Monday, June 26, 2006

De Ridder Louisiana 2006 Part 1

Hello, Wandering Old Dave here,
I have been home for awhile so it's time to start sending out reports about what's been happening the the life and times of Old Dave. I have some catching up to do and want to start with the trip to Louisiana.

This is a team picture of the group that went to Louisiana this time. The two people that I'm standing beside are the founders and chief leaders of Rapid Response the organization I'm under when I go on these trips. Ken and Joni have been to just about every disaster starting with 911. They have been to the tsunami in Sri Lanka and the earth quake in Pakistan. They go more to the international disasters. This was about 6:30 AM and we all were excited to be leaving once again to work disaster relief.

This is a nice park we stopped at to have a lunch of sandwiches and fruit. Once again the food on this trip was excellent. We had Louisana hospitality to the max. For breakfast each morning people would bring home made biscuits and jam, pigs in a blanket, and boxes of donuts. Like I really need donuts. I already carry about a 30 pound donut around my middle. I sure didn't want to offend anyone so I did the best I could to stay fed well. I like to think I was keeping up my strength for the hard work at hand. However the scale sure didn't think so when I returned home. We stayed over night in Texarkana. There was a Huddle House across the street from the Motel which is good in a pinch when there isn't a real Waffle House around, but I didn't go there because the Motel had an excellent breakfast with make your own waffles. However I did get in quite a lengthy morning walk as is my custom on these trips. I just couldn't help myself when I walked up on a young man and woman struggling to unload a sofa. It's just in my blood to help people move stuff. I had to offer to help and they graciously excepted the offer. So miles away from Omaha, I can still find a sofa to move before breakfast. I little farther down the road people were packing up a truck and looked like they were seriously moving an entire household of furniture, but (sigh) I just didn't have the time to vounteer to help with that one. It did look pretty interesting though.

We only missed a couple turns on the way to De Ridder which turned out to be more an adventure then irratation. At least for me it was, but then everything for me is an adventure. We chugged in to home away from home Sunday afternoon. Our accommodations were in a real live FEMA trailer. My space consisted of a six foot bed placed along one side of the trailer. It was about 2 to 3 foot wide and had head space of about the same while laying down. Half of the bed space was tucked behind a bathroom wall so when I crawled into the space all that was seen was the bottom part of my legs.

The bathroom was about as big a postage stamp. Maybe the stamp was bigger. To squirt yourself off in the shower I had this sensation to keep ducking because the ceiling was about 6 foot and again about 2 to 3 foot wide. There was no turning about in the shower and if you tried it just caused a person to stumble around and make quite a racket which entertained others in the trailer. One other member on our team took the fold down sofa and our team leaders got the dinky bedroom. Are you getting the picture that this was a small trailer. I always thought that a FEMA trailer was like a trailer house. Not so. A FEMA trailer is a plastic toy looking tow behind your car travel trailer. It's been said in Louisiana you don't want follow to close to FEMA when they're towing a trailer somewhere in order to avoid the plastic parts that flying off while in route. I imagine we are probably the only Nebraskans that got the full body experience of living in a FEMA trailer. I just can't imagine anyone with a family living in such cramped spaces for months.

The house we worked on the second trip to Louisiana has been completed. This is a picture of the house. The inside has panelling on the walls and beautiful ceiling titles for the ceiling. It turned out excellent in every way. Those that finished up the house did an awesome job for sure.

This is the Pastor's house that we worked on this time. It was about 3,000 square feet I think with a magnificent set of double doors for the main entrance and 20 foot high ceiling in the entry way and a vaulted cathedral ceiling in the living room. More about that later. A fireplace against the back wall with tons of windows gave a view of the woods in the back of the house. Such a joy it was to see this house going up. The inside of the house had framed walls and a pile of dry wall when we arrived. Our task was to get as much done as we could in five days. The Pastor said that he would be real happy if we got the upstairs finished in our time there. Little did he know what lay ahead.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

De Ridder Louisiana 2006 Part 2

Here we go. The first day and the ceiling of the first room goes up. This sheets have to be shoved up a ramp to the upstairs before many times being cut to hit the rafters or studs.

Here you see Larry and Pastor using their heads to hold up the dry wall. With screw guns in hand they begin the task of fastening the rock to the ceiling. I on the other hand will be seen in many photos lingering in the background. My task became pretty much to cut the dry wall and get it to the guys to hang. Also being the chief gopher. You know go fer this and go fer that. I did wield a screw gun a time or two but mostly for me it was just muscle work.

