Wrapping Up the East Side

fullsizeoutput_4964When we arrived at Ridgeview Campground it was mid May and we had half-days of peace and quiet in our section of the campground on the east side of Lake Cascade State Park.

fullsizeoutput_4accAs May became June and then July, our site looked more like this!   Ridgeview is one of the busiest campgrounds in the park and we had neighbors coming and going all the time.  

fullsizeoutput_4aceThe Fourth of July week was especially busy.   We were able to watch fireworks over the lake right from our site.   The  lights to the right of the fireworks are some of the dozens of boats on the lake with people getting the best view of all.

Randy gave his all to the east side maintenance position. He enjoyed the people and most of the projects.  He didn’t like irrigating or getting up for the 8:00 am staff meetings held on the east side.  Overall it was a very positive experience and he did a great job. 

fullsizeoutput_4acfThe last project he worked on was assembling new picnic tables.   There was suppose to be a plank marked Idaho State Parks for each the 75 new tables but after unpacking several pallets of planks he found just a few so inscribed.  He hated leaving the project in limbo but until the planks are found, or replaced, that project is on hiatus and left for others to complete.

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He also worked on assembling and installing some new fire pits.

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The first half of the summer season comes to an end and Team Ridgeview went to dinner to celebrate.  No one covered the campground for a couple hours….oh well!   We enjoyed working with Richard and Tammy a lot!

The plan for the second half had been for us to go to West Mountain campground and be camp-hosts until the end of the season.  As the last week evolved some incoming volunteers canceled and current volunteers accommodated changing plans.  We were agreeable to letting the West Mountain camphosts stay where they were and Randy took the west side maintenance host position.  

His primary project will be to continue the previous host’s work of repairing a pole fence around campgrounds on the west side.

So, Randy will be working to put a roof over our heads for a few more months. (Or more accurately, working for the site for the roof over our heads.)  That is a family joke because we always used my paycheck to pay our mortgage.  I always teased him that I was the one who put a roof over his head. Of course the money he made did EVERYTHING else!

fullsizeoutput_4ab9We are in site 250 at Poison Creek Campground on the west side of Lake Cascade State Park. The nearest town is Donnelly for anyone coming our way.  Our new site is much more spacious. I think we are going to like it!  

fullsizeoutput_4abaAnd if you turn around, the lake is close too.  We are looking forward to getting out the inflatable canoe and paddleboard!

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Serene, Meet Serene

fullsizeoutput_4a8fFor many summers,  Serene (not me) has had a clothing tent at the flea market south of Cascade.  We stopped and met her a few years ago.   We decided to stop again and took the opportunity to chat.

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Serene and Serene – That sure is strange!

Serene remembered us stopping before and said she has met one other Serene in addition to me.  Randy and I saw a Serene on TV as a Jeopardy contestant years ago but it wasn’t the same one this Serene met.  So there are at least four of us.

In the last blog post, the Serene you know (me) was not impressed with our new tankless water heater.  Randy tried a few things and the change that made the best impact was increasing the temperature to 120 degrees.  The water going by the heater gets hotter so even when added to more water at higher pressure the end result is a stronger, hotter flow.   One positive of this water heater is that, once we get it set, there really is unlimited hot water.  The second person doesn’t have to wait for the water to re-heat which was normal operating procedure before.

All that being said, if we had it to do over again I’d vote against the tankless water heater.  We have found a way to make it work for now, but it is unclear whether it will be easily manageable with varying water pressures and filters as we travel.   The current plan is to live with it through the summer in Cascade and see how it goes during our travels in the fall.

If we decide to replace it, Randy will do that during our extended volunteer stay in Arizona this winter.  We’ll be at Kartchner Caverns State Park near Benson from late December to the end of April.  We visited Kartchner Caverns State Park last year and thought it might be a good place to volunteer.  (Here is the link to that visit.) Randy really likes the idea of driving the tram and we’d like to support the caverns.  It will also give us the opportunity to further explore that part of Arizona.    

