

We love all of our RVer friends, but I really enjoy comparing notes with other couples like us who have to work most of the year.  I learn a lot for one thing, and it also makes me feel less alone, when we connect with others in similar circumstances.  The conversation just flew and we had a really good time, plus its always great to connect in person. So glad the stars aligned and we were able to see them.

While it was raining Lee and I also made a trip to the local Humane Society.  It has been four years since we were pet free, and although there are lots of benefits to traveling without pets, I have stretches where I really miss having one in my life.  Lee has remained adamant about his no pet policy, but I occasionally put my foot down and say I want to look.  When we went on the road I never agreed to a pet free life (although I did agree that for us it was a good way to start out) and I remind him of that when I start to feel the urge.  Usually I will do a search and start weighing the pros and cons, but mainly I just don’t want to force the issue without good reason.  I have been waiting for years to run across a pet I absolutely fell in love with, but so far that hasn’t happened.  Usually to fill that need we love on our friends pets and luckily we are getting to spend lots of time with Hobie.

Lee and Hobie hanging out. You’re not fooling anyone, you’re a big softie.

 

He even gets to be on our couch!

 

By the way, when we went into the cat room, they were all over Lee.  As gruff as he likes to be about pets, they gravitate to him and he had six cats loving on him.  The shelter was also OK with adopting out to a full time RVer (not all are) which is one of the other great things about Texas.  They have a much more relaxed attitude towards pets, versus some places up north where the background checks to adopt a pet are way more stringent.  It was a very nice place and I really liked the people who ran it, but no pet really called to me.  Plus I called my friend Kelly (who travels with a cat) and got the lowdown on what I would need to make it work.  The litter box placement and smell is a huge issue for Lee and we would also need a carrying case for travel days.  I was left with a vague feeling of lots of expense/work for the reward (as Lee says, cats decide how much love they will give you) so I decided to put that on the back burner for the moment and continue to chew on it.

As a consolation prize we decided to go to a local Honky Tonk with Greg and check our their $1 Taco Night.  Cori is on a work trip, so we are hanging out with Greg solo and he loves trying unusual things.  Normally Lee wouldn’t be caught dead in a small town bar, but since I grew up with those places I was game.  It was a really small place with pool tables and a small stage area, so I put $5 in the jukebox and Greg and I started playing pool.  We were having a good time until three young guys came in and started doing shots and suddenly I said it was time to go.  Greg seemed surprised that we wanted to leave so soon, but I recognized the signs and not long after one of the drunk guys hit the cue ball off the table and it almost hit Greg in the back.  Definitely time to go, which was a shame, because some live music was starting and the music was pretty good.  Still better safe than sorry, and the last thing I wanted was to be anywhere near a bar fight in small town Texas, which is where things seemed to be heading.

You could smoke in the bar which surprised all of us

 

Played some pool

 

The tacos were awesome which you can see from Greg’s expression. We ate 11 between the three of us

The next night it was still raining and we made steak dinner.  Another great thing about Texas is the steak is generally fantastic and these were no exception.  The three of us hung out and talked (Lee and Greg solved all of the world’s problems) until eventually we called it a night.

Yummy!!

And the next day it finally stopped raining.  The guys both had lots of stuff to do outside, and I spent some time checking things off my list.  Since we got here, I sent my hard copy letter to the jury duty people (hope that turns out OK), we voted, and I made numerous calls about the biopsy bill.  I appreciate very much by the way everyone who has reached out and offered ideas or assistance, and I am plugging away.  I sent more detailed information to financial assistance, and called BCBS (my insurance company) to get more info.  Turns out they did NOT negotiate the prices down on this bill at all and if I want them to take another look at it I need to mail or fax a written request ::sigh.  The more I look into this the more I realize that something is just wrong with these charges, but I keep getting stonewalled.  I will spend some more time on it today as well and hopefully soon something will break through.

Thankfully we had a beautiful evening so I could put aside the phone frustrations from earlier in the day.  Greg smoked a yummy pork ternderloin and we had a big Texas sized fire and sat outside and enjoyed the twinkling lights in the trees and the beautiful sunset.  The weather was absolutely perfect and we all enjoyed ourselves very much.  Those perfect kind of nights are a big part of what makes this lifestyle so special.

