Sanity, Amidst RV Trips…
As in… why do we do this? – why not keep a regular job? – work year around or something like “normal” people? Well, when Jan and I were in our late 40’s, several things happened to us- medically related- that manifestly changed how we looked at life in general, and how we viewed working as much as we did. If you really boil down what happened, we had come to the realization that “waiting until retirement” to have fun, travel and explore may in fact be just a bit late…
With that in mind, in 2007, we began participating in the “work cycle” method of semi-retirement- by traveling in the summer and working in the winters. It was difficult if not impossible to start a new full time job each winter- no one wanted to do that- so we participated in some really fun and fulfilling contract or seasonal work to earn that much needed diesel fuel reserve stash for our summer travels…
The Work Cycle- Updated, Spring of 2015
Not much to relate this time- in 2014, I decided to avoid work outside the home for the first time since I started to work at the age of 12. My last two years of working at the Jolly Trolley were fun, but I had decided to take a year off and just work on the new villa – trying to get it into shape to enjoy… At this point, with mood changes between full time and having a stick house part of the time…. we now have three houses and the RV. So, what sanity is there in that I have to say?
While this photo may not be directly related to the work cycle… I thought I’d share that my daughters and I ran yet another successful 15k at the Gasparilla Distance Classic events in Tampa at the end of February, 2015. So, it is now about 22 years that we have been running in one or the other of these events together… It represents the beginning of a new year – we’re not fast- but we get there.
In the winter and spring of 2012 and 2013, I worked for a company called “Jolley Trolley” on Clearwater Beach.
It was great fun and I met a lot of really great folks out there trying to navigate these monsters amid the traffic and pedestrians flowing along the narrow beach streets. What a HOOT.
I would have gone back and done that in 2015- but we moved 20 miles farther north from Clearwater, and it would have made minimal economic sense to drive down there for a shift a few days a week…
Summer 2011 – Honeymoon Island – a Florida State Park…
Jan and I wanted to stay around the Tampa Bay area for the summer if possible… and to try a stint at work-camping – the third premise was to try volunteering at a state park- somehow, we were able to hook up with all three, and spent most of the summer here off the coast of Dunedin, on Honeymoon Island.
This is Florida’s busiest park- sporting nearly a million visitors a year. We are both working 4 days a week, and helping the rangers with their myriad and varied duties.
The island is a tropical paradise.
So…. We need to explain that we have been coming out here for over 50 years….
When we were in high school, this was just the island at the end of the causeway…. the fellow who controlled the land had a rat problem- everyone knows that snakes eat rats, so he encouraged everyone he could find to bring their extra rattle snakes out here, and dump them.
Snakes multiply…. now we have no rat problem, but a large diamondback problem is quite evident. We have to be careful not to spook them- Since we arrived here several weeks ago, I have personally seen several specimens – well in excess of 5 to 6 feet in length. They act like they own the place…. guess they actually do.
The key phrase is “keep your distance”…. which we strive to adhere to.
June – October, 2010 – Lake Powell, UT – House Boat and Rescue craft Boat Captain….
Additional photos of this work cycle are posted under “current/recent” – way too much fun to just post a few photos. This was more of a travel adventure/work cycle than any we’ve done before…
This is a shot of one of the docks spanning off the main dock- imagine putting one of these 60 – 75 foot critters in a slip. It felt more or less like putting on a garage, but while piloting a 50 ton vessel. Some of the slips were so tight, that it was less than a foot from the gunnels to the dock- on both sides. Some pretty scary docking stuff to say the least.
Bullfrog Marina- almost 600 slips and moorings- all operated by Aramark Services. They hired hundreds of summer staff to support this operation. I was lucky and happy to be chosen to be a staff member at executive services, their houseboat and services maintenance unit.
The only downside to this gig- if it was indeed a down side….. was that it was about 4 hours each way to a shopping area of any size- you had to plan your trips to the max.
Probably one of the more interesting and fun work-cycles I’ve ever had. Hope to go back some day- and do it all over again.
December, 2009 – Another Boating Experience…
I was very interested in working with the St. Pete Duck Tours, it required multiple certifications and licenses, and looked like a ton of fun. I have had a commercial drivers license since the 60’s – but, when they upgraded to the new system in the late ’80’s – I didn’t bother to take the test, so I lost it and was returned to a standard license…. In order to perform the duties required here, I needed the Class B CDL with passenger and air brake endorsements- Take a look at what I had to test in-
I am reasonably sure that this school bus came over on the Ark, and was responsible for moving minions of animals from land to the safety of the vessel. In any event, I passed the test and got my CDL license back again…. and was ready to pilot the “Duck”…
This vessel is an upgrade to the “duck” of World War II – it uses a diesel water jet while in the water, and switches to a standard automotive transmission- to move down the road. It carries 40 passengers and a crew of three- to tour the inter-coastal waterways surrounding Pinellas County.
I worked on this boat during the last part of the year- and was ready to work with them in the beginning of 2010. Unfortunately, we had so cold a winter- I think they stayed in port- it was certainly not an ice-breaker.
This shot gives you the “road view” as we truck south on the Beach Avenue…. 40 passengers aboard- we just run down the roads and hit the first launch ramp…. splash into the water, and switch from “road mode” to “boat mode”
What a trip….
With any luck, they’ll be running this again in the fall…. I can’t wait.
November, 2009- Elavon Payment Systems, Largo, Florida
In another spot of this site, you will see that we spent 7 months moving about the country in ’09. Late in the year, we returned, and were fortunate enough to find work at a spot called “Elavon” – which is a world renowned credit card software firm. They make it easy for clients to account for their transactions, and then ultimately transmit them to clearing houses- which in turn, deposit the funds into the various banks where these accounts are held by the clients.
