Life's Journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, totally worn out, shouting "Wow...What a Ride!"

Monday, November 30, 2020

Selling Christmas Trees in TX-Week 2

 November 24-30, 2020

Day 8, a cold rainy wet day, yuck! Early on we had decided to have our Thanksgiving meal on Tuesday, Thursday could be a busy day. What a great day to have the oven on. While a full Thanksgiving meal would have been great we decided we really didn’t need all the calories so we cooked a turkey with stuffing, had some raw carrots, and a cheese dip with it. Enough for a great meal, we didn’t feel stuffed, and have some great leftovers for the next few days. The day cleared up and by day’s end we had sold another 16 trees, we’re at 106 sold so far, again it’s not even Thanksgiving and we’ve sold so many trees already. Our evening finished with a bang as we had a severe thunderstorm pass through about 8:40, about 30 miles away a tornado touched down.

Day 9, up and out by 7am, off to do laundry. Laundry can be an adventure when you live on the road, as you’re never quite sure what you’re in for, even if you checked reviews. I got there just as they opened, clean and well kept, affordable to boot.  A beautiful day but sales were slow till midafternoon. Great customers leaving generous tips led to this being the second highest tip day yet. As is the norm by 8pm the lot emptied out, during the 8-9 hour Dave starts watering the trees, the trees drink through their needles, when we sell a tree we cut a new end on the tree trunk so the tree starts drinking through its trunk. During that time I get the books closed out for the day and any sales go on the next day’s totals, we have one for tomorrow’s totals. For the accounting though, we sold 21 trees today, only 340 to go.

Moving hoses around the lot

Day 10, Thanksgiving Day, wonder how the sales will go. Dave has a delivery for 9:30 this morning, we have one late sell from yesterday and 2 trees on hold to be picked up this morning, so the day is starting off well.

All loaded for a delivery

It was a beautiful day, our “rush” was between 12-3, and we were even able to eat our dinner meal without interruption. Since we’d had turkey earlier this week our Thanksgiving dinner was steak, baked potato, and peas, we only had 2 customers from 3-7. Ended up being more of a rest day for us which is good since we expect to be slammed over the weekend. We sold 12 trees, for a total of 139 trees so far, and only 328 trees to go, we’ve sold more than 25% of our trees!!

Day 11, Black Friday, no trees on hold, no holdover sells from yesterday. A few hours of quiet before we turn the lights on. We are receiving help today, Chris will be here around noon. The help we receive is provided by the tree owners. Some of them come from Michigan with the owners and on busy weekends they are sent to help out the lot attendants. The owner has told us to expect to sell 80+ trees today. Bring it on!!

7:55am, Dave’s out watering trees, a customer shows up, 8:15 tree sold, on the car and we’re back to relaxing before the day begins again.

Dave prepping a tree for a customer

Our help showed up before noon, it was a little slow until 10am, next thing I knew it was 4pm, no lunch and the customers kept coming, I snuck away for a few minutes to get a quick snack then right back into it. The only time I was off my feet was when I went inside to work on the sales sheets. If the guys weren’t busy helping the customers or delivering trees they were busy restocking trees. Our pile of trees in front of the RV is now standing and awaiting perusal. Around 6:30pm we finally caught a break and were able to heat up some pulled pork, here’s where all that early prep is paying off, pulled pork we smoked a few weeks ago really hit the spot. By 8pm the customer traffic was over, our help left and we started getting watering done and the sales figures totaled up.

9:00pm update, 94 trees sold, busy day, some deliveries, and good tips. We are now ½ way through our tree stock, 233 total sold and 234 to go. My feet are tired, time for bed.

Day 12, trees are watered and we’re hoping no one shows up till 9am. We’re finally feeling the aches and sore muscles we felt last winter. Dave had over 30k in steps, mine was much less because I’m usually behind the checkout area. Rain forecasted for today, we shall see how busy we are.  

A slower day, was cold all day and around 4 the rains started, we sent our help home and headed inside. Chicken and noodles, another premade frozen meal, was just what was needed on a rainy evening. We had a few customers come in during the evening, despite the rain and cold, our last customer showed up at 8:50, by 9:10 they were on their way home, that time even included a run to an ATM. We are a cash and check business only, the property we’re on has a bank on it. It is the same bank I use to get change for the cash drawer, we don’t deal in change so I need lots of singles, fives and tens. Hope I make it through tomorrow with the supply I have on hand, lots of singles but not many fives or tens.

Today’s counts: Sold 39 trees today, 272 total sold and 195 trees to go.

Day 13, Sunday, the first one after Thanksgiving, cloudy with a high of 54 forecasted for today, the cold has moved in. After yesterday’s rain, the lot faired fairly well. The first sale was at 10am, we had a few people stop by, browsing, prior to that. By 11am trees were flying out of the tent, we finally caught a break about 6pm. We had opted not to have help today, while we were busy we kept up with the traffic flow no problem when it’s Dave and me, we have a routine we get into and it goes well.  Heated some of our chili we had frozen a few weeks ago, just what we needed this evening, aside from some bites of turkey I snuck in about 1:30pm we hadn’t eaten since dinner the day before.  By 8:30pm we had sold 69 trees, we have 126 left on the lot, rumor has it we will be getting some more trees from another lot.

