First Time Working In A Utility Co. Park – Fire and Rain

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.  

Thursday I was back to work and thankfully it was a slow day.  I didn’t feel any discomfort at all, but wanted to make sure I didn’t overdue it, so I focused on detailed litter pickup as my “extra task” for the day.  When we have slow days we try to fill in our time with extra tasks.  They include maintenance, hanging signs, watering trees, spraying our bathrooms, and putting water in the pit toilets.   Although we pick up big litter as part of our daily duties, on occasion a detailed walk through is called for.

It’s surprising how much litter can “hide” in the vegetation surrounding the parking lots, so walking slow and really looking hard at the details is called for.  I walked Moore Creek and Hole-In-The-Wall (our main river sites) and ended up with a bucket full of small trash.  Since the temperatures were much cooler, this wasn’t an unpleasant thing to do and it feels nice to look over an area after it is complete.  Lee worked in the campground on Thursday and he ended up having a very busy day.  One large group had rented the entire campground starting on Friday and there were numerous checkouts along with additional cleaning at the day use areas.

I was excited because Friday I was going to get to work in the office for the first time.  One of the office people flew up to Alaska for the weekend for a wedding (people do that here in Oregon, you can fly round trip to Anchorage from Portland for $250!) and I had volunteered to cover some of her hours.  I had spent a couple hours training the last two Mondays and felt pretty confident about my ability to handle what was thrown at me.  Plus, since only one large group was checking in, it was going to be an easier day, which turned out to to be a good thing because I was surprised by how busy the phones were. I opened the office at 10am and before I even had money in the drawer had my first walk up.  They were interested in extending (which unfortunately we could not accommodate due to the large group) and we were off tho the races from there.

For the next two hours the phone was ringing and folks were stopping by wanting to see the campground or see if we had any openings and things were in general pretty excited.  It did slow down after a couple of hour, but I spent the rest of my time making courtesy calls to upcoming reservations between answering incoming calls.  Not kidding, three times I picked up the phone to make a call and someone was already on the line.  Like I said it was fun though and as I told my supervisor when he called to check on me later in the day, “It beats cleaning toilets lol.”  Really it was nice to do something else and I very much appreciated how the other office person stayed available and was very helpful to me.

Lee and I also got some alone time, because I worked 10am -3pm and Lee worked 3pm – 9:30pm, with me joining him at 7:30pm to help close the gates.  I know I have mentioned it before, but we are spending a LOT of time together and having some time apart was really nice for both of us.  He had a very nice day working the river sites and was even able to help a couple with small kids who were biking in the area and looking for a place to camp.  Lee’s a big softie when it comes to little kids and thankfully he helped them find a place to stay.  I can’t imagine heading out from Portland on bikes with two kids in tow and no firm place to camp for the night, but obviously people do it, and although I appreciate their adventuresome spirit, the mom in me cringes at the thought.  Thankfully he was able to find them a place and made sure they both made it there.  What folks don’t really get about this area is that outside of Estacada there is zero cell service.  So if you are winging it, and your first choice doesn’t work out, you can’t just start calling other places.  We run into this all the time with folks who are looking for a last minute campsite or more commonly made arrangements to meet friends and then can’t find them.  Phones are such an omnipresent part of all of our lives now you don’t really think about not having them, and folks come out here and when they run into difficulty are a little lost.  We do what we can, when we can, but we don’t have cell coverage on the road either and usually there isn’t a lot that we can do.  Thankfully in this case, Lee was able to help.

Saturday we were a little worried about because there was a big event down at the main marina and some of the boat trailer spaces would be taken by the event.  On hot weekends both the main marina and ours have been maxxed out with boat trailers, and losing parking spaces was a serious concern. Luckily one of our fellow camphosts got involved in the marina event early on and he made sure the boat trailers who usually go there parked in the campground overflow parking lot.  This stopped many of them from going down river to our marina and definitely helped with traffic control for the event in general.  We also were super lucky because it was the first overcast day in weeks. So although we had many fisherman out on the reservoir the number of recreational boaters was lower than it has been in awhile.  I’m not sure what would have happened if we would have had our normal weekend traffic levels, but the combination of our camphost getting involved and the weather made the morning manageable.

The day wasn’t without incident though, as when we were leaving the campground for our evening run a young couple came into the campground and pulled up to us.  They told us a car had flipped into a ravine upriver near one of the Forest Service campgrounds and there was a fire.  They had been unable to call for help because they had no cell service and stopped at our campground because it was the first place they saw.  Lee immediately called 911 (who was already aware of the incident) and we finished grabbing our stuff and headed upriver.  Before we could leave the campground a second car pulled up and they said “15 trees were on fire.”  OK this was worse, because forest conditions have been very dry and the fire was only 10 miles upriver.  We assured them 911 had been called and then headed upriver to check out the scene.

For the record, dealing with fires is definitely out of our job description, but we are living less than 10 miles away and Hole-In-The-Wall was 2 miles downriver from where it occurred.  When we arrived, they had just closed the road and smoke was definitely billowing.  Lee and I got out of the car and walked up towards the Forest Service Law Enforcement truck where we were told, 2 people had been seriously injured and were being taken to the hospital, the fire was not under control and they would be “dealing with it for a while”.  The Ranger also asked us if we could help clear a “hole in the traffic because he was getting ready to evacuate the forest service campground this was next to.  We were happy to provide assistance and told the folks in waiting cars it was going to be a while.  Many couldn’t leave because there was no other good way to get to their destination and several of them were staying in the campground and had just come back from boating.

What we saw when we pulled up

 

One water truck on scene and lots of smoke.  What we didn’t realize at the time was the fire was on both sides.

I really felt bad for them because I knew there was nowhere else to stay close by because this time of year all the campgrounds are packed on the weekends.  After getting the cars to move, went on about our route and made sure Hole-In-The Wall and Moore Creek were fully stocked.  While we were doing that several cars who had turned around stopped and used them, so I was glad we were able to provide a place for people to wait it out at least. I was also glad that evening when it started raining.  We had gone 57 straight days without rain (second longest streak in Oregon history) and the fact that rain came on a day when we needed it for traffic control in the morning and to help with the fire in the evening felt like providence.  Plus I like the sun, but I was longing for a little bit of cooler temperatures and the rain means we wont have to water the trees this week.

The next morning Lee drove up and saw that the fire was still not completely out although it was well contained.  The road was open to one-way use and they had folks in place directing traffic. Thankfully they had it under control, although we did see that there were signs of fire on both side of the road.  We are not exactly sure how that happened, but one anecdotal report we heard said they hit an electric pole which is what actually started the fire.  It could have been so much worse, and everyone was really thankful it was responded to so quickly.  On Monday morning he was finally able to get some pictures when the fire was completely out and it was clear there was impact on both sides of the road.

This is the right side of the road where the car flipped.

 

The left side saw much more fire damage though

 

A long swath was burned along the road

This is what it looks like when fire response is onsite in less than 20 minutes, I can’t imagine what could have happened with a longer delay. The fire crews also had lots of available water from the Clackamas River and all in all we felt pretty lucky how this all turned out.  Our campground is 1 mile from the edge of the Mount Hood national forest, which is over 1 million acres of largely undeveloped land.

Sunday continued to rain and was overcast and Monday was the coolest day we have had in a couple of months.  I enjoyed the change in temperature, but was surprised by how much colder I was without the sunshine.  Crowds were also low because it has been almost a month since they have stocked trout.  The water is warm this time of year and there is a big break between stocking, so although some fish are there even the most experienced fishermen are having some trouble catching their limit.  This should change next week though as we have three big stocks scheduled starting August 22nd and over 20,000 trout will be going in the reservoir in the next few weeks.  Fish = fishermen and warm temps = recreational boaters, so when we combine those two things crowd levels are high.  Plus of course we have the eclipse and since we are only 4 miles from totality the next couple of weeks should be a little crazy.

We all appreciated the little break from the crowds and heat this week although my recycling certainly was impacted.  I only got 4 bags of recyclables this week (less than $10 worth).  I’m fine with that, happy to have the break, and I even had time to take a few pics of the osprey babies.  Still haven’t caught them flying, but they are getting pretty big and hopefully I’ll get to see that soon.

 


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 Working In A Utility Co. Park – Long, Hot Summer Days

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.  

I’ve been toying with writing this post for a while and because I wasn’t quite sure how to present my thoughts, I kept shoving them back in the corner and sticking with the easy stuff.  This happens on occasion.  It’s much easier to write about the pretty stuff, and the fun stuff, and even the not so pleasant events than to talk about personal shortcomings.  I’ve always been a person who prided myself on good customer service.  I have tons of experience, starting with my earliest jobs, and although the necessary patience doesn’t always come easily to me, overall I think I am above average in this area.

It’s relatively easy to be pleasant when you are in a good mood, fulfilled in your work, being paid well, and the people you are dealing with are being decent.  It’s not so easy of course when you are under stress.  My worst experience in this was a job in my 20’s when I worked a “retention” position.  It was with a company who gave you a “free” service for 90 days as part of a new credit card, and then after the 90 days if you didn’t cancel they charged your credit card. I started almost every phone conversation by being yelled at.  People were upset their credit card was charged, didn’t remember signing up in the first place, and wanted that charge reversed immediately.  My job was to talk the person into keeping the service (and the $39 charge) and a 40% recidivism rate was considered excellent.

It was brutal and I think I lasted about 9 months before I had to leave and I only lasted that long because I was pregnant with my second daughter at the time.  The job had good benefits (which I needed), I could sit in an air conditioned environment all day, and the supervisors did whatever they could to make a crappy job more pleasant.  Plus, with the retention bonuses, I was making decent money at the time and with a 1 year old at home and another on the way, we needed the money.  Still, it took it’s toll.  Minute after minute, hour after hour, getting yelled at every 5 minutes or so wore me down.  There were people who seemed to be able to completely turn off any emotions associated with the other people, but I was too young and too empathetic to just ignore it.

