|Truman watching "How to Train Your Dragon" on my laptop for the millionth time.|
|Pop up-Sunset-Four Peaks|
Our first call came from Northern California. The Red Woods National Forest was looking for volunteers beginning in late June. It was only mid March. We submitted our application, but remained open to other options. Approximately two weeks later we received a call from Roosevelt. At the time we were camped in a place called Corney Lake, a primitive site near Bernice, Louisiana. Corney Lake was tough. It was cold and we were worn. We had been using the opportunity to try out a solar panel battery combo Brian had built. The weather was insufferable. We were plagued with bitter cold temps, wind, and rain. Truman maintained a wonderful temperament throughout and kept Brian and I grounded.
|Corney Lake, Louisiana|
|Solar Panel / Battery Combo aka Brian's Baby|
We arrived on April 1st, 2013. The joke was on us, when we realized no one knew we were coming. Our two points of contact were out of the office. Oddly, this mattered little. We were handed keys and advised to set up camp in the host site located in the camp ground named Schoolhouse. This was followed by almost no interaction with the Forest Service for about a week. During this time we made ourselves at home. This included scrubbing and stocking the bathrooms. It appeared it hadn't been done in months and since we had to use them, it was important they be usable. When someone did finally arrive, we were scolded for doing so. It seemed to go down hill from there.
|Our first glimpse of Roosevelt Lake|
Then came the decision to purchase an RV for $1800. The Executive was a 1977 luxury RV...in it's day. But it needed a new brake master cylinder and only had one working air conditioning unit. We figured it was still a steal of a deal. And at the time we had been considering staying with the Forest Volunteer Program through the summer giving us time to make the necessary repairs to get the vehicle road worthy. What were we thinking...we were thinking it was getting hotter by the day, we had a toddler, and we needed air conditioning STAT.
|The day we bought the RV (bird not included)|
When we got her back to camp we found more issues. The kitchen faucet needed replaced, it was out of propane (stove and oven inoperable), the generator didn't work, there was no water heater (and later when we were given a water heater we found there was no plumbing for it either).
Again, feeling pressured, we decided to move to the alternate camp site. The one with shore power and consistent water. The new site was in a campground just 6 miles away. On the way, The Executive stalled and would not restart. A fellow volunteer stopped to help. It turned out the RV just needed some gas...$60 to be exact...to get it going again. As a thank you, we bestowed upon this good Samaritan our beloved pop up (free of charge).
Brian continued his previous workload and I began maintaining bathrooms at our current location as well as our previous campground. And that is why we were surprised that less than a week after our move to the new site and less than 2 weeks after purchasing an RV to get us through our volunteering commitment that we were approached regarding our performance as volunteers...or lack their of. We were told we were not doing what was required. In fact, we were told we had done nothing. When we listed what we were doing our "supervisor" said, "but you didn't complete the landscape tasks at the Schoolhouse campground".
|What we'd imagined!|
After leaving the Forest, we moved into an RV resort located in the town of Roosevelt. We may not have been desperate enough to stay with the Forest Service, but unfortunately our RV was not capable of traveling without major repairs. In the end, we saved money and had more time for wandering after we parted ways with the the Forest Service.