Beautiful clouds and big Texas sky

 

Big Texas fire

 

The sun started to set

 

And the lights came on. I felt like I was in an Italian Villa

Oh one more thing.  I mentioned I was feeling restless right, so I decided to try dying my hair.  Since there is so much grey in it, I was hoping I could dye it blonde since I have always wanted to try that.  I went to the drug store and bought L’Oreal Platinum and decided to give it a go.  Well I have to say I am definitely not a fan.  First off it looks kind of orange to me (perfect for Halloween) and since I have so much grey the color is very uneven.  And it turns out the blue tint to my pale skin maybe isn’t such a good match for a blonde color anyways, and the whole thing just didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to.  Oh well.  The good news is my hair grows fast and since I keep it short it won’t take long to get cut out.  The big question is will I just leave it or wait the minimum period and dye it brown again.  Not sure, but I will say I wish I would have just left it alone.  This is what happens when I am feeling restless, which is not necessarily a good thing.

 

 


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

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 available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.

Lots to Love in Texas

One of the things most full time RVers eventually settle on is where to spend their winters.  Don’t get me wrong, if you have the right setup you can winter anywhere, but most of us are more comfortable somewhere in the south.  And since even the south can get pretty cold, as a group we tend to push into the southernmost portions of Florida, Arizona, California, or Texas.  Yes, there are other places to go, but those seem to be the most common choices and when we started we decided to try all of them and see which one we liked the best.

When we first started out we spent our first winter in Clearwater, Florida, and coming from 15 straight years of New England winters we loved it.  The weather was amazing, we both loved the ocean, and there were lots of new places to explore.  But for us, the benefits were outweighed by the relatively high costs (gas, food, etc) and the crowds.  Monthly RV campsite rates were over $650 and reservations needed to be made way in advance, and yes we loved our evening trips to the ocean but we didn’t like the traffic we had to fight to get there.  All things being equal though I would I have liked to spend more winters there, but finding seasonal jobs that paid well was tough.  There are some camp host jobs, but most are volunteer jobs since they are in high demand.  Even the ones that pay are on the lower scale and many of them want a longer time commitment.  We know lots of people who winter in Florida though and are perfectly content, but for us, the combination of those factors have never made it the best option.

So, the next winter we decided to try Quartzsite, Arizona.  In many respects Arizona is the antithesis of Florida.  It is mostly desert terrain for one thing, and unlike Florida there is hardly any rain.  Also because there is so much public land, you can find numerous places to stay for free (if you are set up to boondock) which keeps the monthly cost of most RV parks in the reasonable $400 range.  Initially I didn’t feel like there was much to do there, but there are lots of activities, you just need to search a little harder for them.  And if you are a person who travels with a four wheeler or is a rock hound, there is plenty to keep you busy.  Plus of course, during January Quartzsite is the mecca for RVers, and tens of thousands gather in a relatively small area to hang out together. For us though, once again, how to make money was a factor.  You can find paying jobs in Arizona and paying camp host jobs are relatively abundant, but again they pay on the lower end of the scale, and are designed to supplement an income rather than fully replace it.   But if you have money coming in (or in the bank) and are looking for a place to hunker down and keep costs low (food and gas are relatively cheap and Mexico is close by for dental, prescriptions, and vision needs), it really can’t be beat,  but ultimately it wasn’t really for us, but we know lots of people who make this their winter choice.

Southern California is the one place we have not spend the winter in, but our good friend Rick Raab is starting his second winter there.  From talking to him the weather seems absolutely amazing and there is lots to see and do there.  He volunteers at a park so he has a place to stay, but food and gas are on the high side.  Paying for an RV site is more in line with Florida prices and similar to Florida, if you are close to cities you are dealing with crowds.  It’s an option though, and one I would love to try if your financial circumstance was a little different, but for right now, not the best choice for us.

