Wednesday, May 16, 2012

We've arrived in North Dakota

Sad to say I can't remember the date of our last post.  We've been on the road from Branson, MO to the Garrison, ND area for our summer workamping jobs at Indian Hills Resort.  Along the way we've had lousy internet connections and problems with our hotspot.  So today I'm forcing myself to sit down at the store and update everyone on what we've been up to.

We left Branson, MO on Sunday, May 6th with a target destination of Weston Bend State Park outside Kansas City, MO.  We arrived there and checked in just in time to be settled inside when the big storm hit.  I'm afraid I didn't get any pictures at the park.  We were pretty busy the few days we were there.  We took Kevin's Jimmy over to stay at his sister's in Columbia, MO along with some things we decided we didn't need / didn't have room for.  I'm sure other full-timers remember what that's like as you sort out what really want to travel with.  

We did manage to take in a Royals baseball game.  It was my first time ever attending a major league baseball game and pretty fun.  We were there for free t-shirt Tuesday, so scored a couple of new t-shirts as part of our $20 ticket price.  Not a bad deal.  I was very impressed with how well you could see the game from all the seats.  And the Royals even won, beating the Red Sox.  Apparently that hasn't been the norm this season so that made it even more fun.

From Kansas City we made a short drive to Maryville, MO so we could visit Kevin's kids and grandson before we headed to North Dakota for the summer. 

We stayed at Mozingo Lake RV Park.  
It's a very pretty little RV park.  $20/night for water and electric.  Our stay at Weston Bend and Mozingo were the first times we had stayed with no sewer connections.  Found out we can easily spend 3 days with no sewer, especially if there are good showers available.  The sunsets from our spot at Mozingo were beautiful and we had nice visits.  

We spent one evening with Bryan and Colten.  Colten is turning into quite the little man.  He loves his trucks and thinks that if you don't understand what he's saying, he just needs to say it louder.  He must have seen that in a movie.  Ashley came and had dinner with us at the RV park.  She brought the "kids,"  Zoey and Cisco.  Sorry, no pictures of either the grandson or the puppies.  I really need to remember my camera more often.  

Oh, almost forgot... on the way up to Maryville, we kept hearing this rattling noise in what we thought was the back wheel.  Turned out our rear U-joint was about shot.  We got it fixed there in Maryville.  The total bill was $66!  So glad we found it before we got on the road and that Kevin knows people there.  I was getting sick to my stomach worrying about just how big is unexpected bill was going to be.  What a relief!

We headed up the road toward North Dakota.  The wind was awful the day we left Maryville, so it was a long day driving.  We stopped for the night in Sioux Falls, SD, just as the rain was hitting.  Of course it stopped raining and the wind stopped blowing just as we decided to call it a day!  We opted to just spend the night at a Flying J truck-stop.  I checked the balance on my "Professional Driver" card (don't ask why I have one... but go ahead and snag one if you have a chance.) and Kevin was able to take a FREE shower there which he highly recommends.  Unlimited hot water, nice and clean and they even give you towels. You just have to play like you're a truck driver! :-) I'm not a big fan of the Flying J / Pilot merger, but they seem to be working some things out.  Make sure you pick up one of their RV member cards.  It will give you immediate discounts on gas, diesel and propane.

Let's see... That brings us to Saturday.  We headed out in the morning with Fargo, North Dakota as our target for the night.  We arrived almost exactly when I told my nieces we would -- between 1 and 2 pm.  It was graduation weekend for North Dakota State University, so it was pretty busy in town.  Both my Alicia and Amanda had plans for the evening -- bachelorette party for Alicia and graduation festivities for Amanda, but they came and picked us up and we went for pizza at Rombus Guys.  It was excellent pizza.  After that Kevin and I set up the trailer at the Red River Valley Fairgrounds ($20 a night for FHU with the $5 coupon I picked up at the rest area on the border.)  It's an okay place to spend the night.  They had sprint car races that night, but we wanted to do a little touring in Fargo, since Carol went to college there and skipped the races.  We also saw our first Zombie Pub Crawl...  oh to be that young again...  or not!  lol

On Mother's Day, we got a late start, but made it up to Velva, ND (where Carol grew up) in time for dinner with her brother, John and SIL, Dorothy, and Dorothy's brother and his family.  Amanda was also there.  She's doing part of her pharmacy studies there for a few weeks. So we had a nice dinner with family and a relaxing evening.  It's amazing up here because the sun doesn't start to set until at least 9pm.  So our schedules are completely messed up!  It's hard to even think about going to bed until at least midnight...