Nothing in my work experience has ever come close to how horrible that job was, and this is not even close, but as I am writing this I am reminded a bit of how there was a cumulative effect on my overall ability to provide good customer service.  In a perfect world we would treat every customer encounter as our first and use all of the positive energy we had to resolve it amicably.  But unless you are one of those rare people who seem to have a boundless store of energy, that simply isn’t the case.  I’ll give you a simple example.

For some reason whenever we pull up to clean a bathroom, people see the truck and immediately run over and get in line.  I get it, and have absolutely been guilty of it, and asking the cleaner to “wait just a minute” seems totally reasonable.  The problem is that the time we spend waiting for them delay other cleanings down the line and if there are enough of them we get behind schedule.  Initially I waited for everyone.  I was being a good guy, but then I found myself rushing through the jobs, or worse not getting to a location because of those delays, and now generally if someone isn’t already in line when I pull up I make them wait.  There are exceptions of course.  Little kids, pregnant women, folks in obvious “distress”, I will even stop mid cleaning and allow them to go, but I try to keep those to a minimum.

And if you think that is crazy I’ll give you an example from this week.  I pulled up to the restroom at Moore Creek, which is used by the white water rafting groups and because I was running a bit behind I was barely in front of three large groups of rafters.  I let a young girl go and by the time she was done there were 7 people in line.  25 minutes later (and no I am not kidding about that) the line finally diminished and I was able to clean the bathroom.  Yes, this was an extreme example, but it happens on a smaller scale almost every single day.

And not for nothing, it’s not fun cleaning a bathroom when someone “jumps in” and then is in there for awhile.  All the guys in the campground have had people come into nearby stalls while they were cleaning and I was cleaning the men’s toilet one day, was in a stall, and a guy walked in and used the urinal.  I waited until he was done to leave, but I had no idea how awkward something like that could be.  I never understood why people made such a production out of closing down the bathroom and always thought they should leave it open while they cleaned other toilets, well, now I totally get it.  I’m still trying to use good judgement and err on the side of the customer as much as I can, but when you are doing something unpleasant to begin with, and just want to get it over as quickly as possible, it’s pretty tough.

And that’s sort of my point overall.  There is a perfect way to handle almost every single customer interaction and I am certainly capable of it, but when it’s crazy hot, I’m physically tired, we are at the end of a very long day, or it is one challenging interaction after another I start to feel stretched.  Interestingly, Lee seems to have a much longer fuse when it comes to these interactions.   If you had to pick who was better with people overall, I think I would win that one, but he is steadier overall and seems less prone to allowing environmental pressure to get to him.  (I’ll take the credit, but I don’t really deserve it. Most of the time the useful part of my brain is occupied with my own bizarre thoughts and I am barely aware that there are even other people in the world. And every time I finish an interaction I reset back to whatever I was thinking about and people don’t exist any more. So each subsequent person pretty much feels like the first one, to me. – Lee) 

Even when it does get to him he is able to compartmentalize those feelings and stay remarkably even keeled when dealing with customers. In all fairness part of that is as a smaller guy dealing with somewhat drunk people, he is hyper aware of the fact that at anytime if an interaction escalates someone could take a swing at him.  (Something like this happened a week or so ago. We pulled up to our most remote spot, which rarely has anyone at it, and it had one car. Male and female sitting inside. We got out, and I locked the truck, and we went down the boat launch stairs to check the trash, keeping one eye on the couple in the car. When we came up the stairs, the guy got out of the car, because of course he did. I moved a little quicker up the stairs, to get to the top before he did, and I kept myself between him and Tracy while she unlocked the truck and we exchanged the standard pleasantries at the back of the truck. While we chatted he kept moving just a teeny bit closer to me, like a lean that turned into a step, and I would compensate by leaning/stepping back to maintain that ever important personal safety bubble. This happened enough times that we traveled this way, almost imperceptibly, from the passenger side at the tailgate, to the fuel tank door on the driver’s side. And the whole time talking about nothing of any consequence, but nonstop chit chat, which was very distracting. By this time, Trace had actually gotten into the truck and was just sitting there, so I decided I was done with the pointless chit chat and didn’t want to move forward of the driver’s door, so in the middle of his next pointless sentence and lean I gave him a great big smile and said “You have a great night, drive safe!”, opened the door and got in and we left. – Lee)  I was completely oblivious to all of this by the way.  I rarely worry about my physical safety, although I am more aware now than I ever was in my youth.

When I am tired, hot, and cranky I tend to get a little short with people.  (I can attest to this. – Lee) The “mom mentality” kicks in and it takes energy (which I have little of at the end of these long weekend days) to keep my voice on an even tone. Usually I am able to keep my cool, but I’ll be hones,t occasionally some “tone” leaks out.  I am not rude or abusive, but I definitely step on the customer service line in these instances and it bums me out.  Closing the gate at night is a particularly difficult time for me because we are at the end of a very long day.  Lee starts at 4:45 am, and the day ends at 9:30 pm. And we do that every Saturday and Sunday. Even though we aren’t working that entire time, it’s still a long day.

We aren’t eating well (dinner is a quick sandwich grabbed on a 15 minute break or eating at 9:30pm) and I am not sleeping well at all.  You would think we would fall into bed exhausted at the end of the day, but I’m still “keyed up” and usually can’t fall asleep until after 11pm.  Fridays and Sundays are generally OK because it’s mostly locals who know the end of day drill, but Saturdays are always tough.  We have lots of out-of-towners who don’t really understand we close the gate promptly at 9pm and despite giving numerous warnings starting at 8:15pm they often wait to start packing up until the last minute.  I get that they don’t know we have been going since early morning, don’t understand we have to get up first thing the next day, and probably wouldn’t care if they did.  But we aren’t done when we close the gate and still need to do a security sweep of the campground, empty any trash we have, and eat something before going to bed.  It’s a long day.

This Saturday was the worst we have had so far from that perspective.  It started off busy because a local combination AA /Veteran’s group was having an all day BBQ down on the lower launch beach.  They started arriving to set up their pop-up canopies and food stations at 6am. We had no idea this was happening, but swung into action to help handle the additional traffic.  Lee and I both spent all of our morning shifts down there and worked with the group to make the most out of the existing parking space.  The group organizers were great to work with and by 11:15am every car and boat space was full, I had cleaned the bathrooms twice, and we had emptied many bags of trash and given them extra bags for later.  I even asked one of the guys at Timber Park  to do a mid-day sweep while we were on our long mid-day break and I actually felt great about the level of customer service we provided.

Fast forward to 5pm when we came back on and the first thing we did was go back to lower launch to scope out what state it was in.  The bathrooms had held up pretty well, but we cleaned them again and we removed 4 huge bags of trash from down by the beach.  The group had completely turned over at this point and now we had several small groups at the beach area.  Because we hadn’t touched any of the other sites we ran up and dropped off the full bags of trash we had in the bed of the truck and then we hustled to make our rounds.  The culvert area was completely packed and that trash was overflowing.  Someone had added a third bag which really helped, but it took a while to pick up the overflow and now we were really running behind. We didn’t even have time to recycle, plus it was crazy hot in the full sun and we dealt with the bags and got back in the air conditioned truck as quickly as possible.   Thankfully the river sites were in better shape so we got back on schedule and headed down for another quick sweep of Lower Launch.  More trash removal, and then a quick bathroom clean and sweep of Faraday.

We made it back to the culvert by 7:30 and there was music blasting from two cars and at least 12 vehicles in the lot.  Lee started to make closing announcements on the bullhorn and I started trash pickup and asked the folks with the music blaring to turn it off.  Everything was going fine, with most people leaving, but there was one truck that simply wouldn’t leave.  We waited and waited and finally I gave last warning and we headed up to the gate.  At this point the people in the truck trotted over and making crappy comments about being rushed out they finally departed.  Lee saw a campground parking sticker on their window though as they left, and later I made it a point to ask the hosts about this particular vehicle because they were obviously pretty drunk.

We made it down to the Lower Launch by 8:10pm and it was still very busy.  5 boat trailers in the lot and at least 15 cars, which is a lot for that time of night, even on a Satruday.  Several groups still had pop-up shelters up and two groups were BBQing.  We started making announcements at 8:15 and then headed up through the gated area and made announcements to folks fishing and the boats up there.  By the time we got back down to the beach at 8:30pm I was pretty annoyed that the largest group on the beach was still grilling.  I walked over with my bucket and trash pickers and politely mentioned they really needed to start packing up now because they had a ton of stuff and they made some drunken comments to the affirmative and I started picking up litter.

By the time I made it to the end of the beach the trash cans were once again full and there were several boxes of trash on the ground.  I went and called Lee over and we drove the truck down into a parking spot and started picking the trash up.  While we were doing that someone pulled a small car up and completely blocked us in while they were “packing up.”  I say that because what they were really doing was standing around talking to each other and now it was 8:45pm and we still had to clean the bathrooms.  Lee tried to get the truck out, but couldn’t get past them and they just sat there talking and looking at us.  At this point I had had enough and jumped out of the truck and told them to move their vehicle because we had work we needed to do.  One of the guys looked at me and said, “Relax Lady,” and I swear I saw red.  I said, “We have been working all day and we still have work to do before we leave” and then I shut my mouth… with effort,  and jumped into the truck.  They finally moved and I was fuming as we went up to clean the restroom.

Something about his tone and demeanor really pushed my buttons, but I knew I had said too much and nothing I would say would make it any better.  So we cleaned the bathroom, saw all of the boat trailers were out of the water, and headed up to the top of the gate.  At this point, most people get a clue and the locals at least (including the “Relax Lady” guy got out of there, but the big group down on the beach was still taking their sweet time.  Finally we were able to shut the gate and then we headed back to the campground.  Turns out they had a rough day too, and the guys from the lower launch were in one of their “problem sites” but they had already addressed their concerns with them.  We made our security sweep, threw away 8 bags of trash in the dumpster, dropped off some items in the lost and found and went back to the rig.

