Sunday, November 24, 2013

So This is the Working Life

We have made it through our second week at Amazon which was our first full week of 5 back-to-back 10-hour days, Tuesday through Saturday, and it hasn’t been too bad.  Not a lot of walking, but we have had a lot of standing and bending.  The shelves start just above floor level and go up to about 5 feet so we are picking up products from a cart and putting them wherever we can find room.  Amazon got its start with books, CDs, and DVDs but has expanded into toys, electronics, kitchen appliances, housewares, tools and anything that people want to buy on-line.  They have also expanded into groceries, but we haven’t seen them here.
We get up at 4:30 am, drive 45 or so minutes to work, get 2 20 minute breaks and a 30 minute lunch, leave work at 4:30 (the sun sets at 4:38 now and will be getting earlier yet), drive 45 minutes home, eat supper, make lunches, go to bed by 9 pm then repeat.  Having an off day gives us the opportunity to see the sun and give our tired bodies some rest. 
We got the official word on Saturday that there will be no mandatory overtime next week, so we have the next 3 days off to recuperate.  The peak work load is the next couple of weeks so we will still have 4 days (Wed to Sat) with Thanksgiving day included (just 2 hours shorter).  We got our first paycheck on Friday so that gave us a bit of incentive now.  It’s nice to have the extra money and we’ll celebrate by going to PF Changs for Bob’s birthday tonight.
On our day off, last Monday, we got to meet Denny and Diane in Winimuca, halfway between Elko (where they are doing their mission work) and Reno.  It was so good to see them, even if Diane didn’t bake the wonderful coffee cake and pies for us (but, of course, we were happy she did and added those goodies to our lunch everyday!).  We had lunch together and drove around the area for awhile. 
We will miss being with the family on Thanksgiving!  But we have Bill and Ogie here and we will go to the nice buffet at the casino we’re camped at for a big dinner with them (after we get home from work).  We have a lot to be thankful for including our family’s support of us!  Blessings to all of you this Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Back to Working

It was a good thing we got our sightseeing done over the weekend and on Monday, because we haven’t had much free time since.  Tuesday we reported for duty at Amazon’s warehouse in Fernley, NV, about 30 miles away.  Of their 20 “fulfillment centers” only three hire RVers for the seasonal crunch; the others are in Kansas and Kentucky.  There are almost 500 RVers here, parked at 5 or 6 RV parks around the area.  They have also hired about 1,000 other temporary workers, many of whom would like to become permanent employees.
Tuesday was a full day of Human Resources forms and signatures, compliance videos, and safety classes.  Wednesday we learned more about the nature of our “Stowing” duties and the use of our hand-held barcode scanners.  We scan the product, then the shelf we are putting it on, then enter the quantity.  The product goes wherever it fits, similar to Baldor’s random location process but the products and the bin locations are so small that they end up being packed really densely.   We are busy filling the shelves which are already about 90% filled, so it can be challenging to find a spot.  We love to see the “pickers” come and take items for shipping and give us more room. They expect the sales and shipping rates to take off after Thanksgiving, when our work gets a little easier, but it will be harder for the order “pickers” then.  The process is really pretty amazing.
Our normal schedule will be 4 days of 10 hours each per week, but that didn’t happen this week with a couple of half days, stuck between a couple of full days.  The next 2 weeks (through Thanksgiving and “black Friday”) mean mandatory overtime so we will have 5 days (Tues-Sat) of 10 hrs each.  We have found that we have no physical aches and pains after our first week, but standing on concrete all this time means we need good shoes.  Instead, our biggest adjustment is with our sleep schedule, since we have to leave early enough to get from Reno to Fernley, get parked, and ready to punch the time clock by 6:00 AM.
We’re looking forward to our “weekend” of Sunday and Monday.  We’ll go to church with Bill and Ogie tomorrow and on Monday we’re going to meet Denny and Diane for lunch halfway between Elko, where they are doing missionary work, and Reno.  It will be a 2 ½ hr drive for us but will be so nice to spend time with them.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Lake Tahoe

