Sunset

Sunset

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 YEAR IN REVIEW

2016 YEAR IN REVIEW

I did not track our financial spending or mileage drove this year as we pretty much stayed in one spot all summer before going to Tennessee to work at Amazon. After crisscross America and Canada the last two years it was nice to just sit back, relax and spend time with family before hitting the road for the next two years. We set new milestones, checked somethings off our bucket list, while adding more to the growing list. We had RV and car issues that we did not expect. We then topped it off with another successful peak job at Amazon.

This year we hit a pretty large milestone of 1,500 days Full-Timing. We can't believe that four plus years have gone by so fast. There is so much we have seen & done and there is still so much more we want to do. We are thankful for our health as we have not had an major issues that would keep us from living this dream.

This blog, WOW... not in my wildest dream I thought that I would get this many views. I started this BLOG so my family & friends would have a way to follow along with us on our journey. Never did I imagine in 2012 I would have people from all 50 US States and 64 Countries interested in our stories.

For being on the road only three weeks after we arrived in Ohio, we have seen our fair number our tour buses and custom paint jobs.




It was nice to be around family this summer, but when you sit in one spot the bucket list grows longer and not much gets crossed off. A big one for me did get crossed off, to be a season ticket hold for a baseball team. Even though it was only a minor league team it still counts. The Akron RubberDucks AA Affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, The best part of it all was the team hosted the All Star game and won the league title. How lucky can I get.

We added more baseball stadiums, State Capitol Building and National Parks to our list. Our new totals now stand at 41 US State, 5 Canadian Provenances, 65 different baseball stadiums, 19 State Capitol Buildings and 117 National Parks.

We toured two chocolate factories in one week and much, much more, if you want to see every where we went this year please read old post from 2016 (For our whole journey start from day one in 2012). 

Like so many times when something goes wrong, everything goes wrong. One of the most important things I did when we started Full-Timing was have an expense account for RV and car issues. The hard part is trying to keep money in the account. This year alone we had the RV roof resealed & coated, replaced our toilet, three tires, front headlight that burned out and the front glass that cracked from a rock hitting it. The car was just as bad, we had to replace the cooling/ heating unit as it rusted on the inside, the turn single unit as the handle never turned off after making a turn, new battery and two tires, one blew out on Hiromi when she was on the highway.  

I started my YouTube channel this year, but it's been a rough start. I played around with it for the past few years posting a few slide show and videos. I started Life-in-RV season 1 in late June. In the first three months I released only five videos then we arrived in Tennessee for our commitment to Amazon. There was just no time to do everything I wanted (working the night shift and 50 hours weeks) so I had to prioritize and pushed the channel to the back burner. With the New Year season 2 will start back up in January.  I hope to be able to put the time needed to grow the channel (currently only have 13 subscribers) while trying to make good videos. When we do something big and exciting I'll try and do a video at the same time then post the link at the end of the blog post. This way after you read it you can watch it too. If you have not already seen our previous videos, please click on the YouTube link in the side panel. Let me know what you thing and if you like them please subscribe.  

Finances is a touchy topic for me. I learned the importance of finances at a young age that you can't just want something and hope that someone will give it to you. Putting in the long hours, sweat, tears, sacrifice and away from family to earning the money to pay for the things I want makes it that much rewarding when I finally got it. That is the reason you will NEVER see a "donations button" or have a "support us funds" on my blog or YouTube channel like so many others. Don't get me wrong, if that is how they want to pay for their journey that is their prerogative, it just not my way.

When October rolled around it was time to stop having fun and get serious for the next three months. I probably blogged about Amazon enough lately so just read the post below. However, when all we work is 12 weeks a year its nice to know that the next nine months we'll have extra money in our pocket and see that our hard work paid off so we can enjoy the next adventurers in our journey.

2016 was great and 2017 is going to be another awesome year, as we discover a new way of living where travel, adventure and home are one in the same. We have plans to stay out West with a surprise vacation, as long as everything goes right. When the time comes I'll share it, but we don't want to jinks it. If not, there is always plan B. I will track our spending and miles in 2017 to see the cost for staying out West (ie campground, groceries/ eat out, RV/car gas ...etc).We'll continue to check items off our bucket list, while forging unforgettable memories that will last us a lifetime.

Live your dream, travel safe and hopefully see you on the road. 

Sunday, December 25, 2016

CAMPERFORCE AMAZON MURFREESBORO, TN : FINAL

CAMPERFORCE AMAZON MURFREESBORO, TN : FINAL

77,76.75 ...... 3,2,1, ZERO! It's official our commitment to Amazon is completed. After working 77 days and close to 500 hours with sub teen temperatures the last few weeks it's time to pack up and get back on the road were we belong. We'll be heading West for warmer weather to sit pool side in the desert. Before that, we have a few stops planed along the way to AZ and can't wait to share them with you. Before all the fun starts I have to put an end to this chapter at Amazon, I have one last post about our CamperForce experience in Murfreesboro, TN.