We are cruisin' now. The ceiling's up and the walls are being screwed to the studs. Once we got the routine down it seems to move right along. Each of us found our niche and worked at it with vigor. Who know how many screws were used over the course of the five days. We took a count of the dry wall and came up with about 280 sheets of dry wall they we hung. Some of those were the 12 foot sheets.

Here I am measuring the last little piece of dry wall to the cover the wall above the door. You will notice throughout the trip my feet were solid on the floors and not hanging walking or bouncing around on planks. My Momma didn't raise no fool. All of the guys I worked with were very much Wild at Heart kind of guys. I love being around those kind of guys because they are fearless and no challenge is to big. I on the other hand am a kind of Purpose Driven life kind of a guy. We really fit together and work together well.

Here's another shot of me working on that last bit of dry wall. Aaron is making sure that it passes the scrutiny of his eagle eye. I and Aaron had a good time while on the trip. I really do have fun working, sweating, learning, and Oh yeah eating when I'm on these trips. Most of all I like making new friends and once I've made a friend it's kind of forever. Sometimes it may be a while between e-mail or letters, but I do like to hear about lives and tell people about the goofy things that I get myself into.

Friday, June 23, 2006

DeRidder Louisiana 2006 Part 3

The next project would be the entry above the staircase and above the front door.

This would about 18 feet above the main floor. It's quite the challenge and I was really wondering how in the world we would get the dry wall up to the ceiling which is the first to be installed. Watch and learn.

Oh, yes that is planks nailed on top of 2x4s toe nailed into the studs of the walls. These planks are about 10 feet up and have a tendency to bend and sway as these guys walk and lift the dry wall panels up to the ceiling. Not a task for the faint of heart. As you can see wild at heart Aaron is really enjoying the art of walking the plank. Where is old Dave? Why he's behind the camera. Nice and safe and has a purpose.

There goes the second sheet with a little help from the workers. The muscular handsome guy in the dark shirt is the youth Pastor Vic from sunny California. It's quite the story about how he came to Louisiana and became the youth Pastor of a church in DeRidder Louisiana. The other handsome fella in the very clean Omaha shirt is Ken Smith the founder of the Rapid Response. Ken spent a couple days just checking out our project before cruising off to other areas of Louisiana to do what ever founders do. Just kidding. Ken was checking out areas to send later teams. He returned later in the week to check our progress.

This is really using your head. Aaron and Pastor Ken are holding up the dry wall sheet with their heads while putting screws to fasten the sheet to the ceiling. Yes, the pastor of the church in DeRidder is also named Ken Smith.

Well, finally the last sheet goes up and a big sigh of relief at least for me that everyone is still safe and sound.

This the best picture of the day. The guy that's looking at my belly with the look on his face of "Holy Smokes look at the size of that belly" is Captain Larry the leader of this rag tag bunch of sheet rockers from Omaha. "It's all good" and "A good mud man can fix that" were phrases used very loosely throughout the week. There's just something about working with a group that works hard and still has a good time.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

DeRidder Louisiana 2006 Part 4

I have this routine I do in the mornings when on this trips that I started with really the first trip. I usually get up about a hour before the rest of the group and head out the door for a walk in the countryside. It was a little hard in Nicaragua, but I still could spend the time getting ready for the day. There's just something about being able to walk and listen some inspirational music. It sets the day when the first part is just appreciating what God has created including watching the animals starting the day.

Old Dave is thinking pretty hard about something here. I'm praying that he is getting that measurement right. I learned how to scribe a sheet of dry wall with only a tape measure and a utility knife. It still requires a skill that escapes me. I tried it a couple time with out much success so I went back to slower chalk line and straight edge method. I guess it takes a little more practice.

Here a good shot of the landing upstairs in front of the one of the bedrooms. There were two bedrooms upstairs and two bedrooms down stairs. The sheet of plywood you can see in the lower part of the picture was actually a fabricated ramp used to slide up the dry wall sheets from the lower level. About 100 sheets were hand lifted and slid up this ramp for the upstairs. You can also get a grasp on the height of the living room ceiling. This was about a height of 20 feet and required us to use some regular scaffolding.

We rocked the upstairs so fast that the downstairs wasn't quite ready so we grabbed some insulation and started insulating the next room. The down stairs had 10 foot ceilings so to keep the seams down to just two we used 12 foot sheet rock which was 5 foot wide. Sheet rock is installed horizonally which being 5 foot wide would be a perfect fit for 10 foot ceilings.

