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.  


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 also available in paperback.

 

First Time at a Timber Fest

Estacada used to be a logging town so it’s not surprising that the theme for its Fourth of July celebration was a Timber Fest.  What was surprising was how large the event was, especially considering the town only has a population of 3,000.  In order to cover the costs of the event they do charge a $5 admission per person and depending upon where you park an additional $5, but since this includes the festival and a very good fireworks display the price is reasonable.  We, however, were able to get in for free and VIP park since our trainers live in the park used for the festivities, which was a good thing.

When we arrived after our shift around 1pm, it was pretty crowded, but the footprint is nice and large for the event so that helped with not making it feel jam packed. Although it was hot that day, the park has tons of mature trees and the most crowded areas were in the shade.

They had logging equipment around for the kids to see

The local library had a booth with a free craft

We liked these little custom RV’s  these folks were selling.  No kitchen in them though, but the sleeping area was pretty cool.

Happy to see the dunk tank over by a pretty large kids area

And they had these red-white-and blue alpacas wandering about so of course I have to get my picture taken

Lee was starving when we arrived and we headed straight for the food.  This was a big disappointment, mainly because the lines were very very very long and the vendors were pretty slow in getting the food out.  Lee waited (and didn’t move at all) in a line for Thai food for over 10 minutes before giving up and getting a mediocre brat for $8.  We are actually pretty spoiled when it comes to festival food as our former hometown of Keene had a huge festival each year and the local non-profits provided amazing and reasonably priced food.  This was more of the food truck variety and largely it disappointed, although I did get some pretty good Italian Ice from one vendor.

The line that Lee waited in and ultimately left.

I did see this…a first for me, but didn’t give it a try. I ate before we went to the festival

The kettle Corn smelled delicious

Not as good as I ate as a kid in Philly, but not bad

The real draw are the lumberjack competitions and that is what I was really excited about.  Unfortunately the layout was in full sun and the amphitheater setting (I am sure it is designed this way for safety) doesn’t allow for great views.  I did get a few pictures with my long lens though and I have to say the crowd was really into it and several local favorites were competing which was nice to see.  The biggest problem was the schedule was pretty haphazard, so unless you were willing to sit for the entire 4 hours and watch events, it wasn’t clear what event would be happening when.  I really wanted to see log rolling, which wasn’t happening when we were there, but did get to see a few other events. Lee waited patiently up by a tree in the shade while I watched.

The log rolling tank was neat.  It was a shame I missed this event

Two man saw competitions

The log chaining race was pretty neat. We had seen this on the show Ax Men so I was somewhat familiar with it

The ax throwing was pretty cool. They were aiming for a beer can in the middle so if it was hit it sprayed out.

Amazing muscles on these guys

My favorite event was when they relay race, where they ran out on the little log, cut the end off, and then ran back with a running chainsaw

Looked crazy dangerous but fascinating to watch

All in all, pretty good for a small town celebration and obviously some work and planning had gone into it.  We only stayed for a couple hours though and then we headed back to the RV for some chill time.  We went back around 9pm for the fireworks and our trainers came and got us in our new gator.  It will be coming to our campground this week and we are all thrilled it has a roof for those rainy days.  They showed us their special spot they watch the fireworks from and they were really good. I realized it’s been a couple of years since we have seen fireworks, and we both really enjoyed them.  My pictures were better than expected, but Lee took some very nice video.

 

 

Afterwards, we stopped at Lower Launch. We weren’t sure what to expect, but there was only one car down there, with a couple sitting in lawn chairs fishing by moonlight. We drove around the parking lot to sweep our headlights everywhere to see if there was anyone else and give them a chance to pack up. They didn’t move at all, just glanced our way and went back to fishing. A quick “woop woop” on the siren and they immediately jumped up and put away their pole and took off. We cleaned the restroom, emptied the trash, and shut the gates (all by truck headlight and full moon, we really should have brought flashlights!) and we made it back to our RV by 11:30pm.  Overall it was a nice day and I am glad we were able to help out some folks by working in the daytime and closing the gates at night. Plus, despite the late night I slept until 9am and woke up full of energy.  I had been putting off a couple of special projects and after some coffee and breakfast jumped right in.  I went through my books and put together a bag of books to donate to the local book store.  I also went through all of my clothes and put together a bag to donate and pulled out all of the Tshirts I had been saving.

Since we went on the road I have wanted to make a T-shirt quilt from the places we have visited.  Initially I thought I would do it myself, but after talking to a couple of my friends who are long time quilters and hearing about what it would require, I realized it was beyond my skill set.  Luckily, my sister has a friend in South Carolina, Pollyanna Picnic Quilts,  who makes these quilts and after I saw the one she did for my niece’s graduation I was pretty excited.  I started laying T-shirts out on the bed and was texting Ruth to get additional information.  Finally we got on the phone and talked through my options, because the amount of choice was all a bit overwhelming.  I knew I could just send the shirts and let her determine the order, but I really wanted to do the layout myself and really needed to understand the construction process to figure out what would work. Ruth was great about talking it through with me and also said she would be in communication throughout the process, to make sure she was doing exactly what I wanted.  I loved that!

