First Time Working In A Utility Co. Park – Lower Launch Closure

Disclaimer: The company we are working for this summer has a very specific media policy. I will not be mentioning them by name, or mentioning the specific names of anyone I am working with, except for Lee.  Also, because it’s not really that difficult to figure out which company it is, I want to be clear: I in no way speak for the company or my co-workers, and am only recounting my personal experiences.  Also, any details I get wrong in this or any other post are due to a misunderstanding on my part.  

This was a light week for us because the Lower Launch was closed all week.  The company we worked for had a construction team come in and build some fish habitat on the reservoir, and we didn’t have to open or shut that gate or clean the restroom Mon-Friday afternoon. That was actually a good thing because the road all of our sites are on is undergoing paving and the delays getting to and from the various sites did add  some time to our day.

I hung these signs myself. Not a perfect job but it was pouring down rain and these are the first signs I have ever hung

Our original plan was for Lee to change his days off and paint the lower launch bathroom, but we received a text on Tuesday that our rig was finally being moved on Wednesday. We have been on site for 6 weeks and because the trailer couldn’t be moved in the rain, and they had some competing priorities at another campground, we weren’t able to get into our permanent spot.  We understood, but not being in our spot caused a general low-level unease so we were happy that it was getting done.  We had to be on site while it happened and I took pictures of the process.  I thought it was kind of interesting so let me show you what happened.

First we had to pack up our rig and move it down the road a bit to give them room to work.


The sewer tank was supposed to be emptied by the sewage company the day before but they didn’t show up


So the employee who coordinated the move brought “the bot”.


We all held our figurative (and literal) breath when he picked this up and moved it. But he went nice and slow


Then the construction company brought in a big fork lift


And lifted the trailer


I wondered how he was going to turn it, but our co-worker had the idea to lift it and back the semi trailer under it which was brilliant


Nice and easy down it went


And then they were off to another location

The chipmunks were going crazy the entire time.  There were two big nests underneath, but thankfully they didn’t have any babies in them.  After the trailer was moved, we waited an hour and a half and then the employee came back and used the bot to flatten the gravel on the site.  He did a really nice job, considering what he had to work with and we appreciated his attention to detail.

The trash left over after the move.


I used the cement blocks to make a little enclosed area for my tomato plants, which are getting huge by the way

Chipmunk nest

Flattening the site

Looked really nice when he was done


In our new space

While he was gone, and after he left we worked on the area in front of our new space.  I had this idea that if we could clear some of the brush away we might have a better view of the river.  Well it turned out even better than I could have hoped for and both of the campground maintenance guys took some time and helped us along the way which was very nice. It took most of our day off to get it done, but  I am absolutely thrilled to be in our permanent spot and I love the view.   The only bummer is we are still very close to the very bright LED street light and at night it completely lights up our rig.  I did talk to our boss on Thursday and asked if we could possibly have a switch added because it does feel a little bit like we are in a parking lot. These sort of things happen when you are moving into a new spot and as our boss said, it never occurred to him how bright it would be because he never comes to the site at night.

So full of brush you could barely see the water


First Lee took the big limbs down that were hanging out into the road


Then he went down into the brush and weed whacked. I used the limb loppers


We were making progress.  The front layer was gone


Then I stood at the top and yelled out where the remaining few small brush areas were. This was pretty funny since we had to yell and the guys were shaking trees to show me where they were



On Thursday I also got extremely lucky and managed to get a hitch for our work truck.  Part of the challenge of everyone covering multiple sites with limited cell coverage is it is hard to coordinate with people, but I got extremely lucky and on Thursday when I stopped by the office all the major players were in the same area.  Folks really do want to help us, but as I said folks are going in a million directions, but today all the stars aligned and we got a hitch for the truck.  This is a big deal, because now we can use the riding mower, sprayer, and water trailer without needing to take the hitch from the folks at our sister location.  I was very excited!!

On Friday we went into Gresham so Lee could get his physical blood work done and we could go to Winco.  We also decided to break down and buy some new silverware, since our current set is missing quite a few pieces.  It’s a shame because we both love the pattern and the “heft” of it, but when we tried to order a replacement set online the “exact replacement” was considerably lighter weight.  Lee actually weighed it and our old silverware  knife was 90 grams and the new one was 67 grams.  Not cool!  Thankfully Amazon has a wonderful return policy so we are shipping that silverware back and decided to go into Bed, Bath, and Beyond so we could actually hold the silverware in our hands.  It sounds like a lot of trouble, and it actually was, but we spent about 45 minutes picking out new silverware.

