Sunday, June 24, 2012

Rats, Bats, Deeres

Wow....this has been one heck of a week. I mentioned last week that our company was taking responsibility for an additional area this week. It's a combination campground, trailhead and hot springs called Bagby Hot Springs. Bagby is a local hotspot originally 'discovered' in the 1880's. The Forest Service built a guard station there in 1913. Over the years the original buildings have been updated/rejuvenated/added to including the addition of several group and individual hot tubs.The hot springs can only be reached by hiking a 1.5 mile trail. During recent years most of the upkeep has been by volunteers; and unfortunately they have not been able to keep up with the amount of work needed to properly maintain the facilities. Most of this week we spent at Bagby. Monday and Tuesday the Forest Service delivered new picnic tables and metal fire-rings for each of the 18 campsites. The tables weigh 400' each and we worked to arrange and place them on each site.  Then a dump truck with 11 yards of gravel showed and someone was needed to spread it to fill potholes on the road  through the campground. Guess who that was.....yep, they looked around and I was selected. So what do you do when you get lemons?  You make lemonade. Another skill to add to my resume........Tractor Driver

I had a blast. Yep it's a John Deere tractor. Along with the road grading I used the tractor to remove old fire pits made of stone and rocks, smooth out some rock-filled campsites and push around some large logs to make better use of the space on many campsites. I also took about several yards of the gravel and created a parking pad for one of the camphost couples to park their RV. Green acres is the place to be; Farm living is the life for wait a minute, that's someone else.

Wednesday when we came home Joan smelled something sour in the bedroom. We haven't been using the Splendide washer dryer in our RV for several weeks, rather we've been using the washer/dryer in the work center. Joan thought the residual water in our unit may have been the cause so she started the unit to flush it out. I had another concern. We'd been hearing some strange noises lately and I had placed a couple of mouse traps around. I started checking and sure enough...we had a winner... or loser depending on which side of the trap you were on. I pulled out a drawer and checked the space behind it to find we had caught the little bugger a few days earlier...hence the sour smell. I reset the traps just in case there are anymore.

Thursday we had a group of ladies hiking one of the many trails in the forest when one of them stumbled and fell off an embankment. She fell about 40' down a severe incline before she hit a tree and stopped. Good thing because if she hadn't hit the tree she would have fallen another 200' before she hit the bottom. She was rescued and carried out by emergency personnel. Want to know what's so unusual? She was 85 years old. She and her friends have been hiking together for 38 years. All of them are in their 70's and 80's. Hope I'm still hiking the backwoods when I'm her age!

Pegleg Falls

On Friday we took time to hike down and have our lunch at Pegleg Falls, a Forest Service area that has been closed for a couple of years. It was worth the hike.

And on the road home we stopped at another waterfall; a little ways off the road. The trail was only 75 yards, but the incline was steep, trail extremely narrow and right along the edge of a 50' drop. But this waterfall was really cool; also worth the trip.

Just Hangin' Out

One of our final stops Friday was a store managed by some of our workcampers. And what do you think was hanging around the store? In the breakroom........a bat.

See Those Teeth! Not the Happiest Camper in the Forest

Ahhh...he's not such a bad guy after all

A few minutes later, using a fishing net and wearing my trusty gloves we had the bat safely outside. After taking some pics and letting everyone get a close look, he took flight and was soon safe and sound in the wild blue yonder.

Friday night I was really tired and went to bed a little before Joan. Just as I dropped off to sleep Joan cam running into the bedroom, grabbed my foot and started shaking it shouting "He's here, he's in here!". What? When, Where. Who's here? "He's in here" she insisted, "there's another rat in the pantry!" I walked into the kitchen and sure enough, the little %&$(*@!# was sitting there staring at us! He scooted before I could catch him, so we moved another trap into the pantry and we're hoping for a quick end to this problem.

This week has been long and tiring...and just a little bit stressful. On top of that Sunday is Joan's dad's 80th birthday and she's having a little case of homesickness. Her brothers, her sister and many of her relatives will be getting together in Florida to celebrate. This is the first major family event since we left Florida in March and both of us wish we could be there. Happy 80th Tommy!

