Saturday, July 15, 2017

After many months with no blog because it is getting harder and harder to do, I started thinking it was not worth the aggravation. Once again, I will see how it goes.

We made it to Wisconsin where we have been since the middle of May.

It is now July and if I can get this thing to cooperate, we are back in business.

This was taken at the Benoit welcome center.

We have the prime spot this year where we are not looking at a trailer!

We have been enjoying beautiful sunsets as well as many animals, including a woodchuck with 6 babies. Adorable.

Our first big project was working on this floating boardwalk. All 2800 feet of it.

It was together until a 50 mph wind separated it into about 5 sections.

Our job was to make all the toe rails. The wood was delivered, we took the measurements between each post (none of them were alike), I cut them to fit, and Wallace nailed the small pieces spacing them 12" apart. We marked corresponding numbers on the boardwalk and each toe rail.

We, along with others, would haul them out there and they were screwed in place.

The only thing missing in this picture are the double ropes inserted through all the posts.

All my notes with all the measurements.

Only I could read them!

With our little yellow wagon and generator, Wallace, along with firefighters Zack and Heidi drilled holes with a hole saw through the toe rails where we had pipes keeping the boardwalk from coming apart again.

Until next time...


Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Last of our Projects

I had to sign off last time????? Left off with
these signs. Here we are tearing down the old and putting up the new.

These big signs needed big help!

This is Danny Breaux, refuge manager of Atchafalaya. You can see how massive these signs are now that they are in the ground.

It was nice to be included in putting them in the ground since we did everything else from painting the posts, attaching the signs and preparing them to be picked up and put on the goose neck trailer for transport.

Things went very smoothly.

The first one was the easiest though.

Mike Seal is the maintenance man seen here with his back to the camera.

It took all four of us to do this job.

Keep in mind those sacks of concrete are 60 lbs. each. The worst part of this job was dealing with the traffic coming and going through Baton Rouge. We were through with the signs around noon having started at 6:00 am. This turned out to be a 12 hour day. We stopped for lunch after dropping off the old signs at a burn pile. Lunch took forever...maybe because we were HUNGRY.

On Wednesday, the day before we put the signs up, we participated in the yearly Christmas tree drop at Bayou Sauvage. These trees are gathered from New Orleans, brought to this area where we do this. This year we got a little different perspective as the National Guard needed our help. As you can see in the picture, the trees were too close to the green tree line and needed to be pulled away...I got to do this. All I did was back up with their guidance, they attached one of four bundles, I drove them out and they unattached and left them in a row. There are 4 straps with 50 trees in each strap. There are two guardsmen attaching a sling to the chopper. They are taken out and dropped in the wetland where they create a barrier to help prevent wind erosion. Eventually, plant life grow on these trees. Last year, go back to our blog and you will see we worked from the boat freeing up the trees after they were dropped.


Then up, up and away. This year we were responsible for transporting the slings from airboat back to the guards and helping them with our four wheel drive truck.

So, those are the last of the BIG projects this year.

We will soon be making our way to Wisconsin, Horicon Marsh NWR for the summer.

Until next time...

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Winding UP

We are busy getting all our projects finished before we leave SELA NWR. We will be making our way back to Horicon NWR in Wisconsin for the summer, our second summer back.

We have had a busy winter and are happy about all our accomplishments here.

We arrived just in time to help out with the big year event, "Wild Things." That was in October...which means we have been here almost six months. Longer stay than most!!! That was because we vacated Cape Romain early because of a hurricane.

We have gotten to help out at Bayou Teche, building two docks and
assisting with the Eagle Expo.

We took a trip to Delta, helping collect willow branches.

We worked at Atchafalaya, sanding and painting the bridge.

All boards were replaced at Ridge Trail...and now we took care of a slanting boardwalk in one area...the other is under water. The boardwalk at Boy Scouts is now up to par with all loose boards snugged up.

Next week, we have the annual Christmas tree drop at Bayou Sauvage. We painted 6 17" 4 by 6 posts and put all the signs on them to take to Atchafalya on Thursday.

All in all, we have had a good season here.

For some reason, I can't seem to post photos so

Until next time...

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Bayou Teche NWR/Eagle Expo

We were asked if we would like to help Brian Pember,  assistant refuge manager at Bayou Teche NWR, with a program. Little did we know we would need to tow this boat  there.