Which leaves us with Texas.  The two best things for me in Texas are that the costs for food and fuel are really low.  Diesel is currently $2.83 here, which is way better than anywhere else (driving here from Oregon we saw it as high as $3.93 per gallon) and food costs are low as well.  It’s also a huge state with a wide variety of terrains so you can be in desert regions, near the ocean, or the hill country.  One of the downsides is there isn’t much public land here to stay on for free, but lots of RV parks have low monthly rates and there are lots of them.  Plus, for me at least, the state is really RV friendly.  The roads are flat, there are places to get fuel kind of everywhere, and if you stay away from the big cities it’s not too crowded.  I also really like the weather.  It may not be as warm as Florida or as dry as Arizona, but there are lots of days in the 70’s and because there is some rain it is usually green.   It also has trees, which I am a fan of, and the hill country in particular is really beautiful.  And of course there is work.  The camp host jobs are again mostly volunteer or minimal pay, but there is other seasonal work here.  We sold Christmas trees here (which we hated) but we have also gate guarded, which we liked a lot. Finding a decent paying job is reason enough for this to be our winter spot, but for me at least it is more than that.

I grew up in a small town in Ohio, and the culture down here is similar enough that I feel comfortable.  And yes, I am completely aware that my experience would probably be different if I was a person of color, but for me the level of courtesy is refreshing.  Initially when we started traveling here, I was a little uncomfortable with all of the Ma’am’s I received, but now I really like it.  The general level of service in restaurants and stores is pretty good and the friendliness of people you encounter is also very nice.  Don’t get me wrong, Texas definitely has an edge to it, and at times a sharp one, but so did the small town I grew up in.  And mainly people just leave you be as long as you don’t start talking about politics or religion. It’s hard to explain but I feel comfortable here, at least as a visitor.  I’ll never be a Texan, not trying to be a Texan, and as long as I behave as a polite guest in someone’s home that’s how I am treated.  I’m totally fine with that.

It’s a combination of all these factors that finds me saying “I really like it here”, at least once a day.  I love the sunsets and sunrises, I like the wide open spaces, and I like the green.  Plus our friends Cori and Greg winter down here, which is icing on the cake.  Wherever you decide to winter it’s good to be near friends!  For most of us, winter has long stretches of downtime, and it’s great to spend that time reuniting with each other.  We are like migrating birds in a sense, where we cluster together in the winter time and then spread out in the spring flying all over the place.  Come to think of it our travel patterns are exactly like birds, which is kind of interesting.

Trees, green, and pretty sunsets.  What’s not to love?

 


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

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 available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.

Traveling with Real Life Issues

Most of the time when we are traveling from point A to point B our biggest concerns are how many miles we will drive each day, what route will we take, and where we will stop at night.  Despite being on the road for several years now, these decisions in and of themselves can be time consuming, mainly because there are lots of choices.  Let’s take this trip for example.  We knew we were headed to Texas to start gate guarding, but we also like to take some time off before we start, so we had to decide where to spend that time.  Since we don’t have money coming in, and want to keep our costs down, where we stay does matter.  For me the perfect month off would be a little bit of family time. a little bit of friend time, and a whole lot of nature.  That’s not always possible of course, so it’s always a discussion of how we are going to spend our time.

Since we were so close to Joshua Tree and there are lots of places to boondock there, I really wanted to to head that way.  Lee, on the other hand, really wanted to get to Texas, so we compromised and decided we would stop at Big Bend, another place we have never been where there is tons of boondocking.  The other benefit of going to Big Bend was we could stay on the major highways most of the way there, which was important because Lee was sick.  We have been really lucky in this lifestyle to rarely get colds or the flu, but Lee picked up a nasty bug in Vegas and he felt really lousy.  Although I do drive a section every day we travel, Lee does most of the driving, so we had to talk about what he wanted to do.  Do we want to find a place to hunker down until it passes or would Lee drive sick?  Ultimately he decided that although he felt lousy he felt well enough to drive, and he didn’t want to waste our time off just sitting somewhere.  So we drove shorter days than normal, stopped at 50% Passport America full hookup campgrounds along the way, and basically I tried to make it as pleasant as possible for him as we drove.

