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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Amazon Update

Location: Campbellsville, KY (High 76, Low 49)

At this moment I am sitting in my chair with my feet up feeling very happy that it is our Friday! Three days off coming up. Yay!

So, let’s see…where to begin…Well, we have just finished our first round of ten hour days. The first week we had five hour shifts. Then the second week we increased our days by 2.5 hours, and then this week, one more 2.5 hour increment to bring our day to the full shift. One thing I am SO grateful for is that I spent this summer doing training for the run in August, because my legs have held up great. This week I have been walking between 7.5 and 9.5 miles on my shifts each day – and I don’t have one of the walking jobs!

Both Harry and I have been cross-training in different areas. We both started out in receiving, checking in the products using the scanner, and placing them on carts for the stowers to put away. We did that for most of the first two weeks. This week we started to be sent to other positions. Harry spent part of a day doing the same job, only with books and dvds etc. I worked for part of a couple days on mis-ships, which is basically the same process except I have to sometimes add a little additional information. For the past couple of days, we have both worked on the receiving dock, which is where the product is unloaded from the trucks and pallets. I am finding this job to be much more physical, but I am holding up well for the most part. The main parts of my body which are sore are my hands and shoulders (for Harry it is his hands and lower back). This morning when I woke up, my shoulders had tightened up and my right hand was feeling numb. Luckily it was almost time to get up, so I went out and sat in my chair and my hand came back to normal after a little bit. I am definitely getting a massage!

The meal plan has worked out great. I have been very happy to come home and just pull a ready made meal out of the fridge. Our work days have settled into a routine…get up at 4, have our coffee and breakfast while we watch a little news…leave for work at 5:30…at 4:30 leave work and head home…take showers and eat dinner warmed up and then head to bed around 7:30 (and laying down in that bed sure feels wonderful).

Friday is our first payday. It is going to be just about half of our normal full, no overtime check. They announced today that there is no overtime available this week, and we are pretty glad because I don’t think we would have wanted it. But we do want to get some overtime money, so hopefully pretty soon our hands and other parts acclimate to the work we are doing.

Three weeks down, twelve to go!!

Friday, September 20, 2013

A Fun Day (Except For Computer Issues)

Location: Campbellsville, KY (High 85, Low 65)

So…I would have pictures to use in today’s blog post, except for the fact that my computer is still messed up. (That’s the technical term. Annoyed) You may remember that I had a problem with my computer a few weeks ago when I picked up something nasty while doing a little web surfing for a solitaire game. Harry found my files and we thought he had restored everything back to normal, but a couple days ago when I turned it on, it had happened again (without any surfing on my part this time). Unfortunately we have not been able to find the restore system image cds which Harry is pretty sure he made when we first got the computer. We’re thinking that the disks ended up in the wrong pile when we were cleaning out the office. So we ordered a copy of Windows 7 and as soon as it comes Harry is going to wipe my computer clean. I can’t wait to have my computer back in good and normal running order!!

Anyway…back to yesterday…when we first interviewed and got the job at Amazon, I was doing a little search to see what there was to do in the area. I found a website that had a list of such things and the very first item on the page was an ad that said…come take horseback riding lessons. I have always wanted to know how to ride, but have actually only been on a horse twice – both times on one of those trail rides where you climb on a horse and it just follows the horse in front of it. I somewhat enjoyed those rides, but wished that I knew a little bit more about what I was doing. After seeing the ad for lessons, I mentioned it to Harry and was excited to find out that it was something he would be interested in as well.

So yesterday was the day of our first lesson. It was really fun. We spent a lot of time on introductory stuff. How to approach the horse…where to stand and NOT to stand…the different kinds of equipment. We learned how to groom them and clean up their feet, how to put a bridle on, and the saddling process. And then finally it was time to mount and do a little introductory walk around the area. We were surprised at how much there was to learn other than just putting a saddle on the horse’s back and climbing on. Smile We shall see how much we remember next week! (And hopefully by then I will be able to include some pictures in my blog post.)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Time For a Day Off

Location: Campbellsville, KY (High 80, Low 57)

Ahhh! Harry and I are having a nice relaxing morning, enjoying the fact that we can have a leisurely cup of coffee today. We did wake up at 5 am, but that was better than 4 – and we did persevere and go back to sleep for another hour. Very nice. Smile

Last night I decided what I am going to cook for our next four days of working and made a grocery list for today. It’s nice to have days off in a row to get stuff like this done.

