Archive | October 2015

Payday

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Hopefully whoever is reading this can see the above picture. It’s a picture of my paycheck stub that I got this week.  As you can see I worked 77.14 hours, which is about normal for 2 weeks.  I am in the state of California and the state taxes taken out are not as high as I expected. If you can see the deduction listed as “FCHSG-P” for $70, that is my rent for the 2 weeks. Which will make my rent about $140/month.

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My take home pay of $531.44 for 2 weeks, might not be much to most people. Especially if those people pay about $1,000 or more every month for rent & utilities. Luckily all my utilities are included in my cheap rent. Breakfast and lunch are also free. Rent & meals are cheaper here then they were at Mt Rushmore..and seeing as I work for the same company at both locations then my deductions from Mt Rushmore is still listed on this paystub. Housing was $452 & meals were $1,130. So $1,582 for the 16 weeks I was there.

. About the only bill that I pay right now is Netflix which is  $8.99/month. Starting next month I will be paying for dental insurance. I have necessities  that I will need to buy like laundry soap & shampoo, but after that whatever money is left will just be an extra luxury. I have been wondering how much I will need to save for trips to the dentist, in Pahrump. Maybe I can dream real big and try saving money for another car….which by the way is alot cheaper in South Dakota near Mt Rushmore then it is anywhere near Death Valley.

Roommates

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This is Kim. She arrived in Death Valley a day before I did. She is working as a bartender/ line cook down at the golf course 3 days a week and also as a bartender/ busser twice a week at the saloon. She is finally feeling “settled” here and said this morning that it’s starting to feel like home, even though her home is in Florida. Boy oh boy does she have stories to tell. I have gone to Pahrump, NV,  with her twice since being here and she tells stories about her life while driving the whole hour ride getting there.

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This is Katie, and she got here a week ago. She is a retired English teacher from California. 58 years old and such a hoot. She cracks me up. I swear she is transplanted here from the 60’s. She doesn’t spend a lot of time in the room instead spends most of her free time with her dog. Your not really supposed to have pets in the dorm so today on her day off,  she has gone to see if she can borrow money to buy a trailer. Then Katie & her dog will move into that.

Last night when I  got home from work there was a new young girl named Joanna sleeping in the room. Joanna & Kim had both worked at Yellowstone National Park during the Summer. WTF..how or why did the housing office stick a 4th person in the room when there is only 3 beds. Sure maybe Katie wasn’t really using a bed because she has been sleeping in her truck with her dog but most of her stuff is in the room. Now we have 4 people’s stuff in here and it’s starting to feel cramped.

I have no idea what Joanna’s work schedule will be like, but we might need to make a schedule for the 1 shower that the 4 of us have to share. Today Joanna has orientation, Kim is at a meeting and then will play golf later, as I mentioned earlier it’s Katie’s weekend so she is gone, and I am doing laundry now. I have to be at work from 1:30-11 today…and today is payday but hopefully I remember to post about that tomorrow.

Rainy Days

I snagged some of my roomie’s pictures that she posted on facebook, of the last rain storm. These were all taken near the Inn, which is down the driveway from our dorm.

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The weather forecast is predicting more rain Wednesday evening and maybe Thursday. I have Wednesday off, so I will get to enjoy all the amazing clouds that accompany the storms. But Thursday I have to work a morning shift…it will be interesting to see if I can get to work on time. I am glad it’s my only morning shift all week.

I never imagined a place like Death Valley got rain like this. I can’t wait to see what the flowers will look like in the Springtime. Even from the last rain, it helped turn some little sage brush along the road greener. Even the little birds seem to enjoy it. Every evening during my dinner break, I walk over to the cooks break area and there is always a few small birds walking through a puddle and dipping the side of their head in the water.

http://http://www.latimes.com/travel/california/la-trb-death-valley-flooding-20151005-story.html

Working a Closing Shift

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If it wasn’t so darn hot during the daytime, then it would be quite relaxing to sit outside in front of my general store.
Yesterday was my first closing shift at work, and about 11:00pm when I left work, it was 86 degrees outside.

I clock into work at 1:30, have my first 1/2hour break at 3:00pm and my 1/2 hour dinner break at 6:30pm. Yes, we have to clock out for both 1/2 hour breaks. But from 7PM-11PM I have no break, unless you want to count the time I pull my cash drawer to go sit in the back and count all my money and do paperwork…which took me an hour last night. When I was at
Mt Rushmore, the closing out procedure took 15 minutes at the most. That hour last night was my fastest time here, so far, which is still ridiculously slow.

Breakfast and lunch is free here, but seeing as I skipped lunch yesterday I decided to pay the $4 for dinner.  I got 1 small pork chop, scoop of mashed potatoes,  a serving of corn and a few strawberries. It seemed like a smaller meal then our free lunches. It definitely is smaller then the meals I got at Mt Rushmore. By the looks I won’t be making it down for lunch before work today either. I have not checked my blood sugar levels since I got here, and I am sure that my stash of Budweiser &
Pringles that’s in my dorm isn’t doing me any good.

Yesterday’s trip to Pahrump, NV

My roomie, Kim, was nice enough to take me to Pahrump yesterday afternoon. The longest drive I have had with her. Luckily she can talk alot if I only ask a few questions. It helped pass the time away seeing as Pahrump is an hour away. It’s where you will find the closest Walmart and satisfy our hunger for Subway and Taco Bell and Panda Express. Gas in Pahrump cost $2.29 & it cost $4.85 here in Death Valley.

