Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Few Pictures From Our Day Off...

We drove around some and took some pictures...

We had lunch on the beach -- this is Schroon Lake.

Schroon Lake Beach

We then drove to Ticonderoga, New York and found this waterfall in the City Park.


Another picture of the waterfall...we kind of liked it!


This is looking down stream from the waterfall...


This is a covered bridge at the same City Park in Ticonderoga.

Covered Bridge

This is a picture of the countryside around Ticonderoga.


We will return to Ticonderoga once Fort Ticonderoga opens for tours.

In addition, we will be taking a trip north of our location soon. 

As we understand it -- this is where the real photo opportunities exist.  I guess we will see when we get there.

We just drove around some today -- it was a very relaxing day.

Tomorrow the wedding activities begin so we won’t be so relaxed...but we are very eager to see how things go.

That is all for today!

Ken and Nanette

A Day Off...

It rained yesterday and we were severely limited in our activities.  Trying to find things to do was a challenge but we managed to stay busy all day.

Unfortunately for a blogger when a day like this happens there isn't much to write about.

Today we have a day off and Nanette is preparing a little agenda for today as I write this.  I have no idea what we will be doing actually.

I am taking the cameras with us to get some pictures for you all and hope to post them this evening here.

I know this is short but I will make up for it later...

Hope you all have a great day and I think we will.

Ken and Nanette

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Rain and The Supplies Are Here!

It is raining!

This will be the first day to find out what we do when it is raining.

I guess we will focus on inside jobs today OR we will get wet.

Yesterday I got a good look at how much stuff it takes to run this campground.  The deliveries just kept coming and coming.  Big trucks, medium trucks and small trucks of stuff showed up.

The owners are also placing a lot of orders for different things.  I would never have thought there would be so much inventory.

There is a full store here with everything you can imagine.

Besides food there is a large clothing section and an RV Room that I must stay out of since it is like Christmas time when I go in there.  They have somehow managed to find all the stuff I would love to buy for our RV!

Then there is the food services -- they fix all kinds of food here.  They have a great breakfast menu as well as a lot of other things they make on site for the hungry campers -- me being one of them!

The ice cream is to be delivered today -- I think the boys and Nanette are especially interested in this delivery!

I was curious about the prices we would see here.  This campground is really in the middle of nowhere so I wonder how the issue of supply and demand would play out.

To my surprise, having been to other campgrounds, the prices here are very reasonable.  Of course business is business and I would have understood just about any pricing structure they would have had.

Here they maintain awareness to what is truly fair to their guests.  In truth, if it were me setting the prices, they would be higher on some items.  It is apparent the owners follow the cost of the items.  If they get it for a lower price then the retail price is lower.

There are some items they just can't get for a good price though -- these things have to be priced in accordance with that.  I think there are also some items they don't carry due to such a high wholesale price.

I was curious as to how much people buy at the store.  Well the answer was very short.  Both cash registers are going and there are lines at both.  It seems the store is the busiest place in the campground.

It looks like we will get Thursday and 1/2 day off on Friday since we will be working during the wedding.  I am not sure that this will hold -- especially with us being limited today with the rain.

Yesterday was a big pool day for me.  They have two beautiful swimming pools here.  One of them is only a couple of years old.  To keep these pools as they want them is a lot or work actually.  They are something to be proud of and the work is well worth it to see them so inviting.

I had a chance to talk to Mike and Sherry yesterday as to how the campground has changed since they started working here a number of years ago.  I couldn't believe how much things have changed since way back then.

It is clear the owners have put a LOT of money into the campground to keep it fresh and updated.  Their goal is to have something new each year for the guests and to improve the things they have if the chance to do so appears.

Perhaps I have stumbled upon what makes a good campground great.  I think that if the owners look at it from the guests perspective it makes a huge difference.  Now I realize you can't be all things to all people but they seem to have found the recipe for giving the most value to the most guests.

They also listen to the guests closely -- again not all suggestions can be implemented but there are certain things that have really perked their ears up and changes have been made.

I think they look at things through the eyes of the guests -- a lot.

Let me give you an example.

On the property there is a log home -- this is where the owners live -- it is right in front and houses the very large registration office on the lower level -- having a chance to see inside -- it is an absolutely beautiful home!

But guess where the owners live during the season?

Nope not in the house.

They live in a travel trailer in the campground.

I wondered about this for a while but I think I know now why they do this.

They are experiencing what the guests are from the guests point of view.  I find this interesting -- I also find it very telling as to how the owners can see things from the guests perspective and make changes accordingly.

Well I guess I need to get moving this morning.  I just wanted to share some thoughts on the business side of the operations here.

