Old Diary

All Fixed Up

Thursday before the holiday and we’re ready for ‘them.’  My head is back to normal after the dentist’s drill.  After getting pumped full of anesthetic it took a while for all that junk to clear out of my system.  This morning Phil the maintenance guy came around to fix our phone and Internet lines — so we’re back up to full functionality. I had hoped to get some more leaf blowing done before the weekend but everything’s still too damp after our recent rains so that will wait till after the holiday.

I originally wrote this to publish before Memorial Day, but then something came up so this ended up posting after the holiday.  Not an apology, just an explanation.

We’ve been talking about the weather lately.  It seems after numerous situations where bad weather has been the topic of the day that our little corner of the world is slightly less likely to see the worst of the neighboring weather.  We’ve been noticing this over several years — that the severe storm warnings tend to focus North and West of us, or South and East of us.  Oh, there’s no telling Momma Nature what she should be doing, but by sheer number of “Alerts” and “Warnings” we are already ahead of the game again this year.  There are those places known as Tornado Alley, and others that get their regular crippling winter Ice Storms — we are usually pretty lucky here by being spared the worst of the steering winds.  That doesn’t mean we won’t get storms this year — now that I’ve commented on them.  But we are thankful for the previous good fortune we’ve had.

We have at least 2 ‘groups’ in the park this weekend.  One has 11 sites.  Another has 4.  And I think there’s another group who do BBQ contests — not sure if they’ll be cooking this weekend or just kickin’ back. (But one can always hope.😀😀 )

Our seasonal rangers / interns have gotten enough of their training that we’re starting to see them roaming around solo — they are incredibly happy about that — it’s always fun to share those kind of new life experiences with young adults — it reminds us of what it was like when we were new to the work world and having our own workplace firsts.  Makes me feel good.

I guess Peg & I are in a holding pattern until Katy gets here.  Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll be here to chat in the morning.

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Old Diary

Changeup

Wednesday morning.  Visit-The-Dentist Day.  Ugh. That’s 6 hours away, so I have plenty of time to look forward to it!  Which is why I’m thinking about other things!  (And in the end they prepped me for a crown.  It was actually the least unpleasant dentist visit I can remember — though I did remember in the process that my body metabolizes lidocaine rapidly,  VERY rapidly!)

I woke up this morning after a night of active dreams.  It seemed a good time to make some changes.  Seeing as we are here for another few months and we can’t change our locale, I decided to change my bog template.   and the decision it’s time to change things up a little — and I decided to change the template on my Blog. By the time you read this that will have happened 5 days ago! I guess that’s how far ahead I am with future blogs — still and all, it’s what’s on my mind at the moment.

Pictorico Twenty Fifteen Twenty SixteenI had been using the theme Pictorico.  I’m never fully happy with WordPress themes but from time to time I feel the need to change, just to change. I switched  to Twenty Fifteen a theme that I never used before (prior to Pictorico it had been Twenty Fourteen).  I would have tried Twenty Sixteen but it’s not a full width template and that’s one of my criteria.  Themes that arbitrarily decide that your screen should be only so wide are just a waste of real estate in my mind.  When I was still hosting I had a theme I really liked but that’s not available to the wordpress.com family and I don’t particularly want to pay extra for a modified theme.

All of which is brought on by the fact that change is a part of life.  And I change my blog look as I fee I am changing.  From time to time I feel as if certain aspects of life or my blog are changing.

I heard a great quote yesterday.  I really wanted to share it because it really struck me upside the head.

The true measure
of all our actions

is how long the
good in them lasts.

I found that a particularly sobering thought.  And it’s one of the drawbacks of the RV lifestyle.  It is by nature a transitory life, a migratory life,  and perhaps a little hard to find lasting meaning in it.  I know friends who have struggled with the fact that their earlier lives were spent actively engaged in family and church and civic activities which RV’ing interfered with.  It’s a emptiness or lack that I can understand and sometimes share.  But then what we have done with our our entire life is one thing and what we accomplish in retirement might be quite a separate kettle of fish.

