Saturday, June 23, 2007

6/21 & 6/22/07 Zip, Zero, Zilch

The title says it all. Not a thing to tell you. Just did our normal workdays, nothing out of the ordinary happened.

6/20/07 Bob Gets Creative

The second day of our weekend and its just flying by.

Today, Bob let the creative juices flow. We have solar lights that light the pathway to our front door. I'm sure you've all seen these before.

We had eight of these but are now down to six due to two of them being stepped on by accident and being broken. Bob wanted to find a way to put them out without having to stick them into the ground on the spikes that come with them. Here's what he came up with.
While it served the purpose it just wasn't attractive so we made a run to the Walmart and got.....

Food Coloring!'s gotta be shaken.

and the final product looks like this.

Pretty cool, huh?
We've gotten a lot of comments on them so far. We're just glad we won't be stepping on and breaking anymore of them.

The rest of the day was just every day stuff, just the same as you do.

Friday, June 22, 2007

6/19/07 Meet Matt & Steve Our New Best Friends

Our day off. We have a lot to accomplish today but first and foremost we have to get ready for two much awaited for guests that are coming today. We've been anticipating their arrival for almost a week now and the day is finally here.

We'd like you to meet Matt and Steve, the Direct TV installer guys.

It wasn't all smooth sailing for us getting this service done today. Matt (left) called ahead of their arrival to make sure we were here and to let us know they were on their way. In our conversation he asked about a tripod. I assured him we needed one as we are RV'ers and had no place permanent place to attach the dish. He then went on to tell me that he didn't have one in the truck and would have to travel 45 minutes back to the shop to get one. OK, works for me. He then went to explain that there was a $25.00 charge for the tripod. Wait! Stop right there! No one told me there was going to be a charge for the tripod. Now I wasn't really concerned about having to shell out twenty five bucks but it was the principle of the thing for me. I called the Direct TV 800 number and got a customer service rep on the line. I explained that the installer called and that I was told there was a $25.00 charge for the tripod and that since I wasn't told about this I didn't appreciate the hidden fees coming to light on the day of the installation. I went on further to say that this was not the way to start a business relationship with me and that he would have to find a way to waive that tripod fee because I just flat out was not paying it. I think the customer service rep knew I meant business because he assured me that while the fee is "usual" he would credit our account for me because they certainly valued our business and wanted us to be happy customers. Yes, we had to pay the $25.00 but it will be credited on our first bill. Since Direct TV employees aren't actually doing the install, but a contract company is and the fee is actually theirs, I believe, the check had to be written. It's OK, we'll get it back in the long run.

So Steve and Matt arrive. One hundred and forty channels for our viewing pleasure! We can hardly wait for the installation to be completed. Bob and I have never had channels that went over number 75. Now if I want to catch something on TVLand I have to go to channel THREE HUNDRED AND ONE! This will take forever to remember all the channels and whats on them.

Installation didn't take long at all. These two know their stuff and before we could say "one hundred and forty channels" we were up and running. So now we have another remote to add to the original TV remote and the one for the DVD player. Just what we needed!

So Matt and Steve leave us and in the house we go to check out our 140 channels. Oh My God.....what is that music? I know that music! MASH! We get MASH reruns again! There is a God! It has been so long since I've sat down with Hawkeye, Radar, Trapper John and the gang.

As much as we would have liked to watch TV all day on all these channels we had to get on with our day.

Bob had to find a way to stake our tomato plants as they are growing tall.

Bob constructed a trellis for us to tie them to as they grow. As they get taller he'll add another piece of board to the top.

Our tomatoes are growing nicely!
The grape tomatoes are starting to turn red! A few more days and we'll eating our own homegrown tiny tomatoes! Life is very good!

The rest of the day we took care of chores around the house and watched TV....lots of TV!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

6/18/07 Finders, Keepers......

When someone checks out of one of the Kamper Kabins or Kamper Kottages it is my job to go in and make sure they didn't wreck the place, to make sure there is a liner in the trash can, to sweep the floor and to possibly wet mop it if need be. Also, to make sure to take out anything they may have left behind. The cool part? I get to keep whatever they leave behind if I want it. Even money.
So far I've gotten a camp coffee pot. I have no use for this as intended so I'll put some flowers in it.

And then there this was coffee pot. This is brand new. The cord wasn't even taken out of the twist tie and the plastic bag it was wrapped in was still in the box it came in. Its a 12 volt coffee pot which means it will run off batteries if need be. We'll hang on to this, you never know when the electric will go out.

Someone left behind this cooler. It DID have some beer and Mike's Iced Tea in it but they are long gone. Bob didn't want to see them go to waste.

