Our New Home as Camp Hosts in Talkeetna, AK… 05/14- 05/17

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Well folks, sorry to do a flash forward on you… I lost some of my #JournalisticIntegrity due to stress and uncertainness… lol.. When we arrived in #Talkeetna,AK we had no where to live… So, Tracey and I’s focus was solely on that problem for the next couple of days… I didn’t even think of taking pictures during this ever so confusing time…

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As I stated in the last post, we had a few leads… One was as a #CampHost, which was a place to live with water, electric and a dump every other week, including a $10 daily payment to us… in exchange for us keeping a look over the camp grounds and making sure everyone pays every night before we go to bed…

We had to meet a guy named Mark, who we found a little aloof, so we were a little weary… We came to find that he was just a very laid back guy but that wasn’t determined until after meeting him, face to face…

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We checked out the elementary school, which gave you a place to stay in exchange for keeping the school safe from loiterers and vandalizing… We found a place to plug in and possibilities of running water but we had to move to dump… And we would have to drive a couple of miles to do this…

Well, with two people living in one RV, with a water tank with a 40 gallon capacity, this becomes a huge pain in the ass… Tracey and I go through 40 gallons of water from two showers each and that’s when we are really conserving… So, if we wanted to take a shower everyday, then we would have to dump twice and maybe even three times a week…

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So, this became another back up plan, considering we wouldn’t have to pay anything… Which is better than paying $400 a month at the #RVPark, which is even further away from our job… Remember we left Tracey’s car in Los Angeles and I still stand by that decision…

We also looked into #cabins to rent, which was a waste of time because why drive #TheMillenniumFalcon all the way up here to just stay in a cabin? But at this point we were reviewing all of our options… We couldn’t solidify a place to stay before arriving because no one would give us the job without meeting us first… So this was the only way we could do this… Sometimes the risk is worth taking though…

But after meeting Mark at #Cubbies, the only grocery store in about a 60 mile radius, we felt a lot more comfortable… He was just a laid back dude who was very passionate about his job, managing #Campsites all over the area…

Anyway, the elementary school option was completely out when we found out we had to go through a month background check before we could even stay there, leaving us with no address for a month…

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The camp host job required a background check that took three weeks before we could get paid but they allowed us to stay there for free until this process was completed… So we took the #CampHost job and are we were glad we did!

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This place was awesome and was everything you could dream of up in #Alaska! We had arguably the best living situation in #Talkeetna, in my opinion…

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We were only 150 yards from the famous, enormous #TalkeetnaRiver… Which name means the “River of Plenty” in the Native #TanainaIndian language from the area…

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And the #CampGrounds were nothing short of remarkable… It was so clean and well taken care of… Tracey and I were a little weary of the morning clean up but Mark informed us we didn’t have to do any of that… He and another friend do the morning cleaning and all we have to do is make sure the toilet paper is filled mid day and clean up any major messes that may occur…

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And then to top it off, Mark told us we don’t have to start our job until our background checks come back… So for three weeks, we just check the toilet paper and that’s it! Can it get any better than this folks?

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Oh, yes it does!

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You see, we still had the problem of #dumping… There was no dump here and #TheRiverPark was only willing to pay to dump us out every other week…

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So, the problem was, we needed to dump our toilet at least once a week… And we definitely needed to dump our shower water at least twice a week… And that’s if we really conserve our water use…

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Sounds like a pretty impossible problem doesn’t it? But you have to remember, not only are we getting our living situation for free but we are also getting paid $10 a day… Doesn’t sound like much does it? But it is when you are living for free because a fraction of that $10 a day wage fully paid for our extra dump, every other week…

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So I called #RentACan, love the name, and set up a weekly time to dump our vehicle… We agreed on every Wednesday and it would cost me $90 a month… About one third of our monthly wage from the #TheTalkeetnaRiverPark itself…

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So, now I don’t even have to worry about dumping anything from the nasty tank… which is known as the black tank, for obvious reasons…

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The gentleman from Rent a Can pulled his truck right up and emptied me out in about 10 minutes with a long hose attachment… It was remarkable! Lol!

I know, I know… The subject is disgusting but when you are on the road, you don’t get the convenience of flushing your waste and seeing it conveniently swirl down and disappear, to never have to worry about it again… The simple life we are living now teaches you to appreciate our advanced septic system in this country! You never realize what a convenience it is until you are without it and have to make adjustments to your everyday life just to deal with the waste you create and accumulate…

Well, that’s the first problem solved and it came with other problems… He was supposed to show up every Wednesday but there was confusion at first, which made life more difficult… But it all worked out eventually… No need to focus on the negative… You just have to realize that the world isn’t perfect and man is even more imperfect… So what looks good on paper doesn’t always pan out perfectly… But any amount of stress was worth not having to move and dump myself… So, our reality was definitely better with this situation compared to any other…

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But then we had the other waste problem to address and that’s the gray tank, which holds all of the cleaning water from the drains in #TheFalcon…

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This is where Mark’s genius came in… By the way folks, I love figuring out this shit! It’s so fun when you have to get inventive… At the time it was very stressful due to the uncertainty of it all and all of the other obstacles we had to tackle in a new, strange place… But when I have to eventually write about this stuff, I get really excited!

