Palm Trees in southern Florida

Monday, October 23, 2017

St. Joseph Missouri sucked up a day ....

On our way south we stopped in St Joseph Missouri to see the ... well my wife wanted to see the Pony Express Museum & I wanted to see the house where Jesse James was killed.

The original Pony Express building 

The house Jesse James was renting when killed

We also stopped to see the Patee Museum.

The Patee building

The Pony Express museum was good, more than expected! 

At the Jesse James house, it was interesting to be in 'the' place where a big piece of American western folklore actually happened.

Both of those places were done well & I learned  a bit!

Then we went in to the Patee House Museum... 

A wide variety 
A steam locomotive

Lot's of shops, with equipment 

That's where we never even heard the sucking sound as the rest of the day went away.

Oh Wow! We were just starting the second floor when they announced closing time in 15 minutes, where had the day gone?

This was in a room on the second floor

It was just stuff. A full sized steam locomotive, cars & a jeep. A representation of a whole small town, from the barber shop to the blacksmith, let's not forget the drug store or the music store or anything! It's all done well and it's all so interesting.

A Giant ball of string!

Like I said the day disappeared.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Gone is the flat!

Heading south on I-29 out of North Dakota was neither good or bad, it was heading south having finished the work.


A stop in the big city (Grand Forks) for some errands & shopping then we continue south.  Spent the night at a rest area in ND then we went south some more, it's a good thing we're leaving as it went into the 20's that night!


and flat

and more flat

Sometime that second day I noticed hills off to the west & got excited. 

A Hill !


Not too much later the road was going through the hills & I was smiling.

It had been over a month on the flat prairie of North Dakota/Minnesota.  It wasn't until we got into the hills that I realized how much I'd missed a changing topography.

I was surprised.

I'm not saying there was anything wrong with the prairie, it was beautiful & all the trees planted as a wind break, well they just looked good.  But it was flat farm land. Lot's and lot's of flat farm land.

A whole lot of food is grown here....


It was good to get back to the hills!

Ya, it's not much of a finish to this blog but leaving the flat is like that....

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Head'n South!

The beet harvest is finally over, got a call at 4:30 in the afternoon telling me we were done! No more nights, the little remaining would be handled by the day crew. Just like that.

Our official harvest started at midnight on Saturday the 30th and ended (for us) at 0200 the morning of the 10th. 11 days.

We're heading south, we've some business in Georgia to take care of & some people to visit. Then it will probably be time to head to Florida.

Home for the last month

Now keep in mind that we have 1500 miles to go & we are not on a time schedule anymore.

Lot's of route choices... Kansas City for some bbq?

Via KC

Maybe Chicago for some of the eateries on my list?
The Chicago route

My list you ask? 

Yes I have one!  

After I realized I'd driven past the Alamo 3 times without knowing it, I made a list of places I wanted to stop, things I wanted to see & I put them on a map. 

Now I look at the map to see if I'm going to pass by anything that caught my interest enough to wind up on the Travel List.  
I might even make a place from the list into a destination!

The list grew as I'd become aware of new places. 

I've found many off "Diners Drive-ins & Dives" but not all are food places. Niagara Falls is there just because I want to see it again.

The realities of our travels ... the current weather when we're traveling may affect the route choices.

Friday, October 6, 2017

The Beet Harvest, Day 6

There was a beautiful sunrise this morning, an orange crack on the eastern horizon. 

This is the 1st indication that the long day is nearing it's end!

I saw it as I was stacking 30# beet sample bags in the sample container, they have to be stacked as there are too many to just dump in from the front loader any more.

The work is really not bad, dirty but not bad. All the people are great, all of them!  
The hours suck.... 
I'm writing this during my sleep time as I woke up early..

12+ hours ( I have NOT hit a 14 hour day yet) at the beet piling station in Minnesota, a 20 min drive from the campground in North Dakota. Half an hour to walk down to the shower house to shave-shower-whatnot, a small something to eat while I look at the on-line comics, check the blogs & glance at my email then off to bed in our "blacked out by cardboard" bedroom in our RV to sleep during the day.

Some time later I wake up (5.5 hrs of sleep today, 7 hours yesterday!).  It's warm, too warm (inside). I have 2 hours before we leave for work.

Coffee, the internet stuff, eat now, fix something to eat at 2 am (the mid point of my 12 hour shift) and get dressed for work.

We hit all the thrift stores in Grand Forks for work clothes, before the season started & I found five pairs of blue jeans for $6 ea, I bought two new ones at Walmart for less than $10 each. That gives me 7 pairs.

My initial guess was three days a pair but reality changed that to two days.  Then there were a couple of days that they only made it one shift (I could not believe the mud!). I'll have to spend some of my sleep time in the next few days doing laundry at the local car wash/laundromat here in Drayton.

The Drayton, ND laundromat 

I was hired as a foreman. I make decisions, watch over everything, carry the keys and am an on site maintenance-grease & lube oil person. I had forgotten just how dirty you can get greasing machines that need a lot of lubrication!  

I also move dirt.  The beets grow in the ground and the piler produces a lot of dirt. I move it.
The work is good, the people are good, the money is good. Some of the sun rises have been spectacular but mostly it's just dark when out from under the lights of the pilers.

And there are trucks carrying sugar beets, lot's & lot's of trucks carrying sugar beets. 

Hundreds, even thousands in a day, bringing beets to be piled. 

Good drivers, experienced drivers & ones that look to be backing out of the piler for the very first time in their short life, so we all have to be careful. 

They have to back out because the dirt is still mud, won't support an empty truck. 
This morning, right after I was relieved, the 1st truck made a successful turn out of the piler!

Did I mention that the money is good? That we are treated really well by everyone? The campground shower is really nice? There is free coffee at the piler station? That this is just for a short season?  15 days, give or take, is expected for the site I'm working at and today is day 6. The money is really good.

I can't send this out without mentioning the beet piles themselves. These things are huge & so far away from my "normal" that I'm still amazed every time I see them in the day light. We built these!

I've got to go.... supposed to get down to 34 degrees tonight... did I mention that I had to buy thermal underwear again? I got rid of all mine when I left Minnesota in 2003.  

Time to break them out.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Sugar beet? What's a sugar beet? Or where did I put that alarm clock?

I'm back to work... it'd been what? Two years? It's tough being retired!

Then not just any job but a 12 hours a day, 7 days a week until the harvest ends job. In North Dakota.  The sugar beet harvest. 

A small sugar beet

Express Employment Professionals hired me to work for the American Crystal Sugar Company... They had a booth at the Quartzsite RV show, they have an on-line site & they hire people right here.

A beet piler making a sugar beet pile
That's what we do 12 hours a day

We're here. 

The Drayton,ND campground. Real close to the Drayton yards
(steam in the background). A bit farther from some of the other
piler locations, I'm just under 20 miles away.
Nice showers & an acceptable TV/internet room

They have several campgrounds, we're at the one in Drayton ND at a park built for the harvest. I've always been a sucker for free rent.

The money is good... or can be. It all depends on the weather & the harvest. The first 8 hours are regular time the next 4 hours of that day are overtime.  All 12 hours on Saturday are time & a half, all 12 hours on Sunday are double time...but if it's too hot or too cold or too wet there is no harvest so if those days come on the weekend you lose.

I have to admit that having that alarm go off at 0500 took some getting used to, 12 hrs on my feet was something my feet had to get used to.

I'm enjoying it...

Dressed for work with vest, safety glasses & hard hat

The harvest was going to start on October 1st at a minute after midnight but it was moved up a day. So I get to run a beet piler station all night long starting starting a day early!