Our primary item on the agenda this morning is an oil change for ol’ Max. After going back and forth about it, we did decide back when we bought the truck to add the maintenance plan. We’re not sure whether we will get back all of the money we paid for it, but at the same time it sure is nice to be able to go and get an oil change without having to shell any money out of our pockets today. There’s a restaurant called Huddle House not too far from the dealership, so we’re going to head over there for breakfast while the truck is in the shop.

Other than that, there’s not too much planned for today. Just taking it easy and getting things ready for another four days of work. We do have something different going on tomorrow though…stay tuned….Be right back

Monday, September 16, 2013

Getting Into a Rhythm

Location: Campbellsville, KY (High 81, Low 49)

Our days have settled into a pretty straightforward pattern. Over the past couple of days we’ve been working our longer 7 1/2 hour shifts. On work days we get up at 4 am. It hasn’t been that difficult and for us, the key has been, go to bed early!! I know there are people out there that can get by just fine on less, but I really NEED my eight hours of sleep. So let me just say, thank goodness for night shades in the bedroom, because it’s still pretty light out at 7:45 pm. Be right back

I am very glad that I thought to make some meals ahead, because I have been very happy to come home and have dinner made and sitting in the refrigerator just waiting to be warmed up. On Wednesday I have to start doing some searches for what we’re going to eat over the next work week. The other thing I do in the evening is get our lunches made, so all I have to do in the morning is pull the cold parts out of the fridge and put it together. I know that organization is going to be the key over the next fourteen weeks!!

We had one new campground occupant come in this past weekend, a solo camper from VA who started at Amazon today. I believe we have another rig or two coming in this weekend.

We only have two more workdays left to this week – tomorrow and Saturday. My soreness hasn’t completely gone away yet, but it hasn’t gotten any worse, so that’s a good thing. According to my Up bracelet, I walked 7 miles today. Open-mouthed smile 

Our Amazon experience is off to a great start so far. 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

A Day Off

Location: Campbellsville, KY (High 73, Low 53)

Today is our first day off, and the only day off before we start our normally scheduled days tomorrow. Usually we are going to have two or three days off in a row, depending on whether we’re working overtime or not. The first two weeks while we are in the hardening period we are not able to volunteer for the overtime shifts. But once this next week is over we could possibly be working an overtime shift if that is available. Both Harry and I agree that we want to work as many shifts as Amazon is willing to give us. After all, we are here to make some money and we have the next fourteen weeks to accomplish that. Smile So we shall see how much overtime we end up getting.

Physically, I am faring pretty well with the job that we have been assigned. As I’ve already mentioned, we are only walking a few steps back and forth in our little areas. And we have the thick rubber mats under our feet, so I’m really not minding the standing like I thought I would. Surprisingly, the only part of my body that’s sore is my hands, especially my left hand. I’m assuming it’s from the motion of pulling the boxes onto my table from the conveyor and opening the box. My shoulders, back, legs…all feel fine. So far, so good!

I have a few things planned for today – mainly preparations for the next several days when we will be working our shifts. I am trying to stay super organized to make our lives a little easier. The main thing on my agenda was figuring out what we’re eating for the next several days. I found a couple recipes that sound good – one crockpot pork chop recipe and a casserole. I’ve already got the crockpot one started and the casserole is next on my agenda. Then on our working days I won’t have to do a lot of cooking, just come home and warm up a plate of leftovers. If I get that done, and a couple loads of laundry, this will have been a successful day off!

Tomorrow, we start our week of 7 1/2 hour shifts.

