Thursday, April 23, 2015

ON THE ROAD AGAIN - TWICE!

I find it VERY hard to believe that 8 days have past since our last post. Sorry. 

It's been kinda crazy around here. I'm having a bit of trouble keeping up with it all at the moment. 

All will be well when I can get into a good routine. It might not happen for awhile but it WILL happen. Coming off of 7 months will no routine, means that the adjustment into our summer work schedule takes a bit of well, work.

I've really enjoyed the last few weeks but for me it's been a lot of setting up - cleaning and maintenance in the park and the bookkeeping on the computer. A steep learning curve - really working my brain. I spent the better part of last night and today setting up the wireless printer. It's been a while since my brain has been that twisted up. I can only say that in good humour because I got it to work. 

Anyway, that's how it's been here - busy. Then things got even busier for me over the weekend as Derek and Cassia headed down to the Lower Mainland (that's what we call the area around Vancouver) for a few days.

Here are some pictures from their trip to Chilliwack.


The first time Cassia has been in the passenger seat. She was the photographer for the ride down.


Her vantage point is a little different from mine!


From here at Fintry they went south to Westbank and then over to Merritt - down the Coquihalla to Hope and then on to Chilliwack.


Cas loves tunnels - I wasn't surprised to see this picture.


A bit like a roller coaster - right?!


Coming into the Fraser Valley. 


Derek and Cassia were in Chilliwack for the rest of our belongings we've been storing in his sister's garage. But of course it was a great chance to visit Cassia's Auntie Lisa and cousin Krysta. That's Rufus's sister Bubbles by the way. 


Derek and Cassia brought Rufus so that he could play with his sister.


They all had a great time visiting for a few days. There's Derek's mom who you met when she visited us in Zihuatanejo in January.


Cassia's other cousin Tylar stopped in to say hello.


With everything packed up in the van and trailer they made the five hour trek back to Fintry. I just knew there'd be a selfie in there too!


A great shot of a Raven at a rest area.


Still quite a bit of snow in the mountains.


Much of our stuff is still in our trailer waiting to be unpacked. We did get out our table and chairs though. After 1 1/2 months we were done with sitting on the sofa for our meals. 


And if that wasn't enough travelling for D and C - we headed to Vernon yesterday for supplies and groceries. We switched our town day from Tuesday to Wednesday since it was cool and calling for rain.


Our favourite stretch along the 45 minute trip.


When in Vernon getting our errands done we've been finding it challenging to find a place for lunch. Then we noticed Pho Fusion. Now, Derek and Cassia had just had Vietnamese food in Chiliwack at one of our favourite places called Pho Galaxy. We had no idea if Pho Fusion would be as good but figured we'd better give it a try. 


We are happy to report it was great. Thankfully. Now we have a lunch place to go to when in town. Here's Cassia displaying her unique way with chop sticks. Somehow she actually gets food in her mouth.


After that we stopped in at Voets Coffee. My sister and brother in law on Vancouver Island got us started on Ancient Ritual coffee - our new favourite.  


Our last stop of the day was at another of our new favourite places in Vernon - Swan Lake Nursery. Although Derek and I have never met a Nursery we haven't liked. 


A gardener's dream......



You can see there that we bought some strawberry plants - 12 of them in fact. 
A good deal at $5 for three.


And finally, we have a new addition to our family. This is MnM. Actually, MnM has been with us before for a few years. She is Derek's mom's cat who has been living for the last few years with Derek's sister. Sadly, Derek's mom cannot have animals where she lives. 

Cassia has been pining for a cat - a kitten actually - and this is a good alternative. Her and MnM have become fast friends. She's going to need her patience with Cas as you can see. Ha!


So, that's how it's been for us this past week. In addition to our park work. We had a fairly busy weekend with 25 campers on Saturday night. With the beautiful weather we also started staining our picnic tables. 20 down only 80 to go.


Teresa


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

AROUND THE HOUSE

It still takes my breath away that I can actually use that phrase......

If you are 'up to here' with doing stuff around the house - just live without one for a few years!

Although it's been cool and windy we've been making progress on a few things in the yard. Derek's one of those guys that can spend all his time outside - checking this, tweaking that. He's even been known to garden by flashlight. 

Since we are expecting such a busy summer with campers he may just have to resort to that at some point to get it all done. 

But right now we have some time and are making good use of it.


Let the planting season begin!
Derek put down the back planks to stop the rain water from hitting the garden - our house does not have eavestroughs. You can see where the soil marks the wall. The other in front was added to divide the large bed. Something is in the garden but we aren't sure what - floppy fellows so doubt we'll keep them - just long enough to see what they are.