Getting back to our Cascade activities,  I have been taking ukelele lessons.   We’ve been carting around my ukelele for years and this is the first place we’ve stayed long enough to seek out lessons.

fullsizeoutput_4a7bThis is my teacher Steve (left) and fellow student George.  George is not a beginner and they were providing music for Alpha Nursery’s Open House.   Randy and I went to enjoy the music, the free food, and to get my ukelele re-strung.

fullsizeoutput_4a76Steve had suggested my instrument might stay tuned better if I upgraded my tuners.  Of course that meant if Randy upgraded my tuners!    Things went fine on Randy’s end of the project but when I tried to re-string it, I broke one.   And of course it happened on a late Friday afternoon in a small town in central Idaho.  No music store here.
fullsizeoutput_4a8cSteve to the rescue!  He brought strings to the nursery and got my ukelele back into practicing condition.

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Beginner student and patient teacher!  And the teacher’s wife (also patient).

 

fullsizeoutput_4a0dWe go down the road to Boise now and then.  A couple weeks ago I was happy to join my church choir friends one more time.  Singing at church was a joy when we lived in Boise and the worship pastor, Adrianne,  welcomed me back anytime we were in town.    She invited all past choir members to join her for her final Sunday leading worship before retirement.   Adrianne is well loved by the worship team and people came from all over.   

fullsizeoutput_4a94On another trek to Boise Randy volunteered to drive one of the park trucks to take another of their trucks to the body shop.  The park’s newest truck, a 2018 model with only 6300 miles, was hit by an elk.  The ranger was fine, the truck needs a lot of work and the elk perished. 

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Elk hair embedded in the tire.

There seems to be a lot of road kill on these curvy mountain roads.   Roadkill salvage is legal in Idaho and people are able to take animals that are accidentally killed by collision and use the meat and/or body parts.   Recently it became legal to put injured animals out of their misery.  It is a sad tale but good that some use be made of the poor animals.

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Missing Cindy – she took the picture!  Thanks for dinner John!

We enjoy seeing friends on our trips to Boise.  This was a wonderful evening spent with friends John, Deb, Darrell and Cindy.   It is nice to be near the old home town.

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Did Handy Randy Have a Maintenance Fail?

Time is flying by in Cascade!  We have been here for six weeks and move to the west side in less than two.   We are pleased and surprised at how social we have been.  

We continue to enjoy time with Kent and Pam at their cabin and were glad that friends Darrell and Cindy came to camp nearby.  I met Sally, one of my former principals, for lunch in McCall and Randy started his golf league with former co-worker Rodger.

We were happy that family members from Vancouver, the Tri-Cities and Boise joined us for a family camping reunion.   Thanks to my mom, my aunt and cousins for making the longer than usual trek to Cascade.

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Our grandson experienced fishing for the first time.  He caught four fish in about 10 minutes.  It will never be that easy again! 

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Connie and Michael, cousins from Portland, came through for an afternoon visit.

fullsizeoutput_4a3cRandy’s former co-worker Bryan and family came from Boise to enjoy the lake for a few days.  We joined them at our “go to” place, the Lake Front restaurant at the Cascade golf course, within walking distance of our campsite.

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My former teaching partner Connie and her husband camped nearby for a few days.  Connie and I worked very closely together for 9 years across two schools and two principals.  We knew each other’s hopes, dreams and foibles quite well.  It was nice to catch up.

And then there are our jobs… I am the substitute camp host at Ridgeview when the regular host is gone.  Mostly that is a matter of checking in campers and cleaning sites. It also involves redirecting campers who get here by mistake because their GPS doesn’t know Lake Cascade State Park has 11 different campgrounds.

Occasionally I have to give rule reminders.  When I let a man know that drones weren’t allowed in the park he told me that his drone wasn’t in the park, it was over the lake.   The life of a camp host….

