Saturday, April 25, 2015

Ready to Get Back to Work

Our week of recuperation is nearly over.  We did lots of errands, repaired the TV antenna, had lunch with Nomad friends who are workcamping at a nearby Corps of Engineer campground and had them over to our campground for a short visit and met other Nomads who were also camped at Toad Suck.  Plus our rig got a well needed bath.
After cleaning everything, we spent Friday listening to the rain on the roof all day.

Today we left our quiet Corps of Engineers campsite at Toad Suck and traveled a grand total of 12 miles to a church parking lot on the east side of Conway AR.  One year ago this weekend a tornado, rated EF4, came through here and produced lots of devastation.  Not only Nomads, but many other volunteer groups as well, have been here helping to rebuild homes and lives.

Disaster Recovery projects are handled differently from traditional Nomad projects.  These can be long term, with team members signing up for any number of weeks at a time (not the usual 3 weeks only).  Each week some members might leave, to be replaced by others.  They have room here for 6 rigs to park.  Three have stayed over from last week, and 3 replacement rigs just came in today.  When doing laundry yesterday we met a couple who had been here, but were about to leave.  We have committed to just one week (4 working days) but we will have to leave a day early, next Thursday, so that we can attend Sophie’s history competition at U of Minn.

We will have an official introductory meeting tomorrow evening, but unofficially we have learned that some of us will be doing drywall work, while others will be finishing some plumbing items at another house.


Sunday, April 19, 2015

Taking a Short Break

We have left the OWL Center after 3 weeks.  Here are some of the things our group of 9  accomplished:
Replaced and painted front door of office
Removed hideabed from Samantha's office
Primed and painted Samantha's office
Dismantled old horse shelter and moved roof to Maze area
Designed and built replacement horse shelter (larger)
Helped Miss Laurie with lunch preparation
Serviced large Bush hog and large lawn mowers
Power washed and cleaned conference room tables and chairs
Dismantled cardboard wall partitions and moved them to loft in tool shed
Dismantled staging and moved to white horse shelter
Replaced and painted back door of office
Primed and painted letters for new OWL sign
Trimmed shrubs by front door
Assisted Samantha with students on horses, three rimes
Scraped, primed, and painted NE entrance gate
Power washed and cleaned north end of office building
Power washed front sidewalk at office
Cleaned and prepared 8 rooms at the Lodge for guests
Painted numbered signs for Samantha
Cleaned and prepared strawberries for jam
Cleaned north greenhouse
Started clearing south greenhouse
Prepared 2 batches of salsa
Fixed broken desk support
Washed Conference Center Windows

We had a long list of things to do, which we like to have.  We were unable to get to everything.  There is always lots of work available here.  Some former Nomads, who are still RVing “Snowbirds”, come here on their own every winter to “drop in” and help out wherever they can.

One of the special activities included a field trip to the main campus in Ruston, LA where we got a tour of the classrooms and met with the school principal.  I should point out that the Louisiana Children’s Home is a Residential Psychiatric Treatment facility, not just a school, or an orphanage, but is a very intense place which houses teens with many difficult problems.  One of the more effective ways of reaching out to them involves the use of horses.  Paige got particularly close to one of the girls by leading her on Babe, the Percheron.

They have about 15 horses to work with, so a new (and larger) shelter was appreciated by both the staff and the horses.  Here is the new shelter and the builders:

Another special activity is to help bottle salsas and jams in their commercial kitchen.  These products are sold for fundraising.  Improvements to their process since we were here last, has made it possible for a group of our size to get 2 batches done using half of us for each version.

We finished working on Thursday and had a “going away” dinner that evening.  Two rigs pulled out on Friday morning, but the rest of us stuck around a little longer.  We left on Sunday morning for Conway Arkansas.  Two years ago we were here and stayed at a Corps of Engineers campground at Toad Suck Ferry.  For more details check out:   
We will be here for a week, taking things easy, until next week when we will help rebuild some areas damaged by heavy tornados about this time last year.


Sunday, April 5, 2015

OWL, Again

We arrived at the OWL Center in Duback, LA a week and a half ago.  Officially it is the Outdoor Wilderness Learning Center, or OWL for short.  It is a rural facility affiliated with the Methodist Children’s Home of Louisiana with headquarters in nearby Ruston.  We got here early so that we could get our taxes done, and get some body work on the truck scheduled.  It’s such a peaceful, quiet place!  We were here two years ago for a project so it was familiar and we looked forward to our return visit.  This is the first site that we’ve had a repeat visit since we’ve been involved in Nomads.
The other team members arrived last Saturday and Sunday.  We have a total of 9 of us working together.  We are from MN, IL, GA, KS, and MO. The week started off with a detailed tour of the facility on Monday.

There are many projects on our list – which is always good!  The men started by removing a horse shelter and started the building of a newer, bigger shelter.  Lots to do there yet.  The women started scraping the front door for repainting only to find that it was almost rusted through so that project turned into the purchase and installation of a new front door.  We also prepped an office for painting and, the big project, was washing and cleaning conference center tables and chairs.  There were over 200 chairs and many round and rectangular tables.  This was a huge job which ended on Thursday with the guys helping so we could finish before the weekend  (thank you, guys!).

On our day off, Friday, we took a field trip into Monroe, LA which is the closest large city and the home of Duck Dynasty.  We have some fans of the show in this group and they were excited to see some of the local sites featured in the show.

We also toured the Biedenharn Gardens and Home which is where a local family started the Coke bottling business.  Very informative and the gardens were beautiful.