I know in the grand scheme of things losing my temper is not such a big deal and it happened under extreme duress but it bothers me.  (Personally I wouldn’t describe it was losing her temper, I would describe it as being another two lines of conversation away from losing her temper. – Lee) It’s not like I was unbearably rude or cussed the guy out, but I hate feeling that upset and certainly hate showing it. More concerning is as the season progresses the fuse is getting shorter and shorter and I know I really need to get a handle on this now. Deep breaths are definitely called for, and remembering that although it is my 100th such conversation, for most of the visitors it is their first. And I really need to figure out how to get better sleep on the weekends.

Oh, one last thing, and for those of you with sensitive stomachs, stop right here.   We made it through the whole week with no major messes and then our second to last bathroom on Sunday night Lee opened the door and immediately put up a hand to stop me from entering behind him.  That’s part of the problem.  Despite our best efforts, when we open the door we never really know what we will find and this was something new.  There was tons of bright red…material spattered all over the toilet, seat and lid, with spatters on the wall at the men’s room at Faraday.  Lee walked in to get a better look and at first glance it appeared to be blood.  I then took a look and it was not good.  We have a special blood cleanup kit for instances involving blood, but the quantity was way too much for the materials we had on hand.  It looked to me as if someone might have had a miscarriage (which does happen in public restrooms on occasion) and although the color was still bright red neither one of us felt comfortable getting right on top of it and examining it.  Plus it was getting late and we needed to close some gates so we took pictures, locked the bathroom, and awaited further instructions from our supervisor.  Both of us felt this was the best solution, because there is another bathroom at this location and it was getting close to closing time.

The next day our supervisor took a look at the pictures Lee sent him. If I haven’t made it clear I really, really like this guy.  He is by far the best person I have worked for on the road and has gone out of his way to make this experience as pleasant as possible for us.  He told Lee he thought it was not blood, mainly because the mess had not changed color, that it was more likely thrown up berries.  There are tons of berries in the area and not all of them are safe for people to eat, and unfortunately someone appears to have eaten some bad ones.  That was much better than the alternative, but still not great, and on Monday Lee took the water trailer, lots of disinfectant, and a mop bucket to clean it up.  It wasn’t fun for him and I was really grateful it was my campground day, but he got it done and we were both glad we received clear instructions on how to handle it.  (I didn’t mind so much. It couldn’t have been blood, blood would have been much darker by the next morning. And there was no odor, so I just told myself I was cleaning up spilled food. I hosed everything out with pressurized water using a plant food dispenser on the hose to add lots of disinfectant and than used a mop and squeegee to take out the water. By that point it was so diluted there was no color at all. No big deal. I’ve cleaned up worse from my own kids. – Lee) So if you are keeping count, that is at least three weeks in a row with a major bathroom mess and if the universe is trying to tell me something I’d like to say back: I get it!!

On the plus side, we have lobbying pretty hard for a 100 gallon tank  to carry in the truck so we can add the gas powered pump and always have a pressurized water source, and after this incident our boss ordered one.  Plus I made $20.70 in recycling (not so bad considering how crazy it was) and we have some fun stuff scheduled for our days off, including a visit from a friend of Lee’s that he hasn’t seen since our wedding.


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 Working In A Utility Co. Park – Fourth of July Weekend

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.  

This week we voluntarily changed our days off in order to be able to help out on July 4th.  We had no plans and since the newbie camp hosts would be alone, we thought we could switch our days off and help out. I didn’t really take into account though how tiring that 6th day would be, but despite that I don’t regret it.  It’s always nice to be able to help people and since it was an even switch of days and hours it cost us very little. I also decided to take everyone’s advice and do a little recycling.  My thought was to pick out what was sitting on top or on the sides of the cans and see where we ended up at the end of the week.  It was stinky, but with the pickup sticks wasn’t too terribly bad.

The weekend started off slower than expected, mainly due to cooler temperatures, so we had time for a few special projects.  Lee, at my request, taught me how to use the pole saw, which is basically a chain saw on the end of a long pole.  It wasn’t as heavy as I thought it would be, but it is of course super dangerous and I paid close attention to what I was doing while I used it. It’s good to learn a new skill and it felt really good when I cleared Hole-in-the-Wall, but it isn’t something I would want to do on a regular basis.  Still, something to add to the work kamping resume.

You can extend the pole even farther but I was too chicken. As you can see the face mask was a little large for me and kept slipping down, which kind of defeated the purpose

Even did one branch from the back of a truck

We also placed two new trashcans at the lower launch.  The first was down on the beach which we hope will help with the crazy amounts of traffic being generated there and the second was up behind the gate where we kept finding trash and broken beer bottles.  By sheer luck we met a group of kids up at that spot and found out what the allure was.  Apparently they are jumping into the water from this spot (about 20 feet) and then climbing up the bank with the rope used by the fishermen.  As these things go it actually seemed pretty safe and if I was a little bit younger I might even give it a go myself.

New trash can

It’s hard to show how steep this is, but I climbed down once and trust me the rope is VERY necessary

This is the view from the jump. The wood boundary that people fish off is to the left. To give you an idea of scale, those logs are each over 2′ in diameter.

Saturday, was also relatively quiet so I spent some time filling the water up in the pit toilets.  At my request, most of the pit toilets were emptied before the holiday weekend and this really helped with the smell.  They did need some water added though and I took the large trailer with me.  I also watered the trees at Moore Creek, since it hasn’t rained in a while here.  The trees are only two years old and need some extra help to keep them alive.  The best part of Saturday was I finally got to go to the local farmer’s market.  My morning shift ends at 12:30pm and since we are back on at 5:30pm I usually don’t want to go, but this week I found the energy.  I was really glad that I did!

The farmers market

Unfortunately there was only one vendor with vegetables but their selection was good and prices were very reasonable

The main building is an antique shop and I really liked it. Each section was it’s own little room and it was really nice

They even had this cool chicken coop out back

Sunday got much hotter and things were much busier.  Not as busy as last weekend, but busy enough for sure.  We didn’t do any special projects, just kept up on the sites.  I did take the time to take a few pictures of Faraday Lake though.  The water was released and for the first time we can clearly see the fish channel.  This channel is actually pretty interesting as it was built by the company to protect the fish.  They don’t like warm water, so the deeper (and cooler channel) helps them live longer.

The picture doesn’t really show how huge it is

The geese are still hanging out. They like walking on the ledges

I also took this picture of the bridge that we drive over to get to Faraday. It’s a pretty tight fit

The most interesting thing that happened all day was the large booming noises that were coming from near Moore Creek.  There is a forest service area where people shoot guns right down the road and since it is in a canyon the sound really carries.  It can be startling to the white water rafters that come down from Portland, but we have gotten used to it.  Still today was a little different as these deep booming noises were going off.  When I arrived one of the raft drivers was visibly upset and since I was in “uniform” he thought I should help fix the problem.  That happens pretty frequently, as law enforcement is pretty scarce here, so the truck and uniform make us somewhat official looking.  Even though the shooting “range” wasn’t our area, I told him I would check it out and with some hesitation drove down to that area.

There is a little pull off and a huge hill which blocks the area where they shoot, so I VERY carefully walked up around the corner.  I didn’t go far, because there were at least 20 people up there and they were shooting quite a bit.  Thankfully, a couple of young guys were walking out and I asked where the booming noise was coming from. They explained that some people had Telluride targets, which according to them were not flammable just really loud and perfectly legal.  I thanked them and went back to the rafting driver, who was not happy and stated it was ruining the experience for the rafters. I didn’t disagree, in today’s climate hearing gunshots and having no idea where they are coming from, is alarming and the giant explosion sounds were worse.  But I explained it was National Forest Service land and they would need to register a complaint with them and then went on my way.

Monday was a campground day and it was my busiest one yet.  I thought it would be slow because people would be staying the entire four days, but that wasn’t the case.  I had 15 ins/outs and a full campground besides.  I was super busy and barely stopped all day, but I got all, but two of the sites clean.  People were very nice and there were lots of kids in the campground, so it was pretty pleasant until (skip the rest of this paragraph and the next one if your squeamish)  a gentleman walked up and said there was a used tampon in the men’s shower. He was so nervous and slightly embarrassed to tell me, but I thanked him.  I really would rather know these sorts of things so I could address it right away.  It’s not fun dealing with a used tampon, but at least it was quick and I don’t even want to think about why it was in the men’s shower.

Apparently it’s our weekend for that sort of thing as the newbie camp host closed the lower launch Monday night and someone pooped right on the floor in front of the toilet.  He only covers that bathroom one night a week and I don’t blame him that he wasn’t thrilled.  I heard the story when I went out on my run and found the exact same thing at Faraday.  This was a first for me, as it definitely looked deliberate and it was definitely not the way I wanted to start my day.  The only good part of the shift was when I came back to the campground and Lee told me his story.  He was getting ready to get off his shift and a woman came up and said there was poop in the women’s shower.  Lee went in to take care of it and saw a “log” laying in the drain.  He decided it looked a little too “perfectly shaped” and looked a little closer, then started laughing. It was an unopened pine cone!!  He brought it out holding it in his hand and the woman initially looked horrified, but then he let her in on the joke.  So apparently Lee has better karma than me or the other camp host, and hopefully that will be our last encounter with poop outside of a toilet for the rest of the summer.  It’s not likely though.

On the plus side I turned our recycling in and we made $13.60, which covered  the cost of the visit to the farmers market.   The recycling station is at the local super market and there was a line to recycle, so the concept is working at least in Oregon.  I’ve never really done it before, but you feed each item in one at a time and there is a pretty high tech conveyor belt and bar code reader and a slip with your total pops out at the end.  It goes faster than you would think, but it’s pretty smelly in the recycling station as well.  Stale beer is not my favorite odor.  I will say though that if nothing else this job is toughening up my olfactory senses.  I was always pretty sensitive to bad smells, but the sort of continuous assault on the senses has actually benefited me in this area.  Gotta look for the positives. And it’s a few extra bucks so I may keep doing it.  Our fellow camp hosts are also looking for ways to make some extra money.  One couple has created fire starting kits which are actually pretty creative.  They are cutting a slice of a Duraflame log, adding some newspaper and kindling and charging $4.  Pretty smart idea and one we are tucking away for the future.

