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Returned from Gulfport

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I have been back from Gulfport, Mississippi for a couple of days now. The week spent in Gulfport was very challenging but I think that we were able to accomplish much while there. We worked on a house owned by Dona and Morris Davis. Previous groups had restored the back half of their house and we worked on the front half. Most of the work involved tearing out drywall, flooring, and ceiling. We also took out a vanity and a toilet in the bathroom. We were trying to prepare the house for the electricians to re-wire the house as well as for insulation to be put in the ceilings and outer walls. Once that is done then the drywall would be replaced and the flooring and ceilings would be done. We did get to frame two closets and install hurricane straps to the rafters and floor to help combat uplift from any future hurricanes. The humidity was extremely high during our stay and the temperatures were in the 80's for most of the week. I didn't know if I could do such manual labor for eight hours in such conditions but I did. I guess you never quite know what you are capable of until you try.

We went into New Orleans to the French Quarter on Thursday evening and had a lot of fun although the drive by the 9th ward and the abandoned neighborhoods we saw on leaving cast a pall on the festivities. Gulfport and New Orleans suffered unbelievable damage from Hurricane Katrina. You really have to see it with your own eyes to understand the enormity of the destruction. Even though I am glad to be home I am thinking of going down again this April to do some more work. Those areas will be in need of a lot of help for many years to come and I hope to do my share.
I am back from my trip to Skyline Drive in the Shenandoah National Forest. I had a pretty good time even though I never had a good nights sleep. Seems I am spoiled in my old age and a tent and a sleeping bag just don't cut it anymore. But the weather was fine and the scenery was beautiful. We climbed Hawksbill Mountain and Stony Man Mountain as well as hiking numerous trails. Saw the usual deer and chipmunks but no skunks or raccoons. We did have a close encounter with a black bear which I captured on video. Work is still stressful but there is good news to announce. My command may be offering early retirements (VERA) that would allow me to retire either this year or the next with no penalties. I told them I was interested and I am now waiting to see if they actually offer me one. Anyway, here are a couple photos I took with my camcorder and a link to the bear video that I posted to YouTube.
baby chipmunkLittle Doe

Back to work

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Well, I am back from Ft. Lauderdale and LandWarNet. I had a good time there and I think I brought back some useful information to share with my fellow workers at TRADOC G-6. The last couple of days I have been busy taming my back yard. We have gotten a lot of rain and the grass and weeds are out of control. I have managed to break the weed whacker twice so I have resorted to my grass hog to chop down the weeds. I will be glad when Fall arrives and I can stop cutting the grass and pulling weeds. I am looking forward to my trip in October to Gulfport Mississippi with my church. I know it will be a lot of hard work and sleeping on a cot or on the floor in a sleeping bag is not going to be easy. But I think the rewards from doing something like this will be beyond measure. I am hoping it will be a trip to remember for a lifetime. I am always plotting my next vacation and I am still thinking of Alaska although I just finished watching a Globe Trekker show about Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. I think if I ever managed to go to the Galapagos Islands that that would be the vacation of a lifetime. It would be like going back into time and the wildlife there is unique and facscinating. But I have to keep in mind that that is not Teresa's kind of vacation. From my experience with her travel tastes I don't think the Galapagos Islands would be high on her vacation list. Maybe all she needs is a little convincing, after all I did get her to go to Belize and St. Lucia.

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