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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Amazon Update, and Making a Move

Location: Campbellsville, KY (High 57, Low 53)

Another week down – Week 8!! They are sure rushing by. The work levels seemed to be holding steady over the past four days, although they did offer VTO again three days out of the four. We were thinking that this seemed late in the season to be offering time off, but then I looked back at my blog for last year and we seem to be following the same pattern. In fact, I noted in my blog post for the the last week of October that we jumped right from voluntary time off to mandatory overtime. While we are enjoying our three days off each week, I am looking forward to that nice little jump in our paychecks.

Harry and I both have been spending a lot of time on the receive dock. I really enjoy the physical aspect of the work as the days go by really quickly. My hands are sore and sometimes my back tells me at the end of the day that I’ve lifted a lot of heavy boxes, but overall I’m feeling pretty good. I’ve also done pallet receive, which entails working on the dock to receive an entire pallet of product at one time. I didn’t do pallet receive at all last year, so this has been a new function for me. There are some days when we can do two or three different jobs in the course of the ten hour period.

We actually ended up driving to work a couple of our work days this week because the weather was so rainy. As in downpours! But thankfully it was just rain. We were under a slight risk for severe weather in this area, but ended up just having a few thunderstorms. Nice.

One very nice thing about our three days off this week is that my birthday falls right in the middle of it. And the weather is supposed to be great – high of 73 and sunny! I have a great day planned. I am going to go for a run in the morning, have a massage scheduled for midday and then out to Mexican for dinner. Open-mouthed smile

On the home front, we’ve been making a decision about our mail forwarding service. Currently we use Alternative Resources (which recently changed its name to Dakota Post). For various reasons, we had settled on South Dakota as our state of choice when we hit the road. But recent developments had made us rethink that. It started last year when we discovered that the law which supposedly enabled people to renew their license by mail one time before having to return to the state to renew in person doesn’t apply to rv’ers. I’ve still heard varying opinions about this, but according to our mail service, you must have proof of a stay within thirty days of renewing, which to me means it doesn’t work for rv’ers. So, because of this, Harry and I had already decided to switch our domicile when our licenses came up for renewal.

Our plans were accelerated this fall when we received notice that our mail forwarding company was moving. While mentally I wasn’t really ready to go through all the moving of addresses/insurance etc that changing our domicile state entailed, after thinking about it a bit, we decided that it really didn’t make sense to move all of our addresses and then do it again in two years. So we’ve made the decision and we’re moving to Florida!

We started last week by calling the place we decided on for our new mail forwarding service – St. Brendan’s Isle in Green Cove Springs, FL. We almost went with them two years ago before we decided on SD, and in hindsight we should have, but oh well, you win some, you lose some. We now have a new address, and will start the process of changing the address on all our accounts. We haven’t switched our insurance yet, but we did call our company (Geico) and have an idea of what our new rate will be. Our insurance is going up a bit, but the registration fee is going down, so it’s pretty much going to wash out. We will stop on our way down to Marathon at the end of December and get our registration and licenses taken care of. I’m glad that at least we’re getting started now. We will have some time to work on changing addresses on our days off before our old address is no more.

We definitely have enough going on to keep us busy. Smile

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Amazon Week 7 and Making Decisions

Location: Campbellsville, KY (High 78, Low 51)

Another work week has flown by! While the work seemed to be picking up a bit, VTO was still offered three out of the four days. We stuck to the plan and stayed each time. It actually has worked out great because so many people leave that there is plenty of work for us to keep right on doing our normal jobs. Last year the other campers on our shift also stayed but this year our co-camperforce people are mostly leaving. At least the ones on our shift and in our department.

My muscles are definitely holding up better this year. I really don’t think it’s all from our running, because even my arms and shoulders are feeling pretty good. The only explanation I can come up with is that some of my toning up from last peak season gave me a head start this year. Whatever the reason, I’m feeling pretty good and am very happy that I am still getting a good night’s sleep and not having the numbness issues that kept me up so many nights last year.

On the home front, we have been very happy to have found a mobile rv tech who is going to replace our hot water heater. He is pretty far away so we have to pay a distance charge but we are so relieved that we don’t have to pack up the fiver for a trip to the local repair place. Monetarily, it’s going to break about even as he was able to work with Suburban to get our water heater replaced even though we were four months out of warranty. (On a side note, since I don’t really feel like describing all the depressing gory details but want to warn anyone considering an extended warranty…do NOT go with Interstate National Dealer Services!! From our experience they are not worth the money. Yes, you can infer from that sentence that we are on our own with this water heater repair.)

Now to the decision making part of the title…over the past year or so, Harry and I have been looking at the new floorplans coming out of Heartland and discussing when/if we would upgrade to a new rig. We’ve kind of always assumed that we would at some point and the conversation was more about when we would trade this one in more than if we would. We actually had a schedule and planned to trade up in about three years. (Yes, notice I said had.)

