After a full day of traveling (well ... a six hour day to us is full!), we arrived in Lincoln City at Devil's Lake State Park. When I checked in at the booth I was greeted to cheers from the rangers on duty. Seems they haven't had a maintenance host in months, and were working with only 1 of 2 campground hosts as well. It's nice to be needed and appreciated. We met the ranger, Janie, in charge of hosts, as we walked through the park a few minutes later. I knew it was her by her friendly voice, which I'd experienced on the phone. We arranged to meet with her for orientation the next day.
On that same walk, we met and visited with the hosts who have been on duty alone for the last month. They were a couple in their early 70's from California, trying park hosting for the first time. While physically they looked like they were in better condition than us, they were exhausted. Seems they've been working very long days, doing most everything all month. They were trying to finish cleaning yurts when we spotted them. They weren't complaining at all, but just wanted us to be warned. As I listened to their story, and asked questions, it was clear they just didn't feel they could speak up and say that the long hours were just too much. They were aware of the huge need and just kept working. I felt bad for them! That's not the way a first experience at park hosting ought to be. I'm certain the host coordinator had no idea they were feeling so overburdened. She is too busy with her own load to even notice their long hours. They hadn't yet turned in the time sheets either. I decided to make certain I asked some good questions of our host coordinator before we began work to make expectations clear. We are volunteers, after all!
This is a small park, in the middle of town, just a block off Hwy 101. I was sure we had checked this park out, but now realize I was completely mistaken. It's a beautiful little park, on a huge lake with boat launching areas (the park has boat slips for campers with boats). I guess they are fishing for several kinds of fish including trout, catfish and perch. We could see small catfish in the shallow water around the boat slips.
We worked our first day on Wednesday, August 1st. Since we only have one day on before our official two days off this week, we groomed camp sites throughout the park as campers left. We picked up litter around the boat slips and on the board walk - a path made of composite decking which leads to a "primitive boat launch" just south of the park. There are several signs along the boardwalk explaining the bog habitat that it's built over. Really quite interesting!
I think we're going to be happy here. The expectations were clear - 5 days, 4 hours a day, unless we just wanted to work more. Steve will be doing some lawn mowing and weed whacking and miscellaneous repairs as needed. We've both had a list of safety modules to complete online in preparation for our work here. Safety is a big thing in the Oregon Park systems, but sometimes the training comes after you've already been doing the work. Naturally, much of it is common sense. However, there are many issues it's good to be reminded of - how to lift appropriately, how to avoid "sticks" when dealing with litter, what to do if encountering a wild animal, or a pet dog! The online modules are somewhat well done, and each is followed by a test on the information covered. We're both close to "A" students. It's a good test of our brain cells.
We met another fresh-in pair of hosts yesterday. They are from Phoenix, and have a beautiful 40' Monaco motor coach, which they let us come in and see. Very nice. They are looking forward to coming to see our new beast as well. It's always fun to see the choices others make. It's like an RV show - always fun to look!
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We left Shelton, Washington only four days ago. I can't believe how fast the time has passed. The week of fun with cousin Steve & Desolee (love that name!) came to a peak last Saturday, when most the Kronschnabel and Bang family got together with a "mini reunion" at the Bang family lake house on Spencer Lake.
My Steve's Dad, Don, is 92 years old now. Steve's Mom, Barb, passed away from Alzheimer's disease in February of 2005. Cousin Steve's Dad and Mom, Ron and Evie, are something like 89 or 90. I can't believe how good they all look and appear to be doing! The parents hadn't seen each other since Barb left this world. This would be, perhaps, the last chance for the parents to see each other in this world.
A few old photo albums of Steve's Dad where there to be enjoyed, as we were returning them after having had them for a few months. Do I think it was a coincidence that we had them, and needed to return them this very week? After all the other events that have fallen into place? I don't think so!
I tried to get some good pictures, and Desolee was getting lots more. It's good to have these professional photographers at family gatherings!
My favorite photos are seeing my father-in-law back with his departed wife's Aunt & Uncle after all these years. Also, the group photos of the grown kids, most of themselves grandparents now.
It was a great week we will always remember. We are hoping to meet up again with Cousin Steve and Desolee in the not-so-distant future. Perhaps even "on golden pond" again one day!