 

Anyways,  we are off for a couple of days and we are going to the Timberfest, going to see fireworks and Kay is coming to visit before she heads to Korea.  So hopefully we will have a nice couple of days.  I’ve also got a couple of projects to work and that will keep me busy.


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 Working In A Utility Co. Park – Lower Launch Closure

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.  

This was a light week for us because the Lower Launch was closed all week.  The company we worked for had a construction team come in and build some fish habitat on the reservoir, and we didn’t have to open or shut that gate or clean the restroom Mon-Friday afternoon. That was actually a good thing because the road all of our sites are on is undergoing paving and the delays getting to and from the various sites did add  some time to our day.

I hung these signs myself. Not a perfect job but it was pouring down rain and these are the first signs I have ever hung

Our original plan was for Lee to change his days off and paint the lower launch bathroom, but we received a text on Tuesday that our rig was finally being moved on Wednesday. We have been on site for 6 weeks and because the trailer couldn’t be moved in the rain, and they had some competing priorities at another campground, we weren’t able to get into our permanent spot.  We understood, but not being in our spot caused a general low-level unease so we were happy that it was getting done.  We had to be on site while it happened and I took pictures of the process.  I thought it was kind of interesting so let me show you what happened.

First we had to pack up our rig and move it down the road a bit to give them room to work.

 

The sewer tank was supposed to be emptied by the sewage company the day before but they didn’t show up

 

So the employee who coordinated the move brought “the bot”.

 

We all held our figurative (and literal) breath when he picked this up and moved it. But he went nice and slow

 

Then the construction company brought in a big fork lift

 

And lifted the trailer

 

I wondered how he was going to turn it, but our co-worker had the idea to lift it and back the semi trailer under it which was brilliant

 

Nice and easy down it went

 

And then they were off to another location

The chipmunks were going crazy the entire time.  There were two big nests underneath, but thankfully they didn’t have any babies in them.  After the trailer was moved, we waited an hour and a half and then the employee came back and used the bot to flatten the gravel on the site.  He did a really nice job, considering what he had to work with and we appreciated his attention to detail.

The trash left over after the move.

 

I used the cement blocks to make a little enclosed area for my tomato plants, which are getting huge by the way

Chipmunk nest

Flattening the site

Looked really nice when he was done

 

In our new space

While he was gone, and after he left we worked on the area in front of our new space.  I had this idea that if we could clear some of the brush away we might have a better view of the river.  Well it turned out even better than I could have hoped for and both of the campground maintenance guys took some time and helped us along the way which was very nice. It took most of our day off to get it done, but  I am absolutely thrilled to be in our permanent spot and I love the view.   The only bummer is we are still very close to the very bright LED street light and at night it completely lights up our rig.  I did talk to our boss on Thursday and asked if we could possibly have a switch added because it does feel a little bit like we are in a parking lot. These sort of things happen when you are moving into a new spot and as our boss said, it never occurred to him how bright it would be because he never comes to the site at night.

So full of brush you could barely see the water

 

First Lee took the big limbs down that were hanging out into the road

 

Then he went down into the brush and weed whacked. I used the limb loppers

 

We were making progress.  The front layer was gone

 

Then I stood at the top and yelled out where the remaining few small brush areas were. This was pretty funny since we had to yell and the guys were shaking trees to show me where they were

 

Voila!!

On Thursday I also got extremely lucky and managed to get a hitch for our work truck.  Part of the challenge of everyone covering multiple sites with limited cell coverage is it is hard to coordinate with people, but I got extremely lucky and on Thursday when I stopped by the office all the major players were in the same area.  Folks really do want to help us, but as I said folks are going in a million directions, but today all the stars aligned and we got a hitch for the truck.  This is a big deal, because now we can use the riding mower, sprayer, and water trailer without needing to take the hitch from the folks at our sister location.  I was very excited!!

On Friday we went into Gresham so Lee could get his physical blood work done and we could go to Winco.  We also decided to break down and buy some new silverware, since our current set is missing quite a few pieces.  It’s a shame because we both love the pattern and the “heft” of it, but when we tried to order a replacement set online the “exact replacement” was considerably lighter weight.  Lee actually weighed it and our old silverware  knife was 90 grams and the new one was 67 grams.  Not cool!  Thankfully Amazon has a wonderful return policy so we are shipping that silverware back and decided to go into Bed, Bath, and Beyond so we could actually hold the silverware in our hands.  It sounds like a lot of trouble, and it actually was, but we spent about 45 minutes picking out new silverware.

Why?  Well some things in our minds require actual handling before purchase and it is not coincidental that many of these things matter to us on a deeper level as a measure of financial stability.  When we were young and poor we had cheap sheets, cheap silverware, cheap plates, and cheap knives.  As we became more successful we replaced those things with better quality.  Some of those items we happily traded in when we start our new lifestyle.  Our new plates for example were extremely inexpensive and  the major factors were whether they were microwave safe and whether or not they were breakable.  Glasses went through the same process, with heavy-duty drinking glasses giving way to a plastic alternative.  But a few things we weren’t willing to change for their cheaper alternative (I’ve spent lots of time talking about the importance of 800 thread count sheets to us), and silverware instantly fell into this category.

We’ve had the same set for at least 10 years now, but over the last few years have lost a piece here and a piece there at various group dinners and we were to the point where we were constantly running low on forks.  It’s kind of funny to me that we were both 100% in agreement over the necessity to replace them with something good, but I suppose it makes sense because we both like to eat.  Lee was more concerned with the shape of the spoons (lots of weird stuff out there now) and I was more concerned with the shape of the small forks, but eventually we narrowed it down and selected something we could both live with.  The winner was Towle  brand and the pattern was Stephanie.   We also splurged and got a great deal on Cuisinart steak knives (as our steak knives were even older than the silverware) and we got a heck of a deal for $19.99.  One of the store employees also gave us outstanding customer service and spent lots of time with us as we picked out the knives.  He actually helped us hone in on a cheaper alternative which rarely happens in a store experience.

Steak knives

 

They were super sharp!

 

And I love, love my new silverware

When we got back on Friday we started our day with a 2pm maintenance meeting.  Lee is not usually a fan of meetings, but our supervisor ran a really good one and everyone was engaged and lots of questions were either put on the table or resolved. He also talked to us about the upcoming heat and made it clear he was fine with our moving our schedule (as possible) or moving tasks to the coolest part of the day.  That was really nice of him and showed he trusted our judgement which I appreciated.  The company provides sunscreen and electrolyte drink packs to their employees to help with the heat and we also learned they have a 24 hour nurse hotline to help with work related injury.  More nice benefits of working for a large company.

After the meeting, we headed out to do our runs and every place we went was pretty crowded.  Shutting the Culvert gate at 8pm was a bit challenging since there were groups of teenagers looking for a place to hang out, but I had no qualms about shooing them away and making them find another spot. Turns out I am pretty militant about gate closures and the main reason for that is trash.  The crowds in the morning are generally pretty good about cleaning up after themselves, but the later it gets the messier (and drunker) folks are so the early cut-off is a good thing.  Lower Launch also reopened on Friday and it was both packed and a bit messy, but because it had been closed all week we expected it to be a little rougher.

Saturday though was crazy.  It was really hot (highs of 97) and it seemed like everyone headed to the river. I don’t blame them, there is no local swimming pool and the river, with its mountain stream water, is a great place to cool off.  Unfortunately, there is no good place in this area for people to swim.  The river and reservoir have lots of places for folks who want to raft and kayak,  and lots of places for fishermen, but minimal places for people to cool off in the river/reservoir. I know there is a local committee that meets regularly to talk about the river resources and is very serious about apportioning them, but I am not sure that people who want to swim are represented.  The rafting companies are there and local fishermen, but with all this river space, I am not sure why there aren’t more picnic/swim areas.  Because of the lack, the lower launch tiny beach (if you can call it that)  fills up, then the culvert and folks keep getting pushed up river.  The large marina gets full, then the Promontory Day use and finally that small dock down by us.  At one point in the day our fellow camp host counted 41 people on that tiny dock, which is really way too many.  I think the problem is the current is too swift for swimming up river and the forest service only has one place (Big Eddy) where folks can go swim.  None of this is really much of an issue during the week or when the weather is rainy or cooler, but on a hot weekend every single place is packed.

That meant more work for us of course and once again we were trying to squeeze in an extra project.  I have been wanting to spray down the pit toilets since we arrived here, but needed a water source to do it.  There was a solution to this problem of course, a big water tank that is normally used for transporting fish, but we needed a hitch and a working trailer to make all that work.  Since we got the hitch we needed now we needed the trailer.  Since it had sat over the winter, Lee and one of the camp hosts spent the better part of 2 hours replacing the battery, making sure the brakes worked, putting air in the tires, etc.  I also learned how to tell the difference between a 4 cylinder and a 2 cylinder engine and how to use the hose on the tank.  I have to say everyone has been really great about showing me how to do mechanical stuff.  Occasionally they seemed surprised I have never done a thing before, but I always point to Lee and say married to a guy like him, how much maintenance do you think I’ve had to do in my life 🙂 The best part of this job (aside from the view) has been the opportunity for me to learn new things and I really appreciate folks helping me with that.

The water trailer with a 300 gallon tank

 

It had a water pump, hose, and engine on it to pump the water

Finally it was done so we took it up to one of the fish ladder labs to fill it up. They have a huge hose and we filled the 300 gallon tank in less than a minute. The bad news was that it was lake water, and although it was pretty clean it does have lots of pine needles in it.  That isn’t a big deal when you are using the hose to water plants, but whenever we tried to use a sprayer it got clogged up pretty quick.  Still we muddled through and Lee and I sprayed down the toilets at Faraday, then I took the trailer all by myself up to Hole in The Wall and Moore Creek and did those bathrooms.  Those sites are actually great because they are designed for boat trailers, and I had no difficulty pulling in and turning around.  We didn’t do Lower Launch (which probably needs it the most) because of the crowds, but Lee is going to tackle it on Monday.

