Old Diary

The Deflation Plane

Dunes Demo

Did you find the Deflation Plane in the graphic?

It’s only natural to experience a deflation.


All sand dunes are not the same.   Here on the Coast you have what are called the Foredunes — they are the first rise of sand after the ocean — what people usually think of when they think of going to the beach — that first elevated part closest to the water.  But just beyond the Foredune is the deflation plane.

Metaphorically, that’s where we are now.  We in our adrenalin deflation plane.  We’re feeling relieved, exhausted, happy, sad, anticipatory and reflective — all at once.

Al has a birthday today.  I’d like to see him one more time before we leave but I don’t know if I have the energy.  Drama lives at Al’s house.

We are going to do some of our disconnecting and loading today.  We’ll leave the fewest things possible to be done on Monday.  Water lines will come off.  We’ll dump our tanks.  I’ll dry out the big Culligan water filter assembly so we can turn that in at the office in the morning.   There isn’t a lot to be done and we’ll putter away at it all day.

Tour de France 2014 LondonToday is also Stage 21 of the Tour de France and I’m sure I’ll spend some time in front of the tube  watching the grand spectacle.

We have one more can of Corned Beef Hash in the pantry and I think we’ll have a nice big breakfast — one of those big holiday Sunday breakfasts  and maybe only have two meals today… energy conservation.  I woke early (before 3 a.m.)  ready and rarin’ to go but I’m sure in a couple hours (it’s 4:45 a.m. now) I’ll be ready for a nap.

There is always something sweet about these few hours and days after an extended rigorous exertion.  I sometimes wonder if this short time is why I work so hard at the end of a project…. I’m hooked on this exhaustion mixed with anticipation — a sort of never-never-land where you’re too tired to do anything and too excited to sleep.  Either that or I’m just high on life. 🙂

Yesterday, we called over to Eugene to confirm our RV space for the next week or so.   We’re all set on that account.  Nothing needing doing now but putting the last bits and bobs into the Coach, dropping our booster antenna and heading out in the morning.  I’ll be overjoyed to have normal, decent WiFi again.  I’m so tired and frustrated of dealing with the slow connection we can get even with a signal booster — as much as we have liked being here alone, with no immediate neighbors — I have hated since the day we arrived that my connection to the interWebs has been so lousy.  THAT I will not MISS at ALL.  Goodbye and good riddens. (sp?)

So, here I sit, virtually all packed up.

Many years ago, a good friend named Amy Wood (80 + years old and legally blind, she lived in Rugby England and I had been staying in her home for four nights on a speaking trip) explained to  me the blessings of being Ready and Waiting.  I was in too much of a hurry then to appreciate her words.  Now I understand.

Yes, Amy, (God Rest your Soul):   “It’s Good to be Ready and Waiting.”

Thanks for stopping by and I’ll talk with you some time tomorrow — after we get to Eugene.

Old Diary


Time to get our retirement clock out of storage!

Time to get our retirement clock out of storage!

It’s 3 a.m., Saturday morning on the day after our last day of work.  I’m ready and rarin’ to go!

The world is looking rosy and the air is smelling fresh.  We don’t need to be anywhere today or tomorrow.  For that matter we don’t have to be anywhere — really — for a long time to come.  Feels Good.

Our short stop on Monday at Reedsport – on our way East is… (ta da!) – whenever we choose to show up.


Our Life Unscripted  plan from here is pretty simple — get on with RETIREMENT! Throw out the internal alarm clock — we haven’t actually set a wake us up but our bodies have KNOWN to wake up and that’s all it ever really takes, don’t ya know.  I’ll delete my iPhone alarm today – the real one that goes off Monday through Friday at 3:40 p.m – to tell me to take myself off the Forest Service Dispatch Board (before they start calling to find out where we are).