Friday, September 13, 2013

End of Week #1

Location: Campbellsville, KY (High 86, Low 64)

We are home from today’s shift – our last 5 hour shift and the last day of our first week here at Amazon. Today went pretty well, I thought. I more or less remembered how to get myself logged into the system on the computer. I don’t have a password yet, so I couldn’t completely do it on my own, but hopefully that will be resolved by Sunday. We were receiving a shipment of toys today – Star Wars figures, Transformers, those little soft Star Wars Angry Birds figures. I was thinking that I needed my little nephew there with me to tell me which was which, because they all need to be entered separately and sometimes I really had to look at them to figure it out. In between the toys there were lots and lots of cell phone cases, and bags and boxes of cat and dog food.

Again, the five hours sped on by, and very soon it was time to clock out for another day. Today was our last short shift. Tomorrow we are off, and Sunday we start our week of 7 1/2 hour days.

The weather is beautiful. We had a line of rain and storms come through yesterday. We heard a little thunder in the distance but really didn’t have any stormy weather where we are. Last night we turned off the air conditioning for the first time since we have been here, and I am loving the open windows and fresh air!

No other Amazon workampers here yet. We are hoping that we will see at least one other rig rolling in this weekend. Smile

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Day 4 at Amazon – Getting to Work

Location: Campbellsville, KY (High 88, Low 67)

Today was the fourth day in our first week at Amazon, and the first day that we went in by ourselves, clocked ourselves in, and headed to the start-up meeting. At the meeting, while someone gives announcements etc., everyone checks out a paper on a table which has their name and what station they are assigned to for the day. We found our names and committed our station number to memory. Then at the conclusion of the morning meeting, we trotted ourselves over to the appropriate table set-up and got signed in and ready to start doing the job.

I thought the day today went pretty well. There were a couple points when I had a “whoops” moment or two, but they got more infrequent as the day went on, and by the time we got to the end of our shift, those moments were occurring less and less often.

One thing for sure, the shift went by really really fast. Of course it was an abbreviated shift of only five hours, but still, I was surprised at how quickly 11 am arrived. I don’t know that I would say it’s a mindless kind of work, because there are definitely things to be paying attention to, but it’s just constant. This box, then the next one, then the next one…finish this one…move on to the next. It makes the time speed along.

I haven’t been too sore yet. A little in my shoulders and neck areas…from lifting the boxes I assume. I uploaded the data in my UP bracelet when I got home and it was another 3.5 miles. So I guess I will be walking about 7 miles of steps during our full shifts.

On the home front, Harry and I are the only Amazon seasonal people at this campground so far. I understood from the owner when he was speaking to us the other day that there were two or three rigs coming in to start next week. So I would assume we will be seeing them tomorrow or Saturday. It will be nice to have some company here.

Tomorrow we have one more 5 hour day and then we will have Week #1 under our belt!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Day 3 at Amazon – Process Training

Location: Campbellsville, KY (High 91, Low 70)

Today was our first day of going to work at 6 am. We are working to retrain our bodies for this new schedule so we went to bed at 8 o’clock last night. We slept pretty good, except we woke up around 3 am. After laying in bed for about 15 minutes, we decided to just get up and have a little more time to enjoy our coffee.

We are still in the hardening part of the training. From what I have heard, I am pretty sure that the three facilities do the timing part of this a little differently, but at Campbellsville, we start out with a whole week of 5 hour days. Today we were doing process training, which basically meant we were learning the steps to doing our job.

We are in Receiving, which is the first step in the inbound process. For the most part, to boil it down to the bottom line, what we do is “receive” the merchandise. It comes from wherever it comes, the boxes are brought into the warehouse…someone slices open the boxes and they are transferred to conveyor belts. The conveyors bring it along and eventually by our stations, where we take it out of the boxes and scan it in a specific order that is part of the process, and then put the stuff on carts. After we enter it into the system, at some point it will go to the stowers and they will put the different items on the shelves where they go, so that it can then be picked up by the pickers who are filling orders that have been placed. The process was pretty straightforward, and it was really just a matter of doing the same order of steps over and over.

