Friday, September 27, 2019

Happy Fall & all that stuff

Whew!  This month has been crazy!  And my blogs are both feeling the affects of it.  I barely did "Happy Fall" posts on Instagram & FB this year.  There's no way in hell I'm going to be ready for the Countdown to Halloween linkup over on my other blog that starts on Tuesday.  Ugh.  I'm stressing thinking about that and trying to get stuff ready to start setting up my cemetery, feeling guilty about not blogging, getting Secret Reaper gifts together, etc. etc. etc.  

So let's pick up where I left off on my past post.  We got home from vacation on a Sunday, making Monday Labor Day.   I volunteered to be in the Romeo Peach Parade with my VFW and they asked me to carry the post flag.  
I was mildly concerned about my knee, but I was OK walking.
At least I somewhat matched the guys from the honor guard this year!  
And in the picture you can't tell that I'm wearing my SAR BDU pants & boots - lol!
Around here, school starts Tuesday after Labor Day, I took this Thursday morning.
Really?  It's not like they had all summer to do maintenance on the buses or anything.
I had one of the cheesecake stuffed pumpkin spice donuts from Krispy Kreme.  
OMG.  Swoon!

Friday 9/6 I had off work because I had my FUNSAR, or Fundamentals of Search & Rescue, course.  
Rusty wanted to go.
It started at 2 PM and ran until about 5:30 Sunday afternoon. 
It was a mix of classroom & in-the-field learning. 
There were 9 of us in the class - me & Laurie plus people from Alpena, Kent & Ottawa county search & rescues, and people from Indiana, Ohio & Wisconsin. 
 Army BDUs are *not* flattering pants!
 The people who put on the course. 

The following weekend, Sunday the 15th, Laurie & I got together with some people from our team who had gone thru this course last year and they went over a lot of the practical applications with  us.  It was super helpful.  They also loaned us the 'improvised' shelters that they had used, so we didn't have to figure anything out.  
Pre-test donut - from Daddy's Donuts here in Utica.  
AH-mazing!  It's maple & bacon - to die for!

So part 2, the testing weekend started Friday 9/20.  Friday afternoon was quickly covering some info that hadn't gotten to the first weekend and then some review.  We drew numbers to choose teams.  Lt said Laurie & I wouldn't be on the same team, but the numbers said otherwise!  We had dinner, which was a surprise since we were under the impression we would have to eat whatever we could carry, MREs of sorts.  Nope!  We ate in the chow hall. 
After chow, we set up our shelters.  Yup - we had to sleep outside Friday night.  This is basically a strategically folded tarp held up by hiking poles & closed with chip clips.  And the instructors were impressed with it!  Then I had a yoga mat & my sleeping bag.  
But first....we got into our teams and were sent on a search.   It lasted until about 2:30 in the morning, and ended up with us having to haul one of the instructors out of the woods in a litter.  They tried to add a bit of humor, like telling us (I was primary radio for our team) they had reports from the locals, Bubba, his other brother Bubba and their cousin Hubba Bubba, that they were out coon hunting and saw someone fitting the description of our guy running naked thru the woods.  Then when the other team homed in on the guy, he was under the influence of mushrooms that he'd found in the woods.  And he acted it up!  In retrospect he was pretty funny, but at the time I was just done.  My knees were killing me and wanted to it to be over with and I may or may not have put my foot on his helmet to help hold him still while other people tied him into to the stretcher.   I heard about that all weekend!
Their shirts are hilarious!  I had to buy one. 

 We only had to stay in our shelters until 6am, then we had until 8 to do whatever (pack up, move into the cabin & shower!) then we had breakfast.  We had a debriefing and some more review.  After lunch was the written portion of the test.  145 questions including some map stuff.  We were given over 2 hours to do it, and once we were done we had to leave the building.  I only took about an hour so I went back to the cabin and took a nap. 

