Tag Archives: camping

Entry for March 2007

Winter 2006/2007

Volunteering for the Army Corps of Engineers

Lake Somerville, Texas

We had a great time at Lake Somerville. There was a great group of volunteers and a wonderful Volunteer Coordinator, Bill Keienburg.� His philosophy is that if you are having fun and feel like you are making a difference, then you are enjoying your job.

We lived in Yegua Creek Park and were primarily responsible for maintaining the Nature Trail in that park. It is a beautiful, 1 mile, trail through the woods. Trees are labeled and the trail has a crushed granite base, lined with white limestone rocks.� The farrell hogs like to look for grubs underneath the rocks, scattering them out from the trail.� We found that, generally, the hogs did not like rooting in the sharp crushed granite. So if we placed the liner rocks on top of the granite, they’d leave it alone. The hogs were pretty alert. We couldn’t get a good picture of them.

We also volunteered to break a couple new trails – rather, old trails that had become overgrown. There is the Visitor’s Overlook Trail. This trail goes from the Visitor’s Overlook, that overlooks the dam, traveling about 1.5 miles to the William’s Cemetery. We cut a new entry to the existing trail that was easier to see from the parking area, and it is easier to walk.� We installed entry fences with split cedar rails, painted signs with trail maps and mounted them at the entries.

Williams Cemetery is an old, unused, cemetery that had been lost until a few years ago when the volunteers were looking for the USACE boundary in that area.� The cemetery was primarily used for the Williams family, although there are quite a few other family names there. It is an African American cemetery, or in local terms an “old black cemetery”.� It was abandoned in the 1950’s when the American Legion volunteered to maintain the Somerville city cemetery. Their conditions were that, because they were not a segregated organization, the city cemetery will no longer be segregated and would be available to anyone living in the city limits regardless of race, creed or color. We also helped maintain this little cemetery. We designed and painted a sign for it and all the volunteers installed it. Cub Packs and Scout (Boy and Girl) Troops volunteer, every year, to help with the maintenance.

We enjoyed watching the wildlife at Yegua Creek Park. We monitored the Bluebird nesting boxes and regretted having to leave before the eggs were hatched. The cardinals were plentiful and we had to move a nest, with eggs, out of our bumper when we left. The deer were also plentiful. We made friends with a little buck we called “spats” because he had markings on his feet that looked like he was wearing spats. We also made friends with an injured deer that a Gate Attendant nicknamed “scarface”. He looked like he had a tangle with a bobcat. He had his ears chewed up and looked like a broken jaw. I’d hate to see the bobcat, because this little deer came out the winner!� The Texas Bluebonnets gave us a great send-off in March.

Entry for October 2006

Our Summer 2006 Challenges

Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons, east of Salt Lake City, UT

It’s good to remember challenges – we learn from them!� As Area Managers we deal with challenges in several campgrounds, but as Campground Managers you only need to worry about your own campground. We met many, many wonderful campers and without the great Campground Managers we had, we would not have survived!

  • We had a Host quit before they got to the Host Site.
  • We had to use the Kubota to move snow in 3 campgrounds in order to get them opened by Memorial Day weekend.
  • We had to clean up damage, in 2 campgrounds, by a microburst storm the previous Fall (over 100 trees down); including picnic tables, tree debris, re-stringing 100’ of electrical wire from power pole to Host Site.
  • I don’t know how many toilet valves we had to replace due to winter freezing.
  • Power went out twice in one campground for a week, causing us to bring in a generator to run the water pump to ensure toilets work for opening weekend.
  • A rain storm caused a flash flood that removed the water source for the 4 lower Day Use areas. They were out of water for 2 weeks causing us to bring in porta-potties.
  • Vandals threw a porta-potty in the creek. (This is a protected watershed creek. People aren’t even allowed to wade in this creek.)
  • After the FS reworked the water source for the lower Day Use areas, everytime another storm caused the stream to rise the dirt/sand would clog one or more of the valves in the toilets. This would cause the toilets to free-flow all night and by morning the water tank would be empty.� This usually happened on or just prior to a weekend.
  • Vandals tagged 2 Days Use areas twice; painting wood and brick structures as well as rocks.
  • We had a helicopter come in to replace a power pole.
  • Life-Flight picked up a boy who had fallen backwards into a firepit.
  • One wedding party left several of their drunk guests to wreak havoc all night. The Hosts called the Sheriff when they couldn’t quiet them down.
  • 3 teenage hikers fell into the raging spring runoff river. One girl died.
  • A naked man was seen, by a group of ladies, bathing in the “watershed” creek. By the time they had reported him, he was dressed and gone.
  • A camper punctured a water line by driving a tent stake into the ground within the tent pad area. A geyser ensued.
  • The area manager went blind in one eye, due to a stroke, but was able to adjust and complete the season.
  • We had a fire in the back of a golf cart while parked at the Host Site. The FS representative just happened to be walking by and put it out.
  • A large church group reserved over 30 single sites by manipulating the reservation system. There was a FS investigation. The culprit was confronted, confessed and charges were brought.