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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Your Tax Dollars At Work

We all know that too many of our tax dollars are wasted every year by the government, sometimes through ridiculous projects, bad decisions, fraud or outright poor accounting.  Once in a while, a really good use of tax dollars comes along.

Here at the J. Strom Thurmond COE at Thurmond Lake is the Bartram Trail, a trail that winds around portions of the lake through beautiful untouched forests.  The trail is used by hikers, mountain bikers and horse owners.

A newly installed area at the head of the trail has some nice features for trail users.
A kiosk, with information about the trail as well as tear off maps to use to follow the trail.
A special stall for horse owners to hitch their horses and water hoses to give the horses drinks as well as a washing after navigating the trail.
Something I've never seen before is installed there.
It is a work station for bike riders.  It has a rack at the top to hang a bike, an air pump to inflate tires and even tools hanging on cables for repairs and adjustments.

Along with picnic tables and pit toilets, there is even a changing room.  Who wants to get in their car to drive home in sweaty clothes after a day biking or hiking on the trail?  Not me.  This is another great idea.

Sometimes tax dollars are well spent.   :c)
In the meantime, along with many small tasks and getting set up for another season of Water Safety presentations in the local schools, we've been doing checks of the parks to keep areas in working order.  Occasionally things happen that need to be taken care of immediately, like this tree that washed up and blocked a popular boat access ramp.
Things are going to slow down a bit as the holidays approach, but there are plenty of things to keep us busy (and out of trouble).   :c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


We have taken a break from our workamping job to drive 130 miles North to Gaffney, SC.  Why?

We had an appointment with the Freightliner Factory Service Center.  The @%*^#$* dashboard wiring was finally going to be replaced.  No more annoying warning alarm and all the gauges to work correctly again.  While the Journey was in the shop, I had the engine coolant and the air brake dryer serviced.  RVs are nice, but there is lots of maintenance to keep them running smoothly and reliably.  It is money well spent to protect our investment in the Journey.
New wiring harness, all the defective white wires replaced with the upgraded black wires.
While the tech was at it, he decided to replace one of the two air pressure gauges, too.  It wasn't working right to his satisfaction.

The best part was the dash work was done under warranty, even though the Journey is now 8 years old and has 73589 miles on it!   How is that for good (great!) customer service?
We were expecting an all day wait, but the work was completed before lunchtime and the Journey was back in its spot in the free camping area behind the service center.
It pays to come to the factory service center, where the techs are very familiar with your motorhome and the parts are readily available.  The Freightliner chassis factory is right down the road if a part is needed that the service center doesn't have it in stock.   I also joined the Freightliner Chassis Owners Club (FCOC) when we bought the Journey, and one of the benefits is a discount on the parts and labor.  Well worth the cost of membership.
We're going to stay overnight again and head back to the COE tomorrow morning.  Just a quick break before we head back to the "grindstone".   ;c)
Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

It's All My Fault

We've never seen so much rain here in Modoc, SC.  The amount of water falling from the sky has really caused Thurmond Lake to rise to heights we've never seen before.  Right outside our door the rising water level is starting to drown out the bushes along the water's edge.

The rain is making our workamping job here at the COE difficult because so many of the tasks take place outside.  I know there are such things as umbrellas and raincoats, but stain doesn't stick too well on wet picnic tables. 

Some say it's all because of El Nino causing lots of rain to sweep through the South.  Others say it's because some Oregon residents have relocated to the East, bringing their rainy weather with them.

The truth is it's all my fault.

I brought my motorcycle with us to the COE with the idea of riding it on my days off.

What a foolish mortal I am.  The poor motorcycle is sitting under its cover unused.  What a bummer!

With the water levels continuing to rise, I thought it wise to investigate some emergency plans on the Internet.  Glad I found this, it looks like we're going to need it.
If we can't get it built in time, fortunately I know where we can get some life jackets.  :c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment (while there's still time!).

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Mundane But Important Tasks

I wish I could say that all the tasks we take on here at our winter workamping job at the J. Strom Thurmond COE in SC/GA were amazing, interesting, even outstanding, but in reality, like life itself, sometimes they are mundane.

That doesn't mean that they aren't important, though, and we love the variety and the chance to get out in the beautiful countryside around Thurmond Lake (or Clarks Hill Lake if you're living on the Georgia side).

We head up the Water Safety Program and bring our program to grade schools in towns around the lake, teaching students about how to use life jackets and stay safe while swimming in the lake.  We usually reach over 6000 students every year.  It's a lot of fun interacting with the kids.

One program in place is the loaner life jackets.  All the swimming areas have life jacket loaner boards where kids (and adults, too) can borrow life jackets to use.  The life jackets are provided by generous companies like Sea Tow and foundations like the Scotty Craig Memorial Foundation and the Power Squadron to stock up our loaner boards. 

In the course of the summer, sun, sand and use cause a lot of wear and tear on the life jackets and they have to be inspected and inventoried for the upcoming year.  Some life jackets get torn or zippers and clips break so they have to be discarded.  Once we know what we have on hand by type and size, new replacements can be ordered to restock the loaner boards.  Marti and I spent a couple of days in a storage shed getting everything in order.

We kept this job for rainy days, which we've had way too many of this fall.  We did get a couple of days of cloudy but dry weather to go out and inspect many of the park's day use and beach areas.  We've completed a few but we have many more to do.  Some of the things we look at besides picnic tables are shelters, with their water and electric hookups, as well as the roofs and trees around them.  There are also hundreds of grills that have to be looked over, too. 
 I go around each one and tap all the metal bottoms from underneath with a hammer.

Today I found several that have rusted out and need to be replaced before someone comes along and gets hot coals dropped on their feet.

I tape off the grills and we note their location on our inspection sheet.

Marti carries a large notebook to document every problem we find.  It has a comprehensive inspection sheet for every park so we hopefully don't miss anything and can get needed repairs done over the winter for next season.

Other things, such as swings need a good eyeball put on them to ensure they are safe and in good condition.

All the beaches receive a good going over, too to make sure they are up to snuff.
Since most of the parks have been closed for the season, to reopen in late May, the roads are interesting to drive on with all the leaves covering the asphalt.  Sort of spooky, I have to be careful to stay on the road and not go driving off into the woods.

As strange as it seems, we also have to keep watch for people that are camping inside the closed parks.  It happens very often, when we come across them, we call for a ranger to come out and escort the people off the park grounds.

We found a lean to built by someone in a closed park, with all the rain we've had, I don't think they stayed too dry.

We are keeping busy and enjoying our work here, there is nothing better than getting outside in nature and the satisfaction of contributing to keep our parks in good condition for others to enjoy.  Maybe it's mundane, but it works well for us and Marti will be the first one to tell you it keeps me out of trouble.   ;c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.