Monthly Archives: November 2013

Alpaugh, sounds like cow paw.

So, I’ve officially spent a week in Alpaugh, CA. Hopefully one day, I’ll have enough internet service to post pictures of this beautiful place, but for now you’ll have to just take my word for it. We live in the “Ameri-mansion,” a ranch style house with 3 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, a kitchen, washer and dryer, tv, and an incredible collection of old VHS tapes. The land here is flatter than even Iowa was, so the sun rises and sunsets are spectacular. Our work with the BLM has so far consisted mostly of weed removal, particularly the invasive species Bassia. My new best friend is the Mccloud, a tool with a rake on one side and a sharp flat edge on the other, used to hack away Bassia and other pesky plants. We’ve also spent time doing trash removal, cleaning out storage sheds, removing tumbleweeds (they clog canals), and trimming trees. Through this work, we’ve gotten very familiar with the black-widow spider. Black-widows are poisonous, so knowing they live in our garage is not a comforting thought. We’ve also gotten used to having dust around us all the time. Fairly often we clean the entire house and van, but within the hour they’re covered with dust again.

 

One of my favorite parts of this job so far has been seeing the BLM’s wetlands. They have this beautiful pond, with a lookout built by a former AmeriCorps team, surrounded by marsh. Working there we get to see all kinds of birds, and fairly often we’ll see a coyote off in the distance.

 

When we’re not working, we spend a lot of time watching movies and playing cards. While it is not a far walk into town, the only things to do there are eat at the cafe or shop a the convenience store. Once a week we drive to another town to use the internet at Starbucks and go to the grocery store. Overall there’s a lot of time to just sit and relax, which is good because my muscles are usually pretty sore after a day’s work.

 

Looking at today’s date, I just realized that I missed the midnight showing of Hunger Games. It’s amazing how life still goes on while I’m sitting here disconnected from the world. For example, my new twin cousins Timothy and Joshua were born almost a week ago, and soon after my brother got engaged! Congratulations on both events, I’m so excited!

 

Well, I believe that’s all I have for now. As always, feel free to shoot me a letter or a text, I love to keep in touch but unfortunately phone calls don’t work right now. Hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend. 🙂

California Living

California Living

Since coming to Sacramento, I have been kept busy getting to know my team and in training. My team this year is Silver 7. (Go Timberwolves!) There are ten of us, 4 boys and 6 girls. One of the first things we did as a team was complete a service project. We worked at a community garden for a local Lutheran Church in Folsom, CA (yes, Johnny Cash fans, that Folsom). For an entire day we spread mulch, took out plants, dug plant beds, and sifted through fertilizer. Our sponsors from the church and food bank were a joy to work with, spoiling us with donuts and soda. We really could not have asked for a better day to work or group to work with. It felt wonderful to get my hands dirty and do some work, especially after the frustration of the government shutdown. (And, unlike in FEMA Corps, my boots were dirty by my third day of service. 😛 )

Last weekend, I was able to go into San Francisco with some of my teammates. To get there, we took a cab ride to the Megabus stop in Sacramento, and then the bus to San Francisco where we stayed the night in a hostel. It was wonderful to see the city (I was told not to say San Fran or San Francisco if I wanted to avoid being a complete tourist.) now that I’m old enough to remember most of the trip. While there, we were able to see Fisherman’s Wharf, Haight Ashbury, a Day of the Dead parade, Golden Gate Park and the Golden Gate Bridge. I thoroughly enjoyed wandering around the city, and would add it to my list of places I would like to spend more time in.

While in Sacramento, we’ve spent most of our time sitting in training. Some of the trainings we’ve received are CPR/First Aid, American Red Cross Shelter, Camping, Hands of Peace, Diversity, Drug and Alcohol Awareness, and Van Safety. Most of these trainings are similar to my FEMA Corps training, except that for example, in tools training, we know we’re actually going to use the tools during our service. Also, we haven’t done as much team building trainings, which I believe is due to the time lost during the government shutdown. I really enjoy team building exercises, so I’m a little sad to miss them, and that we won’t be going to a ropes course. A difference between the Sacramento Campus and the Vinton Campus is that many trainings are led by team leaders. Also, the Sacramento Corps is bigger so many of the trainings are held for the entire unit instead of just a couple of teams (basically bigger classes and less individual attention.) While in FEMA Corps, I was told that Sacramento was the stricter campus and Vinton was the “Family” Campus. So far, Sacramento hasn’t been as strict as I expected, but they might be playing catch up from the shutdown. Also, I think FEMA Corps was stricter because we were representing a new program and Vinton may have felt stricter because to be disrespectful was to disrespect your family. Plus, doing anything to disappoint Jody Burns was shameful enough and punishment itself.

In NCCC, team members receive specialty roles (called Rep Roles in Vinton) for the year. Last year I was the Project Outreach Liaison and the Environmental Liaison. This year, my roles are PT Coordinator and Peer Helper (called Support Ranger in Vinton) with both roles having a partner. As PT Coordinator we plan PT three days a week. As Peer Helper, we are there to support our team through listening to any problems that might come up and keeping up team morale through fun activities.

This week will be my last week in Sacramento. My team has been assigned to work with the Bureau of Land Management in Alpaugh, CA. There we will be working on projects such as removing invasive species and working with the community schools. I am super excited to start my first Spike and to see a new part of the country. I’ve never spent time in a desert environment, so I’m looking forward to living there for a month. We have been told that there is limited cell service in Alpaugh, so I most likely will only be able to communicate once a week or so when we go to another town for groceries. So, if you’d like to keep in contact, now would be the perfect time for snail mail!

That’s all I have for now. I hope everyone is doing well! Until next time 🙂