Although he felt terrible, we were making progress and every day I asked if he needed to stay an extra day. His answer was always no, partly because the $20 a night campgrounds we were staying in are fine for an overnight, but not really a place you would want to hang out for an extended period of time.  Plus it started raining pretty much as soon as we left Vegas and the rain followed us. To be clear, it didn’t rain all day every day thankfully, but it was gloomy, overcast, and pretty cold, so again, we might as well keep going.  Before we even got to Big Bend, we realized from the forecast that it was going to be rainy and overcast there for at least a week.  We have certainly boondocked in the rain before, but it adds some extra layers of complexity.   Not only do you have to worry about power generation because there is little sun, but also the ground on which you are staying.  Most boondocking spots are on dirt or sand and a perfectly accessible spot when it’s dry could be problematic in the wet.  Plus what’s the point if it’s too wet to go see anything (we aren’t big hikers in the rain) and I was worried about having spotty or no cell coverage.  Put all those factors together along with the fact that Lee was still sick  and ultimately we said screw it and changed our plans and  went ahead and headed to the area we were going to wait for a gate in.

And if all that wasn’t enough to worry about I had a series of things I was peppered with along the way.  Some people can drive a full day, stop, boot up their computer and take care of business and others can work on things on their phones while they are traveling, but I had my hands full driving, finding gas stations, and places to stay.  I tried to stay on top of things but just wasn’t feeling it, so kept pushing stuff off until we reached our final destination, which of course added to the stress since I am person who likes to deal with stuff as it occurs.  I am not a procrastinator by nature, but sometimes life pushes me in that direction and in this case I felt the need to focus on just getting from A to B. That would be fine, if I could just push those lingering details aside, but I am not really that good at that, so I was worrying about things along the way but not doing anything to clear them up.

So what was I worrying about?  First off, we decided that we might try to file for unemployment.  This is not something we have ever done before, but lots of people we know who work on the road do it, to bring a little bit of money in between jobs.  Since filing is all online now, it’s much easier for those of us who live on the road and since several people I knew and trusted talked me through it I thought it was worth exploring.  Turns out that like most things in life it was both easier and harder than I thought it would be. First we had to decide what state to file in, since we worked in Kentucky, Oregon, and Texas over the last 14 months, and ultimately I decided Oregon.  While in Vegas I took the time to upload the information they needed (paystubs mainly and answering a ton of questions), and while we were driving I received a followup call from them.  They walked me through what the benefits would be depending on which state I filed in (turned out we couldn’t file in Texas because our gate guarding jobs are 1099) and I decided to stick with Oregon.  Then they told me that once the claim was setup I would need to sign up for the Texas unemployment database and then fax them a screenshot to prove I had done that.  I would also need to provide proof of two jobs I had applied for every week, plus three job activities I had done per week (update resume, look for jobs etc) and every week I would have to file a claim.  We were eligible for about $250 a week, which would be about $2K a month for both of us, which was a significant amount of money to make the effort worth it, if we were sitting still somewhere, but finding time to do all of that while we were traveling wasn’t that appealing.  I could wait of course until we got where we were going, and I wanted to make sure I didn’t inadvertently screw it up somehow so I didn’t file the first claim and kicked that can down the road.

The day before we left Vegas I also got a certified letter in the mail at our mail service.  Since we were dealing with a three hour time difference, we didn’t have a chance to have it scanned on Friday, so had no clue what was in the letter until we stopped Monday night.  Turns out it was a jury summons and I had two weeks to respond.  This was a first for me and again not something I wanted to screw with so I put a question out to some friends of mine on how they dealt with it.  Turns out it is pretty common and most people just called the clerk, told them they were traveling, and were excused.  Every county is different though, and I was particularly worried about the summons, because Clay County is in the middle of deciding whether or not we as full timers can vote without having a permanent address.  Voter ID has become a big deal in many areas and those of us who only have mail services as our primary addresses are paying attention.  I knew that it was probably a coincidence that I was summoned for jury duty the same time all of this was going on, but it made me extra cautious.  While we were traveling, I saw that the Supreme Court had made a ruling in North Dakota that upheld the states requirement that voters have a permanent address.  In that state about 30% of the voters don’t have a permanent address and many of them are native Americans. In Clay County, Florida where our address is there was a similar court challenge and many of us were waiting to see what happens.  The right to vote is a big deal to me, but changing addresses and/or states is a huge pain in the ass and would ultimately impact what health insurance we have which is also a big deal. Not to mention it could require a trip back to Florida if we decided to make a change.

