Sunday, February 23, 2014

Our Work Routine

We’re over the half way point of our time here at Inks Lake State Park.  We’ve got our work routine down.  This is the only park we’ve volunteered at where the volunteers pretty much schedule themselves.  It works amazingly well!

Most of the volunteers have been here before, some folks several times.  Everyone is super nice and helpful. 

Our schedule has settled down some.  The firewood and fishing gear jobs we had have been given to two new volunteer couples that have arrived.  We have settled into cleaning cabins.  Sunday is our busiest day.  We split cabin duties with another couple but Sunday is the only day that we all four work on the same day.  With two couples working on Sunday, we’re usually finished around noon or one.  Then, as a reward for our hard work, we all head to town for a nice lunch. 

Checkout time in the cabins is 11:00 a.m.  On cold days, folks seem to get up and out early.  On nice, sunny days, folks sometimes stay till noon (or later), with permission. 

There are two levels of cleaning.  One is a check and quick cleaning after someone has left the cabin.  This quick clean takes about 10-15 minutes.  The second is a deep clean, which takes 2 - 2 1/2 hours.  A deep clean involves taking out the windows and screens, and scrubbing everything down with a Clorox solution. 

Mark goes around the outside of the cabin sweeping down cobwebs, cleaning the outside of the windows, and taking the light fixture down to clean.  On the inside he takes the air conditioner/heater apart and cleans the filter with soap and water and vacuums all the other parts, takes down the light fixture and cleans it, tests the smoke detector, sweeps the cobwebs off the ceiling, removes the windows and takes the screens outside to scrub with soap and water, sweeps and mops the floor, and even flips the mattresses.   
 Sweeping the cobwebs.
Washing screens.
 Window washing.
 Checking the smoke detector and cleaning the inside of the light.
 Mopping after sweeping.
Flipping the mattresses.

While Mark is doing his part, I’m inside cleaning windows.  After he takes the windows out I clean the rails with q-tips!  Each cabin has five large windows and one small window in the door. The windows take most of my time.  It’s amazing how good they look when finished. There are two bunk beds that I spray (frame and mattress) with a Clorox solution and wipe down (this is a good way to find used chewing gum).  I use a Swifter to clean the ceiling fan, spray and wipe down the four chairs and the table (another good place to find used chewing gum).  While Mark is finishing up I start putting our supplies away and check around the outside of the cabin for any trash. 
Cleaning the window tracks.

There are 22 cabins and we try to deep clean all of them once a month.  We can do 2-3 a week along with quick cleaning several cabins a week.  The other couple does that many too.

Even with the awful weather we’ve been having since we arrived here, we have really enjoyed our time in this beautiful park.  Next month is Spring break and we have been told (warned?) that the park will be packed for a couple of weeks.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Volunteer Appreciation Lunch

We have been to several volunteer appreciation lunches at the various places we have volunteered. 

We have had everything from a few snacks in the break room to large, catered affairs.

They do things a little different here at Inks Lake State Park. 

We didn’t sit through a long line of speeches.  We weren’t given a bunch of certificates or trinkets or other things we would have to try to find a place for in the RV.  No - we were entertained - by the staff!

This year the theme for the volunteer luncheon was “TV Land.”  There were three teams (Headquarters, Maintenance, and Store).  Each team chose a television program and the idea was to show these characters camping at Inks Lake.  The volunteers voted on their favorite team.

First up were the folks from Headquarters.  Their skit was from The Simpsons. 

If you’ve ever seen the show you know that it starts out with Bart writing on the blackboard: 

Then, the whole family ends up (usually sitting on the couch) trying to sit on top of each other:
They were pretty awful, which made them even more funny.  Marge was played by the Park Superintendent.  I don’t know where they found blue bubble wrap.  The other “parts” were balloons. 

Next up was the Park Store.  We couldn’t figure out what show their skit was from but we heard someone say it was Dawn of the Dead. 

They had wonderful zombie costumes and had put a lot of time and effort into their stage setup:
Last up was Maintenance.  They chose The A Team: 
 The van
 Hannibal Smith
They went all out!  They were the only team that memorized their lines for their skit (which had something to do with hunting down a state park pass to get into the park) and they did a great job.  In fact, they were voted Best In Show.