So it was a really hot and crowded weekend (temps hit 101 on Sunday), but we took our supervisor’s advice and did most hard tasks in the morning or evenings.  I also spent more time down at the lower launch directing traffic which the folks with boats seemed to appreciate.  My only complaint about the weekend was the incredible amount of trash that was generated.  Mostly people were very good about getting it into a trash can but almost every can was full of beer cans and beer bottles.  Oregon has a very generous recycle policy, so I am not sure why folks aren’t packing those out, but what are you going to do.  I completely get it is our job, by the way, but since I am not much of a drinker, it’s never going to be my favorite thing.  I am super tempted to start recycling those bottles myself for the extra cash, but can’t face picking through all that garbage.  At 5 cents a can/bottle though it might be worth it.  To give you an idea of the scope of it, we currently have 20 trash cans we check at least once a day.  On Sunday we emptied 12 bags of trash in the morning and on our evening run we emptied 17.  That was a total of 29, very full, big black trash bags.  Like I said, a lot of trash.

Despite the heat, we did take a little bit of time on our break on Sunday and went to a local lavender festival.  I got some really nice pictures, but am going to wait and share them in the next post.  Oh, and Kat and Bert are coming to see us on Tuesday which I am super excited about, so we should have some fun on our days off next week, and the week after July 4th our youngest daughter is going to stop by and spend a few days with us on her way back across the country from San Francisco before she heads off to Korea for a year.


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 Working In A Utility Co. Park – Father’s Day Week

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.  

I’ve been promising a walk through of what we do on campground days, and since Monday is my campground day, and it finally stopped raining so I could get some pictures, I thought I would share those details in this post.  Many people think camp hosting jobs are easy.  Heck, I thought they were easy, and on some days they can be.  Campground host duties are very much driven by how full the campground is, and since this campground is largely used on weekends, those are the busiest days.  We are seeing more people during the week though now that school is out, and the workload has increased exponentially.  It’s a pretty simple equation.  More people means more campsites to clean, and the bathrooms and showers see heavier use.  There are more questions to answer, more firewood to sell and deliver, and more time spent on making sure folks are following the rules.  Since we only work day shift, I can’t speak to the evening duties of the camp hosts, but I can give you a run down of what an average mid-week day shift looks like, at least for us.

During the week, the camp host opens the gates to the campground, the marina next door (you can see the gates to the marina just beyond our gate in the picture below), and the lower boat launch, which is about a mile down the road. Since all gates are supposed to be opened by 6am, we get up and out the door by 5:30am and drive to the three locations to allow plenty of time to get all the gates by 6am.

Campground and Marina Gates

 

Lower Launch Gate

 

This one is tough for me because of this heavy bar, but with the use of a crowbar I can do it by myself

 

One of the nicest things about mornings on the river is the mist.  Almost every day the mist hangs above the water, and it is really pretty in the mornings.  After opening the gate at the lower launch we unlock the bathroom and I always like to take a minute to look around and enjoy the mist on the water. It’s much prettier than the pictures below suggest. We’re pretty low in a canyon/valley, so it takes several hours for the sun to finally hit the water on the reservoir.



After opening the gates, we come back and check the marina.  We look for trash and check the dog bag holders, but anything major is left for the evening shift.  There is a large fish cleaning station, picnic tables, and a significant amount of weeding down there, but since we just fill in one day a week that is not something we tackle. After checking the marina, we unlock the bathrooms at the campground day use area and check the playground, again looking for trash or mess from the night before.  Rarely do we find any issues there, because the evening shift cleans and locks those areas prior to locking the gate.

Doggie bag dispensers

 

 

Next is Small Fry Pond and this takes a little longer.  This pond is for children under the age of 18, stocked with fish, and is open to both campers from our campground,  and the public.  The amount of traffic it gets varies wildly, so it requires a morning check of the three trash cans and picking up litter along the trail.  It’s a beautiful little path down to the pond, and not the worst way to start a morning, but not so fun on a rainy day because the path is a little steep and can be a bit slippery, especially when hauling out a full trash bag. This area also has it’s own fish cleaning station, which see some use, but thankfully I rarely have to clean it.  The evening camp hosts usually check this prior to closing the gate and so far I have been lucky not having to deal with fish guts that early in the morning!

Path down to the pond

Small fry pond has a path all the way around it which I walk looking for litter

A thankfully clean fish cleaning station. Mr. Newbie and Mr. Kayaker do a great job of keeping the fish cleaning station clean.

Next up is another large day use area.  This area can be booked for the day for a small fee, but can be used by anyone if it is not reserved.  Generally it is in pretty good shape, but needs extra attention the morning before or the evening after a booking.  Again, I have been pretty lucky with this as well, but always check it, because sometimes folks hang out there or have an impromptu gathering and it can get messy.  It’s a really nice day use area with a huge fire pit, lots of picnic tables, including some under a roof, and a fireplace under the roof, a large charcoal grill, electric stoves, large sinks, and two bathrooms (which are only opened if someone books the site). Below is a picture from the river edge looking back up at the day use area.

 

Beautiful views of the river from the bottom of the day use area.

Once the day use area is cleaned I head back to our RV.  I take the company truck to complete the first set of tasks and then hand it off to Lee who runs up and down the river on Monday.  Usually I get all of those areas checked and cleaned by 6:30am, but occasionally it pushes closer to 7am.  Once I hand the keys over, I walk down to the campground to start my day down there.

The first thing I do is open the maintenance garage and pull out the Gator.  It’s pretty early and the gator makes a pretty loud beep when you back it up, so I try to back it out very quickly.  I make sure it is stocked with a wet mop, dry mop, rake, and squeegee along with making sure the black tub has full cleaning supply bottles.  I then take a quick run down to the two sets of bathrooms and poke my head in and make sure the toilets, sinks, toilet paper, and showers look OK for the morning rush.  It’s too early to do a complete cleanup, but I will spot clean areas I think need it. Most of the time the real issue is the sinks or empty toilet paper rolls, so I can take care of that pretty quickly and quietly.

One of Lee’s first project was organizing the shop. He even added the top shelf and made sure there was enough room to park the gator inside.

 

The gator with the nifty mop holder that the guys created from PVC pipe

 

Main restroom with showers.

 

Modern toilets and showers

 

After the morning restroom check I come back to the office and wait until around 9am when folks start waking up and I can make more noise.  I use this time to read work emails, look at the communication log, look at the ongoing maintenance list, and look at today’s check ins and outs.  The number of campers checking in and out will largely drive my day, so on days with less check in/outs I can work more on the task lists, but other days that (along with cleaning the bathrooms) is the bulk of what I get done.  At 9am, I head out with the cleaning supplies and start working on the sites.  All sites are cleaned as soon as the campers leave, so theoretically sites that weren’t occupied the night before shouldn’t need to be touched, but it never hurts to take a second look.  Sometimes campers “spread out” into adjoining sites if they are unoccupied and the Yomes are not completely airtight so needles and dust can get in. Cleaning a Yome involves sweeping or blowing the floor, mopping it, and spraying the plastic mattress covers with disinfectant and wiping them  with the dry mop.  Generally they don’t take that long, but they do take longer than a regular campsite.

Office

 

Desk area with the well maintained communication log. Everyone here does a great job of using this

 

The maintenance list is ever changing, but there isn’t much on here that I have the time or skill set to work on. I do try to jump in where I can though

 

I make this map with the Ins and Outs every Monday and then check off the campsites as I complete them. Of particular interest is any campsite with an In and an Out as those need to be turned as soon as possible

 

The Yomes are very popular

 

They have two sets of bunkbeds in them and most have electric

 

We spray with disinfectant and then use this dry mop. Very effective

The campsites are generally pretty easy.  They have a tent area which may need raked and a fire pit that needs cleaned out.  One of the perks of the job is we get to keep any leftover firewood, and we carry a metal bucket on the gator to put pieces in.  Since checkout time is not until 1pm many people start fires on their departure morning and it’s not uncommon to walk away with 5-6 pieces.  The only tough cleaning job for me is the cabins.  They are incredibly nice and only a year old, but the bunk beds are tall and it’s hard for me to climb up and clean the top bunk.  For whatever reason those just wear me out and I am always grateful when there are just a few I have to work on in a day.  They also take the longest and for me it’s about 20 minutes each, so when we have lots of check ins and check outs it can be hard to get done before my shift ends at 1:30.  It’s fine if we don’t get everything done and have to pass some things along to the next shift, but I like to get as much done as possible so they can focus on guest interactions and the maintenance list.

Campfire rings. It’s amazing what people leave in them. The worst is half eaten food though and the worst of that I have seen so far is when someone poured beans all over a piece of wood. Gross!!

 

The cabins

 

They have electric and a small electric stove. They still smell like new wood and although they are rustic they are really nice and very reasonably priced.

 

Great river view from one of the cabins

While touring the campground we also clean the 4 cook stove areas.  This is a really nice feature and all campers have access to two hot plates, a counter, and a sink.  Some folks keep these areas very clean, but others are kind of messy and it requires Easy Off and a scrub brush to get them somewhat clean. Along with these cook stations are two more fish stations, but again I rarely have to clean those.  Have I mentioned I am super thankful for that!!

The green cone in the front is the dump sink and takes the grey water from people washing dishes  to a tank. One of the guys cleaned this the other day and wow was that a gross job. The rotting food smell was pretty intense.

Campground days are an 8 hour shift and since most of that is working I am definitely pooped out at the end of those days. But we have our two days off so I can rest up and then the rest of the week is river sites.  Thursday is Lee’s campground day now and we mainly switched because of moving the dumpsters.  I took some pictures of that process so you can see it, because it is really hard to explain.

Back the gator up to the small dumpster. It’s easier if you can roll them, but they are too heavy for me to move when they are full

 

Use a GIANT ratchet strap to attach the can to the gator, getting it as tight as possible so it doesn’t move side to side

 

The giant ratchet strap was super intimidating for me, but now I feel comfortable. If nothing else I think I have finally gotten over my somewhat unreasonable fear of these things.

