Lake George…Sad Face

Most evenings...
Most evenings…Oh how I loved this peaceful existence.

The time has come and gone to secure being Camp Hosts again for the most spectacular place ever:  Lake George in Mammoth Lakes California.

We will not be Hosting this year but our dear friend Mona WILL be!

Lake George is NOT the same as other campsites in Mammoth.

I wanted to give you a few pieces of advice to ensure you have a VERY FUN AND RELAXING STAY.

  • First Come, First Serve.
  • Don’t bring an RV.  They don’t fit and the campground was not paved for RV’s.  Sites are graded for one tent.  Max occupancy is enforced.
  • You will MOST LIKELY experience BEARS.  Be smart: put EVERYTHING in your bear box.  Putting it in your car is not a bear box and they WILL open the door to get the food.  They can actually lift the handle and open the door OR they can bash out your window.  Either way, your car will not be left in good condition.
  • DO NOT LEAVE FIRES SMOLDERING.  You SHOULD have a bucket of water next to your camp site before you even START a fire.  If you leave a fire smoldering you will have the privilege (which is what it is) of staying there revoked.  The Camp Host is NOT an enforcer, it will be the Authorities on your case and they don’t mess around with this risky behavior.
  • There are winds and the best sites to avoid them are #16 and #15.
  • You get ONE CAR per camp space. Additional cars can be parked in the lot, no problem.  You just can’t occupy another spot without paying for it.  You get a Car Pass when you pay for your site.  Be sure you post it on your rear view mirror.
  • I have no idea what the camp fees are going to be this year (2018).  Check the Mammoth Welcome Center to find out if the camp is open (it was delayed in 2017 and did not open until July 17th.
  • Be nice to your Camp Host, she can accommodate most needs but the reality is she can only do SO MUCH.
  • The worst days to try to get a camp site are Thursday,Friday, Saturday.  The best days are Sunday (when everyone is leaving) or Monday.
  • Checkout is NOON, don’t bug occupants for make “side deals”. You can take your sweet time packing up and leaving!  Relax and ask anyone that bothers you to speak to the Camp Host.  You paid for your stay and we want you to get every ounce of the experience.
  • Check In is 2pm.  You must PAY for the site and OCCUPY IT.  You are not allowed to pay for sites and not actually camp there.  Don’t ask the Camp Host to break the rule for you.  If your site isn’t occupied with YOUR GEAR then we are obligated to give it to the next person ready to move in.  This is a big issue: people believe they can reserve/save spaces but you are not allowed to do that.
  • We do not have a Credit Card machine.  Cash only.  I forget if you are allowed to write a check (I don’t think you can).
  • You can stay in a site 7 days MAX.  In 2017 the rule was you had to vacate your site before you could come back.  That means there may not be a site after you leave so plan ahead.  There are Walk-Up sites in Lake Mary and Twin Lakes.  Be NICE to all Camp Hosts if you want help finding things.
  • Clean up your campsite when you leave.  We understand that in the night you drop things and it’s tough to navigate around BUT in the morning when you are packing up you can definitely see your trash, fishing line and greasy messes left on the tables and bear boxes.  DO NOT LEAVE A MESS, we are Hosts not your maid. Be a respectful guest and try to leave the place NICER than when you arrived.
  • Do NOT come to Lake George to get high, drunk, fight or play loud music.  Seriously.  The Mammoth PD patrol often (every day) and will remove you.  PLUS people go to Lake George to get AWAY from this stuff.  Want to “party”?   There are plenty of other camp grounds you can find.
  • There are no showers at Lake George, only bathrooms with toilets and sinks.  No electricity either.  Oh, and the visitors to Lake George use the restrooms too (and mostly they keep it clean but they are also mostly guilty of leaving trash all over the place including fish guts).
  • You are not allowed to clean your fish at the water spigots. OR YOUR BODY.
  • There isn’t cell signal at the campsites.  YAY!
  • Closest showers are Lake Mary or in town.
  • There is a small store at Lake Mary that has essentials (most of the time).
  • We usually had firewood for sale, $7 a bundle.  Bringing exact change helps of course.  I think the grocery store sold it for less.
  • Grocery shopping in Mammoth? READ YOUR RECEIPT if you shop at the only grocery store in town (big box).  They overcharged me REPEATEDLY and it wasn’t until I’d been in there a lot of times complaining that it seems this behavior changed.  I personally suspect they know people are only there for a few days and won’t take the time to fix the mistake.  So BEFORE YOU LEAVE scan over your ticket and make sure it is exactly what it should be.  If you see an error just go to the front desk and they will refund your money INSTANTLY when you tell them you were charged for items you did not have on the belt.  I was told that this grocery store is #1 in the country for $$$ sales.  They also are in the Top 5 of Shoplifters being caught.
  • Before you get to Lake George (or any site) grab a map of the area if you plan to hike because there are no maps provided up here.  You can get maps at the Welcome Center.
  • Be nice to your neighbors, they are probably amazing people that you’d like to stay in touch with years to come.
  • Be nice to your Camp Host! The pay is terrible and the hours are SUPPOSED to be 3 a day (that’s all we are paid for).  We get woken up in the middle of the night for LOTS of reasons (none of them great), we get yelled at, people are disrespectful of the rules, WE HAVE TO CLEAN THE SHITTER!  Give us a little kindness because it makes a difference and just feels nice.
  • If you would like to be a Camp Host, check out the company that we worked for: California Land Management.  The pay is terrible but you do get to park your “house” on site for no charge.  As a Host we did have “Full Hook Up”.  The pooper was a mascerator (poop puree system) and had to be pumped UPHILL to the restroom.

I sure wish we were able to be there for the 2018 Season FOR SURE.

Being a Camp Host was one of my most favorite jobs ever for two reasons:  LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION (we feel so lucky to have been chosen to run Lake George as well as Oh Ridge in June Lake) AND the incredible people we met on our journey.

Let me know if you have questions!  And if you are reading this and were part of our 2017 Camp Season PLEASE send me an email so we can keep in touch!  SaritaShoemaker@g m a i l.com (spaces added on purpose).

Check out our photos of our stay at Lake George – it was tough looking at those memories and not being sad that we aren’t going to have them again this year.

Larry McGee gave me some amazing bear coverage photos that I’ve included.

Maybe 2019 (fingers crossed).

 

 

 

 

 

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Wanderlust Adventure: ON HOLD

Wanderlust Adventure: ON HOLD

We’re NOT calling it QUITS at all. We are putting this plan on the back burner for now.

Why? If you are curious please read on. Otherwise to cut to the chase we are now living in Provo Utah at the bottom of some magnificent mountains and freezing our asses off. We will be starting from scratch on building our home again because we really did donate almost all that we had in our 5 bedroom home! I am excited about this, which is key to being happy.

FIRST THINGS FIRST

We LOVE this life. If it were possible and realistic we’d stay on the road roaming the planet. I think of all of the love and support we got at the start and all throughout and it makes me realize how lucky we have been to know so many sincerely good people.

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE ANIMALS

You know I’m very passionate about animals: our pets sometimes get overlooked because I’m worrying about saving OTHER animals from harm or pain of any kind (spiders included).

This small breadbox of a home has three “major spaces” for us to “relax”.

  • The kitchen/dining room/office.
  • The den.
  • The bedroom.

