Squirrel Tails and God Winks

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

If you are reading this looking for a connection between squirrel tails and God Winks, sorry – the only connection is that we are writing about these two completely separate things in this post.

Squirrel Tails signSaturday, we remained in Antigo to rest, get ready to travel and celebrate our anniversary.  As we were out doing some errands, we again saw a sign we had been laughing and making jokes about since our first day in Antigo.  Why would anyone be advertising they want squirrel tails?  We kept looking for tail-less squirrels as we walked the Antigo trails but never saw one.  This time we just had to investigate.  After all the jokes we had made we really wanted to know.  Click here for a link to what we found. We know this is serious business for the folks at Sheldon’s Inc, the producers of Mepps, the world’s #1 lure, but we have sure laughed a lot.  Have fun reading.  Don’t miss the page on how to submit the tails or how much money you can earn by doing so.

Fred at the shopSunday, we reluctantly turned Fred back in southerly direction, dreading the increasing temperatures.  It was an uneventful drive until we were about 25 miles from our destination for the day, Midwest Mission Distribution Center.  They have a great campground for their volunteers and we had arranged to stop there for the night, relax and visit with friends on Monday morning.  However, Fred had other plans for us and turned on his check engine light.  We immediately began checking all the gauges, listening, and looking for any changes in anything.  There was nothing.  Everything seemed fine.  Remembering that the folks at Freightliner told us one time that our engine would not let us tear it up, that it would stop us before that happened (not sure that is completely true), we decided to continue on toward MMDC.  We pulled into our campsite for the evening, let Fred cool off and shut him down as usual.  Hoping the light would clear itself, we waited a bit and then retried.  Nope, the light stayed on.  We called the 24-hour Freightliner number and the helpful gentleman tried to determine the issue.  Unfortunately, he couldn’t really help us and told us that based on the code, we shouldn’t drive on to Birmingham without getting things checked.  Well, it just so happened we were eight miles from an excellent Freightliner service center. We were at their office at 7:00 am Monday morning and they immediately started checking out Fred and after about 1 ½ hour we were told we simply needed a software update, which they provided and we were back on the road.  Wow!  We know some would call this luck and others maybe fate, but we know and are so thankful for another example of how God always provides for us.  And sometimes without us realizing it until after the fact – God Winks.  And we made some more friends at The Truck Center in Springfield, IL.  If you are ever in need of service or repairs to your motor home in the Springfield are, we highly recommend these guys and gals.  And they have service centers in numerous other locations too.  We will certainly use them again if the need arises.

We are now back in Alabama preparing for our next adventure.

Another Amazing Week at REGI With Y2V

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Y2VWe will begin this blog answering what several people are wanting to know and what we wanted to know first thing Monday morning and continued to ask about each day.  How is the injured eagle that was taken in last Friday?  We are very glad to report that he is doing very well and making good progress.  The internal bleeding stopped.  He did have a spinal contusion.  The swelling has gone down and he is now up and walking around a bit.  The vet thinks he will make a full recovery and will be released back into the wild.  He is starting to get a little feisty which is another good sign.

We welcomed another new couple to the group this week and we ended with a total of 41 people working at REGI, some for only a few days, or a week but all 41 making huge contributions to the work.  This week we all continued to work wherever we could jump in and help.  The landscaping/weeding/planting continued and the REGI campus looks like one of those backyard makeover TV shows.  We had some gifted painters on our team who repainted all the exterior signage including some in the town of Antigo.  They did beautiful work and it really makes the entrance drive pop, as well as much easier for visitors to find their way. 

With so few staff, Marge and her crew just needed some help sprucing the area up and the Year to Volunteer crew did a lot of sprucing.  We also cleaned/scraped/and painted three gazebo bird enclosures as well as a cabin enclosure and the building that contains the new passerine enclosure.  We think the birds are appreciative and are enjoying their spiffed up homes. 

The largest portion of the project was the new passerine enclosure which was actually six enclosures inside another enclosure.  The team completed that project at 4:30 Friday afternoon – working hard to the very end.  The staff is very excited about the new enclosures for their small birds.  In some of the pictures you can see the small box type enclosures in the yard that are currently homes to the smaller birds.  They are especially grateful for the enclosure for the woodpeckers. 

Additionally, many other projects were completed such as organizing the garage, replacing some outside lighting, pressure washing all the benches, building a nice storage shed and a new lean to structure in Qush Quluk’s (the eagle rescued from the Valdez oil spill) enclosure, general cleaning and probably other items we are not remembering right now.  We were able to observe the release of some bluebirds and robins this week as well.  Thirteen total, which were all babies when people brought them to the center after finding them in various places and in various conditions.  The wonderful people at REGI nursed them back to health and they are now back in the wild.

Late Friday afternoon, unfortunately, another bald eagle was brought into REGI after being hit by a vehicle.  This one was in worse condition than the one from last week.  It was a female who was about 3 years old and severely dehydrated.  Again, it was amazing to watch the interaction between Marge and the eagle.  She gently took it out of the box and immediately knew this girl was in trouble.  She immediately started making eye contact with the bird, and talking to her, picked her up and held her close to her chest and just talked to her softly. You could watch as the bird began to relax in her arms.  She again then placed her on the exam table and began the exam.  X-rays revealed her radius and ulna in her left wing were both broken. Marge and one of her staff quickly gave her fluids.  The vet came by Saturday and set the bones.  She is not eating solid food but is taking liquids well.  Marge is hopeful about her recovery as we all are.