 

This steep hill is the worst. It goes down to where the dumpsters can be emptied by the garbage truck and going down this hill with the rattle of the wheels and the push of the weight is a little nerve wracking. After doing this a few times I was happy to trade days with Lee

The whole thing feels a little Beverly Hillbillies to me, but it does get the job done.  Not much fun in the pouring rain for sure though and the last two Thursdays Lee has worked it was raining pretty hard.  Still he is a trouper about the whole thing and since he was worried about me getting hurt was happy to make the switch.  Now on Thursdays I run the river alone and it is one of my favorite days.  Although no one checks our river sites on our days off, generally they are still in pretty decent shape and I actually have some extra time.  This week I decided to ride over to an area we don’t technically cover, because there are no trash cans, but several regular dog walkers have mentioned there was trash over there.  There certainly was, and I picked up three 5 gallon buckets worth of what looked like “picnic trash”.  I also unfortunately found my first needles and drug paraphernalia.

2 needles and a metal plate

 

Needle disposal box

I have actually been expecting this since the beginning and thankfully had ordered a needle disposal kit which we carry in the truck. Thankfully I never pick up trash with my bare hands and always use the quik pickers and since they were capped there was no danger.   Let me be clear here, these are public areas, and we all know that drug use has become an epidemic in all areas of the country.  It’s not surprising then that in this out of the way corner I found the needles, and in a way it is good news because I think it shows the areas we are focusing on, the drug users are staying away.  In keeping with that premise, we decided to add an additional trash can in this corner of a day use area we cover and we also let our supervisor know so he could tell security and the authorities.  It was mildly unpleasant though, and not something I wanted to run across on my favorite work day.

Friday and Saturday it rained and/or was overcast so we followed our route but couldn’t do any extra projects, but finally Sunday was bright and clear.  It was also Father’s Day which we knew would be a busy day, it was also the first non rainy day in 10 days and we desperately needed to weed on the river sites.  After doing some initial traffic control at Lower Launch Lee went and borrowed a trailer with a John Deere riding mower and a powered 45 gallon weed sprayer and we set off to Hole in the Wall.  Lee is a really good teacher and showed me how to use the tractor, trailer, and sprayer and I felt pretty confident by the time his shift was over.

The sprayer had three bars you could position which made spraying the rocks much easier.

Unfortunately though I had to do the beginning of the late shift by myself (Lee had used his hours earlier in the morning) and every site was packed.  I emptied 14 very full garbage bags from the various sites and most were very heavy because they were full of beer cans and bottles.  I also was scrambling to clean floors and restock toilet paper because we were almost out at both Faraday and Lower Launch.  Still I managed, but I was super tired by the time I went to pick up Lee and for the first time we had some difficulty clearing the lower launch and shutting the gate.  Despite three polite time checks, there was one boat who didn’t even come in until 9pm and then we had to wait an extra 15 minutes until he put his boat on the trailer.  Long day and a physically demanding one, but we did get a bunch done.  Lee went back with the sprayer and did Moore Creek on Monday so at least the two worst sites are done.

But it wasn’t all hard work this week.  I took a few minutes to get some bird shots. I have been waiting for a sunny day to get a few bird pictures and they include a Violet -green swallow which was kind enough to stay still on the gas pump for me and is a first for me!!

The goslings are so big. Many of their faces turned black practically overnight

 

This Osprey looked smallish so I think it is the partially grown baby.  Not 100% sure though

 

Super excited about this Violet -Green Swallow

 

Violet Green Swallow

 

 


 

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 Working In A Utility Co. Park – A Rainy Week

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.  

I started the week off with a firm mental commitment to myself to try and just focus on doing the job and stop analyzing everything so much.  My friends are all going to smile when they read this.  They know what I am like and that this was a tall order for me, but I wanted to try if for nothing else as an experiment to see if it improved my quality of life.  I’ll get into my conclusions at the end, but will say from the beginning it wasn’t easy.

Monday was my day to work in the campground because Lee and I have switched campground days.  Thursday (Lee’s ne day) involves moving all the trash dumpsters out of the campground and I was finding that a little physically challenging.  Lots of things we have done have been a little tough for me, but since our boss has made it very clear he doesn’t expect me to do anything I can’t physically handle, I have gotten pretty good at just looking at a task and saying, “I can’t do that one.”  Unfortunately, the downside of that is the bulk of what I can do is largely scrubbing toilets and cleaning floors.  Oh, and picking up trash.  I am pretty good at using the grippers to pick up “micro litter”.  Our campground days are 8 hour shifts and start at 5:30am when we open the gates.  Once this is done, we check the campground day use area restrooms, walk around the small pond and pick up trash, and check trash cans and clean the fish cleaning stations.

The fish stations are a metal sink with a grate in the bottom and are used by the fishermen to clean fish.  This is by far the least appealing part of the job for me, but thankfully they don’t usually need cleaning on Monday mornings.  Next we check the two main bathrooms in the campground for large messes, or missing toilet paper, and once that is done we have some free time.  You can’t really start roaming around the campground until at least 8am so I used that time to read the pass-on logs and look at campground emails.  During this time period I have lots of time to think and that’s when ideas about improvement start to flow.  Still, I was sticking to the plan, and just read the logs and replied to some direct questions and then headed out to start cleaning around 8:00am.

We have a list of campsites people are coming into that day and a list of campsites people are leaving, so I did some rounds and cleaned the incoming campsites.  They are cleaned after use, but sometimes people “spread” into other campsites, so another check of the fire rings and for litter is a good thing.  Around 9am we can start cleaning the bathrooms and I decided that the smaller restroom really needed a deep clean.  So I pulled out mop buckets, a hose, cleaner, etc and sprayed the bathroom down.  The walls already looked really good thanks to the efforts of Mr. Kayaker earlier in the seasons, but the baseboard needed some extra attention so I spent the next hour and a half working on those.

Not much else to do while you’re cleaning bathrooms other than think, and I spent the time working and thinking about stuff. By the time that was done I was pretty tired and hungry, so I packed up and took my lunch break.  Once lunch was done I started working on the sites people had left, but still had several sites that were still occupied.  Check out time at the campground is 1pm and check in time is at 4pm, and people actually stay here right until 1pm.  Unfortunately we had two cabins and one campsite that were being turned over to new people that same day and they were the ones who chose to stay right until the last minute.  This was my first opportunity to clean the cabins, so I scrubbed floors, cleaned beds and tables, and cleaned the campsites around them.  That was a tougher job than I thought it would be but I managed to get all the sites cleaned and turned by 2:30 when I was done for the day.

Afterwards I was very tired, but decided to take advantage of the sunshine and walk down and sit by the river.  I took a chair, book, and some water, and spent a couple of hours sitting in the sun.  That was nice, especially because a beautiful woodpecker landed on a tree about three feet from me.  I have only seen one other woodpecker this close the entire time we have been on the road and I took it as a sign I was headed in the right direction.

Afterwards I was still tired though, so I took a nap and then we watched some TV and went to bed.  The next day I had my appointment at a dermatologist.  I’ve never been to one, but my mom was concerned about a patch on my right cheek so I drove into Clackamas to get it checked out.  The doctor was great and the appointment was very quick, with them using a spray liquid nitrogen on the place on my cheek.  It was pre-cancerous cells but nothing too serious as there is only a 1% chance they will become cancerous.  Still they like to get rid of them when they can and the spray is a fast and easy way to get the top layer of your skin off.  It stings quite a bit going on but since then no issue although I do have a scab on my cheek which makes it look like I got in a bar fight 🙂

I also received information on all my tests with my other doctor online and once again I have to commend the medical coverage in the Portland area. In other places my Florida license raises eyebrows and sometimes issues, but here everyone has been very nice.  It seems pretty common that people come and work here for the summer and I don’t get treated any differently than any other patient.  The most amazing proof of this was my mammogram.  They found a small cyst during the test and they immediately requested my previous mammograms from New Hampshire.  Within 4 business days, and yes I am still amazed as I type this, they not only had my scans from 2011, 2013, and 2014 but also had done the comparison and determined there was no change and everything was fine.  Wow…impressive!!  The government has been pushing very hard for all medical information to be online and for doctors to work together to share results and I am a happy beneficiary of that.  If those scans weren’t available, they probably would have wanted to do an MRI and/or a biopsy which I know from previous experience runs thousands of dollars.  This way they could clearly see there was no change and all of those tests were unnecessary.  The whole experience was top notch and made me very happy.

Wednesday we explored, which you saw in my last post, but Thursday it was back to work. My favorite day of the week is the day I am in the truck alone (I am sure it is Lee’s also) not just because it is a short day, but because it is during the week and I get to set my own route.  Working with a partner, even when it’s your husband of many years, requires discussion of routes and priorities that simply don’t apply when we are alone.  To start the day I went to get gas and since our badges still aren’t in, I stopped to borrow my supervisor’s.  We had the opportunity to have a nice chat and he told me how much he appreciated the information I was providing to him.  That was great to hear, and I opened up a little bit about what I used to do for a living, but said I don’t want to bother you with this stuff if it doesn’t matter.  I told him, this is just how I think, and I am as surprised as anyone that it didn’t just stop once I left the corporate life.  He was happy to have information about what was going on at the sites though and I felt much better.  Not every boss we have had is interested in my analysis and on occasion it has caused me some issues, so I am very tentative on what information I offer and when.  Our supervisor was happy to get the information though because “we are closer to the job” than he is, so I felt that I could at least drop him an email when these things occurred to me.

Just to be clear, my emails relate to traffic patterns, challenging in providing a great customer experience, and the occasional idea (such as adding a third toilet paper bar to a couple of restrooms).  They are not rocket science.  But, as I said, I have learned the hard way that some bosses take the feedback as criticism no matter how careful you are and that rarely goes well.  Thankfully our current boss doesn’t fall in this category.  What I realized by Thursday was this is just the way I think.  My earliest job memories (at the age of 16) include me trying different ways of making cheese plates at a racetrack, and bussing tables different way to see which one took the least amount of time.  What I realized was this is not a new thing.  All I did (and it was largely subconscious trust me)  was find a job and education path that honed those skills.  Not that surprising really.  Lots of people pick jobs that enhance their innate abilities and being a business analyst is the ultimate end result of honing that particular skill.  So it is part of how I think and I don’t think that is a bad thing, but what I can control is what I focus it on and the level of frustration I have when the thoughts/ideas never get acted upon.

