ONWR Week 4

ONWR Boardwalk

This past week followed the usual work pattern at ONWR. Monday and Tuesday I worked at the Visitors Center. Wednesday I worked with Maintenance. Monday morning a handful of people came in to buy their Senior Passes. The last day for the $10 price was Sunday 8/28. Most were just disappointed that they had missed the deadline and walked out without paying the new $80 fee. One person insisted that we were wrong and the deadline was 8/31. “Sorry sir. That information is wrong.” He left knowing that we were wrong and he was right in spite of the opposite being true. Some people.

On Tuesday I was assigned to count and arrange brochures. It is unbelievable how many types and the number of brochures that are kept in stock. The counting and restocking took most of the day. It was tedious work in a hot closet. I was worn out by the heat more so than the actual work.

Wednesday maintenance had me plugging ceilings with fire rated foam spray, and changing out defective GFI circuit recepticals. I was also assigned to cover the sink drains and water lines under a sink but the materials were wrong for the job. I updated the wiring for a pump but that job was left incomplete. A conduit fitting was the wrong size. I don’t like leaving any jobs unfinished but there were no other options. Maybe next Wednesday.

I spent Thursday and Friday at Pokagon Sate Park in Indiana. This gave me a chance to get my mail, and run some other errands. The main reason for the visit was a scheduled doctor’s appointment. My insurance is only good in Indiana so any scheduled visits require a trip back to Indiana. I am investigating other insurance options but the laws forbid me from making any changes until the new enrollment period. That begins in November. Such is ObamaCare. I guess I retired too early.

On Thursday afternoon, I was at The Cupbearer Cafe for the weekly evening meal and to share my latest cheese purchases with Derek and Elisabeth. Derek brought crackers. This weeks choice cheese was a twelve year old cheddar. It was very sharp and flavorful. The other cheeses were a ten year old cheddar, Old Brick, and Garlic cheese. I shared with others as well but only Derek and Elisabeth seem to really appreciate it. My favorite response from the “outsiders” was, “Tastes like 12 year old cheese.” I could only roll my eyes.

Pokagon was very quiet. The camping season is winding down. I took my favorite site across from the showers/toilet building. The showers and toilets are separate rooms within the same building. The location is also convenient for trail access. I arrived late on Thursday. The hookup and setup was quick and easy. The only connection available is the electric which allows 50 amp, 30 amp, or 15 amp service. No water means the use of the showers and bathroom are all the more valued. The TV reception is not even worth attempting the antenna but I did try. I put it away again.

Friday morning started off very cool. I had slept with the RV windows open and it was only 48 degrees by 8:30AM. My covers had kept me warm. I showered, dressed and then walked to the Potawatami Inn for a buffet breakfast. The cool morning air was refreshing. I took the quickest route along the paved bicycle trail. It leads past the horse barn. The horses in the field took notice of me and raised their heads as they approached the fence closest to me. Maybe they thought I was bringing breakfast for them. They must have been disappointed.

Once at the inn restaurant, I was seated near the breezeway where I had a direct view down the sloping landscape leading to the Lake James shoreline. The buffet consisted of fruits, eggs, pancakes, waffles, bacon, sausage, and other common buffet items. I tried the coffee, but could not finish it. The flavor was not to my liking. I am an official coffee snob. The waitress did not charge me for the coffee.

A couple near me were gazing out the window and sharing an excited discussion. I glanced out the window to discover a pair of sandhill cranes and a colt (young crane) eating from the ground below a bird feeder. I have never seen this behavior from sandhill cranes. They usually keep a distance from humans. I left the table to take some photos alongside other people. The cranes were never bothered by all the attention. Eventually they left the bird feeder and strutted to other areas of the grounds.

Sandhill Cranes at the Potawatami Inn

After breakfast I walked to the Nature Center. I sat at the window looking out at the bird feeders for an hour while conversing with others. We all enjoyed the visiting hummingbirds, doves, wood peckers, black birds, and plenty of other birds. It is always relaxing to sit and watch as the birds vie for position at the feeders.