Why?  Well some things in our minds require actual handling before purchase and it is not coincidental that many of these things matter to us on a deeper level as a measure of financial stability.  When we were young and poor we had cheap sheets, cheap silverware, cheap plates, and cheap knives.  As we became more successful we replaced those things with better quality.  Some of those items we happily traded in when we start our new lifestyle.  Our new plates for example were extremely inexpensive and  the major factors were whether they were microwave safe and whether or not they were breakable.  Glasses went through the same process, with heavy-duty drinking glasses giving way to a plastic alternative.  But a few things we weren’t willing to change for their cheaper alternative (I’ve spent lots of time talking about the importance of 800 thread count sheets to us), and silverware instantly fell into this category.

We’ve had the same set for at least 10 years now, but over the last few years have lost a piece here and a piece there at various group dinners and we were to the point where we were constantly running low on forks.  It’s kind of funny to me that we were both 100% in agreement over the necessity to replace them with something good, but I suppose it makes sense because we both like to eat.  Lee was more concerned with the shape of the spoons (lots of weird stuff out there now) and I was more concerned with the shape of the small forks, but eventually we narrowed it down and selected something we could both live with.  The winner was Towle  brand and the pattern was Stephanie.   We also splurged and got a great deal on Cuisinart steak knives (as our steak knives were even older than the silverware) and we got a heck of a deal for $19.99.  One of the store employees also gave us outstanding customer service and spent lots of time with us as we picked out the knives.  He actually helped us hone in on a cheaper alternative which rarely happens in a store experience.

Steak knives


They were super sharp!


And I love, love my new silverware

When we got back on Friday we started our day with a 2pm maintenance meeting.  Lee is not usually a fan of meetings, but our supervisor ran a really good one and everyone was engaged and lots of questions were either put on the table or resolved. He also talked to us about the upcoming heat and made it clear he was fine with our moving our schedule (as possible) or moving tasks to the coolest part of the day.  That was really nice of him and showed he trusted our judgement which I appreciated.  The company provides sunscreen and electrolyte drink packs to their employees to help with the heat and we also learned they have a 24 hour nurse hotline to help with work related injury.  More nice benefits of working for a large company.

After the meeting, we headed out to do our runs and every place we went was pretty crowded.  Shutting the Culvert gate at 8pm was a bit challenging since there were groups of teenagers looking for a place to hang out, but I had no qualms about shooing them away and making them find another spot. Turns out I am pretty militant about gate closures and the main reason for that is trash.  The crowds in the morning are generally pretty good about cleaning up after themselves, but the later it gets the messier (and drunker) folks are so the early cut-off is a good thing.  Lower Launch also reopened on Friday and it was both packed and a bit messy, but because it had been closed all week we expected it to be a little rougher.

Saturday though was crazy.  It was really hot (highs of 97) and it seemed like everyone headed to the river. I don’t blame them, there is no local swimming pool and the river, with its mountain stream water, is a great place to cool off.  Unfortunately, there is no good place in this area for people to swim.  The river and reservoir have lots of places for folks who want to raft and kayak,  and lots of places for fishermen, but minimal places for people to cool off in the river/reservoir. I know there is a local committee that meets regularly to talk about the river resources and is very serious about apportioning them, but I am not sure that people who want to swim are represented.  The rafting companies are there and local fishermen, but with all this river space, I am not sure why there aren’t more picnic/swim areas.  Because of the lack, the lower launch tiny beach (if you can call it that)  fills up, then the culvert and folks keep getting pushed up river.  The large marina gets full, then the Promontory Day use and finally that small dock down by us.  At one point in the day our fellow camp host counted 41 people on that tiny dock, which is really way too many.  I think the problem is the current is too swift for swimming up river and the forest service only has one place (Big Eddy) where folks can go swim.  None of this is really much of an issue during the week or when the weather is rainy or cooler, but on a hot weekend every single place is packed.

