Old Diary, RV Living

The River’s Too Low

The sportsmen aren’t happy.  Momma Nature’s not playing fair it would seem.  The rivers are too low.

I’ve been commenting on how little rain we’ve been getting and there has been a lot of comment among locals about how much we need the rain.

Steelhead Trout

One of the areas in which local concern is being felt is the spawning runs of Steelhead Trout — which aren’t occurring because the water levels in the rivers are too low: too low for them to navigate the channels and get to where they need to go.  Like salmon (members of the same fishy-family: salmonids) Steelhead return to their birth area to spawn.  Steelhead are actually anadromous (sea-run) forms of the Rainbow Trout, meaning they spend part of their life in salt-water, returning to fresh water to spawn.

But — that’s as far as this non-fisherperson is going on the fishy-bits… My thinking is more along the lines of rainfall.  We need the rain.  Without the rain the rivers run dry and without ample water in the rivers we can’t sing our favorite childhood song:

Fishy, fishy, in the Brook,
Papa catch ’em by the hook,
Momma fry ’em in the pan,
Baby eat ’em like a man.

Ok — enough of THAT nonsense…

How to get a rise out of volunteers…

FS206The other evening I was messing around with volunteer.gov.  I was at home in Journey and I logged into the website to try making heads or tails out of the back end of the website.  We’ve got about 40 different adverts — most are turned off right now — but with about 40 adverts almost all of them share three primary titles and there’ no easy way that I’ve found so far to tell one from the other without opening the listing and finding the tag that identifies which campground or day use area it refers to and then closing it again.

I have the ability to change the name of the advert, so I started doing that on a couple that I know we will need to fill this spring.  And the next thing I know I have a volunteer on the phone asking questions.  WoW — Instant reaction!

It seems there’s a volunteer I have been trying to tie down about joining the family here and I have had an initial contact with them but without reference to any specific campground. They’re interested but don’t know where they want to serve.  It turns out that renaming that one advert and turning it on — overnight — got their attention and now they are sure that’s the one they want.

Methinks I’m going to change all those names so that I can find them — and maybe volunteers will be able to find them better then too!  Hot Diggedy!

L.E.O.’s

Our Forest Service Law Enforcement personnel do the mandatory background checks for us.  The only problem is that they spend very little time in the office and most of their time out in the field.  When Peg and I were applying we happened to luck out.  The former Volunteer Coordinator got us cleared in one day, but during the conversation he said, “…but sometimes it’s a couple weeks before I even see them [law enforcement].”

6341242628_3d75bf9b32_zSo, I’m wondering what I can do to whittle that time lag down.  I need to find the crew chief (I have no idea his rank — I know he’s under the Captain of the Watch — because I KNOW that guy) and find out how this can be handled efficiently.

I’m hoping this is department that is a little more consistent to navigate than some of the other departments.  My lifelong expectation:  more organization than I ever find.

Out of the Woods

And on the “Surprise, Surprise” side….

I was walking out of the visitors’ center yesterday after spending the morning out in the field and I saw one of our roving caretakers in the parking lot talking with a guy I didn’t recognize.  It turns out I’d written him an email because I found an old application saying he might be interested in volunteering in 2014.

His situation has changed, but instead of being a volunteer-site resident volunteer he might just turn out to be a pop-over-a-couple-days-a-week volunteer.  He is moving to Winchester Bay — just 10 miles South of the office and he might be available to help us out on a regular, periodic basis.  So, that’s good.

Chen’s Family Table

Lately, I feel like I want to eat everything in sight. We’ve been taking lunches to the office and by the time we finish for the day at 2 or 3 I’m famished.  So last night we stopped at the post office to pick up two packages there — my prescription drug mailing and an order from Amazon — and then we decided to check out another of the local Chinese restos in Florence.   Chen’s Family Dish has had good reviews from people we know, so we did and we were quite happy with the results.  chens family dish

A couple weeks ago we had gone to the Chinese place in Reedsport, called Ocean Garden.  The menu at Chen’s looks different than Ocean Garden but line for line it’s the same menu.  And the same food — except for the crap puffs which were sort of stale tasting.  However, they have really good Hot and Sour Soup!!!!  And they are reasonably priced.  The ambience is very similar, and pleasant.  So I’m sure we’ll try them again from time to time.   Good Eatin’!!!