So, this morning we were talking about how much we love all the windows in our fiver. The cross ventilation is awesome. We were talking about some of the other rigs we’ve seen in our section here, and even though they’re very nice, many of them have whole sides with hardly any windows. The new floorplans we’ve been looking at and thinking about trading for also have entertainment centers on the kitchen side and therefore no windows on that side. And then came our Eureka! moment. Why are we planning on trading in a fiver with a floorplan that we love and a rig with no issues for a new rig that could possibly have issues and a floorplan that we don’t like as much? We have already made so many modifications to this fiver to make it our own – why start over having to go through all that again? So after going back and forth over the pros and cons, and really there were a lot of pros and not too many cons…we have made a decision…we’re sticking with what we’ve got, and if we want to do upgrades, we’ll do it with systems and not with the whole rig. (Of course, that assumes no catastrophic failures of any sort…all things being equal and all that good stuff…)

And at this moment I have a husband happily poring over information on how to put a television in our basement….

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Amazon News Week Six

Location: Campbellsville, KY (HIgh 85, Low 55)

Another week down! This one seemed a little busier at the facility, with no VTO offered to our shift. I did hear of some being offered to other departments and shifts though. Work volume is supposed to start picking up now as we head into October.

The big news yesterday was about the Coffeyville facility. We were called to a short meeting right before lunch where a Sr. Manager read from a prepared announcement. The Coffeyville fulfillment center will be closing in Feb. 2015. This year’s peak won’t be affected, but as soon as the season is over they will begin the dismantling process in the building. The fulltime employees have been offered the opportunity to transfer to another facility in the country if they choose to do so. In coming years it will be interesting to see how this affects the camperforce program. There was a new facility that hired campers this year in Murfreesboro TN but not as many. I haven’t heard yet whether they plan to increase the number of workers there in future years. I think a big part of the issue there is the lack of close convenient campgrounds. Some people are traveling 30 to 40 minutes to work. I don’t know if that would even make it worthwhile for us budget-wise once you factor in diesel costs and wear and tear on the truck. While it seems to have been the case in past years that anyone who was interested in working at Amazon could get a job, that may not always be so as the positions may actually fill up.

On the home front, Harry discovered a leak in our water heater yesterday. It’s pinhole size now, and seems to have been caused by rust. We have a call in to a mobile tech in the area, but may end up having to take the rig in to a local place for repairs. Not looking forward to that if we have to pack everything up for moving. On the positive side, the water heater is still working so we could use it long enough to take our showers and then turned it off. Hopefully we can nurse it along until we are able to get it replaced. (It does not look like a repairable case.)

Physically, we are feeling pretty good. Harry’s back was a little sore the past couple of days, and I am getting a bit of numbness in my hands, but overall we’re maintaining. Now that we are in the weekend, we will be doing a lot of resting and recouping energy to prepare for week number 7!! A third of the way through!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Week Five Update

Location: Campbellsville, KY (High 81, Low 57)

We’ve made it through another work week! When we arrived back at the end of August, we found out that there was going to be a bit of a work slow down through the month of September. There are a couple new facilities and some of the product that comes into the fulfillment center here in Campbellsville was being redirected there. It was announced at yesterday’s morning startup meeting that the redirect process ends next week and then the work will start ramping back up in preparation for peak. VTO (voluntary time off) was offered every day over the past work week, but we stuck it out and stayed every time. A lot of people left, even many campers. On Monday at the afternoon startup meeting there were three people left in the Receive department – the two of us and one fulltime employee. The nice thing about that is that there’s been plenty of work to keep us busy for the rest of the shift, so we haven’t yet been stuck with scraping tape or cleaning.

Our days have settled into a familiar rhythm. Most work days I get up between 3:30 and 4 am. Watch a little tv while I drink my coffee…then make our lunch, have a little something to eat and get ready to go to work. We leave for work around 5:30 am. Even though there are lights, it’s dark enough when we’re walking over that I can see the night sky with all the stars which is very beautiful. We clock in at 5:55 and the fun begins! In the afternoon, by the time we clock out, gather our stuff and walk home, it’s about 4:45 so we’re basically gone for 12 hours of the day. At that point we have just about enough energy to take a shower and eat our dinner. I usually head for bed between 7 and 7:30, because by that time I am whipped. Don’t those sound like exciting days?! You can see why work starts to feel like life during the peak weeks – when you’re following that schedule for 6 days out of 7! (Harry and I do plan to do the 60s again this year. Even though we will be very tired at the end of it, it’s only for a couple weeks.)

This morning we begin our three days of rest. Time to catch up on a few of the new shows that started this past week and do a few chores….

Next up - week six out of the twelve weeks we have left!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Four Work Weeks Down

Location: Campbellsville, KY (High 83, Low 54)

It’s been a good couple of weeks since I last posted. Work is going well. Harry and I are working on the sort line most of the time, and while it’s a very physical job, we are doing pretty well. Last year I had a huge issue with my fingers going numb during the night, mainly due to the tightness of the muscles in my shoulders. I’ve been trying to stay on top of the muscle issue this year. I’ve been using a muscle gel and icing as well, which seems to be keeping the worst of it at bay. And I’ve discovered that wearing a light wrist brace during the night also helps to keep my fingers from going numb. So between all of those methods I’ve been able to keep myself sleeping pretty well and feeling pretty good.

