Monday, August 16, 2010

Finding a Rally Site

This weekend was a busy few days for us. For starters, we headed to Sandy's home area for a family reunion. It is always good to see familiar faces, that now and then seem to age markedly for a strange reason. There are others that look no worse for the wear, but once you hear the medical problems, you hold your breath that all will be okay. One also learns a little bit about history.

Sandy's cousins husband served in the Pacific during WWII and had previously told me about some of his activities. He was a diesel mechanic and was responsible for keeping the generators running for the communications center. A critical activity, but one that fit into his interest and training. Training was really OJT (On the Job Training). He would be assigned 2 or 3 young privates to be trained on the power system. There was no formal course or test to work with. However, when replacements were needed for other islands, they'd ask Joe, "Could so and so do the job?" If the answer was "Yes", he was sent out and some replacements brought in.

This time Joe related to me a little bit of the reaction of the troops when the A Bomb was dropped. Everyone was interested in how big was it? Could it really wipe out a city? Would the Japanese finally surrender? What he had never mentioned to me earlier was that he was part of the early forces to go into Japan. His first assignment was to take a translator and a jeep and take a communications inventory of the Japanese communications equipment near where they were. As a GI who had never been on the front, they moved out into the city with great trepidation. While the emperor had said that they had surrendered, at the grunt level, there was a lot of nervousness, such that they stayed close to the jeep and always had their rifles on their shoulder. (There was never a problem.)

On the way to the reunion, we stopped by a county park where I'd like to host a chapter rally next summer..(Sandy thinks I'm nuts!) We found the park and looked the campground area over. There are no hookups and it is really suitable for tent camping. In fact, dodging the trees could be a problem for motor homes and long fifth wheel RV units. So it didn't look good.

On the way out, we noticed where the park maintenance shed was and noticed that two fellows were working in a class C RV. We stopped to visit with them. One of them was the park ranger and when we told him what we were interested in, he was very receptive. We wouldn't have to park in the regular camping area, but we could park in a nice meadow near a picnic shelter. The shelter had a large brick fireplace plus a fire pit out behind that the scouts often use. So it didn't take long to convince me that we had found a winner.

Back at the car, Sandy expressed her concern about "what if it rains?" Gene's position is that we need to trust mother nature some. After all, the Des Moines Astronomy society is out there every Saturday night to demonstrate their small observatory. If you can see the heavens, the rains aren't going to be too bad! So we have a site and a built in Saturday evening entertainment. What more can we ask for?

One downer for me was that Jasper County Conservation Board decided this year that free camping was just too good of a deal, so they now charge $7 a night camping fees. But for that, we have a shelter, picnic tables, a fire pit and probably firewood (I forgot to ask if we could cut some dead trees in the forest. So we have some calling to do this week.

I thought it was a great site. (I didn't let Sandy vote!) Stay tuned!


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