Palm Trees in southern Florida

Saturday, December 27, 2014

I'm retired again

Walmart formally let me go from my temporary job today. I worked from November 12th to December 23.

It was an interesting experience. I'd done things with the public over the years but I'd never run a register for 8 hours, new things are good!
It was not as bad as I expected, there were only four women who were rude & personally insulting out of the thousands of people I must have dealt with.

For the most part I worked in the photo department and dealt with layaway and site to store, just four days as a cashier up front.

The blog needed a picture & I saw a real phone booth today!

I did have four surprises. 

1) In the "site to store" you had to have a picture ID to pick up your stuff, I was amazed at the number of people who did not have an ID with them or could not find it.

2) "Site to store" & the buy it online then pick it up at the store was another surprise.
There are a lot of people who don't like shopping. They go on-line, select what they want, pay for it with a card then go pick it up, someone at the store goes up & down the aisles gathering what you bought.
This is going to get bigger.

3) Cash. There was a huge amount of cash in those registers! I really thought there was more commerce done via plastic money than the old fashioned fifty & hundred dollar bills.

4) Walmart itself.  So few people trying to do so much (remember the 'buy it online', somebody HAS to do their shopping), so many times touching a single product with no one buying it & how hard the managers ran around trying to make it all work (remember the 'buy it online").

I'm out of a job but I don't feel unemployed so I guess I'm retired again.

Monday, December 22, 2014


Billy Bob in his blog mentioned Alaska the other day.... anyone even mentioning "Alaska" gets me thinking! I'd like to go, it would have to be an early summer trip just for the weather...

Alaska has been in my head since I was a kid, my Dad once told me of his dream to get a boat and go up the inland passage. He was with Standard oil & had been there on the tankers.

A grey Mason county Washington not a summer day

In the Coast Guard my first station was at a Light Station (light house) on an island in Puget Sound,  there was a ferry that ran to Seattle from one end & Tacoma at the other.
One day a guy drove down to the Light Station in a VW bug with a long kayak tied on top of his car, he went past the parking area and on down to the beach, I went down to see why.
He said that he and a couple of buddies had rented the kayak mold from REI and built themselves kayaks. He had his almost done (he said he still had to fill the ends with resin) but he really wanted to try it out, they were going to paddle up the inland passage.
He put it in the water & went zipping all over the place...

My first hitch in the Coast Guard was ending, I was divorced & stationed in Sacramento Calif,  I was wondering if I should reenlist.
For awhile I thought about packing my 'stuff' in a back pack, writing "Alaska" on a piece of cardboard and heading down to an I-5 northbound entrance & sticking my thumb out...
I re-upped & stayed for another 17 years.

In the summer of '96 a bunch of folk from the internet VW group got together and did a drive up to the Arctic circle, close enough to Alaska for me! I was stationed in Michigan as I read about the planning & the trip.

Right around the turn of the century I was (out of the CG and) working at a front end shop in Bemidji Minnesota, it was late spring I think when a guy pulled in driving an Isuzu Trooper and wanted to get the brakes checked. He had his stuff in the back and was on his way to Alaska.
As he drove by the thought of getting his car checked out came to his so he stopped. A good thing, his front wheel bearing needed help and he was on his way in a few hours. Sometimes I wonder what happened to him....

Fairbanks Alaska from here

The Coast Guard & Alaska! The CG has been in Alaska for a long time & In my time in the CG I heard a lot of Alaska stories. I never went there, just heard the stories. Sitting around on duty nights listening to search & rescue stories in Alaska, bar stories from Alaska & hunting/fishing stories from Alaska.
Alaska has been been in the background of my life about forever.

Key West for those who are not at all into talking about Alaska this winter

Alaska won't be this summer as I have other things to do, maybe 2016?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Working still, kind of....

Life at the superstore has been interesting.
I was there for the Thanksgiving Day sales (started at 6pm) and for Black Friday. With so many 'deals' spread out between 6pm Thanksgiving Thursday and midnight Friday evening the sale was not what how I'd heard it was.

Now that layaway & the big sales are over things are slowing down.  My hours are shrinking away, with 12 hours scheduled over the next two weeks I have to admit that having to get up and drive to 'work' is not as much fun as just walking like when I was walking.
Last December in Santa Cruz

I drive to work, I see people, I watch how they buy stuff, I find the stuff they bought & give it to them. Most of what I see is very everyday.... it's like I was working again,
Last Dec again, it's just too gray here in Washington for a current photo

I'm looking forward to what ever it is that comes next for me.