Standard
Old Diary, RV Living

Home Made Shower Spray

Ok — here’s a trick for you…

shower spray

Shower mold can be a problem in many locations in the US.  Oregon is one place where it’s almost ubiquitous, and I’ve been looking for a good solution to commercial Tilex or those other daily sprays.  I found this recipe a while ago and we’ve been using it regularly ever since.  Now that I’m satisfied it works I wanted to share it.

Home Made Shower Spray

  • 1/2 Cup rubbing alcohol (I use the 90% variety, but 70% will work too)
  • 1/2 Cup hydrogen peroxide
  • 1 tsp Jet Dry
  • 8 drops / 1/4 tsp Dawn or other kitchen detergent
  • 1-1/2 Cup water

The alcohol will evaporate off over time, so make this a small batch at a time.

I like it.  It does a good job as a wetting agent so that water doesn’t stay on the walls, the peroxide deals with the mold and it’s a nice product to use.  Without lots of chemical names on the label.

Lessons in PTSD

One of the volunteers I work with is a really dear guy who makes no bones about his problems with PTSD.  I’ve never had much to do with those who suffer with it and something happened today that really woke me up.

You know we are trying to replace ourselves in our old position here on the Forest.  This guy has been hear about the same length of time and he works in a different part of the complex.  After talking with other volunteers about how long they have been volunteering on their current post and after thinking about the effects of longevity on our volunteers I thought maybe this guy might prefer to be at a different location even though he hasn’t been here a long time.  Peg and I got the choice of locations when we signed on and he didn’t. He got what was left over.

So, when he called today about something quite different I asked him — in passing — whether he would be interested in coming up where we were and switching jobs.  We have our own little complex, he’s parked in the middle of one of the campgrounds.  We take all our equipment home each night and leave everything on board the truck and trailer; he has to unload his truck every night and doesn’t have access to a trailer.  I thought I was being a nice guy.

We talked a few minutes and hung up.

About a quarter hour later the phone rang and he was on the other end.  Kind of sheepishly he asked was I asking for any particular reason?  Turns out after hanging up his doubts and fears kicked in and he was worried that someone had complained about the job he was doing, or that I was upset about his performance.

My heart sank.

We talked for quite a while to assure  him nothing was wrong, and to go over why I thought it might be something he might actually enjoy.  In the end I think everything is copisetic.  I’m pretty sure we came to a meeting of the mind but it just served as a good reminder of what many of our Men in Uniform have given up in their service for this country and for us.

I think the two of us have moved to a different plane in our relationship.  I hope that I don’t accidentally trip a trigger in the future but I’m human and chances are I will.  However, after today I think we know each other well enough to know we can talk through just about anything.

A Year Later

How would you feel if someone told you after a year on the job that they were doing their job wrong? That happened to me today.  I don’t think the person even realized what they were saying, but there you have it.

I got them sorted;  explained what should be done and how and drove away in a sort of daze.  I know that our section of the forest might not excel in training — goodness knows I’ve been confused enough during the last couple months.  But I don’t get going a year before asking someone how a thing is to be done when it’s supposed to part of their daily routine.  < scratch, scratch, scratch >

Question Me An Answer

Fee Deposit VaultIn the meantime I have been asking a LOT of questions.  And I discovered today an odd curiosity about fee collections.

While we were out visiting hosts today two of our stops were sites about 2 miles apart.  At one of them the volunteer told me that the collections officer had just been there.  An hour or so later I stopped at the second location to be told that no one had been around to empty out the Iron Ranger for the better part of a week.

How can that be?  I said to myself.  Did one volunteer just miss the collections officer?

When we returned to the office I sought out the head of fee collection and started asking questions and what I learned was interesting and it pointed out to me that a ‘system’ isn’t always what it appears to be.

The fee department is responsible for all the fees paid into the recreation are.  There are certifications required for a staffer to be allow to make collections and those certifications do not apply to all fee tubes in all locations — they are divided by the nature of the location.  In our area we have Off Highway Areas, and we have Campgrounds, and we have Day Use Areas.  It turns out that the Off Highway enforcement officer collects fees at OHV areas, but not at any other areas.  Two months ago the staff that held the same position were collecting at all of the fee tubes.

