Monday, March 31, 2014

First Work Day

This was our first work day on the project. Following the morning devotion, we met the staff of OWL and had a tour and explanation of the facility.

We all boarded a bus and began our tour of the facility. Our tour leader not only told us the role of each of the facilities, but also told us about how it was funded and the benefits of the facility. 

The first stop was at a retreat called the "Bunkhouse". This facility has a nice kitchen, some small cabins, and a sleeping facility. The building shown in the background is the kitchen and dining area. There are 6 cabins surrounding this building. 

This building is the bunkhouse. It has two sleeping areas and a large conference room in the center. The building was designed as an architectural project by a group of students from Louisiana Tech. It is certainly a unique building.  

 The next stop was at the greenhouses. Originally the greenhouses were used to produce tomatoes for the salsa project that provides some revenue for the center. The salsa making venture now has become large that tomatoes must be sourced from outside the center. The greenhouse is now being used for the production of ferns for sale.

 A small orchard provides some fruit for the jelly making operation of the center. Again is the production and sale of the jellies grows as fast as the salas, other sources of fruit will need to be developed

The next stop was at the Conference Center. This is a large multipurpose building where meetings are held, The building is not only used for events of the center, but also can be used by the public for a fee. 

A hotel is available for use by the parents  of the children who are in the center. The facility is designed much like a hotel, with the exception there is not a television in the room, so that reduces the demand for the facility. 

There are two beautiful lakes on the property. The lakes are stocked with fish. The species include catfish, bass, crappie, and brim. I certainly hope to reduce the number of fish in the lake before I leave the project. 

The center has a equine center that is used for therapeutic purposes . Many of the children have emotional problems, and this is a way to help them over come their problems. The center currently has 26 horses that are used for this purpose. 

Our first project was to clean and prepare the outdoor chapel area for a wedding that is scheduled in the near future. 

It will be intersting to see what tomorrow brings. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Our First Weekend

Our first night and day on the project site was quite different than anything else we had experienced. The weather in the afternoon was beautiful but as evening set in, the television started broadcasting weather alerts, high winds and torrential rain was in the forecast. The wind gusts were strong enough that we did feel the trailer shake several times, but we did escape hail and tornadoes. The rain was very heavy throught the night and the next morning I was surprised at how much water was around the site.

We had planned a very peaceful day of doing laundry and grocery shopping, but Greta upset that plan early in the day. She had nausea all during the night and we though it might be best if we took her to a veterinarian. After doing a Google search we found a veterinarian clinic in Farmersville that was open and would see her. So we proceeded to travel to a town that was 30 miles away to get her checked out. Luckily it was nothing serious and with a couple of shots and some special food she recovered completely. We did manage to get some grocery shopping done, but he laundry had to wait. With all the rain, I was not able to do much outside until the ground dried a little more. Hopefully by Monday I can finsih setting up the trailer.

Saturday afternoon we traveled west to the town of Homer where we had a very nice visit with Nelson and Doris Philpot. I have been friends of the family for many years and it was great to catch up and have some interesting discussions. The four of us had a wonderful dinner at Port a Prince. The dinner consisted of catfish, fried potatoes, coleslaw, hushpuppies, and pickles. Following the dinner we enjoyed Boston Cream Pie at the Philpot home before we started back to the camp site.

At the end of the day we were worn out and the bed looked very good?

Our campsite is on the grounds of the Center. We all the amenities we need for a comfortable stay. The only distractions is the noise of the pumps on the gas wells int he area and the motors at the drilling rig. 

On Sunday morning we attended church at the Antioch Methodist Church near the campsite. It is always interesting to visit the different churches as we travel with NOMADS.  Following the service we had lunch together in the nearby town of Ruston. 

The pavilion is near where we are camped so we meet for devotionals and meetings. We also enjoy our breaks there. The facility has a kitchen, meeting area, and is near the sports field. 

The group met to become acquainted and to get their assignments on Sunday afternoon. A team picture will be taken later. The team members are from Alabama, Louisiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin. We are all looking forward to a productive time at OWL. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

We Arrived

After our short stay in Metropolis to enjoy some time with my parents, we continued our journey south. Our travels took us across the Mississippi River at the point where the Ohio River ends. the flat land of bootheel of Missouri was a welcome sight, except for the high winds that we encountered. The wind gusts were in excess of 30 mph so the driving was difficult. The route took us to West Memphis, Arkansas and the west on I-40 to Little Rock. It was on that stretch of road that we encountered torrential rains...made driving difficult, but it washed the salt off the trailer and truck.

We spent the night at Willow Beach Recreational Area. It is a site operated by the Corps of Engineers. The site was fantastic, water and electric connections, and the parking area was paved so the truck and trailer were so level I did not even need to unhitch the trailer. The site was on the Arkansas river and Willow Slough. It was a very peaceful and restful place to stop, and as luck would have it the rain stopped just as we arrived! Too bad it was cloudy perhaps we could have seen a beautiful sunset if only the sun had been shining!

The route from Willow Beach to Dubach was largely through rural areas and not on the interstate highway. We certainly traveled through many miles of forested areas but did see how folks in the soth part of Arkansas live. It was a very interesting drive, but not many good stopping and resting places along the way. We arrived at our final destination shortly after lunchtime. Our first project was to unhook the trailer and go find lunch...which we found was not an easy task, but when we saw a shopping center, McDonalds and Walmart Linda realized that civilization existed in the south. The challenge with traveling in Louisiana is when I enter a destination, it always tries to send me to Los Angeles instead of the location selected in Louisiana (LA).

The OWL (Outdoor Wilderness Living Center)  is a part of the United Methodist Childrens Home of Louisiana. The center was donated by a family to the Childrens Home. The size of the property is 800 acres and it has many facilities on it now. It is used as a retreat center and a recreational area for the children, who stay at the home in Ruston. The site is sitting on a large pool of natural gas so at night we hear the hum of the drills and pumps. Unfortunately the center does not own the mineral rights so they are not benefiting from the gas drilling that is going on.

Tomorrow we will start exploring the area more and will continue to update you on the happenings at OWL.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Leaving Wisconsin

This is why we leave Wisconsin! It is March 25, should be springtime, but instead it is snowing. The low temperatures and the wind made us long for warmer days! Our day's drive ended some 422 miles south. We arrived at Fort Massac State Park (Metropolis, Illinois) where we set up camp and plan on staying a two nights so we can have a day with my parents. Dad, now 99 had a recent health scare so we thought it was a good time to take a break and visit them. Mom asked if they could come to the park for lunch tomorrow, our prayer now is that it is warm enough for them to come out.

The drive was very difficult today. High winds and snow showers generated some real challenges, not to mention the increased fuel consumption.

We are certainly looking forward to the rest of the trip and the opportunity to do some work at the United Methodist Children 's Home in Louisiana.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Off for Another Adventure!

Today Linda and I are preparing to leave on another venture. Our NOMADS adventure this time will take us to Dubach, Louisiana where we will be working at the Outdoor Wilderness Center of the United Methodist Children's Home. We do not have job assignments yet, but are certainly looking forward to the opportunity to serve others and use some of skills to make life better for others.

The trip will take us south through Illinois, crossing to the west of the Mississippi at Cario, Illinois, then traveling through the bootheel of Missouri, into Arkansas and on to Louisiana.  Dubach is located north east of Shreveport. We are hoping for some warm sunny days so we can thaw out from the cold Wisconsin winter.

As we travel south, we do plan on spending a day with my parents in Metropolis before venturing on south. Our goal is to be in Louisiana by Friday morning.

I will continue to blog as we travel and as are working at the site.