If we do get a couple of days off we are going to grab our cameras and go take some pictures of the area.

See you tomorrow!

Ken and Nanette

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Yogi's Dad Says No Cameras and My Mosquito Feeding Lesson.

I know a lot of you are asking for pictures of the characters here.  I want to explain why you didn't see any. 

As I told you there is a wedding at the campground this weekend.  This wedding is something new for the campground and there is another element of this.

The characters are going to be dressed in Tuxedos.  This seemingly small detail is the the BIG detail for Warner Brothers. 

Yogi and Boo Boo have never been seen in Tuxedos -- anywhere -- at least with the permission of Warner Brothers.  Warner Brothers has asked that no pictures of the characters be taken by the campground and posted anywhere by the campground owners or the staff.

The reason for this is that they have not authorized this "change" in the characters for any other of their locations.

Having said that -- there is nothing that says the guests can't take pictures -- which I am sure will happen -- we just can't do it since we are employees of the campground.

So we were told of this rule and that is why you don't see them on here.  After the wedding I expect pictures will be available.  Stayed tuned for that.

Yesterday I got training on filling propane tanks and filling RVs with propane.  Seems simple enough but there are some very important things associated with this process.

The first thing is an inspection of the tanks about to be filled for any obvious damage or aging of the tanks making them unsafe to fill.

The second is the issue of overfilling the tanks.  Most tanks today have Overfill Protection / Prevention Valves on them.  They are never to be relied upon as a single protection against overfilling.  We are to watch the weight, gallons and weep valves to make sure the tanks are never overfilled.

Propane tanks are to be filled to a maximum of 80% of their capacity.  The reason for this is to accommodate expansion based on temperature rise after filling. 

There are a number of things that come only from experience with doing this that are the real key to doing it right and safely.

Mike (the owner) took me over to the filling station and did one of the best jobs of teaching I have ever been exposed to.  He followed a very logical process of teaching and never once confused me with too much information.  He added in some experiential items that he has learned over the years.

An example of one of these is when someone shows up and wants a tank filled and it not staying at the campground.  He asks them where they are going to carry that tank and takes notes of the current temperature as well as where they are going to carry it.

The thought here is to make sure they are not going to put it into the passenger compartment of their vehicle (not the trunk or back of a truck) then have the temperature raise giving the potential for the tank to vent inside the passenger area.  Contrary to what most believe propane tanks can and do vent from time to time -- either due to expansion or possibly to an undetected weak vent valve.  He never takes for granted that this won't happen -- ever. 

The emphasis on safety regarding propane that I saw from him made a real impression on me.  He told me he has seen things happen with these tanks and even RVs that he never expected.

His simple direction -- if you are not sure of anything -- come get me -- it is okay to not know something and stop to ask for assistance.  It is not okay to do something that endangers yourself or anyone else.

Good advice!

To add to this -- the other day when the Propane Truck filled our motorhome the driver talked to me for a few minutes about our on-board tank.  Do you know he said the same things that Mike did as he showed me what to look for if someone else filled it?  He showed me the protection valve and the weep vent.  He said that if I am ever having it filled and they don't open this weep valve tell them to stop until they do.

The driver also told me to never rely on the Overfill Protection Valve -- he sees them fail on a weekly basis -- some brand new.

Isn't it funny to get the same information within a week from two different sources.

Message received!

There is one more thing I learned about propane.  The mosquitoes love it!!!

While we were working at the filling station we were swarmed with them.  Mike says it happens every time there is a filling operation going on.

He then told me that this wasn't the worst though 

Here at the campground they have a Paintball Course -- they  rent all the stuff.  They also fill the CO2 tanks for the guns.

Mike said that when you are doing this -- it is like a big dinner bell ringing -- it is three times worse as when filling propane.

As I am sure you all know CO2 is one of the things that cause mosquitoes to find us -- they follow the trail to it as we exhaust it. 

So -- I guess when doing the CO2 job I should go ahead and holler "Come an' get it!"

I am not sure what today will bring -- this is one of the things I love about this job -- always something new to do or learn.

Yesterday we were told the wedding guest will start arriving on Thursday so we are working hard to get things ready by then. 

Mike and Gina gave us an assessment of where we are in getting everything ready.

The deliveries will increase over the next couple of days.  We are in "pretty good" shape overall but they said we are still to go through the "well it worked last year" part of things as stuff gets started up. 

I guess this happens every year.  You expect things to work and they don't -- of course you have checked them -- but they decide to quit right when you need them.

That is all for today -- I will get more pictures as I said -- it is just a little difficult while we are working and with the pace of things. 

