And the road goes on forever...

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Given circumstances, the blog is going to probably be on hiatus for awhile. Firstly, we are still in Bend; Marc having arrived safely back from New Mexico; we have no internet here and we are thinking of doing a little camping at the mountain lakes this next week and maybe even longer. It is time for some introspection and re-evaluation of what comes next. To us, that means a few cold beers sitting in a lakeside campsite after a hard day’s fishing the mountain lakes around here.

To do so first requires a complete new set of batteries for our RV however, which will entail a $2000 expense for the big glass-mat AGMs and a trip to Portland. Alas, they don’t last forever and we last purchased them about eight years ago. Running two refrigerators and a big chest freezer on electric creates a huge draw on our 3000 watt inverter all day which lately has required running the generator way too much with weak batteries.

I guess when all else is loss, go on vacation, right? I’ll try and take lots of good pictures—it just may take awhile for you to see them.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Best Laid Plans....

I sit here in Bend just stupefied. Marc got a call late last night from the investor doing Clovis, saying they were going to lay him off as they had decided they were not going to finish out the project after all. He is packing up this morning and will be out and on the road shortly. Will he even be paid for his time and the move there? We don’t know.

Now what?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Goodbye Old Friend

My last day in Coos Bay, and I watch the fog whisking among the fir branches and treetops as the wind whips the dune grass. It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to stop and smell the salt air—better than roses for my mind and psyche. The packing is just about done, the errands all run; now is my time to say goodbye to my favorite place.

As I sit and ponder, a tug appears far down the bay guiding the huge ship Glorious Lotus, home port Singapore, to sea. Probably more wood chips bound for the Far East where they will make chip board and once again send it on a huge ship back to us. She towers over the small boats stuck to their piece of ocean, crabbing, and then silently save for her bellowing horn, disappears into the mist and her far flung ocean voyage.

The harbor remains wreathed in fog as I note a new boat tied up, a huge catamaran that has the look of something odd about her like she is very possibly homemade. She dwarfs the other boats around her and her straight sided lines and angles look reminiscent of a 1970’s apartment building, not a boat. She definitely looks stout but like an ungainly ugly duckling at the same time.

Too soon, it’s time to leave Charleston to do more packing. I am so anxious to see Marc; so sad to leave the coast. We have no time line on this journey to return; it’s all in the great mystery called remaining gainfully employed if possible, so weeks could stretch to months and into years. The ocean will continue to call me so I take my photographs for my memory scrap pile and file away the sounds and smells which leave no tangible reminder save for lingering memory.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Exiting WalMart: Short-timer's Syndrome

I have a dear friend from college who has mentioned that her husband does not always work well with others and should wear the tee-shirt. You might know the one: “Does Not Play Well with Others.” Well, I called her tonight and told her to be sure and send me one too.

I have worked the past two weeks with someone I have come to intensely dislike more than anyone in recent memory. This young girl is not only bossy, but she is a boss-suck-up extraordinaire. Any way you have of doing something she feels it important to make comment on, usually negative, and is constantly nagging our supervisor asking for advice of how or what should be done. Like she can’t possibly figure out how to do it on her own and then feels compelled to tell the rest of us how we should then do it when it’s really none of her business. I figure if the boss doesn’t like the way I am working THEY can tell me; not some other workmate who knows less than me to begin with.

Finally at the end of the day today, my best work partner and I were in the back room working with this girl when she started REALLY mouthing off as usual. Ok, I admit, short-timers syndrome is probably a nasty thing for a person like me, who has a hard time holding her tongue anyway; and in this case it was devastating. I had had enough and lit into her. She obviously didn’t get “it” and said she wasn’t going to work with us anymore as she left in a huff with: “I’m going to go tell MJ” (our supervisor). So my parting repartee was “I don’t give a shit what you do.” as she stormed out.

Well, I have to admit; upon seeing MJ later she did not mention a word to me. Upon leaving this evening I stopped to say a special thank you to another supervisor whom I really enjoyed working under and mentioned that she might need to give me an especially good recommendation because I probably wasn’t going to get a good one from MJ. She asked why and when I explained she said MJ was probably secretly thankful. Apparently the girl’s been getting on everyone’s nerves but has them all walking on eggshells—you know how it is now with all the politically correct stuff everyone seems to have to deal with. And of course, it is against WalMart policy to have personal altercations or use swear words with anyone. Oh my. I think I’ve broken their rules.