The home no longer has a pile of trees by it

The aftermath of the weekend

So many trees gone, so few left

Day 14, time to clean up the Christmas tree lot, not that we don’t keep it clean but we have boughs to get rid of and a real good pickup to do. This morning I was wondering why no comments had shown up on the past few blogs, guess what comment moderation was turned on, so I apologize for not publishing or responding to any of you on the last few blogs, I’m trying to get to them now. Going through them I think I remember turning on comment moderation now, lots of spam in the comments…ugh. I think I’ve turned on the email notifications for comments…I think.

Slow start to the morning, got to the bank for some small bills, should be good till Friday. Talked to our friends whose lot we subbed last year. Seems we all had a busy weekend, I think we’re getting some of their trees. Still talk of getting out of here early so we’ve added a few reservations before we get to Goliad State Park where we’ll spend a week, including Christmas, before heading to our place in TX on 12/30.

7pm and it’s been a slow day, only 22 sales so far. We did get 90 more trees delivered so we have stock to get us through the next week or so depending on how well sells keep up. Dave has a delivery set up for tomorrow morning, prior to opening. I think I've gotten all the comments from my recent blog posts responded to. Sales today 22 trees, 362 total trees sold and only 195 trees to go.

11/30/20 Full moon over Carrollton TX

Temps are going down in the low 30's tonight with cold days coming, brrr...

Until next time... 

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Selling Christmas Trees in TX-Week 1

November 17-23, 2020 

And before we knew it we were at our Christmas tree lot in Carrollton TX. No fence around us here, the city won’t let them, we do have 30amp service and a nearby water source but we’ll be running off the holding tank for the duration. We are located at the intersection of Josey Lane and the President George Bush Turnpike-a toll road, on the frontage road, we are next to a bank and commercial building, a WinCo grocery is across the street and Walmart is just down the frontage road. Since our trees had not yet arrived we started getting our area set up, being our second year makes this much easier as we know how things work, lots of tree stands put together and figuring out, keeping in mind social distancing, our check out and tree prep areas are going to be laid out this year. 

Soon after our trees arrived we started unwrapping them, about 360 trees were delivered, and we’ll have the rest finished tomorrow. Then the owner will price them and we’ll officially be open. We should be busy, seems this is the busiest lot of the 5 Trow Tree Farms has around the DFW area. The first day on the tree lot down, sold 1 tree, lots more to go. 

Day 2 had us finishing up the unwrapping of the trees and getting everything in order for the anticipated crowds that will be coming soon. Our trees didn’t get priced but we were given some guidelines and sold another 2 trees and we’re not really open yet. Made a pot roast, we wanted to add to the leftovers in the fridge, no cooking over the weekends. Talked with the UPS driver, he said we should have no problem getting things delivered to our lot. What do I need on Amazon? 

Day 3 we had another 150 trees arrive that needed to be unwrapped, we now have all of our trees on our lot, 463 or so to sell. We still haven’t had our trees priced, the owner got behind because his wife fell and shattered her wrist this morning, tomorrow he should be here to price our trees. We are open though and are starting to have a few people come in and enjoy the scent of freshly harvested trees. Dave spent the morning working on the plumbing connections, the pump needs to be working as we’ll need it for the next 30 days. Pulled pork smoking in the smoker all day, leftovers to the freezer. We’re stocked up for good quick weekend meals, can’t say we won’t be eating well. Another tree sold today. By the way my Bluetooth speaker arrived today, Amazon Prime delivery has found us, we’re not cut off from the world. 

 Day 4, our first Friday open!! For those who don’t know, or remember, we work for Trow Tree Farm out of Michigan. The owners Ralph and Becky have been doing this for many years. Last year we substituted for friends of ours when they couldn’t make it because of health issues. At the end of the season, we were asked to come back and run the Carrollton lot, so here we are. 99% of the trees are Frasier Firs, we have a few Concolor Firs and 2 Blue Spruce. We are open daily 9-9, we are responsible for the upkeep and sales on our lot, we will get help on the weekend-the owner takes care of paying the help. Twice a day we water our trees, they drink through the “leaves” and with the heat here they need to drink two times a day. We have approximately half our trees standing and the rest are laying down ready to go into the sales area as soon as we have more space. The owner, Ralph, came over and we got all 463 trees priced. By the end of the day, we had sold another 10. Not bad considering Thanksgiving is still 5 days away. 

Day 5, our first Saturday open, 4 days till Thanksgiving. What went from a very slow morning turned into a relatively busy day afternoon, by 7 though the customers stopped coming. We sold 26 trees, from 4’ high to 13’ high, from $39 to $329. Not a bad day at all. What we’ve observed these last few days is first-time buyers of a real Christmas tree are in abundance, folks are making new traditions this year. 