Mark mentioned the toilet/utility house which was a part of the camp grounds, so people could use the bathroom when needed… Basically, a public restroom of sorts…

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Well, this restroom building had a drain in the floor, in it’s private utility closet, that went directly to the septic system and it was only 25 yards away from where The Millennium Falcon was parked…

Now, I came up with a solution of my own which involved a dumping tote… What this was, was a 50 gallon portable tote on wheels that you could dump your vehicle out into and then wheel it to the closest drain to dump…

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But Mark had an even better idea… Considering the water is just old soap and scum from showering and cleaning, the water is not that disgusting and could simply be transferred through your basic garden hose to the utility closet’s drain…

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So, I could run a garden hose from #TheFalcon to the utility closet and dump from there with a simple water pump… How this would work is I would run a garden hose from the utility closet…

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To The Millennium Falcon… This of course was a trial an error situation that I didn’t perfect until a few tries over a couple of weeks…

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I had this old laundry basket that I had been holding onto for some time now, hoping it would provide another use… Well, I’m glad I held onto it because I used it to keep my hose in place over the drain in the utility closet…

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All I did was cut a hole in the bottom of the laundry basket, turn it upside down and run the hose through the hole, so it will hold the hose in place while draining… I had quite a few floods trying to perfect this technique… Sometimes the force of the water would shift the hose and gray water would run all over the place, exactly what I was trying to prevent with this contraption… And it can smell folks, so you don’t want it pouring all over the #campsite… You have to remember that all of the dirty water from washing dishes ends up in this tank, so that food can rot and make one hell of a smell…

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So, to review, we have a hose running from the Falcon…

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To the utility closet, which is only yards away… But how do we get the water out of the Millennium Falcon into this hose… there is no attachment that will fit this hose… And the waste is dumped by pulling a black valve back on the vehicle… But that same black valve also allows you to regulate how much water is coming out of the vehicle… You can make it a soft dribble or you can have a full on waterfall coming out of it…

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So, Mark supplied me with a sub pump and a bucket, he cut in half, that conveniently sat under the big outlet, where the water waste pours from… Now, all I have to do is place the sub pump in this bucket and create a reservoir… I let the water fill up and then turn on the sub pump just before it over flows… I regulate the reservoir by pulling the black lever, so the water is filling the reservoir at the same rate that the water the pump is getting rid of the water… This of course takes a few tries to get it perfect but it was a really good system… Sure beats driving and dumping twice a week!

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And I learned pretty damn quickly that I had to check the other end of the hose to the utility closet to make sure it wasn’t spilling out of the drain from bad positioning… At first, Tracey would watch the hose in the utility closet but I eventually got so good at this by the end, I just did it myself…

If you look above, to the left of the fat hose, you will see one of those black levers you have to adjust the dumping water with… The more you pull it out the greater the force the water comes out…

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I ran an extension cord from the exterior electrical plug-in on the other side of the #RV, so I could activate the sub pump with a single push of a switch… This allowed me to shut down the process immediately if anything went wrong…

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So, in short folks, we had found a way to live in this campground with the necessary conveniences in the simplest and cheapest way possible… And let me tell you, we were living better than a lot of the full time residents here… I spoke with many year round resident and a lot of them didn’t have electricity or running water in their cabins…

And it worked out that I had to only dump the shower water every Saturday because Rent a Can dumped my shower water  along with the black water on Wednesdays, eliminating me having to do it then… I love it when it works out this perfectly! lol!

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So, what we accomplished here in a few days was remarkable… And once again, I owe it all to my co-pilots relentless research… Without her help, I don’t think things would have played out so well… While I was trying to figure out solutions to these complex problems, Tracey was lining everything up… Our job and our new home is all because of her research and her precise attention to detail… Without Tracey lining everything up, I wouldn’t have been able to fix all of these issues… I wouldn’t have had the time or patience… We make a great team!

We had our own running water, electricity and dump capabilities… Along with that we had a river for a backyard, our own campfire place with a picnic table and a short walk to our job… Please tell me how it can get any better than this? To the modern man, who relies on all of the modern conveniences, it’s nothing to talk about but when you have to invent ways to enjoy simple conveniences, it really gives you an appreciation for our everyday life…

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So, here we are folks!!!! The Talkeetna River Park!!! Our new home for the next four months or so! We checked in at our new job, which was very exciting… I had never worked at a #BrewingCompany before… I was excited to learn about their homemade beer and all of the Alaskan attractions in the area…

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We were in completely new territory out here and had no idea what to expect… One resident scared us at first, stating that its #lawless out here… And when anything goes wrong at the River Park, the police are almost always 30 minutes away… And he mentioned people loved to shoot their guns off here…

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So, Tracey and I were a little weary of the whole predicament but that was just our nerves over reacting…

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When you start these jobs, it’s very stressful because you have no idea what you are in for… The only saving grace is that you know it will be over in a few months, if you hate it… And if it’s really bad then you can always just leave…

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You have to constantly remind yourself of this… It’s your only saving grace because if you look at it at face value, you will go nuts because its such a chaotic process at first… In other words, you have to really think ahead and have an enormous amount of patience… Something #TheTravelingMac is definitely lacking but is getting better at as he goes through this process over and over again… remember, unless we return to a job, we have to start from scratch once again… Tracey will soon be looking for our winter job… The process never ends!