In the previous posts I talked about CamperForce, now I'm going to talk about the behind the scenes good stuff. Holiday gifts were giving out to workers for showing up to work on time, dress up days, games and just doing your job. In the pass years we never got anything, but this year we racked it up. For dressing up in all black on Black Friday and wearing Amazon T-Shirt on Cyber Monday we won three $25 Amazon gift card. Our last week during "power hour" (a race to see who does the best) Hiromi finished in the top 10 and got a $10 Amazon gift card (not pictured below). Every week we got a hand full of raffle tickets for just showing up to work on time and doing our job at a high rate with no errors were we must have got over 150 raffle tickets for prize drawings at the end of the peak season. Unfortunately, the drawing was on Dec 22 and our last day of working was Dec 21 (released on Dec 23).We also found a lot hide and seek cards for ICQA, but since peek started management passed out raffle tickets instead. The hide and seek will return in January after we leave. What am I going to do with all these cards? Finally, the funnest way I ever made free money... playing Rock - Paper - Scissors. On our night shift in ICQA there was a tournament, out of about 30 people I finished tied for third and won a $15 American Express prepaid card. The only down side is that I had to spend the money on the card by 1 Jan 17 or I lose $2 every month. We used it to eat out before we left TN. Another incentive for doing your job well is Boro Bucks. Surrounded around your rate and quality is were you can cash them in to get free Amazon Swag. For some reason we have not been getting our Boro Bucks in our account. I have talked to some people and they told me they are working on it... I understand the Boro Buck from paper to electronic might take time to transfer as someone has to enter the data, but the weekly Bucks??? should be automatically by now! On the last day we still did not have any Boro bucks in our account. All we wanted was a BNA3 T-shirt... HOOK A BROTHER UP! This was the only year we did not have CampeForce "farewell meeting", it was canceled and never rescheduled.


We spend the $15 prepaid card at Lemongrass . Lemongrass was recommenced by fellow CamperForce in the weekly newsletter. It's been a while since we ate sushi, it was pretty good.

My Teriyaki Chicken and Sashimi 
 Hiromi's Teriyaki Chicken and Sushi

Just a quick look at how hard I worked this peak, check out my gloves.
                     
                          New                                                             After 12 weeks

One of my personal goals I set out at the start of this job was to lose some unwanted weight. I knew by working in a warehouse and walking all day I could lose weight, I just did not know how much? My goal was to lose 13 LBS and get in the 150s. I started at 172 LBS with 23% body fat. I now weigh 159 LBS with 20% body fat. I did it! I feel great for being a mid 40 something. Time to set a new goal... Now comes the hard part, keeping the weight off!

                              Before                                                               After
     

Another thing I did was grow my "AMAZON BEARD". For the last six weeks I did not shave (just trimmed). Hiromi hates it so it gotz to go, but the goatee .. is staying. I've been growing it for 15 months. Maybe after two years (1 Sep 2017) I'll cut it, we'll see. Maybe make it a YouTube video, What do you think?

                       Before                                                               After
  

Now that this chapter as a CamperForce has come to and end, it's time to start a new chapter. Where will our journey take us next?

Saturday, December 3, 2016

CAMPERFORCE AMAZON MURFREESBORO, TN UPDATE

CAMPERFORCE AMAZON MURFREESBORO, TN UPDATE


I have been away from this BLOG for a while, but all for a valid reason. I have been putting in 50 hour weeks at Amazon so we can make our spending money for our summer fun so I have exciting things to BLOG about. With the little time off we do get we did do some sightseeing and I promise when my commitment to Amazon is fulfilled I will BLOG and YouTube about it. 

We just completed our 9th week at Amazon with only three weeks left in the peek season, there is no better time then the present to fill you in on our experiences at this Fulfillment Center (FC).

Murfreesboro FC is by far 100% better than my experience in Haslet. TX last year. I have heard that Haslet FC is under new management this season so things might be better this season, I don' know? This season I'm assigned to ICQA and found this assignment to my liking. If you can count to 100 this job is for you. Past seasons I was hitting weekly goals of 100%-110% in stow and receiving, this year I'm exceeding that with weekly goals of 120%-140%.  To explain it most simply as I can; I count the storage bins to make sure all the product are in the correct bin physically as it show virtually in the computer system. If there is an error I pull an alert to have someone fix it. That is all I do for 10 hours a night.... Oh, and I walk and walk and walk A LOT.  As you could image, warehouse work puts a strain on your body. There has been a few fellow CamperForce who have quite. I would come home and see their RV, when I wake up they are gone. The first 2-3 weeks are the toughest, after that my body was use to it. I have even seen a physical improvement in where I have lost 10 lbs and on the verge of hitting 159 lbs for the first time since I retired six years ago.  

The job might feel tedious, but I keep telling myself why I'm here and fight though the night. Some days are better than others, but I keep looking at the big picture knowing at the end of the storm there is a rainbow that all my efforts now will make summer 2017 fun. 

This season CamperForce got a pay increase with the night shift making $12 a hour. Along with the free campsite we're able to pocket every penny we both make this peek. The campsite we are at is nice and quite, away from everything making it easier for us to stay home and not go out to spend a lot money. Our neighbors on both sides of us work days, when we come home they are getting up and we leave before they return. Always my favorite part are the stories and friendships bonded with fellow campers at the campground and workplace. There is a Wal Mart and Military Base Commissary close by where we get our groceries. There are only two downside to the campground we are at 1) Trash. There is no dumpsters, we have to take our trash to the recycle center on our way to work. If you work days this might be difficult as the hours they are open are the hours you work. Closed on Saturdays, but open for a few hours on Sundays. 2) Internet. It works for our everyday use. We are unable to get TV reception and rely on the internet for entertainment. The slow internet bandwidth will not allow me to connect to download or stream TV/Movies. I can view YouTube videos with a little buffering. Facebook/browser games work with no problem. I have not even tried my steam account games, maybe too much bandwidth.

As of right now, it dose not look like we will return to Amazon CamperForce next season as we will be out West for the next two years and the only Amazon CamperForce openings are East. If they open CamperForce out West I would definitely sign up for my 4th year.