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Balanced Rock, Adirondacks, NY

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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

End of Another Month and Dinner Out

Location: Avon Park, FL

20170130_162538It has been one fast month! We’ve had a lot of fun just hanging out and relaxing after the busy months at Amazon. Plus we made one trip to Disney’s Magic Kingdom and another trip last week to Epcot. We also traveled to an rv’ers picnic the second week of January, where we met up with a group of about 25 other rv’ers for a picnic potluck.

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We brought the month to an end with an enjoyable day visiting with friends yesterday. Dee and Jim (Tumbleweed), who were our next door neighbors for our past two winters here but bought a place about an hour away last year, came back over for the afternoon and evening.

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We got together a bunch of people from our card group and went out to dinner at a local favorite, the Jacaranda Hotel restaurant.

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Thanks to Jim for this great picture of the whole group…

 

20170130_162432Jacaranda Hotel has an all you can eat buffet that is always delicious. Like someone last night said, if you leave there hungry, it’s your own fault!

We had a great time chatting with everyone in a different way than you can while you’re playing cards.

 

20170130_182036After dinner, we headed back to the club house and played a marathon game of cards that went from 6 until almost 10.

Note to self: when you play with 14 people rather than in groups of 6 to 8 you may want to take stretch breaks occasionally!! By the end of the game I couldn’t wait to get off that chair and walk around! However, it was a great evening spent with friends.

(Oh, and on a side note…I did not get my run in on Sunday. Harry and I just went for a nice walk Sunday afternoon instead. Yesterday I did my normal 5 which put me up to 94 for the month. So you know how many I have to do today don’t you?!?)

Monday, January 30, 2017

Amazon 2016 Wrap Up

Location: Avon Park, FL

A big thank you to Carl for his comment on yesterday’s post reminding me that I never did a final Amazon post with all the final numbers for the year.

As I’ve already mentioned, this was a very different year. We already knew before we started that we weren’t going to make as much as usual since we weren’t starting until the last week of September. This was our fourth season and every previous year we started around the 25th of August. We had a really good reason for starting later though, since Harry’s son was married on the 16th of September. We also enjoyed several days at my sister’s house in NY, and got to see our niece and nephew play some high school soccer games. There were actually people who started at Amazon the beginning of August so there was two more months of available work if we had wanted to take advantage of that. (We did briefly consider starting early and just going to NY for the wedding, but we would have had to just take three or four days off, drive straight to the wedding and back. We just wanted to be more present for the event than just have it be stuck in the middle of a work week.)

The other huge difference was the non-peak that we ended up having in December. Knowing that we were going to make so much less, we went into peak planning to work as much OT as we could. I was going to do the 60 hour weeks and Harry planned to do 55s. When they had what they call their “all hands meeting” where planned numbers for peak are presented, they were expecting the usual – lots of overtime. But right at the beginning on Black Friday, we noticed that things were different, when they offered VTO (voluntary time off) to a few shifts that afternoon. And it continued the following week, when we went in for the first mandatory overtime day, and they offered VTO again. Then after that, they started cancelling the mandatory days and just offering a few spots of overtime using their online system that went very quickly. 

Anyway, so because of that we had

  • one 28 hour week
  • five 40 hour weeks
  • two 35 hour weeks – I had an ear infection and ended up at urgent care one week and then the ER the following week.
  • four 50 hour weeks for me – Harry had three 50 and one 45 since he worked a half day OT and then our second OT day that week was cancelled
  • last week of the season was 30 hours

I also had a fabulous year for winning gift cards, as I won a $50 Visa card AND $50 in $5 cards to various stores. We have enough $5 cards to Dairy Queen to last the whole year! Harry won $10 in gift cards. So we couldn’t complain about that.

We ended up working in the range of about 530 hours each so that was the general amount of our bonus, receiving $1/hour for each hour worked.

Our total income ended up being $7013.46 for me this year vs. $9999.70 last year. Harry made $7151.76 vs. $9977.16 last year.

We have already applied for next season, and assuming that they continue to start groups early, we plan to start in early August. We’ll be sick of it by December, but our bank account will be happy!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

It’s Been a Week!

Location: Avon Park, FL

I’ve managed it! A whole week of blog posts! It’s not going to take long to pass the number of posts I did all last year, since there were only 27 for all of 2016. I’ve 16143408_10212476346610462_9157262146190136555_oenjoyed getting back to it. It almost feels new again to think about taking pictures for the blog and coming up with a topic to write about. Maybe I just needed (most of) a year off.