Anyways, even though I know the jury summons is probably pure coincidence, I wanted to be careful I wanted to make sure I had my ducks in a row when I called.  Ultimately I called the clerk of courts and when I said I was traveling was asked if I could send a travel itinerary, hotel receipts etc.  Well no, I travel in an RV and am visiting friends in which case I was told I needed to send a hard copy letter along with a hard copy of the summons and no I couldn’t take care of it over the phone.  Ok well that means finding the time to write the letter, getting the printer out, printing everything and sending it certified mail.  That’s all stuff I can do but definitely easier when you are staying in one place for awhile.  We also needed a place to get our absentee ballots sent to and we needed to get those back in before November 5th, again not that hard to do when you are in a place for a few days, but not possible when you are staying in a new place every night.  So again, kicked those cans down the road.

The last thing I was dealing with while we traveled was the outstanding $4K in medical bills for the biopsy I had this summer.  Before we left our summer job I had sent (certified mail) a packet of information they needed for financial assistance.  I wasn’t crazy about going the financial assistance route, would have much rather just negotiated down the bill to something reasonable and paid it, but their billing office kept pushing me in that direction.  Well while we were traveling I finally got a letter on their patient portal which stated they had declined it and I had 30 days to provide additional information.  They want 6 months worth of bank statements, all pay stubs for this year, and because I have a small business a year to date a year to date profit and loss summary. Ok definitely not going to get all that done while we are traveling so I called them.  I talked to three different people (including a supervisor) and here’s where I am right now.  Neither the billing office nor financial assistance office has the ability to negotiate the price.  I don’t know who does, but it’s not them.  We talked quite a bit about the fact that the doctor told me the procedure would only be $1400, but since the radiologist who told me that isn’t part of their network, there is nothing they can do about that.  I was very polite and tried to hit it from every angle I could but they weren’t budging.  The best I could get was they grudgingly shared the fact that I could email information to them rather than mail it all in, and again they really needed me to write a letter explaining my situation.  They were pretty stumped by the fact that I didn’t have a mortgage or rent costs, and my situation was unusual enough that I really needed to write a letter explaining it.  I am seeing a pattern here and definitely kicking that can down the road.

Oh and one last thing.  I had spent some time updating my resume and putting some job searches together, looking for a job this winter.  Yes, we are planning on gate guarding, but I was hoping I could find something temporary in the San Antonio area area to do this winter instead.  The good news is I have had some interest from a couple of head hunters and there are lots of jobs out there.  The bad news is trying to find time to read through all the postings, schedule phone interviews etc is (for me at least) incredibly difficult while traveling.  The first few days I kept up the best I could but finally had to say screw it and let it go until we got where we were going. It will take me several hours to get caught up on the job search emails and more time to apply (and write cover letters) for anything that looks interesting. The good news is we finally made it to where we are staying until our gate guarding job starts so I will have some time to get caught up on all this stuff. Lee also has some rig maintenance that needs done so the next couple of weeks will be spent getting all this stuff taken care of before we start working.

And yes that stinks.  We really look forward to the off time we can squeeze in between gigs and this time at least we are going to spend a chunk of that time on real life stuff. The good news is we are with friends and we are in a place where we can focus and knock this stuff out, so it definitely could be worse.  The near constant rain isn’t great, but again could be worse and we are thankful we don’t have to try to deal with this stuff while we are working a 24/7 gig.  Oh and really one last thing.  Not everyone we know likes having their location reported real time.  Actually lots of people we know either blog in arrears or don’t communicate their location at all,  so when we are traveling with those folks we try to be respectful of that.  I’ll just say we are in Texas, on full hookups, have a strong cell signal and access to a place we can have stuff shipped.  All very important factors in both the things I need to get done and the maintenance Lee needs to perform.  I’ll make sure I update you as things change and hopefully we can get out and explore the area a little, but if you don’t hear from me, it just means we are hunkered down and getting through our respective task lists. Like I started with…it’s real life.


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

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 available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.

