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...

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Fast and Furious...Exodus

One hour we are walking on the beach with friends, having a great time, then stopped for a delicious lunch of flounder and shrimp.

At 3:00, we attended the staff meeting to find out we needed to leave...the refuge is being locked down because of the hurricane. We asked if it would be a problem to leave them for the remainder of our time there...they understood.

We left the meeting and packed up for our departure and were on the road about 5:30. It took us two hours just to get out of Charleston.
We drove 85 miles and needed to stop for the night as we were completely exhausted. Our first overnight at a roadside park!!!
This park was just north of Savannah, Georgia.

We were dreading the traffic around Savannah. It was not bad.

We cut down from Georgia to Tallahassee, Florida, and finally were able to relax.

In Florida, while in construction area, we were bumped...did not even know it until a fellow traveler passed us pointing to the side of our rv. 

When we stopped at the rest area in Alabama, this is what we found!!!

Could have been a lot worse. There are a few black lines further down past this area too.

Alabama has overnight security at their rest areas and this is where we spent our second night.

Quickly, we found ourselves in Mississippi.

 We stopped for fuel and noticed the Cracker Barrel was right around the corner...time for breakfast.  We needed that!!!

Full tank of diesel and full tummies, things were going good as we entered Louisiana.

Another passerby passed us pointing. We pulled over on this busy I 10, to find we had had a blow out!!!

Now Goodyear wants to see how much tread is left for us to get anything back. There is no tread. Now a lot of red tape...we shall see.

This could have been a lot worse. It caused only minor damage...a little dent in the underside of the fender.

Strange thing, as I was sitting in the truck waiting for the guys to change the tire, I noticed all the tire debris in this area...AMAZING. As a matter of fact, there was a truck pulled over in front of us with the same problem.

Makes one wonder doesn't it?

Our roadside service did not keep us waiting too long, that was a comfort and the guy did a great, quick job changing the tire.

After 2 nights, 781 miles, terrible traffic, bump, and blow out, we are now peacefully at our home here in Lacombe, Louisiana for our 4th year.

We were talking about how great this place is...we think it is the nicest overall by far!!!

Until next time...

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Sweetgrass Baskets

Highway 17 has been designated the Sweetgrass Basket Makers Highway. This road takes us from Charleston to Bulls Landing Road where we are parked for the summer.

All along the road are these little places where the Gullah Geechee set up the baskets to sell.

This is was time to get my basket and she was kind enough to let me get this photo. My basket was priced at $40.00 but you can go as high as $500.00. This custom was started by one little lady who sat out a chair and sold them...then one by one it turned into this.

This is Julia's stand. You can see another on down the road.

She was in the process of making another basket that she is holding.

There is a historical on the picture to enlarge.

This craft was brought over from West Africa where the baskets were used in winnowing rice.

The basket sewing is viewed as a gift from God.

These people, the Gullah Geechee, have made a good business for themselves. It has given them a sense of purpose, meaning and belonging.

I love my basket!!!

Until next time...