We met back at the chapel ("command") and filled out evaluations on the course and it was perfect timing that this is when a storm decided to roll thru.  It was done by dinner time.   We were free for the rest of the night, so there was a bonfire down by the lake.  A couple beers and we were pretty much all back in the cabins by 10.   
 All my years of stomping around in the woods with dad, I never knew what poison ivy looked like!  It's safe to say I'm not allergic since I know I went thru a couple decent sized patches. 

 So Sunday we had the 'practicals'.  We were in the woods by 8am.  First we did land navigation.  We started out at a point - a 3 foot pole with a letter on it - and were given a paper with our azimuth (angle / degrees/ whatever). So from point B, I had to go find 223* on my compass & start walking and write down the next letter I find & how far I went in meters.  We had to find 7 points out in the woods.  I don't think they were worried too much about the distances we wrote down, it was more so we knew that we hadn't gone too far, no points were more than 200m apart.  I ended up meeting one of the guys for 3 of my 7 points, so we ended together and did the rest of the practicals together. 

Next was the area search.  We had 10 minutes to search the woods for playing cards, while maintaining our distance from each other & from the road.  They said we were supposed to go 100m, but I'm sure we didn't get that far.  But as long as we found 50% of the cards, we passed.  

Then we went to the route search.  They had 2 lanes marked and we had 15 minutes to search 100m and find 50% of the cards while maintaining a 335* heading.  The way we figured out 100m was by knowing about how many paces it takes us to go 10m.  My average is like 6.7 paces, so I'd stick my hiking pole in the ground in the middle of my lane, then do 7 paces, plant my other pole, then "purposely wander" on one side of the lane back to the first pole, grabbing it & wandering back on the other side to the second pole, lather rinse & repeat. We all have pace beads, which are basically plastic pony beads on a shoestring and for each 10m we go, we move a bead.

Our next stop was the beach for man tracking.  The instructors laid a trail of footprints on the sand and we had to measure the prints, indicate left or right, measure stride & determine the direction of travel (sometimes they walked backwards to throw us off!) 
This is where the bonfire was. 

Then we went back to command and had to tie a series of knots and make an improvised harness. 

If anyone failed a section, they were sent out to do it again.  Luckily, I passed it all on my first try!   I was done by 11:30.  Only to find out Laurie was still out on the land nav course!  She tends to overthink things and she had a brain fart as to how to use her compass.  So she has to retake that part of the test at the next session next June, then she'll be certified.   
 I wasn't as dirty as the guy who fell in the mud or the lady who veered off course into a swamp! 
 Bert & Smert
 So I'm just waiting on my official certification for passing SARTECH II.  
The whole purpose of getting this is to show that we, as a search & rescue team, know what we are doing, how an incident command works and how to not mess up a possible crime scene while not depending on modern technology if for some reason GPS doesn't work in that area. 
Lapeer, class of 2019 
Grasshoppers doing the nasty - I think. 

So it's been a pretty crazy few weeks.  

AND I found a 12 week course to get my amateur radio license upgraded.  12 weeks of study where I will actually learn something (unlike the one day class I took to initially get my license) and the 13th week is the test to upgrade.  So there go my Tuesday nights until early December.   Plus homework & practice tests they want us to start taking. 
This week at the VFW, me & another guy were given life memberships to the National Home for Children and Camp Trotter.   I'm not entirely sure what this means, so I'll have to look it up.    I know the National Home is where veterans and/or families of deceased vets can stay to help get back on their feet, but I'm not sure what a life membership means...  
If I would have known this was happening, I wouldn't have dressed like I just came from a picnic!
Fun fact - Batman's day job is driving an ice cream truck! 

So I'm pretty much up to date!  I was going to start setting up my Halloween cemetery tonight, but it started to rain not long after I got home from work, so I just got some things staged closer to the front yard, and will work on it this weekend.  I traditionally wait until after the Spawn's birthday (tomorrow!!) but I wasn't going to give up a valuable setup day.  She has to work in the morning anyway, then we'll drive up to Frankenmuth to have dinner with Randy who is working at the Multiple Sclerosis Society MS150 bike ride this weekend.   Sunday we're getting together with the family to celebrate the great-nephew's 1st birthday.  It'll be nice to see the little guy again!

But now... I'm going to bed!

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