Viva Las Vegas

Vegas is kind of a weird place to meet up with people.  There are so many choices and different things to do that people tend to go off in different directions.  Plus because we were at Circus Circus and Mom, Eddie, and Wendy were on the opposite end of the strip at Polo Towers, some coordination was called for.  Throw in that everyone else was on East Coast time and the fact that Mom was still sick, and it was all just very complicated.  Despite all of the challenges we did get to spend some time together and everyone seemed to have a fun weekend.  Here’s some of the things we did.

Wendy, Eddie, and I met at Aria to watch the Buckeyes game. Since we all grew up in Columbus we are avid Ohio State fans, and it was fun to watch a game together. It’s pretty obvious we are related.

 

We also met up at New York New York one day for lunch and Mom felt good enough to come.  She had picked up some kind of flu either on the plane or in a casino and was in and out all week, but she tried to join us when she could.  New York, New York was a great place for lunch since they have lots of reasonably priced choices.  Actually New York, New York turned out to be one of our favorite casinos all weekend.  Lee has gambled at Bally’s almost exclusively for many years, but now on weekends all of their blackjack tables have minimums of $15-20. That’s not in our budget, which totally bummed him out, but then he discovered New York has $5 tables 24/7, so he played there a few times.  The $5 tables have pretty lousy house rules, with 6-5 payouts, but he still manages to play for hours and basically break even, and has a great time. Overall he only spent $40 the week we were there and got tons of free drinks in the process.

I played penny slots all week (roughly $10 a day) and ended up spending about $30 all in.  One thing I will say about penny slots is I was disappointed by how many of the new machines require a minimum of a 25 cent or higher bet. The whole point of penny slots is to keep the costs down and the new machines aren’t cheap.  But almost every casino has a corner where they keep the older machines and I always looked for those when I played.  Basically I end up playing $5 in every casino I go to and the most I won was $18 but hours of entertainment at minimal cost.  Eddie and Wendy aren’t gamblers though (Wendy tried a slot machine for the first time and wasn’t a fan) so they spent time walking through the various casinos, which Wendy had never seen.  Eddie had a good friend who worked in Vegas when they were younger and he’s been many many times, but Wendy has only been twice so lots to catch up on.

New York New York

 

$11.75 is not bag for a foot long hot dog meal

 

The big thing they wanted to do was see Beatles Love, and since that is Lee’s favorite show he went with them.  Mom and I had just gone not that long ago so we opted out, but we did all meet for dinner at Caesar’s Rao Italian Restaurant.  If it’s my choice I never choose Italian when eating out and this place was super expensive.  Eddie, Wendy, and Lee loved their meals but Mom and mine were just so so.  I will say the wine was outstanding though and our waiter was really terrific.  Plus I was glad that we got this cool picture of all of us, which was great since the room was super dark.  Tip to restaurants, when people have to pull our their phones to read the menus, the lighting is too dark.

Mom at the table

 

And I really liked this half bottle of wine. So much so that I took a picture,

 

Lee loved his veal marsala

 

From Left: Lee, me and Eddie in the front and Mom and Wendy in the back

After dinner we wandered down to the Mirage and then I headed home while they saw the show.  Lee had lots of energy because afterwards he went down to New York to play some more blackjack and didn’t get home until 2:30am.  Vegas Lee is an interesting guy, he has tons of energy.  The next morning I decided to go to the outlet mall and check it out because I really wanted a new purse.  I don’t use a purse much in this lifestyle and have had the same one for three years, but it’s getting a little worn.  I lucked out because Coach was having a 70% off unadvertised sale and since I picked a clearance item I got an additional 20% off of that.  So for $105 (including tax) I bought a new purse and a wrist clutch and I was super happy.

Outlet Store

 

My new purse and clutch hooray!

 

One interesting thing about the outlet malls in Vegas is they have stores you don’t see in other places.  They had a Jimmy Choo outlet and a Robert Cavalli outlet and even though I couldn’t afford anything in either of those places it was fun to look.  For me it’s weird going to Vegas, especially living this lifestyle, because it brings out the largely suppressed materialistic side of me.  I basically live in jeans and t-shirts, but all those pretty dresses and designer clothes do have an impact.  Which is crazy because where in the heck would I wear any of that, but I did buy one shirt ($10 on clearance at Banana Republic) that I can wear for the occasional dinner out.  I also find that in Vegas my middle aged pudginess really bothers me. Again not really something I think that much about in this lifestyle, but being surrounded by gorgeous and trim young women everywhere you go really makes me feel my age. Ahh well.