The whole team: B.A. Baracus, Murdock, Face, and Hannibal Smith
But wait, there’s more!

In addition to the skits, there was a cook-off competition between the 3 teams.  I was asked to be one of the food judges and was told “We’ll just taste everything and decide which dish we liked the best.”  Well, since each team had 10-15 dishes, there were a few dishes that I didn’t get around to tasting!  The Maintenance guys won the cook-off competition too. 
The food line

In addition to the RV volunteers (about 18 couples), the park Friends Group was also invited.
We had a large turnout of volunteers and staff.
Almost every place we have volunteered at the staff has made us feel welcome and appreciated.  This is the first park that has also entertained us and we had a wonderful time.


Sunday, February 16, 2014

A Day at the Airfield

If you've been following our blog for a while, you might recall that I began flying Radio Controlled (RC) model aircraft while we were in Colorado in 2012. I flew again in Colorado this past summer, but haven't found a place to fly while we are in Texas.

Teri discovered that there is an active club within 20 minutes of our location, so we headed out there to see what they had to offer.  We were lucky enough to meet one of their officers (Mike) and he was eager to show us around.  He mentioned that he had a new plane that he needed pictures of in flight, and I volunteered to come back Saturday morning with my camera to give it a try.

Saturday was a beautiful morning, and club members were out in force.  We saw 8 gentlemen flying about 10 different aircraft so I got a lot of photography practice.

One of the oddest aircraft was this "Quad Rotor" Helicopter with a camera mounted on the bottom.  This pilot uses his helicopter to get aerial views of the airfield and planes. The helicopter is very sophisticated, and includes a "return home" option that flies it back to the spot where it took off. It uses GPS, gyros, and an autopilot feature to accomplish this.
Quad Rotor Helicopter with Go-Pro Camera.
Mike hadn't arrived with his plane when we got there, so I practiced on a couple of other airplanes.
de Havilland Beaver.
T-28 Trojan (Navy Trainer).
Mike arrived with his new plane, and I got to work. This was a very quick plane that was built for racing. The plane has a top speed of over 100 mph, but Mike slowed it down as much as he could to assist with the pictures.  I still ended up with a whole lot of partial shots!
Looks Fast Sitting on the Runway!
It is even Faster in the Air!
Banking Hard into a Turn.
Back in for a Smooth Landing.
There were a few acrobatic planes flying.
This Yak-54 had a clear covering on the bottom, so it looked very strange as it flew over.  You could see the innards!
Yak-54 (bottom). 
One of the last planes to fly was a twin-engine model of a B-24 bomber. This was a very successful bomber used by the Allied Forces in World War II. 
So here's looking at you!


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

# 70

I’ve been crocheting afghans for The Linus Connection for several years now.  Last year I started crocheting preemie afghans for NICU babies for Heart of Texas Threads of Love.

I have taken pictures of all my afghans and last month counted them up.  I donated my 70th blanket last month!

Want to see # 70?

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Longhorn Cavern State Park

On a very cold, windy day, we headed out to Longhorn Cavern State Park.

Longhorn Cavern has been a state park since 1932.  Even though it is a State Park, a private concessionaire has always operated it.

Due to the bad weather, our group of 4 had a private tour of the caverns.  Our guide was from the area and very knowledgeable. 
Earliest records indicate that the Comanche Indians were the first to use the cavern.  In more recent history, the cavern was used as a Confederate stronghold where gunpowder was manufactured in secret during the Civil War.
The cavern stays about 68 degrees year round.  It is one of the few river-formed caverns in Texas.  It was created over thousands of years by the dissolving and cutting action of water on the limestone bedrock of the area.  

There are only about a dozen Eastern Pipistrelle bats in the cavern.  They do not hang out together, they are loners.
When the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) began work at Longhorn Cavern in the 1930s, many of the cavern's chambers were filled with dozens of feet of silt and debris. To protect the cavern and its ecosystem, the CCC blocked off the four natural entrances to the cave, leaving one (gated) entrance.

From 1934 to 1942, the CCC constructed residences, pavilions and an observation tower.
If you find yourself on Park Road 4, take a tour of this beautiful cave.