Sunday, September 29, 2013


We are volunteering for Southeast Louisiana National Wildlife Refuge Complex.  It is made up of 8 refuges.  Looking on a map, you can see where these refuges make a big circle around New Orleans.  These 8 refuges are:

Atchafalaya NWR...15,220 acres
Bayou Savage NWR...25,000 acres
Bayou Teche NWR...9,028 acres
Big Branch NWR...over 18,000 acres
Bogue Chitto NWR...36,000 acres
Breton NWR...the second oldest refuge in the island.
Delta NWR...49,000 acres
Mandalay NWR...4,212 acres

We live in a gated community now. 

This is the entrance to Bayou Lacomb Center. It is a property of 110 acres.

It is where the headquarters facility and the Visitor Center is located.

The gate is open daily from 8:00 am until 4:00 pm.

We feel very safe and private.

The resident volunteers are parked in our own campground on this beautiful property.

There are 5 pads for volunteers and there are only 3 of us here right now with more coming later.

This is the laundry facility with 2 washers and 2 dryers.  There are three more sheds where tools are kept, etc.

Bayou Lacombe property was purchased in 1990 by the US Fish and Wildlife Service to be the headquarters complex for SELANWR.

The property was privately owned in the 1930's and developed and opened to the public as "Bayou Gardens" where a wide variety of camellias, azaleas and other flowering trees and shrubs brought many visitors in the past.  The property was sold to the Redemptorist order and became Holy Redeemer High School, then later operated as a seminary retreat center for the church.

These were the classrooms/dormitory and now serve as the offices for staff.  Behind and to the right side is the cafeteria, another big building.

This was the church and is now the Visitor Center where there are dioramas and displays showing the 8 refuges.

There is also a small gift shop inside.

We are parked a good distance left of the vc.

There are many trails leading to areas like these where you can find peace and serenity.

We will be taking a tour of some of the other refuges in this complex on Monday.

Until next time...

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Our First Work Week

here at Big Branch started out bad...but ended up good!!!

Each week, we all meet with the project leader, Ken, for assignments.  

Monday, we had our first meeting.  Our assignments:

We were to organize this shed where the life jackets are stored. What a mess!!!  They were just thrown in after use. Some of them had been stored in cardboard boxes that had disinte- grated and the jackets that were on the bottom were ruined.  The room smelled of mold and mildew.  We had to throw some of the jackets away.  Now it is organized and stored by sizes.

Then we were to take all the 6' paddles out of the canoe boxes and replace them with 54" new paddles.  Each canoe trailer is color coded and so are the paddles.  We then needed to put colored duct tape around the handle of each paddle. Guess what...there was no duct tape to be found anywhere.  We could not finish the job.

Then there was the trailer light that did not work.  A quick trip to buy one, and Wallace was on the next job.

Oh, did I mention how hot it has been here?  We were both drenched.

On Tuesday, we were asked to assemble these benches.  The planks had not been pre-drilled. The other planks had been chewed up and now needed to be replaced.  Sounds pretty simple, right?  Wrong!!!

You can see our work space, but at least we were under some shade for this project.  First we rounded up things we needed to do the job.  Trying to find the right tools is in itself HARD to do.  We finally get started.  We tried using the tools on hand...things are tight with the budget the way it is.  Well, we got totally frustrated and went in to talk with Ken and told him we were dissatisfied with how the benches looked.  He gave us the go ahead to go to Home Depot and purchase what we needed.

So Wednesday morning we go to Home Depot.  We purchase 4 rolls of duct tape to finish the job color coding the canoe paddles. The other stuff we paid for ourselves because we had ruined the screws using the wrong bit.  We needed new bits anyway, it was the right thing to do.  It is so frustrating when you can't get the things you need to do a good job!!!

Now we are pleased with the way the benches look.

We had four of them we assembled and it took both of us to complete this job.

They will be placed in areas of need.

When we finished the benches, Ken asked if we would water the plants he just planted.  There are 12 planters we watered.

He asked if this would be some-thing we could do each week.

Now this finished off our first work week.