And MONEY....I have found money left behind too! Drum roll please.....


Certainly not enough to retire on, but hey, its only June.

Bob finished up some projects he was working on. The benches near the community fire pit are now completed.

His next project was to repair the fence around the dumpster. Last year someone ran into it with their motorhome.

Another day in Missouri.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

6/17/07 Ahhhh,,,Getting Back to Normal

By ten o'clock the weekend campers were packing up, those traveling to another destination were already gone and things were getting back to normal for all concerned.

Only a few floats were scheduled today. I guess with it being Father's Day family barbecues/dinners took precedent and the schedule was light. I think we were all kinda, sorta glad.

I'll take this time now to say Happy Father's Day to my own Dad. Have a great day Dad!

By noon the campground was all but empty. This is how we like it during the day. Bob gets to work on his projects without much interruption. Since we wear these bright yellow shirts with the big KOA logo on them Bob is called on several times a day when a newbie camper has a question about his new rig. I guess they think we know everything about camping and their rigs!

We're all kind of moving a little slower today, yesterday, our first really, really busy day took it out of us.

I had tons of ice to bag up as the ice freezer was all but empty and the shelves in the store had to be straigtened up. I was moving slow but I got done what I had to.

After dinner we just collapsed.

6/1/607 A Crazy Day on the River

I knew it was going to be busy today but I had no idea! Our first bus left with the early birds, the one's who want to start floating at nine. Not too many for the first run but second one made up for it!

Meet Joe, he is the bus driver on busy weekends. One of the nicest people you would ever want to meet, always a smile and a kind word.

A lot of things have to happen before the floaters actually get on the bus to be taken to the drop off point. The one responsible for the canoe or raft has to read and sign a piece of paper saying that he will not hold the company responsible in case of death and that if the canoe or raft is damaged or lost, they will pay for it. You would be surprised how many just glance at where the "X" is to sign and just write their name. We try to make sure they know what they signed, that could be laying out a thousand bucks if they lose a canoe or raft, these things aren't cheap!

Of course not every one is in the area when Barb gives her spiel about safety, where to get out of the river, not to litter and the other things she needs to go over with each and every floater. She repeats this spiel over and over again until the bus pulls away.

The bus, ready for loading.

Floaters making sure they have everything. Got the life jackets? Check. Cooler full of beer? Check. Flashlights for the cave? Check. Cooler full of beer? Check. Litter bag? Check. Cooler full of beer? Check. Turned the cars keys in for safekeeping? Check. Cooler full of beer? Check.

All loaded and ready to go.

Canoes out first.

Let's get em' on the river.

Rafts are next.

Its not only us getting floaters on the river, there's two other outfits doing the same thing. Talk about pandemonium!

And they're off!

This whole process was repeated an hour and a half later.

THEN.....after the last float trip was launched the ones who went out on the earliest float were done and the phone calls started coming telling us they were ready for pickup.

All the while the campers who weren't on a float trip needed directions, to buy things in the store, to check out and more were coming in throughout the day. Do I need to tell you that the day flew by?

A day in the life of workampers who work for a campground that also has a canoe/raft business on a beautiful day in June.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

6/15/07 Bob Keeps Busy

Bob had a busy today. He worked on several projects, one being finishing up the shelter for the smoker. He is so glad to be done the picnic tables!

Here is a picture of the finished product.

While working in that area he noticed the rain gutter was open on both ends so he fashioned a piece of sheet metal to fit and closed off one end and then painted the whole gutter.
From there he started the benches near the community fire pit.

One of the community firepits. Each tent site and cabin have their own fire areas. This is for the rigs in the "front row" where individual fires are not allowed.

He'll be back tomorrow to finish this up.
I spent the day taking reservations for floats this weekend. It seems like its going to be busy on the river and in the campground. That's a good thing, it makes the time go faster.
We have a Happy Birthday to wish to send to our sister-in-law, Linda. Hope its a good one Lin!

Friday, June 15, 2007

6/14/07 Your Thursday, Our Monday

Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho, its back to work we go. The start of another workweek is upon us. We have found that when our "weekend" is on Tuesday and Wednesday that it goes by just as fast as our previous Saturday and Sunday weekends. It does seem to us that our workweeks go faster working Thursday through Monday.

It was a busy day for both of us. Bob was busy making material lists for his upcoming projects and he and Dan went to the lumber yard to buy said material for said projects. Bob is building a little house type stucture to put the smoker used for cooking ribs in. This piece of equipment gets so hot I guess Dan would feel better if it was enclosed to help keep little curious hands away from it. I've gotten too close to it myself so I can understand where he is coming from.