Here is an awesome picture of Pastor Ken and his wife Sandie. This was such an honor to help with building a house for these two. They give so much of their life to helping others it is just a awesome thing to be able to return some of the help they need to complete their own house.

Whew, I'm really beat. Been liftin' rock all day and my dogs are barkin'. I think I've been in Louisiana too long. I'm starting to pick up on their phrases and culture. The thing is I like it. All three times I have gone there I've wanted to stay longer. The week just seems to fly by and when it's time to leave it's hard to believe that it's time to go home.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

DeRidder Louisiana 2006 Part 5

Let's get started with the living room ceiling. The scaffolding is up and it's time to stuff the insulation in the ceiling. This shot was taken from the landing in front of the bedrooms upstairs.

Here goes the first sheet of rock on the living room ceiling. Grunt grunt grunt. It was a strength, skill, know how, and planning. You don't see me in the picture do you. My purpose driven life directed me to be on the camera with skill, strength, know how, and planning.

Here we are putting up the second layer of dry wall on the ceiling. Double screws were in order to make sure no sagging or falling would happen. This was probably the hardest part of the house to dry wall next to the entry.

Hey, I finally found my job. It's nice and close to the floor. The closer to the floor the better for me. When this floor is finished a railing will keep bodies from flying off this level. Hopefully.

Time for some R & R. One day we knocked off at 5 PM which was a short day for us there. We usually worked from about 9 AM until sometime around 9:30 or 10 PM. We would then sit on the porch and see who could outdo each other with the most impressive story. I have to say those Louisiana boys have some terrific stories and they are awesome story tellers. You know how I like to hear a good story. It just doesn't get any better than to end the day with a good session of story telling. Anyway we got to endulge in a genuine Louisiana meal and then spend some time fishing the pond stocked with Prim a hybrid fish and catfish. I caught a good sized cat and others caught an assortment of fish. Since we weren't going to eat them, we just turned them loose.

The night ended with a chance to take the 4 wheeler for a ride. I sped off up the road with cloud of dust surrounding me. This 4 wheeler was a super ride. It had the power to give the feeling of riding a rocket. When I was in Nicaragua we rode the 4 wheelers along the beach by the ocean and that was fun, but I tell you this machine was much more powerful than the machines we rode down there. I only have ridden one more scary than this machine. When I was a part of the pit crew for the race car, the driver of the car had a racing 4 wheeler that was not much more than a frame with a motor and wheels. Now that baby would rocket you around the track just by breathing on the throttle.

The week was now nearing the end. One more day left then it would be home again to get ready for the next trip which would be Canada and fishing for the big one. But that's another story for later.

DeRidder Louisiana 2006 Part 6

Here you can see the eating area that I frequented. It was here that we ate our meals morning, noon, and most evenings. We did have a meal at the local equivalent of Texas Road House with buckets of peanuts and baskets of bread.

The front porch became the gathering place to take a break or snack. In the evening after the day ended, this is where the tall tales were told. All of absolute truth so help me God. Many memories have already happened on this porch and the house isn't even completed yet.
This was the last day and in this picture is Pastor Vic, Captain Larry, and his wife Cindy. Pastor Vic cooked up the best barbecue ever which included all the trimmings. With our work completed, our hearts were saddened to think about going back home. One week is just not enough. Here is one last look at the feasting table that served us well. I carried some tonnage back with me from this table. It was around my middle and only now have I removed it from behind my belt.
So when the disaster has happened and workers are in short supply, who you gonna call?

Sunday, April 16, 2006

What's up for May "The planned trips"

Hi everyone,
I'm on the go again to De Ridder Louisiana. I'm going with a Rapid Response Team to help with building a house for the Pastor there. It's the same area as the last time I went. Last time we worked on building a house for a widow in the church of the Pastor on who's house we will be working on this time. My juices really got going when I heard about the team being formed. I really do feel a full time calling to respond to these trips. I believe I'm on a journey in life to be doing this full time in a couple years. What a wonderful season of life this is for me.

We will be leaving on May 13th and returning around May 20th. Our team will be considerable bigger than the three that went the last time. I believe it should be at least 7 or more this time. We really hit it off with the locals there the last time and I'm certainly ready to return to help with the construction.

About a week after I return from this trip, I will be leaving for another week. I heard about a disaster in Canada that needs a lot of attention. I heard that the water there has too many big fish. I will be on a response team to remove as many big fish as we can. So if you feel like you need to send support to can write the checks made out to me.

