Day 6 – Trip home

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Wieland and I got up shortly after 6 am and Wieland went to the maintenance shop to fill some buckets with magic dust. We then brought the magic dust, diesel, kindling and firewood to each of the locations where the fires would be started.

By the time we finished delivering the materials, it was 7:30 am and group of Amish volunteers had arrived. I escorted 5 of them to the area where they would be cutting logs, as well as clearing and burning debris. Once they were familiar with the work that was to be done, I returned to the dining hall and had a little breakfast.

After breakfast, I joined Lynn, who had started to cut wood on the burn piles with the saw attachment on his skid steer. We spent the rest of the morning feeding the fires and cutting the wood in the piles and pushing the piles together with the skid steer.

There was a total of 32 volunteers, 11 of which were Amish that were at the camp. Most of the volunteers cut and burned the wood debris . One of them had also brought a bobcat,

and another volunteer had brought a forklift truck

At one point the forklift truck had to be used to help the bobcat because it had tipped over on one of the steep hills.

We had brunch at 10:30 am and Cheryl took a group picture with some of the volunteers.

I had noticed that here were fresh deer tracks in the mud and occasionally we would spot a few running through the area.

After brunch we all returned to the hills to clear and burn more brush. Just before noon the driver’s side front wheel came off of the rim of the forklift truck, most likely when it rubbed against a log that was lodged in the ground and the owner had to park it for the day. Fortunately he only lived a mile away and had driven the forklift truck to the camp. Wieland gave him a ride home so that he could get his tools to remove the wheel and have it fixed.

At noon, I headed back to the dorm area to shower and change into clean clothes for the drive. I packed my dirty clothes and shoes in garbage bags and threw them in the back of the car. As I was packing the car, Cheryl gave me some snacks and drinks for the road, as well as the printouts of our negative Covid tests and calendars she had made. When Wieland returned to the camp, we said our goodbyes and started the drive home.

Just before the border, we filled up with gas, completed our ArriveCan app information and picked up some Tim Horton’s coffee before heading across the BlueWater Bridge to Sarnia. At the border, we gave the guard our Nexus cards and Wieland’s phone with the ArriveCan app. He asked us what we had been doing and after looking in the back of the car, he asked me what I had in the garbage bags. When I told him that it was dirty clothes and shoes, he gave us the phone and cards back and sent us on our way. The drive was uneventful and we arrived in Niagara on the Lake at 7:30 pm, approximately 7 hours after we had left Amigo Centre.

When I got home, I noticed that a large branch from one of my ash trees had broken and fallen down on my lawn. I’ll have to spend some time this week cutting, cleaning and burning brush at my house. I’ve had a lot of practice so it shouldn’t be a problem, but I don’t have the advantage of using Lynn’s skid steer.

The trip was a wonderful experience and I am planning on the possibility of going back to help again in the spring.

Day 5 – Amigo Centre

Friday, December 3, 2021

Wieland and I got up at 6:30 am and at 7:15 am, we met Cheryl by the maintenance building where we prepared some more magic dust and then Wieland used Cheryl’s car to go into town and get some diesel fuel before breakfast.

After breakfast, Wieland continued to work on the bathroom in the cabin where he had installed the electrical circuits. He cut a hole in the wall to accommodate the window he later installed.

He also installed the drain and vent pipes for the shower, toilet and sink and then he started the installation of the drywall.

Most of the volunteers continued to cut and burn the fallen trees, however, some of the volunteers worked on rebuilding trails.

Some spent their day cutting down trees.

And some raked leaves.

Lynn and I fed some of the fires that had been started the day before and started some new ones. We then cleared a path of debris, before returning to the meadow. Because a quilting group was using the camp and they had a special lunch, the volunteers had a brunch at 10:30 am instead of lunch, however Lynn and I decided to skip brunch.

After brunch Cheryl took a group photo.

After Lynn and I restarted the fire in the meadow we cleared the trail along the property line. I cut the trees and Lynn moved them with his skid steer. I had lost my gloves during a short break and when Cheryl came back to see us, she found them along the trail we had cleared and brought them to me.

After clearing the trail, we fed the fire and then cleared another trail in the meadows.

At 4:30 pm we fed the fire again and then headed back to the dining hall for supper. After supper, Lynn and I went out to feed some of the fires and he created a huge bonfire in the meadows. I was a bit concerned that the fire might spread to other areas, because it got so hot that the flames shot up about 4.5 m ( 15 ft ) and the sparks flew about 30 m ( 100 ft ) in the air. Fortunately it was a very calm night and the did not travel far.

When I got back to the lodge, I helped Cheryl find buckets for magic dust and bottles for diesel fuel so that they would be ready for starting fires in the morning. We filled up eight plastic containers with the old diesel fuel and then I returned to my room to have a shower and rest.

Day 4 – Amigo Centre

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Wieland and I met Cheryl at 7:30 am to load some dry firewood, fill buckets with ” magic dust ” and sweep up some sawdust in preparation for making more magic dust later by adding used oil to it and mixing it with an old paddle.

At 8 am we went to the dining hall to have our traditional breakfast. After breakfast Wieland and I drove to town, got our Covid tests so that we could return to Canada, picked up some plumbing supplies and also picked up some diesel fuel for Lynn’s skid steer. Shortly after 10 am we were back at Amigo Centre and I helped Lynn top up the fuel in the skid steer.

Wieland finished the work for the generator wiring and disconnect, as well as, all of the wiring in the cabin where he had been working.

Lynn and I cleared up some trees and brush in one of the areas near the pavilion, made three fires and then returned to the meadow area to clear one of the paths that was littered with trees.

