Wednesday, May 23, 2012

One Year Fulltiming

By this Sunday evening, we will have survived a full year of living small, in our little travel trailer, with a dog & two cats, NOT wintering in Arizona or south Texas but in Missouri, and working at various campgrounds as well as selling Christmas trees. YEAH!!! And now, we’re running a campground café (Jeff cooks & I take orders & money).

Amazing to even us — this has not been difficult nor uncomfortable. . . even during the cold, wintry days of January & February, hunkered down at Truman Reservoir near Warsaw, MO. We stayed ever so cozy inside the trailer. . .in a lazy, vegging sort of way. There wasn’t much going on outside, dog didn’t even want to go for a walk, & we had DirecTV satellite to watch.

In fact, the ONLY discomfort we’ve had during this year has been locations where we can’t get a TV satellite signal — like at our current workkamping location in Branson (due to all the trees in the way). Grrrr. Even watching TV from air signals means no DVR. I’m sorry to sound like such a whiner, but I enjoy relaxing & watching TV for a few hours in the evening (local/national news & weather, crime dramas, & history- or nature-type documentaries). But between “PAUSE, I need a bathroom break” and “Crap, I snoozed thru the last 15 minutes of that 9:00 show!”, watching TV WITHOUT a DVR is an entirely different activity! And although network shows are about to start re-runs, we’ll soon be working evenings in the campground café so won’t even be able to see the re-runs of episodes we missed previously. Unless we can record them somehow.

We DO have a TV tuner I got several years ago that at least will record TV shows (currently off of cable) onto a laptop. However, it’s a pain to set up. It requires:

  1. Move the cable going to the TV to the tuner.
  2. Plug the tuner into a laptop via USB.
  3. Connect the external speakers to a laptop instead of to the TV.
  4. Connect the laptop to the TV via a SVGA (9-pin) cable.
  5. CORRECTLY set up any shows to record in the future [not as simple as it sounds, reminiscent of programming a VCR]

Actually the worst part of this procedure is not having the laptop turn off when the last program has recorded (I’m thinking on that glitch), but at least I can close the lid & still have the (computer) screen display on the TV. The signal is a little jerky when watching live TV, but the recordings are perfect. Even with a new battery tho, the little remote thingy still doesn’t want to work so I have to open the laptop each time to fast forward or pause.

I got one of my deceased brother’s old VCR machines, but the one I took won’t even play a tape & I couldn’t find the remote for it. I think it’s destined for the trash. My parents have a VCR/DVD player tho that I’m gona snag soon. Sometimes life really can be nearly as good without the latest & greatest technology (really? maybe? ya think?).

Although we only work four days a week, that’s always subject to covering any extra ‘food’ events. . .like last weekend. The park was full of fiddlers so the café was open for not only breakfast right now but also for  lunch AND for dinner (supper to us Midwesterners). OMG, my feet hurt all the way up to the top of my head by the end of each day.

AND. . .since I’d expanded the cash register “departments” to actually list on the receipt a menu choice & to be able to track which menu choices sold best (like separating each of the individual available sides instead of just saying “Sides”), I didn’t realize those new departments didn’t have a tax status automatically set until Friday night. Consequently — we didn’t charge sales tax on some items like we should have (Yes, MO taxes food.) Marietta & I spent 2 hrs Friday night after closing trying to understand the instructions & fix the problem. It might as well have been written in Sanskrit for the sense those instructions made.

Fortunately, after I’d had a shower, reconnected some brain cells, & relaxed with the PDF version of the instructions in the privacy of my trailer, I finally realized that ELEVEN different settings had to be programmed into each department at the same time, not just a single (tax status) setting. It’s a bit string of 1’s & 0’s (on or off). I could barely sleep that night wondering if I’d found the answer — in spite of how dog tired I was after being on the go for 14 hrs that day. I was up & at the cash register a little after 6am the next morning . . . AND IT ONLY TOOK ME TEN MINUTES TO FIX ALL TEN MISSING TAX STATUS ITEMS!! Yeah, that college degree in computers actually paid off! The rest of the hours & days the café was open worked like a charm since me & the cash register had finally come to an understanding! And as exhausted as Jeff was at the end of each meal, he was one happy camper being able to cook for people again. I was simply relieved the cash collected matched the cash registry tape after each meal!

One of our days off each week for the past month has been spent going to my parents to help them move & get settled into their SMALL senior-citizen apartment. We usually spent more time just traveling there & back than we spent actually working. It still made for a day on-the-go. SO. . .this week (especially after our long extra-full weekend in the café), we’ve actually just hung out at home — recovering!! And my parents’ auction was Saturday & went surprisingly well — no rain or smothering heat.

Although I don’t have any photos to post this time, I was happy to have finally had the time & energy yesterday to make some short videos around the campground — a guided tour of sorts to help prospective campers actually SEE what the campground looks like. Still photos never give that good of a feel of a campground. I’m afraid they’re very amateurish since I don’t have much practice making videos — but they might appeal to a few people, & it was fun recording my walk around. Here are the links:

Compton Ridge #1
Compton Ridge #2
Compton Ridge #3
Compton Ridge #4
Compton Ridge #5
Compton Ridge #6
Compton Ridge #7
Compton Ridge #8
Compton Ridge #9

Seems like summer has already arrived in much of the country, & this Memorial Day/Indy 500 weekend is going to set all kinds of heat records. Everyone stay safe & comfortable. We’ll be working!!


  1. Has it been a year already? Congratulations! Well done!

  2. I lived outside of Hollister, Mo while in grade school. I had the wife of famous Ozark preacher - can't remember his nickname or name- for my 6th grade teacher.

    I'm interested in getting back to Missouri within the next few years so I'll be checking out your posts.

    Branson was a well-known location long before all the tourist attractions appeared there.


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