Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Monday, March 8, 2010 10:00 pm

Outside the rain is falling fairly heavily. Inside stacks of baskets, bags and boxes are waiting for it to slack up some so we can take another load out to the camper.

The recent warm weather seems to have finally thawed out the mystery shopping opportunities. All of the sudden there is an abundance of them in the Oklahoma City, OK area. So I locked in as many as I could and we are now doing last minute packing.

This year will be slightly different, we learned a lot last year on what to do and not to do. We are starting earlier in the year, this is a good thing. Another good thing is because Gary’s unemployment is running out just as his Social Security checks are starting we are no longer tied to being a one day’s drive from home. The world is our oyster now. Once all the paperwork is finished and he’s officially off of unemployment he will start mystery shopping too.

I’ll still do the majority of the shops, but where certain shops are concerned I can only do them a certain number of times a year. That limited us greatly last year. Now Gary will be able to do them the same number of times.

There are also shops that only men can do. So that is another plus. The more shops we can do in each area, the better off we are. Many campgrounds offer discounts if you stay over a certain number of nights. So if we can mystery shop an area longer, then we qualify for those discounts. Saving us money on not only camping fees but fuel as well.

Speaking of camping fees. A huge plus of Gary becoming an official senior citizen is the great discounts available on campgrounds, especially National and state parks. We will be getting an America the Beautiful Parks Pass.

For those of you that don’t know about this pass I highly recommend you check it and other national park passes at http://www.nps.gov/fees_passes.htm

This pass will cost of a one time fee of $10 for a lifetime pass for senior citizen. They also have passes for non-senior citizens, but the rate is much higher. $10 is a very good thing on our limited budget. There are great discounts available using this pass including admissions, camping and much more. This year we are hoping to return to the Grand Canyon, Mt. Rushmore and many other great sites. The $10 will be a great investment.

So if the rain lets up enough that we can get the camper out first thing in the morning we are on the road again. Be prepared.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I’m sitting in the parking lot of the Cowpoke’s CafĂ© in Weleetka, OK. Outside the truck Gary is busily anchoring down the spare empty gas cans we have brought along for future shops. They had been trying to jump out of the truck bed for the last few miles.

People might be wondering about now why we would have several empty gas and one large diesel can with us. The answer is simple, Mystery Shopping. Many petroleum shops require you purchase fuel. Only not all stations carry diesel. So when we do shops at those stations we purchase fuel in a gas can and then take it home to put in my son’s truck or the ranch equipment. The diesel can is for when they do have diesel and our fuel tank is already full.

Gary is back behind the wheel and the gas cans are starting to boogie again. He’s definitely going to have to build a carry crate for these cans on the next trip home. Another pit stop to try and corral the pesky cans. This time we are at Wetumka, OK. You gotta love these good old Native American named towns here in Oklahoma!

Back to my narrative. The rain ceased around midnight last night. We quickly hustled all the gathered items to the camper and did a slap dash storage of a lot of it. This is definitely not the clean, well organized packing job I had hoped for this getaway,

I’ve been restocking the camper for a week now. As anyone who has a camper knows in the late fall/early winter you “winterize” the trailer. This means anything that can and WILL freeze has to be removed from the camper. It also means that the first trip out the next year you have to completely restock the camper.. I mean COMPLETELY. Everything from dish soap to food. I keep a master list in my computer of items we normally pack, yet there we were at 7:00 am this morning still crossing things off the list and of course adding just one more thing. We figure we will find a dozen or more things we forgot.

Another hiccup in leaving was our emotions. We both LOVE to travel, there is so much in this world to see and do, but each trip out leaving home is hard. We are emotionally tied to our animals. We speak to our son daily while traveling, so leaving him at home is far easier than leaving the critters.

Jolie, our Aussie Collie mix, sat outside the camper at one this morning whining, it broke my heart. She knew we were leaving, she use to travel with us, but that was when she was an only doggie child. Now she has two siblings that don’t travel well, plus her old hips keep her from climbing the steps into the camper. Her whining broke my heart. So of course I spent a lot of time outside the camper just loving on her, then Misty Georgia and the boy Drifter Moon—no one could be left out.

Inside the house the new kitten, Gypsy Skeeter, yowled for Gary. She has became his and wants very little to do with either Sean or I. We’ve never left her before, but she knew something was going on and latched on to Gary’s neck to suckle as she does whenever she’s stressed.

Gary kept threatening to take her with us. He cuddled her and kept telling her he’d be back and then would look at me. But she doesn’t like the truck at all and I feel she’d be far better off at home with Sean. Not to mention she is technically Sean’s cat and he said we could NOT take her.

So finishing up the packing progressed slow as one after another of our animals came demanding extra attention. Even the geese came to have their chests rubbed and demand extra feed.

Finally at 10:30 am, two and half hours late we were finally ready to depart. I handed out meaty leg bones to the three dogs to distract them from following the trailer as we left. Then we pulled out ready to go singing at the top of our lungs. “C is for Cookie, that’s good enough for me.” As our family tradition, demands.

It’s now nearly lunch time and we are back on the road. Next stop will be the Shawnee, OK rest area for a quick sandwich in the camper and then on to Arcadia, OK.

We’ve got four shops scheduled for later today. I personally hope they go quickly and that we can go to bed early tonight. I’m pooped!

OOOPS! What did that sign say? Missed the rest area for lunch. We were both listening intently to Dave Ramsey on the XM radio and didn’t realize how close we were to the rest area. So now we are trying to get into the Wal-Mart parking lot at Shawnee OK exit, and someone needs to bless the little old lady who pulled her granny mobile up in the middle of the drive where we could not enter it with the trailer. CheeZ lady, do you not SEE how big this rig is and how much it could dent your tiny car? Hubby was nice though and cancelled the turn in he had waited through one light for rather than hit her.

I think I’m getting cranky and need a nap!

I’ll post this segment for now and go have lunch. Bologna sandwich anyone?

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