Merry Christmas folks!

Thursday, November 27, 2014


I did find a job, it's temporary with a very large big box retailer for a bit above minimum wage.
It is close to where I live and that is important, I'm not into long commutes anymore, I was spoiled by workcamping.

Do I really want to do this? Why not?

After I said 'yes' I did receive some other offers for a little bit more money but they were farther away... and I'd already said yes.

I spent two days learning to be a cashier and then moved into the Christmas layaway/photo area.

The actual labor is not bad, most everyone is pleasant, it is a friendly place, once I was finished with cashier training it's been mostly different tasks and it's gas money in the bank.
This area is the most expensive we've stayed in since we left two years ago so the gas money is important.

When I got paid that first time it had been four months since I'd been paid for work I'd done. It was not much money but it felt good!

Tonight will be my first Black Friday, this ought to be different.

On the other hand I'm already tired of the Christmas ads..
From the music to the car companies giving kick-backs it's going to be a long month ...

Gulf Coast sun rise
Santa Cruz sunset

A Hawaiian sunset

Desert sunset
The sun sinking into the Pacific ocean


 I really needed a picture or two and I'm a sucker for sunsets.

Friday, November 21, 2014


An odd thing just happened, my wife received a call from the IRS on her cell phone.

We put it on speaker phone.

It seems she had been defrauding them and they were coming to arrest her, seize all her assets, freeze bank accounts and the local sheriff was to be involved. They were going to tell her work about it too.
The guy had an accent that I thought was Indian and wanted to know the name and phone number of her criminal attorney.

When I asked for his number so I could call him back he hung up.

Just the other day I'd heard about this on the radio news/traffic channel and a quick search found this from back in March

With these modern phones the number calling shows up, 202-800-7363 is what showed up on her phone.

I needed a picture and liked this one

 Very Odd.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Wholesale food stores

I was driving by and thought I'd stop at 'Cash and Carry', a wholesale food outlet. Back when we were dealing with the kids any wholesale food store was a worthwhile place. Plus this is the only place I can find the brand of microwave burritos I like.

There are so many different things in a food outlet like this.

I really can't use a 50 pound box of Krusteaz pancake mix anymore or a 50 pound bag of flour... I really don't need a 50 pound bag of anything!

I have to really reach to find a use for a #10 can of anything either, but sometimes I just have to.

Potatoes & burritos, that's shopping!

Then I saw those 50 lb bags of Baking Potatoes, a bag was less than $6.
Big potatoes too!

 There is a lot to be said for a BIG baked potato.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Shorts and flip flops

I woke up at 3am to pee and there was no water.... cold enough to freeze the water hose to the RV.
Not a water problem as we have an internal tank and pump and it will warm up come daylight but that is the 1st time this season
It's not shorts and flip flop weather!

Last year in Rockport TX we did not have this problem but it was not shorts and flipflop weather either

Were do I need to go to get to where the climate fits my clothes? I looked at the temperature chart.

14 Nov 2014, 0715 PST

The Florida Keys! I'm 3500 miles away from shorts and sandals....maybe next month....where did I put my socks?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Parking Lots and the Forest

I was sitting in a hospital room on the 7th floor looking out the window, there is a lot of sitting around in a hospital that seems to be the nature of hospitals.
I was being company.

Looking out the window I was watching people look for a parking place. I'd done that in that very parking lot just the day before, I ended up going to the other side of the hospital and walking back.

Where is the empty spot? That's always the question

You have to imagine me sitting up there, a good distance away hollering "No, no! One more aisle & there is a spot! Don't give up yet". I was just trying to help.
They left, my wife asked me what I was talking about & then I entertained myself for a while longer with the parking lot but I did it quietly. Parking lots are a big part of society.
I was not able to think of a better way to find a parking spot in a lot like that.

We have a lot of forest here in western Washington & they are regularly harvested, clear cut areas and growing back areas are just what you see. But... I don't ever recall seeing this much stuff in piles with a tarp on the top before.

A tarp on top

There were a bunch of piles

It gets cut down, it gets replanted and eventually it grows tall enough to hide the mountains. When it's enough the cycle starts again.

