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Sunday, September 28, 2014

An Outstanding Success

Saturday dawned clear and cool, a perfect setting for National Public Lands Day here at J. Strom Thurmond COE.  It was amazing and very heartening to see all the people from surrounding communities, clubs and organizations come out to help make some of the COE parks a better place for everyone to enjoy.

Over 150 kids and adults turned out and they pitched right in.  A girl scout troop helped Marti with the weeding and mulching around several of the gate houses.

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With plastic buckets, the girls carried mulch from piles to the gate houses.

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A couple of the finished gate houses, now looking good for another season.

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Another team, comprised of local college kids and soldiers from the Wounded Warrior Project pitched in to help cut and clear brush from some areas.  It was hard work, but in just a few hours all the work was done.

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Even this little guy worked his heart out.

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All the bluebird houses were screwed together by another troop of girl scouts in record time.  The girls loved using battery powered drills to screw the pieces together (closely supervised by adults, of course!).

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Many trails were cleared, trash and debris that floated down along the dam was removed by divers and hauled away by Sea Tow boats.  Picnic tables and benches were stained, grills were cleaned and painted, there were many projects that kept every volunteer occupied.

However, we couldn’t end the morning of hard work without feeding these wonderful folks.  A cookout was put on for them.

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While the burgers and hot dogs were cooking, some games, like beanbag toss,

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and volley ball were available. 

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Where did they get the energy after all that hard work?

I helped out a little here and there too, and enjoyed my “feast”.

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A great day, good planning and willing volunteers made the National Public Lands Day at J. Strom Thurmond COE an outstanding success!  Judging from the interest and enthusiasm of these young kids, the future of our nation’s parks will be in good hands.  :c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Friday, September 26, 2014

National Public Lands Day

We really are glad to be back volunteering at the J. Strom Thurmond  Corps of Engineers project in South Carolina. 

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We did six months over last winter and had a blast helping the park rangers who oversee all the campgrounds, day use areas and boat ramps that surround Thurmond Lake.

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A mural of the dam and Thurmond Lake in the conference room

We had many great times doing all kinds of tasks that freed the rangers up for more important duties.  (We did a lot of boundary line pin hunting and enjoy that job the most).

Saturday, September 27th, is National Public Lands Day, where folks from all over the country come and spend a day helping out with work projects at parks near them.  Here at Thurmond COE, the COE volunteers have been getting everything ready for work projects at the West Dam campground.

Much credit has to be given to Ranger Dave, who is overseeing the whole program. 

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A talented leader and a great guy to work for, he keeps track of a myriad of details and at the same time makes it fun for the COE volunteers.

All kinds of supplies, paint, rollers, brushes, cleaning gear and tools have been purchased, organized and loaded onto trucks to take it to the work site.

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Pre cut wood to build bluebird houses is packed and ready for some girls scouts to assemble and hang.

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Tools for brush clearing have also been procured.

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Signs have been posted announcing the free day on the fee collection boxes at all the COE areas.

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An important job Marti will be working with her crew of helpers is weeding and spreading mulch around the campground gate houses.

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Just another kind of job that needs to be accomplished to keep the Thurmond COE looking beautiful and maintaining the high standards expected from one of the nation’s most valuable resources.

The local community volunteers will have fun giving some time to help, but they won’t go unrewarded for their labors.  Each person will receive lunch, a neat t-shirt and a coupon for a free entry into any national park.  Boxes of shirts are ready to be handed out.

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Another great activity at the Thurmond COE and we are glad to be here and participate in it.

It’s not all work all the time, though.  Along with the satisfaction of volunteering and giving something back, we get to enjoy some  beautiful sunsets from our campground where we’re staying during our next three months of volunteering.  :c)

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Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Monday, September 22, 2014

History Repeats Itself

Or in the immortal words of Yogi Bera:  “It’s like déjà vu all over again”.

We finished off our week with Andrew and Owie sleeping over in the Journey and an afternoon out geocaching.  It’s amazing the places geocaches can be hidden.

Like under the bolt cover on a parking lot lamp pole.

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The boys worked together to get the log back in the container.

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Off into the woods to search for then next cache.

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Andrew found the next one in the crotch of a tree.

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This cache was big enough to contain some trade items.  Owie pondered which item to take before replacing it with a bunch of small items we carry.

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It was a fun outing, we only had a couple of hours before the boys had to head to a friend’s birthday party.  But we were lucky, we found three caches out of the three went went looking for.  The boys are getting good at this sport, and love it.

This morning we “pulled chocks” and headed to the J. Strom Thurmond Army Corps of Engineering project where we’ll be volunteering through the end of the year.  Because we’re a week earlier than planned, we got a site in the Modoc campground until a site opens up for us in the nearby Volunteer Village campground 1 October. 

We have no complaints, a large, shady spot right next to Thurmond Lake.

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It has a large patio area,

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and even its own stairs and pathway to the water’s edge.

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Because the site is so heavily wooded, our rooftop mounted satellite dish couldn’t get a signal, so I put up the portable dish.

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I didn’t hold out much hope to get locked onto the satellite through these trees.

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But I lucked out.  My Align-a-Site came through again and helped me find a hole in the canopy.  All the comforts of home and we’ll start our workamping week on Wednesday. 