Yesterday I planted two types of kale, rainbow swiss chard, perennial spinach, mesclun, lettuce and beets. Thanks to my sis and brother in law for the seeds that they gave us when we were on the Vancouver Island


In the front garden these lilies are taking their time! But there is white showing - it shouldn't be long now!


Cas and I went to cut rhubarb this morning. Cj mentioned 'tender young rhubarb' and freezing the other day in the comments. I was thrown for a minute and quickly googled what I was missing. Although I have used rhubarb in the past I am far from an expert. I will admit to not knowing that the stocks should be picked young - I always waited for them to be large and thick! Yikes! Stands to reason - so many other things are better picked young like spinach and beet tops. 


Turns out - even though they are poisonous we can compost the leaves. Here is our new compost by the way. But our's will have to wait.....


until the dinosaurs are done with them!


I forgot to mention that a few weeks ago we planted two blueberry plants in our front garden ...


and two haskap plants. Have you heard of Haskaps before? They are very good - their flavour between a blueberry, saskatoon and raspberry, and very nutritious as berries are. We are excited for our first batch - probably not this year though.


We're over the moon to see that the lilacs are on their way! We hear that we have light and dark purple and white! Our shrubs are so large and surround that house that I think we'll be living in lilac fragrance once they are out. 


I'll fill the house with them but for now we are bringing the crab apple blossoms in. The jar to the left is Derek's experiment with poplar buds in olive oil to make a form of essential oil or salve.


Now that we have a real kitchen again - I'm back to making things homemade. 

If we're not traveling and if I'm not working or doing this and that - you can find me either reading or making something in the kitchen. 

We've gotten back to making raw dog food for Rufus. We had a recipe from a few years ago but thought that we would reeducate ourselves on what we can and can't put in his food. While shopping the other day we stocked up on sweet potato for him and here you can see that I grated some carrot. Looks like for next time I should chop the carrot finer. This site has lots of useful info. Now we also know what to grow in the garden for Rufus as well.


I also continue to improve my energy bites. I shared the recipe for these way back in May of 2012 while we were working at Skihist. Sadly, I got away from making them much in the last few years.  I've been tweaking the original recipe. In addition to the oats, coconut and chocolate, I now increase the variety of seeds and such to include ground flax, whole flax, wheat germ, sesame, sunflower and pumpkin. 

Reading all the bad news about peanut butter these days I'm trying to switch it over to almond but at $13.00 a jar it will have to wait - we as yet, haven't had a pay cheque since last September! We did find sunflower seed butter at a good price so I used that with the PB. And lastly, I decreased the amount of honey finding the called for 1/3 of a cup way too much.  

Anyway - if you are looking for a good morning or afternoon fuel this is a good one.


While I was doing that Derek and Cassia were enjoying the sun in our 'secret garden'. We used some pallets and our old cushions from the van to make a nice outdoor room with a chaise lounge.


Derek even put up some logs for Cassia to climb around on. Who needs a playground?


Tonight while I did my rounds the three of them went for a walk. Just look at the progress of our poplar and aspen trees!


Did I mention last time that this used to be a driveway to another large house on the property. 
Love this trail.


There is a place in the park with the foundation of what looked to be a significant house. It's a neat area to walk around complete with an old Packard. A nice flowering crab apple as well.


This is the only standing building in that area - wonder what it was!


So much to explore and enjoy for this almost 6 year old.

So, that's how it's been.

The park has been quiet since Easter giving us time to complete our settling in and cleaning of the park. 

Yesterday, following several emails back and forth and a Skype interview, Derek and I hired our third employee for the park. A fellow of 20 from Saskatchewan - we think he's going to be invaluable and await his arrival mid May to take on maintenance and security duties. 

Other than that - we are hoping for busier weeks ahead as the temps are forecasted to improve. Our camp hosts are also set to arrive on the 19th or 20th.

Derek and Cassia are heading to the lower Mainland for a few days to pick up the last of our possessions that we have had stored at his sister's place since 2012. I can't wait to see them back with our crock pot!

Listening to Alan Jackson's - Remember When - one of my favourites.


Teresa

Sunday, April 12, 2015

THE PERFECT JOB FOR US

Now that we've filled you all in on where we live, it's probably a good time to tell you what we actually do here - our positions as Park Facility Operators (PFOs). 

If you are late to the party, Derek and I are the new Park Managers of Fintry Provincial Park. This is our 6th year working at a campground for the spring, summer and fall - our 5th with BC Parks - government owned parks and campgrounds within the province of British Columbia. 

For all of our Americans followers - these parks are similar to your State Parks. The difference however is that ours are not managed by Rangers with volunteer camp hosts as yours are. BC has Rangers but their territory is very large - overseeing many Provincial Parks. The actual parks are managed and maintained by PFOs - a paid position - we do have volunteer camp hosts at the larger parks with the responsibilities of answering questions/concerns and selling firewood and/or ice. 