10 years ago we were wondering if this was going to be replanted

Forests and parking lots are part of life in this part of the Pacific northwest.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veteran's Day

Mike Royko was a columnist for the Chicago Tribune, for Veterans Day 1993 he wrote this column.
I was stationed in Chicago then, I read in the Tribune that year and think of it every Veterans Day.
Mr Royko passed a away in 1997-

    I just phoned six friends and asked them what they will be doing on Monday.

    They all said the same thing: working.

    Me, too.

    There is something else we share. We are all military veterans.

    And there is a third thing we have in common. We are not employees of the federal government, state government, county government, municipal government, the Postal Service, the courts, banks, or S & Ls, and we don’t teach school.

    If we did, we would be among the many millions of people who will spend Monday goofing off.

    Which is why it is about time Congress revised the ridiculous terms of Veterans Day as a national holiday.

    The purpose of Veterans Day is to honor all veterans.

    So how does this country honor them?

    By letting the veterans, the majority of whom work in the private sector, spend the day at their jobs so they can pay taxes that permit millions of non-veterans to get paid for doing nothing.

    As my friend Harry put it:

    "First I went through basic training. Then infantry school. Then I got on a crowded, stinking troop ship that took 23 days to get from San Francisco to Japan. We went through a storm that had 90 percent of the guys on the ship throwing up for a week.

    "Then I rode a beat-up transport plane from Japan to Korea, and it almost went down in the drink. I think the pilot was drunk.

    "When I got to Korea, I was lucky. The war ended seven months after I got there, and I didn’t kill anybody and nobody killed me.

    "But it was still a miserable experience. Then when my tour was over, I got on another troop ship and it took 21 stinking days to cross the Pacific.

    "When I got home on leave, one of the older guys at the neighborhood bar — he was a World War II vet — told me I was a ----head because we didn’t win, we only got a tie.

    "So now on Veterans Day I get up in the morning and go down to the office and work.

    "You know what my nephew does? He sleeps in. That’s because he works for the state.

    "And do you know what he did during the Vietnam War? He ducked the draft by getting a job teaching at an inner-city school.

    "Now, is that a raw deal or what?"

    Of course that’s a raw deal. So I propose that the members of Congress revise Veterans Day to provide the following:

    - All veterans — and only veterans — should have the day off from work. It doesn’t matter if they were combat heroes or stateside clerk-typists.

    Anybody who went through basic training and was awakened before dawn by a red-neck drill sergeant who bellowed: "Drop your whatsis and grab your socks and fall out on the road," is entitled.

    - Those veterans who wish to march in parades, make speeches or listen to speeches can do so. But for those who don’t, all local gambling laws should be suspended for the day to permit vets to gather in taverns, pull a couple of tables together and spend the day playing poker, blackjack, craps, drinking and telling lewd lies about lewd experiences with lewd women. All bar prices should be rolled back to enlisted men’s club prices, Officers can pay the going rate, the stiffs.

    - All anti-smoking laws will be suspended for Veterans Day. The same hold for all misdemeanor laws pertaining to disorderly conduct, non-felonious brawling, leering, gawking and any other gross and disgusting public behavior that does not harm another individual.

    - It will be a treasonable offense for any spouse or live-in girlfriend (or boyfriend, if it applies) to utter the dreaded words: "What time will you be home tonight?"

    - Anyone caught posing as a veteran will be required to eat a triple portion of chipped beef on toast, with Spam on the side, and spend the day watching a chaplain present a color-slide presentation on the horrors of VD.

    - Regardless of how high his office, no politician who had the opportunity to serve in the military, but didn’t, will be allowed to make a patriotic speech, appear on TV, or poke his nose out of his office for the entire day.

    Any politician who defies this ban will be required to spend 12 hours wearing headphones and listening to tapes of President Clinton explaining his deferments.

    Now, deal the cards and pass the tequila.

    - Mike Royko

Monday, November 3, 2014

Looking for a job

I'm sitting here waiting ...

Watching TV, watching movies, reading The Dresden files & the W.E.B. Griffin books. I really need a job.

Since we left to full time there was that few months getting to Quartzsite. Hanging out in Quartzsite then going to Iowa for the first season at the amusement park.

Not much time spent 'not working'.

That winter it was workcamping in Texas then back to Iowa for the second season at the amusement park.  Lot's of time off but I was working.