What changed?

  • time of year
  • the person doing the job.

And yet the volunteers here see a very different set of circumstances.  To them it appears that ‘that other department’ isn’t doing their job.  What they fail to understand is that there multiple qualifications required to do different jobs.  Whether or not I understand the reasoning for the different certifications doesn’t really matter.  Like any bureaucratic system reason and rationality don’t necessarily walk hand in hand.  There had to have been reasons for those differing certifications.  I suspect that those reason have something to do with past accidents, past injuries, past robberies — but I’m sure that there isn’t even anyone on the Forest here who knows that history.  They only know the rules as they stand at present.

So, I have another thing to explain.  I think I need a newsletter…

Standard
Old Diary

Between Ownership and Entitlement

keys

Taking ownership is not the same as feeling entitled

I’ve been thinking about that never-never-land humans find themselves in when they have invested enough time and effort in a position that they make a leap from taking ownership of what they are doing to feeling entitled to what they do.

We have some  great volunteers here, people who really want to be of some value to those around them.  Some of them have been here a long time, and there’s a mix between those who continue to be ‘volunteers’ and those who have moved on to believing that the area they volunteer within belongs to them, and that they make the rules about how guests should behave.

Possessiveness & Entitlement

However, what I’ve been thinking about relates not only to volunteers here — or volunteers anywhere —  but also to pretty much any position held for a long time.  Employees, too,  can begin thinking of a department, or a job, or a branch location as theirs.  And I’ve been pondering just where that place is — mentally speaking.

It’s a dangerous place to go.  Bosses don’t like it.  The Forest Service, and National Parks, and Corps of Engineers don’t like it either.  In the volunteer world there are a lot of places where the danger cannot exist — a campground that is only open 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 or even 6 months a year doesn’t let you stay there long enough to develop that sensation of entitlement.  Places where parks are open year round often have rules about how long a volunteer can stay in one position — to combat just this occurrence.  Here at the Oregon State Parks it’s generally a rule that you stay on a position only 3 months.  In the job market it’s quite different and I don’t need tell you all about that.

This mental transition (in my experience) usually results in both changes in public attitude and a sloughing off of duties. These people don’t have to do what everyone else is doing.

tort-reform-1I know I’m supposed to be the ‘good guy’ and let the boss be the ‘meanie.’  Yet, I’m sure that over the next few months I will still have to have a few conversations about this subject: with new volunteers, and I suspect with old timers too.

It’s not universal; this downhill slide into possessiveness.  We have volunteers who have been here for 5 years and they do just what they are supposed to do, they treat their campers like royalty, and the grounds of their areas are spotless.  But there’s something that takes hold of others and distorts their sense of purpose and authority.  And I wonder what it is?

I guess it doesn’t matter whether I understand or not.  On some levels it’s not about understanding, volunteering is all about performance. I don’t have to manage volunteers.  They manage themselves.  Either they live up to their volunteer agreement or they don’t. I’m here to help them do a great job, to make sure that their paperwork meets Forest Service requirements,  to volunteer and train new volunteers and all that sort of stuff.

I don’t honestly know whether I have ever fallen into the pit of possessiveness.  It’s possible;  I’ve made mistakes.  And I’ve been known to be pretty independent and cantankerous — so it wouldn’t surprise me if I had.  But I am approaching my fellow volunteers from a continuously changing point of view.

As with any relationship it’s natural for your understanding of a person changes as you get to know them better.  When we first met most of these people we were just like them.  We are STILL just like them. We are all volunteers, and I think we all want the same result of our time here:  making camping and OHV’ing on the Forest fun and safe for our campers and users.

But when we went around to them all to explain that the old coordinator wasn’t coming back and we were his replacement things changed — in some of their minds.  We became people  to impress.  That was sad.  I understand that none of them wants to be asked to leave and that they might have some concerns, but you can ‘smell’  fear in the subjects  they bring up to make you think kindly of them.

