September 1- 2, 2010. Bill Williams NWR
On our second day of volunteering, we woke early having learned that we need to get going at the break of dawn to beat the heat. So we were out the door by 6:00. I started trimming the trees around the visitor center and then moved on to the peninsula. Joyce met with the volunteer coordinator Leslie Denney inside and went over the visitor center responsibilities. Joyce eventually joined me and together we finished trimming the trees along the paths. I also repaired some areas that had eroded from the rain water run-off.
We talked to Ranger Stan who had purchased some new clippers and other items. He gave us a couple more chores, re-arranging the tool shed (when we get a chance) and putting Slime tire sealant in the tires of the two Gators. The newest Gator was down due to a flat front tire from a thorn.
After finishing the tree trimming it was time for lunch. We both took showers and cooled off. It was over 100 degrees outside! After lunch I worked with Stan on the water pump for the water tank on one of the Gators. The water tank and pump is used as the only source of water for some of the cleaning and maintenance tasks. The pump has been inoperable since before our arrival. We weren’t able to get it working and so a new one is on order.
Later in the evening we took Maggie and Rico for a walk around the refuge area checking for inoperable solar lights. We’ve seen coyotes, beavers and jack rabbits throughout the refuge. Also we’ve seen fish jumping and lots of birds in the lake.
We again were out by 6:00 and I jacked up the newer gator to rotate the flat tire as I put the Slime tire sealant inside of it. I put Slime in all four tires which required jacking the Gator, deflating the tires, removing the valve stems, and filling each tire with a 24 oz. bottle of Slime before re-inflating. I then installed three new water hoses around the refuge.
Joyce and I then cleaned the pit toilets. Stan and I got the new back-pack blower going and by the end of the day I had blown off the peninsula trail. The backpack blower is much heavier than a hand-held blower and I’m sure Joyce won’t be able to use it.
Stan also showed me how to operate the solar powered water pump and which valves to turn to create enough head pressure to operate a pressure washer at the floating docks. Subsequently Joyce and I worked till afternoon pressure washing the two floating aluminum fishing docks. By then Joyce was feeling the effects of the heat and developed a headache. It took us at least 4 hrs. just to pressure clean the docks. They hadn’t been cleaned since before July 4th and according to Stan they hadn’t been cleaned properly. Stan wants the docks pressure washed on the last day of our 3 day rotations!
We called it a day put away the equipment, showered up and Joyce took a nap till the evening when her headache finally subsided. Thankfully we are off the next few days so we can beat the heat. It’s suppose to be 114 degrees tomorrow!
The other volunteer couple camped next to us are suppose to work the next three days. However, they have kind of a strange arrangement. Apparently the male half has been out of town on business for the past week and won’t be back till next week and the young woman doesn’t seem to be very engaged with doing chores as she works part time somewhere else. They will only be here for a few more weeks. Anyway, we will enjoy our time off.
We did receive some good news from Stan. Originally each volunteer was to work 32 hrs. Apparently in response to complaints from former volunteers, they recently got clarification from their headquarters that volunteer couples only need to provide 30 hrs. combined per week (after all we are just volunteers!) The new rule works out to less than 4 hours each work day for each of us (3 days on 3 days off). So if we start at 6:00 we should be done at 10:00! This seems more reasonable given the nature of the work. I certainly feel we’ve worked too hard this first week and we’ve put in more hours than required trying to get caught up on the neglect over the summer. I’m afraid if we don’t slow down and only work the 4 hours a day that Joyce will get burnt out as she doesn’t handle the heat well. For that matter, I also feel the affects of the heat.
Once the other volunteer couple arrives in October, we will be alternating with them on our 3 day on 3 day off schedule to include manning the visitor center over the weekend for 4 hrs. each day. But until then the visitor center is closed on the weekends. So far we’ve only seen two fisherman come and go from the docks and have yet to see any visitors in the visitor center.
The views around here are spectacular and I’ll need to focus on taking some pictures. I think we will enjoy our stay here once the cooler weather sets in and we learn to pace ourselves!