Ken and Nanette

Monday, May 17, 2010

Working With The Kids...What Is A Bear To Do?

First I want to tell everyone that we have posted a link to the Campground's website on the right side of the page about halfway down.

If you click on the Paradise Pines graphic it will take you to the website.

Yesterday I had a chance to work with the kids (teenagers) that will be assisting here at the campground this summer.  There will be 8 or 9 that will help with the children's activities, working in the store, food preparation and some light maintenance activities.

They have a really good group of kids they have put together for the summer.  They kept me laughing yesterday just listening to them talk about various things.  This is also a great developmental opportunity to help teach them some skills they normally wouldn't be exposed to at their age as well as work ethic.

I kept thinking that I would love to have half of their energy level!  They just keep going and going -- no aches and pains -- or nothing!

First thing yesterday morning we all received training on something very cool!

We learned how to properly get into the character costumes.

Here at the park by far the biggest draw for kids is having the characters of Yogi and Boo Boo here and joining in with various activities, joining in on hayrides and breakfast events and general appearances.

So I at first think -- how hard can it be to get a costume on?

Well actually while it isn't hard but it is very important to know the proper sequence to dawn these $5000 costumes.  If done improperly -- you will end up half dressed and then stuck!.

We found out we will all get a chance to play these characters from time to time.  The main reason for rotating this duty is how hot these costumes get.  We were told that about 30 minutes in one of these and you will have had all that you want -- especially during the summer.

The kids will be rotating this duty for the most part but we all want a chance to do it too!

Let me tell you a couple of things that unfortunately you have to see to really appreciate.

If you want to laugh -- and I mean really laugh.  Take 6 teenagers -- dress them up in costumes like these -- tell them they can never talk and have to take on the character of very playful and mischievous cartoon characters.

All I can say is wow!  These kids are naturals with their hand movements, dancing, and doing things behind the back of their always present escort.

We also learned about the things that two bears can do to get across certain messages to the kids -- the different hand gestures and such.  How to handle children that may be somewhat intimidated by the costumes and how to handle the thousands of questions that will come -- remembering that the characters can never talk.  The talking and coordination is the job of the escort as well as playing the straight guy or girl.

Oh -- this is gonna be fun.  I for one cannot wait for my turn to do this!

This weekend something is going to happen here for the first time ever.

The campground is hosting a huge wedding!

The owners and the corporate folks are very interested in how this goes.

Warner Brothers even agreed to a first themselves which is allowing Yogi to wear a tuxedo.  This may not sound like a big deal but I assure you it is a very big deal.  Warner Brothers protects the image of their characters in a very big way!

They were accepting of this idea due to the record of this campground and with the owners here felt the idea was in great hands.

So this wedding is going to be a lot of fun and work.  The couple is getting married on the beach that I took the pictures of.  The reception is being held in the large pavilion -- and what a great facility -- complete with its built in sound system, stage and full large screen video system.

...oh and of course Yogi and all his antics!

The campground will be full for this event and if it works well it is an idea that Warner Brothers may expand to other parks. 

This coming weekend is going to be a real learning event for Nanette and I as we experience for the first time the campground doing what it is built for.  All the systems and events will be in operation.

The owners have told us to be patient as we will be experiencing many things and may be confused somewhat at times but to just watch things unfold and take the opportunity to learn.

We are excited and also somewhat nervous as the time approaches.  The calm and collected attitude of Mike and Gina as well as Mike and Sherry are comforting.  They are pros at this and have seen it all -- many times.

I wonder if they felt the same as we do when they first started?

I am very eager to see all the systems come together finally -- of course this is leading up to the holiday weekends that are coming.  Reservations are very strong already for the holidays so we will get a chance to experience these events a few times at their peak.

Just to remind you again -- to check out the link on the right for the campground we are at.  Click on the Paradise Pines Graphic.

Stay tuned!

Ken and Nanette

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Little Taste Of How The Campground Will Be and I Forgot My Camera!

Yesterday was our second day off and we actually did very little.

The day started off with a meet and greet get together for the staff here (which we are now part of) being introduced to the seasonal campers and visa versa.

There are a good number of seasonal campers here.  The thing that really surprised me was the length of time that they have been staying here. Some have been here for 19 years.  They love this place!

Mike and Gina (the owners) went around the group and introduced all of us and then had the seasonal folks introduce themselves and their families.  Mike did one other thing that I thought was interesting.  He asked if everyone would give a little description about what they do -- skills and things like that.

At first I didn't catch the relevance of this question but then as the "resumes" began to be built and the reaction to the different abilities got added to the pile it dawned on me.

These people are "family" here.  We are also a very long way from...well just about everything.

