Sunset

Sunset

Friday, February 9, 2018

GREEN CARD, SPRING TRAINING and YOUTUBE CELEBRITIES

GREEN CARD, SPRING TRAINING and YOUTUBE CELEBRITIES

This is the first time we have had to renew Hiromi's Green Card while full-timing. I called the local office in Arizona and they told me I would have to report to the building the form said. Because we are Ohio residents we would have to travel to Ohio to complete the process. So we drove from Arizona to Cleveland Ohio to complete the renewal process. When we arrived and all the finger printing and pictures were completed I asked why on the application form it asked for mailing address and current address. Of course the mailing address to receive the new Green Card, but then why did we have to travel to Ohio just for pictures and finger printing. The worker said you could have taken the picture and finger print anywhere in the US only the interview would be in our resident state.We did not require a interview, but whats done is done and Hiromi has her new Green Card for the next 10 years. Note to self ... next time we don't have to travel 2,200 miles.   

Ohio is covered in snow and as you might guess I hate snow and cold weather. Lowest temperature is 10 degrees, that's 73 degrees cooler then when we left Arizona. The only good part of this trip (besides the Green Card and family) was when we passed Progressive Field Home of the Cleveland Indians and Hiromi and I making a snowman in the backyard. Well, the snow was not sticking so a blob snow creature.



The day before we left Arizona I got an email about a job with the Arizona Diamondbacks, but the interview was when we are in Ohio. I replied that I'm still interested in the job, but if I could move the interview to another day when I return. After volunteering two seasons at Goodyear Ballpark the spring training home of the Indians and Reds I was hired to work at the ball park this spring. Keeping my fingers crossed (and still contacting Diamondbacks HR) I at least get a interview with the team. 

When the Nippon Ham Fighters (Japanese baseball team) arrives in Arizona for their Spring Training the baseball season is just around the corner. This year I could only spend two days at practice, but made the best of the time I had. In the two days I got 15 autographs and 20 baseballs (gave three away) while I hit a milestone of my career 400th baseball.

Before we left Arizona, we had the pleasure of meeting a young couple of full-time RV'ers who are somewhat YouTube celebrities. They are Nathan and Marissa  from "Less Junk, More Journey" who I have been following for two years. A younger couple who travel full-time and visits the same places we do (or want). It's a great way to see how other full-timers have done (good and bad) to make our adventures great too. 



It will be a sad day to say goodbye to my parents until 2019, but I'm looking forward to returning pool side in 80 degree weather in Arizona and working at Goodyear Ballpark for spring training. 

Monday, January 1, 2018

2017 YEAR IN REVIEW

2017 YEAR IN REVIEW

2017 is the year we have had marked on our calendar for the last five years. Because this is the year where we spend the summer with our Family in Japan. We had a year of adventures and RV brake downs. It was also the year that hit us the hardest with the passing of my father-in-law.

2017 started the same as every year since we started full timing, in Arizona for Cleveland Indians spring training. coming off a disappointing seven game World Series lost to the Cubs, Indians Fans came out in larger crowds then past years.

 I got plenty of autographs, BP balls and broken bats to add to my ever going collection. Also, the defending Nippon Baseball Champions Nippon-Ham Fighter held the first half of their spring training in Arizona where I visited a few practices and games before the MLB players had to report for the official start of season.

Shohei Ohtani
  Hirotoshi Takanashi
2016 PL ROY
  Brandon Laird
2016 Nippon Series MVP

I was also able to get more pictures with fellow Kent State alumni who are Major (Minor) League players. Not to mention my favorite player Milwaukee Brewers third base man Travis Shaw. I have followed his career since 2010 (Sophomore season). 2017 turned out to be his best as a Major Leaguer (so far) hitting 31 home runs and 101 runs batted in while taking Brewers team honors as the Most Valuable Player.
Travis Shaw
  Taylor Williams
 Eric Lauer 
Spring Training Haul
#####Autos 186, Balls 50 (19 gave a-way), Bats 4, SGA 4 Bobblehead.#####

Full 2017 spring training post is located HERE

We moved our RV to Las Vegas and stayed at Nellis AFB for a few months before flying to Japan for the summer to spend time with our family. We had a great time with family, trips to Kyoto, Mt Fuji and few weeks in Tokyo before our summer was over.
Toro Ruins (Shizuoka)
 Zen Garden (Kyoto)
 Monkey Park (Kyoto)
 Godzilla (Tokyo)
 Samurai Museum (Tokyo)  
Samurai Museum (Tokyo)

To help replenish our funds we set out on our annual winter job of working at a Amazon warehouse. This year we decided not to travel across country to Tennessee to work for CamperForce, but to stay in our snow bird home of Arizona and work at the Phoenix location.

Full review can be read HERE.