We drove the custom made, brand new pontoon boat, which we found out after we got there that it was oversized. We were not stopped in route! Whew!

Wallace did an amazing job maneuvering through the heavy traffic of New Orleans!!!

We got a  late start, but managed to get there in time to give it a trial run to see if it was going to fit between the gate you see in the background. Brian was told, "it won't fit," which caused him some stress. Not only did it fit, but we got through it for a beautiful ride in a section that a lot of people don't get to see. This is on the refuge where there is no hunting...EVER.

This shot is just at the turn before we entered the gate.

Driving this boat was new to Brian and he did a wonderful job getting it through the gate. Wallace and I were at the front to aid him.

The ride was smooth and quiet, and the reflections at this time of day were gorgeous.

We saw three small alligators this evening as well as various birds.

We enjoyed our time, just the three of us.

The time arrived for our first tour.

Brian was in the boat talking with the guests, Wallace was there assisting, and I was at the truck helping with life jackets, water, maps, etc.

When all 15 participants were safely on board, I joined them for the ride.  It was a great ride, AND we discovered an eagle nest on the refuge which Brian was happy about.

Our second tour of eight was a crew of happy people, we were drowned rats as we got caught up in the soft rain, but they wanted to keep going. There was a lady on board with the news from Baton Rouge

As you can see, we were cold and wet, but having a good time.

The pontoon boat ride was free to the public. It was in participation with the Eagle Expo. We could only take 15 people on board and they did have to sign up. With the weather, we were happy with the outcome.

The second day, Brian set up a hike on the Franklin Trail which meanders along the Franklin Canal.

We had 15 participants.

Wallace and I manned the station for awhile after riding the trail to make sure it was okay.

Hats off to Brian who did a wonderful job. This was the first time to participate in this event, and we were happy to help.

Everything went off without one problem...all enjoyed their time spent...even with the weather we had to contend with!!!

Until next time...



Wednesday, December 14, 2016

It Has Been Awhile

I guess I had to be reminded that it has been awhile since my last post. Thank you Tom for waking me up and giving me the drive needed to post again. Losing interest? Maybe. This one is for you, or should I say, because of you?

Yes, we are still in Lacombe, Louisiana at the refuge. We have been busy with several we will catch you up.

We have been busy with the boardwalk at Ridge Trail at Bayou Sauvage. Not only replacing boards that are rotten or soon to be rotten, but also replacing some of the toe rails as you see in this picture.

Some may think, piece of cake...but let me assure you it is NOT.

But it is something we have down pat now and are quite good at. It is physically demanding though. We are now at the end with only 4 more toe rails to go.

Then there is always the unexpected waiting to be found while traveling through refuge land.

Another project was to somehow straighten the rails in this area. They were leaning away from the boardwalk as well as insecure.

My plan was used (every now and then I can be useful). We asked Dave to come help us, he is seen standing in the photo...Wallace is down below tightening all the nuts that have gotten loose over time. We used tie straps to bring the rails together, and worked down the line. Worked like a charm, and we finished in one day.

Time for a day trip.

Drove the back road over to Biloxi where we treated ourselves to a Whataburger.

A nice day for sure.

We have replaced 40 boards at Ridge Trail and have 4 toe rails left to do.

There has been some restoration going on here as well, trying to get it back to pre Catrina days. It is looking great.

Then we set up a booth for Bird Migration day at the zoo in New Orleans.

We helped teach how to use binocular, and it was a big hit.

There are always boundary signs in need of repair. Not only do we need to replace the bent sign, but this channel post is bent and twisted which called for a tool to pull the post up.

We took care of a whole section of road at our Lemieux location, replacing several signs. One of the signs had been knocked down...the post rusted out at the bottom, so the whole thing got redone.

Another project, this one at Atchafalaya which is west of Baton Rouge...a long distance from here.

ALL the volunteers were used here...we spent all day and still did not finish up. Our job was to sand down all the metal rails, most of what you can see here. The bridge goes over the water where there is the same thing on the other side.

This shows what it looked like before and after the sanding. Here I am with this refuge manager, Danny Breaux. When we sanded off the rust, the green paint showed through.