Randy has done a huge variety of maintenance activities for the park.  He has worked on docks, fences, hoses, signs and bikes.  He has painted, mowed, trimmed and hauled yard waste.   I’m sure if he were here, he could name many other tasks he has done.

He has had home maintenance to do too.   He discovered our water heater had rusted through and needed to be replaced.   We identified three options – the first was to work through the extended warranty and have our water heater replaced with an identical unit.  That would cost roughly $100 in deductible fees, probably two trips to Boise with the trailer, and significant delay.  We never considered that option seriously.   

Option 2 was to order the same Suburban 12 gallon water heater from Amazon for about $600 and Randy complete the install.

 

Option 3 was to order a tankless water heater for $550.   Randy liked this option because it would lighten the load by about 100 pounds when we travel.   After talking through the pros and cons, we decided on the tankless water heater.  Although it said professional installation was recommended,  Handy Randy is just as good (or better) and we weren’t worried.  Amazon Prime delivered it in two days and Randy went to work.   

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He removed the old unit and could see how wet the area had become.

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The new water heater is quite a bit smaller so Handy Randy had to build a brace.

 He verified it worked and finished the install.   Randy’s first hot shower was deemed a success.

That first shower was one of only a few fully successful uses of the tankless hot water heater.   We knew there would be a learning curve and I am TRYING to be patient but it has been frustrating.  

Our campground has high water pressure and if you use anything approaching maximum volume there is too much water going past the heat source to heat it adequately.  You have to find the sweet spot for pressure and temperature and waste water and time in the process.   It is impossible to get really hot water in the kitchen sink because that faucet automatically mixes hot and cold water.

I want to emphasize that this isn’t a fail on Handy Randy’s part.  He did lots of research, read lots of reviews and successfully installed the unit.  I agreed with the choice.

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However,  I think it is entirely likely he will be buying me a new old technology water heater for my birthday in September.   It might even be an early birthday present!

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Unexpected Lessons in Unexpected Places

P1030031We have been to beautiful Lake Cascade State Park a dozen (or more) times.  It was a nice comfortable distance for a weekend trip from Boise – usually with our friends Darrell and Cindy.    During years of Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends, we were all about relaxing with our friends.

fullsizeoutput_49d9Being here for the entire summer season means there is more time to explore the area.   I was surprised to find reference to the Long Valley Massacre memorial within walking distance of our site.

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We almost always prepare to pick up trash when we walk.

fullsizeoutput_49daThe Long Valley Massacre happened on August 20, 1878 following a horse theft.   Four local men believed a small band of Indians were responsible and followed the Indians’ trail.  The men were ambushed at this place.   

fullsizeoutput_49cdThree of the four locals were killed.   The fourth man hid in a log jam in the river and escaped after dark.

fullsizeoutput_49cfThe bodies were found by soldiers and buried in the area.   The graves were found and marked in 1929 but we were not able to see any remains of the marking.

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We did see these bones nearby! 

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And on a happier note…

Randy and I have been exploring the idea of joining the Elks for a few months.  Being Elks is a common thing with full time RVers both for social connections and for member only campgrounds.

fullsizeoutput_49cbOur efforts came to fruition this week when Randy was initiated into Boise Elks Lodge #310.  Although women are welcome to be members, we didn’t want to pay the annual fee for both of us when I can do everything but attend meetings as a member spouse.

I was able to attend the orientation prior to initiation and learned a few interesting things. The group that became the Elks started with a collection of actors in New York City in 1867.  They gathered together on Sundays when they could not work because of Blue Laws. They called themselves the Jolly Corks.   

When one of their group died, the remaining Jolly Corks assisted the man’s family.  That began the  hallmark of service to others.   Wanting to become an even more substantive benevolent group, they formalized and became The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks in 1868.

The Elk was chosen as their symbol because it is distinctively American and fleet of foot.   Elks live in herds and are gentle and peaceful.  Yet, they are strong and valiant in defense of self and others.