I’ve gotten a couple rewards from Ibotta from people using the referral code. Thanks so much if you have downloaded the app and used my referral code. If anyone missed my blog post about this awesome grocery app and would like to check it out, here is the link.

16107444_10212476346090449_4696281326514959384_oWe are almost to the end of the month and it’s been a great one for exercising. I just looked back at my Fitbit information and I am up to 89 miles run so far this month. Harry and I had originally planned to do a half marathon in March, but after the slow year at Amazon, we decided that a weekend in Sarasota was an expense we could do without this year, so we decided to defer our half marathon to next year’s. So instead of increasing mileage gradually as I IMAG3649-01would do if we were actually training, I am just running 5 miles a day to maintain a good running base. If I can get three more runs in this month I will pass the 100 mile mark. It’s raining at the moment which is supposed to continue for a good part of the day, so not sure whether I will get today’s run in or not. I have and could run in the rain, but probably won’t. haha We’ll see.

 

<---Last run in the rain – October 2015 in Campbellsville KY!!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Our Repair History

Location: Avon Park, FL

I was thinking the other day about the blog post I did last week about all of the mods and changes that we’ve done over the years. While Harry and I were talking about what we have done, there were a few things we didn’t put on the list because they fell more under repair and upkeep instead of modification. So it came to me that it might be a good idea to compile a list of those kinds of things also. If you’re not into reading about stuff breaking and needing to be fixed, you might not find the rest of this one too interesting. Just fair warning.

We bought our fiver, a 2011 Heartland Landmark in May of 2011 new off the lot. We bought it down in TN, went down in mid-June to pick it up and after towing it back home to NY, we didn’t do too much traveling with it for the rest of that year since we’d used up most of our vacation time by then.

2011

  • stormMicrowave outlet low voltage corrected by securing wire nuts with electrical tape
  • Kitchen slide adjustment, as it was approximately an inch and a half out of alignment
  • Tree branch lands on side of roof after early snowstorm in October. Repaired with Dicor caulking.

2012

  • October – Cooling unit replaced on fridge and two extra fans added
  • December – Pex piping in basement leaks from cold and IMG_3754Harry replaced with brass fittings

2013

  • January - Water pump replaced under warranty
  • March – Doorside slide topper roller and fabric replaced; air conditioner cover replaced
  • October – Water heater thermostat replaced

2014

  • January – Breaker for slides replaced
  • May – Hot water feed from heater replaced due to leak
  • May – Wiring to thermostat from water heater replaced 10736325_10205549527284308_1031222672_o
  • June – Black tank repaired by applying epoxy seal to vent pipe of tank
  • October – Water heater replaced
  • October - Water pump replaced (after Harry breaks it while replacing water heater! Oops.)
  • November - Furnace control board replaced

2015

  • May – Toilet flange replaced
  • May – Replaced front a/c cover due to crack
  • May – Microwave vent cover replaced
  • May – D Seals replaced on two main slides
  • July – Black tank dump valve cable replaced
  • July – Propane regulator replaced

2016

  • April – Caulked roof trim piece to 20160401_101748prevent it from popping out
  • June – Repaired puncture in fresh water fill hose
  • June – Two bearings replaced due to wear
  • July – House battery replaced
  • August – Axle u-bolts and centering pins replaced
  • December – Shower head replaced

On top of the above, Harry has restrung every blind in the place, some more than once. 

We are hoping and praying that 2017 will be our shortest list yet! I wouldn’t even mind if it was empty!!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Super Fun Day

Location: Avon Park, FL

16195403_10154991523759766_3707810047643343235_nA couple weeks ago we use our Disney passes for a trip to the Magic Kingdom. Yesterday we were headed to Epcot!

I’m not sure how long they’ve had them, but now instead of using a card, like a credit card type thing, for admission, now they have something called a MagicBand. It’s a real cool band, very comfortable, like a Fitbit, that has a face that is scannable. So when you walk up to the Admissions gate, you put your band up to a scanner, it reads it, and then you scan your fingerprint and it confirms that it’s you. So nice, and very convenient. You get one automatically with an annual pass, but we had to buy one for Harry to link to his card that he had from ten years ago.