Even though we spend fewer days on the road (because of our trip to Japan) we still managed to have a few break downs. Not one, but two blown tiers. One major, outer driver side tire blew out and broke off the wheel cover. Lucky for us a service truck drives up and down this highway looking to help vehicles that breakdown. Small damage, but still a pain to fix (still have not fixed yet).



The second, not as bad. this one was the rear inter passenger tire. It blew out just before we got on the on ramp and was in a small town where we got it fixed at a local tire store. I guess we got lucky once again, because there was nothing for the 40 miles and no cell coverage in the higher elevations. Sorry, I looked and had no picture, just videos.

The last of all our day-night shades have broke and we replaced them all with curtains. Our generator has stopped working. It happen while boondocking in Sedona, AZ. We had no power for four days, but managed to survive without it. This is kind of good, Hiromi and I were talking about plans to install solar panels and use the generator space for the batteries. We also want to do some remodeling of removing all the carpeting and replacing the tile floor.

2016 was year one on YouTube and I had goals to work to make it better in 2017. I started off year two good getting new content out. But, when we got to Japan and got really busy seeing and doing stuff every day I never got around to editing all the videos. Now I have 6+ months of videos to put together. I have released only one video since our summer in Japan. If I want my YouTube channel to get off the ground I have to stop being lazy and get those videos edited.

To see all our (completed) YouTube videos click HERE. Don't forget to like and subscribe to my channel.

Goals for 2018
Remodel the RV floor and install solar panels. Continue to mark places and adventures off our bucket list. Get off my lazy but and get videos loaded to my YouTube channel. Sign up for Amazon CamperForce in Murfreesboro, TN. Get more autographs, bats and baseball at 2018 spring training. Taking two trips to Japan put a dent in our travel budget. I will have to look for a spring job while in Arizona as Hiromi will be going back to Japan in May (three trips to Japan in 12 months) for the spreading of your father's ashes.

SAD NEWS
On November 24th, we got a phone call from Hiromi's brother. He never calls us and I knew something was wrong. We got the news that my Father-in-law had passed away. Hiromi was strong and I was the one that took the news the hardest. Hiroshi was only in my life for a short time (25 years), but the relationship we had was one that does not occur often when a foreigner marries a Japanese only daughter. I am grateful he allowed me to marry Hiromi and honored to call him Oto-san (Dad).

Our last picture taken together
(Tiger Twins)
Hiromi's last picture

As 2017 comes to a close, we are still in Japan supporting my mother-in-law Yoshiko and morning the lose of my Father-in-law Hiroshi Suzuki. Needless to say this BLOG and my YouTube channel sits idle at this time while we take care of family issues. After our return back to the US both sites will be active with new content. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

AMAZON PHOENIX, AZ (NOT CAMPERFORCE)

AMAZON PHOENIX, AZ (NOT CAMPERFORCE)

Another winter, another year working at a Amazon Fulfillment Center (FC). This year we have a little twist, then the past years. This Peak season we are working in Phoenix, AZ as a regular temp hires with Integrity Staffing Solutions .In the past we worked for Amazon in the Camper Force program. There are Amazon warehouses all across America and instead of traveling across the Country to work, why not look into a warehouse in our own snowbird backyard? We applied for job opening on 11 Sep and by 5 Oct we received a call letting us know we were hired.

Before I go into too much of our experiences in the Phoenix warehouse the work in an Amazon warehouse is the same no matter the location. Not much more I can say; if you worked in one, it will pretty much be the same at the next. Except for one detail I have noticed. On Mandatory Over Time  (MOT) where you are required to work 60 hour weeks all the other warehouse were 12 hour shift for five day. In Phoenix it's 10 hour shifts for six days. Not much off time to get groceries and do laundry all in one day before heading back into work.

We agreed to the assignment for the position of day shift ICQA. When we arrived on 28 Oct we were assigned to Stowing position, needless to say we were upset and quit on the spot. The next day we called for a new position and again we got agreed to ICQA this time on the night shift. Again, when we arrived we were changed to stowing. This time even though it was not the assignment we did not agree to, at least it was a night shift with slightly higher wage so we stayed. We are working night shift Wednesday thru Saturday (MOT Tuesday - Sunday) 6:00pm - 4:30am.

Integrity Staffing Solutions (ISS) is a hiring agency and I don't have a lot good things to say about them. First, the interview process they lied. Telling us we would work only 30 hours (3 days) the first week to get use to the shift and work load. WRONG, we put in 47 hours (5 days) and had overtime in the first week. Second, MOT would be only one day a week and 12 hour shift. WRONG, its two days on Sunday and Tuesday on 10 hour shifts. Arizona is a tax state, meaning I have to pay Arizona city and state taxes even though I'm not a residence of Arizona. Arizona tax is cheaper than Ohio meaning I will have to pay out of pocket the difference. Not to mention I now have to fill for two State and two City taxes in 2018. The way we have been treated as employees of ISS is the worst. We are going to fight though our eight weeks and on 23 Dec we are done with Peak and ISS.

