Friday, March 30, 2012

Last Week of Workamping (well, almost…..) - Mesa Regal RV Park, Mesa, Arizona

We made it! Our first workamping job is done (almost).  Suzanne’s American Sign Language classes celebrated their last class by having a party where many students from the different RV resorts met for a “silent” couple of hours.  Well, the intent was that it would be “silent” and people would only use sign language to communicate, but that didn’t happen! :-)  But it was a good time and ended with hugs and well-wishes for all.

Brad finished his week doing the usual – moving things form one park to another, storing items, working with other workampers, etc….    The “almost” being done workamping is because Brad (and maybe Suzanne) was asked to please help with a big haul on Monday morning, and of course, he said yes.

So what do we take from our first workamping gig?
  1. We met great, great people.  Both if us were fortunate to interact with fun, enjoyable, happy people everyday we worked.  Although this lifestyle is somewhat transient, we look forward to reconnecting with many of these folks at another time and another place.
  2. Know what is expected of the job up-front.  When we took this gig, we knew Brad would work on the “Décor Team,” but we weren’t 100% sure what that meant.  We assumed that it was preparing for events (e.g. setting up chairs, organizing, etc…), but it really was more behind-the-scenes. It worked out perfectly fine, but had it not, it would have made this a long couple of months. 
  3. Workamping definitely helps the budget!  More than simply saving camping fees, we drove the truck less, ate out less, and entertained ourselves by enjoying the resort amenities. (Of course, Zoey blew the budget this month with her root canal!)
We would definitely come back and workamper here next year if we planned on coming back to the area. We felt very appreciated all the time, enjoyed ourselves, and worked with great people.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Old Town Scottsdale, Scottsdale, Arizona

We spent a few hours meandering the shops and restaurants in Old Town Scottsdale yesterday. There were plenty of shops to browse of all sorts – jewelry, Native American art and rugs, typical tourist stuff. There were also plenty of restaurants in which to choose – we enjoyed sandwiches at The Cider Mill – good food, okay service.

Meandering around shops really isn’t our thing, so we were there only a couple hours, but this could easily be a full day’s event for someone who enjoys browsing, shopping, and enjoying local culture. Have fun!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The 48th Annual Scottish Highland Games, Phoenix, Arizona

We went to the Scottish Highland Games this weekend – we went many years ago in Portland and enjoyed ourselves, so off we went when we heard there would be a gathering in Phoenix.

What are the Scottish Highland Games?   

In part, athletics played in Scotland centuries ago, such as the Scottish Hammer Throw

the Maide Leisg.

and the Weight Throw

The games also consist of dancing and bagpipe competitions, as well as marching bands

and of course the gathering of the clans (who also participated in a parade). 

Brad's family hailed from Scotland, and his clan, the Mac Duffs, was represented as well.
 It's been said that the men do not wear anything under their kilts........we'll let you go to your local Scottish Highlands Festival and find out.  :-)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Week 8 of Workamping, Mesa Regal RV Resort, Mesa, Arizona

Well Week 8 has come to a close with the same-ole, same-ole routine at work ~ Brad and other workampers continued to move a variety of items to and form various places, storing some things until next season, fixing some things from this season – just lots of odds & ends – many of which involved glitter, since he came home with lots of it all three work days this week!
Suzanne’s classes continue to do very well, and practiced “silent time” where there were no verbal words allowed – only signing.  It is amazing how much people have learned in eight short weeks!
The big thing this past week was a celebration on Thursday night for all the workampers (40 of us!) given my Mikki and Starr, our bosses. They went above-and-beyond in showing their appreciation for everyone – we had a steak (and good, hearty steaks at that) dinner with baked potatoes, baked beans, salad, rolls, and awesome cookies for dessert.  Beer, wine, and soda flowed freely, along with singing and karaoke. It was a great time and it was very generous of them to organize this and let us know how much they appreciate all of the workampers.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The shade repair jobs keep rolling in!

Brad is getting more blind and shade restringing jobs - yippee! No, we won't post every time he gets a gig  :-), but thought you'd like to see him in action. Remember, you can always mail him your blind or shade, he'll repair/restring it, and send it back to you! Just email us and we'll let you know where to send your shade/blind.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Workamping at Mesa Regal RV Resort – Week 7

In touch with his softer side?
We can’t believe that we’ve been here for seven weeks – only two more weeks of workamping to go!  Suzanne’s ASL classes are moving right along – lots of learning, laughs, and fun happening in every class!