The Lonely BenchWe loaded up the larder for Kathryn’s arrival. By the time I got done in the dentist’s chair my jaw was throbbing and I wasn’t in the most let’s-go-shopping mood — but I didn’t want to make the trip back to Hudson later int he week so we just sucked it up and did that while we were so close to the grocery.  know Peg is specially looking forward to the weekend and her visit, even if it’s a short stay.  We’ll try our darnedest not to shirk off our duties on her shoulders. 🙂

speak of your joy often

While in River Falls for the dentist I wanted to get my hair cut — and had a very interesting experience at the barber.  There’s a place on Main street called, of course, “Barber Shop.”  I stopped there once — lights on, door locked, no answer.  Walked away.  Looked them up in Google and called.  Sure, we’re open.  Walked back and door unlocked, two white guys sweeping floor.

“Are you my 1:20 appointment” one asks.

“No. Can you take a walkin?” I ask?

“Sorry, can’t help you today.  Tomorrow we have room.”  says a guy sitting next to an empty barber chair and the other one is standing next to another empty chair.

I ebbed off and left.  There was another barber shop at the end of the block and around the corner.  I walked in there.  I’m greeted by a monster black guy — I mean he’s as solid as I am and about 4″-5” taller than me — with long dangly braids. I felt like a midget next to him.  He really was imposing. The place is called Gentz and that maybe should have given me a clue but undaunted I asked if he had time for a walkin.

Yup!  He walked me right over to his barber chair and we got started.

It turns out this guy is a gentle giant. He’s imposing, but the nicest, most friendly barber I’ve had in a long time.  He, his girlfriend and their two kids moved up from Chicago (her home town is nearby), he opened his shop only three months ago and he gave me a meticulous haircut.  I hope he has a good long career there in River Falls.  He deserves it.  He’s certainly more hungry for business than his competition, and he’s a lot more personable.  There is a very small black population in Northern Wisconsin to begin with.  River Falls (according to City-Data) is 92% white — so I’m sure he’s going to have a bit of an uphill battle gaining acceptance — racial lines have NOT disappeared in Wisconsin.  But this guy deserves a good long run in this town.  I’m glad I stopped.

That was our Wednesday.  The phone and Interwebs are still down — I’m using my MiFi box and no word about fixing the CORPS ethernet connection yet.  The weekenders start arriving today.  4 or 5 campers are due in today.  Bring on the Weekend!

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll be here again tomorrow to chat!

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Old Diary

At Six’s and Seven’s

i have days like thisEver have one of those days when you just aren’t yourself?  Even a perpetually happy guy like me has them too.  Fortunately, not too often.  Sometimes it’s not a matter of feeling well, or ill, nor of being sore from the previous day’s activity;  sometimes you just wake up out of sorts.  The thing is — I’ve come to accept that those days are OK.  You don’t have to be cheery every day.  You don’t have to feel well, every day. It’s nice when it happens, but I don’t have to treat the rest of the world any differently than if I was on top of the world.

IMG_2256Today’s one of those days that I need my Element of Surprise.  It’s there somewhere — I just have to find it.

It’s Tuesday, hence our day off.  Which merits a comment.  While we could just take off and actually have a “day off,”  so far we aren’t exatly doing that.  There are parts of me that look at this as being a lot like living a dairy farmer’s life.  Holidays come and holidays go, but the cows still need milking.  And that’s kind of how I feel here.  The daily report arrives in the morning;  we take an hour or so to go through our machinations, and then to walk out into the campground and post the new cards,  and later in the day we’ll take one or two ride throughs — and the rest of the day we spend on ourselves.  But we still take care of our ‘chores’ first.  No one says we have to — it’s just us. It just feels right.volunteering is the ultimate exercise

I awoke

after a lifetime as an early riser — I can sympathize with Leonardo. Seems like I spent half my youth waiting for the rest of the world to wake up.

We had rain last night.  We have no phone service or Interwebs today.  Not sure how long that will take to reconcile.  It’s happened before but in the past both of those lines came back a couple hours after they went out.  Not sure what will happen this time.  Though, I have reported it this time.

Tomorrow is go-to-the-dentist day.  argh.   not looking forward to that at all.  A recently shattered molar can’t be a good thing and with a new dentist — just yuck. The only good thing is that tomorrow may turn out to be a reconnoitering day in advance of determining the pathway to the solution.

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Ok — That’s it for today.  I’m not going to ramble on saying nothing.  Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll chat with you tomorrow when, hopefully, I’ll have something more interesting to say.