I was a little disappointed to have it confirmed for me today that my job doesn’t entail any walking. I have a station, which is probably a 4’ x 5’ section or so. In front of me there is a table which has a working area and a computer with a handheld scanner. To my left is the conveyor belt. To my right is the cart where I place the merchandise. Behind me is the station of the next receiver. That is my little corner of the world. The positive side to this is that I have one of those thick rubber mats to stand on, so I’m not walking around on concrete floors like I thought I would be. Although I’m not walking so much I am doing a lot of reaching and squatting and lifting, so I am definitely getting some movement and exercise. And I was pleasantly surprised when I got home and uploaded my steps from the Up bracelet to find that I had walked about 3.5 miles in my five hour shift today. That is amazing considering all I did was pace back and forth in my little corner.

All in all, it was a good day. I really felt like I was getting the hang of things by the time our shortened shift had come to the end. At 11 o’clock, we clocked out and headed for home. Now we feel like taking a nap but we have to persevere and stay awake until 8 tonight, so we can get a good night’s sleep!! And then we get to do it all again tomorrow. Smile

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Day 2 at Amazon

Post #2

We have been home a little less than an hour from our first day in the fulfillment center. Today was a lot more Orientation type stuff. We met the Camperforce staff outside by the entrance, where we received our new ID badges. My picture even came out pretty good! Smile

We then proceeded in through turnstile type gates and into the break room area. The room is a pretty good size, and looks like the typical break room – walls of lockers, tables for eating meals, a wall of microwaves and several large refrigerators for lunches. We will be getting a locker, where we will be able to leave our phone, my bag etc. It may take a little time, so until we get the locker we will leave those things either at home or in the truck. I sure felt weird leaving here today without my phone!

The morning consisted of a lot of the typical new employee stuff – how not to harass people at work, arriving on time, how to get time off, how VTO (voluntary time off) and mandatory overtime work. We learned how to clock in and out. It was a lot of information, even though a lot of it is common sense, and my head is spinning now with all these terms and details running through it.

After our break for lunch, we met again back in the same room, and were divided up into small groups for Safety School, which basically doubled as safety guidelines interspersed with a tour of the place. There is no way to adequately describe the facility. It is HUGE. Kind of like the biggest library you ever saw multiplied by 10, or more. I don’t even know. Four floors up.  And instead of shelves of books – there are shelves of cubbies, and every cubby filled with STUFF. The size of the whole place was just mind-boggling.

Since we are in Receiving, and not Picking or Stowing, I’m not sure how much we will learn of the lay of the land. My sense is that Receiving is more limited to a specific area. But we will find out more very soon.

Our first shift starts at 6 am in the morning. We are working 5 hours and will start learning more about what we will be doing for our jobs.

Orientation Day

Location: Campbellsville, KY (High 91, Low 70)

My brain must be starting to acclimate to the idea of getting up early, because this morning I was awake at 4:15, which as of tomorrow will be our time to get up and get going. I initially tried to go back to sleep but then decided to just get up and start getting used to our new schedule.

Yesterday was orientation day for Amazon. I understand that the different facilities do it differently, but in Campbellsville, each group starts on a Monday with a two hour orientation. When we walked into the door, we had our photos taken for our ID badge and received a packet of information. Probably the most interesting part of the paperwork was the details about our position and shift. Harry and I will be working in receiving on the day shift. So we start at 6 am and get done at 4:30. We will be working Sat. through Tuesday.

The rest of orientation involved meeting the Camperforce staff and finding out a little more about the company, and a few more details about Camperforce in Campbellsville and our part in it. They went over the schedule for the next couple of weeks. Here in Campbellsville they try to get people used to the job somewhat gradually. The rest of this week we have 5 hour days. Next week we will be on our normal shift schedule, but working 7 and a half hour days. Then in Week #3, we start our regular ten hour shifts.

From what I have read in the paperwork, I believe that Harry and I will be unpacking boxes as they come into the fulfillment center, and then scanning all the products so they are entered into the system. So we won’t be doing quite as much walking probably, but bending, lifting etc. We will find out more on Wednesday when we start learning our job.

