OK, the morning “plan” was to go to the Vernonia Senior Center and have a home made breakfast (open to the public) and coffee… It was delicious.
Excellent French toast, eggs, sausage and fruit… All the coffee you can drink as well as juice and milk. Cost? $3.50 a person or a donation. Whatever you can afford. Seriously…Broke? Come on in and eat. No one that comes in gets turned away. We paid (or donated) our suggested $3.50 each and had a great time with the staff and locals as we all ate. The most striking thing we noted was the “lack” of security or even lack of the staff/locals thinking anyone would take the $50 or more dollars just laying on the counter at the “Make Donation Here and Order” counter (you tell the cook what kind of eggs you like as you pay/donate/or just sign in. Here is a picture of the money on the counter that we made “change” from ourselves after signing in:
Wow… something we have “lost” in America. The ability to trust each other.
From there we were supposed to use some power tools and clear trails today. Got our tools and vehicle and decided to check in with the “boss” for final instructions. (Step 1 of the 7289 mini steps begins here). Boss is gone – BUT – other staff coax us into driving into town 25 miles away to retrieve a piece of equipment the park badly needs. (Step 2) We get the truck – trailer ball is wrong so we replace that (Step 3) The trailer tail lights don’t work-we fix that with some temporary magnetic type of tow lights-but wait they “fall off” when bumped too hard – fix that with zip ties. Check the lights again: wrong side. Swap them over. Finally we have lights on the trailer (omitting steps for easy reading by the way…) Jump back into the truck and remember that we don’t know where we are going. Find the Ranger again and get the business card to the place. Good. Onward…. But, no. Battery is dead on the vehicle and the Ranger has left the area. Crap. Locate another battery for a jump. Locate battery jumper cables. Jump the truck: Crap. Booster battery is dead. Oh, by the way the Ranger notes (30 minutes earlier) that his radio is not working in HIS vehicle so we can’t call for help. More crap. Try one more time. It works: Yea!!!
Load up coffee, GPS and sunglasses in case the Solar Flair that went by yesterday happens again… And off for the 4X4 Gator we go. On the way the lights kept falling off the trailer but thanks to the zip ties we were able to stop and put them back on instead of pick up the pieces off the road… Finally arrive at the John Deere dealership(after calling to find out that the current address is different from that on the business card we had, the GPS and business card didn’t match…)and locate the service rep. Paperwork is NOT done. Crap. Has to call his boss… Boss can’t be found. Boss finally found and paperwork done. OK. Move on the getting the 4×4 into the trailer. We go out and try to start it up (that was the original problem: it would not start) and what do you know? Crap. It won’t start. More and more crap. So. Being an optmist we tell them we will be back after lunch.
Off we go. Back into town for lunch. Crap. Mostly one-way streets with three lanes of lunch time traffic. By the way we’re still towing the empty, bouncy 12′ trailer… BUT Heather is a master driver so we flowed along pretty smoothly. We find a place to eat (KFC) but miss the turn into the parking lot. Crap. Go around four blocks to get back (remember the many one-way streets?) and see the spot we wanted to get into is now filled with too many vehicles. Crap. Keep moving. BRAIN FLASH: Use the GPS to locate Moto Pizza that is only a few blocks away. Great… Now moving in that direction. We find it (thanks GPS) but no parking lot large enough for us. Crap. Dave sees parking across the street but we are in the far-left lane on a three-lane one-way street in lunch time traffic: Crap. Heather tries to maneuver to the right but no one will let her over (rude city people….). Crap. Two more lights up and we bail out to the left to try the KFC parking lot again…(I have no clue what step we are on at this point) BUT at the intersection to turn to KFC we notice a burger joint we wanted to try the last time we were in town. Sooooo diversion to the right to the burger joint. The parking lot is too small to turn into. Crap. Keep going past it to the next street and double back into the parking lot. We find parking. And the lunch crowd inside looks on in awe as I back the trailer up to park perfectly in 2 parking spots, an inch inside the lines on all sides and only one and a half tries. 😉 YEA!!! We go inside (Dave needing to pee for about 45 minutes now…) and they don’t have any bathroom INSIDE: Crap. BUT they do have a key for the OUTSIDE bathrooms… Dave pees…YEA!!! Order burgers and man were they good. Almost as good as breakfast food. The burger joint is called Bakers Burgers and it has been open in the same spot for 17 years (while multiple medical facilities were built around it). Owned and run by Koreans – did not see that coming.