We did get some good news. Our friends Jim and Debbie, with whom we taken a motorcycle vacation each year for the last few years, have decided to fly out and spend a week with us this summer. If you check out the pictures in the right-hand column of the blog, you see them in several of the FOSJ vacation pics. Joan's sister is also planning to fly out and visit in August. Yahoo!  I'm sure that will go a long ways helping both of us get over missing our family and friends back home.

One final shout out to Tom Davis....Happy Birthday to you too. Looking forward to riding with you again soon!

Stayed tuned, more to follow!

Monday, June 18, 2012

West Coast Weekend

Things are still jumping as we continue to prepare different campgrounds and day-use areas along the Clackamas River. I've spent a lot of time felling and bucking trees so far this season; however most of the trees have been relatively small and very simple to manage. This week I actually worked on a couple of larger trees; improving my skills on getting the trees to drop where I want them to rather than where they may be leaning towards. So far, so good as all of them have dropped just as planned. Many of the very large trees are handled by an outside company with special equipment and years of experience.

Joan and I visited one of highest campgrounds last week to determine when we might be able to get into the CG and begin preparing it for opening. Hideaway Lake CG is remote, located about 4 miles down a single lane paved road (that's not open very far past the CG turnoff because of snow); then 5 miles down a gravel road that climbs to an altitude of approximately 4000'. While the gravel road is clear of snow, the last 100 yards of the CG entrance is still under 12" of the white stuff.

But once you get there the view is awesome. Hideaway Lake is a small crystal clear spring-fed lake.And locals say that once the snow and ice is gone the water temp is more like a warm bath than a spring-fed mountain lake. And the fishing is supposed to be great.

Next week the Forest Service is handing off a new area, a combination campground, trail-head and hot springs. For many years the site has been unattended and left to hikers and locals to maintain. The CG has 17 sites; however there are no tables or fire rings. The trail goes for several miles well into a wilderness area, but 1.5 miles down the trail is a rough hot springs area with several 'bathing' houses, individual and group hot tubs, pit toilets and a small cabin for a camphost. Our manager wanted everyone available on Monday to start preparing the area so we were asked to take Saturday off instead of our normal day off. Hmmm.......let me think........Saturday and Sunday off......hmmmmmm.....OK! So Joan and I headed out early Saturday morning to see the Pacific Ocean.

First stop; Tillamook Cheese Factory. For those of you who haven't heard of Tillamook, think big. Until earlier this year Tillamook packaged 1 million pounds of cheese each week and their factory warehouse has the capacity to age 50 million pounds at once. We took a quick tour, sampled some cheese, passed on the ice cream and picked up some fudge to go. Then it was off to the beach.

Cape Mear

Then on to Short Beach

Three Arch Rocks

Cannon Beach

Our last stop was really not a stop but a go....on a ferry. The Puget Island Ferry that crosses the Columbia River between Washington and Oregon.

And that was it for our day at the beach.

A shout out to Erin...Happy 30th and to Joe..Happy Birthday Buddy.. Stay tuned...More to Come.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Just How Big Is It?

Another week is behind us and we've continued to learn new stuff; experience and skills for the resume when we begin our search for next year's gig. Workweeks run Sunday through Saturday. Joan and I have Sunday and Mondays off. We started the week by driving north to the Columbia River Gorge and traveling east along Historic Columbia River Hwy 30 from Troutdale to Hood River. Hwy 30 was one of the first roadways to follow the Gorge. According to Wikipedia "The original highway was promoted by lawyer and entrepreneur Sam Hill and engineer Samuel C. Lancaster, to be modeled after the great scenic roads of Europe. From the very beginning, the roadway was envisioned not just as means of traveling by the then popular Model T, but designed with an elegance that took full advantage of all the natural beauty along the route."
Looking East from Chanticleer Point

Vista House
Horsetail Falls
The workmanship and design of the bridges and roadway railings/walls is quite amazing. There are numerous waterfalls, overlooks, trailheads and parks along the route. Unfotunately many parts of the original route have been replaced by Interstate 84.

A Young Family We Met
Along Our Route

One of My Favorite Views

Joan and I are considered Maintenance/Camphost. Our primary responsibilities include maintenance of the campgrounds and their infrastructure; and we can fill in as camphosts at any of the 51 campgrounds when the primary camphosts are away. Wednesday found us cutting and bucking trees in campgrounds closer to Mt Hood. Temps started out in the low 40's and topped out in the mid 50's. It actually snowed the day before we worked on the trees. And some of those trees were very large.