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Old Diary

I must be more prejudiced than I thought I was

I was sitting in our golf cart chatting with a 30-something camper when I had the distinct realization that I’m probably more biased than I’d like to accept.  The thing is, I realized while talking with him how much I liked this guy!  By contrast, I think I realized something I was not all that happy about.

One of the treats to me of staying in public campgrounds is that there seems to me to be a wider diversity of people than we usually find at private parks/RV resorts. That particularly applies to differences in AGE.  Our experience has been that County, State, and Federal properties tend to be visited by people of all ages and incomes, and to some degree of ethnic diversity — though not a lot. RV’ing is still largely the domain of white americans so you don’t see huge examples of ethnic diversity. In the past we have noticed that here at Highland Ridge the extent of ethnic diversity might be a little greater than some other places we’ve camped.  We do have periodic hispanic families and a surprising number of Hmong.  The frequency of Hmong visitors surprised me until I learned that Minneapolis had been an immigration magnet for Hmong — at which point seeing them here made perfect sense:  why wouldn’t they want to go camping!  It’s a lot of fun!

But what I’m talking about today is the intermingling of young along with us older codgers.  I have really been enjoying the presence of so many young families along with their kids.  But then you know I love kids! I am tickled to have a chance to just stand around chatting with them; to hear their point of view; to learn about their goals and their devotion to family. Family has always been important to us and seeing that value carrying forward in tangible ways always makes me feel good.  If there have ever been times when I have wanted to despair of the next generation it has not been when we were here!  Sometimes you have to be in the right place at the right time to realize that our future is in better hands than might be feared.

fishing pole mount

definitely a Southern thing!

Which brings me to my title for the day.  I am coming to terms with being more of a died-in-the-wool Midwesterner than I like to think.  There is something about the ethos of Midwesterners that just rings true to me. I had my fill of Good Ole Boys, Floridians and Rednecks; enough of seeing Confederate Flags and juiced diesel pickups spewing black smoke and making more noise than an 18 wheeler. (I don’t mind the fishing pole racks on the front bumpers!)  There are just some aspects of people and society that I like better ‘up here.’

After this week’s publicity about the four drunkest towns in America all being in Wisconsin I have no illusions that Wisconsinites don’t drink a lot of beer, but I don’t SEE as many open containers in cars up here as I did during the winter in the S.E. That was particularly disconcerting.  I’m sure they are around, I just don’t see them anywhere near as often here. I admit that our exposure to public campgrounds was a little limited this winter, but we put on nearly 3000 miles while down there and I admit to liking the mix of campers better as we have moved further north.

I’m not sure how I’ll feel if we make it to the desert S.W. this winter.  I have been fine with Texas — it’s different than the S.E. — and in the past I have enjoyed my visits to the desert — we’ll see how we feel about living there if we get to spend this winter there.

Playground Inspection

We took on a new job for the duration of our stay here.  We are doing Playground patrol.  I never thought about whether people actually inspect playgrounds for safety, but I just found out that the CORPS does just that.  And they have a form to report the findings, and insure that the necessary repairs are made in a timely manner.  Hot Dog!  I love that.

Stihl Backpack BlowerThe Backpack Blower showed up in our morning delivery. I’m glad.  There are a lot of areas of the campground I want to clean up and sweeping isn’t going to cut the mustard.  Now if we can either stay dry for a few days so I can get this done before the stuff I want to removed blown off before it gets wet and sticks to the ground.

Well, that is our Sunday.  All our campsites are cleaned for the next batch of campers.  We’ll do our first playground inspection on Monday and then begin a new schedule of Tuesday & Wednesday off-days so that we are a little more in sync with our staff boss who’s days off are Wed & Thurs.  We didn’t need to do that but we just thought it was a good thing.

Thanks for stopping by and I’ll be here again tomorrow to chat.

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Old Diary

Sharing Joy

35' Mirada

35’ Coachman Mirada

Wally & Eileen bought a new RV.  We only met Wally & Eileen last week.  But they were so excited about their new RV that they had to return this weekend to try her out and show her off.  Isn’t that just the way it is with RV’ers!

Last evening we were sitting outside in our holding chairs — accessible to campers who don’t know where their site might be but not a bother for those who know the routine.  When they arrived, Eileen was driving their car, and Wally the new-to-them Mirada.  Eileen — ahead of Wally — slowed down with the window open and shouted out, “Peter & Peggy — it’s us!”  And we looked up and there they were.