We drop our coach at AM Solar on the Aug. 7th — between now and then we’ll chill in the Eugene area at a nondescript RV park near AM SOLAR.  The little in-town park we chose has only one redeeming feature — it’s close to AM Solar.  There’s a sign on the front desk that warns of night time train traffic.  Ya know – I don’t really care.  We stayed at Grant River Corps of Engineers campground where 20 high speed freight trains came through every day — 24 hours a day — if we can sleep 30 feet from a train track there we can sleep next to anything.  We want something completely different for a few days while we re-learn how to ‘be’  differently than we have for the last 10 months.


Recent shots from MO’s in Florence


Recent shots from MO’s in Florence

We may have some other work done on the coach some place during the run-up to our AM SOLAR appointment.  I have some questions to ask of the folks at Guaranty RV.  Our leveling system seems to bleed off the levelled effect quite quickly.  I’d like to know if that’s something our warranty would cover in part — or not.   While  we are close to our dealer it’s something worth considering.  But the first step is asking questions — so I’ll be doing that in the next few days.


time to head out on the open road

We have been focussed on finishing up affairs here.  We have not had or taken time to make ANY plans for Eugene.  We’ll be more ‘touristy’ there than we have been in half a year.  Of particular interest would be areas EAST of Eugene into the mountains and  surrounding areas.

One of the few considerations we gave when deciding what in-town RV park to choose was that it be close a    

market of choice


We both want to get our daily diets back to a more plant based regiment.  The produce has been so poor along the coast that we have really relapsed into a largely animal based diet and I don’t like doing that.

We had planned tonight as date night. We had our mandatory reservations at waterfrontWe’ve eaten there twice before.  It’s a nice place for a celebratory meal and we have a lot to celebrate.  But as the day wore on we both were happier just staying home.  Seeing as I’m the cook we had a simple salad and pasta as it was just as good (or better) than we would have enjoyed eating out — and it just felt cozier.

My plan to sanitize the water system didn’t happen.  But that’s ok.  The process is simple — I’m sure the dealer did it before we took delivery but we’ve been drawing off the well and not out of the tank and I wanted to be safe.  In the next few days we’ll dump the water, refill with weak a chlorine solution, let the tanks set for a couple hours then open faucets, run water, dump water again, and then fill with clean water.  Most of the time you’re just sitting around!  A simple enough project. 🙂

It will feel good not to have a schedule ahead of me, or projects on my mind, or volunteers to worry about.  I’ll have our volunteers on my mind and in my heart but I hope not to worry about them the way we have in the past. There were a few minutes today.  And Larry stopped by pick up some firewood I offered him.  We talked quite a while — he’s a wonderful example of a caring husband, with a wife with several significant physical challenges.  All of these volunteers – Larry and the rest of them are unique and wonderful people but now they are ‘just’ friends and not our responsibility.


we’ve gotten the call of the open road.

Beyond Eugene

Obviously, our immediate destination is Milwaukee and our annual doctor visits.  But before  leaving for Milwaukee we will travel by car to  Stateline NV (Lake Tahoe Area) where we’ll see Fred & Lisa (Peg’s brother and SIL).  Then back here to Eugene to pick up the Ambassador.  Once we leave Eugene we are considering an en route stop in Portland at IKEA — we would like to find 2 rectangular rugs for our lounge to improve the life of our carpeting.  (No Sales Tax in Oregon — might as well take advantage!)

We have until August 17th to mosey as far as Crosslake MN.  That’s a couple thousand miles in only 5 days, but not having driven the Ambassador very far since picking her up this is our shakedown and we want to see what it’s like to drive a few hundred miles a day several days in a a row in the new coach.  We’ve been stationary for so long I need to have some wheels rolling.  It’s atypical of us, but a life unscripted  is about keeping things changed up and not getting into any ruts. Once we hit Crosslake we have a couple nights there, then a short hop, a few nights in St Croix Falls, WI, then a couple weeks in Blackhawk Park, near Desoto WI, and finally a couple weeks at Bong Recreation area — the closest option to Milwaukee proper other than the expensive one at the Wisconsin State Fair.

