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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Intermission

We’ve taken a break from our workamping to drive our car up to New Jersey for a family wedding on 1 March.  We may not be online to post, read blogs or comment for several days.  We’ll be back at J. Strom Thurmond COE Tuesday, 4 March to pick up where we left off.

It’s only a 1500 mile round trip.  Just enough to keep up our membership in the PDD Driving Club…

Hope you don’t miss us too much!  :c)

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Monday, February 24, 2014

Back To Bridges

Unlike the last time we worked on inspecting footpath bridges in the pouring rain and sleet, we lucked out and had a beautiful, sunny day.   It just boggles the mind how much is involved in running all the campgrounds, day use areas and boat ramps at the J. Strom Thurmond COE.

We were able to consolidate tasks, because the area around Thurmond Lake is so vast, to save time, we also loaded up a bunch of computer equipment to re-equip the gate houses at many of the places we were going to today.

Inside the Thurmond Dam is a large storage area where the equipment is stored.  It took a while to dig out all the ones we were going to take along with us.

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Once loaded up we headed out.  We stopped at the gate houses,

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unlocked the doors, turned off the alarms and placed the gear inside.

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We drove around the areas carefully.  Since most of the campgrounds are still closed for the season, the roads are covered with leaves and pine needles, making it difficult to see where you’re going at times.  We had a nice vehicle, so we picked our way extra carefully along the roads, I sure wouldn’t want to bend a fender on it.

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Most of the footpath bridges are in great shape.

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Still, we ran across a few that needed rebuilding. 

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It’s important to find the damaged bridges so they can be rebuilt prior to the campgrounds opening.

One of the challenges (pains in the butt) of doing this job is the many closed gates that are in various places in the campgrounds.  Over the years, the locks on the gates have been changed and changed again, leaving few standard locks.

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To be able to get into all the areas, I had to have a large assortment of master keys.  So many keys, in fact, that if I fell in the water, I’d sink right to the bottom (even with a life jacket!).

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One more day and we’ll have all the 40 footpath bridges inspected.  It will be great to get this off our plate and move on to another task, whatever that will be.

It’s fun to be out in the woods and enjoying nature.  There have been several reports recently of Bigfoot sightings in the area.  We always keep our eyes “ripped” (as Owie calls it) but so far, Bigfoot has remained elusive.  We did find this, though (really) alongside the road to one of the campgrounds:

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Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Have You Hugged Your Coyote Today?

I’m saying it again.  You never know what interesting and fun things you’ll get to do while workamping at J. Strom Thurmond COE.

Most of what we’ve been working hard on is getting the Water Safety Program ready that will be presented in the nearby schools over the next couple of months.  Sadly for us, we will have departed before we get to actually teach the program (yep, using that incoming grandchild excuse again), but other volunteers that will be here are fine tuning the program.  Practice makes perfect, and boy are we ever practicing!

Terri and Mike will be some of the presenters,

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as will be Jim and Linda.

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We’ve had many rehearsals demonstrating how to put on life jackets,

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as well as how not to put them on.

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Plus we’ve “drowned” quite a few oranges.

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Doing all this under the watchful eye of Ranger Dave, who has given us lots of valuable suggestions and encouragement.

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We did get a break and went to a safety meeting where a member from the local ecology research labs gave us a talk on wildlife in the area in which we work.

Snakes (Why does is always have to be snakes?),

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snapping turtles,

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gators,

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even a full grown, two year old male coyote which he rescued as an orphaned newborn laying on a highway.

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Here’s a picture of his eyes, especially for blogland’s greatest nature lover, Sherry.  :c)  Truly a beautiful animal.

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Another reason we enjoy being here in South Carolina is often getting to see our grandsons Andrew and Owen.  It’s wonderful to be a part of their lives and see their accomplishments. 

Owen has been taking Ju Jitsu for over a year now and excelling in it.  Last night he received a new belt representing the next level he has earned.  We got to watch his instructor tie it on him.  We don’t know who is prouder, Owie, or us!

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Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Saturday, February 15, 2014

Shake, Rattle And Roll

Maybe we should have gone to Alaska for the winter, it’s warmer there than here in “Sunny” South Carolina!

