Sunday, January 20, 2013

Road Trip On Pause: Firemen, & Hoover…

(***Editors Note- I'm sorry but I hope to add pictures at a later date.  Google has still been having problems with adding photos with MS Internet Explorer. ***)

I know I really needed to update this and let all of you out there know what I’ve been up to.  Sorry for the delay and laziness on my part.  Yes, I’m still in my hometown in eastern Iowa.  It seems like ages ago that I left out on the first day of this road trip.  That was the day I saw a vested pair of a man and a goat out along the freeway just outside of Boise, ID; a totally unexpected strange thing to see during my first day of a road trip.  I’ve been amazed at the sights that I have seen since that day in late August. 

But now, I’m in a bit of a pause mode trying to build up some money in my savings so that I can head out on my adventure again.  I’m not sure how long that will take.  I am hoping to get to Washington DC to see the cherry blossoms this Spring. Lately, I’ve been working doing some temporary data entry.  I’ve applied for several waitress jobs too.  I haven’t worked in a restaurant in several years that I think they are wondering why I’m applying.  I guess in hindsight I should have gotten a part time one in Utah before I left.  I applied at one restaurant and they saw my degree in Hotel/Restaurant Management and wanted me to apply for a management position.  I half-heartedly filled out the application but I’m not really interested.  So anyway the job searching and working is an ongoing process.

Fire Station Tour
I have been doing a bit of sightseeing and different things here locally in eastern Iowa.  So I’ve been continuing in a way with the trip.  One day I went on a school filed trip with my nephew to see a local fire station in Marion, Iowa.  A Fireman and certified MT named Peter gave us a tour of the station.  We started out in the classroom where he discussed what they did.  The number one calls that they made other than fire are medical calls.  They do regular trainings at the fire station to keep updated in the latest medical techniques. They also do a fair amount of training on other locations; like practicing fighting fires.  Most recently, they got to burn down a local abandoned house that the owner had donated to them for training.  We were told that if at any time during our tour that if a call came in that we were to report to the classroom for our safety and to keep clear of the fireman that needed to get out on a call.

We were also told safety tips and what to do if we are ever in a case if our home had a fire like; keep low, check the temperatures of the doors, and if caught on fire to drop and roll.  Next, Peter took us out to where the fire trucks were and showed us how he put on his gear.  He talked while he put the gear on; explaining the equipment and other aspects of firefighting.  He told us that he would look and sound quite a bit different when he got his gear on and to not be afraid of him.  Once he got all of the firefighting gear on he crawled around on the floor grabbing some of our feet.  Quite often he said that firefighters would be down near the ground and that was where we should be too in case of a fire.  I expected him to sound more like Darth Vader but his voice was not quite that scary.  But it was somewhat muffled.  Peter said that all of the gear weighed close to 65 lbs. He also told us how they needed to get into their gear in less than 2 minutes time.
Photo- Fireman Peter in full gear as Captain Kirk watched.

Next, we took a tour around the fire trucks with Fireman Captain Kirk.  Yes, Captain Kirk!  He explained how some trucks carried water on them and the different uses that each truck had.  One vehicle that they used the most was the medical truck because it was the most fuel efficient and was easier to get around in.  The larger trucks were for fires.  One of the smaller large trucks had a holding area where water could be pumped from a local lake or pond and then immediately used to fight a fire.  Generally this truck was used in more remote farmland areas with a water source nearby.  There was another fire truck that had a large water gun on the back that was used to fight fires out in a field. 
Photo- Captain Kirk showing a future fireman how to hook up the hose to the truck.

Next some of the kids in the class got to play firemen as they connected a hose onto a truck and three of them pretended to work the hose over to a fire in a nearby room.  It was too cute watching them trying to work as a team on a hose that was almost larger than the three of them.  Next, Captain Kirk took us through the living quarters of the fire station.  There were 6 rooms in all, three on each side.  I was surprised at how plain they were.  Each had a wall of closets on one side, a window, a twin bed and a night stand; that was all.  At the end of the hall was a fairly large plain kitchen with a round table in the middle and on the other side was a room with a large TV with chairs and sofas.

Hoover Presidential Library
Another day I went to the Hoover Presidential Library which is located in West Branch, Iowa.  It’s funny that I had grown up so close to a Presidential Library but I had never visited it before.  Most people negatively tie President Hoover with the Great Depression, and I must admit that I generally did not have a good outlook on him either but I decided to go in with an open mind.  I was surprised.

Hoover was born in a small house in West Branch, Iowa and worked up his way to become one of the highest paid engineers in the world.  By his mid-30’s he was tired of earning money and opted for a life full of philanthropy.  There was a map of the world at the entrance to the main part of the library on the floor and it showed a star by every country that he had touched.  There were quite a few stars.  His wife worked hand in hand with him on his charities and eventually because of the public profile he ended up going into politics. 

One of his first roles in politics was the position of Secretary of Commerce on the Presidential staff of President Harding.  During this time, Hoover was instrumental in standardization of almost everything from house building to road signs to weights and measurements; all of this in an effort to make government and business to work together in his belief of an efficiency movement. He believed that the government and the economy were riddled with waste and inefficiencies.  Wow, I wonder what he would say about government today?  The big joke during Hoover’s time at this job was that you better be careful what you did because Hoover may find a way to standardize and make it more efficient. He was touted as being a little too enthusiastic about his job.  But quite a bit of what he did back then affects us every day now.   