I'm paying rent here so I'm not saving gas money, a job is needed. I'm looking for gas money, I'm looking for people to react with, I'm not looking for a career.

I'm not looking at unloading overseas containers & shrink wrapping pallets either.

I am NOT in Rockport Texas or the Des Moines area any more. I'm not where the "Help Wanted' signs were plentiful! I'm not in those areas of the south west (I drove through) that has all the drilling going on and "Help Wanted" banners are all over the place.

I'm picky too, I want a job that is no further than it has to be. The workcamping commute has spoiled me ... but my home has wheels,  if I need to move for a 'good' job.

I have put in a lot of applications and talked to more than a few people doing this job search and one thing has jumped out at me.

Everybody asks for a passport as the 'single' ID they will take. No insistence, it's just mentioned.

They will take my social security card & my drivers license or my retired military ID (almost reluctantly) so pulling out the passport has not been necessary.

The last time I went looking for a job passports were not even mentioned. Things change... and it seems I don't goof off very well yet....

Sunday, October 26, 2014


The GPS I have today is a tool and a toy. One of my favorite toys!

I have long been a fan of the GPS. My first look at one was when they installed the hand held model in the Coast Guard HH-65A in the later 90's, it made ops & position reports a breeze.

I eventually got one for the car (it was a TomTom) and other than it didn't know where I was when I was home & didn't know where the local roads were it didn't hardly ever get me lost. It was great for finding the interstate when I was away from it in a strange area.
I got rid of it.

I replaced it with a Garmin & that was a good machine! Not only did it know where I was when I was home, it could find a grocery store if I was in a strange town & hitting the "home" button would get me to the interstate no matter how lost I seemed.

The best part was it told me when I was going to arrive.

I worked the 2nd shift so I had a good part of the day to goof off if I wanted to. With the gps set to 'work' I could leave early and do things, the machine would tell me when I was going to arrive at my destination. I could goof off until I had to be there.
That was great!

It also helped me to feel 'better', back then I drove an '84 VW camper all the time. On a bad day (on my way to work) I could hit "Key West" in the gps memory and put Jimmy Buffet on the CD player, I was self contained and had the directions to "paradise" in front of me. I'd smile and take my exit to work (it was on the way to Florida) feeling better just because the option was there.

The other day I tried to do this very mood alternator ...   I could not find Jimmy Buffet in the car & my new GPS wouldn't display the time/distance. 
Something more to work on...

MARGARITAVILLE - Jimmy Buffett, Glenn Frey 1977 Aspen High School

Saturday, October 11, 2014


I like pizza, I like to make pizza.
It was different when we had a big family but on occasion I do it now.

A bread machine does a fine job on the dough

I live in an RV and I have limited room to store stuff but one of the things I kept was the bread machine.  I have actually made bread with it since we moved into the RV and it does a great job of  kneading dough, any dough.


I have several pizza dough recipes but today I used the one that came with the machine. Flour, water, olive oil, yeast and salt. It was topped with tomato paste, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, Parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, Italian sausage, jalapenos & onion.

Spices & parmesan cheese

I have read about people who cannot see why an RV should have an oven.
I have read about people who have never used their oven and use the space as storage. My RV oven is important as an oven.

In the oven

Those people do not know about being parked way out somewhere and having fresh pizza. There is nothing like pizza when you're a long ways from anywhere.

It was good.

Worth the effort!

There was a time my kids asked me why I didn't get job making pizza, I like it but if I'd done it 8 hours a day it might have gotten old & turned into a job!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Back in Washington

We're back in Washington to do some medical things, have been here for over a month. My dermatologist visit went well & that is the one I was concerned about.

It's a bit of the drive to the doctors, the shorter way is over a bridge with a $5.50 toll & the other way adds 6 minutes.

Time vs money, it's the old argument!  I have more time than money....

I added the 6 minutes on the trip down & went over the bridge for free on the way back.

A cow of a different color


"Cheap" gas

The Olympic mountains (viewed from the east)

There is a lot to see on the drive to Tacoma & back but it's hard to take a picture when you're driving.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Displaced by technology

I was on my bike and rode by an empty phone booth hanging on a wall, I stopped and thought about it.

It has been a long time since I saw a phone booth with a phone in it. If I did I'd check it for change!

For years the example I'd heard for technology displacing a profession was "buggy whip maker".