We are both looking forward to the future.  During the process of saying goodbyes we were reminded by some of the volunteer stories we heard that life is short, we are relative short-timers on this planet as well and to use each day well and fully is important.  So as the day wore on, and the adrenalin from the last few days and week began to subside,  we really collapsed.  We need a few days to relax.  We have been pushing ourselves a lot during the last few weeks  — specially trying to get all the campsite images sorted out — and the toll it has taken will take some recovery time.  I think it’s important to know yourself well enough to be able to anticipate this kind of need.  I didn’t always think about such things — pushing myself to the limits when I was younger — but I’m a little better as we age.   So, neither of us actually ‘slept’ very much during the day but we talked and read and puttered around the house simply enjoying the quiet and not having phone calls or volunteers on our minds.  Seemed I did a lot of sighing.  Perhaps it’s just my body shedding layers of care.


I mentioned the other day that I have been writing my blog entries a few days early and letting them sit to insure that I didn’t have reservations about publishing what I might have considered confidential after the fact.  Now that we done with the Forest I’ll get back to more timely posts, and there may be days when we don’t have a WiFi connection where we are unable to post.  I’d rather be closer to current.  It confuses me when I’m reading other blogs and I’m reading on Thursday about something that happened on Sunday.

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

Old Diary

Who Works 10 Hours on Their Last Day

number01Today is our Last Day  on the “Forest”; more sweet than bittersweet.   There have been moments when this last three weeks seemed months long — but I think that’s the nature of being short-timers.  During this twilight time we’ve successfully finished a couple small projects and further concreted relationships.  So, the last day, day number 1 has arrived and we are ready.

Our only ‘job’ today is to finish up our volunteer goodbyes.  We started at 7:30 and finally finished up about 5:30.   We put on about 110 miles up and down the South ODNRA corridor and:

  • Said goodbyes,
  • We had a two hour working lunch (no alcohol) with one volunteer couple — a couple we hope to stay in touch with Post-ODNRA.
  • Unlocked a remote restroom and fixed the lock to that no visitor might get locked in before Maintenance can get out to fix the lock.
  • Did a little more recruiting with a  potential volunteer from Southern California with whom I have been speaking for about a month and a half — who is now in town for Dunefest.
  • Before finally stopping off at the office where we turned in uniforms and miscellaneous gear,
  • Got quizzed by Da Boss’s boss about various incoming and outgoing volunteers
  • Had a brief chat with Da Boss who, after missing work yesterday, showed up today on her scheduled day off in a different car.  We chatted a little about the latest info on which volunteers want to be where.  And…
  • Gave Da Boss Peggy’s most recent poem — the first she’s written since being on the Forest.  You can find the poem at the end of this post.

It seemed odd, not to be in uniform.  Some volunteers have never SEEN me out of uniform.

I won’t want to spend any more time in the office on Monday than I have to — 1/2 hour would be ideal.  We are only going in to turn in the car and keys — the keys being needed so we can get in and out of the compound over the weekend before we leave.  All those Yale Forest Service locks you know!  Anyway, on Monday we’ll turn in our vehicle (after giving it a bath and vacuuming over the weekend), our keys, our credit cards and our phone.  And of course get the Deputy District Ranger to sign our termination papers. 🙂 Everything else we left at the office today.

Da Boss said we looked rested (yeah, right, after a 10 hour day) But we are feeling kind of mellow…   It’s kind of like saying goodbye to a dysfunctional family.  But a family we love.


When we leave the compound on Monday we are heading for Eugene  (might as well get a couple extra free nights).  We are expecting temps next week in the upper 80’s and low 90’s for the week.  After 10 months of living in the 60’s with RARE excursions into the 70’s this is going to be interesting.  Trial by FIRE!

I’ll fill you in on our solar plans, on a possible return to the dealer, and other up and coming ‘stuff’ in the next few days — some of them we are still figuring out.

Bella Belva

Click on the graphic to read the poem

Peggy’s Poem

Old Diary

2 Days to Go

number2Da Boss never showed today.  We expected to have lunch with her today, but that never happened.  But that meant we didn’t have to be in the office for the same length of time — which was good — it was hard going out to say good-bye’s to 1/2 our crew.