Our dogs only get to relax in one space: the den. It’s got 4×4 feet of room (I’m being dramatic, it’s bigger but for a chocolate lab…it may as well be 4×4).

I complain about being forced to hear Kona licking his man-parts, gnawing his foot and Zoey also has a beauty regimen I’d love to not her and/or see. Have someone just lick their arm next to your ear and see how long you can stand it.

The fact is I can leave or go into the bedroom (or bathroom technically) or even put on headphones.

They can’t! They have two fluffy beds on the floor and that’s it.

We should have put more thought into these two love bugs before dragging them with us on this adventure. They are troopers for it and will be rewarded at our new house with a backyard the size of a football field and lots of spaces to move to whenever they want.

WEATHER. RANDY’S LOVE OF EXTREME WEATHER.

Since we were at Oh Ridge we got to experience snow STORMS, wind storms and rain with flooding.

That sort of became COLD.

Randy assured me we were “winterized”. I did not look up what this actually meant on purpose. We were hitting the 20’s on a regular basis (temps) and my memory of science, ice and all that complicated stuff was that at 32 or below things FREEZE. You cannot leave it out in the elements with fluids that normally freeze and expect that it wouldn’t freeze.

We began (well, Randy began) processes to survive the below freezing temps. We took ourselves off of the Full Hook Up water source, we put foam around the pipes, we bought foam puzzle-like flooring. It worked and we’ve never experienced a freeze that stopped us from being comfortable (or with running water).

Our plan was to scoot further across the USA but we waited too long to do it without hitting some REALLY cold weather.

TIME TO FIND A RENTAL (THAT WILL ACCEPT TWO DOGS AND A CAT)

Game ON!

What’s the name of that website you can find things on but you might be killed meeting up with the seller? Oh, ya, Craig’s List.

We began looking for places on Craig’s List. That’s just DUMB, right? Not this time!

First scan: 1010 total available (no stipulation on pets) of which 740 “accept dogs and cats”. I’d say HALF of all of these are scammers. Incredible that a human would be cool with scamming another human (and not expect it to backfire).

FOUND:

$900 3 BED 2 BA HOUSE IN PROVO. Bingo! I wrote the Seller and told him about our pets and gave him my number. He called and was SUPER cool. I made sure he knew about our pets too. His response, “hey I’ve got some friends with 4 cats, 1 dog, 2 birds, fish plus a hamster and they have the most impeccably clean house ever. People need to give pet owners a break.” I liked this guy even more. Plus, $900 for that much house was really good. What’s the catch? I wondered too…we would be sharing it with a couple that lived below us in the basement. Hmmmm…not so sure that would feel comfortable. Remember that Randy walks like Shrek? I could easily predict a tense relationship of people trying to be polite but getting bothered progressively by the lumbering footsteps of my non-ballerina Husband Unit.

So we had to pass on that place and continue the search.

Our quest to find a place has been awful.

The amount of homes, condos and apartment buildings currently being built in Provo, Orem, Springville, Spanish Fork, Heber and Park City is staggering.

There is so much construction happening in and around Provo we wondered WHY!? What’s the deal?

These places are in desperate need of tenants now and we wandered place to place looking.

IF they allowed pets there were extra fees you’d have to pay. One place wanted $1500 a month for a 2 bed BRAND NEW top floor apartment with washer/dryer, dishwasher, fridge, stove and microwave AS WELL you would pay $400 per pet (non-refundable) and $30 per pet extra on the rent. Utilities run $150 for most households…they aren’t included. You can have “basic” internet (required) for $10/month or get a decent internet for $100. You can’t shop around either – you are locked into what the Landlord brokered out (and likely gets a spiff for). OH and that’s not including $70 for the application ($35 each person living in the house over 18) and deposit $1500.

That experience pushed me to just want to ACCEPT FULL TIME BEING COLD AND JUST GO TO DENVER COLORADO continuing to live in our trailer.

OR we could move to Montana.

We got a very very very cool offer for employment in Montana as a Camp Host and we could live in a cabin there while managing. That sounded fun and exciting…we considered it. The place is called Flathead Lake and OMG it looks stunning! PLUS it’s right near Kalispell where the Temple Of OneThousand Buddahs is located! Randy and I visited while it was being built. It’s SO PEACEFUL. I highly recommend you visit Kalispell and experience this place.

MAKING THE FINAL DECISION

We really don’t want to be picky for a place to live. There were a few things we were HOPING for though:

  1. A yard for the pets.
  2. A bathtub.
  3. Solid internet.
  4. Two bedrooms at least (we want our kids to visit us!).
  5. Be affordable.
  6. Be in a safe neighborhood.

Most places have three of these six wishes.

There was one place that had five and we braced ourself when the landlord began to explain her pet policy. Again, it wasn’t negotiable and we completely understood.

Kona and Zoey were in the truck waiting while we were viewing the house.

The landlord was renting the house and would be living right next door. They were a nice husband and wife couple with a child and a dog (who was a wiggly lover named Hugo).

Ahhh…darn. The husband told us it would be totally ok to let Kona and Zoey out to visit while we looked over the place. Knowing Kona would hunt out any food…we declined to avoid the embarrassment. Mr Landlord insisted it would be completely cool. So, Randy opened the door to the truck and both dogs LEAPT then lunged to begin sniffing every blade of grass, bush, tree and rock in the backyard.

Hugo raced up to Zoey (who gave him one small sniff then carried on her quest to get pets from Mr and Mrs Landlord). Then he wiggled over to Kona who is one of the greatest dogs ever with other dogs (as most of you know). He’s so tolerant of any spastic movements or barking. Unfazed he continued to survey the backyard with Hugo bouncing all around him wanting to play. Then he launched into playing and it was obvious they were friends from “way back” having a great time zooming around the place. Zoey remained to be petted completely disinterested in the two boys being wild and crazy.

We wrapped up the visit telling them we’d likely not be able to afford their beautiful home thanking them for opening it up. They really did create a beautiful home. It was built in 1913 but had the modern feel and warmth to make you comfy.

Sadly we loaded everyone back into the truck and headed back to our breadbox.

A few days later on a walk with the dogs Randy got a text or phone call asking if we’d made any decision on housing from Hugo’s mom or dad. They wanted to waive all of the pet fees completely if we would be interested. OH YEAH WE SURE WERE INTERESTED!

We rushed home and crunched numbers. We do not have jobs yet and would need to figure that out soon enough. There are Help Wanted signs everywhere here (probably goes with the booming housing).

That’s when we decided YES. Let’s do it!

We move in 1 December. That should take us an hour (WE DON’T OWN ANYTHING!)

There are way more wonderful things about this house beyond our immediate wish list. I can’t wait to start again.

Soon I’ll be in a big kitchen putting together my Pippy’s Kitchen creations, we will be on google fiber, we live a stone’s throw from the Jordan River which has a 13 mile bike/running path right next to it (see my video snippet below if it will load). They have The Nest! This is something that Brenna Savage showed us ages ago and made Randy wish for almost daily.

After accepting we began looking for basic furniture. That’s when I found an incredible couch, daddy recliner, chair, table, rug and lamp for $400! It had been in one of those rooms that are like a parlor in the old days…but no one uses a parlor and they are really just for show. The lady (who lives in a fancy-schmancy part of town was redecorating her palace and pretty much giving it away.

