We have had several folks who saw news of the tornadoes in southwest Florida contact us to make sure we were okay. We are. A cold front passed through this part of Florida this morning spawning a few tornadoes and damaging an RV resort as well has several other locations. A tornado warning was issued for the area to our southwest so the team turtled up our RVs and gathered in the nearest substantial structure – the bathhouse/laundry. Fortunately, all the severe storms passed either to our north or south.
Today has been another beautiful winter day in Fort Myers, FL. We have really had beautiful weather since arriving, with only an occasional shower. Watching the weather over the remainder of the country we are certainly concerned for everyone experiencing such a rough winter. Y’all be very careful as you are out and about!!
Last Saturday was the day we elected to celebrate Max’s birthday. So along with catching up on the laundry, we cooked up some of our red snapper that we brought from Gulf Shores. It was so good! Anne also made Max a from scratch vanilla pie using his Mom’s recipe. It was a first for her because we always just got our pie fix when we visited Juno. She was quite the pie maker. Thanks to Debra who shared the recipe and skill, pies will now be back in our diet – but not too often. Saturday afternoon we took a nice hike with two of our team members in one of the county parks. It was such a nice day.
We again began the week with devotion with the Echo family – such a good time of worship and song. After devotion we all headed back to work with Max and Anne back to the duck pond dock to meet with Elliott. Over the weekend it was decided that the dock looked so good that Echo wanted to replace all the wood above the deck of the dock. That meant we went back into demo mode. Marcia and Phil joined us to help unload all the new material and work on the rebuild. By Wednesday we were ready to install the new balusters and we set up an assembly line with Marcia pre-drilling, Anne starting the screws and Max and Phil installing. We were surprised at how fast that went and by Wednesday afternoon the deck was completed.
A new assignment the team began this week was the cleaning out of the A-Frame house used by interns and other guests. At some point the second floor kitchen will be moved downstairs and the bedrooms on the first floor moved upstairs. Voni and Mary began that process of packing up everything into storage boxes and others helped out taking the furniture apart and except for the appliances everything is now in storage.
The team also built additional plant tables – these even larger than last weeks and dug and set new footing for a hoop house in the propagation area. Work continued on the large bridge with all the supporting beams being replaced. That was a huge, heavy job!
Max and Anne began the demo of a bathroom in the Appropriate Technology area with Elliott. All the fixtures and walls were removed. That was also a very physical job. Anne was a little stiff on Friday. All that is left to remove next week is the ceiling. Don’t think we will be involved in that rebuild, but we do enjoy demo.
For Anne Friday and much of today was spent on NOMADS business but she did take time this morning to host a cheese grits cooking school. With Marcia, Mary and Voni, Anne had fun showing them how southerners make cheese grits. Phil who said he didn’t like grits, decided the ladies cheese grits were pretty good. Anne also shared Juno’s sausage and grits recipe and the ladies are looking forward to giving that a try too. Some of the team also played some corn hole and ladder golf this afternoon. This is a great team. We are again enjoying our time at ECHO.
With great team leaders, great team members and a host agency with a truly great mission how could we help but to have a great week? We started the week with a joint devotional time with the ECHO staff and other volunteers. That is how each week will start. In additional to the devotional time, we learn a lot about ECHO (Hope Against Hunger) and their mission. After the devotional time everyone breaks into small groups to pray for each other and ECHO.
Then our NOMADS team was treated to a tour of the farm by one of the docents. Most of the team had not been here before but it was still very interesting to those of us who have.
After the tour our team leaders, Susan and Kevin, gave us our marching orders. Top priorities were to repair some walk bridges and the duck pond dock, install a vent fan in the mushroom house, build some potting tables and build some steps to a goat birthing house.
Today was spent doing laundry, grocery shopping, resting and enjoying the sunset.
Since our Christmas blog post, we spent our time enjoying the many trails and attractions at Gulf State Park. We hiked and biked every day and did our usual wildlife viewing and photography. We had several delicious meals of local seafood and took care of chores and NOMADS business.
Last Tuesday, while Anne worked on NOMADS Board business, Max once again participated in the park’s Give Back Tuesday, a day each week for volunteers to help out around the park. About a dozen volunteers showed up to help finish a fence that was needed to direct people away from occupied campsites to an established trail. Apparently some people don’t know it is rude to walk through someone else’s campsite.
As much as we enjoyed our time and rest at Gulf State Park, it’s time to get back to work. We sadly left the park Friday morning and started south to our next project. We arrived here in the North Fort Myers, Florida area to spend three weeks working on a NOMADS project at ECHO, also known as Hope Against Hunger. Our regular readers may remember that almost exactly a year ago we were also here for the same reason.