This morphing of relationship is heart rending. I’m not different than they.  It’s to be expected that changes in personnel result in concern.  And that those who don’t know you well might challenge or distrust you.

As people let us into our their lives we get to see how they approach their stay here on the Forest; what they want to get out of their stay on the Forest;  whether they are serious about making our visitors’ stay pleasant and SAFE.  As they do I am forced to re-examine first impressions and to view some more favorably, and others perhaps a little more harshly.  Life is constant change.  And attitudes should change as our information changes — Or at least that’s the way I see it.

The boss came in  midway through their vacation to process reimbursement forms.  We were ready with our forms and they returned to their vacation.  Some don’t know how to complete the forms; some can’t add (who hasn’t been THERE?); and some have take their monthy fiction to new heights.  This first time around I’m glad to take all the time necessary to get things done right.  But,  doing so pre-supposes that I’m not interested in repeating.

EmployeeEngagement

Once the forms on hand were processed we had an interesting discussion about parts of the job we don’t yet know about.  Annual reports, monthly stats,  there’s a lot we haven’t yet even SEEN.  The next couple months will continue to reveal new details both to do, and to record so that whom ever replaces us has a better idea what they are supposed to be doing.

After my recent research during the boss’ vacation about volunteer agreements  I sort of forced a discussion about time sheets.  It’s  been bothering me that no one ever trained our volunteers on what is supposed to be included as on-duty time — and as a result monthly reports look strangely bifurcated.

I was glad to hear that there are no F.S. internal reasons to show volunteer hours worked artificially high (at least not in this department, at this location — I’m not speaking about other locations or other services). We are free to get volunteers reporting realistic numbers, not fiction.  Now the challenge is to make some of them realize the difference between fact and fiction.  All of which goes back to my earlier comments about possessive attitudes.  If you get to feeling that this is YOUR place, then thinking that any time you spend there is on-duty whether or not you are doing anything related to your duties.  A volunteer with an empty campground doesn’t spend 16 hours a day on duty.  And how can you even know how many hours you WILL work if you turn your timesheet in 2/3 of the way through the month.  Clearly, a wake up call is necessary.

I don’t understand what people think they are doing?  Do they think that the Forest Service is stupid?  Or that someone can’t tell whether they are actually doing what they volunteered to do?  I’m a guy who is usually pretty straight.  It’s kind of mind boggling that people really don’t think about the jeopardy they put themselves in by doing so.  They think they are making their situation more permanent by lying, but lying in itself is enough to cause their tenure to end.  Go Figure!!!!!

Free From Jeopardy 

Tort-ReformVolunteers for the Forest Service are covered by laws that protect them from tort jeopardy.  The risk of being blamed for injury or damage to guests or guest property (while they are on duty) is an important safety feature for volunteers.  Without such protection the pool of available volunteers would be significantly smaller.  But qualifying for that protection requires that they be true volunteers (working without expectation of pay) and that they be less-than-full-time workers.  Those who think that they look better because they are putting in a lot of hours are actually putting themselves at increased risk by negating one of the tests of volunteer status — as well as risking being asked to leave their post as volunteers because they aren’t following the rules of their stay here on the Forest.  In addition to tort protection volunteers are also covered by workman’s compensation in the event they are injured while ON-the-Job.  Failure to report accurately hours worked causes problem there too.

Back to my First Thought

And after three days of heavy research we talked over our findings with the boss before they returned to their vacation.  Having been in their position for a number of years, and having coordinators to handle their volunteers for most of that time it hasn’t been hard to lose track of how the world has changed outside the Forest. I think we made some crucial points with our supervisor and we’ll be making more changes to the system than perhaps we expected at the beginning.  We have highlighted ways operating details have fallen by the wayside in recent years.  And we are all on the same wavelength on what has to get caught up.  So, the new year will start off with a big bang of changes; more than I had hoped for, but no sense putting off the inevitable.

Thanks for stopping by, we’re going to goof off today.  We’ve been putting in way too many hours for volunteers lately.  We can see the light at the end of our Big-Push-To-Figure-Out-What-We’re-Supposed-To-Be-Doing  tunnel.  I’m sure life will slow down soon and we’ll be able to talk more about this mobile lifestyle and RV living.  But for today, we’re gonna grab some “Z’s” today and enjoy seeing new year festivities.  I’ll talk with you tomorrow.

