Thursday, June 4, 2009


Wednesday was our first official day of work but, since it was our Ranger’s day off (as is today), we weren’t able to start our training in the Visitor Center.  We DID have the key and an alarm code to get in, though, so went down to see if we could retrieve the two bikes stored there and determine what would be needed to prepare them for riding (we knew one had two flat tires).

One of our duties is to keep the trail free of hazardous debris: rocks, tree limbs, quantities of pine needles.  The volunteer before us “blew the trail” daily, using the heavy-duty blower mounted on the front of the Gator. 

Wildflowers along the trail The trail itself is very winding, with lots of undulations.  Fast-moving bicycles fly down some of the hills in excess of 30 miles an hour (no speed limit).  Since the unwieldy Gator travels the center of the trail to blow the debris off, it seems to us to be the most hazardous thing we have encountered on the trail so far!

With a thought to fitness and fun, Odel and I hoped to use the two (apparently unused) bikes in the Visitor Center to do a daily patrol, then take the Gator out no more than a couple of time a week.

As we were pumping up the tires of the unused bikes, Ranger Diane arrived.  When we told her our plan to patrol on the bikes, she was enthused; she said the bikes had been purchased for the volunteers, but none of them wanted to ride.  It’s understandable – the round trip is just under 10 miles, and there is an uphill stretch of about 1 1/2 miles that is truly a challenge for us. 

We got the bikes ready, put on the helmets, and headed off up the hill from the Visitor Center.  It was fun to be riding again, and we had grins on our faces in spite of the difficult uphill return trip.  We gained first hand experience of what it is to ride the length of the trail (the better to help our visitors).  It seemed like everything was going our way: we are settled in a wonderful site, beginning to learn our “job”, have a couple of bikes to ride and a great trail…

Odel’s phone rang soon after we got home, with bad news.  His father, who was hospitalized about a month ago (age 92), then moved to a care facility, was back in the hospital and not expected to live much longer – a matter of hours or perhaps a few days.  Just about 24 hours later (today), he died.  It was not unexpected news, and Odel was not close to his father, but needs/wants to help with the resulting decisions and responsibilities.  He has a plane flight out on Saturday morning, likely to be gone for a week. 

Laurie in volunteer vest and hat, ready to pilot the Gator. We took the Gator out this morning, as planned, to blow off the trail in preparation for tomorrow’s big bike race.  I wanted to make sure I knew how to start both the Gator (easy; use the key in the ignition) and the blower (TOUGH; pull a rope like a lawnmower), so I could blow the trail alone next week.  Tomorrow we will get a day of Visitor Center training together, then I’ll have the volunteer duties to myself for a week (with two days off).  Guess I will be training him when he returns.  :)

Our weather radio went off earlier today with a severe thunderstorm warning for an area well east of us.  We haven’t heard that alarming sound in months!  A few hours later the local news showed the wild weather in Portland (50 miles west of us), including pouring rain, localized flooding, and downed trees. A huge line of severe storms moved through, both to our east and our west, with nothing but a heavy breeze and a few drops of rain here in Hood River.  Good!


  1. We were so sorry to hear about Odel's dad, even though they weren't close, it's still his dad and I'm sure he feels a certain sense of responsibility towards his mom.

    How did you get the captioning on the pictures by holding the cursor on them?

    Hugs, Sharon & Ron

  2. Checked out your blog for the first time this evening and was sorry to read about Odel's father's passing. Luke's mother died a year ago after 6 months of in/out of the hospital. We also had to help with the "resulting decisions and responsibities" so hope all goes well. He'll be glad he went to help.

    Otherwise, I plan to explore your blog entries for areas we'll be visiting the next few months. Thanks for your postings and good luck on your new job.
    - CoolJudy

  3. I'm so sorry for the loss of Odel's father. I hope he has a safe trip and that you have smooth sailing until he gets back.

  4. I am sorry for Odel's loss. I am sure you will enjoy "training" him on his return.

  5. Our condolences to Odel -- there's never a good time to lose a parent, regardless of the relationship. Your job sounds great and in a great place! Laurie, I'm sure you can hold down the fort by yourself while Odel is gone.

  6. Very sorry to hear about Odel's Dad. Sometimes it is even harder when you are not close to resolve your feelings after the death of a (loved) one. Our hearts go out to him. Sharon and Allan

  7. I just paid a visit to my Dad this past week. Hadn't seen him for a couple of years. The thought crossed my mind that it was possible that it could be the last time I see him, but not necessarily. He's only 80 and doing pretty good. But the thought crossed my mind. Not a very happy thought. Not looking forward to the day. So I kind of understand how you might be feeling. My condolences.

    -- jc

  8. Our condolences to Odel on the loss of his father. It's never easy to lose your parents, no matter the age, or the relationship.

    Good luck to you Laurie as you hold down the fort alone.

    I'm still jealous of your job :)

    Jo & Fred

  9. Hi, Sharon. About the captions on the photos...

    I am now using Windows Live Writer to create my blog posts offline, then post them after they are completed. The ability to add a "hover" caption is just one of the many things I love about the program.

    I checked it out after a casual comment I read on another blog. To find the program, google Windows Live Writer. It is free, something you download to your computer, then poke about to learn it (I'm sure there is online "help", but I am more of a poker).

    It is particularly great when you are in a place where your internet access is slow or touchy. We are on National Access here, so it is MUCH easier to create posts offline, then log on for the actual posting. If you don't have internet access, you can create and save multiple posts, so they are all ready to be posted when you DO have internet access. Very cool.