The whole team is sprucing up the place for our big event, Wild Things, which will take place October 12th where we expect over 5,000 visitors.  Ken had all the brown shirts out there doing their part!!!  That's Ken in the hat on the right side of this picture.

Until next time...

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Challenging Days on the Road

After leaving our friends in Vermont, we drove a total of 320 miles to get to the Wal-Mart in Milford, Pa. for the night.  We left on the 11th.

The weather was hot but the evening cooled off.

Squeeze play!!!  We had our fair share of road construction, especially in Pennsylvania.  This was not as closed in as some places.  This went on for some 7 miles.  You have to stay alert.

On the 12th, we overnighted at a Flying J after fueling up.  This was a long day...562 Wytheville, Virginia.  Now we have traveled 882 miles.

Now we come to Friday 13th...we pulled into a Pilot for fuel at White Pine, Tennessee.  Wallace inadvertently pumped in 5 gallons of gasoline in our diesel truck!!!  Oh no!!!  I have a major melt down.  Our mechanic back home told us, "do not drive it or start it, get it all out."  Here we are blocking the pumps for about two hours while we try to find out what we should do.  I remembered David said he had done that...he thinks it was the same station!!!  We talked to David and a local mechanic.  We added some additive and transmission fluid...then filled it the rest of the way with diesel.  It worked...we were on our way.  There was a lot more that went on but I will spare you.  After 12 years on the road...this was a first.

We are now at a C.O.E. park in Demopolis, Al. We find a spot we like, signed up for # 40 for two nights.  Perfect since we are to be at Big Branch on the 16th. We have full hook ups!!!

After unhooking and leveling with a sigh of relief, Wallace went to the gate to settle things up when he was told we could have the space for one night. She made a mistake and we would have to move tomorrow, GREAT.  What else can go awry?

We drive into Demopolis for something to eat...find a KFC.  Well, I end up getting sick.  I thought I was coming down with the flu with all the symptoms.  Thank God, it just lasted 24 hours.

We found a pull through, #7 for the second night...we did not even unhitch...we could not move into that site until 3:00pm.  Anyway, it all worked out for the best.

So here we are crossing into Louisiana...not much farther to go now.

We are so glad to be back in the south for a while.  Good southern food, and the freshest seafood from the Gulf of Mexico.  YUM.

Now we are settled in our new home place for the next three months.  

There are 3 volunteer couples all nestled in our campground.

We made it.

Until next time...

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Last Day in Vermont

For our last day, our tour guides drove us north to Stowe where the grand Von Trapp lodge is located.  What a gorgeous view they enjoyed.  I asked David why they settled here. The view reminded them of their home in Switzerland.  (Sound of Music)  Julie Andrews sang and danced around these mountains.

The weather turned and since it was a rainy day, we decided to take in a movie...The Butler.

Marianne prepared a delicious meal of haddock...she is a very good cook.  Then Shelby, their daughter and family came over where we enjoyed a camp fire and roasted marshmallows for s'mores.

David is very proud of his veggie garden.  Since it was going to freeze, we covered them for the night.  

When we left, he sent a bag full of veggies with us.  They will be used in vegetable soup tonight.

Marianne volunteers at the school just down the road and plays the piano at their church.

We certainly enjoyed our short visit with these two wonderful friends.  They are an asset to their community.

A great big THANK YOU to our "Bookends" for a fun time.

Until next time...

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Same Day Activities

After our tour of the State House, the next stop was Barre, Vermont where they are famous for their granite...Rock of Ages.

We took a short tour of the factory where huge slabs of granite would move suspended on belts from the ceiling.  Some would move around on conveyor belts.

This fellow was working on a headstone.

Next we hopped on a bus for a drive out to the quarry.  The granite dome is 10 miles deep. That is a lot of granite.  The minerals in the granite shavings create that color of water on the right.

The huge slabs of granite are cut with a saw by using a cable like the portion to your right, that has diamond chips in the gray rings.  Some slabs weigh 23 tons.

Then we went to a cemetery in town where some of the headstones were put in place.

Just a few samples.  They are really huge!!!