I just wanted to show some of the differences between CamperForce and ISS.

Benefit                                       CamprForce                                          ISS
Direct hire with Amazon                  Yes                                                    No

Free campsite                                    Yes                                                    No

Paid time off (5 hrs) earned after     350 hrs                                             Not offered

Bonus (Complete assignment)       1 hour = $1                                        Not offered

Agreed assignment,                           Yes                                                    No
   Assignment work

Work commitment                           23 Dec                                               1,500 hrs
                                                        (gone before X-Mas)

First week Hour work                       25-30 hrs                                           47 hrs

Free T-shit and swag                         Yes                                                    No

Communication with Ambassador    5 *****                                           1*

Max work performance rate               85% (no write up)                  100% (or write up)

MOT 60 hr weeks                             50 hrs                                               60 hrs


and the list goes on.... always favoring CamperForce over ISS. 

Needless to say, we are never going to work for ISS or any hiring agencies again. We are sticking with direct hire through CamperForce in the years to come. CamperForce 2018 job opening come out in late December early January and we are putting our name in for Murfreesboro, TN.

Lastly, if you're going to applying for CamperForce for the first time this year because of the advice and information I've shared about the program over the years on this BLOG, Id be one happy camper if you'd list me under "How did you hear about this opportunity" field on the application (Russell Bennett).

The past few springs I have volunteered at MLB spring training complexes, This spring I will try and work to make some money. I have submitted a few applications for MLB spring training job. If I get hired for any of them, I'll post on how I found the job, how I got hired and how was the over all experience.  

Saturday, September 23, 2017

iFLY SCOTTSDALE, AZ

iFLY SCOTTSDALE, AZ

22 Sep 2017

Today is my birthday and I got the biggest surprise gift from Hiromi. I have had sky diving on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. The only problem is I don't want to jump out of a perfectly good air plane at 10,000 feet. The next best thing is indoor sky diving. She took me to iFly in Scottsdale, AZ. There are only a few requirements. No neck, back or shoulder injuries and weigh under 260lbs. There is a short safety training period to learn the basic and hand signals. Then, we put on our jump suit and was ready to go. 


We got the package deal for two 2 minute flights. I added the 10' flight.  When will I ever get to do this again and besides I only live once, so why not. We also got two free video clips. We choice one each. We both had a great time and was worth every penny. When we were done we even got a certificate.

 Check out the video on my YouTube page or just click HERE

Friday, September 1, 2017

CLIMBING MT FUJI (FUJI-SAN) JAPAN

CLIMBING MT FUJI (FUJI-SAN) JAPAN

When you ask almost any non Japanese to name five iconic landmarks in Japan, most have Mt Fuji on their list. The Japanese don't even call it a mountain, they call it Fuji-San. Translated as Mr Fuji to show respect to the living object. Standing at 12,388 feet it is the largest volcano in Japan. The last eruption was in December 1707 over 300 years ago. The damage was so bad it hit Osaka 230 miles West and Edo (now Tokyo) 120 miles East. I can't even image the damage it would cause the next time it erupts, but it's estimated to be around 2.5 Trillion Yen or 25 Billion US Dollars.

This would make my third time climbing Fuji-San. First, in 1991 (19) on a day trip with my Navy Command. I made it to level 10, but it was already mid day. Second, in 2001 (29) with Hiromi. We made it to level 7 where we spent the night and to level 10 to see the sunrise the next morning. Third, in 2017 (45) by myself.

A SAFETY WARNING Lots of people climb Fuji- San every day, but don't understand all the dangers. 1) Hydration, 2) Sun burn and 3) Altitude sickness. I thought this was a joke the first time I heard this, but it's real and it's serious danger.  With lower oxygen pressure at high altitudes it becomes harder to breath. If you are older or out of shape this is the one that you might consider before you start your climb.

Even though it's free to climb (recommend 1,000 yen donation) nothing is really free. Round trip bus ride 4,500 yen, sleeping place 5,500 yen, two meals 2,500 yen equal to 12,500 yen or US$ 125. Lets not forget the fees to use the bathroom on the mountain that is 200 yen per visit. If you spend the night at one of the station houses toilets are free until you checkout.

Being 45 years old I was thinking this might be my last chance to climb Fuji-San and it was close to the top of my list of things to do while in Japan. I packed everything I thought I would need and a little extra stuff my Father-in-Law thought I would need too. Turned out I only used half of the stuff and a lot of extra weight on my back. I started the day by going to Shizuoka bus/ JR station. The bus leaves once a day to Fuji-San and it's a three hour ride with one stop at another bus station.