So Thursday was a good day, despite the fact it started raining and we headed into the weekend.  Although Lee and I like being done early on Thursday and not being back until 3pm on Friday, Friday nights are our least favorite day.  The sites don’t get any attention for 24 hours and at least one of them is a mess when we finally get to it. We never know which one that will be though, so opening that door initially on Friday night we kind of hold our breath (literally and figuratively).  This week though we got some warning, because one of the drivers for a rafting company warned us about the changing rooms at Moore Creek when we walked up.  Moore Creek sees a ton of use, because most of the rafting companies meet their guests there.  They use the changing rooms to get ready and leave their personal vehicles, while they are driven upriver in the van with the boats.  When the ride is finished they usually stop here as well, so the site probably gets double the traffic of any other river site.  It’s not uncommon for the toilet paper to be practically empty on Friday nights and the toilet and floors always need scrubbed, but this night was a new level.  And I am going to stop right here and give fair warning.  If you do not like reading details about restrooms cleanup stop here and skip the next two paragraphs!!

The driver apologized for the state of the restrooms as a group of young boys they were with had made a mess earlier in the day.  She looked embarrassed when she said she thought they had peed on the floor of the changing room, but we were totally unprepared for what we saw when we opened the door.  One side did have urine on it, but since I have a strong set of rubber boots that wasn’t a huge deal.  The other side was full of dirty towels though and for some reason this really bothered me.  Since the incident occurred early in the morning when we were off the room had looked like this all day and why she didn’t at least pick up all the towels I am not quite sure.  Lee saw the look on my face and to his credit said he would handle it, and I went over and cleaned the toilet area.  This is not the first time we have been taken aback by what we had found, but until now I didn’t feel right about mentioning it. Twice we have found piles of human waste within steps of a pit toilet and in both cases we just sucked it up and cleaned it up.  Toilet “explosions” are somewhat common and a long handled scrub brush along with a mental attitude of someone couldn’t help themselves go a long way in that situation.  But the condition of these changing areas seemed deliberate and frankly malicious and my overall attitude was “Seriously, as if this isn’t bad enough.”

There is a difference between cleaning campground bathrooms and bathrooms open to the public.  Sure these types of things can happen in either place, but it’s much less likely in a campground.  For these roadside toilets, lots of people stop throughout the day and night and since they are not manned there is a certain amount of anonymity involved. I have been hoping that the first two instances were an isolated case, but this third made me realize that this type of behavior was more common than I thought and was definitely going to be part of our summer. And that’s why I am mentioning it.  It would be disingenuous to just show pretty pictures of the river and not talk about this kind of thing because for some people they might be a deal breaker. And to be clear, if you take one of these jobs you have to be the one that cleans it up because that is what we are being hired to do. There is no one else, it’s us.

That realization hit me pretty hard, and since it rained Friday, Saturday, and Sunday so distracting  side projects were largely off the table, we spent a lot of time cleaning the bathrooms and scrubbing floors. And since I wasn’t thinking about work, I had quite a bit of time to think about my life, where I was, and the choices I had made. I want to be perfectly clear here.  I in no way think I am too good to clean a bathroom.  But this job, more than any other we have had, is about as opposite from my former life as possible.  The idea was if we made decent money, people were nice to us, and we were in a beautiful place it wouldn’t matter what we did all day long every day. And since working these jobs we have met lots of people who have found their way to that place.  I, as you know have struggled, and have often felt like I was doing something wrong, because I couldn’t just settle in.  “Life is too short” and “Worry less you will be happier” have been pretty common themes in feedback I have gotten either online or in person from folks and although I know their hearts are in the right place  something in me rebelled against it.

But when I was focusing on the minutia of the jobs, and essentially distracting myself, I didn’t really think too much about it.  Well that’s not fair I did think about it, but shied away from it because in some ways it felt like a rejection of earning money this way meant a rejection of the lifestyle itself.  This time though really forced me to face it head on and the stripped down nature of the job itself didn’t give me any place to hide. The conclusions were ultimately pretty simple.  At 50, I am not willing to commit the next 15 or so years of my life to earning money this way. Once the novelty of these jobs wears off, and that cycle is getting shorter and shorter, I am generally not happy.  The sole exception to that experience has been gate guarding, which was good for me because I had lots of time to write. The other jobs have been physically demanding with challenging schedules, and compared to my old life low paying.  If we were in a situation where we were working occasionally to supplement existing income, maybe it wouldn’t be such a big deal, but since we are spending about 10 months of the year working these jobs and have only a couple of months of “down time”, for me at least it is a high price to pay. Yes, I love this lifestyle and I absolutely feel lucky to be able to spend my life traveling from beautiful place to beautiful place, but for me it is not enough.

Saying this out loud to myself, was a pretty big deal, and I really felt like I needed an objective opinion on it and called my friend Jo. She is a working full timer and a psychologist and although I called her as a friend, her background certainly didn’t hurt.  I laid the situation out and then asked her as a friend and a fellow RVer if I just “needed to get over myself and suck it up” because enough already this was what the life was.  Her response, and wow do I love her, was to say essentially say they are your feelings…own them. And then she said  something that really resonated with me, “Who says you need to do these type of jobs.”  I know that sounds simple, but it disconnected the lifestyle from the type of work we are doing which, for me at least, is a very important thing.   She also helped me to remember that I had a job that “fed my soul” and just because I was burnt out and wanting to try other things didn’t mean those emotions were any less valid.   She recognized that I am a person who gets quite a bit of my self-identity from what I do for a living, and just because I became a full time RVer that didn’t mean that would go away.

She and her husband Ben work as a traveling nurses and not every contract has been a good fit for them.  Plus, because they do different work (she is a hospice nurse and he is a surgical nurse) one of them can be content and the other less so.  I can relate to Ben’s situation in particular because he was previously working in a large city in a trauma hospital and had to be at the top of his game.  Many of their contracts now are at smaller hospitals and the work is often less challenging. The work conditions are also different, because they, like us are temporary.  Even in a professional environment, it is common for the “scut work” to go to the temporary employee so they have to be really careful when they are choosing their jobs to try and find out what the nature of the day to day work will be.  So she gets it and talking to her was exactly what I needed.

I don’t want to rush into anything.  I want to find a contract in a cool place where I think the work will be fulfilling.  That is a tall order and I am ok with waiting for the right thing.  After all we have determined we can live off other types of employment so it’s not an emergency.  What has changed for me is I no longer feel I need to prove anything to myself or anyone else. I am also fully aware that if I am not careful contract work could end up being the same for me, but I am hoping it will give me more opportunity to “feed the soul.”   We will see where it all leads us, and in the meantime I will fulfill my current obligation and continue to enjoy this beautiful area of the country. There really are worse places to have an emotional crisis 🙂

 


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 Working In A Utility Co. Park – Free Fishing Weekend

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.  

Before I jump into the job stuff, I wanted to mention I got my blood test test results back from my physical.  I really like their My Chart online system, because I was able to see the actual test results and read the doctors comments.  My LDL cholesterol was a little high, but my 10 year risk of heart attack/stroke was only 3.3%. That was awesome.  Everything else looked great except my Vitamin D levels were low.  This is not uncommon for older women and I am finally going to start taking a supplement for it.  Lee got me a big bottle of One a Day Vitamin Supplement Gummies. I never was a fan of taking vitamins, mainly because I don’t like to take big pills, but these gummies are delicious.  Plus the doctors note said increased Vitamin D could help increase my mood, and I am all for that.  We spent months in the sun down in Texas and Arizona and the near constant sunshine did make me happier.  When we came to Oregon, with more clouds and rain, I did get a little crankier but really didn’t think much of it.  Now it makes sense because my Vitamin D levels were probably borderline, but the constant sun kept them elevated and they dipped once we hit the rain here.  From the research I have seen the best way to get Vitamin D is 15-20 minutes in the sun every day and I am totally ok with that! If that’s not possible then the supplements should help. 

Ok back to work. We spent this week trying to find a rhythm in the job, but there were a few complications thrown in.  The couples working in the campground are still learning their positions and the days we cover for them have been less than seamless.  In order to make sure everyone was on the same page, they were putting together a daily task list (which I appreciated) and our supervisor provided what was done last year.  Turns out there were several campground tasks on the list no one was aware of and everyone was scrambling a bit trying to figure out when those should be done. In general, There seems to be a basic spectrum of response people have when they are new to a job and learn after the fact that they are missing essential job responsibilities.   Some people shrug it off and figure out how to add the tasks (Lee largely falls into that category), but others (myself included) get defensive and vaguely feel as if they have done something wrong. The longer the time period between initial training and when you find out about a missed task the worse this reaction can be, especially because folks are getting settled in and finally feeling comfortable.

In this case the work was not insignificant.  The list we were sent called for two deep cleanings a week on the three sets of bathrooms and weeding of a largish area between the marina and the campground.  Mr. Kayaker suggested a meeting with the group to work it out and it turned out to be a really productive one.  The weeding is a big job but an occasional one and Mr. Newbie stepped in and said he would take care of it at least initially.  That was awesome because we just finished initial weeding all of our sites and since the weed killing spray we have been using hasn’t been that effective are looking at having to do another round soon.  The larger issue was deep cleaning the bathrooms. Last years schedule had the deep cleanings falling on Monday and Thursday when Lee and I cover the campground.  Initially I didn’t understand that last years schedule was just a recommendation and got pretty agitated about it.  As I am sure you know by now we spend a large portion of our time cleaning bathrooms.  The one day a week we spend working in the campground had bathroom duties as well, but also allowed time for us to do some other things, which I really enjoyed.  Faced with spending the bulk of our campground time deep cleaning more bathrooms did not make me happy.