On Monday we took advantage of the family discount and used their washer/dryer to catch up on laundry.  John helped Kevin fix our sway bars on the trailer.  Turns out the dealer installed one bracket upside down.  So we got the family discount on tool use too and were able to use his big shop and impact wrenches to fix the problem quickly.

We finally headed out on the last leg of our trip to Indian Hills Resort.  We're located 33 miles west of Garrison on Lake Sakakawea.  It's beautiful and very peaceful here.  So far we have seen a 12 point buck (sorry no pics again), a turkey, pheasants and a couple of families of geese.  The park here has 6 miles of walking/biking/running trails that overlook the lake and have informational stops about the area.  

We're getting settled into things here.  I've been working on cleaning up the store and cabins and Kevin has been mowing lots of grass.  At least he has a better mower here to tackle the job with.  Tomorrow's to do list includes putting together new tables for the condos and we'll see what else the day brings.  We're both going to have to learn to plan better as the closest Walmart and fast food stop is 70+ miles away in Minot, ND.  No quick trips because you want a milkshake this summer!  lol  Although we did check out Ye Olde Malt Shoppe in Garrison yesterday and the patty melt was excellent!

So that brings you sort of up-to-date.  I'm now researching pay as you go hot spots, because my Sprint card isn't working and we need to check out Dish and DirectTV because there is no tv signal here and it's way to far to run to a redbox!  It will be good for us to have to plan more...  

Seriously, we're looking forward to spending the summer here.  We'll get to spend time with family and fish and make it to the North Dakota State Fair.  Should be a good summer.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Contemplating Options

As most of our readers have figured out, we're neither of retirement age or independently wealthy, so making a living is critical to our staying on the road.  Heck, making a living is critical if we were to stay in one place as well!

Our current workamping plans pay the bills, but without any room for emergency expenses or many extras, so as we get settled into more of a routine we find ourselves considering options.  I would love to find a way to combine my previous consulting career with the mobile rv lifestyle.  A couple of thoughts have crossed my mind and I wonder what you more experienced folks think...

I spent most of my career working with organizations to help them be more effective and profitable.  I've worked with training people, improving processes to eliminate mistakes and reduce costs and improve customer relationships/satisfaction.

One of the things I'm wondering is if there would be a market for a business consultant who specializes in campgrounds/rv parks.  The idea has really begun to percolate while we have been here in Branson.  When we got to this park it was pretty much in shambles.  No processes, no systems.... Heck... no staff!  For a small investment in computer equipment and software, I was able to set things up in about a week and bring the park into the 21st century.  We now have a website, facebook page, and twitter account.  Things are linked to make them easy to maintain and update for the next folks.  I've also documented most all the "how to's" in the office so no one has to figure things out.  Now there is a way to track how much business they have and gather feedback from customers.  Customers who have been coming here for decades have been complimentary.  They don't necessarily like some changes (a little rate increase) but understand that it's needed to improve the park overall.  It all depends on how you deliver the message I guess.   So wondering if other parks would be interested in hiring a fulltime RVer for a week or month to come in, assess their situation, suggest opportunities for improvement and implement changes that work within their budget.

The other thought I keep having is sort of along the lines of a substitute teacher, only for Organization Development/Training Departments in corporations.  Say you have a training manager who is going out on medical leave.  They will be out for 2 months.  You need to keep things going in their absence, but you can't hire a replacement per say.  What if there were someone who could come in on a contract basis, keep things going and then be happy to move on when your regular person comes back?  

Just random thoughts...