The staff meeting is at 8:30 and usually lasts 1 hour.  I gave my report, several people tole me I did a good job.  I learned a few things about the forest service — I don’t like meetings in general but because I know so little about the USFS I always learn interesting things about their mission.  This month my takeaway was about a reclamation project they are doing in the Tahkenitch area involving REPLANTING 35 year old TREES.  I can’t imagine moving 150 trees that have been in the ground for 35 years!

I got my last paperwork turned in, so volunteers will get their reimbursements.  We swapped a couple bits of uniform with other volunteers — someone wanted my vest, someone else wanted my sized shirts — so even though our uniform order never got ordered I did my bit to see that volunteers were properly kitted out.

One more day.  I’m looking forward to tomorrow more than I had been anticipating today.  We say goodbye the the South End volunteers tomorrow and I have a different relationship with them for some odd reason.

Almost done.  Can’t wait.

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

Old Diary

Strategic Objective: Miserable Failure

Go where the peace is...

Go where the peace is…


I know that title doesn’t sound like me — and it isn’t.  More on that in a moment.

This graphic, posted by one of my Facebook friends is sort of the place I need to be right now.

I had my meeting with management. On my way back to the compound afterwards I couldn’t help thinking of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.  It was immediately clear that the reason they wanted the meeting had nothing to do with their stated agenda for the meeting.  We wrapped up in under half an hour and the saddening comment near the very end went something like this:

“We’ll fail miserably and maybe if we do, that will get someone’s attention so maybe we’ll get enough addition to our budget to make this a staffed position like it should be…”

innovation in government

It was troubling to see that the workers within government rate their own agencies so low and that the trend is clearly in the wrong direction. Innovation is NOT rewarded…. sadly… (source: best places in government to work)

That may be the way government works.  …But this is a facility that serves over 1,000,000 people each year and when management says their goal is to fail — I wonder how that is fair to the taxpayers who utilize this wonderful facility and who every year pay more into the coffers than is spent to manage the facility.  It’s a sad, sad, commentary on the Forest Service.  tPerhaps that’s the reason that in a recent survey of best and worst places to work in Government that the US Forest Service came in at number #260….

On the other hand, as a volunteer I did what was asked of me and I did a  good job while I’ve been here.  A positive comment made during our meeting, intended to make me feel good was that “….you’ve taken a marginal program and turned it into a turn-key operation.”  That sounds like a compliment but it ignores the good, hard work of a lot of other people who have been here a lot longer than the person who made the comment and who helped me accomplish those things.  I knew nothing about the place before we got here — everything I accomplished was because of the hard work of others.  That ticks me off.


Three days to go…

However, we have three more days on the clock and at this point my only real objective is make face-to-face farewell visits with all the volunteers, and to attend a monthly staff meeting tomorrow (Thursday) so staff can say goodbye.  I intended to skip that,  but have been prevailed upon by enough folks whom I don’t see regularly to see me before we leave. So, I’ll attend.

We’ll try to get about 1/2 of the Dunes visited today.  (Which didn’t work considering that it came down rain and who wants to talk to a coordinator in the rain.) The rest we’ll do on Friday.  Tonight we are having dinner with a couple of volunteers — that will be nice.  I’m sure we’ll giggle until out stomachs ache and eat too much to boot.  Thursday I have some reimbursements to process and Peg has uniforms to stow.  Then after the staff meeting we are scheduled to have lunch with Da Boss unless she gets called away on an emergency.

The rest of the week is looking do-able.  I thought I’d get out of the office earlier on Tuesday but it was 7 hours doing our best.  Wednesday and Friday should be controllable.  Thursday is up for grabs.

RV Maintenance

I keep stepping on a loose heating duct in the bedroom – before we leave and while I have access to a gazillion different sized screws that no one even knows they have I need to get those two loose ducts secured — and perhaps save a serious gouge in my foot at some point.   But that’s on the list of things for the weekend.  Let’s see if I get to it.

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

Old Diary

Connie Hanssen and Our Best Meal on the Coast

20140719132220161One more Sunday down. Only one to go on the Coast.  But what a glorious day Sunday WAS!