Standard
Old Diary

Where’d they hide all the whales?

2013122811434702

Meet Wilson!   (For all of you who remember Tim the Toolman and his neighbor who always talked across the fence)  Actually his name isn’t Wilson, his name is Gary and he’s one of our volunteers.  We went whale watching on our day off (part of the annual Whale Watching week in Oregon) and stopped off at their location just to view the ocean.  And he caught us.  Nice to know some volunteers are right out there on the front lines watching what’s going on in their duty station.

2013122813072107

Alas, we had less luck finding whales than we had finding volunteers.  It was a gorgeous day with temps in the low 50’s and clear blue skies but unfortunately not much by way of whale sightings.  We saw a very few blows, but so far away that we couldn’t see anything of any real inspiration — even with my 500 mm lens rigged and trained on them thar critters.

It wasn’t a complete loss.  How can you not enjoy a terrific sight like these?

2013122813094110

So, we did a little driving, a little looking, a little shopping, and had a picnic lunch in the 50 degree sunlight!  For a guy who’s accustomed to Wisconsin winters that ain’t bad!

We did manage to lose our business phone while we were out — but we found it too.  Turns out that when we stopped off at Gary’s beach that my phone fell off my belt in the men’s room and someone turned it is.  Isn’t that nice!  I’ve never actually LOST a phone before.  Broken ’em, for sure.  But never lost one.  And this one isn’t even MINE.  I wouldn’t have minded if it had been my own, but there’s something about losing someone else’s property that triggers a really bad feeling.  I don’t know– does anyone else have the same kind of reaction.  You want to be a good steward of your own possessions, but you want to be especially good when it comes to someone else’s possessions.

Anyway, that’s it for me for today.  Thanks for stopping by.  I’ll talk with your tomorrow.

Standard
Old Diary

Flashes of Light in the Night

This is the tale of human adaptation.

Or the tale of how we learn to ignore the annoying…

We love our Journey but that is not to say that Winnebago Industries hit the ball out of the park with our 2002 model.

When we bought her two years ago we knew very little about RV’s and even less about what little annoyances to watch out for.  So, the fact that there was a Carbon Monoxide detector installed on the bedroom wall went right on past us as if it wasn’t there.  We might have thought, ‘Oh, how nice, a Carbon Monoxide detector’ but that’s about as far as our considerations went.

Fast forward about 2 months from the time we put money down to the time we picked her up…

First night sleeping in her and we realized that ‘normal’ function for our CO detector meant that ever several minutes it would emit one bright (LED) blink of light.  At the time it seemed like an eye scorching  explosion of  light — considering that we both are people who sleep best in a really dark, dark, dark room.  I have to say that for the first month or so I woke up, or roused, every time that little LED blinked.

Fast forward to the time — October 2012 — when we had been living in Journey for 5 months and we were putting her into storage until the house was sold.  We get back into the house for the winter and guess what … it seems odd NOT to have some little white light blinking at us in the middle of the night.

Fast forward to June this year… Journey is out of storage and we’re all loaded up and…. yup… ‘THERE’S THAT ANNOYING LITTLE LIGHT AGAIN…”

And here we are two days before the end of the year and once again the little white light seems to have disappeared out of our bedroom (no — the batteries are not dead) — we hardly notice it any more.  And I’m sure a year of five years from now we may even forget it’s there come battery change time.

It’s amazing how the human body can accustomize itself (WoW — that’s a neat new word!)  to annoyances, or its environment.  I used to work with a guy at Inland Diesel who met and married a woman from Hawaii.  After marriage they moved from Hawaii to Wisconsin and after a young lifetime of being Hawaiian the wife had to wear sweatshirts  and sweatpants all year long — she was permanently cold  — having lived her entire prior life in the narrow temperature band of about 75-85 degrees.  Or they way we learn to like foods we once hated.  Or even people we once had same feelings towards.