Danny was the only one to work on the outside of the railing. He wore a halter that protected him from a 40' fall into the water.

We will be going back sometime in January to finish this project.

I chose to work the front as this is where first impressions are formed. Here I am applying the primer. Danny wants it painted green...what do you think? Personally, I like BROWN.
We were treated to an airboat ride out where there is a massive project underway to restore another area back to the way it was before Hurricane Catrina. The huge lake will once again be dried up and grass planted again. Most of it is under contract.

This is our latest project. Completely overhaul this fishing pier at Bayou Teche, another one of our refuges where we have to travel a good distance to get to.

We recruited more help here, as we did not know what to expect, and we brought our own tools!!!

Here is the four of us after we screwed in the last of the pickets. Dave and I put in all the pickets but 8 that went under the handicap area. I have on my knee pads as I was on my knees attaching all the pickets at the bottom.

The finished project!!! For the most part, the lumber was pre cut for us. We had help from two other guys. Chelsea and Brian, employees also helped. Brian told us what he wanted as per rules. One of the guys (friends of BT) had removed most of the boards and had attached stringers before we arrived the first day. The four of us spent the night at Mandalay, another one of our refuges, in the office where there is a bunkhouse. We had a great time, all our meals were provided, and the beds were comfortable. However, we worked the next morning in the wind, cold weather with misty rain, and were finished by noon. It is great to work with a big crew! AND, I think Brian was impressed.

  This is Chelsea and Brian from Bayou Teche.

Brian is assistant manager and Chelsea is a temp.

We wish all our visitors at Bayou Teche, happy fishing off your new pier.

I am now recuperating from the worst sinus infection which is going around in the area!!!

Thanks Tom for getting us going again...I hope you ALL enjoy getting caught up.

Until next time...

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Just In Time

to help out with Wild Things, our big festival of the year with over 5000 visitors attending.

We all worked together putting up over 20 tents for the big event.

We were not expected to be here at this time, but hurricane Matthew changed our plans.

It felt so good to be driving into the gates of this refuge in Louisiana after the harrowing last few days in South Carolina.

Here are some of the brown shirts (employees) along with the volunteers getting our marching orders.

Everyone pitches in to get the job done.

This is just a portion of the crowd in the back of headquarters participating in some of the events.

It is all free of charge except for drink and food.

Wally the woodpecker thrilled some of the kids. Pictures were taken with him as we walked among the crowd. Only one child cried...did not want anything to do with him.

We finally went to Avery Island to do the tabasco tour.

Avery Island is a salt dome known as the source for this delicious sauce.

We took the tour of the museum, the greenhouse peppers, the barrel warehouse, the blending room, the bottling line, learned about the salt mine, had lunch at their 1868 restaurant, and of course shopped in the country store.

They do a pretty good business.

The blending room was interesting where the vats hold the pepper mash.  The smell hits you right away.

This lady is putting on some of the labels that did not get them on the production belt.

Look at all that Tabasco sauce!!!

There are salt domes all across the Gulf of Mexico. We first experienced these in South Texas at La Sal del Rey, a part of the Lower Rio Grande National Wildlife Refuge.

The salt is used in the making of the sauce, by placing it on top of the barrels of mash, which takes about 3 years to cure.

There are many flavors to sample in the country store. Did you notice Wallace in among the display?

It was a long day, but now we can cross that trip off our list.

We are back to our usual work. During the brochure run this past week, we found this discarded baby bed that had been dumped on the refuge. We saved the wooden parts...maybe they can be recycled in some way.

I cleaned these brochure racks, something I always do when we get back, while Wallace weed whacked. I replaced the covers and filled them with brochures.

This is what they look like now. Probably no one notices since the brochures cover them up unless the slot is empty. I like to clean them up...the yearly cleaning.

Then we found this. A sign so covered up with weeds you can hardly see it. Hello...did no one see this? Oh, well!

Then there is more boardwalk work that needs to be done.

We replaced a few of the broken boards to keep people from falling through.

It took all morning to fix this post. Wallace had to dig down 2 feet with a post hole digger to get the old, broken post out. We repaired this post last year and replaced it this year. Looks much better.

Well this is a long post, but it has been awhile since we posted and we wanted to catch up. Hope you enjoyed following along.

Until next time...