16265794_10212584690158983_4228410070958742448_nWe had gone online ahead of time, and signed up for FastPass for a few of the rides…Mission: Space, Soarin’, and Spaceship Earth. For each one, we had an hour where we could scan our MagicBand on a scanner and head up the FastPass lane which basically bypassed the majority of the line. I enjoyed all the rides, but without a doubt my favorite was Soarin’. We 16195024_10212584692399039_7046620331324345198_nactually got to do it twice because when we headed that way, we had a half hour before our FastPass time and the wait was just about a half hour at that point, so we figured we might as well wait in the line. Wow. What an awesome experience. If you haven’t been on it, it’s almost like a virtual reality experience or maybe combined with an Imax movie. You feel like you’re on 16143173_10212584689198959_2573507223191994349_na hang glider flying over the earth. And I don’t know how they do it, but you can even smell it. Like when you are flying over Africa, and you see the elephants running on the savannah, you can smell the grasses. Really cool!

Mission: Space was a simulation of space flight, and Spaceship Earth was a slow moving ride that showed the history of communication from the cave writing on the wall days. We enjoyed them all. There are many more rides, especially the cultural experiences in the different country areas. But we didn’t want to just run from one thing to another, so we saved those for another visit.

The other major part of Epcot is the World Showcase. Different country themed areas are centered around a lake, and as you walk around through the different areas, everything changes – architecture, music….and FOOD!

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We started out the day at a bakery in Norway.

 

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We decided to try something different, so we chose something called school bread.

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Oh my! So yummy!! It turned out to be a really moist doughnut type pastry, and with the coconut on top and the cream, I thought it tasted like a coconut cream pie doughnut. Haha, the title “school bread” just does not do it justice.

 

16265311_10212584690478991_5844260920814618424_nFor lunch, Harry wanted to eat in Germany…he enjoyed some bratwurst…

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…and a German beer.

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After Harry enjoyed his lunch, we hoofed it over to the United Kingdom for my choice…fish and chips! Yum!!

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And later in the afternoon, I tried one of the margaritas in Mexico. Cheers!

 

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Really fun day. I enjoyed Epcot more than I did the Magic Kingdom and we’re definitely planning another trip later this season.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Fun Day Ahead

Location: Avon Park, FL

Well, yesterday was one of those normal life kind of days, as most of the afternoon was spent at the dentist. With the amount of dental work that both Harry and I have had, and continue to have, one of the good things about coming back to Avon Park for a few months in the winter is that we can get established at a dental practice in the area. We’ve found a good one too, in that he does everything right at his office – cleanings, exams, fillings, as well as work that often gets referred out like crowns, root canals and implants etc.

Today I was up bright and early – well, not bright as the sun wasn’t even close to being up. We are heading out in a few minutes for Orlando, and a fun day at Epcot! But before that, I didn’t want to miss my run for the day so I made my way out of bed at 5 am and by 5:50 I was heading out the door.

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I always feel super productive when I start my run in the dark. haha

 

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The best part about running in the dark is being able to watch the sun rise!

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        Have a great day!!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

A Great Grocery App to Put Cash In Your Pocket

Location: Avon Park, FL

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After the past three days of massive winds, it was super pleasant yesterday morning to go outside to a nice cool morning in the high 50s with just a little breeze blowing. I took advantage of it to get back out there and enjoy a 5 mile run to start off my day.

 

After a shower and breakfast, we were off to pick up our groceries for the week. If you also buy groceries once in a while (wink wink), you may be interested in one of the apps I use. It’s called Ibotta (“I bought a…”) After you download the app and sign up, you can use it to choose rebates to get cash back from your purchases. You can choose your store, whether it’s Publix or Kroger or Giant Eagle or Walmart or whatever…and then you can browse through the available rebates for various foods, beverages, personal items etc. I only purchase items that I was going to buy anyway, so there really isn’t any downside to it. For example, today I needed paper towels. Perusing the Household section, I found that a rebate for Bounty paper towels was available this week, and I could get $2 back. You click the little plus sign to “unlock” that cash back offer, and then after you buy the paper towels, you go back to the app, verify the sale by scanning the bar code on the product, and then scan the little code on the bottom of the receipt or take a picture of the receipt. (If you have multiple rebates that you bought at the same store on the same receipt, you do them all at the same time and upload the receipt only once.) It sounds like a bigger deal than it is, and so far (since May) I’ve earned $83.75 back. Not too shabby from stuff I was going to buy anyway. Once you get up to $20, they have a variety of ways you can get your cash. I just get Amazon gift cards, which they send as a gift card code via email in 5 minutes and I just type the code in the “add money to my gift card” section on my Amazon account and voila, it’s available for use! Very convenient! If you decide to give it a try, if you use my referral code – dpknbsm – you’ll have a $10 bonus added to your balance after you redeem your first rebate, and I’ll get $5.