As I listened...the line from the movie "Oh Brother Where Art Thou" came to me.  "Well, ain't this place a geographical oddity. Two weeks from everywhere!"

The reactions from the campers showed me exactly what Mike was doing -- building a network of abilities and giving people an avenue for assistance should they need it.

Very nice!

Then we all headed back to our sites and Nanette and I did a  few things around the 'ol traveling homestead.

The one thing I did was to re-torque the lug nuts on the wheels. I did this at about 100 miles after the tire change and needed to do it at 500 miles but missed that one by a ways.  To my surprise the front wheels were fine but the duals had backed off just a little -- nothing major but a few pounds.

I also cleaned off the brake dust from the wheel covers -- can be some corrosive stuff if left on.

We then headed to Ticonderoga to find the Wal-Mart and Lowes.

Along the way -- I wanted to kick myself for forgetting my camera.  We are going back that way -- just wait until you see the pictures of that area.  Wow! is all I can say.

I am going to figure out someway to have the camera with me from now on no matter where we go when we leave the campground.

I got a little taste of what the campground may be like once it is really going.  We have a few families here and I saw the issues with having children -- everywhere.  When working here -- as the ones that have been here before said -- always expect the unexpected with the children -- especially when driving either the equipment or the golf carts.  I will expand on this later but now I understand what they mean.

I want to share with you just how well the boys are adapting to this place.  It looks like they have found paradise.  They are having a blast!  Yesterday they played with the kids that were camped here all day.  I think this is going to work out even better than we expected.

In addition, we are finding out just how many teaching opportunities exist in this area -- just the historical sites alone will make for enough teaching lessons for a lot of lesson plans.

Oh and yesterday I got to see how they run the hay rides, train rides and some of the events.  Even though the campground isn't officially fully opened Gina wanted to make sure the kids had activities available to them so the show went on.

Now I can see WHY the parents and kids love this place and everything isn't even running yet.  I can also see why they need so many workers here.

Oh and to back up a minute -- Gina made a point to let everyone know that Nanette and I were first time workampers.

I wondered about why she had done this then it came to me -- with the seasonal people having been here so long they know more about the operation of the campground than we will know by the time we leave.

I think she was letting them know there may be times that we may not know exactly how things are done.  With this group I think they will for one -- help us out if we get stuck on something and two be a little forgiving if we mess up from time to time.

The longer I am around Mike and Gina the more I appreciate just how much they know about this whole campground thing!

One last thing.  As you all know Nanette and I are new to this whole full timing thing.  I apologize up front if sometimes I share things that you all already know.  There are times that we make a discovery that to us is new but to you all it is something that you have known for a very long time.

We kind of took the approach to not try to guess at all the things that would make our life easier but to let things become evident along the way.

Well here is one of those -- and I know some of you may laugh.

Yesterday I bought some of those interlocking blocks for leveling your RV.  We had some homemade pads that worked okay for putting under our jacks but these things we bought are the answer to a lot of frustration.

They work very well -- are very adjustable and pack away in their own bag.  I should have gotten these a long time ago.  If you don't have them you should look at them.  I have no idea why I didn't do this much sooner but now I have and I like my new accessory!

Well it is back to work for us today -- they are trying to get the days off adjusted for the workers here since  they need everyone working of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday which are of course their busiest days.  So today there is one couple that will be off as we have been the last couple of days.

There is of course more to share which I will -- like the wall we ran into trying to get some prescriptions transferred from a Wal-Mart Pharmacy in Kentucky to the Wal-Mart Pharmacy here in New York.

Seems the drug laws in the State of New York are a little different than all the other 49 states.  After a very long conversation with the Pharmacist here I can see things are indeed different.  Oh well -- a phone call on Monday to the doctor should solve it -- I hope.

Oh and don't even get me started with the banking problems we have run into!

Okay that is all for today!  Thank you all so much for stopping by and for the comments and emails.

One more thing -- I want to acknowledge one email we received.  The email was a gentle reminder to not forget why we moved into this lifestyle -- to remember to enjoy the journey and not let the "working" side of this to overshadow everything else.

This email really hit the nail on the head.  I can see how people could get so engrossed in the working side of things to forget that there is so much around us -- things to see and experience -- life to be lived.  There is a rut that one could fall into without realizing it.  In doing this one could leave a location for the next having allowed so many great opportunities to slip right past.

Thank you for the refocus and the gentle admonishing.

Oh and it may help for you to know that the people that wrote this email have been workamping for about 10 years.  I can tell you that they speak from experience -- having fallen into exactly what they cautioned us on themselves a time or two.

Okay -- I am really done this time with this post.

Ken and Nanette