Brad had an interesting week ~

Monday – Brad made lighted vases for a Bar Mitzvah, helped deliver canopy tents to another resort for St. Patrick Day celebrations over the weekend and went to Home Depot to create extra keys for the new truck (yep it took 3 men).

It pays to be tall
Suzanne says one women could do this


Moving costumes to the new shop

Wednesday ~ Brad and other Workampers spent part of their shift fixing up the new Costume Shop. The current single trailer Costume Shop is being expanded to two. Each shop will be dedicated to his or her costumes. The Costume Shop is where any resort resident can checkout a costume for a party or themed event. It seems to be very popular with the residents. Brad did some spackling (since he’s the tallest guy in the group) while other workampers hung mirrors, repaired hanging rods and organized the costumes. The whole team moved all the men's costumes to this new shop. 

Friday ~ was spent loading and unloading 60+ cases of bottle water onto one of the trucks in addition to loading tons of casino decorations in preparation of the big golf tournament over the weekend. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Brad's First Shade Repair Job!

Brad’s Blind & ShadeRepair got its first customer this week, and here’s a picture of Brad installing the newly-restrung shade!

He’s had lots of calls, but most were for things he doesn’t do, such as ordering new shades. He enjoys the work, and has also added re-screening (windows and patio doors) to his services as well.

By the way, now that he has one job under his belt, he’s expanding business!  You can mail (either USPS or UPS) your RV or house blind/shade to him, he’ll restring it, and send it back within 48 hours – all for a very reasonable price – much less than if you bring it somewhere local. (We know, since when we still lived in the stick-and-brick, Brad brought our bedroom pleated shade to be restrung and found out the cost: $60!  He purchased the materials himself, restrung, and that’s how Brad’s Blind & Shade Repair was born.) So let Brad know if you or anyone you know needs his services!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

What Do We Do on Our Days Off of Workamping?

You may be wondering ~ why is there a picture of Zoey, our dog? And what does this have to do with what we do on our days off? You'll see......
To answer the question of what we do on our days off, we do everyday things like food shop, exercise, clothes shopping, pay bills.  We also work our other jobs ~ Brad's Blind & Shade Repair, for example.  However yesterday was a bit on Zoey's blog to read more! (Yup - that's called a teaser!) :-)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Week 6 of Workamping at Mesa Regal RV Resort, Mesa, Arizona

Another work week came to a close with Suzanne continuing to teach her sign language classes and Brad doing various tasks with other workampers.

On Monday he actually worked alone, preparing a floor for new linoleum (it was carpeted).

Floor prep ~ Scrapping carpet glue and removing staples

On Wednesday he worked with other workampers to lay bricks outside one of the park models that the Décor Team uses for storage.

On Friday he helped the team load/off load décor to various parks.

Pretty interesting, huh! :-)

We've been asked if we'd like to return here next year, and are considering it, but our first choice for winter 2012-2013 would be to find work in southern Florida to be near some family.  If anyone reading this know of anything in that area, we'd love to hear about it ~ thanks!!  :-)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Exciting Sprint Car and Modifieds Racing at Canyon Speedway Park in Peoria, AZ

Driver Introductions
Saturday night I went to the Canyon Speedway Park in Peoria, AZ to watch Lucas Oil ASCS Sprint Cars and IMCA Modifieds compete in a special two night racing weekend called The Copper Classic. 
Getting Tony Stewart ready for the start of the Main Event race
The track is west of the Pleasant Valley airport in the middle of nowhere. You think you are lost, you can’t see any of the speedway lights and then in a huge desert wash the track appears. This 1/3 mile track is nicely banked and provided a fast surface for some great racing. The track facilities are very 

basic with a few cutout cargo containers for food concession, gifts and the announcing booth raised above the grand stands. It was so remote there were extra diesel generators running to provide the extra power needed. The track isn’t much but there were more cars than expected (22 Sprints and 16 Modifieds).

Winner of the Main Even Jason Johnson

All the racing was awesome. The two time Lucas Oil ASCS Sprint Car National Champion Jason Johnson starting from the ninth position won the 30 lap Main Event race. Once he found his grooves on the track, no one could catch him. Coming in second was Brady Bacon with Tony Stewart (2011 NASCAR Champion) finishing third. I knew Tony Stewart owned a Sprint Car team but I was surprised to see him at this race for he was to race in the Phoenix NASCAR race the next day. He’s a racer through and through I guess and I’m glad to see him race.