This morning we have to be there at 8 am. We will receive our ID badges, have a little more orientation stuff, and have a class on safety.

We are ready to get going. Smile

Monday, September 9, 2013

Arriving in Campbellsville

Location: Campbellsville, KY (High 88, Low 65)

IMG_6800So when I left off yesterday’s blog, we had overnighted in Milton, WV. Saturday morning was another lovely day, and we packed up pretty early to head toward Campbellsville.

The trip was more or less uneventful. We had one IMG_6819panicky moment when we were driving down 60 in Lexington, only to encounter an accident and the choice of making a u-turn or turning onto the highway. Since doing a u-turn wasn’t an option, we made the turn and were happy to find that it was a relatively simple reroute. (Thank you Gretel the GPS!!)

LW1Negotiating the fiver through Campbellsville seemed a little tight on the roads we needed to travel, but we made it with no problem and breathed a sigh of relief when our campground came into sight.

HeartlandIt’s not fancy, but there were no surprises. Before we chose this place, we looked at both it and Heartland on Google Earth LW3to help us make our decision. We didn’t want to travel far to get to work so these were our two best options. Heartland is the best for location, as it is right across the street from Amazon, but it is literally a LW4parking lot.


We decided that we would rather drive a few minutes (it’s 9 minutes – we clocked it this morning) for a little bit of green space.




Our little corner for the next three and a half months. Smile



We have a little over an hour until we head over for our first event – a two hour orientation. I believe we will have our photos taken for our ID badges today, and will find out our shift and what job we will be doing. Both Harry and I are looking forward to finding that out!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Travel Days

Location: Campbellsville, KY (High 87, Low 60)


After a great summer, we were packed up and pulling out of our summer site right on schedule, around 10:30 on Thursday morning.

Thursday’s travel day was just the way we like it – uneventful. The section on 287 that goes by NYC was busy as usual, but since it was the middle of the Williamsport0906day, it was moving along smoothly. I saw from the signs that we were about 30 miles from the city.


But other than being busy with traffic and long, the trip was fine. We’ve taken the same route several times now and it was even starting to get a familiar feel. By 5 pm, we were settled into our spot for the evening.

IMG_6703Friday morning we wanted to get an earlier start. This ended up being a great move. We were traveling on new roads, and knew we were traveling through a mountainous region. IMG_6708I got an inkling of what was coming when I saw a break in the mountains up ahead and realized we were heading in that direction. I didn’t get a good picture of it – you can kind of see the break in the tree line off in the distance. We continued climbing and sure enough, we were going there.




It was beautiful, but at the same time, we knew – what goes up, must come down!





That was the beginning of our up and down, curvy road ride for the rest of the trip. 





We haven’t yet done a lot of steep downgrades so they were nerve-wracking.



Huntington WV


We were so glad to land for the evening!





The best part of the day came after dinner! Dessert at Steak and Shake!!  Open-mouthed smile





Yesterday morning was our third and final travel day. We were also arriving in a new state for us – Kentucky! Since this blog post is already pretty long and picture laden, I will save the rest of the story for tomorrow.



But suffice to say, we have landed and are settled into our site for the next three and a half months.


Today, we are going to check out Campbellsville.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Wrapping Up and Goodbyes

Location: Catskill, NY (High 76, Low 63)

The past two days have been extremely busy. Harry had an eye appointment last week that ended up needing follow up with two additional appointments. We learned our lesson and will not leave anything like that to the last minute next year.

Over the weekend, my mother was staying with my sister’s three kids, so we went over every day for a few hours and had dinner there, which was a lot of fun. The kids are starting at a new school this year. Matt, the oldest, is in middle school, and had an orientation yesterday afternoon, which Harry and I attended with him. It was great to be able to see their new school and have a tour and meet some of their teachers.

Today it was time to say goodbye to my mom and the kids until next year. While I am excited to get on the road, it was still really hard to say our farewells this morning. It was draining and I have been feeling it all day.

