Friday, May 24, 2019

SAR Tracker I

Mother's Day Weekend we had a search & rescue tracking course at a nearby campground.  This was a really interesting & informative course - and the instructor was phenomenal!  

First of all - this is our fine accommodations.
Not complaining about the tarp, since it was warm & dry & had somewhat comfy beds.  It wasn't even that far to go to the bathhouse where the showers & toilets were.
Laurie & I got there Friday afternoon & had settled in a cabin with 6 other ladies.
I thought it would be great to grab the top bunk, since there's a plug right there for my charger.
 It was a pain in the butt in to get in & out of and there was no place to put my glasses, etc.
Halfway thru the day Saturday, we learned that a lady from another SAR team that we've trained with before was in a cabin (with the tarps) by herself!  Needless to say - Pat got roomies for the second night. 

There were 30 people at this course - 2 teams came in from Canada, one girl from a team in Ohio, a guy from Illinois and 3 teams from Michigan.  It was taught by this guy who is considered the best tracker in the world.  He's 3rd generation Portuguese Army and started tracking when he was 8.  He was put in combat when he was 16.  He's not one of those guys who start teaching after retirement, either.  He was getting paged to go on searches while he was teaching us! 
Fernando Moreira
Fun fact - the ringtone on his phone sounded like a tricycle horn.  Not what you'd expect!

And since English isn't his first language, I'm really glad that he gave a slide show during the classroom portion Friday night, since what he read / said wasn't actually the words that he listening didn't make sense most of the time.  But as he was speaking out in the field or telling stories, it was OK.  We did learn a few new phrases from him.  We had "kaboba-sticks" which were the thicker wooden skewers (that you'd use for, you know, KABOBs) dipped in bright orange paint to mark tracks.  Instead of asking if things made sense, he'd ask "common sense?"  And he'd tell us to get in a file, instead of single file.  There were more but those are the ones that we heard the most.  And giggled about.

Here we were learning how to determine direction of travel.  There are footprints under some of those cones and once we found a print, we had to figure out where the next would be.

 Here Fernando is describing how to look at tiny details to confirm there is a print here. 
  We got into pairs & one would walk on the road, then we'd have to mark the prints.  Holy crap!  This was tough.  It's called micro-tracking for a reason.

Fernando would randomly put us in get into pairs or groups for different exercises.  I wasn't sure about my partner at first, since we had sat there at breakfast Saturday and decided he probably wasn't really a cop from Illinois.  Since he was dressed in head-to-toe camo & had all the fancy gear including a scarf  like you'd see Army guys in the desert wear, we guessed that he was secretly a bounty hunter or something since he already knew Fernando....  We'd joked saying he would either be the best person to have as a partner, or he'd be the worst.  All gung-ho and annoying.  He was neither.  He was just an average guy, somewhat unprepared & still recovering from a stroke he'd had in October.  Fernando put us on a lot easier terrain than Laurie & her partner got (above)!
 Here's the camp cat came to visit - she rubbed on every set of legs along the road!
Here, we're out looking at tracks on the road after dinner, because things look different in different lighting. 

Friday night, a lot of us met for a bonfire.  Of course it wasn't anywhere near the cabins, it was way up in front near the campers that Lt. and some of our team brought.  And it was probably the only fire ring in the campground that didn't have benches around it.  And not everyone brought lawn chairs.
So Saturday night, we decided to meet in one of the "village" meeting halls.  The camp was divided into villages with 5 or 6 cabins, a bathhouse & some of them had a classroom type building.  So instead of sitting around in the cold, damp, spitting sleet, we had a nice warm room with plenty of folding chairs and light.  Laurie & I were among the first to arrive, with Lt, Fernando and one of our guys.  We sat around & chatted a bit until Lt decided to round up some people.  He came back a few minutes later carrying a case of beer, saying he stole it from the Canadians!  Hot on his heels were 3 of the Canadian guys.  A bunch more trickled in after that.
It was neat that everyone mingled and chatted.  There was a bottle of nasty cheap vodka being passed around and I'd never tried Blue Moon beer before & it was pretty tasty! 
Sunday, we were put into teams and sent out into the woods to track someone who had gone thru them.  They left a set of footprints and marked where they went into the woods and then where they exited.  I was in a team with these 3 hilarious Canadian guys - who thought I should be team leader since "one of us is not like the other" - picture that line being sung, tho!  They sang Abba's Fernando, since why wouldn't they?  They saw my name on the back of my ballcap and sang a bunch of love songs.  But when we needed to be, they were all business. 