We were without power here at J. Strom Thurmond COE for over 24 hours.  Thankfully, our 8KW Onan generator ran like a top and kept us nice and cozy, despite the freezing temperatures outside.

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We took a ride in our car to see the damage from the ice and snow.  Power lines were down all over the area from trees toppled by the heavy coating of ice.

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We were amazed that the power was restored to our area so quickly.  We anticipated a week or more without it after hearing all the news reports on how bad the damage was.  I started researching campgrounds in Northern Florida for us to head to and and stay until things were straightened out here.  We’ll save that information for another time.

On to last night, as we watched some TV and enjoyed being in our rolling home, all of a sudden the Journey started shaking back and forth and dishes in the cabinet began rattling.  After four or five seconds the shaking stopped.  I looked at Marti as she looked over at me and we both said “Was that an earthquake?”

Sure enough, about 15 miles from us, a 4.1 earthquake occurred!  That is something very rare around here.  When we say our full time RV life never has a dull moment, it really is the truth!

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Ice Age

So much for sunny and warm South Carolina.  Even though we were right in the path of the incoming ice storm to the Southern U.S., Marti and I were out working in the cold rain that preceded the ice storm.

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Although we’ve been working on the Water Safety program, we still have other tasks that need to be done.  We have taken a break from the pin hunting and dock inspections to handle a higher priority job, small bridge inspections that are on the footpaths on trails, campgrounds and day use areas here at J. Strom Thurmond COE.

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The bridges need to be inspected annually.  We have an inspection report to fill out on each one and then take a photograph documenting the bridge’s condition.  Any that need repairs are put on the work list to be fixed before the summer season starts.

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Sometimes it’s hard to find the bridge because they are covered up with fallen leaves and pine needles.  We have to clear them off to inspect them.

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So far, we’re half done with the 40 bridges, and most are in good condition, but we’ve found a couple that need attention.  One was so bad we had to tape it off so no one would be injured walking across it.  Along with rotted boards, it had spikes sticking up that could really hurt someone.

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It’s not all work and no play. Despite the freezing rain and snow,

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all the workampers got together at the Volunteer Village rec house for our St. Valentines Day Chili Massacre.

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With a nice roaring fire in the fireplace,

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we sat down to a great meal, with loads of chili and deserts.  After everyone was stuffed, we moved on to play cards, until…

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The power went off, leaving us in the dark.  We all returned to our nearby RVs and settled in for a cold night.  Fortunately for us, we have a diesel generator and a full 100 gallon tank of diesel fuel, so we’re snug and warm. 

We woke up this morning to this:

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A good inch of ice with snow still coming down.  I guess we’ll take the day off.  I wish we’d get a little bit of that Global Warming about now.  Of course we’ll check up on all our neighbors, some have no generators, so we may have some company.  After all, we have a card game to finish…  :c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Instructor Training

The Water Safety Program is going full swing here at J. Strom Thurmond COE.  Various ideas have been put forth on the best way to teach elementary and middle school age kids about how important it is to wear life jackets.

We had demonstrations by two of the park rangers on teaching techniques they have used with great success.  Both were fun and got the message out, one in a subtle way, the other with a  hilarious skit.

First up was Ranger Heather with her three oranges.

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One orange was completely peeled, one loosely peeled and the third with its peel left intact.  Dropping the three oranges in a bowl of water represented what happens when people wear their life jacket properly, wear the life jacket improperly fastened and not wearing a life jacket at all.

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The intact skinned orange floated, the orange with the loose peel fell out and sank and the orange with no peel sank like a stone.  Very to the point.

Then Ranger Dave gave his presentation.

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He took four of our team and set them up as if they were on a boat outing.

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He dressed them up with some funny items representing a fun day on the boat.

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Lots of laughter came as the skit progressed.

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Then with all this gear on, the volunteers were given 30 seconds to find their life jacket and don it properly. None of them were able to do it and it soberly got the point across.

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Good training with a good message.  The schools we’ve contacted about bringing them the COE’s Water Safety Program have responded overwhelmingly.  Our team is going to be busy!

This isn’t something we expected to be involved with as workampers, but we’re glad to be a part of it.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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