DeWayne and Joy

DeWayne and Joy

Monday, April 30, 2012

We’re Still Alive and Kickin’ Part 3

We attended our first “Workamper Meeting” two days after we arrived at Mission Bell and got the low down on all the in’s and out’s of the park, what was expected of us, and were warmly welcomed.  We learned that most of the residents wouldn’t start arriving until the first part of November and then there would be another rush of “incoming” after Christmas. 

We were also given notebooks with our job descriptions and duties, as well as our schedule for the season.  As “groundskeepers”, our schedule would be 4 days on, 4 days off throughout the season, which meant that we would alternate with Snookie and Bob, who were the other half of the groundskeeping crew.  On those 4 days, we would work 3 hours a day, starting at 8:00 a.m., but the last day of the 4 day stretch would be for 3 and a half hours, so that between the two of us, we would work a total of 25 hours.
DeWayne and I took the first 4 day rotation and were given our “transportation” for the season:
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This picture doesn’t show all the rakes, brooms, hoes, etc., that became our seasonal “tools of the trade”.  But here’s another picture, complete with tools, taken later on:
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It definitely has character, don’t you think?  I had never driven a golf cart before, so first day, I got behind the wheel to “get the feel for it” and never gave it up.  I designated myself as “driver” from that point on and only allowed DeWayne to get behind the wheel on occasion.  Besides… was easier on my back to do the driving so he could do most of the bending and stooping, as we patrolled the park for trash, limbs, or fruit that had fallen from the many grapefruit, orange, lemon and lime trees scattered throughout the park.  We had “grabbers” that we could use, if we chose, but they were mostly more trouble than they were worth. 

But all in all, our job was perfect for us.  We were outdoors in the sunshine and fresh air and the work was not too hard.  One of our most important duties, first thing in the morning, was to get the office area, activity hall areas, shuffleboard and/or bocci ball courts cleaned of any debri or trash that had fallen or blown in.  We also maintained the fountain area and kept the plants watered.  So every morning, DeWayne would strap on this big leaf blower and take care of the areas that needed attention.  That thing did a much better and easier job than any broom could do. 
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While he did that, I would rake up debris around the fountain or any other area that needed it and water the plants, then start checking the front fence area and around the hall for any trash that needed picked up.  Then we would take care of any work orders that needed to be tackled and then patrol both parks for trash and fruit, etc. 

There were many projects other than what was mentioned, off and on, but it was mainly just consisted of doing what we saw that needed to be done.  I have to say that we both enjoyed our job and the residents and managers were all friendly and easy to deal with. 

Another plus to our job was being able to see all the pets that were out walking their humans around the parks and in the dog walking areas or the dog run.  We still miss our dogs, but don’t really want to take on another one, so we just did the next best thing.  And that was to spoil everybody else’s dogs!  We carried an ample supply of dog treats on the cart and it didn’t take long to have lots of four legged “friends”.  We were like the doggy equivalent to an ice cream truck to a child.  Just call us the pied pipers of Mission Bell, ha.

Now let me see….here is Tia:
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And Scooter:
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And Max:
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Lucy and Willow:
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C.J.  (Later named Buddy):
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G.G., with his humans (and our good friends) David and Krista:
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Fat little Chi Chi (also with Krista), but belongs to some more of our good friends, Roy and Ruby:
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Goldie, who belongs to Lillie and Joe and was a true delight.  She was so full of personality and liked to grab the leash in her mouth and “walk” Lillie, instead of the the other way around.  If she could catch DeWayne out of the cart, which was often, she would just jump up and sit beside me…ready to ride.
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Some, we never knew their names, or they came for only a brief time, but they got treats (and their photo op) too:
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These were just a sampling of all our furry friends, but I didn’t always have my camera with me, so I missed quite a few.

So that about covers the job part of our stay in Mission and I’ll end this episode with that and begin working on Part 4.  It has become evident to me that doing even a “condensed” version of our becoming “Winter Texans” is way more involved that I thought it would be, because there are just too many good things that I can’t bring myself to leave out.  So I will call it a night since I have an appointment in the morning, and will begin again tomorrow on Part 4, which will cover the “activities” part of our stay, plus much more.  I can’t wait to tell you all about it.  So……

To be continued…….

We’re Still Alive and Kickin’ Part 2

Moving right along….