One aspect of RV’ing that I never tire of, and that never ceases to amaze me is the warmth and openness of RV’ers.  Before we sold our house we’d lived in numerous places and we never had bad neighbors but we never in our entire previous life had neighbors who were as cheery and happy as most of the people we’ve met whilst RV’ing. We can sit at a camper’s campsite and learn all manner of interesting things about their past lives, their loves, and their passions.

This sort of gig — where we’re hanging out in the same place for an extended time — means that a lot of these campers we’ll see again — several times throughout the summer. Minnesotans (Twin Cities Residents mostly) use this as one of many parks close enough for weekend getaways.  A few people make their reservations as soon as the reservation window opens and return throughout the summer. Some of them return with friends, but mostly they show up as couples or singles to enjoy the forest setting and whomever might turn out to be neighbors.

What amazes me is that people are so open with friends of such short duration.  It’s much easier to see how Winter Snowbirds would get to be friendly with the couple in the RV next to them all winter.  But to see and participate in such rapid friendships in such short time is quite a treat. Back in the day when we were young we did a vacation in Palm Springs at one of the clothing optional hotels there.  We were struck by the way the people who are not wearing indicators of success were open to whomever they came across. That wasn’t entirely true because there were a few baubles and items of jewelry that gave away the financial status of the guests but in general these were nothing more than people meeting people.  It’s not something you often find in society;  we all carry our symbols of affluence on us as we go through life:  the cut of our suit, the brand shoes,  even the manufacturer of our eye glass frames.  We shout to other people how well we’re doing.

But RV’ing is a bit of a odd-duck situation.  Oh, there are the folks who shout out their success in their RV — you’ll always have people who want others to envy them.  But last week’s visit by the Tear Drop trailers was another reminder that RV’ing can be about all sorts of things.  For many of last weekend’s teardroppers — their RV experience was about demonstrating their skill and expertise in making their own trailer.  There were a couple teardrops that were visually economy models but I have to say that there were also several that spared no expense in putting those teardrops together and they were all about sharing ideas and creativity.

I often say that there’s “No right way to RV”.  And you know by now that I mean that we RV’ers with different talents, likes, and bankrolls  bring that same diversity to our RV’ing.  Whatever works for you, works for you and there’s no one to say that you’re doing it wrong.  I almost wonder, however, if there is one common trait, which is the willingness to be open to new experience and ideas.  From my blog you’ll know that you can never count on what’s going to happen — RV’s do breakdown and things do go awry.  But beyond the negative surprises there are also a lot of positive surprises that deserve similar attention.  For ever delay in getting to a reserved campground I bet there are half a dozen new friends that we’ve met (maybe a lot more).  For every malfunction there are new experiences that thrill us.  I wonder if along the way I have scared a few folks off from RV’ing because they read about the mishaps and think they could never handle them.  But the reality is that unless a person pays not attention to their equipment the mishaps don’t happen that often and the joys are pretty regular occurrences.

Later today I’m sure Eileen & Wally will want to show us their new RV.  And we’ll be happy to take a look.  There’s an old saying about Joys shared are multiplied and sorrows shared are divided.  People LIKE to share with others.  And being willing to enter into their joy not only makes US feel better, it makes them feel better too.

Thanks for stopping by.  Let’s talk again tomorrow!

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Old Diary

I know what day it is!

There is one particular redeeming factor associated with volunteering.  You get to know what day of the week it is!  I’ve managed three weeks in a row of pretty much knowing exactly what day it is — after months of having nothing upon which to hang dates.  I’m not in a hurry to work harder than we are, but even this guy — who has always had a very loose relationship with time — kind of likes knowing what day it might be!  (Though I’ve never seen all that much reason to live my life by a calendar).

Its’ another Friday and the campers will be streaming in the door in another couple hours.  I’m looking forward to this week’s new variety of visitors.  From a sociological point of view every weekend is completely different.  You get the families in multiple sites (parents, grandparent, uncle & aunties),  families with large broods of kids, families with no kids, long stays, short stays, talkative/friendly campers and loners — It’s always interesting (to me) to see this wonderful assortment of folks who mostly get along with each other without interference from outside.