Ever Wonder How Big the Trees Are That We're
Having to Trim?

About Half as Tall as Our Truck

New skills this week.....carpentry, demolition and plumbing. We spent time repairing a couple of tables that had been damaged. We had to dismember and remove a couple of tables that could not be repaired. We also worked to repair a broken 3" pvc water pipe and topped off some water supplies for camphosts in remote campgrounds. Who knows what next week holds?

Happy Birthday to Sarah. Enjoy your vacation. Stayed tuned. More to come.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Yome Sweet Yome

Now don't get the wrong idea. It's not what you think. Yes, I know how to spell. No, Joan and I are not back in Florida. Yes, we're still having the time of our lives and enjoying every minute of it. No, we haven't bought a new house...or RV.Yes, we.....never mind; I could keep this up for a while but ya'll might get bored and leave. According to Webster's Dictionary, a yome is uh......hmmmm......what???? Even Webster doesn't know what a yome is. OK, let's go for a visual. In fact let's show you how one looks as it's assembled.

4 Workers Prepare to Assemble as 1 Performs the
Ceremonial Dance as He Places the First Piece

Next You Construct the Necklace
Then try it on for size

The Pick-Up Stix are then added
 to achieve appropriate height 

The Top is  Installed to Provide Shade for Additional Dancers

Better Picture of Top Without Dancers 

Door (with lock) is installed allowing Campers
to keep out Dancers
As you can see a yome is a hybrid dome yurt; a circular domed tent stretched over a collapsible lattice framework. The Forest Service installed two of these last year. They were dismantled last October and placed into storage. This week started off with us taking the pieces and parts out of storage, transporting them to the appropriate campground and then assembling them in time for the CG to open this week. Unfortunately the assembly instructions and anyone remotely familiar with the assembly process were both absent from the CG the day we worked on them. Besides the top ring, 8 roof rafters, canvas top and sides, aluminum cap/vent, door and door frame; each yome has 31-2"x2"x7' framework poles. Since we had 2 yomes, we had a total of 62 poles; none of which were marked as to where they went on the yome. Hence...pick-up stix. After a little research we started noticing slight differences;14 had square-edges with bent eye-bolts in each end; 16 had rounded edges with bent eye-bolts in each end; and 32 had rounded edges with a bent eye-bolt in one end and a straight eye-bolt in the other end. After a little discussion we had a rough idea of where everything should go and with a little trial and error we had the first one up and were started on the second before we called it a day. The next day the expert showed up and helped get the doors installed. Each yome is furnished with two combination futon-bunk beds. 

Thursday & Friday had us bucking trees again on the east side. These might be the last few trees we have to fell. The agreement between the Forest Service and our employer states that the concessionaire (us) is responsible to perform a predetermined dollar amount of tree removal; after that amount is reached the Forest Service becomes responsible for any remaining hazard tree removal.

As Saturday rolled around Joan and I were really sore. Arms, shoulders, backs; we could hardly get out of bed without a lot of moaning and asking "Where is the Aleve?" So when we wrapped up the day we decided to get a well-deserved and needed Massage. You heard right. A M-A-S-S-A-G-E. Actually we got two massages; one for each of us; at the same time; in the same room. IT WAS GREAT! We pretty much floated home afterwards.
A Parting Shot of Mt Hood on the way to Lost Creek CG
It looks as though I've found a softball team to play on while I'm in Estacada this summer. I gave my contact info to the Recreation Director for the community of Sandy and a couple days later I got a call from a new coed team that is being formed. Our first game will be the week of 6/18. And a big shout out to my son Doug and his brother Chris, Kenny and the rest of the players on Doug's softball team back in Florida. This is the team that I pitched for up until Joan and I headed to Oregon. Doug called me today. My replacement tweaked his back and is on the DL for at least another week. Doug was hoping I could give him some pitching tips over the phone. I did...."pitch it where they ain't" and "strike 'em all out". So as of now Doug is scheduled for his debut as starting pitcher on Monday night. Please keep them in your thoughts. 

Stayed Tuned. More to Come.