We did stop at the Green Salmon and the joint was jumping!  I expected more seniors and geezers to be having breakfast but boy, was I wrong.  The place had been taken over by 20- and 30-somethings

Peg had been reading about the Connie Hanssen  Coastal Garden in Lincoln City (she thought it was in Newport — 30 miles closer than it truly was!!!!) so on our second to the last weekend on the Coast we took a drive.  The temps were in the mid 70’s — for the Coast that’s glorious!  It’s HOT.  And the heat also results in fog.


We poked around a little, checked out Devil’s Lake (kind of tucked into Lincoln City), watched beach-goers and partiers and had a really nice quiet day.

This was probably the traffic-y-est day on the road for us.  We tend not to hit the highway when holiday revelers are out there and while there was a lot of traffic for the two lane US 101, it wasn’t all that bad.  Clearly not as terrible as we have been lead to expect.

20140719132340179As we headed back home after enjoying the flowers (it would have been a much better visit had we been here in SPRING) it was coming on lunch-time.  We stopped in Depoe Bay for a ‘quick bite’ that turned out not to be quick (they had a waiting line at 1:30!) but it surely was worth the wait!

Tidal Raves is a SMALL and intimate oceanside bistro.  The drinks are a bit pricey but the food is about par for the Coast but superlative in quality and preparation!  We had to wait half an hour for a window table (well, we had to wait half an hour for a table that just happened to be at a window).  A great spot to look for whales– and in fact we saw our closest whales since arriving on the Coast!  So, now Peg can go home satisfied that she’s seen enough (well, never enough, but some) Cetaceans!

We had delightfully lightly pan fried oysters, a terrific Cioppino, and after all of that a top notch bread pudding with bourbon sauce.  WoW.   We have had several great meals on the Coast but in spite of how much we like Waterfront Depot Restaurant in Florence (and we’re going back next Saturday) I think this had to be the best meal on the Coast — for us.


It’s monday of our last week — 5 days left

OK — today is Monday.  Five days to go and I have no idea what we’ll really do today, other than taking time out at noon for luncheon with a couple of volunteers.  We have a couple dawdling reimbursements to take care of and I have to get ready for my meeting on Tuesday with the staffers who are going to take over my duties.

On that subject I thought about what to convey to them, particularly after a late Saturday phone call from one of the volunteers who needed hand-holding. Da Boss told me on Friday that in her opinion the two fellow staffers who are going to split the coordination duties have little or no understanding of the complexity of the job.  Having  been a little surprised — but in retrospect, after consideration, coming to agree with her — my tactic for this last week on the job has changed.

I had hoped to line up as many of the jobs as I could — I have about 12 apps in process and at least one of them could turn into an immediate hire.  But there are a variety of things needing doing this week in addition to looking for new volunteers and I have been favoring the immediate needs over the longer term needs.  I’m going to continue that way — which means I will not attempt to vet any of our new applicants before turning them over to staff.

Peg and I have been happy to DO this job, but from the outset we have said between ourselves that this really should be a staff position.  Our boss is clearly more of a supervisor and technician than a manager, and after the weekend we agree that the best thing we can do is to essentially dump a lump in management’s lap so that they can see, not a neatly laid out plan, but the bag of snakes that volunteer wrangling truly is.  There won’t be any upset that we don’t have a clearly defined plan laid out… goodness knows no one here knows what a clearly defined plan is.  I say that with no intended meanness.  But after nearly a year here that is simply the case.  Nothing has happened here with any haste.  The arson damaged restroom from last Thanksgiving still has not been repaired,  the closed well is making progress but still isn’t usable. That is just the pace at which the USFS moves.  And when it comes to volunteers the management, not just the supervisors here need to understand the brutal reality of  dealing with volunteers:  they are high maintenance.  And somehow staff needs to find a better way of dealing with them because our boss simply hasn’t the hours in the day to do so.  I’m glad they acknowledge that by stepping up to the plate;  I hope they will learn enough quickly to find a better way of handling what is essentially a job herding cats.