One more day. I don’t expect for things to be better tomorrow with the exception that I will really have short-timers syndrome! Who knows what might come out of my mouth? I wish I had that tee-shirt already; I’d wear it as a warning. (grin)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Relief is Spelled J-O-B

I haven’t said a lot about Marc lately because he was finalizing helping some friends with some projects in Yuma. Since last fall, he has been in contact with an investor whose group took back one of the projects Marc most recently worked on for his former employer in Clovis, New Mexico in ‘08. This week things came together for Marc to gain the Superintendent position to finish up that project for the investment group, which is expected to run three to four months.

Marc arrived in Clovis Friday morning and says the project is a complete mess, having sat vacant and unfinished for the past year. He says the list of things to do is so overwhelming he doesn’t know where to start but he knows one thing for certain: he needs his helpmate ASAP! Often times, I have helped Marc in the capacity as his laborer or project cleaner and he is in desperate need of such right now so it certainly makes sense to resign my position at WalMart and go join my husband as quickly as possible.

With that in mind, I plan to give notice to WalMart on Monday, of one week. In actuality, I hope they let me go before then as I will have some things to attend to here to close up the place, pack up what I will need and then head over to Bend to visit a couple days with my folks before hitting the highways through eastern Oregon on my way south nearly 1500 miles with my traveling companion cat Tucker.

I face the coming days with a fresh spirit and much anticipation of again being on project and working and living beside my husband. It’s about time!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

What is It About Blogs?

Ok, I admit: much of my world exists in cyberspace. Since I have very little life of my own these days, I seem to relish following others’ particularly enhanced lifestyles that we now find a plethora of on the internet. From its start many years ago following some of the most rudimentary websites that evolved to capture life on the road amongst the RVing crowd, as time and ever-evolving electronic gadgetry allowed, I have expanded my repertoire to include many adventurer blogs I now try and follow. Frankly, I wonder if it has become overkill.

When Marc and I first started telling our tales (because I had a yen for writing) in 1998 on our new domain (which we paid dearly for) “Itchyhitch”, we were one of the few. As times evolved and more RVers jumped on the bandwagon of telling their traveling tales, many gravitated to the new format called “blogging” which served up a ready-made template for those not having their own domain, or who didn’t want the investment in hundreds of dollars of software like Front Page with its hard to figure out HTML format for posting. Suddenly, within the past two-three years, everyone who features themselves “anyone” now has a blog! It’s a wonder there is any room left in cyberspace.

Of long habit of course, I still follow many (no; make that SOME) RV blogs. Some of these people I feel I know, having either actually met them in person along the trail somewhere or having emailed back and forth enough to suppose an actual friendship. Others I have no clue who they are. They came to my attention, usually by mention of someone else and I read a little and add them as a “favorite” hoping to go back and catch up on their story. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen lately and I now look at too many entries, wondering how on earth they ever got added in the first place. Do I know this person? Does anyone I know, know this person? Is this person really important to my life? Why would I want to read about theirs; especially as I am not really living a carefree RV lifestyle these days.

Ok, so what have I moved on to? Well, world adventurers of course! Those traipsing the USA don’t have enough territory to report on; not enough roads to traverse, not enough exotic locations to post about. Given our interest in motorcycle travel, I have found several world adventurers traveling the world on bikes! Wow; talk about tough (but exceeding exciting to think about!). The best example I can think of is

This young couple just about sets the bar for adventure travel and toughness. Visit their blog, if you like travel and the pictures that a $3200 digital camera can produce of most of the world’s outstanding historical sites; you owe it to yourself to tune in. Although not of the caliber of world travel as the above site, I have often enjoyed Guy Bodin’s motorcycle adventures as a long rider on America’s best back roads: on his Honda motorcycles. Although Guy's photography may leave a lot to be desired, he weaves wonderfully descriptive tales that take you right along for the ride.

Starting many years ago in a sailboat around the world, and very young, now having gravitated to an old VW wagon, one cherished contact is Pat and Ali of fame. They certainly create waves, and have become pretty controversial world-wide. If you email them however, they are very endearing. Mention itchyhitch sent you.

So what’s the latest on the agenda? Well, now I am into researching boats—all manner of boats, all manner of stories centered on their use and lifestyle, particularly liveaboard. One retired couple decided to tour all of America’s waterways with their trailerable boat and camper and have a very encompassing website entitled “Cruising America”. Since he is a former Geology teacher he offers great insight into the earth around us as we visualize it today, but really which had its history millions of years ago. The tale of cruising over the top of Yellowstone Lake is fascinating!