From the standardization, he ended up being catapulted into being nominated for the presidency.  He won in the election of 1928.  I watched a film and heard the recording of the live radio broadcast of his inaugural speech.  He was one of the first Presidents to be heard live during this speech.  I was rather amazed at his plain speaking and not overstating but he outlined what was considered idealistic at the time.

When the stock market crash happened and the Great Depression started, no one was prepared for such an event.  There was a lot of debate at the time to let the free capitalistic market work its way back without assistance from the government and to not regulate or make laws.  Hoover started to lay in a lot of the ground work towards building the WPA projects.  But he was voted out of office before they took full bloom.  It was even more interesting that after WW2, he was asked by FDR to help organize recovery efforts to feed the thousands of hungry Europeans affected by the war.  He continued to work and help people the rest of his life.  It all surprised me that he did all this during his life.

Monday, January 7, 2013

A Christmas Break & New Year!

(*** Editor's Note: Google Blogs has been having issues with downloading of photos.  I hope to be able to add these photos in at a later date.  I also apologize for just not keeping up on my blogging.  Oh, and Happy Belated New Year! )

I have come home to my hometown for Christmas; in the hilly country of eastern Iowa.  I was in need of a much needed break of my traveling style of life.  It's rather hard to move from day to day.  Plus it is always interesting to “go home”.  Of course, there always are those residual memories, both good and bad that remain.  I will admit that it was good to see the family.  But with that also there’s that portion where the family can really drive you to a point of insanity and you remember why you left in the first place.  That point arrived a few days after I arrived.  Mom and I butted heads to say the least.  Family always seems to manage to push your buttons and it’s never a very pretty sight.  Now don’t get me wrong, I love my family but they really do know how to push my buttons.
Photo- The family on the couch for a Christmas photo.
It has been fun revisiting old hangouts.  I went to the old Spring House Restaurant with my mom.  The Spring House was the place where we always used to go eat when I was growing up.  It was relatively inexpensive and there was a sit down dining room area.  Growing up it was bit of a splurge for us to go there because of being a single parent home.  It’s rather amazing when you go to a place like that again and see that it really hasn’t changed all that much.  In fact, I think they still have the same original chairs and booths; just recovered.
Photo- My nephew and I building snowmen.  His snowman is taller than mine of course!

I did manage to have some new fun.  I took one evening and built snowmen with my nephew.  I know his snowman was so much better than the one I tried to build.  His mother supplied us with a couple of spray bottles that had water with food coloring.  It was a choice of yellow, red, or yellow.  In my sick sense of humor, I tended to go overboard with the yellow.  There’s just something about yellow snow.  Oh I’m terrible!  We also went and purchased some new sleds which I hope we will get to break in soon.
Photo- A snow covered empty street in Main Amana, IA.

Another afternoon, we took a drive down to the Amana Colonies where we went around looking at little shops throughout the cute little German community.  The Amana Colonies is a National Historic Landmark and one of America’s longest-lived communal societies.  I periodically have visited the main Amana as I was growing up; mostly during the May Fest which is a large festival.  There are seven different villages of which the main Amana is the largest.  You can read more about the history and the colonies at this link…

During our afternoon we tasted wine, had Rubens (mine without the kraut), and walked through all kinds of wonderful shops.  My favorite places I used to go as a kid were the Woolen Mill where they make all kinds of woolen goods and the furniture store where they have a room full of clocks.  I was a bit disappointed because usually at both places they have areas where you can watch people working.  At the Woolen Mill, there’s usually a room where the looms are going and you can watch as material is being made.  Due to the holidays though, there were not any equipment that was being operated.  This was also the case at the Furniture Shop.  They usually have an area that you can watch the wood workers which is always fun and fascinating.  But I got some fun in with watching a dancing clock face in the furniture shop and I almost bought a pair of "Mucka-Ducks" which were heavy woolen long moccasin like socks that looked very warm. 

 Yes, I'm having a bit of time adjusting to the cold weather here in Iowa.  I forgot how cold it can get here during the winter.  Those cold fronts come out of Canada and drift down into Iowa.  They deposit here and seem to want to stay.  Some of the evenings have been getting down to the negative degrees which is something that I haven't had to experience in years living in Utah.  Utah gets the snow but it doesn't get much below the lower 20's.  I'm very much hoping for a bit of a January thaw in the New Year.

For New Year's Eve, the night got down to -1 with a lovely chill factor (a common thing here in Iowa during the winter) it actually felt like anywhere from -15 to -20.  Mom and I had a snack night in front of the TV watching the New York New Year's Eve.  But I had to laugh when I saw on the local news about Prairie Du Chen, Wisconsin did a dropping of the HUGE carp fish.  Leave it to us, Midwestern folk to make things interesting and different.  So they drop a carp almost 100 ft. out of a tree.  I wonder what happens to the fish then?

I woke up with a cold on New Year's Day with a sore throat and feeling yucky.  Yep!  I started the New Year with a cold.  I stayed in bed most of the day and came out only to try to eat a bit or to use the restroom.  Happy New Year to all of you out there!  I hope your year started out better.  And thank you to those of you that have been contacting me to see how I have been doing I haven't been blogging as much as I should have been.  Something I need to work on in the New Year.