.

So, there you have it!

We’re staying in Provo, near one of our daughters, near mountains and adventure and NEW DISCOVERIES.

I don’t know where I’ll work – but whatever it is I’m going to have fun I’m sure.

I’ve always wanted to be a waitress like Flo. My mom was a waitress at Friendly’s and I have dreamed of doing that myself. She appeared to be having fun at her job when we got to visit her.

Now we need to get me a beater of a car (at least).

Life is still too short to be worried or stressed out about the future.

We’ve got a new chapter to run with now and we’re going to do our best to continue to enjoy every single bit about it.

If you are a close friend and want our address, send me a private message.

LIFE IS JUST TOO SHORT AND YOUR LAST DAY IS TECHNICALLY UNKNOWN

Personally I fear my final days and spend too much time finding parallels in my life and health to my mom. She got cancer and didn’t tell anyone of her family (she did tell the church of scientology who programmed her for more of their auditing…having to pay for it of course because they AREN’T a f’ing church out there to actually HELP people). She died in 2008. We had to take her off life support – I had to be the one to make that decision and I wouldn’t wish that power on anyone. She was born in 1945. After I was out of the Sea Org (still in as a scientologist…as was my mom) I remember throwing her birthday parties. #50 was a giant one I created taking her out horseback riding (and she was sore for a month after), I bought her a house to live freely in and run her daycare business, I helped her pay her bills when I could, I went garage sailing with her and THANKFULLY she got to meet Randy and we had an epic vacation camping together. She died at 62 years YOUNG and didn’t get to have a good enough life. Now that I’m 50 I see that 62nd year approaching WAY too fast. It is partly why I pushed so hard to get out here on the planet and see/experience it with my own eyes, hands and feet.

This week I lost TWO dear people. Sinar Paxman and Steve Apostolof. I’m sick to my stomach that they didn’t get to accomplish things they wanted to accomplish before they died. I have no idea what those would be but I do know they worked hard and cared for their families like true warriors would. They did not deserve to die that young. I lost my friend Dave Liston too young! Randy’s mom Pat died too young! Amanda my daughter died WAY to young! I get angry about losing the GOOD people when there are people out there harming other people and living a large and what appears to be fulfilling life. Then I panic about my own life, my kids, my friends that are getting older and the health scares that are surfacing. I panic that they are on a path of happiness (for at least 51% of their days). From the deepest part of me I really hope so.

No matter what your day is: please please please try to put acts of love and kindness into it. Life is hard and there are so many ups and downs. Focus on the ups and fill your mind with good thoughts. Live life by YOUR terms, not the expectations of other people. That’s a big one. If you want to be an artist: BE IT!! It might mean you have to give up some luxuries right? Do what you need to do but keep your mind positive and filled with pleasantness.

I am not perfect on this at all. It’s something I am trying to practice and get better at. Maybe the practice is what is meant to be for me?

A VIDEO OF OUR NEIGHBORHOOD

The Provo Jordan River Parkway

Review: Four Months Living In A Bread Box

  • YES, Randy is getting on my nerves (along with Kona, Zoey and Piper…well not Piper).
  • YES, we are over budget
  • NO, I have not touched anyone’s mat/weights or tents
  • Reality about our four months and the questions we field regularly.

The Top 8 Questions I’m Asked

I still cannot believe I’m technically considered a “FULL TIME RV’er”.

Just to quickly recap…because I’ve got new readers asking…I thought I’d hit a few FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions).

Current Sitch: we are living in a 2017 Forest River Cherokee, 27’ with one slide out along with two dogs and a cat. We are earning minimum wage as a Camp Host (I think it is Minimum Wage) working up to 8 hours a day for a concessionaire contracted by the US Forest Service.

The Top 8 Questions are:

1) When did you start Full Time RV’ing?

2) How is it living in the small space with Randy 24/7?

3) What brought you to this life? Do you like it? Why are you doing it?

4) Where are the closest showers?

5) Do you have to clean toilets? What are your duties as a Camp Host?

6) What has been your biggest challenge?

7) How much do you spend monthly?

8) How long are you planning on doing this?

My Responses…

Normally standing out in the middle of a campground, at the kiosk or near our trailer

1) When did you start Full Time RV’ing?

Officially June 1st 2017. We began planning for this at least a year prior but could not tell anyone about it until we felt confident it was really something we could do both mentally and physically.

2) How is it living in the small space with Randy 24/7?

Not bad. You get to understand the full extent of getting older together. Bodies make sounds and smells which are exaggerated in a small space – BOTH of us and the pets too. Tonight, for example, I walked into the house to feed the pets and stepped in a pile of poop left by Zoey (who is currently pissed at us for…we are not sure) then cleaned the cat box (thankfully Zoey doesn’t eat cat turds). In that scenario we work together well! Now if one of us gets gas it’s a whole other story. There is only one person that can fart near you and you have to take it: your spouse.

I’ll add “how is it living in a small space with two dogs and a cat?” NOT EASY. There is one thing I cannot stand and that is the sound of Kona or Zoey gnawing on themselves accompanied with the scent of wet dog. I gag and I’m irritated completely unable to concentrate. Right now, this very moment as an example, it is 6:00am and Kona is right here with me licking his “man parts” and Zoey is stuffing her face and tongue in between her toes over and over and over and over…it is something she’s done for years. It’s a miracle I’ve written this far.

3) What brought you to this life? Do you like it? Why are you doing it?

LIFE IS TOO SHORT! You do not have control of your future no matter how much you think you do. We want to check out the planet together and originally intended to just go where the wind would take us. We both dialed into researching “how to live full time in an RV” which connected us to various blogs and social media sites. That’s where we discovered Heath and Alyssa Padgett’s Make Money And RV page on Facebook. There was a post from a senior executive for the concessionaire who posted a HELP WANTED PLEASE CONTACT ME and we did. He needed a super part-time couple to manage a camp site. We’d never ever done it before but thought we’d give it a shot and applied. We got the job and worked our butts off like we have at every job we’ve ever done. That got us a transfer to another camp site to finish out the season – and it doubled our hours. So, our plans to budget and manage our finances just got a boost and that has helped manage a few unpredicted issues.

Longer term answer: We have worked since the age of 14 and when we met (on E-Harmony) we prioritized making enough of a living to provide what we could for our 4 kids. In the past decade we have lost some of the most loving family and friends. Too young. Too soon. It began the process of “awakening”. What in the WORLD are we doing killing ourselves to make a living with no plan otherwise.

Since we both LOVE the outdoors We decided to leap untethered into a world we knew little about. It has been a process of accepting “what is will be” at least until we figure out how to change it.

4) Where are the closest showers?

There is a resort just outside of the campground. Pine City or Pine Town. They have showers for the public. Bring quarters and don’t bother if it is freezing out. Science is science and the pipes will be frozen. They have a store with basics you may need for camping comforts but it doesn’t open until 3pm I’m told. We stopped in to check it out and found them to be pretty unfriendly and unwelcoming…so we don’t recommend shopping there.

5) Do you have to clean toilets? What are your duties as a Camp Host?

Yes.

Wake up > do an “A” clean of restrooms (which is checking basics are there – toilet paper, toilets flush properly, floors swept).