The ice freezer certainly took a hit while we were off so I had that to fill. I can see why so much sold, its gotten hot here in Missouri. We're in a heatwave with days in the low to mid 90's. Thank heavens the humidity isn't up there.

Lots of phone calls came in today with people making reservations for floats on the river. I guess everyone is thinking of ways to cool off until our temps level off again.

From the reservations for campsites it looks like we're going to have a busy Father's Day weekend. It should help our workweek go by even faster.

During a lull today, Barb brought her photo album of their trip to New Mexico over for me to see. Oh my gosh, she had such beautiful pictures! I hate to wish our lives away but I can't wait for October to get here when we get to see that state up close and personal. She used a UV filter on her camera and it cut down on the glare from the sun so much that the colors of the desert really came through. I've put a UV filter on my list of things to get when I order the new camera I want. I'm debating on whether to keep saving for the new camera from our paychecks or just bite the bullet and take some out of our savings and get it now. Decisions. Decisions.

We watched the local news while eating our dinner of ribs that cooked in the crock pot all day. In St. Louis, a tanker truck that was carrying orange paint of all things, sprung a leak and dropped its load over a 3 mile distance. If that wasn't bad enough the paint sprayed up on all the cars and trucks that were following behind it and also the ones that drove through the wet paint. It seems no one could get a look at the side of the truck to see what company it belonged to and its license plate was covered in the orange paint so no one could get that either. There is now a manhunt on for the driver of that truck! We can really feel for these car/truck owners after our incident in Texas. At least we got the info we needed!

We have a family birthday we'd like to acknowledge here. Stephen, our nephew, is turning 30 today. Happy Birthday Steve!

That's about it for today.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

6/13/07 Our Awning Gets Fixed

Today the fella from the local RV repair shop came to fix our awning. A short while back the spring in the roller broke and we had both springs replaced today with the heavier duty type. It didn't take this guy practically anytime at all to make the repair, I think it took me longer to write out the check for the bill.

RV repair is something Bob thought about a while back and I think its going through his mind again since he saw what the bill was. We've heard from friends who stay in big parks that the mobile RV techs are always being called. This is something we'll definitely have to look more into.

Shortly after the RV guy left we took off for town. I had a much needed nail appointment and Bob needed a haircut.

This afternoon Bob puttered around the house and I went on a much needed grocery run. I wasn't lucky enough to get away from the Hundred Dollar Store with just a hundred dollars today, we're were out of everything!

One of my errands was also going to the bank. There isn't a branch of the bank we use here so I went to the bank that our paychecks are drawn on. Since we hadn't cashed any of our paychecks since we started this workamping job I had eight checks to cash. I went in armed with my driver's license since I was sure I would need identification. Imagine my surprise when I handed over the eight checks, half of them made out to Bob and the teller just cashed them and handed over a considerable amount of money to me. My jaw must have dropped because the teller asked me if something was wrong. I asked her if she needed my ID and she said, "No, I trust this is you." Wow, there's something to be said for small town America.

From the bank I went to the local Ford dealership to get a test strip for Bob to use to test one of the liquids in the engine he has to keep an eye on. I had money in my hand to pay for it and the service guy just handed it over. I asked how much it was and he said, "Nothing, I won't miss it." Another Wow!

Today we ordered a water filter for our rig. Even though we are using well water it seems to be "hard" as it leaves water spots when the truck is washed. We don't want all those deposits clogging up our water heater and other lines. Its always something.

We've been lucky so far with the temperatures around here but I fear we're in for some Missouri summer heat. The local weatherman says we'll be in the 90's for the next seven days and the humidity will start creeping up. I haven't felt the humidity everyone around here has been complaining about. Its been about fifty seven percent humidity and I think that's real comfortable compared to the humidity of the east coast!

After a dinner of stuffed peppers we watched TV for awhile and then called it a night, after all, tomorrow is our Monday and we're back to work.

6/12/07 Looking Ahead

Today we made reservations for the Balloon Festival in New Mexico for this coming October. Quite a few campgrounds had to be called before we found one that had an opening. It seems as though some of them had their campsites fully rented at the end of last year's festival!

Since this is our first of two days off we spent it doing things around here that needed to be done. Laundry always has to be caught up on, cleaning has to be done, bills need to be dealt with and paperwork filed.

We spent the day catching up on these tasks, catching up with folks back home on the phone, answering emails and just r-e-l-a-x-i-n-g.

It was nice to be able to do things when we wanted and not have to work around campground schedules.

We also ordered Direct TV today. We get about 9 channels now out of St. Louis and three of them are religious channels. Its time to expand our viewing choices. So next Tuesday when the guy comes to install the lines and receivers we'll go from 6 channels that we watch to a choice of 140. We can't wait!