We also had our last loose ends to finish up. Harry had one last follow up for his contacts and a cleaning at the dentist’s office. Thankfully there were no issues found at the dentist’s. We didn’t intend to leave that appointment this long, but had no choice after the office called to reschedule Harry’s original appointment. We will schedule it much earlier next year. We also stopped in Cairo and closed the PO box we opened last December. We used it to get Harry’s retirement paperwork from the state, and my sister was nice enough to check it while we were on our travels between January and May. Now that all of that has been processed and we have our SD drivers licenses, Harry has officially changed his address with the retirement system and we are all set.

It has been such a weird and crazy week that I can hardly believe we are about to spend our last evening here. I still have to do some packing up, but if all goes well, we should be pulling out of here tomorrow morning around 10:30 am.

Tomorrow night we will be in Williamsport, MD. Smile

Monday, September 2, 2013

Fun Time Planning – Planning Fun Times

Location: Catskill, NY (High 83, Low 69)

IMG_4765For the past few weeks, Harry has been itching with eagerness to get back on the road again, while I have been somewhat feeling the itch tinged with sadness at saying goodbye to fun times with family. IMG_4558



Now that departure day is almost upon us, I am really starting to get bitten with the bug, and over the past couple of days, have started to firm up some plans for our travels after we finish at Amazon.





This winter is going to be very different from last year for us. When we headed south this past January, we were in a waiting pattern for Harry’s retirement to kick in. Because of this, we made the decision to break our stays up in month-long increments to take advantage of the monthly rate.


IMG_4453Now that things have settled with Harry’s retirement, added to the fact that we will be coming off the four months at Amazon, we will be in the position where we are able to move more frequently. Right now we are thinking that we will try weekly stays most of the time and see how that works for us.

IMG_4423This morning I firmed up our tentative plan. Some of the highlights that I am really looking forward to…

We plan to head first toward Georgia, where we will be spending Christmas with my aunt and her family. My aunt has lived outside of Atlanta for about 20 years now, and I have never had the chance to go visit. So I am excited to have the opportunity to spend the holiday there.


After Christmas, we will be moseying our way over toward a week-long stay in New Orleans. I am really looking forward to that as well.

The rest of January and February we have an idea of where we will be heading, but they are still subject to change of course. Smile Basically what we know is that we have from the 20th of January, when we leave New Orleans, to the 1st of March, when we arrive at Port Aransas, TX to explore Louisiana and the eastern coastal area of Texas.

So yeah, I guess you could say that I now have a full-blown case of hitch itch. We leave Thursday!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Hello September!

Location: Catskill, NY (High 81, Low 69)

September always gives me a “start of a new year” kind of feeling. Of course, in childhood it meant the beginning of a new school year, and then after that the start of another college semester. For about 17 years of my adulthood, I was a junior high math teacher, so that cemented it for me and now I am pretty mentally fixed in the September to August model of the year.

Yesterday really felt like the end of the summer to me as I said goodbye to my sister as she happily headed off for a weeklong cruise with her hubby. It was a bittersweet moment since the reason for the sadness is the absolutely awesome time that we had this summer, hanging out just chatting as well as meeting five mornings a week to train for the half marathon in August. The best part is we get to look forward to doing it all again next year (well, except for the half marathon in Lake George – we’ll be looking for other running challenges to explore).

This morning I broke down and stepped back on that scale. I was expecting bad news since we have been doing A LOT of eating out over the past three weeks. But happily we must have balanced it out with all the walking, hiking and biking because I was actually down a pound. Whew! Sarcastic smile That was a relief! We are one week away from our start at Amazon which begins for us with a two hour orientation meeting on Monday the 9th. I have been starting to think about some ideas for lunches because we will NOT be getting into the bad habit of buying stuff out of vending machines.

Today is going to be a pretty laidback day. We are going over to my sister’s in a few hours to hang out with my mom and the kids. Harry is going to grill some hotdogs and hamburgers for our dinner. The weather looks to be pretty nice for being outside – the best day of the weekend I guess as we had storms yesterday and they are predicting rain for tomorrow.

We are four days away from hitting the road. Smile