Journey DL, Old Diary

One Month On The Job

It doesn't seem like a month….

It doesn’t seem like a month….

Can it be that we’ve been on the job for a month?   We started work October 21.

Or that we’ve been on site for 6 weeks?  We arrived in Siuslaw October 11 — in the middle of The Shutdown

It surely doesn’t seem that way.  But that doesn’t mean what you might think.  Because in some ways it feels like we’ve been here forever; and in other ways it feels like we just arrived.

We’re  comfortable here.  That’s good.  The people are great. The job is doable — and enjoyably so. The scenery is terrific.  And at least so far the weather has been not-too-bad.  In other ways it seems we just got here — because there are still a lot of question marks in our head.  The remaining question marks aren’t surprising — it’s a new life for us.  But that doesn’t mean there aren’t real causes for a volunteer’s uncertainty.

I realized this evening  ( it was one of those senior-long-time-awake nights )  that one reasons for demonstrated confusion here (our own, and among other volunteers),  is that there is a serious language gap.  The Forest Service have their own lingo and I really don’t think they realize when they’ve fallen out of English and into ‘Forest-Speak’.  You can’t blame them.  They are professionals dealing with a very unique set of circumstances, it’s only natural that their language has adapted to meet their special needs.  But I notice that I am frequently stopping my boss to explain her terms.  I wonder how many of the other volunteers are as bold as I am to interrupt the boss?  I’m sure it’s not as many as I would hope.  I guess as I move forward I’ll work on that.  Peg and I have been told repeatedly that we are the Forest Service’s ‘eyes and ears’ as we move around our 1/2 of the Dunes Recreation Area.  We know that part of our ‘job’ — an easy one — is taking time to talk with the camp hosts, and the campground caretakers — to see what’s on their minds, what their problems might be — and I think also to make a point of interpreting Forest-speak into English.

When we had our Thanksgiving pot-luck a couple weeks ago the boss mentioned that she was attending a Forest wide “Volunteer Meeting”:

  • what she meant was a meeting held among Forest Service managers to discuss  how they were going to change or alter their volunteer work force.
  • what fully 1/2 of the volunteers heard was there was another volunteer meeting they had to attend.  And some went further, becoming upset because the date of the meeting was on a Monday (not a Wednesday which is their usual volunteer meeting day) and meant that they would lose a day off.

chalktalk_LMIt’s easy to see how that would happen.  Who doesn’t hear first what applies to them, and hear later what they are slightly less interested in?  I can understand if you hear the word ‘volunteer’ and you are a volunteer that you might think this is a meeting you have to attend.  And I can understand how a staffer who is going to a meeting about volunteers might never even dream that the volunteers in your audience might think that the meeting you were soliciting suggestions about was not something the volunteers would have to attend.

But clearly… both sides of this little meeting were not “hearing the other side.”

They didn’t include “translator” on our job description — but maybe they should have.

These are NOT OUR WATER Lines -- But we don't want this to happen!!!!!

These are NOT OUR WATER Lines — But we don’t want this to happen!!!!!

This is also the coldest night on the reservation as it were…. As I write the temp outside is 27 degrees and our water line is frozen.  We have not been staying in areas below freezing and I should have disconnected the water line last night — I will today — because tonight will be a second below freezing night.

We are also noticing some issue with Journey‘s  propane heating system.  I’ll see what happens during the day and we’ll go from there.  Can a propane line freeze?  I have no idea.  I don’t think so because our propane water heater is working.  But at the moment the furnace is blowing cold air until it reaches the no-pilot-shut-off and then it shuts down.  It seemed to work just fine over night before the temp dropped below freezing — so we’ll just have to see what happens during the day when it warms to 50 degrees.  Maybe we’ll need to insulate something….  Depending on what happens today we might end up having the Mobile RV service guy come out to look at the system.  But, we’re still comfy.  We have two electric heaters and that gives us enough heat to keep the inside of the RV comfortable.   We did that last October / November in Wisconsin and we know it’s workable.

So, there you have it.  A month on the job, lots of interesting things going on — at least to US they are interesting, and lots of things still to be learned.  We haven’t gotten too far in terms of exploring our new region.  That is on our hit list but we are enjoying just being here;  we don’t really need to be going in order to enjoy where we are.

Thanks for stopping by and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.


2 thoughts on “One Month On The Job

  1. I had to laugh at the “forest-speak” comments. My last full-time job was with a major potato chip company (guess who) and it took me quite some time to get used to their own lingo. I went in kidding them about it all, so that helped my efforts to try to learn what in the heck they were saying! I also have a good friend that lives in the area where a lot of NASA people live, and apparently their NASA-speak is pretty epic, too. Have you checked into buying a heated water hose for your time there? They are a little pricey, but it might keep you from having to disconnect your water line when it freezes. We carry a hose that my husband wrapped with a heated cord that he found at Lowe’s, and he left enough of that line to also wrap around the faucet at the site to try to help keep it from freezing. The safest option is to just disconnect the water during freezing temps, but it is also pretty inconvenient, for sure.


    • On thursday the boss called and asked us to check in on the new volunteers who arrived on Friday and while we were there to run the hydrants.
      “Hydrants?” I thought. I haven’t seen a single ‘Fire Hydrant’ in the forest anywhere.
      “What Hydrants? I asked.
      Turns out she calls all the potable water stations ‘hydrants’ and she wants to run the water from time to time to keep the lines fresh — but just another example of how often you have to just say ‘STOP — what the heck are you talking about?’

      ‘Tater chips, eh? I can imagine some of the lingo — I used to haul a little produce but quickly decided that wasn’t for me. Wisconsin grows a lot of spuds though and ‘running’ with ‘tater haulers was a regular activity on Saturdays when I used to be en route to Boston with a load of sausage.

      I’m not sure how often we’ll have the situation occur (low temp) – we let the faucet trick,trick,trickle the following night and were fine. If we move to a new site with a shorter water run we might try a heater tape. Right now the run is a little long and a trickle might be the smarter move. We’re new here and just have to figure things out — that’s part of the adventure.

      Cheers, and thanks for the ideas. Always welcome!!!!!



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