As I did with RVers so I am doing with boaters: following tales of people I have no clue about. One is of Life’s 2 Short aboard a large trawler whose owners retired young and beautiful and cruise around wherever they want with an adult beverage constantly in their hands and pictures of party after party—the ultimate indulgent life mere mortals can’t begin to imagine. They have some great pictures of the clear blue water of the Bahamas.

But of far greater meaning, is the irreverent tale of young Jason and Christy, from Seattle, aboard their 40 foot sailboat who have just made their escape from the rat race; yes, quit their jobs in this economy and are racing the tides up the Inland Passage towards Alaska. Now they’re the kind of people I would love to meet!

So tell me folks; you who are reading this blog, why is it we are so attracted to others lives in addition to exposing our own? Is there something wrong in this premise? Will my real life continue to be centered on a computer and others’ tales? I am beginning to wonder. Do I need to cut back this addiction?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

When Life Gets Down To Elements, part 2

In groups we move off onto the floor following our assigned supervisors. Typically, we either move fixtures, build fixtures (after schlepping the parts from the sea container of parts out in the South 40 of the parking lot), or we “set a mod”. Setting a mod requires placing shelving or pegs which hold product according to a specific plan. Once the setup is done, we install what’s called fast track, which is the rail which holds all the skews and pricing information contained on the little yellow tags. Those all go on in certain order and there is a definite method to the madness. I have become particularly adept and fast at it, hence have become in great demand by all the supervisors as “the Mod Queen”. It’s not a bad position to hold.

Once the mod is set, we then set the product. Next time you waltz through WalMart pay particular attention to such aisles as the deodorant or hand lotion or shampoo sections. Note just how many brands, how many flavors, how many varieties there are of each product. Each one has a separate skew; each one has a separate area where it must be placed. Each one also has, per manufacturer and how much they are willing to pay for shelf space, a certain amount of rows for their product. Hence, you will see some brands which have the same product with face forward three rows, while others languish with only one. Yes, the almighty dollar at work again. Also, note just how low that bottom shelf is and what’s placed there. How many are willing to get down on their knees to pick up a product? Now imagine me stocking all that stuff and the back ache that ensues. Further imagine doing one of these entire aisles and you will have an inkling of my day. Is it any wonder I ache all week?

Break passes too quickly two hours after starting work sitting with others from our group at round tables in the employee, excuse me, Associates room. There are vending machines, refrigerators, a microwave, a coat closet, and silent sufferings. The two time clocks sit menacingly right outside each of its doors. A wide cement hallway leads us back through double swinging doors onto the floor again all too soon.

Finally, it’s lunch. We need to wrestle with the demon time clock again; I get into my locker to pick up my fanny pack with my car keys, and hustle towards the front entrance and North 40 to my car and a blissful hour of kicking off my shoes and immersing myself in my latest book. I clock watch constantly, afraid I will be late. They have drilled it in: if you are late, you can be fired! I leave the car’s sanctuary after 45 minutes to have time to walk the long way, go to the bathroom, visit the locker and clock back in on time. Then it starts again.

My energy typically flags after lunch but not nearly so much as after our afternoon break at 3 p.m. That is the worst part of my day; I am bone tired by then as I watch my workmates swallow cokes two at a time and munch on candy bars and junk food. Half of their earnings must be spent on that crap! I only drink water I bring during the day. But somehow we all manage to go back out onto to the floor and complete the tasks for that day. Many days now we don’t stop until 5:15 or 5:30 although technically we should be done at 5 p.m. We are released; we hurry back to punch out and hope the machine spits out its “badge accepted” so we are official to hit the swinging double doors as a free soul for the night. I remove my badge lest I be accosted by people all the way out of the store, “Do you know where xxx is?” I limp out to my car and pull out of the parking lot with a crowd of shoppers; after work is typically the busiest time for the store. Thankfully, it is a short drive home; I wind around the sharp bend and spot the bay again and gaze out and analyze it all over again: tide going out? tide coming in? boats on the water? what height the waves? and yes, I want to be out there once again. Shortly, I pull into the RV park, park the car, gather my lunch box and other stuff and unlock the door to my hungry cat greeting me. Ah, sweet release. I have about three or four hours before I will feel like going to bed and face another day to get up and do it all again. I end my day with shoes off and sitting once again with my heating pad on my back.

Despite this, I am thankful for this job. It is just what it is, and surprisingly makes my days pass very quickly. I guess at this point that is the most I can hope for. And who ever thought I would become a Mod Queen and like it? There could be worse designations for an oldster like myself.