Some of the volunteers raked leaves in neat piles so that the could be hauled away and burned.

Before lunch, Cheryl took a group picture.

Lynn and I hadn’t made it back in time for the picture, so Cheryl took a separate picture of us when we arrived at the dining hall. The dining hall is well equipped and can handle very large groups.

After lunch, we returned to our job sites and most of the volunteers continued to cut and move the logs and branches.

A few volunteers repaired the edging for one of the roadways.

I had a bit of a mishap while working in the meadow. It was an unusually warm day for this time of year, reaching 12 C ( 54 F ), so I put my jacket on the ground under a large tree, with the diesel fuel, gas, chainsaw oil, magic dust and a small butane torch, shortly after starting a fire. I filled my chainsaw with oil and gas and then proceeded to the far side of the meadow area to cut the trees so that Lynn could move them out of the way.

When my chainsaw ran out of gas, I returned to the tree to fill it up with oil and gas but I couldn’t find the oil. I checked the ground and realized that my jacket was missing. As I looked closer, I saw that there was only charred remains of my jacket, the butane torch, my hunting cap. I checked the debris and found the chainsaw tool and what was left of the butane torch with remains of my nylon jacket melted on to it. The torch had been laid on my jacket so that it wouldn’t be lost among all of the leaves and twigs and it was most likely still hot from starting a fire.

I also noticed that one water bottle and the bucket of ” magic dust ” each had a small melted hole on bottom but the contents of the magic dust hadn’t burned. Neither the gas, nor the diesel tank had been affected. Fortunately, there was no other damage and there was nothing valuable in the coat, so I texted Cheryl to see if she could bring me some more chainsaw oil and then I returned to the path to continue cutting the fallen trees. Shortly afterwards, Cheryl brought the chainsaw oil and by the end of the day Lynn and I had almost cleared the path of the large fallen cherry and locust trees.

At 4 pm, my chain slipped from the bar of the chainsaw, so Lynn and I returned to the dining hall for supper and on the way back, Lynn put more wood on each of the fires we had started. After supper, Lynn and I returned to each of the fires and he again pushed some more wood on the fires, so that most of the wood could burnt up before the morning.

Meanwhile, Cheryl and Wieland put the charger on the orange Kubota to charge it up. By 7 pm, we returned to our dorms. It had certainly been an interesting day, but overall, a lot had been accomplished.

Day 3 – Amigo Centre

Wednesday, December 1, 2021 ,

Cheryl sent me a picture she had been taken the night before of the spectacular sunset from the porch of the dining hall.

As usual, we had a continental breakfast at 8 am and then took a group photo before heading to our job sites.

Two of the volunteers spent the day putting fascia on one of the buildings.

Lynn continued to clear the paths in the meadow until one of the hydraulic lines on his skid steer was ripped off by the branches he was moving, so he went to the John Deere dealer in town and they made a new hose for him.

Wieland spent the day working in the cabin bathroom that Cheryl had showed us on Monday. He ran electrical wires for the plugs and lights from the outside.

I was assigned to be a tractor driver and I spent the day picking up large logs and placing them on piles in preparation for burning. Six other people cut branches and put them on the piles.

The tractor I had was a Kubota with a grapple that had been added on to it. It was a little heavy in the front and I had to be careful while handling large logs so that it wouldn’t tip over especially on the sides of the hills.

About 3 pm it started to rain and everything got wet and slippery so we quit for the day and packed up the tools. For supper we had Sloppy Joes with chips. It was something I haven’t eaten for many years and it was a nice treat.

Day 2 – Amigo Centre

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

We had a very nice continental breakfast at 8 am in the dining hall with Cheryl’s uncle and aunt. After breakfast several local people showed up from different locations in Michigan to help for a day or two and we took a group photo before going to our job sites.

There were four groups that were given the task of cutting, piling and burning wood from the fallen trees.

Wieland spent the day working with Bob, a part-time maintenance man at Amigo Centre, installing the wiring, conduit and a panel for the camp’s electrical generator.

I was partnered with Lynn Newcomer, Cheryl’s uncle from Salina Kansas. We cut and cleared the fallen trees, piled them on the smouldering ashes of a fire and then poured some ” magic dust ” ( oil soaked wood chips ) and diesel fuel on the pile to get the fire burning again. I cut some of the trees into smaller sections and Lynn moved them onto the fire and also used the saw attachment on his skid steer to cut the wood on the pile.

Unfortunately, I hadn’t tightened the gas cap on the chainsaw after refilling it and as I started using it again, the cap came off and gas poured all over my pants, so I had to avoid getting close to the fire. The smell wasn’t noticeable until later on when I went inside for lunch.

After the pile was burning well, we moved to the meadow area where most of the trees in the area had been knocked down by the straight-line winds. Cheryl helped us start the fire by using some dried sassafras branches for kindling. Most of the wood was a bit wet and when we piled more branches and wet leaves on the fire it would start to smoulder and the fire would die down so we had to reignite it a few times.

There were a lot of very large cherry trees that had fallen down and we cut them to length and piled them separately so that they could later be brought to a sawmill to make lumber.

The meadow was at the far end of the camp trails and I opted to catch a ride back to the dining hall for lunch.

After lunch, we continued cutting, piling and burning wood. There seemed to be no end to the amount of fallen trees and many of the trails were blocked by them.

At 4 pm, we headed back to the camp and Lynn pushed the logs together on the fire we had made in the morning and it flared up to make an impressive bonfire.

After taking a nice shower, we had supper, discussed the events of the day and solved political and social issues before heading back to our rooms for the night.