Then it was over to Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks where we enjoyed a maple "creamee."  We didn't need Ben & Jerry's.  It was sooo goood.  

The place has been run by 8 generations, and are the oldest maple family in Vermont.

They make four grades of syrup...light to dark.  We went to the woodshed to watch a video about how the process works.

Maple facts:
*  it takes 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup.
*  one tap hole can produce up to 15 gallons of sap a season which     means it takes up to 3 maple trees to produce a gallon of syrup       a season.
*  to get a good sap run, it needs to freeze at night and thaw by day
*  sap runs best when the winds are from the runs least       when from the east.

A visit to Vermont is not complete without a stop at this place to pick up a few items like cheese (where you get to sample all kinds) and the dip.  I sampled the habanero..whoo who!!! I like it hot and that was hot.

That evening, we enjoyed a game of hand and foot.  The guys get to brag because they won by 85 points!!!

Until next time...

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Let's Try Again...

Hey David...hope you liked your picture at the table!!!  Strange things happened...Verizon keeps taking us OFF.  AT&T may be back in our future if we have much more of this.

Let's see how long I stay on today.  

In yesterday's short blog, we had breakfast with Marianne's delicious coffeecake.  

I am a good's best if Marianne puts things away.

We had a long list of things to see and do today with the first and most important being a tour of the State House.  David gives tours there on Friday's and he knows his stuff!!!  He gave us a personal tour which we really enjoyed.

It is a beautiful building...I will try to do it justice.

The statue at the top is Ceres, or the statue of Agriculture with wheat in her arm.

The gold in the dome is 23.75 carat gold leaf, as pure as can be obtained.

Montpelier is the smallest capital city in America.  The House and Senate chambers are the oldest legislative chambers in their original condition anywhere in the country.

There are only 30 Senators and Wallace is sitting in #7's seat.

The Representatives' Hall is home to 150 members.

The plaster lotus blossom has petals that weigh approximately 500 pounds.  From its center hangs the original bronze and gilt chandelier, one of America's most important surviving gas fixtures.

The staircase was impressive as it swoops around.

There were decorative cast iron steam screens that disguised the original steam radiators that caught my eye.

The marble floor in the lobby were marble tiles with fossils embedded in many of the black tiles.

A bust of Abraham Lincoln can be seen from the lobby.

This is the Governors Office.  He doesn't have a mansion to live in. This is where he does all his work.

Behind David is one of the radiator screens I mentioned earlier.

The Constitution Chair is carved from the timbers of the frigate U.S.S. Constitution, better known as "Old Ironsides" and has served the governor since 1858.

This 10 X 20 foot painting dominates the Cedar Creek Reception Room.  It depicts the battle of Cedar Creek during the Civil War. The Old Vermont Brigade in the center of the canvas leads a rally that would reverse a Union retreat, Vermont's finest moments in the Civil war.

Above our heads I couldn't help but notice the stained glass sky lights.  David told us they are originals that were found in the attic, they had been stepped on and were in pieces when found. They were pieced back together as part of the buildings restoration of the room to its 1888 splendor. There are two of them, so be sure to look up in this room.

The scene in the middle is shown on the flag of Vermont.

There is so much more about this beautiful State House.  It is one we thoroughly enjoyed.  Thank you David for the introduction and the fabulous tour of this beautiful building.

This page is officially stamped in our newest collection of books.

This State House was constructed of Barre Granite from the nearby town of Barre.  We will go there next for our second stop on our itinerary.

Until next time...

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Leaving Maine

The evening before we left Moosehorn, this is what we noticed out our front door.  Was this an omen?  

But the morning we left, this is what we the same spot as the BIG X.  Now I feel better!!!

We are off...our destination, Worcester, Vermont.  We had a wonderful two fun filled days with our dear friends Marianne and David Book.  They invited us to stay at their beautiful home where they have an rv pad.

We arrived fairly caught up on the latest with plans to meet in the morning in the dining room for breakfast where David read our devotional and led in prayer.

All of a sudden, I can't add pictures and carry on with this post!!! Will try again later.

Until next time...