Picking up where I left off in Part 1, this is where we made the last leg of our trip to Mission Texas from Corpus Christi. 

The trip went really fast and when we approached McAllen, we were instantly on the cell phones, marveling to each other about how modern everything was and all the businesses and malls and restaurants that were lining the expressway toward, and through, McAllen, and several other towns on our way west. 

We couldn’t tell when one town stopped and another started and just kept OOO-ing and AWW-ing at all the great places to shop or eat or just about anything else we wanted to do.  And it continued on right into Mission, so even tho I had expected a “bigger than average” town, I certainly didn’t expect to see all of that.  And for some reason, DeWayne had it pictured as a little town, out in the middle of nowhere that might have a store or two “down the road a piece”.  Haha!!  So he was in TOTAL shock!

We continued on and were also pleased to find that the RV resort was about a mile off the expressway and there was a Walmart and a huge “H-E-B” (a great supermarket chain) right there on the exit we took for the park.  Along with a Home Depot and countless other shops, stores and restaurants.

So needless to say, we were smiling all the way to the resort.

And there we were….looking at our winter home. 
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Most of the residents don’t start arriving until the first part of November, so we didn’t have neighbors at all when we pulled in and got the RV set up.  This is the street we were parked on.  That’s us on the right.  Since this picture was taken later on, there’s a motorhome close by, but it wasn’t there when we got there.  We had the entire block to ourselves.  Even the park models on the upper end of the block (not shown) were not yet occupied.  Sure was quiet!
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There was no rest for DeWayne when we got set up, since he discovered a boo-boo on the roof that hadn’t been there that morning.  So, guess who was up there in the hot sun for over an hour?
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I thought he looked kinda sexy up there, but he was in no mood to appreciate my comments.  Hmmm….best go inside until roofs are patched and moods are lighter.  Yeah, that’s the ticket!

It was hot and dry when we arrived in Mission.  They hadn’t had any rain since April, so there was dead grass and dirt everywhere and the wind blew like crazy in October.  So needless to say, there was a lot of dirt blowing around, and in the windows, for a while.  But we did eventually start getting rain, later in the fall, so the grass greened up and the dirt settled.  Thank goodness, because I was starting to believe we had taken a wrong turn somewhere and were smack in the middle of WEST Texas. 

By November, the temperatures were in a more comfortable range of mid 80’s and the wind didn’t blow every day, although it blew on occasion all winter.  But one thing we noticed right away was a huge surprise to us…

There were NO BUGS!!! 

 No mosquitos, no flies, no spiders, no anything crawly except for a few ant beds here and there.  We could leave the door open if we wanted or sit outside all evening and never be bothered by a single critter.  Now, how great is that, I ask? 

We discovered when we arrived that Dann and Pat were parked just up the street from us, so that was an added bonus.  And soon after we arrived, we found an invitation in our mailbox to our first official workamper meeting and also to our first official workamper social, which included hamburgers and all the fixins, provided by our gracious hosts, Scott and Cynthia, who are the park managers.  We all brought a dish to go with it, so there was more than enough food to go around. 

They had also hatched up a plan that I knew about, but was sworn to secrecy, to pull a little trick on one of our camp hosts, Lillie.  They knew she was a good sport, so it went well.  See the plan was set up before the social and involved Snookie and also “Bunkie”, who is half of another great couple we grew to know and love during our stay. 

The plan was to have a pumpkin carving contest and the catch was that all three participants (Lillie, Snookie, and Bunkie) had to wear blindfolds during the carving.  So here they are, Bunkie on the left, Lillie in the middle and Snookie on the right.
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It was ready….set….go!  But the REAL kicker was yet to come.  Because it was set up ahead of time that once they got started, Snookie and Bunkie would take off their blindfolds and just pretend they still had them on for Lillie’s sake. 