So, there you have it.  It’s Monday morning, I’ve got my job lined up this week and we are bound and determined to make it through this week safely and sanely and letting go of more and more each day. Unfortunately, I woke up with a stomach flu — we spent time with Chris last week, the day before she fell ill, so I suspect it’s just going to be a milder version of a 24 hour flu — we’ll see.

p.s.:  in spite of staying home and in bed I still took half a dozen phone calls during the day, and added to my list of things to be done when we get into the office tomorrow.   what I want to know is who will answer those questions after we’re gone?

Old Diary

Turn over a new hundred thou…

20140719173350192Not sure if you can make it out, but our CR-V turned over 100,000 miles right in the Siltcoos compound.  Major milestone!  To “make it” turn over in the compound we only had to drive an extra 2 miles on our way home on Sunday — down to Carter Lake Campground and around.  Voila.

I’m feeling better today.  I’ll make the trip to the office for training, and based on yesterday’s phone calls I’ll be down to the South end of the Dunes taking care of last minute details.

On a different front….  I’m awash in water filters….

Ok — so there’s nothing wrong with our coach.  But… purchasing the new coach has us using a different water filtration system and I’m pondering what to do;  continue with what we have or change to a different system?

Everpure-Complete-Wtr-Sys-EV925205_300px(opujd4)We are accustomed to the ‘old reliable’ Everpure under counter drinking water system that came with our Winnebago Journey — it worked, very well, even though it took me a couple water baths to figure out how to change the filter element without getting soaked.   This filter treats everything we drink or cook with.  It does not treat dishwater, shower water, etc.

123284-400x400-RV_water_filterWe always pre-filter our onboard water with some form of inline filter when dumping and refilling.  Usually it has been a Camco type filter that hooks to the fill hose.

0001471740631_500X500Since arriving here on the Forest we have had a Culligan whole house type filter.  This filter has been essential because of the amount of sediment in the well, but it has had us considering our over-all water treatment regimen.

The new Ambassador has a very different inline system for drinking water.  No huge housing and filter — much smaller filter and quick connects making it easier, if not entirely drier, filter changes. mIi2efX5M4kUTV0BuyEOW6w  This has seemed to be quite usable and I know there are varying degrees of filtration available — which is where I’m hung up at the moment:  how much filtration do we want/care about/need.

I’m flummoxed by too much information.

If you haven't looked at water filters -- prepare yourself for some research!

If you haven’t looked at water filters — prepare yourself for some serious research!  If  you live in ONE place the choice is simple — figure out YOUR water and filter it. But when your backyard is the Great U.S.  of A. just what filtration do you really ‘need’?

There are grades 1 – 10, each does something different ; each manufacturer calls the same thing something different.  Oh, my aching head!  And this is just a single manufacturer’s chart!

One of the reasons for re-thinking water filtration is that the Camco in-line filters don’t allow a lot of water flow per minute.  Some of the other systems — like the Culligan whole-house system we have here will do as good a job pre-filtering AND do so more quickly when we are waiting in a queue!  I’ve got time to do some figuring.  We’ll be in Eugene for a week, we’ll have more than enough water to get us to Wisconsin.  Sooner or later I’ll suss it out and make a decision.04

Another day down. Four to go! Today’s the meeting with management. No sweat. After today the rest of the time will be working with Da Boss and visiting volunteers.  Duck Soup!

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


Old Diary

The Value of Men

the value of men

“He who does not travel does not know the value of men.” – Moorish proverb

Without a doubt, the best part of Rv’ing and Volunteering is the people you meet along the way.   That doesn’t always mean you’ll like every one of them; nor does it mean that you’ll get along with them all; or agree with their life choices.  And we have met some doozies since arriving here!