I’ve been thinking about volunteers in this light.  No pun intended.  Little things that I both liked and disliked about different volunteers seem to fad into the background as you get to know people better.  I guess I’m always amazed at the genuine likeableness of most people.  We all have our own personalities and if given a chance to shine, most of the time people mean well, have sound reasons for what they do — even if at first their behavior might seem quite bizarre, and are doing their best.

We’ve been on the job for about 2 months now.  This is about as long as we stayed in Spring Valley / Highland Ridge.  (Oh, and did I tell you …. that little town of Spring Valley — population about 1300, is home town to one of the staffers here on the forest…. Talk about a SMALL WORLD!!!!!)   After approximately equal times in both places our attitudes about each seem very different — and admittedly about different seasons.  By this time in Spring Valley we’d been hot and we’d been annoyed by campers a lot.  We were ready to move in.  Here, there are not many campers this time of year and we have virtually nothing to do with them.  And we have sort of controlled contact with our limited number of volunteers and we are a whale more happy with where we are and who we are with. Funny how different people react to different things.

OR-Florence - Siuslaw NFWe have not had experience of an Oregon Winter.  Not yet.  Not really.  The climate continues abnormal for the area.  And abnormal for us too.  Accustomed to Wisconsin winters this is almost Utopia, even with a few nights with temps below freezing and highs stuck in the 40’s and 50’s, and periodic fog.  I know at some point we are going to have to start wearing those rain suits — but not yet.  This past month has been colder than normal, but we will probably finish the month with barely 17% of our annual rainfall.  We are sitting at 1.87″ right now.  Extraordinarily dry for December.  I’m too lazy to run the numbers and figure out that month’s average highs and low’s so I’ll just say we are colder.  Maybe my anti-winter brain just doesn’t want to think about the numbers!    But it’s warmer than what we left behind.

We get accustomed to things.  Flashes of light in the night.  New experiences.  New people.  I’m glad we did this; I’m glad we went through the pains and frustrations of downsizing, selling out, and going mobile.  Ever since we pointed Journey‘s nose into the wind last June we have seen and experienced new situations we never had before, mingled in with a lot of sights, sounds and tastes to remind us of our full life together.  In some ways we seem to be coming full circle to who we were when we first married.  And in others it’s like we are people we’ve never met before.  It’s been a good year.

I don’t make resolutions.  No more than to live the best life I can and be the best person I can be one day at a time.  I’m sure 2014 will bring a new variety of challenges and frustrations.  I think we’re up for them. And I think we’re going to take the next two days (Tues & Wed) off for a complete rest.  A little seafood to start the new year off right, and a lot of sleep.  We’ve burned a lot of midnight oil in the last two weeks trying to get our head above water with the new job only to ill defined.  But we can see the outline now and we have devised a plan of attack — we can kick back now and just start working the plan.

And, on a positive side, Kathryn, our daughter, is coming out to see us in January.  Turns out airfares in January are pretty reasonable. (Mar-June she discovered they are more than 2x the current rates)  So, come the end of January she’ll be out here for 4 days.  We’ll have lots to share and lots to be excited about; she’s already making plans for what to see and what to do… and I love it.

Life is good in Oregon.  (Well, actually, Life is good wherever we are, we just happen to BE here right now.)  Yesterday we sat around in the RV of one of our volunteers like long time friends, just chewing the fat (as we would say in Milwaukee)  — and it was sweet.  New friends are different than old friends, but they are friends for sure.  I’ve never been big on making LOTS of friends — I’ve always had just a few who were really close.  Life here will be different ( I think there will be more PEOPLE here to have to deal with all the time ) but I trust it will be filled with friends and family (perhaps in different proportions) and we’ll have a chance to enrich their lives just as they enrich ours.

Thanks for stopping by, I’ll talk with you tomorrow, and now I’ll go and try to fall asleep with that white flashy light in the bedroom…

Standard
Old Diary

Our Little Corner On The Forest

2013121509535315

I’ve been teasing that it took retiring for me to get a corner office.  That’s not actually true — I’ve had several — but it gets a laugh anyway.  We have a window — which Peggy never had all the 33 years she worked at Aurora.  And we don’t spend all that much time here.  Well, we won’t be spending all that much time here once we get our systems sorted out.