Poor Lillie!  She couldn’t tell where one end started or the other ended, but was having fun anyway.  Snookie and Bunkie proceeded to carve neat and tidy jack-o-lanterns with intricate detail, while poor Lillie just hacked away at her pitiful pumpkin.
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Just before time “was up”, Bunkie and Snookie quietly put their blindfolds back on, so Lillie would be none the wiser, so imagine her shock when she looked at the difference in the pumpkins!
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It was all in good fun and Lillie ended up laughing as hard as the rest of us.  We had a great time and met a lot of our future co-workers, as well as the returning workers from prior years. 
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I’m not real sure if Bunkie was dancing or bullfighting there, but it looks like she was doing a fine job. 
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Above are Eddie and Toni Ewing, another couple that we grew to know and had great times with.  And Below are the guys:  DeWayne, Chip (Bunkie’s other half), Dann and Bob, obviously solving world problems.
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So a great time was had by all and it was a great kick-off to the winter season.  I’ll stop here and get this episode posted, so I can get another one started.  Hope you’re enjoying the trip down memory lane so far!  Stay tuned for Part 3…….

We’re Still Alive and Kickin’ Part 1

You know…one thing about a blog is that you pretty much have to keep up with it or find yourself so far behind that it’s impossible to catch up.  So that’s the point that I find myself. 
I have no excuses and offer none. 

Truth is, I’ve had so much fun the past few months that I simply haven’t taken the time.  So here I am again to try and piece together a little of what we’ve been doing the last few months. 

After spending some time around the home territory and our great families for a while in September and early October, we started making our way toward Mission, Texas, which was to be our winter haven for six months.  We had decided to also take my car since it wasn't that far from home and it would come in handy for a six month stay, so I followed along as DeWayne pulled the fifth wheel.

We spent the first night south of Dallas on I-35, which was uneventful, then made our way on down to San Antonio the next day where we met up with friends and spent two days.  That is where we met Dann and Pat. 
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We had just missed them in South Dakota, so we were anxious to meet them finally.  They were heading to Mission as well, along with Snookie and Bob and us.  We all managed to get into my little car (Pat volunteered to ride in the back, poor girl) and we took in the river walk once again.  We’ve been there several times, but love it every time.  Unfortunately, I lost my pictures from our excursion and a few others when I had to do a partial restore to my computer.  So I have done what any good friend would do…..I’ve gone to Pat’s blog and hijacked some of her pictures from the event.
There we all are.  Pat, Dann, DeWayne, Me, Snookie and Bob.  In all our splendor. That white glare behind us is the Alamo, but here is a better shot of that:
A couple of pictures from the River Walk:
I love this place!  And I want to make it back to San Antonio around Christmas this year.  I hear it’s breathtaking with all the Christmas lights.  Anyway, back to the subject at hand.  After eating a hearty meal at “Rita’s”, we made our way back toward the parking lot and ran across this place:
We didn’t pay the fee to go inside (DeWayne and I had been before), but we paused to get our mug shots beside the “fat lady” and the “tallest man”.  Hmmm…..I just THOUGHT I was fat, hehe.
We weren’t aware that “tall man” would sometimes get tired and sit down, but we found out when he started moving and scared the bejeebers out of us.  Are my knees really that knobby? 

That’s about the sum of San Antonio.  After two nights there, we all hit the road toward Mission, Texas, but DeWayne and I wanted to make another stop in Corpus Christi to see friends there.  So we were to arrive in Mission a day later than the rest of the convoy.
Our friend Cynthia was working when we arrived in Corpus, but husband Danny came right over when we got the RV set up, and visited for a while:
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Later, we all went to their house and had a great meal.  We couldn’t stay late since we had to hit the road the next morning, but we try to spend time with Danny and Cynthia every chance we get.  We certainly enjoy their company.

The  next day, we made our way toward our final destination for the winter, “Mission Bell/Trade Winds RV Resort” in Mission, Texas. 

I’m going to have to break this all up into more than one post, so I’ll stop on this one and continue our journey in a new one (part 2).  Who knows how many posts I’ll end up with, but what the heck.  It’ll be what it’ll be, right? 


Monday, September 19, 2011

Summer is Ending

I’m finally catching up on my blog from Salina, Kansas.  We are on our way home after six weeks in South Dakota.

Now, let me go back to what we’ve been up to since I last posted.  A few days after we went to Sturgis, one of the couples that served as camp hosts at the Ellsworth FamCamp we were in, were “let go”, so we agreed to fill in for a month, since Snookie and Bob were the other half of the team.  Sturgis week was over and all the tents and motorcycles had cleared out, so we knew it would be smooth sailing until September 15th.

