For the second year in a row we have worked at Amazon in Murfreesboro, TN during their “peak” season leading up to Christmas. We traveled from our sugar beet harvest job in Drayton ND to Smyrna, TN over the course of about a week. Along the way we made a few fun stops:
Mississippi Headwaters, Itasca State Park, MN
At Itasca state park in Minnesota the headwaters of the Mississippi river start. It was so cool to see where it all begins knowing that it eventually runs in to the Gulf of Mexico. The visit did inspire a bit of a dream as well. You can float the river from there all they way to the gulf without white water but having to navigate quite a few locks. We’ve been talking about taking on this adventure in a couple years with some friends….more to come on that crazy idea!
The Mall of America, Bloomington MN
One of the largest malls in America, the Mall of America has an amusement park, aquarium, Lego Imagination Center and tons of specialty stores in addition to the usuals, such as American Girl Dolls, Apple, Peeps and Hard Rock.
Winnebago Factory, Forest City IA
Since we drive a Winnebago product (Itasca Suncruiser) and we were in the vicinity we just had to stop for a tour of the factory! The tour was really eye opening. They make their own holding tanks, fabric, furniture, cabinets and more. We got to see the chassis before anything was put on them, the process for making the exterior wall panels and see various models on the line at the same time in different phases. You normally aren’t allowed to take photos but our tour guide was a marketing manager who had photo clearance so we got to have our picture taken inside!
Colaw RV Junk Yard, Carthage MO
Call us strange but there’s something fun about a junk yard – so what could be cooler than an RV junk yard? Especially when there’s a bunch of Winnebago’s out there to crawl through and look for parts! We needed some cabinet hardware parts and ended up finding this place while searching on line so decided to make a stop. We did end up finding a few things that would have ended up costing us a few hundred dollars for about $30! We were really hoping to score some new captain’s chairs or recliner but nothing in our price range was any better than what we’ve got. It was still a worthwhile and fun stop.
Louisville ended up being a really fun city to visit. One of the things that lured us there was the Kentucky bourbon trail. Last year we visited the Jack Daniels whiskey distillery in Tennessee so this year we thought it proper to do some bourbon tasting. The Jim Beam distillery was a fun tour but actually I think the Jack Daniels one is more of a must-see. We did participate in the urban bourbon trail in downtown Louisville and had a really good time. You visit multiple bars, restaurants and hotels and get a stamp for making a purchase, eventually earning a free T-shirt. We both got a free T-shirt and didn’t want to look at another bourbon glass for quite a while! We were lucky enough to be in the area on a day when they were racing at Churchill Downs! What a fun experience! We’ve been to horse races before but to see such a famous track was really special. Our last stop before leaving town was the Louisville Slugger factory. We got to see the process from start to finish, see bats of some all time greats – even hold one of Babe Ruth’s bats!
We arrived at our RV park in Smyrna, TN (paid for by Amazon) a couple days early to get settled in before reporting for orientation on Nov. 4th. We worked night shift again this year but decided it’s not worth the little extra money if we come back next year. It’s just really hard on the body and there’s not much to do on days off while you’re still trying to stay up all night – we got pretty tired of going to Walmart at 3am! We did a different job this year – we were packers instead of pickers. So we basically put items in boxes, bags or envelopes and sent them down the line to get a shipping label. Sometimes it was multiple items in one box, sometimes one item, depending on the station you got assigned for that day. It was much easier on the feet than last year but we did get some carpal tunnel flare up and if we were on “multi-large” stations it could be hard on the back. We both agree it was easier than last year physically, less frustrating but still really boring. You are expected to pack anywhere from 90 to 250 items per hour depending on the station so it is VERY repetitive. The highlights of the day were coming across some of the strange items people purchase! We were usually near each other so we could run over to be like “look at this HAHAHAH!” We worked 60 hour weeks that consisted of (5) 12-hour days, still giving us two days off where as last year we only had one day off a week. We had some pretty good luck this year with contests and random prizes! We won a PS4 for having perfect attendance, got to go in the “money machine” and got $360 and won a few smaller gift cards for racing during “power hours”. I guess it still wasn’t as lucrative as last year however because of a change they made. Sometimes they have mandatory over time and sometimes it’s voluntary, plus campers are only ever required to work 50 hours in a week. Last year anyone who worked all available OT in a week got a $100 gift card at the end of the week – this year they did away with that program except for the last week. There were a lot of people upset about that change. Unfortunately they don’t let you take phones or cameras in to the warehouse so we can’t show you any pictures but I did find a pretty good short video that shows what it’s like inside – just click here. Last year we made really good friends with a couple that we ended up working at sugar beets with and then camped again with at Amazon this year. Being able to work with friends makes any job easier. This peak we met a couple more really cool people that we look forward to seeing on the road in the future – that is one of the most rewarding parts of this lifestyle!
Now that we’re all done with Amazon we’re getting our sleep schedule back on track and heading out for Florida in a few days. We had a nice little Christmas here with our friends at the RV park. We will make a few stops on the way down that we will share on the next post. Will we be headed back to Amazon next season? The answer at this point is quite possibly but maybe not. If we do, we’ve decided to try the Kentucky location for a change and because the campground is almost right across the road so no commute. But, we might look for something different for a change of pace and to get away from winter sooner. We’re think about a Christmas tree lot or working a kiosk in a mall like some other fiends we have – it’s up in the air for now!