Last Week At REGI

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Well, after last week bragging about the spring like weather, the cold returned for part of our last week.  Back to long sleeves, sweat shirts and multiple layers in the morning.  We were even under a frost advisory but we had none in our area.  It did frost in some townships just north of Antigo.  The trees and flowers are still beautiful and we definitely enjoyed our stay.

It was another very busy week working with Y2V at REGI -with lots of sore muscles and aches.  We, along with Joe, spent the first four days this week completing the repair/replacement of the green fabric on a total of 3 large enclosures – approximately 600 linear feet of fabric.  We had additional help from various other hard working team members at different times during the week and could not have completed the project without their additional help.

On Friday morning we worked with Joe and Phil to empty, pull out old carpet and level with stone a storage room for a golden eagle enclosure.  After that was completed, we worked on the rustic fence project with other team members.  Together that team was able to complete that project too by the end of the day.  Together our team completed at least 19 items that were on the REGI “list”.  Gary and Dave completed the new 80×80 parking lot/RV parking area.  The eagle flight was re-graveled.  A passerine was re-screened.  The basement was painted including the new epoxy finish on the flooring.  All the display shelving in the education building was repainted beautiful “REGI green”.  The turkey vulture enclosure was re-screened and roofing repaired.  New signs were installed.  New fire pit was built.  That’s just some of the things I can think of right now.  Shar will send us a complete list in a few days.  And we had a potluck, taco Tuesday, evening camp fires, and lunch with all the REGI staff.

We also got to observe Marge and the staff assess and treat a female bald eagle who was brought in after being found in a field acting strangely.  The eagle had organophosphate poisoning as a result of the insecticides being sprayed on the fields in the area prior to planting.  Fortunately, the x-ray indicated there were no broken bones or lead pellets.  She was severely dehydrated.  Blood work did not indicate any lead poisoning but of course did confirm the poison.  They gave the eagle activated charcoal to absorb any of the poison that was possibly still in the stomach, and washed the feet really well because there was visible poison on the feet and can be absorbed through the skin.  When we left Friday afternoon the eagle was making slow improvement.  At this time the staff thinks she should be able to be released, but probably not until November/December.

As we were leaving Antigo, just after we turned onto Hwy 64, a bald eagle flew beside us for a few moments – almost as if to say “Thank you” and “Godspeed”.

This was an excellent project with a very cohesive team.  We thank all the team making it that way and especially Shar and Phil for organizing and leading the project.  We hope we can work with all these guys again soon.

First Week At REGI

Sunday May 14, 2023

In case you didn’t see last week’s update, we are in Antigo, Wisconsin to work a two week project with A Year To Volunteer (Y2V).  Sunday, with our opening meeting, was the official start of the Y2V, Raptor Education Group, Inc. (REGI) project. REGI houses and cares for birds, really of all sizes and types, that have been injured.  Of course, the goal is always rehabilitation and release but when the birds have such severe injuries they can never survive in the wild again, they have a safe and secure home for the remainder of their lives. We worked this same project with Shar and Phil, the directors of Y2V, in 2021.  Sunday we met our 18 other team members – none of whom we had worked with previously.  Now, at the end of one short week, we have 18 new friends plus have renewed our friendship with Phil and Shar.

First, the weather report.  When we agreed to work this project beginning on May 7, we had no thoughts about the weather – true southerners we are.  Beginning about 3-4 weeks ago we began checking Antigo weather.  There was SNOW!  There was SNOW the Saturday before our arrival. You all know we don’t do snow and don’t drive FRED in snow.  Even when we departed SC last week the lows were still predicted to be in the 38°F range with highs in the 50s.  Fortunately, the forecast and the weather changed this week and it has been amazing to watch spring arrive with gusto.  Last Friday when we arrived, there were no leaves on anything and nothing was blooming.  Today we rode around town enjoying gorgeous tulips, daffodils, and fruit trees in bloom.  The residents were outside planting flowers in their yards and cutting grass.  The farmers have been plowing the fields all week.  According to the residents, it was a long, long, hard, winter and they are so happy to see the sunshine and flowers.  We are relieved that the snow departed!