We met some interesting people during our stay at Ellsworth and made some great new friends.  We were immediately introduced to Val and Jerry Roux, who had been at the camp since early June and were already good friends of Snookie and Bob.  So, the six of us became “the gang” and had some great times together. 

Us girls played “Hand and Foot” or “Mexican Train” at least once a day, most times more than that.  The guys played golf, worked on RV’s, trucks, talked politics and whatever guys talk about.  They often cooked for us all; DeWayne and Bob doing the grill thing and Jerry cooking up one of his great meals inside.  Wow, did we ever eat like royalty!  Between us girls, we always had great salads, marinated carrots, Snookie’s squash mixture, garlic bread, and cake or pie for desert. 

But the best part of it all was time spent with great people that we enjoy.

Here are a few samples of our evening meals, including Bob’s birthday party:

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Bob’s ear and arm, Snookie, “Ghost”, Val, Jerry and DeWayne.  Notice DeWayne is eyeing the pie, fork ready.  lol

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Full and sleepy….Jerry, Val, Snookie and Bob

Snookie and Bob’s friend Dianne flew in to spend a week with them and take in the sights of South Dakota and we all liked her instantly.  What a great lady.  We hope to see her again down the road.

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Dianne and Snookie

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Bob and DeWayne grilling chicken and solving all the world’s problems.

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Val wants to know when the party will be starting…

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And Ghost just wants to know when the food will be ready. 

If you haven’t noticed, Ghost is one huge dog.  He is a Great Pyrenees and is over eleven years old.  I’ve never seen a more laid-back and sweet dog.  Jerry and Val spoil him rotten, as well as their cat Cinderella.

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Jerry and Bob, sampling the feast.

Two stooges

And us.

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Bob’s birthday cake.  The six is actually a nine, turned upside down.  And the candles were so heavy that we had to get the show on the road before they sank completely….

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Happy Birthday, Bob!

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Jerry and Val’s “Home”.  Notice they have great taste in cars? 

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A shot of the FamCamp office.  Our RV is on the other side of the building, but all you can see is the truck.

Oh, and I have to include our resident bunny that we saw often.

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We wanted to make another trip out to Mt Rushmore for the lighting of the monument at night before we came home, so we decided to go see it before Dianne flew back home.  She and Snookie piled in the truck with DeWayne and I, and off we went.  The first thing we noticed was the gorgeous sunset as we drove…

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We made it to Mt. Rushmore just in time to get ice cream before they closed the doors for the evening, then hustled on down to the amphitheater for the lighting ceremonies.  After a video about all the presidents on the monument, they slowly turned on the lights and it was really impressive!  I was soooo glad we went back to see this at night.

Rushmore at night

After the lighting of the monument, they asked for all present or past active duty veterans to come to the stage, so DeWayne and Snookie made their way down to join the many others that gathered on the stage to thunderous applause from the rest of us.

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The Star Spangled Banner was played and some of the veterans participated in lowering the flag.  I have to admit that I shed more than a few tears during this moving ceremony.

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Notice the man in the middle of the last picture?  He is a WWII veteran.  He received many handshakes and “thank you’s” on the way back up to his seat.  What a great night!

Now, I have to tell you a story about that night.  When we first arrived, we went through the ticket gate to show the nice lady our previously purchased parking permit and she waved us on through.  However……we missed the turn that takes us to the top parking lot which is closest to the monument.  So, DeWayne circled around and went BACK through the same ticket booth with the same nice lady.  We got parked just fine and went in for the show.

After the ceremony, we were making our way out of the monument park when it started pouring rain, so we all darted into the gift shop that was about to close.  We waited a few minutes before DeWayne decided to go get the truck and drive up to the entrance to pick up the rest of us (our hero).  Soon after he left to do that, the rain stopped, so us girls filed out to wait for him to come rolling around the corner in “our chariot” to pick us up.  Our truck has a very distinct sound, so we were able to determine that he had made it to the truck and it was indeed moving.  But it seemed to just keep going from one side to the other for a while.  Finally, we heard it coming around the bend and up to the entrance, so Snookie, Dianne and I struck the “sexy hitchhiker” pose with our legs out and our thumbs up about the time he was about 75 feet away from us and could see us in the headlights.  The truck stopped!  Then it started backing up!  So much for being sexy, lol.  So we discontinued our poses and he, once again, came our way.  But just before he got even with us, we struck the pose again.  When he stopped and we piled in, DeWayne was draped over the steering wheel laughing.  Oh, what shenanigans we can get ourselves into….but did we ever have fun!  Oh, and then DeWayne told us about going back through the same ticket booth with the same nice lady TWICE as he was trying to navigate to the entrance.  We could only imagine what the “nice lady” must be thinking and we laughed til we hurt.  Fun times.