As the original actor Elks moved about, other lodges were established and denoted by number.   The Boise Lodge came into being in 1896 and was number 310.  Of the fifty two charter members in Boise, six became Governor and five became US Senators from Idaho.

All Elks lodges continue to have benevolence as a cardinal principle.  This principle is joined by justice for all, brotherly love and fidelity.     The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks just celebrated their 150th Anniversary.  

Randy was impressed with the sincerity and authenticity of the eight members who came out on a Sunday afternoon to orient and install three new members – two men and one woman.

I stayed in the lounge while the members and initiates went through the formalized process of becoming an Elk.    When it was over one of the members said she was leaving “with Enrique.”   Enrique appeared to be the statue she was carrying,  so I had to ask.

fullsizeoutput_49c7She told me that Enrique, or “Kiki”, was murdered in Mexico because of the drug trade and that his death resulted in the drug awareness effort called Red Ribbon Week.   I was a teacher – of course I knew about Red Ribbon Week.  We participated every October in this drug awareness campaign but I didn’t know it had a tragic beginning.

Google research revealed that Enrique Camarena was a US Drug Enforcement Agency undercover agent in Guadalajara, Mexico.  He was kidnapped, tortured and killed in 1985.   The Boise Elks Lodge was awarded this bust of Enrique Camarena for their nation leading efforts in drug prevention.   As I said, you can learn unexpected lessons in unexpected places.

Not unexpected was our truck odometer going over 100,000 miles.   We have always had low mileage on our vehicles but not this one.   We bought our 2012 Ford SuperDuty truck new and it has been our only vehicle since June, 2014.  Low mileage doesn’t apply.

Even though Randy has driven approximately 98,000 of those 100,000 miles, he was not in the truck when it rolled over to 100,000.   I was driving to McCall and briefly went down a side road to be out of traffic to take the pictures.     I wonder where we’ll be when it goes over 200,000?

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Thanks for Visiting!

fullsizeoutput_49c2Since we arrived at  Lake Cascade State Park in mid May we have had two anniversaries.  On May 19th we forgot to celebrate four years of living full time in our fifth-wheel.   We did remember to celebrate our 38th wedding anniversary on May 23rd.   We went to a local pizza joint with Jack, our first friend to visit us here at the park.

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Jack camped two spots down for a few days – that was fun!

fullsizeoutput_49aeWe spent a little time with the neighbors who came into the site between us.   En-route from Florida to Alaska, these fans were trying to watch Tampa Bay’s hockey playoff game on their cell-phones.    We were able to get the game on our satellite and invited them in to watch.  That was probably the first hockey game Randy and I have ever watched.   Jack got us to watch, and care a little bit, about the NBA playoffs too.   It’s good for friends to expand our horizons!

fullsizeoutput_4989We have had several other visitors too!   Rodger and Donna came through for a visit on their way to McCall.   Rodger and Randy are planning to play golf in a Monday night league this summer.

P1010698We were delighted to reconnect with Judy and Steve when they came to the park for an overnight stay.  Judy even brought us yummy banana bread.

P1010718We met Sharon and Stu last May when we were volunteering at Umpqua Lighthouse State Park.  They have taken to volunteering at the actual Umpqua Lighthouse.  We were glad to see them when they came by for a visit.  We will be glad to spend more time with Sharon and Stu when they move their RV onto their Lake Cascade property later in the summer.

 

 

fullsizeoutput_49bfAnd since friends Kent and Pam have a cabin in the area we’ve seen them several times already.  We have been playing a card game called Golf and having a ball.  We look forward to spending lots of time with Kent and Pam this summer!

 

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Randy and camp-host Richard repairing some fencing.

We are delighted with all of our visitors, yet Randy is here to be the maintenance host.  His obligation is 20 – 25 hours per week but he’s working a lot more than that.    I  have helped with projects for the park office  and am the substitute camp-host when Richard is off.   It has been really busy!   