This should be a warm and dry weekend — but we have rain in the forecast for next weekend’s holiday and we’ve seen a couple cancellations already in the tent sites.  Who wants to go camping and stay wet all weekend long.  Next weekend is also when Katy is supposed to arrive for a short visit — but she found that a good friend is moving from Milwaukee to N.O. LA that weekend so seeing as she can see us a lot more often than she can see her friend who’s moving out of the area we may only have an abbreviated visit.  Which is fine.  She has friends her own age and that’s a good thing.

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Last evening whilst taking our evening walk I noticed a wobbly sign.  I’m sure it’s a change — the sign wasn’t tipping over and wasn’t loose in it’s hole before — someone backed into it.  The only reason I comment is that it’s amazing to me that even when there aren’t all that many people in the campground it’s still possible for things to happen — for damage to be done — and not have us be aware of it at the time.  Sure — we notice it after the fact and we can insure that the sign gets re-seated and fixed, but how/why would something like that happen — and we are only 100’ from the sign (although not in a sight-line).  And the park hasn’t been all that busy either.  It’s not something that would cause much noise; a good whack with a bumper is all it would take,  But why someone would be back up there is beyond me.  It’s a large Y turn.  OH well, not my circus and not my monkeys.

Thanks for stopping by and I’ll be here tomorrow to chat.

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Old Diary

In Search Of…

Wednesday wasn’t a day off but we spent a little while taking care of personal business in between CORPS chores.  After talking with our boss, we found a dentist nearby whom we’ll contact about working on my cracked molar.  And, Phil had told us about a local grocery that was having a “Truckload Meat Sale” — seeing as it was only 8 miles away we bopped over there for a quick check and found a couple not-exactly-bargains, but worth spending a little money on.  I say not exactly a bargain because the meat for sale wasn’t prime, or choice — it was one step above utility grade.  You get what you pay for in this world and there really aren’t bargains anymore….. Those TV’s you see on Black Friday promotions are usually special low-cost productions that lack the niceties of normal stock and that old addage “If it’s too good to be true, it usually is,” still applies.

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On the other hand I finally got my air filter sorted.  That fastener that came out has been replaced, a new filter is installed, and the air restriction guage is reset.

As long as the replaement fasteners came with both parts of the fastener — the bolt and the nut — I had not investigated whether the nut had disappeared before ordering the bolts.  As long as the filter was tight in the canister I didn’t want to pull it out prematurely and risk getting anything into the engine by having the filter out of the canister for longer than necessary.  With forest critters and such it’s possible we could have gotten something up in there.  So, when I took the canister out to install the replacement I was happy to see that the retainer nut was still in place.  That means that it was just a case of the fastener working loose.  So, with everything put back into place I’m happy as a clam;  but why people say ‘happy as a clam’ I have no idea.

We are seeing a little more activity in the campground mid-week now.  The rangers are showing up more often — not a lot, but a little.  They are updating their signs, finally. And we have been having  about 2 walk-ins per night in addition to our reservations.  The walk-ins all need to be told about the change in reservation window — so we have reason to chat them all up and lately it’s been true that our walk-in’s have been a bunch of Chatty-Kathy’s !!!!!  But — we’re having a good time. And meeting some really intersting folks.

Thanks for stopping by,  it was a quiet day, so I’ll stop here.  But I’ll be back tomorrow to chat.

 

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Old Diary

Needed a Fix

After talking about confined spaces yesterday I guess I needed a wide open spaces fix!

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Our Packed Earth Dam

 

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Across to the beach

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Opposite the dam

It was grocery day — a day off — so we got out for a little drive through the country side and while we were at the other side of the lake I decided to give you a little idea of the lake.

 

I’m told there are Bass, crappies and a variety of other pan fish in the lake.  There are a  lot of fishermen that come to fish in NON-motorized boats.  The lake is posted for no motors.  Also, on the Rush River (nearby) I’m told there’s pretty decent trout fishing.  You won’t find as many boats here as a some of the CORPS campgrounds but fishing is still a big thing.

Moderation

I wanted to talk a little about moderation as a function of volunteering.  Please bear in mind that I’m a guy who was self-employeed for much of my life — so I look at things like “work” differently than someone who worked-for-wages their entire life.