As mentioned earlier, we have had a couple of quiet days after arriving in Reno last Wednesday.  We stopped at the Freightliner shop mid-afternoon and got into their schedule for Thursday.  It turns out that we had no major issues.  Routine maintenance and some clean filters took care of the issues we were concerned about.
We are settled in at the campground.  The casino is a short walk away.  Here is a picture of the motorhome in the campground.
We have taken the time to find our way around town and do some shopping.  We have also had the chance to meet a number of our new neighbors, many of whom are already working at Amazon.  They all say similar things: the 10-hour days are a long time to be on your feet, but the work is fairly mindless.  We won’t have to deal with people or computers, just put products on the shelf, over and over again.
Tomorrow is our first day of orientation and safety training.  We will learn the final details about start and finish times, break times, scheduled days and overtime days.  We will spend 8 hours tomorrow but our normal workday will be 10 hours.    
For our last day off, we took a fairly short drive over the Mt Rose Highway to the shores of Lake Tahoe.
We have seen lots of lakes to compare this year:
            - Flathead covers more surface area
            - Tahoe is deepest
            - Crater Lake is clearest
We drove most of the 72 miles around the lake, south along the Nevada shore, stopping for lunch at the state line, and continuing north along the California shore before returning to Reno.  The scenery was spectacular.  There were also many homes that were spectacular.  We suspect that there are many celebrities with homes here. 
Here is another photo from the overlook at Emerald Bay, with the only island in the lake right behind us.
It was another great weather day for sightseeing, with clear skies and daytime temps in the high 60’s.  Even though Reno is over 4,000 ft in elevation, morning temperatures have remained just above freezing. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

into Reno

On Tuesday we took a fairly short drive to the east to visit another National Park; this was to see Lassen Volcanic National Park just north of Chester CA.  For details see    This park has all the geothermal features that better known Yellowstone has, except for geysers (none here).  The last major eruption occurred here less than 100 years ago

During our return trip back to Redding, we had to stop to pick up some of the huge pinecones that are all over the area.  Paige will come up with some creative ways of using them for decorations.
We have a few days of free time before start working for Amazon next week.  We originally thought we might stop in Susanville for a few days, but changed our plans on Wednesday as the motorhome wasn’t running as smoothly as we like, so we continued into Reno.  There is a Freightliner shop there that provides service for big trucks and large RVs.  We had some maintenance issues addressed during this free time and got some laundry and shopping done also.
We will be parked in Reno for the duration of our work assignment at the Amazon warehouse about 30 miles down the freeway.  They will be paying our campground fees for the next 6 weeks (we only pay a flat rate for utilities).  Many of our neighbors are also working there; some (like our fellow NOMADS, Bill and Ogie) have started already and others are just now coming in.
Amazon has a few campgrounds to choose from when you work for them.  We chose the Grand Sierra Resort which is also a casino.  We walked to the main building today and saw the casino, movie theater (no first runs there!), stores, and multiple restaurants with a buffet, of course.  Not sure how much of everything we’ll use but it’s nice knowing that there are some activities here – maybe I’ll even learn how to use a slot machine sometime!  Last night we realized we must be near one of the main runways at the airport – we can’t quite see the passengers.  There aren’t flights after about 11 so we can get sleep.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Last Views of Pacific

Our stay in Crescent City CA was short – only 2 nights.  We had just arrived when we put our last posting here.  Saturday was a beautiful sunny day with no more fog to block our views.  Here is what we saw:
OK there was a little fog near the lighthouse:

Later in the morning we took US101 south along the coast through many groves of huge redwood trees.  It was amazing how large they are!

Sunday we left the ocean behind.  Here is one last look
Then we began the slow trek inland.  It was a long, slow travel day because US101 and CA299 are both quite hilly, so it was slow-going climbing up one hill and relying on the exhaust brake to keep our speed under control on the downhill side.  We hardly passed up any turnouts so that traffic could pass us.

We are spending 3 nights in Redding CA to recuperate.  Today was a laid-back Monday where we did a little relaxing, shopping, ran some errands, and washed the truck.  Tomorrow we will take a clean pickup for a little excursion to the nearby Lassen Volcanic National Park.

Here’s a shout out to Olivia who got her nasty old tonsils removed today.  Hope you recover soon!  Enjoy the popsicles!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Back to the Coast

Once again we are back to the Pacific coast; at least we think so.  We can hear the foghorns and the seals barking this morning, but the fog was too thick to see any water yesterday.  The sun was shining brightly about 10 minutes drive from the coast and our waitress said the skies will be like this until March.  We will spend a couple of days in Crescent City California, which is in the very NW corner of the state. 

This area is known for its redwood trees for a good reason.  We saw many on our way into town that were huge, and there are many parks nearby to show them off.
We came into town on US199 with the motorhome, and toured around the area with our pickup on CA197 and US101. These roads are narrow and twisty – great for motorcycling if the sun comes out. Bob didn’t shed any tears on our drive!

On the news last night they had an article on the recreational crab fishing which starts today.  Sure wish we knew someone that has extra crab!!  There are lots of seafood restaurants around here though. 

Most of this week we will be in northern California, moving slowly toward the east and Nevada.  We have lots of time to go a fairly short distance.