Saturday, July 29, 2006

New Jobs -- Sort Of

Well, not really. Our month here in Valencia is ending next Tuesday and we have been making plans to move somewhere cheaper and cooler. Our thoughts were to move up to a city campground near Lompoc where the cost is low and most days are in the 70's. Last week we decided to go to the beach and drove down toward San Clemente in southern Orange County near where we used to live. While there we looked around for campgrounds near the beach as we usually do in case we may want to stay in the area sometime in the future.

We visited San Onofre State Beach which is on the bluff south of the nuclear power plant. As we drove through we noticed the campground host spots were filled, but otherwise there were a lot of open spaces. The main reason is that there are no hookups of any kind, except for the campground hosts. On a whim, I stopped at the gate and asked about the campground host positions and if there were any openings. The ranger gave me a phone number to call.  I did and the ranger I spoke with said there was an immediate opening and asked me to send in an application if we were interested. He called two days later and said we can start on the 1st.

Camp hosting or volunteer work is one of the things we have planned on doing to help keep our camping costs low and to provide us with a place to stay where we would otherwise not have hookups. Many state, city, county and federal campgrounds, wildlife preserves and other kinds of facilities use volunteers in exchange for providing a campground site. It works well for everyone involved. Usually they require 30 to 40 hours of "work" per week in exchange for the site, but they are usually very flexible. We will be doing camp checks and answering questions for campers. We may also do some light maintenance and litter cleanup. We will not be cleaning restrooms!

Getting your first volunteer job is the most difficult because you have no references and past experience to point to. The best spots are scheduled months in advance so we figured we needed to get some experience under our belt regardless of the circumstances. And there are circumstances. San Onofre is on the bluff overlooking the ocean with Interstate 5 and the Amtrak line on the other side. The campground is built where the old highway 101 used to be and is approximately 3 miles long and only as wide as the old highway. On Interstate 5 in front of the campground is the imigration service border inspection station and a truck scale. Camp Pendleton is immediately to the south of the campground so you hear Marine helicopters all hours of the day and night.

So you can see, it will not be the most idyllic place to spend a few weeks, but it will give us a reference and make the next volunteer job easier to get. Our trailer is very well insulated and the noise from the surf helps drown out some of the noise. We will see how it goes. One nice thing about doing volunteer work is that you can walk away if things don't work out. After all, a lot of people pay $25 per night to camp there without hookups (the park is full on summer weekends) and they manage quite nicely with much less than we have.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

New Job, etc.

It's not often you get a promotion after only being on the job for two weeks - but that's what has happened to Dayna! She started her new position (at a cut in pay) July 3rd. Monday she was called in and told her supervisor is quitting and they are not going to replace him. They want her to take over most all duties except supervisory ones in a new job they are creating for her at an increase in pay. When she graduates next May they will give her the supervisor's position (it's an accountant's position) at another increase in salary. She really loves the company as they have done so much for her in finding a job for her that will allow her to continue to work for them.

The family has agreed, after much conversation, that we need to have caregivers in at least eight hours a day, seven days a week for Mom and Dad. They only are getting between three & four hours now six days a week. Mom doesn't have the strength to stand and prepare meals and has finally recognized her temendous need. She doesn't want to hear that she can't drive anymore and this will solve the problem of their transportation needs as well. I called Mom's home health agency to ask them to look for some people to fill the need. They're going to get back with me in the next couple of days.

I've requested physical therapy for both parents as they are so very frail. My hope is they will get stronger and have a much better quality of life. Daddy has expressed an interest in getting a dog which we all think is great. Since he can't hear or see very well, trying to communicate with him is next to impossible. This will give him a hobby and somebody to get him out of bed for.

Deidra had her tonsils out today. I just talked at her - she sounds so miserable, poor thing. She's been quite a snorer so hopefully this will help that problem as well.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Birthday Parties

Saturday Julie had a surprise 25th birthday party for Marie (her birthday isn't until November) and it was a surprise!  She had it at a sports bar called Yankee Doodles on the promenade in Santa Monica and two blocks from the Santa Monica pier.  She did it early as she knew Dayna and Darin would be out here and it would be nice for Marie to have family there as well as her friends.  It was wonderfully cool there after the 90s & 100s in the valley all week.

Daddy's party was Sunday.  After a few people had arrived and we were just sitting around talking, Dom asked his mom when the party was going to begin.  Dayna had to explain that a party for a 90 year old is a lot different than a party for a nine year old!!

It was so nice to have a mini-family reunion.  Cousins were there who hadn't seen each in years, or ever, and an aunt and uncle who had never been to Mom & Dad's.  A lot of other siblings couldn't be there due to health issues (which we all understood).

We had worked hard all week in preparation; painting & putting up trellises in the front yard, planting vines to climb them, pruning and weeding, shopping and cooking and planning.  It was worth all the effort as everyone really enjoyed themselves - knowing that it may be the last time some of them will be together.

My cousin, Carrie, and I went back down to the promenade Tuesday.  We didn't have a chance to enjoy it on Saturday as we had Mom & Dad with us & needed to get them back home.  It was nice to be able to just relax in the sun and surf.

Donna, our company is now all gone and things have calmed down so I plan to get back to that sundress.  Sorry for the delay.

Sunday, July 2, 2006

Travel to Valencia California

We reluctantly left our camp at Big Lake on Thur. morning and drove down out of the cool mountains into the hot desert. We purchased fuel and had lunch in Winslow and stopped for the night in Williams, AZ. As busy as I40 is, there are very few choices for RV parks along it's route through Northern Arizona. There are three parks in Williams and all are very expensive and crummy. They are basically parking lots where rigs are packed side by side.

When we arrived in Williams it was raining gently. It was actually cold and that was a nice surprise. After dinner we went into town where they have a nightly show on the main street. It is a very amature gunfight kind of thing, but the kids enjoyed it.

Friday we drove down out of the high country, across the Colorado River and into California at Needles. The themometer on the truck showed it was 108 and the temperature never dropped below 102 as we continued west to Barstow and then north on Hwy 58. We thought about just finding a place in the desert somewhere to spend the night with the generator running to keep the A/C going all night but decided to check out an RV park in Boron that was listed in our Passport America Camping Club directory. It turned out to be fine, but certainly no resort. We got full hookups, including 50 amp electric service for $10. That's a good deal! We will save the annual cost of Passport America in about 3 more stays at their parks.

We drove through Mojave, Palmdale and Lancaster Saturday morning on our way to Valencia. As we descended the mountains on Hwy 14 the traffic really began to build and we could tell we were in Southern California again. Our truck handles the trailer so well that it was not a problem at all, but I still hate the traffic.

We arrived at Valencia Travel Village where we spent 18 months a few years ago. They had our reserved spot which is only long enough for the trailer alone. We have to park the truck about 50 yards away in a parking area. We got everything set up and let the kids go swimming. They love the huge pools here.

We went into Granada Hills to see Dianna's parents and spent the late afternoon and evening with them. Julie came over too and we all went out to dinner at Coco's. After returning around 9:00 the kids had to go swimming again until the pool closed at 10:00.

This morning I got the satellite set up and we are back online for the next month of our stay here. I'll let Dianna update you on her parents and 90th birthday plans for her Dad.