After shopping I met Mom and Lee at the buffet at Paris because I really wanted to try it out.  At $30 each the buffets aren’t really a bargain, but they can be fun if the selection is good.  I liked mine, but Mom and Lee weren’t that impressed and Mom wasn’t feeling well again so we parted ways.  We met up that night at Harrah’s to try out a piano bar and since we got there a little early I got to watch the last half of the Patriot’s/Kansas City game in their VERY nice sports book.  That was a ton of fun and the seats were super comfortable and since the crowd was mixed with KC and Pats fans and the game went down to the wire it was great.  Afterwards we met up at the Piano Bar and caught watched some very fun Karaoke waiting for the piano players to start at 9pm.

The Paris buffet has a cool courtyard vibe

 

The deserts were amazing.  The best Creme Broulee I have ever had.

 

Hooray the Pats won at the very end by a field goal!

 

The piano bar

Unfortunately the regular act (twin girls) wasn’t there that night and the two guys that replaced them weren’t really that good.  Plus it was loud and not conducive to having a conversation so Lee and I took off because we had an early start in the morning.  I am really grateful that my Mom arranged this meeting with everyone, but I will say that Vegas just isn’t my favorite place to meet with people.  It’s really challenging to keep costs down, no matter how hard you try, and there aren’t many activities that lend themselves to just hanging out and being together.  Lee liked it though…he never has a bad time in Vegas, but next time we get together I am going to lobby for mom to trade her timeshare our for another location…someplace with more nature in it.  It was very nice of her though and I am glad we all got to be together, but off to the next locations.  We are headed to Texas to spend some time with Cori and Greg (who we haven’t seen in almost a year) before starting Gate Guarding .  Hooray! To end the post here are a couple of random shots I took along the week.

This beautiful bus was a couple down from us in the RV Park and the coloring was striking. Would have loved to get a look inside

 

I have seen this on TV, but it was interesting to see in person. IV bags with fluids and vitamins for those who are seriously hungover. The price starts at $28

 

This is the “Rat Pack” corner of Sammy Davis Jr, Dean Martin, and Frank Sinatra Boulevard’s. Lee got a kick out of it, and you can just barely see all three signs in the picture.

 


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

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 available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.

First Time Taking a Lyft

Our first few days in Vegas were pretty low key.  It’s hard not to spend lots of money here, so we mainly spent our time taking care of some housekeeping items and just relaxing a bit.  We did make a trip off the strip to the Chinatown section of Vegas to the wonderful Asian market and one of my favorite Vietnamese restaurants.  We also stopped at an RV dealership to get a couple of new window cranks (two of ours were stripped) and while we were there walked inside the new Open Range 3X.   Gotta say I was pretty impressed.  I loved the large kitchen in the back and the living room space and they have added tons of storage.  If we had the funds I might be tempted to upgrade, which is saying something because in four years I haven’t seen an RV that I was even tempted by.

Love this store, it has a fantastic selection of Asian specific spices and sauces at really good prices

 

On Wednesday we did decide to treat ourselves to a night on the town and decided we wanted to see Piff the Magic Dragon.  He was on America’s Got Talent a couple of seasons ago, and wow is this guy funny.  Part magician, part comedian, he has just the right level of irreverence, and added bonus the show was in a really small venue so we were up close and personal.  Despite the general seating we lucked out and had front row seats, and I haven’t seen Lee laugh that hard in ages.  Plus it was reasonably priced at only $50 a ticket and since I won $18 paying penny slots in the casino it felt like less than that.

All along the strip they have these new video walls which are pretty amazing in the clarity of the images

 

The show was in the Flamingo one of the older casinos on the strip

 

Mr. Piffles, who I am holding, was the best part of the show, and he was a super mellow little dog. The showgirl to the right was super funny and added a lot to the show and of course Piff to my left was hysterical.

The only downside was we decided to drive, and in retrospect that wasn’t such a great idea.  The parking garage had a clearance of 6′ 6″ so we barely fit, and with the dually it was tough to find a spot.  On top of that they charged us $12 for parking and all in all it really was a hassle.