Pick-Up the DAR report (Daily Arrivals and Departures) for our zone. Visit each site to make sure the ARRIVAL sites are ready: no trash, fire pit cleaned out, tables washed, bear box clear and grounds raked.

Checkout time is NOON but people begin leaving earlier so we visit those empty sites and do an ARRIVAL process (then they’ll be ready and available for a Walk-Up).

Clean Restrooms “B” which is cleaning doors, walls, toilets and replenishing any basics like TP or trash liners…sweep if necessary.

Run notes, registrations, Arrival Placards, messages from kiosk to Campground hosts.

Sell firewood.

Manage Kiosk Opening and/or Closing (there is a set process and procedure to get the place ready to check guests in and out. Kiosk also includes answering any and all questions about the area of June lake: where to hike, getting to beach, where can dogs walk freely, where is the best fishing, laundry, showers, history of the area, why is there smoke in the sky (controlled burning has begun), how far is the June Loop, where is _________ (insert other campground in area), how much for this or that, what time is checkout, where can I park my extra car, are there full hook-ups, could I walk to the town of June, where is the marina (there are two), when do you close, when did you open, why do you charge $10 for the dump, who is in charge of your campground…and many more. I’ve learned TONS about this area (which makes me love it even more).

Final “A” clean of restrooms.

Be on-call 24/7 during the night for any/all of the above kiosk questions PLUS be prepared to handle drunk, belligerent and disrespectful guests bothering other guests or violating the Rules And Regulations. We have been woken at 4am all the way to 2am. Sleep with warm clothes on and a flashlight nearby just in case!

6) What has been your biggest challenge?

This is a tough one.

At Lake George we did not have internet and only spotty cell. We also did not have a stable leader to go to with questions about how to do our jobs or the rules and regulations for our campground. We had never been camp hosts before and the training we got was 15 minutes standing at the driveway in front of our trailer just prior to opening the site a quick once-over of how to write a Registration and how much things cost…and that we have to clean the restrooms 3x per day. The management was in a weird changeover and it was a hostile environment. Dog-eat-dog and we became a target because “we thought we knew how to do it better, eh!?!”. Thankfully we connected up with other hosts who gave us guidance that seemed to be in harmony with the Upper Echelons of the company. We got a lot of rave reviews from our guests and no complaints that we are aware of. We knew we would be able to manage 3 hours a day plus keep our other priorities in check (health, family, pet time). Living right on site meant we were “on” every moment we were there and we learned the only way we could really be “off duty” would be if we left the place altogether…which we did. 3 hours a day was more like 4 or 5 when you include all of the Information Center and Bear Management tasks we had to be responsible for. I made some really great friends at the US Forest Service and the workers that would visit every day often gave me tips on the laws, rules, regulations and expectations. We also became very good friends with Law Enforcement, Fire Department, Search and Rescue plus workers from other independent and private campgrounds within Mammoth.

At Oh! Ridge our biggest challenge became NO TIME to do anything but work. We were always hurrying to get our jobs finished and keep a high standard. There are lots of mini-Campgrounds within Oh! Ridge, I’ll try to name them off in order of the number of sites (which I believe there are 175 sites total): Bear, Duck, Squirrel, Rabbit, Coyote, Gull (those were what we took care of) then Owl, Fish and Deer.

We went from a 3 hour a day to a 6-8 hour a day overnight. On the one hand it was nice to be active and busy but on the other hand we had to scramble to get meals, exercise the pets (and ourselves), do laundry and keep the rig cleaned and maintained. Our “Off Duty” days were Monday and Tuesday which was a blessing for grocery shopping, postal needs and such. When we returned on Wednesday we were covering for the couple that managed Owl, Fish and Deer. We were EXHAUSTED on Wednesday and Thursday every week. We began working at Oh! Ridge on 9-11-17 which is not even a month (as of this writing). It took this long to figure out good systems that were efficient and productive with the tools we had to work with. Ha!

Overall: These challenges were not very upsetting. The Oh! Ridge experience was like a dessert compared to Lake George as far as management. The Site Manager (Karen) is a bad-ass-getter-done type of leader which is EXCELLENT for me. She met with us every day! We knew we were working on her priorities and as a team (with Sherri, Dick, Loretta and Steve) we kept Oh! Ridge humming.

7) How much do you spend monthly?

$2,500 approximately. We had unplanned animal expenses that were not cheap. Our “rent” is included in our compensation as Camp Hosts (water and power). We have to buy propane. Food here is out the roof expensive – dining out is a joke plus the quality of the food here pretty disappointing. Here, by the way, is June Lake. In Mammoth there are better choices for dining but the prices are 25-40% HIGHER than Simi Valley California (eastern Ventura County). We pay for fuel for the truck and have bills we still carry with us.

8) How long are you planning on doing this?

We plan to finish the season as needed by Karen then have an open calendar to decide what is next. Being a Camp Host for us has been a very good experience overall. We did not know what to expect so when things got hairy we sort of figured that must be “normal”. We did not let stress or the craziness that was here before we got here invade our lives. We worked hard and kept our integrity in to give more than what we got in pay and benefits.

At the end of the Lake George season we attended our Company Appreciation Luncheon where we were asked to fill in applications to return and pick our top three requested locations. We’ll see if we are asked to return. Between Lake George and getting asked to go to Oh! Ridge we wrote letters to Upper Management letting them know what we’d experienced. We have yet to hear back (and we actually hope to). That will determine whether or not we return to this particular company or work for another. THERE ARE SO MANY DIFFERENT COMPANIES TO WORK CAMP FOR and we’ve got a list of possible places across the USA.

OTHER QUESTIONS PEOPLE THAT KNOW US MIGHT ASK

Have you moved anyone’s tent?

Funny thing is that we’ve had people move into sites without paying and it took EVERYTHING within me NOT TO MOVE THEIR BELONGINGS. Randy filled me in on the risks involved – if something were touched and broke then we would be blamed. So, with a lot of willpower, I did not touch anyone’s stuff to move it.

Do you like what you are doing?

Absolutely love this life.

We are living in the NOW and enjoying the ups and downs…not too much planned in the future. In hindsight, my past has been filled with hopes, plans (even putting my money down to MAKE SURE) and logistics that had to be cancelled. That sucks when it happens because of wasted time and money plus the mental sadness when you fail to accomplish something.

How long will you do it?

No plans to end any time soon. We began with a “wish list” of places to visit and after meeting close to 800 people since we left Simi Valley…the list has GROWN!

Are you getting on each other’s nerves?

Yes. Everyone is getting on my nerves regularly. This is where I have to stop being so picky about things. For example, if Kona would stop BREATHING on me when I’m trying to tie my shoe, if Zoey would stop gnawing on her lady-parts 3 feet from me and if Randy would stop walking like Shrek whilst inside the RV that would be great.

We really don’t have “personal spaces” because it’s just one big space. I busy my mind with cleaning when it gets to be too much.

I don’t think ANYTHING gets on Randy’s nerves (which gets on my nerves).

How are the pets?

The dogs have always and only known a life that is with us day and night. Kona grew up with 805 Boot Camp (lots of other dog butts to sniff and lots of miles to run…all the time). Now we are challenged with continuing this fun and the new places are great for sniffing and running.

Kona and Zoey are 10 and 12 years old. They are OLD and their bodies are notably slowing down.