Note to self - while it's a good idea to carry your Kaboba-sticks in a PVC quiver on your backpack....a lid would be useful!  Especially when you have to bend over. 
 Yeah.... the compass included in my first aid kit probably won't be very effective.
 Our village was just a short distance from the lake.
So I grind my teeth when I sleep and wear a bite guard at night.  I was a dork & managed to leave said bite guard's box stuck in the top bunk and didn't realize it until I got home & crawled into my bed, exhausted, Sunday night.  I thought I was going to cry!.  Randy went to the store and bought me one that I could make do with.  I tried calling the campground 100 times and left messages Monday, no answer.  Then as a last resort I called their 800 number Tuesday and found life!  I told him what cabin I was in and the guy said, yup - the girls were in that one.  DUH!  But he said they were open & I could go anytime and get it!   So that Tuesday after work, I took a lovely drive up into the country to retrieve my damn bite guard. 

Here's a nice article in the Lapeer The County Press


Friday, May 17, 2019

Timmy T'ursday.....errr Friday!

Alrighty - it's been a while since I've had a real post, so grab a cup!
(reminder - Thursday is mine & Spouse's usual day of going to Tim Horton's on the way into work, so Timmy T'ursday)
adventure time coffee GIF by hoppip
So what have I been up to?   My last post was April 7 so I have lot to catch up on!
FYI, I'm so glad the A to Z Challenge is over!  I got kind of burned out because I was pretty much writing a post each night, instead of planning ahead. 

I went to a Motor City Haunt Club meeting on 4/13 and we made these signs - pretty cool! 
We basically just put the decals on the yellow plastic, but it's all mine!  It's big, too!  Like 2'x2'.
One of my coworkers took a video of a coyote running around the parking lot at work as she pulled in!  
Me & my sweetie at Easter.  He doesn't do the Snapchat thing so it's fun to play with filters with him.
My niece brought her mama-less foster kittens with her at Easter!
There were 5 altogether and just started figuring out how to eat on their own & use the litter box - which meant they were stinky & messy, but SO DAMN CUTE!
Herding cats is a thing!  I couldn't get all 5 on Chuck at one time!

I'm sure the neighbors thought I was nuts!
Yes - we still hunt for eggs.  And have a good time doing it!
The Michigan Vietnam Veteran's Travelling Wall came to visit my VFW post.   This was so cool.  This belongs to a nearby Vietnam Veterans post and it was the first time I'd seen it.  There are 2654 names (including one woman's) on it.  These guys have excellent reference material, too.  They have huge binders with a page for each name with a picture; where they were from; the high school they attended; branch of service; how, where & when they died; parents & siblings names and a picture their headstone / what cemetery its in.  
Michigan's Medal of Valor Recipients
Fallen Comrade Table
The 8 women who are on the Vietnam Wall in DC.  The lady in the lower right is on Michigan's too.

Speaking of the VFW, we had a member pass away in 1994 who willed a large chunk of $$ to the post, so they created a memorial scholarship in his name.  I volunteered last summer to take it over, since the former chairperson was sick and stepping down from all this posts (he passed away in December).  I took packets of applications around to the 6 area high schools and didn't have much else to do until the deadline, other than answer the occasional email and collect applications as they came in.  We randomly drew 2 applications at the last meeting and I notified the winners.  The one kid is in community college, going to university in the fall.  He's happy to just have his $1000 check mailed to him.  But the other kid asked to have it presented (this is an option they had) at *both* of his school's awards nights.  He goes to regular high school and the smart kid math / science / computer program thru the school district.   UGH - I don't like getting in front of people!  But he's really excited and grateful, so I'm making up some cool award certificates for both winners and have a rough draft done of a short speech to give at the presentation.  Wish me luck!
 Then the Search & Rescue team had a display at the Lapeer Community Spring Expo on April 28th - there were a lot of vendors & displays & fun free stuff for kids to do.  Fire trucks & ambulances & llamas & a bounce house & *us* of course!  We had our gear trailer with a nice display set up, several of the canines and the big draw were the horses.  Laurie & I gave pony rides for 4 of the longest hours of our lives.  Kisses got taller with every kid. But the smiles were so worthwhile!  Only one little girl cried and it was because she didn't want to get off!  She was probably between 2 & 3 years old and Kisses started to act up a little because she was tired & they were deflating the bouncehouse right next to us.  The little girl's mom freaked out and grabbed her but had to peel her little fingers off the saddle. 
Lessons learned for the next event..... have a mounting block.  Some of those kids were heavy!  Or even better yet - your kid wants to ride?  No problem!  YOU toss them in the saddle!  It's been almost 3 weeks now and my left wrist is still jacked up.  I'm trying to figure out how, tho.  It must have been from the awkward angle when I lifted the smaller kids under their armpits and swung them up.
 Oh - I got about about 12000 steps in during that time, too.
 We have cameras at the out-of-state terminals at work that are displayed on the wall (the bossman likes to be able to keep an eye on his trucks).  One day last week, we were watching a nice thunder storm in Laredo - the red circle is a huge spread of cloud-to-cloud lightning.   It was awesome!
 On May 5, for old time's sake, I went to watch Spawn's old dance studio at their last competition of the season.  Of course the routine I really wanted to see was the 2nd of the day on Sunday - like 0804 early.  But I was there with my cowbell!
Ya know, it was really a lot less stressful not having a kid there!  I didn't have to worry about costumes or anything and I sure didn't have to be there all weekend!  This one started at like 4:30 Friday afternoon and ran until after 10 all 3 nights.  I went for a couple hours.
Last weekend was a Visual Tracking course for the search & rescue team, taught by a guy who is considered best in the world. I'll make another post about that so I don't take over this one.  It was awesome and I learned a LOT.  And we had fun, too!