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Randy especially will need to find a better balance by working shorter days or fewer days.

We have had quite a few thunderstorms in the last two weeks.  There was an especially bad one over Memorial Day Weekend.   The winds were raging and the lake was rolling white-caps.

fullsizeoutput_49bbThese campers waited too long to decide to get their boat out of the water and back onto the trailer.   It was pretty scary to watch them try repeatedly to push the boat out far enough to start the engine and get moving before the waves pushed them back again.  Then we watched them almost capsize as they worked their way across the waves.  We had anxiety that their adventure was going to end in significant peril for them (no lifejackets) or the boat, but it all worked out.

 

 

fullsizeoutput_49beDue to the rain and snow melt, the lake is very high.  The water cascades abundantly through the dam.

fullsizeoutput_49bcThat didn’t stop this dad and his kids from fishing 50 feet from the intake.  I wish I could say the dad was being careful with his sons in this danger zone, but I can’t.  I had to go away.

Even with the occasional aggravation, we are glad to be here.   We are enjoying our fellow volunteers, the park staff and the work.  Elko doesn’t like it because he has to be on his chain when he is outside.   That is a rule almost everywhere we go, but one we usually ignore.   Unfortunately for him,  we can’t ignore it when we are camp volunteers. We try to make it up to Elko with many walks and a couple wades in the lake each day.

Thanks so much to our visitors and please know, we are selfishly hoping for more of you.  We used to laugh at people who volunteered so close to home and now we are loving being close enough to connect with so many people from our old home town of Boise.

P1010684Site 197, Ridgeview Campground, Lake Cascade State Park.

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The Far Back, The Near Back and The Present

The Far Back:

fullsizeoutput_4942  In eastern Washington we crossed the Columbia River and visited Gingko Petrified Forest State Park.    Preserved within the Gingko Lava flow, there are Elm, Walnut, Spruce, Gingko, Douglas Fir and Maple formations of petrified wood.  

fullsizeoutput_493cWe were too early in the season for the Visitor Center but we did enjoy the petrified wood and displays nearby.

 

P1010543The Vantage Petroglyphs were moved to this site near the Visitor’s Center.   Their original location is under water in the nearby Wanapum Reservoir.

fullsizeoutput_493aThe petrified wood was exposed through Ice Age flooding, erosion and human activity.   The Wanapum and other local Native Americans used it for arrowheads and other tools.

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Two miles away, a trail winds its way by dozens of protected petrified wood specimens.

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A view through the protective screening.

The Near Back:

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Chief Yellow Wolf said, “We have always been here.  Nature placed us in this land of ours.”    

The native people who roamed seasonally for centuries on the high plateaus that became  Idaho, Montana, Washington and Oregon called themselves the Nimiipuu.  We know them as the Nez Perce.

fullsizeoutput_494bOriginally friendly with white visitors, the Nez Perce worked with the federal government.  In 1855 a treaty established the reservation covering much of their native lands.   Unfortunately, white men weren’t satisfied to respect treatied lands and some 18,000 encroached on Nez Perce lands.

fullsizeoutput_494dA second treaty (in 1863) reduced Nez Peace lands to one tenth of the 1855 allotment.    Resentment, skirmishes and atrocities disillusioned a segment of the Nez Perce and war erupted in 1877.   These Nez Perce, led by chiefs Joseph, Looking Glass and Toohoolhoolzote, won the war’s first battle in June 1877 at White Bird.    They led their people on an 1100 mile odyssey trying to avoid troops commanded by General Oliver Howard.  The war’s last battle, in October 1877, was at Bear Paw in Montana.  The Nez Perce who fought the government were sent to reservations throughout the west.

P1010587Areas where the Nez Perce lived, fled and battled are now part of the Nez Perce National Historical Park.  There are 38 sites in four states.  An auto tour totals more than 1000 miles.  You can’t live and travel in this part of the country without happening upon Nez Perce  battlefield and historical sites.  