Interesting work to say the least.
As you can see…. the surrounds were a bit tight- we operated what qualified as a telephone operation, contacting pre-scheduled locations, and updating their security software, in response to newly passed Federal regulations.
The work was exacting- and we all tried our best to make sure that each modification was just what it needed to be to facilitate the customer experience.
This is another shot of our surroundings… We had a lot of peer support- and watched each other to ensure that we were doing what was required to make each upgrade exact and appropriate for the customer.
I am hoping to be able to return there in January of 2011…. Only time will tell.
It is now mid 2008 – We are just back from a wonderful 2 week adventure in Europe. Updating the site now…. then back out in the RV for the summer…. All, hopefully to be culminated with another work session in the fall….. as most of 2009 is already booked for RV rallies at some point around the country. Wish us luck in finding a spot to work for a while- Diesel keeps getting more expensive- Need to keep rolling.
The work cycle continues…. I was honored to be asked to work again at T-Mobile. This year, my assignment was in the inbound technical call center- assisting T-Mobile employees with issues regarding computer operations, security and access to applications. During the time I worked there- they were moving the call center from Tampa, FL to Texas. T-Mobile had brought a team of 8 engineers in to support operations while they had regular staff “off line” – in their cars- and moving.
I can, without reservation- say that this task gave me a whole new level of respect for front line call center jobs. You never know what the next call will bring- what the next question will be- who you have on the line- a very interesting and powerful 3+ months.
I learned a lot from this contract- and I promise that I will never again – as long as I live – be the least bit difficult with anyone I speak to in customer service…. help desk…. actually, in any support role. Unless you have actually done it- you have no clue. My hats off to them for their abilities, skills, sense of humor and above all- willingness to deal with frustrated and difficult people and situations. It takes a special personality to make it work. I need to express my sincere appreciation for the chance to work in this role….. I will always remember the lessons learned.
But for now, this segment of the “work cycle” has completed again, and we are diligently working toward fall, when we’ll look for another spot for the winter.
In the mean time- no matter if it’s the scooter….. Jeep or RV….. we continue to roll on and explore.
Well…. poof works…. time goes by again. Fall got here- after page 2 of Fall-07 – and on Halloween, we started our second contract at T-Mobile, working with the folks who had become friends in the previous work session. This contract lasted 6 months- as mentioned in another page- we started right after arriving home, and departed right after the contract ended. No rest for the wicked.
In mid-September of 2006, we left HSN again- now 9 years into our coming and going- to head for Virginia Beach and the ACA national pre-rally for Southeast ACA.
In late October, on our way back to Florida, I accepted a short-term contract with T-Mobile in Tampa, in their computer security department. It was a fun 4 months- a really wonderful team of dedicated people- and a truly enjoyable experience. The contract ended in late February, 2007- and we started the retirement clock again.
Not to leave any stones unturned (when have you known us to ever relax?) – We made the decision to sell the condo, and buy a home or villa in Trinity. So, from productive work- to expending days a week, looking at homes. It never quits.
Quite unexpectedly, in late January, I was diagnosed with cancer. After several months of tests and second opinions, we elected to undergo radiation therapy. This activity went on for about 8 weeks, 5 days a week. The management team at HSN was so understanding, kind and helpful that they allowed me to go to treatment and continue to work. I promised that what ever hours I actually missed while undergoing treatment- would be made up in full- before I retired again and headed back out on the road.
Between treatment follow-ups and my making up all those lost hours. I continued to work until September of 2006- just about a year longer than we had originally forecast for this work cycle.
Using our vacation time, we were still able to visit the many places outlined elsewhere in this column, and continued to recover until we felt it was time to move on again. With any luck- maybe I can return to HSN just one more time. I’ve got my fingers crossed.
An update….. We finished up our travels with the visit to the Decatur, Indiana warranty repair facility. I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to return to HSN -for the third time- and all of the folks I had worked with before leaving a bit over a year ago. We’re glad to be back here in Largo, working and contributing again….. Looking forward to the next adventure, but certainly not in any hurry to head back out.
If you stop by our “spot” …. You’ll notice we’ve changed RV’s again- Just look for “Tigger”- We’d love to see you…. (Update note…. not in Largo any more– with all of the hurricane stuff during 2004- we bought a condo- in a non flood zone- and put the RV in a hurricane resistant metal building…. enough already!!! – after this season’s destruction in New Orleans- it was easy to become more cautious.)
Take care…. Keep in touch… Saving pennies for our next trip… see ya’ out there!!!
From 2001 to 2003….
I was quite fortunate to have been able to return to work with my friends at the Home Shopping Network…. This was my second time to be at HSN…. I had worked there from 1997 through 1999, and had departed to begin the journey chronicled elsewhere in this site….. We located close to HSN in a park called “Sunburst- St Petersburg”. We spent the next two years there, working on the new call center application called “CLiC”, and nursing Jan back to health, following her second very serious bout with cancer.
I can’t say enough about how our collective inner strength and resolve was enhanced through the support of our many friends….. both inside and outside of the work environment…. The folks I worked with at HSN were always there, making our getting through the difficult times just that much easier. Quite aside from our normal focus on traveling, the two years spent back at HSN were quite challenging and satisfying. Lots of personal growth, team building and collaboration enhanced my time back in the working world. I hope sincerely that, when the next traveling segment has concluded…. that there will be a spot open at HSN again. Keeping my fingers crossed, hoping to return……
Bye for now….