I hope you realize that I'm just kidding. I am going on a fishing trip to Canada. I love to fish, but I have never had a chance to actually go to Canada before. I've sent a lot of time in Minnesota very close to Canada, but never made it across the border. That should be a good time for sure. I'm not sure how many are going on this trip, but I'm guessing at least 4 or 5.

This is a picture of the place we are staying. It is located on the shore of Crooked Pine Lake known for walleye, northern pike, and slab black crappie. There might even be a catfish or carp as well. What am I thinking. Forget that thought.

Here's a sample of what can be pulled out of the lake there. I think I need to have more than 6 pound test line on my Zebco. Oh my, I'll have to get something bigger than a jig to fish with. The possibilities just boggle the mind.

Anyway that's what's going on in May for me.

Tell me about what's up in your life for May.

Always going Dave

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Las Vegas Move Part 1 "The Bus Ride"

I have been out at the farm horsing around. Seth has another horse in training with the intention to be sold. The trainer was in Texas and required a 4 day trip to get the horse there. I watched the farm while Seth was gone.

The teenage Phillies were a little better in behavor this time. I used some wisdom and let Molly bring the girls back into the barn the first two days. From a distance away, I studied every detail about what she did and discovered that I was in error about my methods. I would enter the pen and catch the young horses when what I should have done was stand on the outside of the corral and let them frisk around for awhile. When they were ready to be caught, they would come up to the gate and stand waiting for the lead rope to be attached to the halter. The second thing was the order of bringing in the colts. One would go absolutely bananas if she was left alone in the corral so she had to be taken in always second. Never first or last.

This week and last I've been helping a good friend with house preparation to be sold. He is installing a bathroom in the basement and has in mind to replace the kitchen cabinets and the vinyl flooring.

I've been working on the den some. The room is cleared and ready to have the floor covered for protection when I paint the ceiling. The room will get a total make over. Wallpaper on two of the walls with brick paneling on the other two. Some new skin covering for the doors and of course a new light fixture. I would like to vinyl title the floor, but I don't know about that yet.

Anyway finally to the Bus Ride. I rose up with inspiration and full of energy on the day to start the journey to Beaufort South Carolina. The internet bus site said to be at the bus station two hours early. Since my bus left at 6:00 AM, I figured that 4:30 AM would be soon enough and ordered up a cab to arrive to take me to the station at 4:00 AM. Upon arriving at the bus station at the desired time of 4:30 AM, I find that the station doesn't open until 5:00 AM. It was a good thing that the weather was not typical Nebraska weather and was quite pleasent for 4:30 AM in the moring.

There was a little confusion about which bus I was to board and I almost missed the departure, but made the bus and settled down for the day and a half ride to sunny Beaufort. This leg of the bus ride was not extremely crowded and most of the riders settled down for another snooze. At about 9:00am the TV screens lowered down from the overhead luggage racks and Ghost Busters followed by The Natural were the in ride movies.

Somewhere in the middle of Iowa we stopped for about an hour and a half break for lunch. Unbeknownst (my made up word- it means I didn't know) to me I was to transfer onto another bus here. Once again at the last minute I became aware of the transfer and made the connection.

This next driver was Brandy a real story teller and kept me facinated all the way to St. Louis. Not only did we hear stories about when she lived in Alaska, and shot an Elk in Montana, but we got the local history as well. She pointed out such places like the cliff that Hiawatha jumped to her death over a man with her eyes rolling. She pointed out the town park where President Lincoln and Douglas had their debate during the election. She showed us the oldest prison in Iowa. She told us about her Harley that she rode in off hours. It was awesome.

The next leg of the trip left St. Louis about 6:00pm and headed out across Illinois. I was certainly glad I didn't have to drive through the contruction zone again. We whizzed through the night darkness toward the next transfer point in Nashville. I listened to a CD given to me about how the internet works. It was a facinating program about bits and bytes flying through the internet galatic cyber bit stream. It was all about packets and overhead and ...... well lets just say that it was really cool for me. It kept me rivited all the way to Nashville. Arrival time was about 1:00am.

So there I was in Nashville in the middle of the night with about two or three hundred other tired people. This was the only place that had a security check if you would call it that. Everyone leaving on a bus must have a tag on their luggage that indicated you had been checked. When my turn came, I lifted my backpack up on the table and rolled the suitcase up to the guard. The guard unzipped both looked inside then zipped them up and said, "You got any knives, guns, bomb making material, that sort of thing?"

I said, "No."

He said, "OK you're good" and proceeded to attached the checked tag. Then to my surprise both me and the luggage went back in the packed waiting room with full access to outside the terminal. Hummmmm, just a little different than Airport security.