After the bus arrived at level 5 (the parking lot) I took my time to get a hot meal before starting my climb. I was off with the clouds rolling in and the sun not really hot. That all changes pretty quickly when I turned around to take in the view, I was above the cloud line and the sun beating down on me. In the past I did not remember the climb being this hard. There is no real level walking trails, its pretty much finding a foot hole in the lava rocks and hope for the best. There are some man mad steps, but a tough climb. The biggest surprise to me was that there was free Wi-Fi not just at the dinning hall area in level 5, but also at the level 8 station house (about 9,900 feet).







I made it to level 8 in about 4 1/2 hours where I made reservation to sleep for the night. Good thing I did as there was some kind of kid field trip where all 72 sleeping area was booked full.

 I was dead tired and after dinner I was off to bed, but with kids yelling it was pretty hard. Final around 10pm the lights went out and every kid had to say good night to their friend. By 10:30pm I think everyone has said their goodnight. A few hours latter the staff turned the lights on a 2am for wake up to start the climb to level 10. Someone turn on their radio and said rain is in the forecast around sunrise. I heard that, and rolled over and went back to sleep. I would have had another two hour hike to level 10 meaning that I would have about 4 hour hike down on a slipper lava rock trail. I just slept in and woke up to see the sunrise from my sleeping area window before getting up to make the  2 1/2 hour hike back down before the rain comes. As I stepped off the trail and onto the parking lot road the rain came and it came down in buckets. I was upset that I did not make it to level 10 on my last climb (more than likely) but I think it was a safe and smart decision on my part.



I waited a few hours in the dinning hall area for the bus to arrive to depart back to Shizuoka Bus stop/ JR Train Station.  When I arrived back in Shizuoka I walked back home and just as I left the downtown area with roof cover sidewalks the rain came once again and I was soaked head to toe. I looked up and saw Hiromi walk towards me with an extra umbrella where we walk home together.

First thing I did was throw all my cloths in the laundry and took a hot shower and soaked in the tub.

I had a great time climbing Fuji-San, I just wish I was young again. Even though I have climb it two times in the past, this was by far the hardest climb ever. I have not encounter any climb/ hikes like this is America. I thought I was in shape, but after this I'm just lucky to have survived. I was a little dehydrated, my face was sunburned and my feet were water logged.


If you want to see the video I made check out my YouTube link HERE.





Saturday, August 26, 2017

TORO RUINS SHIZUOKA, JAPAN

TORO RUINS SHIZUOKA, JAPAN

One of our first stops was the Toro Ruins in Shizuoka. Only 10 minutes by bus from Shizuoka Train Station. These Ruins site dates back to the First Century. There were about 50 huts and each held one family of about five members. I was surprised to find out that there was no one person that ruled or leaded this city, all the members were equal. From what I understood from my translation was that you work, you eat you don't work, you don't eat. There were are also several storage huts. These huts were for storing food. They are raised up off the ground for a few reasons. One; to keep bugs and other animals out, two; keep thieves from stealing and three; an area to prep meals and keep dry when it rains. The first thing I noticed when I looked at the storage buildings that there was no door. How did they get the food in and out? How did the food stay good and not rot? There is a little triangles box that can be removed to place the items inside. Because the location of the opening, they had to use ladders. These ladders was stored in the huts. Along these triangle opening the wooden slot can be open or closed. In the summer the slots remained closed and in the winter they were open.





I was luck enough to step back in time and make a fire the same way these people would have done it back in the First Century.
.  

Checkout the video of our time at Toro Ruins. CLICK HERE

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

JAPAN

JAPAN

As full-time RV'ers we are always looking forward to our next adventures to explore and see what the city or area has to offer. When we arrive I get that feeling of excitement of finding out what's around the corner. When we take a break from the road and return to Ohio to see family I get the feeling of peace. 

I moved to Japan at age 19 to live on my own for the first time. Living on my own for the first time in a foreign country, not known the language, culture or history would be hard for anyone. I did not choice to live in Japan, Japan was assigned to me. Unknowingly at the time, the stars must have aligned and fate that brought me to Japan. Even though I worked on a Military base that spoke English I lived off base and experienced Japan like any other foreigner. I feel in love with Japan, it's history and culture. The ten years I lived in Japan taught me I could concur my fears and that nothing could stand in my way of dream and goals. I meet the woman of my dreams and married her, I had a successful 20 year Navy career, I retired at age 38, I now travel the US, Canada & Mexico in my RV. I could not have asked for a better life than this.

Twenty-six years latter I find myself back in Japan for seven weeks to visit family and explore. Leading up to my arrival to Japan I did not know how I would feel, excited or at peace? As I got off the plane and saw my father-in-law, I felt at peace and knew I was home.

In the coming weeks I will BLOG about our adventures. Please check back often to see our Life-in-Japan.