After grocery shopping and getting everything put away, the rest of the afternoon was pretty laid back. We had lunch and watched some tv. It was a nice 20170124_171120cool day so we didn’t have to have the fantastic fan running or anything, which was a pleasant change.

 

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For dinner, Harry grilled a yummy pork steak, which was really delicious. As he was cooking our dinner, we watched a beautiful sunset off in the distance.

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Duke Energy came yesterday and unlocked the electric box two over from us, so our days with this exact view are probably limited.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

No Storm, Just Wind

Location: Avon Park, FL

When we got up yesterday morning, we were happy to see that the storms were gone. The wind was still whipping enough that we left our satellite down, just to be on the safe side.

That made three days in a row that I didn’t get my exercise in. My ears do not take wind well, as I can get pretty good earaches. So I’ve been waiting for the weather to break and I am hoping that finally today will be nicer, and calmer! From what I can see out the window, it looks promising!

We spent another day watching our dvr’d shows. Luckily we have plenty left over from our Amazon days! While we were catching up on that, I also spent some time doing some online research for my sister about soccer tournaments that my niece has coming up this spring. I don’t even remember how we found out about event details before the internet days.

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Last night we headed off to the clubhouse for a fun evening of cards. I was the big winner of my group, for the huge jackpot of 7 dimes. As always, there was plenty of good-natured ribbing and laughter. Harry won a hand also so we almost broke even for the night. Most of the time we’re not very lucky so good thing we’re not playing high stakes!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Storm and Wind

Location: Avon Park, FL

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Yesterday was a hunker down inside kind of day. Even though most of the day was dry, the wind was so crazy it wouldn’t have been fun to try to run or even walk for exercise.

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Basically everyone around us got ready for the storm by packing up the awnings and putting things away. The neighbors on the other side of us were away and their awning was out. On the positive side, it did have several straps on it but it was still being tossed quite a bit by the wind. We do leave our awning out a lot more here in Florida than we do any other place, but one thing we would not do is to go away for an overnight trip and leave our awning out. We looked this morning and they were so lucky as it survived all the wind and rain.

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We spent the day hanging out in our chairs watching dvr’d shows since we also put our satellite down. And in the evening we added an eye on the weather. We never got anything like the weather we heard about in other areas, but it was still stressful since you never know what the storm line will bring until it’s passed.

 

Speaking of weather watching…Harry’s favorite apps for this purpose are RadarNow! and Storm Shield. I basically use Weather Bug. We also usually download a local weather station app when we are in one area for any length of time. Going through stormy days in an RV is still by far my least favorite part of fulltime life, but we do our due diligence by having a weather radio, stay up to date using technology and always have a plan for where we would go if we had a tornado warning.

(And just on a side note: three posts in a row!! I’m on my way to getting back in the habit!)

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Done A Lot with the Place

Seems like a common theme among rv’ers is upgrading your home. The Tampa RV Show has been going on and there have been a lot of conversations online about fun times at the RV show, either just looking or looking to buy. We also know rv’ers who have recently settled down with a home again, or others who have bought a new rig. Harry and I have also talked about the future – our plans, dreams etc. At one time we had taken it for granted that someday we would upgrade to a newer rig, but we have since reconsidered. When we think of everything we’ve done to make this place into our home, the thought of starting over with a new rig does not excite us. And that’s not even taking into consideration the possibility of getting a rig with any kind of problems. So unless something unexpectedly catastrophic comes up, we plan to stick with this fifth wheel for the duration of our fulltime life.

As I was pondering this, I was thinking about all the changes we’ve made, and I thought it would be an interesting endeavor to list all the upgrades, replacements and modifications that we have done around here over the past five and a half years.

Living Room Area

  • Replaced cabinet struts on all overhead cabinets (2016)
  • Moved table to make room for cat tree (2012)
  • Adapted cabinet for litter box (2012)
  • Bought new recliners to replace RV recliners (They are already showing wear and tear so we are planning to purchase new ones next winter.) 2012
  • Upgraded all lights to LED lights (2013)

Kitchen Area

  • Added stove area tile backsplash (2014)
  • Installed supports for corner shelving unit (2015)
  • Installed supports for kitchen sink (2013)
  • Installed support blocks for pantry unit (2012)
  • Replaced cooling unit on fridge and added 2 fans to increase fan number to 3 (2012)
  • Put switch covers over heater switches as safety feature (2016)

Bathroom

  • Added tile backsplash (2015)
  • Replaced bathroom faucet with upgraded faucet (2016)
  • Upgraded fan to Vortex reversible, 4 speed fan (2012)