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We’ve seen Chief Joseph’s Grave near Wallowa Lake in Joseph, Oregon.

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We’ve seen the Heart of the Monster near Kamiah, Idaho and heard the native creation story.

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And we’ve driven by the White Bird Battlefield numerous times as we’ve gone up and down White Bird Hill on Highway 95 in central Idaho.

fullsizeoutput_4956The Visitor’s Center for the Nez Perce Historical Park is near Lewiston, Idaho. It is on the site of the former Lapwai Mission established in 1836, long before treaties and war.

Henry_H._SpaldingHenry Spalding and his wife Eliza came to establish the first school and church in Idaho.   They traveled west with fellow Presbyterian missionaries Marcus and Narcissa Whitman.  It might have been an interesting trip because Henry had proposed to Narcissa first.

The foundation of the Spalding home and remains of their fireplace are visible.  The Spaldings left the Lapwai Mission for the Willamette Valley after the Whitmans were massacred in 1848.   (The Whitman mission site sits near present day Walla Walla, Washington.)

fullsizeoutput_494fHenry Spalding returned to the Lapwai Mission later in life and served as a teacher.   In his last years, he was cared for by the Nez Perce and buried on site.  Eliza’s remains were brought from the Willamette Valley in Oregon and placed with her husband.

fullsizeoutput_4955There are other interesting buildings on the Lapwai mission site.   This Indian Agency House, built in 1862, is just yards from the former Spalding home site.

This was the Indian Agent’s Residence.  Agent John Monteith served for 8 years, including the difficult year of 1877.

fullsizeoutput_4957The nearby Spalding Presbyterian Church began services in 1876, well after the time of Reverand and Eliza Spalding.   The Spalding influence on the Nez Perce was great.   This building is still used for Sunday services.

To explore the area, we stayed at McKay’s Bend RV Park east of Lewiston on Highway 12.   The campground land is owned by the Nez Perce and jointly managed by the BLM and Idaho Fish and Game department.  We had been told about the park numerous times.  We came on a Sunday afternoon since there are only 14 sites (full hook-up) and no reservations.  (There was also only 1X internet service so we were glad it was a short stay.)

We met camp-host Norm,  age 84, the man who successfully balances three master agencies.  He and his wife began hosting at McKay’s Bend full time in 2003.  She passed away in 2010 and he stayed on.  He enjoys having a purpose and keeps the park looking beautiful all by himself.

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There are lots of bunnies!

There are lots of cows on them thar’ hills –  and we heard coyotes.

And there is a wading pond for Elko – otherwise known as the Clearwater River.

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Elko helped Randy rest up before he goes back to “work”.

The Present:

P1010684We have arrived at site 197 in Ridgeview Campground at Lake Cascade State Park in Cascade, Idaho.  This will be our home until July 9th.  Randy will serve as maintenance host on the east side of the lake.  I’m not sure if I’ll be his gopher or find something else to do – or maybe nothing at all 🙂  

July 9th, we will move to the west side of the lake to camp-host at West Mountain campground until the end of the camping season.   If you are in the area, please get in touch!

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Projects Big and Small

The Small Project:

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We bought this tray on our Mazatlan honeymoon in 1980.  Thirty-four years later it made the move with us into the trailer.  We are still using the tray but my taste in tile has changed.   I planned to look for replacement tiles the next time we were in Mexico.

fullsizeoutput_482fI was surprised to find Mexican tile on Vancouver Island and delighted to find a design I liked well enough to purchase.   

Randy removed the tiles but unavoidably destroyed the bottom in the process.  That necessitated a delay until we got somewhere with tools!

fullsizeoutput_48c2We went to my cousin Lisa’s house!   Her husband Chris has all the appropriate tools and the project was completed with help from him and everyone else.