Time to board the bus. Being the good midwest mannered boy that I am I let others go first and get on the bus before me. About three in front of me the bus driver says, "Bus is full take the next one" and closed the gate doors to the bus. Now, I'm thinking what does that mean like take the next bus that arrives the next day or what? Well, it turns out the next bus was 2 hours away. Ugh another 2 hours the the crammed bus station at now 2:00am. We won't go into what the bathroom looked like with that many people in the station. I was certainly getting my bus savy on the next bus headed for Atlanta. I elbowed my way in line and defended my place in line with vigor. I made it on the packed to the max bus headed out of town around 3:30am with the slim hope of making the transfer in Atlanta to Savannah.

Upon arriving at the bus terminal in Atlanta, I drug my luggage up the bus terminal ramp and prepared to find the next bus to Atlanta when over the speaker came the call, "Last call for Savannah, gate 6." Scurrying over to the gate I managed to get through the door just before the door was shut and locked. Down the ramp and on the bus I trotted just in time to head out of town. My stay in Atlanta was supposed to be about 3 hours, but turned out to be only about 30 seconds. I was just glad to be back on schedule and headed for the final destination of Savannah.

The driver of this bus was alergic to everything and kept purging the bus with cold air at the hint of any type of smell good or bad. This leg of the ride was pretty uneventful or maybe I, just being tired, slept most of the way. I arrived at the Savannah station Lydia picked me up and we headed out for Beaufort South Carolina and the next part of the moving adventure.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Las Vegas Move Part 2 "The Trip"

Waking up the next day brought many adventurous expectations one of which was picking up the truck. The truck Lydia had rented was a little 10 foot truck. We arrived at the pickup point at the designated time. The lady behind the desk asked, "Do you have a washer and a dryer, cause this truck doesn't have a ramp you know?" I said, "Yah, we got a washer and a dryer, but we'll get it in the truck somehow." She proceeded to poke around in the computer and shuffle through the papers on the desk. Finally, she laid out the papers and the normal routine of sign here, initial here began. On completion of the proper paper work, we jumped into a golf cart and boogied around back to pick up a dolly for the move. We sped out in the yard where the trucks were and pulled up in front of a truck. I glanced at the truck and turned to the rental lady and said with a puzzled look on my face, "This isn't a 10 foot truck is it?" She looked at me and said, "Oh honey, you really need a ramp if you're going to be moving a washer and dryer so I upgraded you to a 16 foot truck for no extra charge." This turned out to be a huge blessing. This was a brand new truck with only 3,000 miles on it with an engine that toted us up the hills and down the hills at 70 MPH. What a joy it was to drive such a truck. We got the truck back to the house and the packing began. By noon I suspected that we were in trouble with the 9AM check out time the following day. As we moved on into the evening and night I knew for sure that we would not be having any sleep this night. About 7PM Lydia informs me that we needed to unhook the satellite TV. OK no problem just pull off a few cables in the back of the receiver and unscrew the cables from the wall receptacle and we're good to go. Lydia said, "No we have to remove the cables out of the house and leave it just it was when Eddie and I moved in. OK not a problem a few staples here and there and it's a done deal. Lydia says, "No, I mean everything has to be removed even the dish as well as the pole in the ground out back." Now those of you that have read the story about moving my Mother-in-law's flagpole with the concreted in bottom can certainly understand the thoughts dancing through my head at sound of that comment. The silver lining in this project was I got to go to Walmart to buy a spade to dig out the concreted in dish pole. Upon digging around the pole in preparation to pull it up out of the ground I ran into ....... you guessed it ROOTS. Man, why did it have to be roots. I found a saw in the stuff to be moved and sawed out the roots . Finally, after a few minutes of blood, sweat, tears, a grimace, and grunt out popped the pole. Only one little dab of concrete probably not more than 50 pounds on the end of the pole was all that held the pole in the stable position. My goodness sakes alive when I put my Mother-in-law's flagpole in the ground I put close to 200 pounds of concrete down the hole to keep flag jitter from happening. This was a piece of cake compared to moving the flagpole. I was right the next morning found us still cleaning up the floors and making sure everything was out of the house. At 9:45, the task was done. Total evacuation was complete. With the house check completed we headed out to Lydia's friend to leave some furniture that she didn't want to take and some of Eddie's clothes with her. Eddie would be picking up his clothes to take to the barracks when he came back from the short sea duty. By noon we were getting hungry so lunch was in order. After being up all night and eating lunch at noon, I knew we would probably make it out of town and be too tired to drive much farther. I was surprised when we actually made it 100 miles before Lydia came on the walkie talkie and informed me she couldn't go any farther. We bedded down for the evening and night. And thus ended the first two days of moving, but hey we were on the way with only 2300 more miles to go. The next day we headed out through Georgia, Mississippi, and into Arkansaw. We made about 900 miles that day and 700 the next day. We ended the third day by getting through Amarillo Texas. What a ride it was through that town. By this time I was feeling quite comfortable driving the truck. We hit the town of Amarillo just after dark. We are whizzing through the town following the signs to stay on I-40 and some how I ended up in the outside lane going through what looked like some kind of construction zone. There were big concrete dividers placed on the lane line on my left side. To stay in the middle of the lane put the left side of the truck only a foot or so from the concrete dividers. All these big towns drive at an incredibly fast speed. I have no idea what the speed limit was but I was cruising along at about 70 just to keep up with traffic flow. Much to my surprise a huge flatbed 18 wheeler with some kind of machinery strapped down on the bed came inching up beside me and decided to snuggle up real close to his lane line on my right side. There we are flying down the highway in the middle of town with one side inches away from a cement wall and the other side inches away from the big boy's mirror. I looked straight ahead and did my best to just keep brand new Penske (Truck Rental's name) in the center of the lane. With white knuckles and beads of sweat popping out, I praying, "Lord just get through this town. I promise never to sin again." It's truly amazing what I will promise to do when I'm praying for the Lord to bale me out of whatever situation I've gotten myself into. I made it through the town of Amarillo and heaved a big sigh of relief. I was truly glad to end that day, but little did I know that the next day would be scariest yet to come.