Peg & I are attempting to wind down, to disengage and let go of what has been a very passionate time for us.  Just at the time when we want to detach a little, it seems that karma and human nature are attempting to keep us embroiled in the lives of our volunteers.  We still have five days on the volunteer clock but today is Saturday and volunteers aren’t the first thing on our mind.  But neither are they out of our mind, and I wanted to take a few minutes to work through that.

crucifixionI spent 25 years as a bi-vocational pastor — so one of my ‘gifts’ is the ability to listen to folks.  Goodness knows that pastors spend a lot of time listening — and not just talking.  We’ve spent a lot of time listening to volunteers.  In part, that was our job.  It’s difficult to see that the Forest meets the needs of their volunteers if no one is listening to what they are saying;  I have been (in the words of the staff here) the ‘eyes and ears’ of the Forest Service.  That’s an obligation I took more seriously being a volunteer myself.  A staffer would have a very different take on events than I have had and the reaction of the volunteers here upon learning of our departure speaks loudly that most of them know I have been their advocate. And I have been happy to be such.

In the case of a pastor, there is often some expectation of intervention upon hearing about questionable life choices.  As a volunteer coordinator that is hardly the case.  It’s not my place to correct, to admonish, to approve or anything of that sort.  It’s my place to listen; and to reflect their needs to staff.  But because I’m a good listener (as well as someone never accused of saying too little) I get more of the back story than can ever be relevant to the Forest Service.  Knowing what to edit; what to pray about (because I do pray about ‘my’ volunteers); and what to pretend I never heard — well, that has been a challenge.

The last several weeks have been punctuated by stories of ‘poor’ life choices. Most of which I haven’t even hinted at;  they don’t belong on someone’s blog.  I know it’s not my place to judge — and when I say ‘poor’ life choices I mean choices that have not worked out to the satisfaction of the person.

What do you do when someone tells you straight out that they are fundamentally unhappy with their own life choices?  The fact that Peggy has sleepless nights worrying about volunteers; or that I have had some of the worst nightmares in my life (and I’m a guy who never has nightmares!) speak the insidious way in which these folks have gotten metaphorically under out skin.

I troubles me when I see people a mere dozen years younger than ourselves who have gotten themselves into horrible predicaments.  Parts of me want to help — but other parts of me know that we get the lives we deserve (in the sense that they result from the sum total of all our individual decisions) — and helping would not be a solution when the cause has been habitually making immature choices — the party would just make more immature choices.

Then again, we have met others who have been beaten down by events in the world who have rolled with the punches life has thrown at them and have overcome and prospered.  Often that has meant that they haven’t had a lot of money — but they have taken the life that remains and made the best of it.  Younger or older — it never matters.   They always seem upbeat, no matter how badly their body might be begging for relief.  They are always ready to help someone else — even when they may not have much themselves.  I have been inspired by their spirits, their generosity, and their smiles.

Siuslaw National ForestWe have volunteers with multiple advance degrees and other volunteers who are illiterate.  The most educated aren’t necessarily the wisest and the illiterate can sometimes make me look unlearned by their knowledge and understanding of the natural world in which they live.  There is no place here for quick judgements.  And there are too many surprises to think that anyone person knows very much about anything.  There are different points of view — they are all valuable.

volunteer badgeI have no idea whether we would ever come back here to volunteer.  Beyond those things I’ve written about over the past 10 months there are myriad untold stories that affect our attitude about this place.  Not the least of which is the sheer frustration of working ‘in government’  even though I’m not part  of government.  If this same position was open in a year or five years I don’t know that I would have the stamina to take on the same harness — even though there are  other projects I would like to see accomplished here.  Whether they can ever be done here, or within the USFS — those are very different questions that time will determine and the answers will be forever altered by the names of the staff who move in and  out of the positions in this Forest.    Besides, this is not my circus, and these are not my monkeys!  I’m a volunteer — not staff.

I will forever be changed by the people we have met, come to care about, helped, and been helped by.  I’m sure we’ll keep in touch with some of them.  I’m sure we’ll meet up with some of the again — perhaps many times.  But our time here is drawing to a close and how can there not be some moments of sadness and reflection and relief.

Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for coming along on our unscripted life, our spontaneous journey, our retirement adventure.  I hope you are enjoying the trip as much as we are.  I’ll talk with you tomorrow. 🙂

And now — Off to The Green Salmon for breakfast!