So far, we’ve been pretty good about avoiding restaurants too much. We did go out for lunch today, before heading to the grocery store. I know better than to go grocery shopping on an empty stomach!! :) We have one more day off tomorrow and I am going to cook a couple meals to help cover our work days.

Our running is going very well. I was a little apprehensive about whether we were going to be able to keep it up with only a few days off each week, but so far we have. The four days that we work I count as cross training, and then we get out there on the other days. Yesterday we ran 6 miles, and this morning we did 3. Tomorrow we will do another 6 or maybe 7 depending on how tired we feel. We also found a great off the road walking trail today only a couple miles from the campground. So tomorrow morning we plan to go do our run there.

The campground is filling up slowly. We’ve only had a couple other rigs come into our section. Our next door neighbor is George from Owens on the Road. George, Harry and I took a ride over to tour Makers Mark Bourbon Distillery last Saturday but I haven’t had a chance to upload my pictures from that day yet. I’m more a fruity rum drink and wine kind of girl, but the tour was pretty interesting. The tasting at the end didn’t make me change my mind either, but it was still a fun way to spend an afternoon.

One more weekend day to enjoy and then we’re on to Week FIVE. Thirteen weeks to go!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Two Weeks!

Location: Campbellsville, KY (High 86, Low 69)

Today is the first day of our “weekend” and believe it or not, we already have two work weeks at Amazon under our belts! The work has been going really well. Our legs have been much less sore than last year, which I attribute to the many miles of running that we have done over the past 8 months. I have had a little soreness in my arms and hands, but I am trying to keep on top of it by doing more frequent stretches and icing. So far, so good.

We are working in Receiving again, which we are enjoying. We are working with most of the same people from last year, and it’s just nice to not have to go through the “getting to know you” phase with every single person. We are mostly spending our time on the Receive Dock – emptying trucks and bringing in product. But both Harry and I have learned a few new jobs as well, which will serve us well on those days when the work is low and there may not be as much to do. Speaking of, on our four day shift this past week they offered VTO (voluntary time off), three out of the four days. Both Harry and I elected to stay but we were in the extreme minority. Out of the first two week’s Camperforce groups, only a few people have been placed in Receiving, so when they offer VTO and most of the full time employees take it, that leaves about 5 people working in Receive (that’s including Harry and me). All three days though there was plenty of work to do. Since almost everyone else left. haha

We worked on Labor Day, and Amazon provided a really delicious rib eye steak sandwich with a selection of chips and sodas for lunch. It was really yummy. That is one thing that Amazon does really well in my opinion. Yes, the work is very physical, but I have never worked for an employer that provides occasional lunches, snacks for breaks, drawings for prizes, and other similar extras that I can’t think of more examples for at the moment!

On the home front things have been good. I have made two crockpot meals so far, and it was so convenient to come home and have dinner ready. This morning Harry and I went for a morning run for the first time since we got here. I am encouraged that we are going to be able to stay in shape for our half marathon in January.

We had a vet appointment for Ariel this morning. On her annual checkup in August, the vet indicated that she had an issue with tartar and gingivitis. We made the appointment too late to have anything done about it in NY though, so when we got to Campbellsville, I did a search for an AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) accredited vet and found one 15 minutes away from our park. We were really pleased with the vet that examined Ariel this morning, and will be taking her back next week for a cleaning. Assuming that our experience next week is as positive, we are actually thinking about transferring the cats to this facility permanently for their annual checkups etc. When we thought about it we realized that we spend more time out of the year here than we do any one place in NY in the summer. One less thing to do up in NY!

Two weeks down, 15 to go!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Fast One Day Weekend

Location: Campbellsville, KY (High 88, Low 71)

Yesterday was our final day of our first work week this season. I went back and read the entries from our first week last year, and what a difference. Being back in the same area again made things much simpler. The first three half days were supposed to be training, but really we just jumped back in to doing the same work process that we were already familiar with from last season. So that made the first three days a much less mental challenge.

sunsetThe nights are already a little unsettled, as I also found them last year, and maybe that’s just something that isn’t going to get any better. Many of you out there may identify with waking up in the middle of the night for whatever reason?? Sarcastic smile Well, waking up around 2:30 or 3 am doesn’t work so well for me when the alarm clock is set for 4. Sometimes I just don’t get back to sleep and end up getting up at 3:30 because by that time it’s just not even worth it.

Today is our one day off, so we have packed several things into these few hours. We went grocery shopping this morning to get what we needed for the next few days. (This year, I am going to try to do a couple crockpot recipes each week to reduce the amount of cooking I have to do on our days off.) Harry worked on a couple maintenance projects he wanted to get accomplished. And of course, the ever-present laundry. Other than that, we’ve been taking it a little bit easy for today since tomorrow we start our ten hour shifts.


I walked down the road a bit and took an updated picture of our campground. There have been a few rigs coming in almost daily over the past few days. It’s probably just as easy for people to come in a little early and avoid traveling over the holiday weekend.

We won’t be traveling anywhere, that’s for sure! Tomorrow we start Week 2!