The morning of the 4th day we headed out across the plains of New Mexico right into the teeth of a storm. The wind was no less than 40 MPH angled at 45 degrees across the highway. We headed into the hills so the wind would be blasting in gusts. Then it began to rain and not too far down the road driving snow began to fall. By noon we were driving along thick ice covered roads with still a cross wind. Sometime right after noontime we ground to a halt and could see nothing but stopped cars and trucks all the way over the horizon. After about an hour or so, the line began inching along until we passed the crash site. A big 18 wheeler had mashed the back bumper of a little white job clear up to back of the front seat. Once past that we spun up the speed to about 55 or 60 and headed once more toward the ever decreasing space between us and our destination.

When we stopped for gas, I asked Lydia if she wanted to stop for the day and hope the next day would be better. Her reply was just as I thought it would be, "Dad we're from Nebraska. We know how to drive in this stuff."

We stopped in Gallup New Mexico to gas up and eat up. We stopped to gulp down some Mc Donald's finest quizine. Only in New Mexico could you find on the menu at Mc Donald's a Green Chili Hamburger. Yum Yum good. Chase it down with a shake and you got yourself a real deal of a meal. Leaving the town of Gallup posed some what of problem as the entrance to the interstate required starting from a dead stop at the bottom of a hill of maybe a quarter mile and bearing off to the right to enter onto the highway. The problem was the snow had been packed down to the point of ice up the hill and of course everyone was spinning and sliding trying to get up the hill. I wasn't going to get stuck on the hill by driving up behind a spinning car and then have to stop and be stuck like the rest of the town's citizens. I got some irritated looks as I patiently waited for the hill to clear. When the road was clear I mashed the accelerator to the floor and flew up the hill without ever so much as a spin. I guess Lydia was right. We're from Nebraska. We know how to drive in this stuff. We barely made 200 miles that day. The next day we made the Arizona ride to Flagstaff with much better weather and a lot easier driving. With out final destination in sight for the day, we left Flagstaff and headed toward Las Vegas only a short 5 hour ride. At Kingman, Lydia headed toward Las Vegas the shortest way to get to the apartment at the 2:00PM hour for signing rental papers. Because of 911 trucks are not allowed to go over Hoover dam, so I pealed off and took the hour longer route across the bridge to get to Las Vegas. So with the 2400 mile trip at an end the fun will begin unloading.

Las Vegas Move Part 3 "Las Vegas"

The new home waits to be filled with stuff. The first floor apartment made me feel good. I can’t remember the last time I helped move out and into a place for someone with no stairs on both ends. With the lease signed and all the instructions of the complex given, unloading began. Many neighbors around the apartment volunteered to help with the unloading and I took one up on his offer. As it turned out he had been employed as a mover a few months prior. What a blessing he was.

Marty across the street had the greatest gift of gab and we, of course, hit it off right away. He also had a truck and was on the way to help someone move something. Sound familiar?