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Randy decided I should finish up the project.  I used hot glue to place the tiles so if I decide to change designs again they will come off more easily.

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Workers and supervisors of the small project:  My mom Beverly, Lisa, me, Chris, Kylee and Aunt Bonnie.

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I’m very happy with my new old tray!

We didn’t actually go to Lisa’s house to fix my tray – it just worked out that way.   My mom was visiting them to go to Kylee’s softball game and we made a change to our schedule to be there too.

We had a nice time watching Kylee’s games!   They finished the league in first place.

We always enjoy staying with my cousins and aunt.  They have the best RV park in their backyard, the food is always great, and we play a lot of cards!

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We should have taken a picture when my mom was still there!

The Big Project

We also had the opportunity to take our second Hanford Tour.  My family has extensive history with Hanford and we took the B Reactor tour a couple years ago.  Learn about the history of Hanford and the development of plutonium for the Manhattan Project in our blog  Familiar and Family Ground .

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This second tour was about the ongoing clean up of the 640 square mile Hanford site.  Security was tight and they don’t allow cell phones or cameras.  Chris has worked in clean up operations and was able to help me out with some visuals.

During 50+  years of plutonium production 100,000 tons of fuel from reactors, 450 billion gallons of liquids and soil waste, and 56 million gallons of radioactive waste were disposed of.   

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Some was dumped into vast holes and buried.

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Some were put in drums and then into vertical pipes and buried.

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The tops of those vertical pipes are visible in this photo as clean up begins.

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Laborers in hazmat suits meet the challenges of whatever waste is encountered.   Radiation levels are monitored for every worker.

 

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Truck drivers like Chris move the waste to a new engineered land fill, reducing the chance of leakage into the nearby Columbia River or ground water.

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Site 618-10, the area where Chris worked, is massive!

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Clean up in this section is done!

The shift to clean up mode on the Hanford site began in 1989.  It is regulated by the Tri-Party Agreement between the Department of Energy, The Environmental Protection Agency and the State of Washington’s Department of Ecology.  

A primary focus is dealing with 177 steel tanks containing hazardous waste.    Every tank contains a unique “witches brew” that may be liquid, sludge, or salt-cake in form.

One hundred and forty nine of the tanks are single wall construction and 67 have already leaked a combined 1 million gallons of hazardous waste into the ground. All are long past their 20 year life expectancy.  The current urgency is to take waste from the single wall tanks and put them into the larger, safer double wall tanks.   There are 28 double wall tanks and one of those is already compromised.  The other 27 are at or near the end of their 40 year life expectancy.

The longterm solution is to move the waste from single wall tanks to double wall tanks and then through a vitrification process.  This process adds silica and heats the waste to to produce a stable, radioactive glass.  The glass would then be stored permanently in stainless steel containers.

The lower level radioactive glass would be stored at Hanford indefinitely.   The high level radioactive glass would be moved to Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository (or substitute facility) if it is ever built.   

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Continuing with big projects, the Hanford Vitrification Plant is currently the largest construction project in the United States. It employs 2800 people.   The Vit Plant is scheduled to begin processing low level waste in 2022 and high level waste in 2029.

Yearly budgets from Congress are an annual fight.  Each year a greater percentage of the monies are needed just to maintain the status quo.   Without budget increases, clean up schedules will slip.

Hanford clean up is more than just a big project – it is a massive project.  It is America’s largest superfund site – largest in dollars and largest in area – a site larger than Los Angeles.  

Hanford has a complex legacy.  Many believe the technologies and plutonium developed shortened WWII and saved lives.   The radioactive byproducts of plutonium development were not the focus, winning WWII and the Cold War were.  

With the focus shifted to cleaning up the vast Hanford landscape, new technologies are developed to meet each new challenge .   Although goals of restoration, protecting the Columbia River, and returning as much land as possible to local tribes are lofty, we saw good things happening on our tour.  

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Thank you for your work Chris!

 

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