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That’s my roomie, Kim. She got here and couple days before I did, so she was showing me around on my first morning here. She sorta laughed when I started taking pics of every single thing here saying stuff like “wow, this place must be special cuz you are making it seem that way. Now why didn’t I see that before”? So I decided to get pics of her too.

She worked at Yellowstone most of the Summer and was on her way home to Florida, where she has some family, her own business and her own home complete with a mortgage…so why she literally turned around in the highway to come to Death Valley is beyond me. She says it’s a challenge for her spiritual growth.

Anyways, on our way to Pahrump yesterday, I was surprised to see snow on top of 1 mountain. So I got a picture with my tablet while Kim went into a store. I need to remember to charge my camera battery so I can  bring my digital camera with the zoom lens whenever I go anywhere.

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As you can see from Kim’s truck, she must have driven through quite a few dirt roads.
Kim had to take a pit-stop on the way back to the dorms (actually this pit-stop wasn’t  very far from our dorm) I got pics trying to show the barren remote area that we are in.
If We have the same day off again, I hope we get to leave earlier in the day because I want to get pictures of Zabriskie Point and I don’t wanna walk up or down that little hill after 9am.

First week at Death Valley

Not really sure what I expected here. I knew it would be hotter then hell and I knew the location was in the middle of nowhere. I can deal with both of those things. There are some things here that I am having a hard time dealing with and I haven’t figured out how to put them into words here.

So instead I will just post a few pictures that I took of clouds on the mountain after our rare rain storm. Tourists were disappointed because most of the roads were blocked off (washed out) after mother nature gave me a treat.

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The white building used to be a laundry facilty but it burnt last December 2014. The red jeeps can be rented, but I forget what it costs for a day. I know my roomie says gas cost $4.85/gallon.

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I was waiting for the shuttle to take me back to the dorm when I got this shot. The shuttle stop is right behind the hotel (yellowish building in pic). The shuttle only runs twice an hour. 15 & 45 minutes past every hour, starting at 6:45am. When I work the morning shift, I have to call the “fire & safety” people around 6 am so they can make a special trip up to my dorm to bring me to work. Starting tomorrow I will be working the night shift.

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The white van is the shuttle. It was leaving my dorm yesterday morning, heading back to the hotel. As you can see there is nothing around my dorm except rocks and a great view of clouds. When I take that shuttle the driver has to hand me a step stool to get into it, then they have to get out of the drivers seat to walk around and pick up the stool. I am sure the driver’s must hate seeing me at the shuttle stop.

Seeing as it gets to hot for me about 9am, I probably won’t be going down much for lunch or dinner on my days off. Breakfast has been good so far with a big buffet. Lunch & Dinner has only a few options to eat…alot less then Mt Rushmore had. Hopefully my roomie drives the hour to Pahrump,NV, later today so I can go to the super Walmart. Actually I would rather work at that Walmart then here in Furnace Creek…but that’s a story I will save for later.

1st day @ Furnace Creek, Death Valley

I finally arrived here on Tuesday about 3:00pm. I first wondered why anyone would want to vacation in such a hot place in the middle of nowhere surrounded only by wrinkled up dry, barren mountains. After asking a tour bus driver, why people  come here, I was reminded that for some people who fly into Los Angeles (or anywhere in California) and want to travel to Vegas then going through the hottest, driest, and lowest point in America is just on their way.

While signing all the new paperwork in HR, I realized that I would be working  at the Inn. The Inn was that mystical “diamond-the-rough” that i passed about 2 minutes ago, up around the corner and half hidden by palm trees. It just looks so fancy and out of place being stuck here  in the desert.

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This is more like what my first glimpse of the Inn was. Just rocks & dirt spread out for miles around it, with some mountains wrinkled up behind it.

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Sorry K.M., those are not my photos. I have not been up the hill to the Inn yet to get my own pics, so I snagged these off the internet.  Obviously whoever took the bottom 2 pics had to be closer then I was at the main highway.

Got my dorm room, which happens to be passed the Inn. So my dorm is secluded away from the main area of Furnace Creek, but they have a shuttle that comes every half hour.
Just my luck, I got confused about the shuttle schedule today and ended up being 6 minutes late for my 1st day of work in the general store. The Inn doesn’t open until the 9th so I am doing my training in the general store.

Today my manager was going to start figuring out everyone’s work schedule for next week and asked if I preferred mornings or nights. As long as I don’t have to close 1 night and open the next morning  then I don’t really care. She also asked me if I was full-time (meaning all year) or if I was just seasonal  (meaning that I would be leaving next May). See full time workers get benefits like dental insurance quicker and there is a better chance of getting housing by yourself (instead of a shared dorm room). There was also mention of a lead position coming up (which also gets you single-status housing faster and for less rent).

Now while I was at the canyon, none of the managers that I had, would ever consider giving me a lead position, so I will try not to get my hopes up to high here either. But for once it would be nice to have a boss think I was valued enough and worthy of the promotion for a lead job, and not just stuck in some entry-level job that any jr.high kid could do. It used to get frustrating to train some new person starting in the cafes and watch them get promotions or watch them go get new jobs that managers would never even consider me for.

But I guess life has a way of working itself out, because after getting turned down from 1 job interview and then getting ticked off at 1 of my managers within the same week…I probably wouldn’t have spontaneously bought my plane ticket to Alaska years ago, and which would have never lead me to try other locations including Death Valley, where I am now.