We got everything unloaded except the washer and dryer which was going to my oldest daughter.

Oh my I can’t believe we got all in there. We carried a little less load than this as the back few tubs were dropped off at one of Lydia’s friends for Eddie to pick up later. They had mostly clothes. My grand daughters came over to help Grand dad unload the truck. We had the greatest of time carrying things into the apartment. Darkness shut down the operation because none of the utilities were turned on. We hit the Panda Express, a Chinese fast food place, for dinner and each of us went to the proper place to sleep. I staid with my sister, Lydia and Bradley went to the apartment and slept in their new home.

The next day the electric was turned on, the cable TV was on and the modem for the computer arrived in the afternoon.

Lydia wanted to purchase a computer desk and a TV stand. So we went to Walmart. Oh yeah, did I ever tell you that I really like Walmart? Anyway eventually the two items were bought and brought home. Flatbox furniture. I love flatbox furniture. With a little grunting and sweating, the computer desk was assembled. The TV stand was another story. It came with no instructions of assembly and Lydia ended up piecing it together after I left for home.

My dad’s 82nd birthday was on the 14th of March and we had a gathering of just the immediate family to give my dad sort of a “this is your life” thing. I learned about how my Dad noticed and fell in love with Mom and about their early years of growing up and early years of marriage.

The next day was the final day in Las Vegas and ended with a special buffet dinner for all family members at the Railroad Pass Casino. When my family gets together there always seems to be lots of laughter and story telling and you know how I love to hear a good story.

The next day I few out of Las Vegas headed for home. I arrived in Denver and needed to switch planes. With only 30 minutes to get to the next gate I hot footed down the corridors and arrived at the gate only to find people everywhere sleeping. They were sleeping in chairs, on the floors, up against the walls everywhere I looked I saw snoring people. Finding one awake, I asked, “What’s the deal here?”

He replied, “How long you been here?”

“I just got here. Why?”

“Well, I have been here all night trying to get a flight out of here. It’s the end of Spring break and everyone’s been trying to go home. I’m heading to Dallas Texas, but I just want to get out of Denver, so I just took the next flight out to anywhere and Omaha was it. I’m hoping to get better connections from there.”

Oh great, I thought, I’m going to spend the rest of this day trying to get back home from Denver. The announcement came that the plane had been delayed for one hour due to mechanical problems. We were closing down on the end of the hour and still no plane at the end of the catwalk. Then the announcement came for all those waiting to go to Omaha at gate 6 the gate had been changed to gate 35. All the sleepy-eyed people began the journey to gate 35. Upon arriving the electronic sign gave information to a fight to Amarillo Texas. Amarillo, I certainly didn't want to go back there. The announcement came across the speaker for those going to Amarillo go to gate 6, the gate we just came from. Smiling inside, I thought, we just high jacked the plane going to Amarillo to get to Omaha. So what had been a many hour delay for most of the people was about an hour and a half inconvenience for me.

I arrived into Omaha about 5:30pm and scooped up my luggage and ambled out to catch a taxi. By 6:45pm I was home and this adventure came to a close as turned on my favorite Thursday CSI show and promptly fell asleep. Waking a couple hours later, I crawled up the stairs and fell back asleep with thoughts of the last couple weeks roaming through my mind.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

2.22.06 De Ridder Part 1

Here is a picture of the first day's work. As you can see the house is being built up on pillars. The first day was spent preparing the pillars for the floor. The last part of the day was spent actually putting the floor on the pillars.

The Pastor of the church, the youth pastor of the church, and some of the youth were helping with the construction this first day. I learned a lot about house construction during this trip. Larry the team leader was a good patient teacher.

During the last step of the construction of the floor, a double layer of half inch plywood covered the floor joist. The plywood was laid down and stapled into the floor joist. One of the sheets of plywood was laying on the joists ready to be stapled down when I stepped on the sheet. The sheet moved slightly. It was enough to slide off the support joist and flipped up which caused my left leg to plunge down into the three foot space under the floor. This in turn lunged me horizonally forward toward the exposed center floor beam.
Now the good Lord watched while I was being formed in my mother's womb and looked down through time and thought to himself, "this boy is going to fall off things, run into things, jump off things, fly through the air at things, and just generally try to damage himself so I better give him extra bone density, a hard head, and instints on how to fall and roll.