I kept ducking as we squeaked under the cement ceiling. Our antenna hit multiple times.  Super tight.

Afterwards we walked over to the Bellagio and watched the fountains and then had to walk back to the garage to get the truck.  Lee couldn’t drink because he was driving and really the entire experience made us decided to go ahead and try the car service Lyft. The cool thing about Lyft in Vegas is you can get picked up or dropped off at any casino entrance.  So you can walk, see some things, and then when you get tired use a very simple app on your phone to call a car.  I really liked the app because the credit card information isn’t given directly to the driver, they had a cool graphic that shows exactly where your pickup car is, and it’s super self-explanatory.  Seriously this is one of the best apps I have used in a long time because it tells you exactly what to do.  But I’ll tell you more about using it later.

The song was Cher’s “Believe”

The next day I was supposed to spend some time with my Mom, but she picked up a bug somewhere and wasn’t feeling well, so we had another free day.  The campground at Circus Circus completely filled up and we watched as some beautiful Prevosts pulled in.  Again, a low key night with me making spaghetti dinner, although I did walk over to the casino and play penny slots for an hour.  I set a budget of $10 a day on gambling and can usually make that last over an hour.  I get a free beer when I gamble (I tip a dollar) so basically for $11 I am entertained and get a drink so even if I don’t win any money it’s a pretty cheap leisure activity.  Mom was feeling better on Friday, so Lee drove me down to the Polo Towers where she has a timeshare and we hung out for a while.  She was getting hungry so we walked down to Paris and had lunch, and then walked the Miracle Mile mall on the way back, stopping at Lush to get some of my face cream.  Vegas has darn near every store there is, so I always take advantage of being here to get products that are pricey on Amazon.

We walked through The Cosmopolitan, which is one of my favorite casinos. Love the giant chandelier in the center

 

Then went to Bellagio and saw the Atrium which had a cool fall them

 

The fairies had waterfall skirts which was really neat

 

We ate strip-side at Paris, and sat at a window seat on the other side of the green wall

 

Mom liked our seat!

 

The $21 seafood crepe was pretty disappointing. The seafood was fine but why wouldn’t it be in the crepe?? And the crepe was not so good. The scallop was delicious though and $25 for lunch in that location was pretty reasonable.

We timed it perfectly because we weren’t back at her room long before my sister got in.  Wendy has only been to Vegas a couple of times and we weren’t really sure what she would want to do, but when I mentioned there was a huge two story Ross right down the street her eyes lit up.  She turned me on to Ross Dress for Less a few years ago, and since she was looking for a dress for an upcoming cruise, off we went.  Mom hung back and rested and we spent a couple of hours trying on tons of clothes.  Fancy dress shopping is fun and even I tried a couple on although I have absolutely no where to wear something like that.

 

My sis, you can see she was having fun.

 

Afterwards she was starving and really wanted to try In and Out burger, which she had heard of but never been to since she lives on the east coast.  So off we went walking a couple of miles down to the new street section by the Linq, and she got to do some serious people watching since it was Friday night.

When you see this sign on the strip make a right…it’s a longish walk from there

 

This new street section next to the Linq is really nice because no cars are allowed

 

Someone really liked her burger!

 

While we were there Lee texted and asked what we were doing and not 15 minutes later he walked in the door.  He took a Lyft to Mirage and then was walking to Bally’s and decided to stop by.  Since Wendy had never played a slot machine in her life, we decided to see if she liked it and walked over to Lync and sat her down at a slot machine.  She was not a fan, and didn’t really get the appeal, so her and Lee wandered off to Bellagio to watch the fountains and I headed down the strip towards Circus Circus.  I walked for a little while and got lucky and saw the Volcano go off at the Mirage (they have added a ton more fire here) and then finally decided to use my Lyft and opened the app.  A ride was available in less than three minutes, and the only problem I had was not looking at the signs and going to the right place.  The app told me the cost up front, described the car, and the driver was very nice.  It cost $7.38 (I tipped an addition $2 using the app) and was completely painless. And the cool thing was I got to stop walking when I wanted to.

Next up my brother will be coming in later tonight and the three of us will be together as adults for the first time in a long time.  Excited about getting some pictures and hanging out together!


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

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 available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.