In the past, Derek and I have worked at smaller Parks - those requiring only two employees - the two of us. We liked having to just put up with each other as colleagues. We were two years each at Skihist and Gold Pan Provincial Parks and Kentucky-Alleyne.

That was good but we realized that we could find parks with accommodation and an increase in wage if we looked for larger ones. At Fintry we have found those things with the Manager position but with more work and responsibilities (of course!) - but we also will have four employees at the height of summer. We are happy that we made the change.

There are many facets to our positions which is one of the things that appeals to us. It's multi tasking at it's finest. Everyday we are cleaning, maintaining, landscaping, painting, assisting/talking to campers, enforcing rules, security, managing the staff, accounting, inspecting, documenting and so on. It's rarely dull. Interestingly, one of my favourite jobs as a PFO is raking the gravel sites. I've spent hundreds (maybe thousands now) of hours and walked many miles doing it and don't mind at all. Derek on the other hand prefers the lawn mowing and weed whacking. 

And that's why this job works for us - we each have skills and experiences that suit different parts of the job and we each have our task preferences. Together we get all the jobs done - or can figure them out anyway. 

It's not easy - and some days are down right frustrating but that's with most jobs - right?! Overall, we love that we can work together, have Cassia with us and work physically in a beautiful place. I'm sure I've talked about this before in another post. But it's as true as much now as it ever was. 

We've loved all the parks we have been at for different reasons - but most had a 50 - 50 of good to bad. Here at Fintry we feel that we have reached the height of good. We hope this is the first of many years as the Park Mangers.

Hmmm - well I have gone on tonight haven't I! 

Let's get to some pictures......



Our new uniforms. Nice jackets - perfect for the temperatures right now but cumbersome to work in - we can't wait until it is shirt and short time!


Derek in the distance blowing the sites. The first thing we do to clean the campground up is to blow the roads and sites - which cleans up much of the needles and cones. Then we just need to fine tune with rakes. It took us one day to go around and clean out the fire pits.


In total we took out about 10 truck loads of large fir and pine limbs. More then in the past but they had a huge wind storm here through the winter that took down a lot of branches. 


A nice clean site. Sorry - I forgot to take a 'before' shot.


Cassia is laughing because I was telling her to 'just hold on' so I could take a picture but she was losing hold of the tree.


The Wood Clan tree hugger!


Here's Britt our first employee. She's a huge help - we are so happy to have her with us - it's her 6th year at Fintry. 


Cleaning the eavestrough on the main shower building.


If you are wondering what Cassia does while we are both working in the morning - this is it. Actually, she does all sorts of things - often she spends the time outside of the truck - riding her bike, helping us, running around - or inside - drawing, playing with toys she's brought with her, games on the ipad or watching her dvd. 


Big points for you if you saw that she has a banana tree on the left!


Derek went all out with the roof cleaning.


Weed picking. Actually not a job I mind in the cooler temperatures - a killer in the summer heat though. Thankfully Cassia still thinks that pulling weeds is fun.



Ahhh - the glamour jobs. Derek and I washed all the garbage and recycling containers together. Nice to start with fresh....


A new Marmento! Lots of Marmots around here. 


It's all work but some of it is lots of fun! A few days ago we took the Bad Boy - ha! - our souped up camo golf cart - to see what it could do with our steep trail.


Not my favourite thing to do but I was brave!


At the top we walked the rest of the way to the waterfall - I great view of the historic buildings and neighbourhood below.



Ok - so we sort of took the easy route to get to the falls. Just how many times can you climb the 400 steps anyway - we need a break now and then.


The falls are going strong.


Cassia within the balsam arrowroot.


A picture for all you flower lovers out there - nice to see the bees.


Coming back down. I opted to walk this part - hey - someone had to take the picture! It's not near as nerve wracking from this angle.


Monday morning Britt and I got our recycling center organized in the compound. The pieces were scattered around we just had to put them in place. We sort our own beverage bottles and when we reach 25 - 30 bags the depot comes to collect them.

I've written a few times over the years about our position as PFO's - here they are:

PFOs at BCP   Sept. 2011

Welcome to Our Office  April 2012

A Day in the Life of a Park Facility Operator   Sept. 2012 A good post to really get an idea about how our days go.

Two Months Later  June 2013

Our Summer Job  April 2014

A Day in our Life   June 2014

So, there you have it.

Now that the Easter Long Weekend is behind us, we are working towards continuing to clean the park to be ready for the kick off of the camping season - the May Long Weekend. Our next big task is staining all the tops of the 100 picnic tables. Phew.

Teresa
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