After dinner of leftovers, we caught a few hours of TV and turned in. A nice day all in all.

6/11/07 Same Old, Same Old.

Enough said.

6/10/07 Ahhhh....A Slow Day

As predicted, by ten this morning the campground was pretty much empty and we didn't have any floaters scheduled today. This means an easier day in the workplace for us.

My tasks for today were to refill the ice freezer, straigten up the shelves in the store and take care of any campers that came in.

Bob spent his day putting a finish on the wood that will be used to cover the walls in the office to give it a more rustic look.

Not much else went on in our lives today. Boring reading for you, but hey, everyday can't be fun and games or filled with drama. And that's a good thing.

6/9/07 Rally Campers Passing Through

There's a large rally in Branson for Hi-Lo owners starting tomorrow and the campers started coming through our area looking for a place to stay before they travel the last 190 miles.

We have every space filled except for two. We were busy in the office all day registering campers, giving directions, selling ice and other camp store items. The morning flew by for me and Bob's went just as fast as we also had lots of floaters today on the river. He was running the van back and forth transporting canoes and rafts. Today is my split shift day, I work eight to one, am off one to four and then come back till seven.

We did have some excitement this afternoon. Dan and Barb own an old school bus used for transporting the floaters and their belongings, such as coolers, to and from the river. It was parked on the side of the building where there is a slight decline to the road. Evidently the emergency brake didn't hold and it rolled forward. It sideswiped one the floaters trucks and went through a split rail fence and into the ditch . I was off during the time the bus decided to take a trip on its own and Bob came to the trailer to let me know what had happened. I still had about 45 minutes to go before I went back but decided that it would best to see if they needed help. They hadn't heard anything when it happened and a passerby stopped in to let them know that the yellow bus was sticking its rear end up in the air out of the ditch. By the time I had gotten there the wrecker had already been called to pull it out. Now the floater had to be told about the mishap. As it turned out the floater saw her truck before anything could be said but she was very nice and understood that it was an accident and all would be made right. With the bus out of commission for awhile Bob was making trip after trip to the river to pick up floaters and actually put in about an hour and half overtime in.

It seems strange to see the campground so filled knowing that by ten tomorrow morning it will be nearly empty again.

We still haven't caught up on our rest and after such a busy day, once again, we called it an early night.

6/8/07 Business as Usual

Not a whole lot to report day, business as usual, nothing out of the ordinary.

Some days are just like that.....thank heavens!

6/7/07 So Long Friends,,,,,

Today Bobby and Shelly will be on their way and we'll go back to work. We've had a busy two days and I think all of us would have liked to sleep in this morning.

By nine Bobby and Shelly were ready to hit the road on to their next destination. With hugs and handshakes we wished them well, thanked them for coming to see us and saw them off.

Safe travels to you.

We'll see you next winter in Arizona......

Bob and I reported to work and got on with our day. Luckily, for both of us it wasn't that busy in the campground and the day went by pretty quietly.

After dinner we watched a little of TV and we both turned in early. We needed the rest.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

6/6/07 Another Fun Filled Day

Today we went for a float in an six man raft down the Meramec River.

This is another business the campground owners, Dan and Barb have. It is called the Crosseyed Cricket Canoe Company. They rent canoes or 6, 8 or 10 man rafts.

It would have cost us $100.00 to rent this raft for the day if we walked in off the street, but since other floaters were scheduled Dan offered to put in a raft for us at no charge. One of our perks for working here.

So we boarded the bus around ten in the morning with coolers in hand ready to spend a lazy day on the river.

Bob and Bobby taking the raft to the river.

Our float will start at Sappington Bridge and will continue down river for five miles to Meramec State Park.
A scene from the river Meramec.
This is a Class 1 river meaning it is a very calm, slow current river. You won't find any white water here although we did get excited a few times when the water rushed over some underwater rocks and it looked like white water in the distance. Very small white water mind you. You don't even have to paddle this river in order to move. You just need to paddle once in awhile to keep yourself in the middle of the river or avoid trees that have fallen into it.

All along the river are areas like this to pull over on for a picnic lunch, to rest, or for a "pitstop".

It was in an area like this that we thought we saw a fox. The animal had the coloring of a fox and a plumed tail like a fox but as we got closer we realized it was a little Pekingnese dog. It was getting a drink from the river and from the looks of its coat as we got closer it looked like it had been on its own for some time. We pulled on shore and tried to call it over to us but it wanted no part of us. The little dog doesn't know what a good home it passed by because Bob and I would have rescued it.