I can’t adequately share how much I’ve been enjoying getting to know the other volunteers here.  If you reduce all the huff and puff to its essential elements — our real job is to be friends with the volunteers.  What could be better than that.  If this were a game of good cop / bad cop I’m the good cop.  Boss has to worry about all the negatives — I get to see how much we can do for these folks and how we can keep them happy.

I mean, come on… what’s better than trying to be good friends to people you share something in common with?

Reedsport is sort of 1/2 way between the two ends of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.  And ODNRA is just one of several parts to Siuslaw National Forest.  Having this central duty station makes it easy to bop out to visit our volunteers.  We can be to any of them in about 1/2 an hour — although any idea that we could visit them all in one day have long since evaporated.

These people love to talk and we love to get to know them.  We have truck mechanics and truck drivers.  We have teachers and students (isn’t continuing education great)? We have crop dusters and loggers.  There are caterers here too and carnival popcorn sellers as well as retired medical professionals.  That kind of diversity isn’t as easy to find in a lot of work environments.  I’m looking forward to some stories to share as we get to know them.

I’m really interested in learning how or why some of them came to live on the forest.  Just goes to show that there’s no ‘right’ way to RV, or to retire.

Maintenance issues are real

A couple weeks ago when I was talking about the cold weather problems I mentioned some of the maintenance issues our volunteers were dealing with.  I wanted to share a couple other items before I forgot about them.

Living in an RV is kind of like living in a giant tin can.. and any time you cut a hole in a wall there’s always a weak point right there.  This time of year — with the winter rainy season coming on — we all get to see how good our previous preventive maintenance has been.

  • One volunteer replaced a rooftop a/c unit recently — with a bigger one — but didn’t consider the effect of the added weight and they are fighting with leaks.
  • Another volunteer has had mice eating the plastic fittings on the side of his trailer.
  • A third volunteer has had some power inverter problems — I’m hoping he gets them sorted out because we don’t want anyone getting electrocuted on the Forest.

As if RV maintenance wasn’t enough there is always HUMAN Maintenance.  Almost all our volunteers are over 55 and doctors appointments and little procedures are part of the mix.  Getting people to cover for each other in their absence is just part of being good neighbors and the folks here have a good history of doing just that.  For a guy who often didn’t know what month it was balancing the schedules of all these volunteers is getting to be an interesting experience.  (working on long projects often meant that my deadlines were months apart)

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

Standard
Old Diary

The Trouble with Dunes

2013122516134877Is that you have to climb up them and then back down again!

And that is what we did yesterday afternoon… finally.  We haven’t done a lot of walking/hiking since getting here and Peggy has been putting off the ups and downs of the dunes until our ‘sand legs’ improved a little.  Christmas day was a good day to have a nice long walk.   With temperatures hovering around 50° and a bright sunny sky who could resist the urge?  And we weren’t alone.  These beaches seem never to be crowded this time of year but there were numerous cars in the lot and a few OHV’ers out — even on a holiday afternoon.  2013122516020370

All kidding about our ability to manage the dunes aside it was nice.  We don’t do ‘hiking’ anymore — we’re much more into ‘walking.’  What a glorious day for a walk.  We stayed on the pedestrian side of the warning sign.  The sign marks the end of the OHV area, and the beginning of the pedestrian only region.  And in the area where we walked even dogs are restricted.  It’s protected. westernsnowyplover

The area in which we walked is Driftwood II, and it’s right on the edge of Snowy Plover territory.   The Plovers here are endangered!  They had the misfortune of choosing to live and breed on stretches of beach that are disappearing rapidly and the designation of ‘endangered’ has made them cause celebre by very dedicated volunteers, who literally rope off about 12 miles of beach every year during the birds’ stay in this part of the world each year.  We have a shipping container here at the compound that is loaded with supplies for the Snowy Plover ‘people’ — and we see them from time to time.  volunteers man the dunes at the appropriate parts of the year, they spread the word about Snowy Plover, and they monitor the activities on the beach to insure a least-disturbed season for the birds.  I don’t know if they are making progress in the numbers of mating pairs; I don’t know if they really know — but they ARE dedicated!  And they are really nice people.