That meant more work for us of course and once again we were trying to squeeze in an extra project.  I have been wanting to spray down the pit toilets since we arrived here, but needed a water source to do it.  There was a solution to this problem of course, a big water tank that is normally used for transporting fish, but we needed a hitch and a working trailer to make all that work.  Since we got the hitch we needed now we needed the trailer.  Since it had sat over the winter, Lee and one of the camp hosts spent the better part of 2 hours replacing the battery, making sure the brakes worked, putting air in the tires, etc.  I also learned how to tell the difference between a 4 cylinder and a 2 cylinder engine and how to use the hose on the tank.  I have to say everyone has been really great about showing me how to do mechanical stuff.  Occasionally they seemed surprised I have never done a thing before, but I always point to Lee and say married to a guy like him, how much maintenance do you think I’ve had to do in my life 🙂 The best part of this job (aside from the view) has been the opportunity for me to learn new things and I really appreciate folks helping me with that.

The water trailer with a 300 gallon tank


It had a water pump, hose, and engine on it to pump the water

Finally it was done so we took it up to one of the fish ladder labs to fill it up. They have a huge hose and we filled the 300 gallon tank in less than a minute. The bad news was that it was lake water, and although it was pretty clean it does have lots of pine needles in it.  That isn’t a big deal when you are using the hose to water plants, but whenever we tried to use a sprayer it got clogged up pretty quick.  Still we muddled through and Lee and I sprayed down the toilets at Faraday, then I took the trailer all by myself up to Hole in The Wall and Moore Creek and did those bathrooms.  Those sites are actually great because they are designed for boat trailers, and I had no difficulty pulling in and turning around.  We didn’t do Lower Launch (which probably needs it the most) because of the crowds, but Lee is going to tackle it on Monday.

So it was a really hot and crowded weekend (temps hit 101 on Sunday), but we took our supervisor’s advice and did most hard tasks in the morning or evenings.  I also spent more time down at the lower launch directing traffic which the folks with boats seemed to appreciate.  My only complaint about the weekend was the incredible amount of trash that was generated.  Mostly people were very good about getting it into a trash can but almost every can was full of beer cans and beer bottles.  Oregon has a very generous recycle policy, so I am not sure why folks aren’t packing those out, but what are you going to do.  I completely get it is our job, by the way, but since I am not much of a drinker, it’s never going to be my favorite thing.  I am super tempted to start recycling those bottles myself for the extra cash, but can’t face picking through all that garbage.  At 5 cents a can/bottle though it might be worth it.  To give you an idea of the scope of it, we currently have 20 trash cans we check at least once a day.  On Sunday we emptied 12 bags of trash in the morning and on our evening run we emptied 17.  That was a total of 29, very full, big black trash bags.  Like I said, a lot of trash.

Despite the heat, we did take a little bit of time on our break on Sunday and went to a local lavender festival.  I got some really nice pictures, but am going to wait and share them in the next post.  Oh, and Kat and Bert are coming to see us on Tuesday which I am super excited about, so we should have some fun on our days off next week, and the week after July 4th our youngest daughter is going to stop by and spend a few days with us on her way back across the country from San Francisco before she heads off to Korea for a year.

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10 thoughts on “First Time Working In A Utility Co. Park – Lower Launch Closure

  1. Oregon recently went to a dime per bottle, so that doubles your incentive to recycle them, Tracy! Bad part is, the state has a horrendous recycling system, as the centers are dirty, noisy and have way too few machines available. They need to take a lesson from Michigan on how to recycle cans and bottles, as the reverse vending machines in the mitten state are ten times cleaner…and more numerous! I’m half tempted to drink tap water here in Oregon, as it is an ordeal every time I have to go to Fred Meyer and return my containers.

  2. I would never have done this, except you did – my knives weight 86 grams! I am also very fussy about silverwear – glad you found one you like! Happy you are finally on your site – nice view!

    We are more than half done here! Can’t hardly believe it!

  3. Personally, I am a big recycling fan and get very frustrated when I see folks just tossing bottles and cans in the trash. Could you set up a separate recycling container in the areas where the problem seems the worst?
    Tracy, you are a star in my book with all the hard work you are doing!

  4. I like the idea of setting up a separate container, that would save picking through the trash, some will still not separate it. Could pay for a nice dinner out or something!

  5. We have recycling bins at the parks we’ve workamped. We do the recycling on our own time and everyone that participates gets a share at the end of the season. 2 years ago Dianne and I both got almost $600 each. It’s not a fun job but well worth it in the end! The park we’re at now has a much more respectful clientele (so far) than the park we worked before, as the only thing usually left in their sites when they leave is tire tracks 🙂

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