Dianne flew home a couple of days later, then we were back to our routine of checking folks in and out of the camp, our dinners, and playing cards or dominoes.  However, Snookie found time to get a manicure at Walmart.  This is the first time I’ve ever had my nails done professionally, but I think I’m hooked.  This polish stays on forever.  Not like the “do it yourself” stuff that starts wearing off as soon as you paint it on.

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Our time at Ellsworth became short really fast, so much too soon, we all started our preparations to hit the road again.  Two day before we left, the weather got really cool, windy, and rainy.  Our last dinner for the six of us was spent inside our RV, eating steaks and all the fixin’s in our long pants and sweatshirts.  Brrrrrr!

Too soon, it was time to leave.  Val and Jerry pulled out on the 15th and we hated to tell them goodbye, but we’re confident we will meet up with them again down the road.

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The rest of us were leaving the next day, so DeWayne and I were up early and wanted to be on the road by eleven.  Snookie and Bob came over around nine for “goodbyes” and “see ya laters” and hugs all around before they pulled out.  I had to run out and get a picture as they pulled away, to discover that Snook was taking pictures of me at the same time.  Anything for blog material, huh Snookie?  lol

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Happy trails to our friends and we can’t wait to see everybody again.

We managed to get on the road by around ten and drove to Valentine, Nebraska for the night.  We were driving right by Wall Drug on our way, so we decided to stop and see what it was all about.  It was big and it was impressive with all kinds of nifty things to buy and lots of atmosphere, but we didn’t see it all and were anxious to get back on the road.  I did manage to find a new pair of flip flops for our winter in south Texas.

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To think that this little empire started as a small drug store back in the 30’s that decided to give away ice water to the travellers on the highway.  It did the trick to increase their business and now Wall Drug covers a city block or more and is divided into lots of small shops.

Back on the road, we saw this creature a little further down the interstate.

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We saw lots of pretty scenery, as usual.

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After a night in Valentine, Nebraska, we once again hit the road yesterday….destination Russell Kansas and the Fossil Creek RV park.

It was so cloudy that I didn’t attempt to take any pictures yesterday, but had to grab the camera when we saw this RV in one of the towns that we went through.  The picture is kinda blurry, but you get the idea.  You see everything out here on the road, for sure.

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 It was a 366 mile drive to Russell, so we were definitely ready to settle in for the night.  But when the GPS led us to the RV park, we drove into the worst park we’d ever seen.  Most of it was a trailer park with really old, really shabby trailer houses and the RV part was not maintained and didn’t even look safe.  So, needless to say, we made the circle and right back out again.  We drove the extra 50+ miles to Salina where we found a KOA for two nights.  DeWayne paid the rent, then the nice folks led us to our slot, but on the way, we saw a 5th wheel parked down the lane from us that had three slides on the driver’s side and it looked pretty big, so I watched as we drove by and couldn’t believe what we were seeing!  On the passenger side of the RV was FOUR slides, making a total of seven for the rig.  WOW!  I had no idea they made them that big.  I wanted to get pictures of it today, but it was gone by the time I got up and out. 

Now we’re here in Salina for another night.  After driving over 400 miles yesterday, we decided to take a day to rest.  So we will be getting back on the road tomorrow for the last 256 miles of our journey.  We have listed the Hitchhiker on Craig’s List for the OKC area and have already gotten some responses, so we will have to immediately start clearing it out and shampooing the carpet when we get back to OKC. 

We will be busy getting the Open Road ready for our trip to south Texas for the winter and making the rounds to visit all the folks during our approximate 3 weeks back home.  We can’t wait to see everybody! 

That’s all the news for now, so I’ll shut up, get this edited and posted to the blog while the WIFI is temporarily working in the RV park.  Like everywhere else, it isn’t very reliable.  Thanks for tuning in again and we hope to see as many of you as possible in the next few weeks.  But in the meantime…..