The tracking course ran until about 1 on Sunday, then I had over an hour drive home, so Mother's Day was pretty low-key.  Angel had to work & Randy was sick, I went to Mom's myself and we had pizza.  

I got her some pretty impatiens.

And I got myself these funky petunias.
I was going to stay away from petunias, since they're a pain in the ass with needing to be deadheaded & such, but these are so cool!  They're like black double blooms. 
My crabapple / redbud / whatever it is tree bloomed!  It smells SO good!  The leaves will start to yellow in July and be almost bare by the end of August, but this makes it worth keeping around!   My lilac is blooming too, but since Randy trimmed it way down, there's only a couple small bunches on it right now. 
I had Rusty outside yesterday.  I was sitting on the bench, enjoying the afternoon, when he noticed some birds & took off.  Too bad I had the leash around my wrist!  He clotheslined himself and looked surprised about it.

So this weekend should be pretty quiet, too.  Randy is in Ohio for Hamvention.  And Angel is getting ready to go out for the evening.  She was almost living over at the boyfriend's house for several months, until she wore out her welcome.  So she only goes over there occasionally now.   I'm 2 weeks behind on watching RuPaul's DragRace, so I'll go turn that on once I'm done here. 

We were supposed to have mounted training Sunday with the Undersheriff, but it was cancelled due to lack of response from the rest of the team.   That's OK.  I have plenty to do around here anyway, altho it would be nice to get out riding.  It's supposed to be warm during the day with severe storms later.  I like a good storm!

I think that's it in a nutshell.  


Wednesday, May 15, 2019

#AtoZChallenge Reflections

Whew!  I'm glad that's over with!  I needed a blogging break. 

This was my 8th A to Z Challenge and this was probably the biggest struggle I've ever had!   Every other year I've had a topic in mind months ahead of time, if not during the previous challenge.  Not this year.  Even when I went to go write my theme reveal post - I had nothing solid until I typed it out that I was going to write about *me*.   I wasn't too happy with it at first, but the only letter I skipped was X, only because I was starting to get behind & couldn't think of anything good anyway.

Disclaimer - I'm back on track!  I already have an idea for 2020 and started my little spreadsheet with ideas for each letter. 

Soooo. I'm just going to use the prompts from the A to Z Reflections post. 

1. What did you love about the challenge this year? Having my posts go live at 0000 UTC. Then I was usually towards the top of the Facebook comment thread when I posted my link. 

2. What would you change about it? Nothing that I can think of. 

3. What was the best moment for you during this year's challenge? The end!

4. What is the best comment your blog got during the challenge, and who left the comment? The lovely Retired Knitter who said she enjoyed my upbeat attitude and my spontaneous theme. 

5. Will you do the challenge again? Definitely!

6. Was it well organized and were the hosts helpful? (Did you fill out the after survey?) Yes, I did complete the after-survey. I didn't interact with any hosts this year, but they've always been helpful in the past. 

7. How did you and your blog grow, change, or improve as a result of this challenge? Did you find new blogs out there to enjoy? Yes, I found several new ones. And I'm slacking that I haven't yet checked my stats. 

8. Were you on the Master List? (If you did the challenge last year, was it better this time without the daily lists?) I like having the master list so much better than daily lists! I never did figure those out until too late. Where once the master list was closed, I saved it onto my computer and am still visiting new blogs. 

9. Any suggestions for our future? Keep up the good work!

10. Any notes to the co-host team? A word of thanks to Jeremy for all his hard work on the graphics? A picture with your A to Z shirt, if you ordered one? Thank you Jeremy and hosts for all you do! I love the badges this year, too. 

One last thing - I can't believe I forgot this for my Z post....!

Last summer we were in Chicago for my great-nephew's baby shower. One of the "games" had us all get a page with a letter on it and draw a picture corresponding to that letter. Then they were made into a book. 

When my nephew was a baby, he couldn't say "Aunt Lisa" so he called me Zaza.  
Z was the perfect letter for me on multiple levels!