Did you go to Ireland?

SADLY we did not. The trip to Ireland was our beacon and the highlight of our life and we were planning around it. Our daughter gave us this gift and it was the hardest decision to make. It was, quite frankly, the most heartfelt gift I think I’ve ever received because it came from her and the road we have been on as mom and daughter was “challenging”.

The reason we chose not to go was animal related. Our pets, as I said above, are old. Zoey has body problems pretty much every hour and a while we were at Lake George she had some sort of pain that drove her to SCREAMING (I’ve never heard a dog scream) in pain and writhing all over the backseat and peeing. Randy almost crashed the truck it freaked us out. Then there’s Kona who THINKS he is a 16 year old Ultra Runner and always ALWAYS overdoing any physical activity which then results in hobbling, swollen joints and clearly suffering for days after. Lastly we have Piper who will (most likely) run away in search of us if we leave her. She has become our Private Security Guard and Personal Herder. We went away on a holiday when she first joined our family and the reports I got were she had left her tootsie-roll gifts beneath my desk chair – like LOTS of them. Maybe if the pets were newer to our lives? Not so dependent on US in particular? They are truly our furry children and leaving them with our dear friend would have put a lot of strain on that friendship (GUARANTEED), our pets and definitely taken the fun out of our trip abroad.

Our daughter was the coolest cat when we broke the news to her…she understood our dilemma and what a RELIEF that was. We still plan to go abroad!

How are your kids?

They are incredible! We are in regular contact with them about how life is going.

One is in Utah busting out College.

One is in Oregon busting out College.

One is in Santa Barbara busting out a career in the field she graduated from College at.

Amanda’s final resting place was decorated by friends in our absence but we feel her presence with us every day. Just a shout out to those of you that have taken the time to visit and snap a photo: THANK YOU so much. You do not know how deeply moving it is to see her gravesite so beautiful!

June Lake Brewing

We are hurrying to experience the different parts of June Lake…mostly based off of recommendations by people we meet or those we trust that have been here before.

On that note…we HAD to go to June Lake Brewing Company so what’s-his-name could get a beer.

I’m not really into beer but I am into having a good attitude and also into seeing my Husband Unit happy!

We heard a rumor of a Hawaiian Food Truck parked outside of a brewery and we JUST HAPPENED to need to go into June Lake to pick up our mail.

Now June Lake is all of 8 blocks by 4 blocks and bumps right up to the lake. It’s sincerely a beautiful little town (they don’t have a filling station but they do have a tiny grocery store with 14 aisles of essentials INCLUDING an organic section!).

You can’t get LOST in June Lake unless you are completely focused on drinking a cold beer sitting by the lake instead of actually replicating the clear directions given to you by a trusted friend. So we got lost SOMEHOW in a 8 x 4 block area. Luckily it was daytime.

After making 5 or 6 right turns we hit the T and there it was: June Lake Brewing Company.

If there were soundtracks with life this vision would be accompanied by the London Philharmonic Orchestra laying down Gershwin’s Rhapsody In Blue in an outdoor venue.

Sun blasted all around us.

The golden leaves on the trees surrounding the intersection glistened and waved in a very welcoming way.

I felt my Husband Unit breathe deeply in anticipation.

Time to park the big ass truck we have. Hmmmm….let’s see…there are plenty of options.

But tunnel vision took over again so we parked completely crooked in a beat up parking lot almost hitting two pedestrians and a brick wall. I kept my mouth shut and hesitated before getting out just to scan WHO SAW THIS ALL HAPPEN (how embarrassing!).

Once the coast was clear I joined Husband Unit at the Hawaiian Food Truck where he was staring and scanning at the incredible options available to us. The brewery was on the other side of the parking lot and there were plenty of happy beer-sipping people on the deck in the sunshine enjoying themselves.

We ordered (I got a vegetarian noodle thing with kale and a medley of other fine veggies…and a super hot pepper sweet sauce on the side and he got Poke Tacos with cold slaw). As he paid (which tax was included) he inquired about eating it with his beer over at the JLB. “Oh we’ll bring it on over to you, sir!” He glanced at me with complete excitement! “Wow that is freaking cool!” I told the young lady (everyone is young here, for the record).

Next stop: June Lake Brewing Company’s outdoor dining area “Sunshine Preferred”. It was a little chilly out (our nights have been in the 20’s and the afternoon has been in the 70’s).

We scooted into a table sharing it with a young (again, everyone is young here) “working out their personal problems over a brew or two”. Randy SPRINTED (practically) into the brew house as I yelled after him to just pick something out for me.

Cue Gershwin again as he returns to our perfect little table spot with two glasses of golden nectar AND within 2 minutes of sitting down our lunch was delivered. Timing!

My noodles were OK, I wasn’t actually hungry. The beer was “beer” with a ginger aftertaste…meh. But we aren’t here for me so I sipped politely and ate slowly.

Husband Unit, on the other hand, was in heaven. He wolfed down his first poke taco too quickly IMO. I’ve learned to stop trying to regulate the speed he eats (which is bionic).

In the old days, when I’d mention he might consider slowing down to give his taste buds a chance to TASTE the thing, he would reply, “my mom raised me to eat fast and we always ate fast…can’t have my food cold.” My retort was (I thought) common sense: “Honey, that was over 40 years ago. I think you could move on from that one.” To which he just smiles.

ANYWAY, one taco down and he began eyeing my noodles. I pushed my dish over and encouraged him to “give this a taste!” It was really flavorful, hot and filling. I pretended to sip my beer and looked around the deck giving him the opportunity to feel shovel huge Daddy-Size bites before pushing my dish back to my side of the table.

My appetite was satisfied and as he polished off his last taco I asked if he’d finish my noodles. Pointing at my paper bowl, “I’ll be getting THIS next time we come here.” He gulped down more cold beer visibly HAPPY and RELAXED.

“This place rocks!”

Yes it does.

Yes, it really does.

Cheers!

Bouncing Off The Treadmill

Yesterday I was a little scatter-brained when we went to the gym.

It was another 8 hour work day and most of it spent in the kiosk helping people check in and answering questions over and over and over and over. I’m not complaining, I’m reporting.

Right after lunch there was a line of automobiles, RV’s, Travel Trailers and trucks about 10 deep. I got a little rattled starting right at that moment in time. I think we all know when things are out of our control (even a tiny bit). I think a little bit of “fight-or-flight” adrenaline leaks into the nervous system.

Being a Libra on the cusp of Scorpio, you will rarely find me backing down to fly.

Currently the computer I have to work on is from, I’m gonna guess, 1989. It is a Compaq and paint dries faster than clicking a mouse to close a screen. Prior to having my own business I spent 20+ years in the world of VAX/VMS then Windows. Today I alerted my boss to the many warning messages that pop-up when booting up in the morning. This poor workhorse is on it’s final days and so are we with this 2017 Season.

I am a snap-and-pop worker. I fill find wasted time and motion and remove it from any job I’m supposed to get done. When people talk about being paid “by the hour” or “by the project” I am will always choose the latter. This is something I am proud of – and Randy is the same way. We get shit DONE and do it well the first time (for the most part). We don’t complain. We WORK.

So, moving in slo-mo makes me anxious. Having a line of 10 people waiting to get help looks like I’m slacking off! “Flight” crosses my mind.