Day 6, Sunday morning, and the trees are all watered, we’re open by 9am. We have one tree on hold awaiting pickup by noon, wonder when the first customer will arrive? Slow start but today would be our busiest day yet, 36 trees and yes our on hold tree got picked up. Lots of great customers, made some good tips, all in all, a good day. We stayed busy till 8’sh, Dave watered the trees and I got the books in order. 

Day 7, time to get some groceries. Not many people out and about at Walmart at 7:15am. No crowds, got our supplies picked up, we’re good till after next weekend, except for the produce run early one morning later in the week, then the WinCo across the street will be handy. Our day was surprisingly busy with 17 trees sold. After a week we had expected to really be feeling the ache and pains we felt last year. I guess losing 30+pds each and getting in better shape is paying off, that’s not to say next weekend won’t kick our butts.  
Your Christmas Tree lot attendants
2601 N Josey Ln, Carrollton TX
So the first week is in the bag, we’ve sold 90 trees, only 377 more to go. 
Until next time….

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

A Few Stops Along The Way!!


October 30-November 16, 2020

We finally left Bo Woods on a cold fall day about 9am, with the sun trying to shine we were the last of the volunteers to leave Bo Woods. We had a good summer, but are glad for the change in scenery. Our first days travel was 322 miles to Marshfield MO where we overnighted at RV Express RV Park, $34/night-non discounter,  FHU and an easy on and off for an overnight. While we could hear road noise once we turned the AC on it was all drowned out.

The next days’ mileage was only 192 and soon we were pulling into Rocky Point COE-Ft Gibson Lake in Wagoner OK. US 69 in OK needs work, teeth jarring potholes aren’t fun at 60mph. Site  58 fit us nicely, water and electric, views of the lake, a nice way to start our trek to our Christmas tree lot.

Site 58

While there we spent a day hiking at Sequyah State Park, some nice trails, some trails that were under water-if we’d stopped at the office on the way in we probably would have found that out, found a geocache.

Wheretogo cache

Micro cache

One day we took a ride to see a whale!! The Blue Whale of Catoosa OK is a route 66 roadside attraction. Originally built as an anniversary gift to a wife who collected whale figurines, it soon became a local swimming hole that eventually opened to the public, locals, location, and Route 66 traffic turned it into a must-see roadside attraction. With the addition of an Animal Reptile Kingdom, they lasted until 1988 when the owners were no longer able to continue managing the attraction. With the death of the wife in 2001, her husband preceded her in 1990, the park fell into disrepair until over a decade later the locals, and Hampton Inn, between their fundraising and volunteer work the Blue Whale has been restored and repainted its original blue. 

Reminders of a bygone era roadside attractions.

We walked every day, trying to get 6+ miles a day in. Our first two walks we included the local neighborhood, after being chased both days by different dogs we curtailed our walking to the park, 3 full laps of the park and we had our 6+ miles. 

Halloween Full Moon!!

See the birds

We enjoyed seeing deer and birds on our walks in the park. 

Morning Sunrises!

Evening campfires!

While the park is nice enough I doubt we’d be back, there are a few different options locally including the state park and another COE campground, we’d try one of the other parks. For an overnight, it would be fine, but for a longer stay, we’d look at one of the others nearby.

Soon enough it was time to move on and we headed to Burns Run East COE on Lake Texoma, where we were meeting up with friends.US 69 was still terrible, think we'll try another way next time. We’ve been having intermittent issues with our trailer brakes, the truck isn’t always recognizing the trailer is attached, or when it does, at some point while driving that day it no longer does.

Site 11

Once we were set up we wandered down to check in with our friends who had arrived before us. Because of Covid, we planned that any gatherings would be outside. Since our first evening was so nice we got to enjoy a fire that evening. It has been a few years since we last saw them at a rally in Quartzsite, so lots to catch up on.

Burns Run was large enough to get us a 3+ mile walk in so we did that a couple of times during the day, sometimes joined by our friends Steve and Kari. One evening Steve and Dave each smoked a rack of pork ribs, along with some sides we ate well. Windy days put the kibosh on having any more fires, our outdoor shrimp fry turned into a meal to go. Too soon, it was time for Steve and Kari to head on towards their FL stomping grounds. We look forward to crossing trails with them again. 

Beautiful sunrises from our site!

Our next drive was only 85 miles, brakes still acting up. Hickory Creek COE on Lake Lewisville, 16 miles from our Christmas tree lot. Hickory Creek is a larger park with 100+ sites, and enough roads to get a six-mile walk in.

Site 79

We did get time to take a look at one of my folks' former houses. Mom and Dad here are some pictures for you guys. I always wished I could have their address there, Miracle Lane in Flower Mound, sounds like a great place. My folks enjoyed it there for a few years. 

We took care of some personal business here, kept up with our walking, prepared a number of large meals so our freezer is now full of premade meals for the crazy weekend nights on the Christmas tree lot. Pasta Faggioli, 15 bean soup and chicken noodles-yes Glenda very similar to yours, already cooked, they will make for some warm fulfilling meals on the go in the upcoming weeks. The fridge is full, pantry stocked up, laundry caught up, truck fueled up and packages in the mail. Time to move onto the Christmas tree lot. Carrollton TX here we come!!

Until next time....