Bedroom

  • Replaced tv with 32 inch tv (2016)
  • Installed upgraded bed roller bolts (2015)
  • Upgraded tv antenna system to digital (2013)
  • Installed cabling to improve satellite system connection (2011)
  • Purchased washer/dryer combo unit (2012)

Basement

  • Relocated water pump for easy access to crawl space (2015)
  • Installed house water filtration system (2015)
  • Converted pex fittings from plastic to brass (2012)
  • Replaced furnace control board (2014)
  • Added basement tv sat connection (2016)
  • Purchased 40 inch tv (2016)
  • Installed new water heater (2014)
  • Improved water system connection in docking area (2016)
  • New water pump (2014)

Exterior

  • Installed vent covers (2012)
  • Replaced slide toppers with custom-made Sunbrella slide toppers (2015)
  • Replaced propane regulator (2015)
  • Installed satellite roller plate (2016)
  • Upgraded satellite system (2017)
  • Installed Heartland kit to reinforce underside of kitchen slide as protection from rollers (2015)
  • Upgraded to Mor-Ryde king pin (2011)
  • Replaced shackle bolts with wet bolts (2012)
  • Upgraded lock to programmable RV-Lock (2015)
  • Added Anti-slip strips to steps and ladder (2013)
  • Upgraded to Motion light over steps (2012)
  • Covered end cap seams with Eternabond (2012)
  • Hitch for bike rack welded to frame (2011)

Beside the financial aspect, it’s so amazing to think about how much time it took to do all these things. After spending some time compiling this list, we are even MORE sure that we are going to stick with what we have! We are now in our fifth year of fulltime life, and are hoping for a few more years before we move on to our next phase!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Forward Into a Busy 2017

Location: Avon Park, FL

15676500_10212233543180528_749333831340488617_oWell, it’s been some time since my last blog post, and I’ve been thinking for a couple weeks now about trying to get back into a routine of writing again. I think sometimes it seems daunting to get back into it, because so much time has passed and I feel like I have to cover it all if I start writing again. But really, that’s pretty impossible. I just have to start back up and keep going from here.

We arrived down here at Adelaide Shores on Christmas Eve after being released from Amazon on the 21st, and have just been enjoying life. We took advantage of being Florida residents to buy an annual pass to Disney for me. Harry went to Disney about ten years ago, right before we met actually, and he still had five days left on his pass. So with my annual pass, we will be able to spend a few days at Disney over the next few months while we’re in Florida. Avon Park is pretty centrally located, being about the same distance from each coast and an hour or so south of Orlando, so not a horrible distance away for a day trip.

15974871_10212410119394823_1505199212979842564_oLast week, we left our place around 8 am and traveled up to the Magic Kingdom. We picked a Wednesday and it paid off in that at least we didn’t have to fight any traffic on our way in.

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We really didn’t have any agenda, other than not to break the budget on food. haha So we just enjoyed walking around, and went on a few rides. There were 15844666_10212410145315471_6204497763694345698_oenough people there that there were pretty good waits to go on rides, so we didn’t do as much of that as we might have. But it was a fun day anyway.

Kind of a random selfie as we were waiting in line in the ice cream shop, but it turned out to be one of my favorite pics from the day.

 

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I’m kind of surprised that our first month here has gone by so quickly, because our days aren’t chocked full with events. I’ve been running most mornings, and we try to take an evening walk.

 

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The sunsets here are SO gorgeous. I never get tired of them.

 

Another thing I’ve been enjoying since we left Amazon is doing some home cooking. Eating out is very convenient, and we do a lot of it while we’re working, but it has been nice to get away from that since we left KY. Better for the waistline and budget too!

This is a very active park. If we wanted to, we could go to some planned activity every morning, afternoon and evening. That’s not really our style though. We started out three winters ago by joining a group for cards, and we have kept that activity up ever since. Even with just doing one activity, it’s kind of remarkable how meeting people for cards twice a week breaks up the time. And we look forward to it, since we’ve made some good friends over the past couple of winters.

So there you have it…relaxing, running, walking, cooking and playing some cards! Our past month in a nutshell! It’s always a nice change after the run, run, run at Amazon to get back to normal life. Speaking of Amazon, we’ve already applied for the next season, and hope to be heading back that way in August. So we have about seven months of retirement and fun time left.

I know I’ve said this a few times before, but I really have been thinking that I would like to get back to the blog on a more regular basis. I’ve just really gotten out of the habit, but I am REALLY going to try to get back to it. It’s not going to be exciting, but it’s real life.

So here goes….on into 2017!