I'd never actually seen a buggy whip but there are 175 results with that as a search term on eBay so they are still around.

Even more results when I tried "phone booth" but I can still find phone booths all over the place.

I wonder what will be next?

I just saw the next thing!
Grub Hub, "order your food on-line and never have to talk to another human again"


This blog is set to publish later.... I had to come back and add this part.

I saw the empty phone booth & thought about that and the buggy whip, that lead to what I wrote here. Then I found this blog.

Dr Jerry Pournelle is writer whom I'd read & enjoyed over the years, he's writing this.

I'm looking at empty phone booths & thinking of buggy whips. This guy is talking about robots taking people's jobs, "more than 45% withing ten years".

45% of the jobs gone to robots? Maybe it's time to learn to fix robots...

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Camping- Belfair State Park, WA

Went camping at Belfair State Park, WA with 3 of our kids and 6 grandkids, we had a good time.

Two camp sites, four tents and a fire going most of the day. Hot dogs & sausages are best cooked over flames

This place is at the far end of the Hood Canal, the water was almost warm when I walked into it. There was a creek too.

Like all Washington state parks that I have seen there was a fee for the showers
This one gave you around 3 minutes for a token.

 You could get to this shower without a campsite.

The token machine was attached to the fee booth.

 Talking about fees, two daughters rented the camping spots we just had to pay $10 a night as an "extra car" fee

    The park is a good sized place, RV sites & tents were mixed together in some parts & others were just too small for, the sign said "No trailers over 18' "
Camping right next to the moving water is always a plus.

Not our camp this time

The creek leaving the campground

The creek entering the Hood Canal
Hood Canal

Hood Canal runs into Puget Sound which goes into the Pacific Ocean, so you could go from here to Hawaii with the right equipment. 
It's good to dream!

 I had a good time.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Adventureland workcamping review, season 2

Season two at Adventureland in Altoona, Iowa is over for me.  I left as soon as the full time work ended (6 days a week) and weekends only started.  I went back to Washington to take care of a few things.

Hood Canal in Washington state
There is a penalty for leaving early, I had to pay for the RV park time I was there after July (that 17 days came to $87.74) and I lost the 25 cents a hour bonus (689 hrs when I left) that I would have gotten if I'd stayed for the last six weeks.

I worked the rides @ $7.50 and hour, we were seasonably labor so the overtime rules did not apply, it was all 'regular' hours.
After the first four "weekends only" we started full time.
The RV space with full hookups was provided between 1 April and when they closed in October, the cost was $160 for June  & $160 for July if you stayed for the whole season.
Broadcast television is what I used & the RV park provided Wifi (too many on it during the weekend days, I had a solid 4 bars of Verizion on my mifi for those times).
I used the bathhouse for showers the entire time and they have great showers.

This year I chose to work the PM shift (2:40 until close at 8 or 9 or 10pm) and I volunteered for AM shift reliefs 5 days a week (the AM lunch started at 11am and usually was finished between 1 & 2 in the afternoon).
This averaged out to 48.5 hours a week for the 13 full time weeks.

The work was fun, the people I worked with (and for) were great and the guests were all there to have a good time. No complaints at all.

The money... Between the 7th of April and the 18th of August they deposited $3,959.24 to my account and withheld $407.74 for rent.

This second season was at least as good as last year.

The best rides for me this year were the train (as long as it wasn't raining), the SpaceShot as an assistant and running the ferris wheel. Running the Outlaw (a roller coaster) was fun too....

Friday, August 29, 2014

Boondocking on the Columbia river

I stopped at the COE area by the John Day dam in Rufus Oregon.

It's on the Columbia river, there was a flush toilet & several vault toilets and fishing. This is a good sized area spread out along the river.

I cruised around on my bike. There were a number of tents, trailers that looked to have been there for awhile and treaty fishing stands along the river.

fishing stands along the river

A camp under a tree

Stands on the Washington side
There was a lot of empty space the Friday morning.


more room

There were trains on both sides of the river

I didn't notice the train or road noise, it was a quiet place. 
It was a place to sleep out under the stars.

 As a plus the water running out was colored at night!


I need to a explain the fishing stands. 
They are used by the tribes to fish the river in accordance with treaties.
I added two photos. The first one shows a hoop net on the stand and the second shows one being used.

Hoop net
Fisherman with the hoop net in the water