Friday, March 27, 2009

Fort report

Here are some recent happenings at the fort...
  • A team of archeologists returned for a Big Dig. It turns out that a few years ago when the maintenance staff was putting in a leech field (part of the sewer/septic system), the onsite person who made sure they didn't "disturb" anything spotted some pieces of glass and pipe stems. So, they returned 5 years later, directed Robin to get out the backhoe and dug a gimongous hole. (Photos to come.)
  • Despite warnings to turn back from the ferry captains, one boater decided he was man enough for the 30+ knot winds. He's been stranded here since Saturday (of last week).
  • Despite warnings from another 100-ton master captain, today's ferry captains decided to push their limits and come, even though winds were a steady 34 knots and gusting.
  • The stranded boater previously mentioned narrowly missed being sliced in half this morning by another boat when that boat's anchor broke free and ran into the other boat.
  • When leaving the island today, a stupid camper who was staying the night somehow remained on the ferry. The ferry had barely cleared the shallow channel on the departure and suddenly stopped, churned up the bottom, turned around and waked everything in its path (in a no-wake zone) to return to the dock to return said stupid camper.
  • A couple of reporters from Lonely Planet guide books were here and received their own personal tour of the fort and island from yours truly.
Now, it's off to bed for me, until the 3 a.m. wake-up call when we slog out to check the lines on all the boats. So far, 6 lines have broken and that's just today!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Birthday bash

We head off the rock today for a weekend getaway for Robin's birthday. We are headed to Disneyworld, Seaworld and a visit with Robin's mom.

Robin's been talking up Seaworld and the "all the free beer you can drink." (I plan to verify this statement.) This could promise to be another hysterical episode like last year's birthday (see Return from civilization).

Monday, March 16, 2009

Search and rescue

Robin and I went out fishing the other day on a rare relatively calm day (only blowing 10 knots or so). It was sunny, hot and the fish were biting. Robin had one on and called me to come over and help him net it. In my haste (and Robin's impatience), I failed to properly secure my rod in the rod holder (big mistake).

While we were getting Robin's fish in the boat, all of sudden .... zzzzzzzzzzip!

There went my new expensive rod, being pulled by a fish, over the edge of the boat and into the water. Not only that, it snagged another one (Robin's matching and equally expensive new rod) and took it along. I started to go for them (hey, they were expensive and the water is 70+ degrees). They were only a foot out of my reach. Robin yelled at me to stay in the boat. Then he ran up and marked the man overboard on the GPS (wow, what a great invention that is).

Today, we were fortunate enough to have a couple scuba divers who were willing to go on a treasure hunt. Sure enough, thanks to Robin's quick action with the GPS, they retrieved one rod in about 15 minutes. They went down a second time and again, success! They came up smiling and with the other rod.

Because the rods weren't exposed to oxygen and were submerged in the salt water, they will be good to go. Robin is out there hosing them down and soaking them in fresh water now.

I think we owe the divers some fish. A lot of it!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The High Seas Diet and Fitness Plan

(This list compiled during the latest journey on the M/V Fort Jefferson, when we went 8 mph for more than 6 long, grueling hours due to rough seas and having an injured boat limping along in our wake.)

Reduce caloric intake the natural way with nature's own cleansing and purging routine!
  • Foods on the approved list include soft foods (easy on the way down and on the way up) that are low in calories such as yogurt, oatmeal etc.
  • Drink a delicate balance of tea and water. Both help you avoid the dry heaves and both are low in calories. This very delicate balance is recommended because you don't want to drink too much liquid that will require a trip to the head -- an evil place to be avoided at all costs.
  • Being on the water for such an extended period of time is a natural deterrent from eating high fat, high volume foods such as Big Macs, french fries, ice cream. In addition to not having access to such food, it kills your appetite for days (and sometimes for days prior due to dread of being on the high seas).
  • Wearing seabands on your wrists makes them fall asleep, making it more difficult to negotiate getting food in your mouth.
  • Taking motion sickness pills will knock you out for days, which you will spend sleeping and therefore not be awake to eat.
Get in a great, inexpensive all-over body workout! No expensive equipment to buy ... simply a sturdy ship rail!
  • Getting sick works your abs better and cheaper than the ab lounger, ab roller and other costly ab machines.
  • In addition, you get in plenty of knee bends (going for distance over the rail), which are easier on your joints than squats.
  • Gripping the rail provides a burn in your arms and shoulders that will last for hours and is a surefire upper-arm and shoulder toner.
  • Burn bonus calories from the chills and shivering that results from being in the constant sea spray and wind.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Top 10 job duties I did as Interpretive Ranger First Class

  1. Received (finally) my first official key that gets me into doors here at the fort. (Still waiting for apartment keys and a key to my place here at the fort.)
  2. Raised the American flag over the fort in the morning. (One day it almost got blown away! Thanks to my quick reflexes, I was able to avoid this catastrophic event.)
  3. Explored Bush Key with one of the bird researchers to see the nesting birds and scout for the lone crocodile. We didn't spot the crocodile, but we did see sooty terns, baby sooty terns, sooty tern eggs and frigate birds with the males all poofed up looking for a lady. (Photos to come as soon as the wind dies down.)
  4. Served as official "medical recorder" to document a medical incident for the EMT on duty. (Allergic reaction to sunscreen so no need to call the helicopter this time.)
  5. Spent hours counting, recounting and counting some more all of the campground and entrance fees. This included counting and packaging the money into units of 25 bills. Then I had to recount and repackage the money into units of 50 bills. (Only the government would make you spend $5 in staff time to count every $1 collected.)
  6. Recorded the daily weather in the official log used by NOAA. (The last time it rained here was Feb. 2 when we got 1.56 inches. Yesterday's low was a chilly 59 degrees!)
  7. Got to play with my new park service radio. (My radio call number is 241.)
  8. Worked with my first Junior Ranger who took the pledge and received a Junior Ranger badge. (I, too, have a ranger badge. I tried to get them to let me wear the Junior Ranger one but they wouldn't let me.
  9. Looked everywhere for a chair I can use instead of the circa 1954, straight-back elementary school wooden chair that I've been using.
  10. Tried and failed numerous times to get my computer log in and access. (Somehow they can't seem to figure out how to reinstate what I had at Glacier Bay. I foresee another fingerprinting ordeal.)