Whenever we volunteer it’s a real balancing act for us to find that happy balance between working and not working.  For one thing I think the lack of balance was one reason I was so quick to accept this gig.  Wandering around the country without purpose wasn’t entirely fulfilling even though we were having fun.

But the more important aspect of finding balance relates to what you do when you’re in place, on your volunteer gig.  And we have witnessed this from both sides of the coin — having been volunteers, and having been volunteer coordinators who hired other volunteers.

While at The Dunes, we had volunteers who had been on the job for years — and it was easy to see how they had become overly posssessive.  The property was no longer the Forest Service’s — in their mind it was THEIRs. They treated everything as if they owned it and could become no little bit miffed at campers and staff when something was done that they didn’t like.  That’s no way to be a volunteer.  You have to remember that no matter how long you’re on the job, you’re still just a volunteer.  I witnessed a couple folks who got so possessive that the staff ended up removing them from their post — abruptly.

There are also those who are laggards,  the ones who don’t want to do whatever the gig requires — all they want is aplace to hang out.  They are quickly discovered.  If the ogranization can find a replacement they don’t last long, and if replacements cannot be found they are… tolerated…. but no one has a good time because of their presence.

In between is a wide range of styles — flavored by our individual personalities.

  • Organizations may want more of less from a volunteer.
  • Volunteers may want more or less from the organization.

For Peg and I, we have seen volunteers at campgrounds who are being asked to do a ridiculous amount in exchange for their free camping site.  And there have been a couple who did virtually nothing — but the organization was actually happy with the little being done.  And there are others like us who are asked less than we are willing to do, and sometimes go looking for extra projects that we can do to help out.

cart-before-the-horse

You’ve heard the expression, putting the cart before the horse… think about how that migh apply to volunteering.

But the key to volunteering — I think — is that the volunteer always need to be in harmony with the organization’s goals.  I don’t think a lot of volunteers think about that.  I know I’ve heard other volunteers who bring along with them  their experience from a very different gig in a very different place and try to enforce a new way of doing things on a system that’s been in place for years — and has worked quite well.  They can’t understand why everyone doesn’t fall in love with their way of doing things.  Or they get upset when their way of doing things is rejected and they are forced to use the system in place.

 

The reality of this situation isn’t only true of RV volunteers.  It’s true of people wanting to bring their life’s experience to other situations — volunteer or otherwise.  You can see it in hospital volunteers and humane society volunteers;  in museum docents and in reading tutors — people want to be valued for who they are, but they don’t always consider that others don’t do things their way for very good reasons.

I don’t know about you, but I find that the older I get the more challenging it can be to appreciate different ways of being. This is part of the reason that I travel, and part of the reason I love traveling.  Being around people of other backgrounds, people with other objectives,  people with other circumstances reminds me there are many ways to do the same thing.  There are many ways of being.  There are many cultures.  We have one, but others are equally functional — just different from ours.

Goodness knows this nation is having a crisis.  Too many people don’t want to accept that alternative ways of doing things can be just as good as their way.  We see it in politics, we see it in the societal issues of gender and race and income equality.  It’s hard to look anywhere but that we won’t see people arguing about why their way is better than someone else’s way — of anything!

Personally, I’m happy with the gig we have right here.  We’re appreciated. (I don’t say that as if it’s unusual — everywhere we’ve been, even when we aren’t volunteers, I have always heard paid staff speak highly of the help they get from volunteers even when the volunteers don’t think they are appreciated)  The duties we’re asked to perform are doable within the time expected.  We’re off by ourselves and not bothered about things that are responsibliity.  And, we don’t have to live in a volunteer village — we just aren’t  that  sociable!  For us, this is a good fit.  It might not be for others, but it works for us.

I hope we never get to the place where we think just because we have been here we know everything. It’s like what happened last evening.  Acouple of campers asked us about the Bald Eagle nest. We knew there was one here, but we hadn’t had time to hike the trail and find it.  Because the other couple commented on not being able to find it, that was a good excuse for us to stop what we were doing, take the time, and scout it out. Now we can tell 0thers how to find it when they ask.  We learned something — and we try to learn something every day.

I want to remember this saying:

“You aren’t required to set yourself on fire
in order to make people warm.”

It’s a good reminder to me as someone that likes to do things for others.  There are limits and it’s good to remember them.

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll be here to chat again in the morning.  Cheers!

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