Hitch 4 - Crispy Trees

That’s right, crispy trees… and brown grass and dry dirt. It’s very dry here. So much so that it’s starting to look like autumn.

7/23/2012 – Surveying and Musical Pairs:
This week was a significant week for us. Although surveying continues as normal, this week is the halfway point of the survey season. Six weeks are complete, and six weeks remain. We are in the swing of things now, but we will be done surveying and headed our separate ways before we know it.

We rotated survey pairs today, and the transition to the new pairs went by very smoothly as we learned how to properly set up our new sites. Also, Jeff took over as hitch leader for the week. He had plenty of opportunity in the previous two weeks to learn how to fill the role based on the great examples of leadership he saw from both Ryne and Abby.

7/24/2012 – Campsite Inventory:
Today we continued our surveying of Eufaula Lake campsites. To beat the heat and to do as much as we possibly could, we departed early for the project office to pick up GPS units. Once we had the GPS units, we headed to the Belle Starr recreation area where we split into pairs, surveyed the entire campground, and then headed in different directions to other campgrounds around the lake. Splitting up was a very successful approach to surveying; the inventory is nearly complete. All that remains are campsites that were occupied by guests. Soon, we will return to these sites in order to conclude the project.

7/25/2012 to 7/29/2012 – Surveying:
While we continued to sweat it out in the heat during surveying, we also took advantage of our free time and days off. Alaina, Jeff, and Ryne spent one day checking out Tulsa. They went site seeing throughout the city with two main stops on their tour. The first place was the Tulsa Garden Center, a nonprofit organization that provides a variety of educational opportunities for those in the community. While there, they checked out the Rose Gardens and the Linnaeus Teaching Gardens. Afterwards, they went down the street to visit the Philbrook Museum of Art. They even managed to get their own personal guided tour of the art museum.

When the weekend arrived, we were a member down. Christa was ill and couldn’t join us to survey as normal. To cover the loss, Jeff and Ryne each surveyed an extra period on Saturday, assisting Abby during her surveys. Jeff helped her out during the first survey period, and Ryne helped during the second survey period. Days where members take on extra survey periods while managing to complete their normal tasks can be difficult, but everyone pulled together and made things run smoothly. On Sunday, with Christa still out ill, Alaina joined Abby to assist her with surveying for the day. For all of us, it is wonderful to know that we can depend on and trust each other to reach our goals when unexpected hurdles appear.

7/30/2012 – Day Trip to Oklahoma City:
On another rare day we were all free from surveying, we decided to check out Oklahoma City. Our first stop was the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum where we took a trip back in time to relive the days of the old west and appreciate art having a western theme. Our next stop was a section of OKC named Bricktown where we enjoyed lunch while overlooking the baseball stadium and dessert at a nearby candy shop before exploring the area. After that, we observed the beautiful architecture of the state capital building, the most recent capitol building in the U.S. to add a domed top. Next, we spent a couple of hours in front of the big screen mesmerized by the action packed scenes of the latest Batman movie. Finally we ended our trip at the OKC National Memorial site where the park was aglow during the night with 168 symbolically lit chairs representing the victims who lost their lives in the April 19, 1995 bombing in Oklahoma City.

7/3½012 – Surveying:
Today was business as usual. High heat makes the days feel excruciating long, so here on the OK team we treat every day like a small victory.

8/½012 – Trail Work:
Today we got down and dirty at the Overlook trail of Tenkiller Ferry Lake, powering through the workday. The heat was near record highs (almost 110 F in the shade), but our team persevered as we cleared trees, trimmed branches, and removed overgrown grasses and shrubs that suffocated the nicest trail we’ve seen all summer. In addition to brushing the trail, we began repairing a decaying bridge that had suffered storm damage. The team, with a Ranger assisting us, innovated repair plans for the bridge that made the most of our limited resources while ensuring optimal quality. With almost a mile of trail brushed out and the bridge half complete, we’ll return to here later to complete the bridge and continue lovin’ on this sweet trail.

8/2/2012 to 8/4/2012 – Surveying, Birthdaying, and Smoke:
Visitor levels at our sites have significantly dropped due to extreme heat, ongoing drought, and burn bans. Would you want to go camping without being able to have a fire? You couldn’t make Smores! We all focused on keeping cool and hydrated as the heat wore on. Driving between sites, two of us saw a small line of smoke in the distance that grew surprisingly fast as we drove. Returning later, a huge column of smoke was rising into the sky, a sober reminder of how a careless flame can wreak havoc on the land and to the lives that depend on it.

To end the week, we took some time to celebrate because Ryne turned 22 this Saturday. A close friend of Ryne’s had driven in 11 hours just to come celebrate the day (now that’s dedication), so we all worked together to make our guest at home and give Ryne some time to have a little fun. Jeff traded survey times with Ryne, giving Ryne the afternoon off to enjoy his birthday, guest in tow, at Fort Gibson Lake. Christa used her beading skills to decorate Ryne’s favorite hat with the Army Corps logo, and we surprised Ryne with a cake that Abby and Alaina had made after returning from Ryne’s favorite restaurant, Chilli’s. It was a great end to a hot two weeks!