Monday was a usual “mosey Monday” meaning we all had to spend time assessing our assignments and determining how to approach the various projects and what additional supplies were needed.  By Tuesday all the projects were well underway. We were working with Joe on removing torn and damaged green fabric from the largest enclosure for the swans, pelicans, ducks and geese.  We continued to work on that project all week and by Friday afternoon the main enclosure had new fabric installed.  There are additional areas still needing fabric repair/replacement but that is work for next week.

Others were busy working on landscaping, installing beautiful new REGI signs, cleaning and replacing the gravel in the eagle flight, painting shelving and benches in the welcome center, cleaning, painting and putting epoxy floor covering in the basement where some pelicans and other birds lived for the winter, and installing softer screening in some mews (smaller bird enclosures).  There is still much to do but we have five more days.

Additionally we had a blood drive Friday and collected 19 units of blood that should help about 60 people in this local area.  It is such a blessing to be surrounded by people from all walks of life, who love to help others.  We all worked very hard this week and are tired.  But we are so thankful to be able to do this work and make great friends.

From Grand Isle to Wisconsin, April 7-May 6

Saturday, May 6, 2023

We departed Grand Isle on Friday April 7 with plans to overnight in Laurel, MS en route back to Blount County and our home church, Lester Memorial, for Easter Sunday.  Shortly before making it through New Orleans we had a check engine light on Fred.  We researched and called Freightliner.  Everything still seemed okay but we did determine that we were fine to continue driving for the short term.  Long story short – the only place who could find to work on Fred on Easter weekend was the Freightliner Oasis dealer in Jackson, MS.  We were so looking forward to being “home” for Easter for the first time in several years but seemed it probably would not happen.  We prayed and trusted God.  We arrived at Empire Truck Sales about 5:30 pm – without having to be towed the last few miles as we were warned could happen.  Thank you, Jesus!  All the folks there were great.  They gave us a tour of the facilities and said they couldn’t work on Fred that night (they work 24/7) but would get us in first thing Saturday morning.  They showed us where to park and provided a 50 amp power connection.  At 7 am Saturday the technician was knocking on our door.  Empire provides great service while you wait – large, clean, comfortable lounge, free laundry facilities and showers, and unlimited free popcorn.  Amazingly, by 11:00 am we were back on the road toward Alabama.  For the motorhome folks, the technician cleared the code, forced a regen on the exhaust system, rechecked everything and told us Fred was good to go.  If you ever need help, we highly recommend Empire Truck Sales.  We were back at Camp Sumatanga (our go-to campground when we are home) before dark and were at the Lester Memorial Sunrise Service at 6:00 am!  We love Easter – the most important day in our year and so blessed to be at our home church this year!

While in Alabama, we had dental and hair appointments and then Tuesday left to attend the Switch It Up Huddle in Sevierville, TN.  It was a beautiful time of year to be in the Smokey Mountains.  We were able to take time off from the Huddle and visit Cades Cove.  Always love to see the wildlife there – turkey, deer, and bear this time.  We had the Switch It Up Give Back on Friday, working at the children’s home in Sevierville.  As usual, we had a great time meeting new Switch Crew members, lots of fun activities and a great worship service Sunday and great entertainment.  Again it was hard to say goodbye to our friends but Monday we all went our separate ways.

We arrived back in Johnston, SC mid-afternoon.  Always great to be back with family.  While in SC, we worked on building an additional cabinet for BB (our Class B), visits with the nieces and nephews and made a another quick trip back to Alabama.

On Wednesday of this week, departed for Antigo, WI.  We again were reminded just how bad much of the interstate system in the USA has become.  It was 1,174 miles of mostly rough roads but fortunately three days of uneventful travel.  We arrived at Antigo Lake RV Park Friday afternoon and enjoyed the welcoming hugs of our friends Shar and Phil.  We will again be working with them and other A Year to Volunteer members, at Raptor Education Group, Inc (REGI).  We were here in 2021 and look forward to the next 2 weeks.  You can expect more eagle and other raptor pictures.  Hope everyone has a great weekend.