Back into the truck. We are almost “blocked in” by the lunch crowd (mostly by a college girl in a new Prius who had to get out and walk around 3 times while backing up to our truck to make sure she didn’t get too close…she didn’t…). Semi-Crap. But Heather makes some great moves and we are almost on the street. The three lane street is packed and the driveway is next to the traffic light. Crap. We pull up and a nice lady lets us in (and the light was green so I didn’t have to sit across 2 lanes with the trailer still in the driveway and across the crosswalk, bonus!)…YEA!!! Back to the dealer. The staff is gone to lunch. Crap. The doors say “Employees Only”. Crap. Dave does not care. Goes in anyway and hunts down the service manager. Service Manager escorts us to the 4X4 and starts it with a smile.. We (smile) AND explain that YES it runs NOW but this morning it would not and how all that works… The manager says: CRAP… More explaining. Time to call the park ranger. Crap. He calls. Crap, Crap, Crap. Service manager tells us that YES we DO need to keep it until Monday (Today is Friday). Crap. Ranger heard saying CRAP as service manager hangs up…
We head back to the park and run into the host that we were SUPPOSED to go bike riding with at 3:30. (Oh, it’s about 4:30 when we see him) and he was late too and just getting ready.
Back to the maintenance shop to get our gear (same gear we would have used this morning) because we only have 4 hours of no rain, the weather man says, before we have seven days of rain coming. Crap. There is only ONE of two leaf blowers available. Crap. We need two. Go across the park and find the other one. It is being used by another host. Crap. THIS host (nameless) believes in UFO’s so we don’t like to talk to him (nice guy but doesn’t seem to get the “fiction” part of science fiction). Crap. We have to. Crap. We do. He says he needs it for another 30 minutes to help release the “neuro-toxins” in his body. (I told you he was wierd…) We leave. Go up the trail and do some work with the one blower. Dave suits up and goes up the hill with the blower. It dies two perhaps three times due to fuel issues. Crap. Make it back to the truck and decide to continue with the one blower as Heather goes back to get the one from Mr. UFO…Crap? Eh, not too bad, in the 5 minutes it took me to load the blower into the truck I was offered a puppy and some buffalo stew by his wife (she’s also nice but also a little strange) Dave refuels because the blower is eating mega gas. Crap. Moves to the trail and gets a good start. Dave senses movement behind him and a person (not sure if male or female due to clothing and hair style which was all grey…) staring at him. Crap. Have to stop and let it by. (Was that an elf?) Crap – I’ m seeing things. Too many exhuast fumes? (or Roundup fumes? Yesterday we sprayed all of our recently cleared trails with Roundup and Dave was now blowing the leaves that we soaked in it…)
Anyway, finish that trail and link back up with Heather. Move down to the opposite side of the park. Crap, long drive. And to the “final” trail of the day or so we think. We start the trail with two blowers and that works well. BUT the leaves are about a foot thick and wet… Crap. As we start a family goes back and forth trying to “navigate” the park (they decided to go off of the nice, clean paved trail onto the super muddy and slick trail we were on with their brand new-looking white tennis shoes…). We have to stop work to let them by. Crap. It’s getting late. Crap. After 5:30. Crap. The maintenance shop is closed and all employees (paid) have gone home. Crap.
We continue to our destination. Refueling with the can of gas we had decided to bring along: YEA!!! “Anti-Crap”. We make it to our turn on the trail and decide to “loop around” since we are already late, the shop is closed, almost out of fuel, this is our last “non-rain” day and we are extra tired.. Crap X 5?
Somehow we miss the turn to go back to our truck and end up in the middle of the park. Crap. It’s getting dark. CRAP!!! We are now about a mile and a half away from the truck… Move on to trails we know. Good. More refueling. Crap. Getting darker. Crap. Find a blocked water pipe on the trail that is causing major damage (and has created a new lake and a set of waterfalls) and stop to document it for the staff. Crap. Move quickly down the trails to the turn back to the truck. It’s heavy in wet leaves…Crap, crap, crap. FINALLY get back to the pavement that leads to the truck and we decide what-the-hell we have a few minutes of light so Heather goes for the truck and I do yet another trail. Good (anti-crap).
Dave finishes the trail and is at the “meeting point” but no Heather. Crap. Which way did she go? Crap. Turn to where the truck “was last seen” and move down the trail. See Heather coming back with the truck. Anti-Crap…
We get back to the shop to unload our “stuff” and everyone is gone. Anti-crap. They should be and we should be home too… Crap. Get the blowers out of the tuck and someone has move yet ANOTHER trailer too close to the one we need to open. Crap. But we manage to get the stuff put away. It took us a few seconds though to figure out that the smaller trailer we were facing was not the one we were looking for and that the other one was in fact still there, just behind this other smaller trailer…yea, we’re getting tired…
Again, I have no clue what step we are on but there were many. This is not an exaggerated story (no, not this time, although it didn’t seem that bad as we were going along with it)…It is the sort of managed chaos we deal with as volunteers. And you know what?
We will do it again. Probably tomorrow. Crap.
~~Heather’s additions in purple~~