Plus this is where my sense of fairness kicked in.  We are already doing trash on Thursday, an interesting process where the campground trash dumpsters  are ratchet strapped to the Gator and slowly driven out of the campground to where the main trash area is so the trash truck can access them.  This process takes roughly an hour each times (they are moved out of the campground and then moved back in when emptied) and happened on the day I covered.  Doing that work along with regular campsite turns and a deep clean was a stretch and didn’t make a ton of sense to me.  Luckily everyone else agreed and after talking it through they understood where we were coming from. I would love to say that I took a step back, approached the problem unemotionally, and was a leader in forming the resolution but that would simply not be true.  I was able to hold onto my emotions enough to not cause any rifts with my coworkers but I was obviously agitated about the situation.

Interesting enough, Lee was once again “a cooler head” in the situation and helped find a workable compromise. We would start the deep cleanings on Monday but the Thursday deep cleaning would be moved to the evening or another day.  Everyone was happy with the result and no one was too upset at the end of it.  What amazes me is how Lee has consistently handled these jobs while we are on the road.  He seems to have been able to find some kind of internal switch and keep these jobs in perspective.  He does a good job if largely left alone, is very productive, and avoids all the drama.  Part of his success is he has a great “jack of all trades” skill set which pretty easily allows him to provide value.  My skill set is being hard earned as we learn the various positions and I always have more trouble finding my footing.  But I realize it’s not just the skill set that gives me trouble.  My search for constant improvement really does not serve me well in these positions.  I would be better off just learning the job, and settling in and doing it. I really did think that once I left the high pressure corporate world that would naturally happen for me, but it simply has not.  I know other people that have.  Our friend Bill, for example, left a high pressure job as a plant manager and seems perfectly content in his work kamper positions.  Of course, he like Lee has a valuable handyman skill set, and once people discover that they seem to largely leave him alone to do his own thing. He also takes all that mental energy he used to have and puts it into personal things. I admire the tactic but have had a harder time doing it.

Maybe it’s because I tend to be more social and worry more about the relationships with the people around me.  That brings it’s own sort of pressure and Lee pretty consistently doesn’t get that involved unless its absolutely called for. I don’t think it’s as simple as a male/female issue by the way, despite the fact that it largely seems to fall down those lines.  I have met lots of women who settle right into these jobs and lots of men who struggle.  It really seems to be based on personality type and an inability to just let things go and exist in the moment.  I will say in my defense I am better at not sweating the small stuff.  I can take a moment to watch the ospreys dive or enjoy the beauty of the moment and not feel guilty about doing so.  That is a major improvement for me and one that did seem to happen naturally with changing my work environment. And I know I keep writing about this and you are probably all sick of hearing about it, but I do think it’s important.  Not everyone just settles in and just because you sell everything, by an RV, and start traveling doesn’t mean all your problems will be solved. On the plus side I think it is an excellent opportunity for me to work on personal improvement in an environment where the consequences of a mistake are minimal.

So with that in mind I am going to try and “turn down” that analytical part of my brain and just do the job.   Whatever creative mental energy I have,  I will put into other things,and we will see how it goes.   I honestly can’t remember doing that consistently in any job I’ve ever had, but who knows.   Maybe I’ll love it and the switch will flip and problem will be solved. If not well I will learn something about myself.  I will let you know how it goes.

As far as the job went this week, by the way, it was fine.  It was busy again because Saturday was a no license required fishing day across the state, but people were largely polite and helpful.  Lee and I split up which helped considerably and I spent most of my time at the lower launch and Faraday.  Lee wanted me to have the work truck since it implies authority and he used our personal vehicle to run the river.  We also staggered our shifts by a couple of hours, so there was less no coverage time in the middle of the day. Lee used our personal truck for most of the day and before you ask, my understanding is getting mileage reimbursement is a bit of a pain so yes we will be paying for the miles and the gas, but it was worth it to us because it made the day much less stressful.  We covered twice the ground and were able to keep up with the bathrooms with no issues.  We also both had time to have more one-on-one interactions with people throughout the day which we both enjoyed.  People seem to like what we are doing and are helping with the ground trash which is nice, and there were no major parking issues despite the crowds.

During the week, we also had some time to explore the local National campground s and were so inspired by what we saw we decided to try something new.  It all started with one of our river runs where I saw this across the river.

 

This is my absolute favorite spot along the river and here were a couple of people camping.  Despite having explored the area some I have no idea how they got there but I just had to stop, cross the road, and take a picture.  Something in me really yearned for that, so I started talking to Lee.  We have seen several friends “rustic camp” as part of their RV adventure.  Jo and Ben have a second truck which holds a truck camper they call the shuttle craft and they use it to explore on their time off from their nursing jobs.  Howard and Linda have taken several overnight trips using their boat or by hiking in and of course there was Jim and Barb in Alaska.  They bought a truck camper specifically for that trip, which they sold upon returning, and we were incredibly jealous of all the places they could camp at that we simply couldn’t with our 40 foot monster RV.  But it was a little intimidating, because unlike many other folks in the lifestyle we were not campers prior to starting this journey.

We have been tent camping a total of three times in our lives and we like sleeping in a real bed and all the other luxuries our home on wheels has to offer.  That being said it can be confining on long work assignments, because it’s a big hassle to pack everything up and take the rig places.  Plus in the summers it’s harder to find big camp spots and of course there is the associated costs.  Having a tent and some sleeping bags seemed like a nice solution and we are particularly interested in trying it out because there are some amazing National Forest campgrounds in the area that only large enough for tents and very small RV. Here are a couple of our favorite campsites we saw while exploring and since our days off are Tuesday and Wednesday there is a good chance we will be able to get them at least once this summer.

We also wanted to go and visit friends on the coast. Through sheer coincidence two of our RV-Dreams friends have the exact same lighthouse volunteer gig at the same location.  Despite being members of the class of 2014 Jim and Rick had never met each other (they attended separate rallies that year).  I was communicating with them separately because they knew we would be in the same area and finally realized they were in the exact same place.  They had just met each other briefly the night before, but neither put together that they had mutual friends.  I am sure they would have figured it out eventually but it was fun to virtually introduce them and of course we knew we had to plan a visit.  This seemed to call for more than an afternoon’s stay and since they are 3-1/2 hours away from us we initially thought we would take the rig.  Lee wasn’t super thrilled about that plan, but he was resigned to it until the tent camping idea came up.

In true Perkins form we started researching and this is actually harder than you might think.  I have the whole claustrophobia thing so I was sure I could use just any old tent.  I also wanted something that was relatively easy to put up and down so we spent some time watching You Tube videos where people reviews the tents and put them up.  This was extremely helpful and I was pretty grateful for the extra input, but with so much choice it took awhile.  Initially we wanted used so we drove to Next Adventure  where we had heard great things about their bargain basement.  Their prices might have been great for serious outdoor people, but even the used gear was way out of our price range.  So next we tried Dick’s Sporting Goods where the selection and prices were great but all they had were little models to show the tents.  These models are nice, but couldn’t really help me figure out what would make me feel claustrophobic so we tried Sportsmen’s Warehouse. Finally, we found a store that had several tents setup and a huge balcony area where we could walk inside and check them out.  

It’s a good thing we did, because it turned out the 4 and 5 person tents, while wide enough at the base, simply were not tall enough for me and it was an issue.  That meant we needed a 6 person or more tent and we had to pay careful attention to the height.  Unfortunately one of the three models we were leaning towards was in stock but not on display and as tempted as we were to ask a salesperson to allow us to take it out of the box and set it up, after a quick Amazon check we knew it was $50 cheaper online.  I am a big fan of buying directly from retailers in situations like these and don’t mind paying a little more, but $50 was too much for me.  Plus, I have been saving the money we have made from our blog advertising for just such an occasion and if we got it online we could use those points.  My take all along on that money was it had to be spent on something directly related to the lifestyle and since the tent and sleeping bags would hopefully lead to many new adventures and corresponding blog posts that made a lot of sense to me.

So we went back to the house and re-looked at our three choices.  I will share them here using the links we used to make our decision.  The first was the Coleman 6-Person Instant cabin, which is very easy to put up because the poles stay attached and is 6 foot tall.  The price when we looked was $199 (I see as of posting this it has actually gone down to $129 which is a bummer) and the packing was larger than Lee would have liked.  Whatever we buy we have to store and at this point when something comes in something else is going out.  In this case we are giving up 4 of our outside bigger chairs and replacing them with smaller ones.  This is still a major contender and the great thing about Amazon Prime is they have an awesome return policy, so if we don’t like the tent we bought we may return it and buy this one.

Our second contender was a Coleman Sundome 6-person tent.  The price was great and I love that the poles and rain guard were somewhat integrated, but I was concerned when I saw videos of the inside.  They have large screens in the front and back but the rain guard covers those and after being inside a similar model at the store, it definitely felt more closed in.  Plus the height was on the short side and the inside space was the smallest, so ultimately we dropped this one out of the running all together.  It’s a shame, because this is exactly what I mentally pictured when camping, but we have learned through experience claustrophobia is a real factor for me.

Finally, we settled on our third and final choice the Coleman Steel Creek 6 person tent with sun screen.  It’s fast pitch although not as fast as the instant ones (instant take less than 3 minutes fast pitch take about 7 minutes) and has the added bonus of a little sun porch.  Despite some reviews online that stated these porches do get wet on rainy days. I liked the idea of having slightly separated living space.  In a perfect world it would never rain when we are tent camping, but this is unlikely so having a little “outside area” really appealed to me.  Plus the packaging was actually smaller than the cabin and although the rain guard isn’t integrated it was included in the price which isn’t always the case.  Plus it was available on Prime so we ordered the tent (with the intention of returning it immediately if the setup didn’t go well) along with two sleeping bags (that can zip together and are flannel lined) and a small propane burner stove.  That’s really all we think we will need since we have almost everything else and the total cost came in at $241 which we had enough points to cover.  So thanks everyone who has ever bought something from one of the links in this blog.  We really are very grateful because it is allowing us to try out something new without taking a hit to our already stretched budget. Will let you know in the next post how the tent tryout turned out.


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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.