I also got Lee to come help me, which really was a game changer.  He is a creative person and thinks about patterns in different ways.  He immediately started talking about all the different ways we could lay the T-shirts out, but because I am more visual he had to show me what he meant each time.  So we spent a couple of hours moving T-Shirts around while I saw all of my different options. Seriously, how many husbands would do that?  We tried it by color, pattern, size of logo etc.  I knew I wanted to make sure the ones with stiff logos were at the bottom (don’t want to rest my arms at night on those) but we had to be careful that we didn’t have all of the same colors lumped together.  I am pretty fond of blue and green so had much more of those colors than other ones.  Finally, I settled on chronology of travels (which was what I originally wanted to do) but instead of going left to right, we went up and down which made the color distribution better and allowed for the ones with the stiff logos to be at the base of the quilt.  We also measured the bed and determined that we wanted each square to be a uniform 14″ x 15″ and we needed a border of 18″ to make it long enough to hang over the bed. My head hurt when we were done, but I was very happy with it and now the shirts are all stacked nice and neat, I have made a quilt diagram to send her, and I  think we will have something that looks good aesthetically and has meaning!!

One of the many versions

The T-Shirt pattern

And the quilt measurements. I’m not much of a drawer, but I think she will get my meaning

Ruth has several other orders, so our quilt will take about two months to complete, but I told her I was fine with waiting.  Plus her quoted price of $200 seems incredibly reasonable to me.  Very excited about this and looking forward to seeing the finished project!!  Now I just need to find time to get it all in the mail.

Thursday, our youngest daughter Kay came and we were both very excited to see her.  As I have mentioned before, she is a Korean linguist in the Air Force and in August will be stationed in Korea for one year.  Thankfully, she was able to find time to see us before she left and although it’s only one weekend we were very glad she was able to come.  We have gone more than a year without seeing our other daughters, but there is something about her being in another country that makes it more challenging as a parent. Mentally you know you can’t just jump on a plane if you need to, well we could but it would be a lot more complicated, and it just makes the thought of separation much tougher.  Plus it doesn’t help that she will be next door to a crazy person who keeps testing his missiles.   Don’t get me wrong, I am extremely proud of her and believe her skills could make a difference, but it’s hard as a parent to know your child will be so far away and in a potentially unsafe place.

And logistically the weekend is the worst possible time for us to schedule a visit.  Thankfully she’s always been a low-maintenance kind of kid, and is very understanding of our crazy schedule.  Things were even more complicated when our friend Rick came on Friday, but he was also very understanding.  The weekends are just really tough and you can’t really plan anything throughout the day.  I did try to squeeze renting a jet ski (something neither Kay nor I have ever done), but unfortunately the marina only had one that was operational and it needed intermediate level skill to rent.  I did take her to the farmer’s market and the book store and Lee took her on a drive upriver, but mainly we just talked and she caught up on some much needed sleep.  She did spend FRiday in Portland though, which we made work by dropping her at the train station in Clackamas and then picking her up off the bus in Estacada.  She had a good time, even thought she was alone, and I really admire her independent spirit.  That will certainly serve her well in life.

They have such a wonderful relationship. It’s fun to watch. Plus she is way smarter than him and wins arguments all the time.  I don’t even enter into the fray but he can’t help himself!

I forgot to mention last week that I made strawberry preserves for the first time with my Instant Pot. Steam setting for 10 minutes worked great after the jar were sterilized in a regular water bath

Rick, we didn’t get to see much at all over the weekend, because we were crazy busy.  It was warm again and we had two major messes in two different bathrooms that required additional time to clean up.  You know how I said my nose was getting desensitized?  Well it just goes to show you that life has a way of proving you wrong.  We are hoping the last couple of weeks are just an anomaly because of the holiday, but if these levels of mess continue on a regular basis we are both going to be pretty unhappy.  Things happen on occasion and we get that’s part of the deal, but from Tuesday – Saturday we had four instances of messes all over the floor and one instance where someone tried to start a fire in one of the pit toilets.  That goes beyond accidental and into intentional malice, which is quite a bit tougher to handle, especially since we are working so hard to keep these areas clean.

We did all get together finally for a pot luck our boss had on Sunday.  Thankfully, he was fine with friends and kids coming, so we were able to attend and everyone got a chance to spend a little time with our daughter.  It was fun and after we met, our fellow camphost who is nearer Kay’s age invited her over for a campfire and some talk, which was incredibly sweet of her.  We worked until 9:30pm, spent a little bit of time with her, but then went to bed because I had to get up at 5:00am.

Monday, Kay flew out and thankfully Lee was able to change his schedule to take her to the airport.  I was in the campground, so stayed behind, but it’s probably for the best.  I’m not great at saying goodbye, especially when I know I won’t see the person for awhile.  The last thing a 21 year old wants is her mother bursting into tears at the airport. I’m really, really proud of her though and I will be focusing on that, plus I made $21.30 recycling this week, so that’s good.  To celebrate I bought myself some Oregon Black Cherry Tillamook Ice cream.

 


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 also available in paperback.