One lady, in a Mercedes Camper, felt she should not have to wait her turn. She sashayed up to the kiosk window and interrupted me IN THE MIDDLE OF A SENTENCE WITH A NICE COUPLE WAITING PATIENTLY TO COMPLETE THEIR REGISTRATION.

She PISSED ME OFF immediately. I really think it is one of the most awful things to interrupt someone and especially MID SENTENCE.

I have to keep my manners in though, so I let her know I’d be able to help her when it was her turn.

She didn’t give up. She remained there with her fancy sunglasses, hot red lipstick and perfectly coiffed hair. She asked me the same question and I dramatically set my hands down holding the paperwork for the couple and looked right at her and repeated SLOWLY but MOST DEFINITELY that I’d help her when it was her turn. I was not condescending or snooty (for the record).

She tried AGAIN! I realized this woman (who might be in her 50’s or 60’s) did not wait much for anything. This was extremely difficult for her to have to tolerate what was happening. I had zero compassion (which is very unusual for me).

I threepeated: “Ma’am, I’ll be able to help you when it is your turn. I cannot answer your questions until I finish each person in front of you.”

She looked exasperated as she said (with pursed lips), “Should I just go back to my car!?!?”

The couple, having witnessed this entire interruption but kept cool waiting, nodded YES silently.

I confirmed that she got it right, and it would be her turn soon.

She tried AGAIN, which would be a quattuorpeat, to have me answer her questions.

My jaw dropped, the couple in the car stared in disbelief as their jaw dropped and then there was just silence between all of us. The roar and rattle of the diesel truck engine humming seemed to fill the air more.

“I’m just going to go back to my car and let my husband know what’s happening.”

“That sounds good. I’ll see you soon.”

Thankfully (THANKFULLY!) my co-worker Loretta appeared in the kiosk to help me. Ahhhhhh….help has arrived!

Loretta is a BADASS ADMINISTRATOR. She knows everything there is to know about this campground and she is zen-like in all of the training she has given me. I didn’t get to tell her about Mercedes Lady being so pushy.

The couple got checked in and Diesel Truck Guy rolled up to the window.

SIDE NOTE: It is an unspoken rule to TURN THE TRUCK OFF when you need to engage in a conversation of importance. This is an important rule. If you have a Diesel engine, please remember it.

Diesel Truck Guy (DTG) turned off his truck (thank you!) and asked if “we had any spots available?”

Yes. We do.

“For three nights?”

Enter screeching tire sound.

It’s Thursday. Probably the SECOND worst day to try to find a campsite. Friday is even WORSE for people without reservations. Very risky. VERY RISKY because it’s almost the weekend plus all of the campsites in June Lake are SOLD OUT! The Tioga Pass was closed due to ice and snow…people are turning back.

I want to help this nice guy and his family.

“Actually I need to get two sites and need them to be next to each other. I also need space for an extra car.”

My stomach drops.

His wife leans over to add, “can we have a place with trees for shade too?”

I hope so. I WANT to give them their wish.

But here’s the thing: I have to use my slo-mo computer to run a search then write down the sites that are available (forget any detailed parameters like trees, extra space for a car and side-by-side).

I enter in the algorithm and press SEARCH.

Waiting….waiting…waiting…

Glancing out the window to see how bad the pile-up of waiting guests is I notice 3 more added and now I’m pretty sure we are backed up into the Pine Cliff RV Resort now. CRAP!!!

Yes! Results. I tell them I have three options and they can drive around then choose which works and come back up to pay. The man, BLESS HIS SOUL, ignores his wife and says BOOK ME IN THE ONE YOU THINK WORKS THE BEST. Ahhhhh…. thank you thank you thank you!! Sites 90 and 91.

Done and done.

He rolls off and I’m ready to punch-out for the day mentally. This is how Thursday Kiosk Work seems to be. I have done it enough times now to see the pattern.

My mind is on getting OUT of the kiosk and onto the golf cart to do some rounds cleaning restrooms. Yes, I would rather clean restrooms than stand in a little box for another two hours. Loretta takes over and I’m out of there like a long arm through a short sleeve.

Randy put the pedal to the metal and off we putted toward Squirrel Loop. The wind in my face and the sun on my arms felt GOOD!

TIME TO GO TO THE GYM…AGAIN

We have been hitting the gym every day and now I’m getting to crave it…sort of. I knew we had to go today for sure just to move that Mercedes Lady out of my mind.

After sparkling the 6 restrooms we changed into our gym clothes, put a couple of potatoes in the oven and set off to the spa/resort/gym.

Things were hurried because of the potatoes in the oven!

I got my locker all situated and rushed up to the treadmill with my ear buds (yes Eric…I am using earbuds).

A young lady, maybe 19-20, was running on the treadmill Randy normally uses which is on my left. He chose the one on my right and had it on an incline. The entire thing was shaking and slamming on the ground with every step. It was like Shrek on a treadmill. He was bothered by this and I guess I have to admit I sort of ignored him.

Normally I look at him and say, “I”m putting earbuds in…is there anything you need to tell me beforehand?” Since I know he gets super bothered with people wearing earbuds (they ignore you when you talk directly to them).

I didn’t do that. BIG mistake.

I plugged into the TV monitor thing and hit AUTO START. Began moving.

After about 2 minutes Randy turned to me and started talking – but I couldn’t hear him.

So I reached up to pull the earbud out of my head when it popped off and hit my treadmill bouncing onto the girl’s treadmill next to me.

This is where things began to SLOW DOWN.

Randy is yammering on behind me, I’m watching my ear bud bounce away into vapor nothingness and disappear so I THOUGHT I’d hit the STOP button while turning to step off to grab the bud before it bounced completely out of sight.

That’s when I did it.

I joined that club of “Funniest Videos: Treadmill Face Plants”.

I knew, a split second TOO LATE, I’d made a huge huge mistake.

My right foot went down on the left side facing backwards. It just flipped me all the way UP and into the air and then I landed HALFWAY on my treadmill (which was STILL ON AND ROLLING) and that 19-year old girl next to me (who had headphones on and was ignoring me the entire time).

That girl didn’t miss a beat in her steps.

Randy, on the other hand, smashed my STOP BUTTON and yelled out, “Oh no HONEY!?”

I guess it must have sounded like a steer falling sideways and landing HARD to the people below.

I put my hand down to break the fall and the belt was still rolling so THAT was dumb.

My face, shoulder and arm slipped out from that idea and down I went…again.

How could this happen so fast and TWICE?

I prioritized instantly.

FIND. EAR. BUD.

Spider-like I began roaming the carpet looking for my bud.

Randy joined the search.

The girl STEPPED OVER ME to leave. She wasn’t phased and also couldn’t care less.

Bud was GONE.

Got my phone out and used the flashlight to scope beneath her treadmill.

Not there.

Continued looking and BY CHANCE saw it had somehow landed near the stairs leading down to the gym.

GOOD NEWS

Despite falling and being shot off the back of the treadmill…twice…

1) I didn’t hurt myself

2) I found my bud

3) The girl left which gave me more space

4) I finished my workout

5) Falling asleep was easy…laughing about what happened was easier.

Camp Hosting is still fun and I look forward to tomorrow.

Deer, Ducks, Deer, Door Knobs and More Deer

Tonight is “date night”.