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So, this is what our schedule looked like folks… I started working days at our new job.. From 10:30am to around 5pm… I really liked these hours considering we had to check the campsites at night for payments… So, I requested all days and they gave them to me, gladly…

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Tracey was a #server, so she would fluctuate from days to nights, which gave us some needed alone time also… I would get up at around 9am everyday and go to work by 10:30am… then I would get out around 6pm, come home, relax and then check the campsites around 8pm… Everything is with-in walking distance! Tracey and I rarely got into a car while up in Alaska…

Our new job gave us two days off a week together, so we could go out and explore this remarkable State… The H.R. lady, Heidi, was so accommodating and nice… Never did she make us feel small or even make us feel like this was a job at all… We felt like we were working for a good friend we have known for years… They made it feel like more of a partnership than a company we had to work for…

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And Mark even got us our own sign! Sorry Mark but I have to show them what happened at first… As you can see above, the spelling of the first sign was a little off… lol!

Look folks… it’s laid back up here… And when you get that type of energy, you get these types of mistakes… lol! They soon changed it and were so accommodating, it was charming…

Mark supplied us with our own firewood, which we agreed to sell for $5 a bundle to campers… It’s the least we could do! lol!

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I was especially enthralled with this little neighbor, who loved to join me in my daily activities…

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Every time I was out doing something, this guy would pop up and follow me… He was obviously looking for worms but he always did it around me… I wonder if he was using me for some sort of protection, knowing a predator would be too weary to attack so close to another supposed #predator…

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I don’t know the reason but everywhere I go, I have a #robin with me… Sometimes the wife would come out also…

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It was obvious they had some young to cater to because the wife disappeared for a few weeks and this guy was constantly hunting for worms…

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Above you can see the fruits of his labors… I loved watching this guy do his thing while working around the campgrounds…

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I have tons of pictures of him! I know, I know, he’s just a robin… But the trust between each other was remarkable… He would get really close to me… I would even try and talk to him…

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I may be crazy but when I did talk to him, his head would perk up little, like he was listening… But he also perks his head up to listen for worms… So, who knows…  Regardless, the whole fantasy of it all made my chores go by just a little more effortlessly having this trustworthy, hardworking companion with me…

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My favorite part of my day was walking home and seeing #TheMillenniumFalcon parked in her new, temporary home… The Campgrounds didn’t allow any other RV’s to park in the area, so The Falcon became a signature part of the River Park out here…

There was actually a brand new #MarijuanaStore right next to us and when I would go in to buy some weed, all you could see out of their window was The Millennium Falcon! #TheTravelingMac couldn’t ask for more! How symbolic and how coincidental… lol!

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We were finally settled in and ready to enjoy a summer up in #Talkeetna,AK… By now, we had all of the major problems addressed…

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Now we could concentrate on training and settling into our new job… We had a lot to do regarding our new job… I had an alcohol seminar I had to take… We also had to do a tour of #TheDenaliBrewingCompany and learn abut there many beers, homemade spirits and Meade…

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But we were relieved to know that we had a home with all of the conveniences to come home to… So, no matter how hard and stressful work was that day, we had a place to come home to and unwind… Well, that’s if the #campers were behaving… but we will get into that later…

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Thanks to the help of Mark, Talkeetna and The Denali Brewing Company, we now had a place to live and work… Heidi, from our work, actually was the one to inform us about the school and the campground… Which was a huge help…

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And considering Mark helped us out so much, I wanted to pay him back ten fold…

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He complained to us that last year the River Park only brought in 30% of its potential revenue which showed that the camp host was either not doing his/her job or was blatantly stealing…

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So, Tracey and I made a pact… Since Mark was so awesome and so helpful, we agreed we would make sure that The River Park brings in 100% of its revenue! We would set up a system where no one gets away without paying and of course, Tracey and I don’t steal… So Mark doesn’t have to worry about that…

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I could think of no better way to honor these people who have bent over backwards to make our life up here livable…

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I could see Talkeetna was a special place already… I could feel it! Though the attitude is very laid back, everyone is so willing to help out one another…And that’s what makes it work up here… Instead of running around with their heads cut off, trying to do everything themselves… they take a slower, more catious approach, knowing if they miss something, someone else will be there to pick up the slack…

What a concept folks! Everyone watching each others backs! Definitely an ideology The Traveling Mac could adopt… I was really looking forward to learn how things worked up here… For the one major thing that drew me up here is the fact that Talkeetna has a cat for a Mayor called #Stubs!

But we will dive into that later!

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