Patterns in the Sand

I’ve always been fascinated by patterns.  I guess that’s part of what I like about any beach — these patterns that appear and disappear at the whim of Momma Nature.  There is more science to them than I know.  And I don’t try to understand them through science.  I’m quite happy to be there and just be amazed at God’s handiwork.

There are so many levels on which the Oregon Dunes are amazing.  I may personally not understand the fascination with Off Highway Vehicles, but I sure can understand why so many people from all over the world come here to recreate.  And there are areas where almost anyone can find space to do what they want.

The waves were… well, how would I know — I’m from Wisconsin.  I’d say there were some in the 10′ range, but I’m not the guy to just such things.  The tide was coming back in.  And there was enough really WET sand to make our walk along the shoreline fun and easy.

Today we are back to the Visitor’s Center and back to work.  We’re going to meet with the Staffer in charge of collections to see what we can learn about ways to make the volunteers duties easier.  I’m not much for messing around with money as a volunteer — I figure that’s what they have paid staff for.  But the way duties are distributed here there might be something we can learn that would be of value to us volunteers.

Thanks for stopping by.  I hope you all had a great holiday and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.

Standard
Old Diary

Merry Christmas!

Let me start off with another Fog Shot.  This was from yesterday’s drive to the Visitor’s Center.

Not many staff were expected into the office yesterday so we  went in a little earlier than normal for the peace and quiet.  That meant we  hit the Gardiner Hill just as the sun was coming over the Eastern hills and illuminating the hilltops while the fog still hovered in the valley.

This High Dynamic Range image had me doubting myself.  I almost thought I had accidentally tweaked the color but after looking at the histogram I realized that’s just the color the sunrise brought out.  It’s amazing how different each morning can be.

2013122408074604e46

 

We had a nice quiet morning in the office.  I implemented a new file system and I’m quite optimistic that I’ll be able to find what I want and that others will too.  If I can at least prevent the next coordinator from going through what I went through I  will have done a good thing.

We popped up to Florence to shop for Christmas dinner.  There were good meat sales going on so not only did we decide on a salmon rolled with crab for our Christmas dinner, we also stocked up the freezer with some staple ingredients.  A quick stop at the P.O.  and we were home for the evening.

On this Christmas day I want to wish to all my friends and those who pop in regularly to see what we’ve been up to a blessed and happy holiday.  I was struck yesterday morning by the realization that this year I heard NO serious references to the Christ in Christmas. Capitalism and Consumerism have done more to de-Christianize this country than anything else.  But whether or not the date of the holiday has anything to do with the actual birth date of Jesus I’m still comfortable that,

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given:
and the government shall be on his shoulder:
and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor,
The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

It’s an act of faith and today faith is as important as ever it was.  It’s good to know what you believe, to be willing to live as though  you believe it, and be willing to let others know what’s important to you.

For Christians — not churchgoers, but believers — faith lies at the foundation of life.  That this promise has yet to find it’s ultimate fulfillment isn’t a deterrent to faith. That’s the nature of faith:  the willingness to step out into what appears to be thin air, the willingness to live your life in the certainty that what you believe will come to pass.

If you are fortunate enough to spend the day with loved ones — you’re fortunate already.  If your loved ones are far away — you’re still fortunate — you know you are loved.  In the most basic way, that is faith: to accept as true what you may not be able — at the moment — to subject to rigorous proof.

We all have faith.  Heck — we know the sun will rise in the morning.  We know that gravity will plunge us to the ground if we step off a skyscraper.  We know that electricity will warm our house and keep us from freezing, or dying to heat exhaustion if we are exposed to the heat of summer.  Faith isn’t all that strange, or unusual.  Being willing to have faith in something bigger than yourself, a Creator, a Mighty God isn’t all that hard.  All you have to do is choose to do so.

If you don’t — you’re still my friend.  You don’t answer to me.  And I know that when the Son rises in the morning that He will shine on all. There won’t be any fog, there won’t be any who are down there in the fog unable to see, or hear, or believe.

Thanks for stopping by, for sharing this Christmas morning with me, and for taking a moment to think about a part of this holiday that doesn’t get as much attention as it used to.

I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

Standard