We are at The Tiger Bar smack dab in the middle of June Lake’s little town…to watch the USC game. I have my back to the TVs and hubbub and Randy is engrossed in the game. I also have my headphones in but I can hear Eye Of The Tiger and Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back In Town” (love that tune!) and Van Halen’s Hot For Teacher blasting over the pool tables into the old old cracks and crevices of this bar.

SIDEBAR: Randy was almost killed in this bar in 1986, 31 years ago. I really don’t believe he could have pissed off the Locals – but the party he was with DID and they surrounded them like a pack of wolves (there were 8 of them and 15 Locals). SOMEONE got mouthy and didn’t follow protocol for playing on the ONLY pool table in the joint. Obviously this required a beat down to “make sure this don’t happen again.”

They got out alive, no broken bones. I am gonna guess it was just ONE drunk friend that caused all of the problems.

You know, if you are someone that drinks (alcohol) would you agree that pretty much EVERY stupid thing you’ve ever done was preceded with alcohol? Think about that before you reply.

TODAY WAS INCREDIBLE

It’s Saturday. One of THE BUSIEST days in Camp Hosting. I’m learning so much! I’m also realizing how happy I am. My life is seriously SIMPLE. Not perfect…just SIMPLE.

Our days are PACKED now. We are working pretty much full time to help keep this campground humming with happy. Friday is the most busy day with people arriving to have a weekend of relaxation and “happy”.

I’m not sleeping that great these days. Every single night my arms go numb. I think this is because I am trying to NOT disturb Randy or Piper (who seems to plant herself…kneading into a nice warm cozy spot so keeping to the very edge of the bed trying to keep my limbs under the covers).

We wake up at about 6:00am. Randy gets the coffee rolling and all of the animals (me too) stay warm under our covers until he announces it is ready. I have no idea what he does for that period of time. I am trying to un-numb my arms most mornings. I think my pillow is too soft.

After coffee we get our uniforms on and head out the door (pets still in bed!) to clean rest rooms, pick up bits of trash and watch out for the deer that have been migrating.

MENTAL NOTE: I think it sucks that the MIGRATING OF DEER coincides with the HUNTING SEASON. I call BULLSHIT on the need to hunt deer. Seriously. If there is one animal that is overpopulating it is HUMANS and we don’t have a hunting season for them. Deer (and any other animal) are not hurting humans. It is always HUMANS screwing things up. Why is this so difficult to admit? They eat SAGE. When have you been concerned about your SAGE INTAKE?

Back to my work… we have to zip around in a golf cart and make sure camp sites are ready for arriving people looking for “happy”. Oh let me tell you how I sparkle a camp site. I am an expert at this now and can spot trash a half a mile away.

Today is when I realized how lucky I am. I would NEVER have felt this way 10, 20 or 30 years ago. Picking up trash!?!? As a JOB? Yes. I am doing that and I LOVE how little stress there is connected to this.

I do have a beef with the family that left a complete doorknob in the fire pit. WHY? Who brings doorknobs with them camping?

There are a few families of deer we have been bumping into on a regular basis. Today we met them THREE times. I feel so lucky when this happens. They are simply eating to live/survive. They are eating the plants and berries. There is a mommy and two fawns.

We take care of four different camp grounds (Bear, Duck, Squirrel, Rabbit, Coyote and Gull). Within those grounds are close to 100 campsites (maybe more, I’ll count another time).

Again, like Lake George, everyone is SO HAPPY to be there and enjoy themselves. We had 4 (maybe 5) wieners at Lake George. So far we have had zero here. On the flip size I think I met a distant relative! Like from the 1800’s. My Martz Family Line.

For lunch we had to zip to Silverlake to get our propane tanks filled up. That’s when I got to meet a bunch of duck. I tried to network.

We headed back after lunch to handle a final run through the rest rooms (cleaning) and any miscellaneous tasks our co-workers needed. Working with these new camp hosts has been super enlightening. They have been FULL TIME for over 9 years!! WHAT!?? Talk about experience and know how. I’m like a sponge when they have anything to say.

Our new boss (Karen) is off the charts AMAZING and we are happy to work to keep her happy.

Our new Camp Host friends are Dick and Sherrie (couple) and Loretta and Steve.

I also got to work in the kiosk and meet some pretty cool people – like these tourists from Germany rolling in on their motorcycles.

Those Germans know how to have a fun time!

That’s it on my update for today.

I hope everyone is having a great life. I will always hope you are working for your own dreams and not the ego of someone else as well.

Keep moving across the planet my friends!

🙂 Sarita

Video of me trying to give the family of deer some water… Video by Randy

The Longest Day So Far

Today was the LONGEST work day I’ve had in YEARS.

Physical labor. Not much sitting down at all. Moving moving moving.

My feet are tired, my little corn on my left toe is screaming (ok, whining) and I’m just POOPED but I loved pretty much every minute.

We got up at 6:30am to get a jump on the bathrooms. It’s just not right to wait to clean a bathroom “between visitors” you know what I mean? So our goal was to clean those puppies BEFORE anyone woke up.

It was 34 degrees when the sun broke over the mountain and slightly illuminated our bedroom.

Randy hurried over to flick on the heater and then get coffee roaring. Ahhhh….I love our little house because the smell of the coffee just pours into the bedroom (which just happens to be 10 feet away).

Small House. Little Living. Trailer Life. I am still enjoying it despite the few things I am also missing (can’t lie).

We got our morning chores done and reported to The Kiosk to find out how many campsites would need to be cleaned (a job I really enjoy). It’s been averaging 20-30 sites every day with people coming and going. We are responsible for about 125 campsites and 6 bathrooms (9 toilets, 12 sinks and 3 urinals [gross!!]). This was the first shocker when we took this new job in June Lake. Our Lake George campground had 16 sites, two bathrooms (6 toilets).

WHAT AM I MISSING?

As a day rolls by I realize old habits or comforts that I am missing. Today I had plenty of time to remember them as I did my zen-raking on each campsite.

Manicures and pedicures. The weather here is dry and being at 9,000 elevation (Lake George) put a strain on my cuticles something FIERCE. I have been soaking my feet and caring for my fingers and toes but there is NOTHING like a Spa Mani/Pedi from Tammy at The Nails Spa in Simi Valley, California. If you live there don’t be a fool…book an appointment. You’re welcome.

Internet. We did NOT plan this very well. Ever heard of throttling? Yeah, they really do that if you exceed a certain amount of data.

News. I can’t believe I miss news. Like LOCAL stuff and then super broad stuff. I am overwhelmed when I finally GET Internet and then have to choose from 200 places. I just want actual FACTS not blown up inflated opinions. So, I guess I’ll never get that.

Music and Current Movies. WHAT IS HAPPENING?? I need more Apple money I guess. They want to charge so much to get a movie and we are on a tight budget which has resulted in watching Tombstone 20 times. Thankfully I found a thrift store and within it discovered three amazing movies! 50-cents each. WHaaaaa??? We get home and pop them in only to discover they are the “Disc 2” filled with…NOTHING I AM INTERESTED IN. Back to square one. If you have a movie/DVD and don’t want it anymore feel free to send it to SARITA SHOEMAKER General Delivery June Lake, CA 93529. I will pay it forward and donate it to a good place.

