A ponderosa pine forest within a river canyon surrounded by fresh air and the almost constant sound of birds. The almost constant sound of a highway too but let's not dwell on that right now.
With the parks being closed for the last seven months there is A LOT of clean up to be done. We started Monday morning with a HUGE job ahead of us for the week - to make the parks as presentable as we could for opening day - TODAY!
No small task!
There were pine cones to pick, pine needles to rake and blow or pick up, weed wacking, lawn mowing, sweeping and washrooms to clean. We carefully organized each day to do what HAD to be done this week knowing that this weekend and into next week we would finish up the fine tuning.
Derek has his jobs and I have mine and Cassia - well, she comes along for the ride and the entertainment. She generally bounces between the two of us and spends her time walking around the forest, watching us, sitting in the truck playing with her toys or watching a dvd - the Berenstain Bears is her current fav.
(Mom moment) I found the dvd at the library and was happy about that since right now the Berenstain Bears book she received as a gift, from two of our most favourite campers last summer, is the book of choice. Sometimes I sit down with her and the book and wonder to myself - how many MORE times can I actually read this without completely loosing my mind. But alas, like all other parents, I continue on because tell me, HOW can you refuse the smile it puts on your daughters face as you begin!
Due to the pine beetle, many many trees are dying in our forest. Last years count was that 2000 have been lost so far and the number is ever increasing. For the last two weeks the local forestry gang have been out chain sawing and burning the dead trees. They do this every spring and at first it looks quite bad in areas but once the Saskatoon bushes and grasses grow in it turns out ok. Some trees are downed and left while others are bucked for firewood. Unfortunately, the bucked wood is our responsibility to load into the truck and take down and across the highway.
One of the many many piles of bucked wood to be removed from the park. I can't really complain because Derek ends up doing most of this work.
Some of the sites are left pretty messy from all this wood chopping going on. I should have taken an after picture because I did a mighty fine job of this site.
Can't say that we are in love with our work truck - the colour being much of the problem. Oh to have a mighty fine looking truck like the Rangers or the Fish & Wildlife guys! It's looking a bit low at the back because Derek already has it half loaded with logs.
Monday we spent up the hill at Skihist - the pictures above. Tuesday we headed over to our day use area across the highway.
Can't say we were looking forward to that!
PINE CONES - thousands of them I am sure!
Just so you know - picking up pine cones is MUCH more difficult than you could even imagine. Spending hours bending and straightening does a major job on your hips, knees, back and neck, not to mention that sick feeling you get in your stomach. Picking that many at once can bring grown adults to their knees crying and begging for mercy. I figure it could be a very effective form of torture to acquire information - you know - they could use it in a movie!
Only shear will to get it done and behind us gets Derek and I through it. By the afternoon we were done and Derek spent until dinner time mowing. Ahhhhh nothing like a nice mown lawn. The day use is Derek's jewel during the summer - if I am looking for him I usually know where I can find him - shining up his area.
Obviously a before picture with all those pine cones.
Hmmmm - I didn't realize I was being filmed doing what - yup - picking pine cones.
Start 'em young right!? Well, it only lasted a few minutes before Cassia moved on to something else. She hasn't quite gotten the idea that helping us helps her (get back to the cabin faster), however we did celebrate her helpfulness later with a special popsicle. We all work better with rewards!
Derek picking pine cones - you're getting the idea I'm sure.
If you are ever this way - stop in at the day use! It is very underused, it seems that many people don't realize it exists. During the heat of summer (and I mean heat - it can reach into the 40's C here at times) the picnic tables are nicely shaded by the pines. Also, there is a great view of the Thompson River and the train. Notice the amount of snow still on the very high mountains to our south.
Wednesday we spent at the entry to Skihist Park - more pine cones, raking, mowing, sweeping, painting, cleaning. Thursday was the day to head to Gold Pan, our other park 20 kms (15 miles) up the highway.
I drove so road pictures are courtesy of Derek - there and back.
A view north of the rapidly rising Thompson River. Won't be long before all the rocks on the right are totally submerged. I'll take some pics in a few weeks to prove it.
Nice - and stinky. Left over salmon skeleton from last years salmon run.
At Gold Pan, I went around and cleaned the 14 sites and fire pits while Derek weed wacked and blew the entire campground. Needless to say I was done way before him and so Cassia and I spent the rest of the time enjoying ourselves by the river.
Why, Derek of course, in all his armour.
Not sure what she had found - a piece of some plant I think. We did find a lot of used fishing line. Please please please - take your fishing line with you when you go!
You have to love trains and the sound of them to camp at Gold Pan. I don't think I could do it actually - a lot of trains go by here on either side of the park - day and night!
Playing in the sand again - not quite as white as the Florida sand - or as warm - but Cassia didn't seem to mind.
We moved down the beach and so did Derek - so another picture of him working while we weren't.
You can see the train tunnels in the background.
By five o'clock Derek was done and pretty spent. With grey clouds looming and the threat of rain we headed home. It wasn't raining yet at Gold Pan, and it wasn't raining at home, but it was from one to the other.
The road from Skihist to Gold Pan is very winding and posted speeds are constantly changing. This is an area that drops to 40 km/hour for good reason - three hairpin turns in a row.
Another view of the mountains to the south with still quite a bit of snow on them.
By this afternoon we were pretty happy with all that we had accomplished this week. It was a lot of hard work and we are certainly feeling it physically. I don't think our muscles could feel any sorer.
With a little fan fair and thoughts to the summer ahead, we locked the gates open at Skihist late this afternoon. Our boss had been here and then stopped at Gold Pan this afternoon, so he opened the gates there. Although for the rest of the summer I drive to Gold Pan and back ever evening we decided to make it a family trip tonight. We were not surprised that there were no campers at GP tonight but with a warm weekend forecasted perhaps tomorrow night.
We do however have one couple camping with us here at Skihist, I feel for them because it promises to be a pretty cool night.
Our first hummingbird of the season. We get lots of hummingbirds here at the park. The feeder hangs right in front of our kitchen window so we can sit and watch them feed. I am amazed that Derek got such a great picture with our camera.
And so, that was our week and the official beginning of our five months of work here as Park Facility Operators. Although paid for 5 days on and 2 off, Derek and I actually work all 155 days or so - straight. It is a bit crazy and by the end we have just about had it with everyone and everything but it doesn't really seem right for one of us to work all the jobs for two days while the other one is here doing not much of anything. This is our third year as PFO's and we do it this way each year.
A real commitment for sure!
As the weeks and months go forward I will continue to post pics of our 'office' and perhaps I can even post some pictures and information about some of our visitors willing to be interviewed - we get all kinds here and some with very interesting travel stories of their own.
Today's Interesting Link: Today I am going to link back to our own blog. Back in September I wrote about our jobs as PFOs in BCP and provided a list of requests on behalf of all the campground workers out there. Even Derek and I as campers, before we became PFOs, didn't realize how aggravating some of the things we did were to those who had to work the parks and clean up after us. We are always extra careful now when we are in a campground or when we leave our site.