We are so impressed with Marge and the staff of REGI.  They are all so tender with the birds and it’s obvious they are all very passionate about what they do.  They all work so hard, preparing food and feeding the birds multiple times a day, and caring for them, washing towels, keeping everything clean and so much more.  We hope to return someday.

We were so blessed to be able to work with everyone on the Y2V team.  God as He always does, provided all the skills that were needed to accomplish the tasks even when at times it did not look like we were going to get it all completed.  The link below to Phil and Shar’s Youtube video gives you an overall summery of what was done.  Phil and Shar put together a bunch of newbie volunteers, only three couples had prior experience and pulled off their most difficult project to date.  Thanks so much to them for providing the opportunity for us all to have a great two weeks.  We have some great new friends that we hope to see again soon.

Check out these links to learn more about the project:

Y2V at REGI Week 1

Saturday, August 14, 2021

We had a busy week with A Year to Volunteer at Raptor Education Group, Inc. (REGI) but we have also had fun.  Tuesday an injured loon was brought in by the Dept of Natural Resources office and we got to see this beautiful bird up close.  We don’t see loons very often north Alabama so it was a real treat.  There was a tremendous amount of landscaping and cleanup/cleanout done this week along with great progress being made on the three gazebos.  One is now complete and the staff were planning to move one of the birds back into his home today or tomorrow, as soon as they were sure the paint was completely dry.  Looks very good.  The passerine enclosure and storage shed are also showing real progress.  Anne and Max worked primarily on the electrical for the passerine enclosure and landscaping.

The highlight of our week was when the director of REGI allowed some of us to observe the arrival of and initial treatment of an injured approximately two year old male bald eagle.  He was hit by a vehicle while on a carcass beside a road and was found in a thicket nearby.  He was brought in a large U-Haul box.  The director, Marge, was amazing with the eagle.  She simply began to talk to him softly and calmly telling him she was going to take care of him and check him out.  She moved slowly and gently but deliberately all the while talking to him.  The eagle rather than thrashing and fighting relaxed in her arms as she talked and then allowed her to lay him on his back with a pillow under this head and shoulders.  She then very gently examined him with nothing more than regular exam gloves on her hands and her gentle voice.  Part of the time she was holding his legs but she was able to release the legs at times and he never tried to get away and never tried to bite or grab her with his talons even when they drew blood.  (Eagles talons have a crushing strength of over 400 lbs/sq inch.)  Within 10 minutes the eagle had been evaluated, x-rayed and administered vitamin K.  It was amazing and beautiful to watch.   Then the poor guy was bedded down to rest and hopefully begin healing.  We know that Marge and her crew will take good care of him this weekend but we will be anxious to check on him Monday.

Something New For Us

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

We came to Antigo, WI for a new adventure.  Sunday evening we met with 29 other individuals for the opening meeting of our A Year To Volunteer (Y2V) two week project.  All but two couples were newbies along with us.  Y2V is a relatively new organization founded by Phil and Shar Roos as a means to provide volunteer opportunities for people.  To date, their primary work has been with state parks and a few other non-profits, helping with maintenance, repairs and the like.  Phil and Shar have a passion for our underserved and underfunded state parks.  Most of us RVers love our state parks and realize how much help they need.  Y2V is incorporated as a non-profit and have filed for their 501(c)(3) status and are just waiting for the IRS to do their part of the paperwork.  Phil and Shar began with a vision of volunteering 365 days and in all 50 states as a way of being productive as they began their retirement.  They invited a few people to join them in their first volunteer effort and things have grown from there.   We all had fun visiting and beginning to get to know each other Sunday night.  Monday morning we began to get to know the staff at REGI, Raptor Education Group, Inc, a 501(c)(3) dedicated to caring for injured and orphaned native bird species and public education on wildlife issues.  Our team will be working on landscaping, building a passerine enclosure for native song birds that are being cared for at the facility and hopefully rehabilitated for release back into the wild, building a new storage shed, rehabilitating three gazebos used for various birds, painting some signs, pressure washing as needed and of course anything else that comes up that needs work.  Phil and Shar have been a joy to get to know and hopefully we will know them even better over the next 2 weeks.  As is usual, Monday was a day for familiarization and organization, learning our way around the raptor center.  We did start working on the landscaping. 

Tuesday morning was our turn to take the tour of the facility with educators and some real visitors of the facility.  Everyone will get to take the tour over the next few days.  We got to visit with some of the birds up close and learn more about the different species that are being cared for by the dedicated staff.  While we were waiting for our tour someone brought in a very tiny bird in need of care.  We were told that the baby bird would need to be fed some protein every 15 minutes over the next several days if it is to survive.  The staff will rotate caring for the bird all night tonight. We finished the day preparing to rough in some wiring for the new passerine enclosure.