So there I am flying horizonallly through the air toward the center beam with all eyes on my antics. Luckily my old football instincts kicked in and I threw up a fore arm to protect the body from blockers. Just as I got the forearm in position, bam, I hit the center beam and my arm slamed into my chest. Being used to such things I stood up shook my self off and started back right where I left off. Everyone was kind of thinking that I should have broken or damaged somthing. The pastor of the church asked several times if I was OK. My reply was, "Oh yes I'm fine this happens all the time. The good Lord made me pretty durable and assigned me a legion of angels to watch over my dumb stunts in life." He wasn't quite convinced and later in the day made me lift up my shirt to check for bruises. None there but a couple days later, still checking, the Pastor discovered some slight brusing on the forearm.

This is a picture of the completed floor with the Mother-in-law's trailer in the background. The land where the house was to be built had a trailer off to right of the this picture that housed a son's family. This was where Ms. Jenelle was staying while the house was being built. Ms. Jenelle's trailer was completely destroyed in huricane Rita.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

2.24.06 De Ridder Part 2

Old Dave Working on the Fuse Box

The first order of business was to wire up some plug-ins for the air compressor. The fuse box as you can see was mounted on the pole outside in the yard. Upon opening the lid about a gallon of acorns came rolling out from inside the box. It's a wonder we didn't find a fried squirrel. It had been awhile since I fooled with electric circuits and after a couple tries it actually worked.

Pastor Vic and Old Dave

Pastor Vic, the youth pastor, and I are about to fire up the air compressor. Yes that's the plug-ins just hanging out of the fuse box. It's pretty loose in Louisiana. No inspectors, no job quality people, no hassles, just, get-er done mentality. I like it. With the air supply flowing, let the nail guns commence shooting nails.

Laying out the Floor Supports

Houses in Louisiana are built on pillars. The leveling process took the better part of the first half day. Each line of pillars had to be leveled with a string line as well as squared up before the house supports could be placed in position. Things went pretty well and as you can see the supports are going in place here.

Putting on the Floor Decking

This is where I kind of got in trouble by stepping through the floor and flying through the air with the greatest of ease. Things went well after I got that out of my system. The rest of the week was pretty uneventful.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

2.24.06 De Ridder Part 3

Ms. Jenelle's Trailer
Here is a picture of what's left of Ms. Jenelle's trailer. The hurricane twisted and buckled the trailer in the middle. Her son removed the trailer from the spot the house was to be built on with a huge logging machine.

Ms. Jenelle's Salvaged Things from Trailer

This is the total sum of what she salvaged from the trailer after Rita blew through. It's not known if the appliances are working or not at this time. They were just believing that they would.

Road leading to Ms. Jenelle's

This is the road leading up to the property for Ms. Jenelle. There were three dwellings on this property. One trailer housed Ms. Jenelle's Mother-in-law. One trailer housed her older son and family where she was temporarily living. She, of course, had the trailer that was a total loss. The other trailers seemed to weather the storm pretty good.

Ms. Jenelle's husband died some time ago. She had defeated cancer, but was now fighting a second round of cancer. More than one day while we were working on the house for her, I could see her standing off a ways from the work that was going on with tears in her eyes. She had never lived in a house. It's always been in a trailer.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

2.24.06 De Ridder Part 4

First wall going up
This first wall was a land mark. It was the first of many walls both interior and exterior. I had learned some about construction when I built my little storage shed last spring. This project honed my skills for construction. I loved playing with the nail guns and the skill saw. Yes, power. I like it.

Side Walls up

This was still part of the second day as we continued to erect the walls. A house was beginning to take shape right before our eyes. I began to learn about how to put the sheeting on the walls before setting them up and how to square up the walls after they were up. I probably learned more about construction on this trip than any other trip.

Interior Walls are going up

We were hefting in the 2x4s to assemble the interior walls. Wall construction became almost second nature by this time. We were starting to come together as a team and really getting some work done. It's really cool when that starts happening. It was a fun time as well as a time to really get to know people in another part of the country. These people here are good hard working people. Most of the people in this area work for the logging industry in some fashion.

Many people helped with the construction of the house over the course of the week. We expected that on Thursday which was Thanksgiving day to probably only be just our team from Omaha. Imagine our surprise when many people showed up to help because of having the day off from work and wanting to be a part of the project that was happening out in the woods. It ended up being the day we had the most help.

After the day ended at sundown as usual, we returned to the motel and did a quick cleanup and went to church for a Thanksgiving feast. We had deep fried turkey with all the southern trimmings. After the meal, we all sat around and listened to the Pastor tell stories about the hurricane and his trip to New Orleans with a truck full of food. Fascinating tales told by the Pastor who was great at telling stories. I just love to listen to someone who can tell a good story.