It was 11:00AM. I decided it was time to walk back to the RV, break camp, and dump the sewage. My next stop was Auburn, IN where I had coffee at the Cupbearer, and visited with others until 3:30. I then headed toward ONWR.

My fuel level was lower than I had thought as I bucked the wind in my eastward drive. I stopped for fuel but only purchased $20 worth of diesel. I knew that I could probably save money if I could get to Ridgeville Corners, Ohio. I was right. The fuel was ten cents cheaper per gallon there at $2.59/gallon. I filled up.

I stopped at Waterville to get groceries at the Kroger store. I did not get back to ONWR until after 6:00PM. The winds had followed me all the way and continued throughout the night. It was another cool evening and a cooler Saturday morning.

I made a simple breakfast and kicked back to await the arrival of Dennis and Sue. They were coming over from Fort Wayne to visit for the day. They arrived around 11:30AM. After showing them around the RV and the immediate area, we headed to the Perch, Peach, Pierogi, and Polka Festival in Port Clinton. The food was very good, perch, fries, and coleslaw all washed down with a Polish beer. Pierogis too. The music was a mix of rock, and polka accompanied by a banjo. Different.

We drove around Catawba Island and made a stop at Cheese Haven where I purchased some Swiss cheese, Smoked bacon cheese, and a smoked hot pepper cheese. I look forward to sharing this at The Cupbearer.

We returned to the wildlife refuge visitor center where I gave a quick tour and we saw a Monarch butterfly tagged and released. We also took advantage of the weekend drive of the trails where we did some bird spotting. After that it was time for Dennis and Sue to head out. I was happy to have them visit.

The rest of my evening was very quiet. I took an hour and a half long walk. My dinner was shrimp and broccoli. Later I had cheese and a beer while watching TV. It was a fragrant evening.

On Sunday I awoke at 7:00AM with plans to join a bird counting group. We met at 8:00 in the parking lot adjacent to my RV. I crossed the bridge and I was there. We divided into groups of two and three. I joined a husband and wife. We walked through the woods to the visitor center, then back through the woods toward the north woods, through the north woods and along the dykes back to the parking lot. It was noon by the time we had finished. The entire walk was a slow progress of walking and stopping to observe bird activities and count the various species in an area. It was very educational. The couple has been at this for some time and have a much greater knowledge of birds than I have. They called out subspecies of species I was unfamiliar with. Most of the time they did not need to consult a bird guide.

Bird Count at ONWR

The bird counters gathered at Blackberry Corners for lunch. We had just missed breakfast. The burger and fries were good. I had ridden with Jimmy who also works at ONWR. We bought pieces of pie to bring back with us for our fellow workers. I recommend the apple.

Monday was Labor Day. Jimmy, Craig, and I were the entire staff for the refuge. We spent the day at the visitor center reading, talking, and helping out the 126 visitors. There were many more who drove through the refuge on the opened trails. The trails are only open to vehicles on the weekends. The holiday allowed one extra day. I am glad that so many people took advantage of the drive. How many? I don’t know, but I have been told that it was a continuous flow of traffic from sun up to sun down.

On Monday night we were hit by a powerful thunderstorm. I had seen the risk of storms increasing and dumped my sewage before it hit. I was hunkered down in the RV when the fifty MPH gusts rocked the vehicle. The rains were very heavy and noisy at times. Periodically, I heard hail. I never once lost power or the TV signal. The rain struck sideways against the broadside of the RV. Water made its way through the heater vent and formed a small stream across my floor. I mopped it up with a towel and left the towel in place to sop up the remaining trickle. There was more to mop up in the morning.

Storm Damage

The next morning I kicked limbs off the trail as I walked to the visitors center. A visitor reported a downed tree across the drive north of my RV. As it turned out there were several downed trees. One of them was a large willow that blocks the trail. The others encroach along the edge but the road is passable there. “So it goes.”

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