Washer and Dryer. I think we washed clothing every day when we had the set. Now we do laundry when we have ONE pair of underwear left or we get a whiff of the dog beds. I think we did pretty good on the amount of clothing (and we have uniform shirts which helps) needed. I will need to purchase another pair or two of my favorite Kuhl outdoor slacks for the winter and some long underwear too. On the flip side: I should begin a page of all of the Laundry Mats we have used since we began, their prices and cleanliness. I do like getting ALL of my laundry done within 60 minutes!

MY FREAKING CLOUD! What is the use of having the Cloud (MAC) if you don’t have WIFI to UPDATE THE FREAKING THING. Right now I have two devices NOT talking to each other properly. I did not realize how valuable The iCloud was until we hit the road. Dang it.

Bathtub. My entire life (sans being locked up in Scientology) I took a bath every single day of my life before bed. My mom wouldn’t let us go to bed without one. I spent a ton of time sitting with my mom while she bathed talking about “stuff”. The bathtub is something I long for and realized that I would only get if we stayed at a hotel. WELL WE PLAN TO STAY AT A HOTEL SOON AND OMG I AM TAKING A BATH ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL DAY AND NIGHT!!!!!! Ha ha ha ha!! I can’t wait. Meanwhile I figured out how to wash my hair, shave the necessary lady-parts and cleanse my face with my favorite face cleanser without using ALL of the hot water. Randy says things will sure be different when it is below freezing EVERY day. Oh yes, that’s a fact JACK!

THINGS I’VE LEARNED TO LOVE AGAIN EVEN MORE

I also had plenty of time to reflect on what has grown in width and depth (maybe that is because I spend more time appreciating things than I have before).

Weather. So far we have had every type of weather except snow (which is coming!). I watch the skies more and can smell the weather changing. When I open my eyes in the morning (and my bed is 1 foot from a window that we always keep open) I take a deep breath in through my nose keeping my eyes closed to imagine what the weather will be.

Deep and sincere friends. I grew up in an age where we passed notes (wish I had some of those), made SLAM Books, had parties, went to foot ball games and talked into the night about the cutest boys ever. Then I went off the rails and became part of a cult where trust was only with one person. Friends did not exist! No, I am not kidding. I learned how untrustworthy people were when I joined that dumb cult. The result has been no friends. Except I think I have a few sprouts starting up again and write to them telling them my deepest thoughts. It is still an uncomfortable part of my life but I am stepping out slowly hoping that the people I call my friends really ARE my friends and would be there for me (I would be there for them).

Doodling. I love doodling so much that the ink in my art pens is almost out. I included a few doodle cards above. I’m not sure who I will be writing to with them! I’m making my own line of stationary. I write letters by hand, address them in handwriting and put a stamp on them. I fill them with personal thoughts and ideas! They are special for each person and on top of that I like to make the envelope fancy (because who doesn’t love getting a fancy letter compared to a bill these days??).

Campfire. We get a bonus pretty much every day of people leaving but not taking their firewood. Today we scored a bunch of hardwood which makes the BEST campfires ever. I love when Randy is excited and that is one thing he gets excited about: hard wood. He makes a giant production of getting a fire going and the result is I get to be a Princess and enjoy his work. I’m writing my blog sitting by the fire right now.

Pet time. We have three “fur kids” that make it exciting to rush home to spend time with. I had them in my life before we started this adventure but nothing like this. I spend more time taking Piper (the cat) on walks now than I ever did. I just love seeing them enjoy themselves.

Reading. Without internet I’ve picked up more books to read. I’d like to send a BIG HUG AND SHOUT OUT to Lucy Leyda for Jonathan Livingston Seagull. I finished it and felt very deeply inspired. Thank you so much. Right now I’m reading Louis Lamour books. A camper gave us 10 of them! This is the author I read when I became a mom. I had my son with me and read as many LL books as I could. Good memories of quiet time with my little baby who was a mystery to me.

Manual Labor. I have done so many jobs in my life that required manual labor. I love the exhausted feeling I have after working all day. Seriously. If you have a desk job I would highly recommend you get a second job or volunteer doing physical labor. Your back will hurt, you’ll break nails, you will be starving within 2 hours and you’ll figure out a “zen” system. I love feeling exhausted at the end of the day! I love being the opposite of a White-Collar worker stuck in a cubicle or at a desk.

Strangers. The people we meet are normally on their best behavior. It’s part of our nature to have good manners for the most part. When someone arrives to camp there is a feeling of accomplishment and relief! They have been thinking about this moment for weeks, months if not an entire YEAR. They made it! They’re checking in to have time away and mostly unplug from whatever their lives were before. Meeting people in these circumstances makes it easy to strike up conversation and become quick friends to help them along. Of course there are the folks that just cannot or will not be satisfied but that is eclipsed 10-times by the happy people.

Habits in conserving. Ahhhh….never EVER thought I’d be capable of this level of change. Having a Full Hook Up site has been dreamy for the three necessities: water, power and waste “management”. That doesn’t change the fact that our tanks are only 46 gallons fresh water, 64 grey water and 42 gallons black water. Once the grey and black are filled up 75% we start to smell them which is just damn gross. I never leave the faucet running. Try it! It’s a tough habit to change. I wipe off my dishes before cleaning, showing isn’t easy (or that fun) because my hair is long but I’ve got a system of rinse, suds, rinse, suds, rinse which works great and I plan my cooking in advance (space issues also contribute to this need). I don’t know when the last time I took a bath was but that’s all I could THINK about when we checked into a hotel room. The volume of water, the unlimited hot water, the tub…boy do I appreciate all of that even more.

Dining out and Dining In. When we go out to eat it is actually special! We’re too far away from a convenient (lazy) solution of someone else doing the cooking and cleaning. I now look closely at every item on a menu to choose something I could not make myself at home. When we are eating at home I am limited on what I’ve got to work with. The other day I threw together an incredibly DELICIOUS meal with kale, corn on the cob, quinoa (love red quinoa by the way) and beans. I still do not plan ahead very well and we have “Shoemaker Tapas” which is chopped veggies, hummus, chips, quacamole, salsa, cheese, crackers… basically finger food easy combos. Working more hours now means we are both pretty tired.

JOURNALING

This has become more of a diary and journal for myself!

Time is zooming past. Someone posted that Costco has Christmas decor already on display.

I am all about slowing down and noticing the subtle changes in my life without any sort of solid plan.

This idea and concept is so far from my past life I am surprising even myself.

Does my blog provide you any sort of entertainment?

PHOTOS BY ME

From the top

1) Z. Alexander Brown vino (currently in my Top 5 list) and my latest doodle creations. Who will receive these? I’m not sure yet.

2) A secret path we were given to June Lake where we can bring the dogs without violating any rules or regulations.

3) Laundry Day! Piper came along on this trip. We spend an average of $21 every 10 days on laundry. Not including soaps.

4) Big storms show up on MyRadar. This one was semi-scary because the skies turned into tornado weather which I had plenty of experience with in Ohio.

5) Randy’s fire ring is triple the size so that means the quality of our campfires is triple as well. I like sipping a cocktail by these babies.

6) Silverlake Resort has a dining room. When we arrived it was packed (lunch time). Very limited seating, large portions and veggie options! Yay! It seems most places here also have wine and beer on their menu for those folks on a vacation (not having to get back to work after lunch).