It wasn't long before we came to Green's Cave. Bob, Bobby and Shelly went exploring and I lagged behind. Going into a dark cave is not my cup of tea.

Take note of that stone table in the entrance of the cave. It looked like it has been there many years.

The entrance to the cave.
I did get brave and go just inside entrace. Trust me, this is "just" inside the cave. I wasn't letting daylight out of my sight!

The cave explorers coming back to civilization.
Back to the river, this took some navigating.

We passed these stone cliffs on our way down the river.

We pulled over to an area to get out and stretch our legs for awhile. While walking around Bob found this. The rock on the right has some quartz in it, that is why that was picked up. Now you are probably wondering what the thing on the left is. We finally determined that it is a vertabrae! Judging from the size of it, probably from a cow. Farms are along the river and cows are often seen drinking from the river and also taking a cool dip on a hot day. Just thought we'd share this with you.

In the latter part of the float Bobby got hot and decided to slip off the back of the raft for a dip.

We finished our float around 2:30 and were back at the campground by three. We all agreed to meet at 4:30 since our day wasn't over yet! We still had something to do.

We drove three miles down the road to explore a cave. Not to worry, this one is well-lit.

We arrived at Meramec Caverns in short order and were anxious to get inside and see what it had to offer as it is called the "Greatest Show Under the Earth".

Located on the Meramec River, Meramec Caverns has 26 miles of underground passages and is seven stories tall, all but two of the levels are open to the public. In the Caverns, visitors can see expansive rooms, beautiful stalactites and stalagmites, unusual onyx formations and colorful formations.

Meramec Caverns is considered a "show cave" with interior lights and paved paths but it is also a "living" cave with moving and dripping water which continues to alter it with the formation of new passages and the enlargement of old ones.

The caverns have had many uses over the years. Centuries ago, Native Americans used the cavern system for shelter. During the 1700's, the cave was used for extracting saltpeter for the manufacture of gunpowder. In the Civil War era, the Union Army used the caves as a saltpeter plant, but was destroyed by Confederate soldiers, namely Jesse James. Jesse James and his brother and partner in crime, Frank, later used the caves as a hideout.

In front the Caverns is a statue of Jesse James and his brother, Frank.

Our visit added to the numbers of people who visit the Caverns each year. Yearly attendance runs to just under 165,000.

Meramec Caverns was first major cave discovery on the North American continent and is the largest single cave formation in the world.

It was time to take the tour. Tours usually cost $16.00 per person but once again Dan made arrangements for free passes for all of us since they send so many people to the Caverns. Another perk for us.

We soon learned that Hollywood had come calling in years past. An episode of Lassie was filmed here, as was a part of the film "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer". Do you remember Art Linkletter? Back in the 50's he had a show called People Are Funny. He had two contestants that were playing for a vacation. Well, they were sent to Meramec Caves to the Honeymoon Room. I don't think this is what they had in mind.

They were dressed in "caveman" outfits and every time a tour came by, about every 20 minutes, he had to drag her by the hair from outside the cave into it. They did this for a week! When they finally got back to civilization and back on the show they were given their prize. A weeks vacation in Jamacia and one thousand dollars, a lot of money in the 1950's.

It was then time to go in and see the stalagtites and stalagmites. Do you know how to tell the difference between the two? A stalagtite hangs "tite" from the ceiling and a stalagmite grows from the floor and "mite" make it to the ceiling.

This is called "Mothers In Law Tongue". It is one of the largest formations in the Caverns.

The "Million and One Room" has countless deposits of dripstone in all stages of formation on the vast ceiling. "Onyx Mountain" is a massive onyx formation 500 feet in circumference, 200 feet thick and 33 feet high. It is still growing.

I always thought of onyx as being black in color.

This next picture is of the Mirror Room.

We're told these are called "grape" formations but Bob thought they looked more like brussels sprouts.

This one we called Power Pedestal Formation.

We were then taken into a room set up like a theater complete with seats. The room was darkened, only small lights on the floor, enough light to see our way. After taking our seats the lights went up. It was at that time we saw The Stage Curtain. This extraordinary mineral deposit, which measures 70 feet high, 60 feet wide and 35 feet thick, is called America's number one cave scene. Music played and we were given a light show on the curtain.

In this next picture take notice of the area just left of center. It looks like a curtain opening. Years ago, singer Kate Smith performed God Bless America from a platform erected there for the governor of Missouri. While this song was played on the loudspeaker the room darkened and a American flag image was projected on the formation. Look in the center of the darker picture.

So these were our two days with Bobby and Shelly. We sure crammed alot into our days off but we had a lot fun. We were tired at the end of it that's for sure!