First up is helping the rangers with National Public Lands Day, (this upcoming Saturday), where lots of volunteers all over the country spend the day helping with work projects in our National Parks.  In return, the participants get a free t-shirt, lunch and a free one day pass good to be used in any National Park.  A nice reward for a day helping keep our nation’s parks clean, neat and preserved for future generations.

We love this workamping job!  Not to mention there are still plenty of boundary line pins out there just waiting for us to find them…   :c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Fridge Fix For 25 Cents?

It’s already been a busy week here in South Carolina visiting with the grandsons.  We were lucky to be able to watch Andrew play football.  His team so far this year has won 3 and lost just 1.  Many NFL teams would love to have that kind of a record.  Here is Andrew with his two biggest fans, he looks a little bit tired after playing Center on a hot afternoon.

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Along with the fun side of RV life, there is always some little maintenance item cropping up that has to be taken care of.  Our Norcold 1200 refrigerator works on both 110V and propane and recently, the propane mode stopped working.  Time to investigate.

Using a quarter, I opened up the panel to get access to the backside of the fridge. 

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The burner is located behind this panel, which is held in place by a screw.

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On my model fridge, I also had to remove the plastic drip tray to be able to remove the burner cover panel.

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With the panel removed, what did I find clogging up the burner tube?

                                    Stink bugs!

All nicely roasted and in a pile.

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I used three items to clean out the mess, my vacuum,

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a can of compressed air that you use on computer keyboards,

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and a plastic wire tie that I used to clean out the burner tube via a round hole.  Just push the wire tie in to loosen debris in the tube.

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Then vacuum and blow out the vents slots in the tube with the compressed air.  I lightened up this picture to hopefully show better the vent slots in the (silver) burner tube.

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Then it’s just reversing the order of the removed parts to complete the repair.

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A test of the fridge on propane showed everything now worked properly.

Button up the panel with that quarter and put it in your pocket.  How many repairs give you your money back?  :c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Friday, September 19, 2014

More VA “Fun”

We made a successful drive down to the Woodsmoke Campground near our daughter Heather’s house.  We’ve spent some time visiting and even celebrated Heather’s 29th birthday (again).  It’s been good to see Andrew and Owie again, no matter how often we see with our grandkids all over the country, it seems way too long between visits.

We went to the boy’s school this morning for Grandparents Day, an annual event with a continental breakfast for the grandparents to visit the school and the grandkid’s classrooms.  It took a special effort this morning, not only did we get up at 6 am, but we had to go and pick up the boys and drive to their school in the pouring rain.

Right away, we got our picture snapped as we walked in the door, dripping wet. At least I have documentary evidence that I was up and about at 7am.  ;c)

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Of course I got caught wearing a Pawtucket Red Sox farm team hat (hey, I don’t want to ruin a good had in the rain!) in the picture.  I hope my rabid Yankee fan father and son Ryan, don’t see the photo, they’ll think I’m a traitor!

Earlier this week, Marti and I took a ride to the VA that I’m registered at to take care of a couple of issues.  I need to have a follow up on my eyes, and to get an appointment, I practically had to beg.  I had to basically plead to be seen by the Ophthalmologist who did my surgery.  Of course, the earliest they can fit me in is 12 November.  I guess I’m supposed to be grateful.

We also went to the VA administrative side for a follow up on my 28 months of unpaid disability pay.  To say the rep was less than helpful would be kind.  He agreed to send an email to someone who supposedly handles the Coast Guard retiree accounts.  That’s all he’d do.  Why am I not surprised?  At least he did something, not like other visits I’ve had with VA reps who only told me what they could not do for me.   From what I’ve read, this could take another couple of years to be rectified.  Too bad they don’t pay interest on the money.

Aside from the VA, it’s going to be a nice week long visit with Andrew and Owie, before we head to our three months of workamping with the Army Corps of Engineers at Thurmond Lake.  We’re getting excited to head out and find some more boundary line pins (and maybe Bigfoot this time).  :c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Shocking Sight

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We’re retired.  And as full time RV travelers, we don’t have the need to have fancy clothes with us as we’ve left our military and corporate lives behind.

I gleefully gave all ten of my business suits, all my dress shirts, pants, shoes and ties to Goodwill before we hit the road.  Those suits, which I wore almost daily have not been missed.

Just in case, I kept one blue blazer, a tie and a dress shirt in the event that something happened that I couldn’t attend in shorts and a Hawaiian shirt.  Thankfully, no invitations came from the White House for lunch with our president so those clothes were not needed.

Until now.

We arrived in the Roanoke, VA area to attend a wedding for a very close friend and former co-worker of Marti’s.

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I had to drag out my blazer from the garment bag and locate the tie.  Searching high and low, the tie was nowhere to be found, necessitating a fast run to a store to buy a new one.  Successfully purchasing a new tie, all that was left for me was to try and remember how to tie it in a proper Windsor knot.

To document this very rare occasion, Marti and I tried to take a selfie as a memento.  After a bunch of tries, we narrowed the pictures down to just these two.  Of course, no matter how hard we tried, one of us would look great and the other not so great.  

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I can’t understand the fascination with selfies…

The final insult to my tie wearing, after my struggle to get the perfect Windsor knot, I donned my blazer, put my hand in the pocket and found the one tie I had saved.  

I probably will have to buy another tie sometime in the future because I won’t remember I’ve put a tie in each pocket of my blazer.  :c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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