Tony Stewart #14 (3rd) and Brady Bacon #99 finished 2nd
Jason Noll won from his ninth starting position to win the IMCA Modified Main Even with Kenny Wallace (of NASCAR fame) taking second. Like Tony Stewart, Kenny Wallace was in town for the Phoenix NASCAR race on Sunday where he normal provides commentary for various racing channels. He was asked if he would race a modified that night. He agreed and was provided a car and gear, and showed he can still drive on dirt tracks by coming in second.

Modifieds during hot laps

After the race at Tony Stewart's hauler - will we see Tony?

Yes - but just a quick glimpse of Tony Stewart in the hauler

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Mesa Market Place Swap Meet, Mesa, Arizona

If you’re a shopper or enjoy meandering around looking at “stuff,” then the Mesa Market Place Swap Meet is the place for you! This is a 55 acre, 1600 booth marketplace of mostly new items, ranging from clothes, shoes, books, kitchen gadgets, golf things, to "you-name-it, it’s-here-to-buy" shopping extravaganza. We spent a few hours here winding our way through the many booths, taking in the experience.

The marketplace is totally covered and free, as well as free parking, and 100% wheelchair accessible. It is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday 7am to 4pm with live music in the food court starting at 9am. Speaking of the food court, there are coupons to a handful of vendors, including two breakfast for $2 per person comprising of eggs, toast, hash browns, and coffee, which we enjoyed!

Happy Shopping!!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Phoenix Zoo – Oh, but a disappointment!

Off to the Phoenix Zoo we went the other day. After using our discounted tickets purchased via Groupon ($6 for a normally priced adult ticket of $18) we started exploring the attractions.  The Zoo is made up of four large areas; the Arizona Trail, Africa Trail, Tropics Trail and Children’s Trail. As you can image each area contained animals indigenous to those general regions. We skipped the Children’s Trail area for it was mostly petting zoo attractions.  The following are the animal exhibits that we really enjoyed~

The Tiger – There was one tiger in a nice large enclosure. It put on quite a show posing and hamming it up for the crowd. There were plenty of photos with this big cat. What a beautiful animal to watch.

The Giant tortoises – These tortoises are huge and get up to 600 pounds in fact. We happened to hit this exhibit at feeding time which was great. Their food was a large mound of salad greens, carrots and sweet potatoes dumped on the ground.
 Each tortoise sat at a mound just eating away swallowing everything whole. When they did move around the pen they moved one leg at a time and at an extremely slow pace. One has to wonder if it’s because of the sheer weight they are hauling around. We did learn that the Galapagos tortoises can live to be 150 year old.

 The Orangutans – There are four Orangutans living in nicest facility out of all in the park. It consisted of multiple indoor/outdoor enclosures to watch them feed and play through large glass walls. We learned that all the females are on birth control pills and that each Zoo in the US can’t just decide or allow any of their animals to breed. In fact, there is a governing organization that controls this for all the zoos. We got very close to the Orangutan in the photo when she came right to the glass in front of us. Her fingers were big and long but her thumb was much smaller in comparison. We think she was as interested in us and we were interested in her.

The Savanna – This is a large open grassy area straight ahead as you first come into the zoo. It contained free roaming Giraffes, Watusi Cattle (with eight foot long horns), Ostriches, Vultures and more. It it’s a nice exhibit to watch these large animals grazing and passing the day.

Unfortunately, these highlights did not prevent the overall zoo from being a disappointment for us. Why you ask…….
  • We often found trash around the zoo and didn’t notice anyone actively picking it up.
  • There were no “extras” (i.e. published feeding schedules, animal demonstrations, or talks) offered by this zoo. Extras like feeding the Giraffes and touching Stingrays were for an additional fee. It’s understandable that some special activities require an additional fees like behind the scene tours and camel rides, it’s too bad a few free programs aren’t offered.
  • Several exhibits were not open and the general layout of the entire Zoo was not well organized so the space seemed not well utilized. Because of this, additional walking is required with nothing to see or experience. It seems there is a funding campaign to improve the zoo. Hopefully, that will include redesigning the layout and overall space.
  • There was a definite lack of information on their exhibit placards. It would have nice to learn a little more about each animal.
Overall we would not recommend this zoo. It was disappointing and not as enjoyable as other even smaller zoos that we have visited. One tip – if you don’t want to share the park with buses and buses of school kids go on the weekends.

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