VetsWork: Exploring New Places in My Home State

by | VetsWork

I am stationed in the Umatilla National Forest in Ukiah, Oregon at the North Fork John Day Ranger District. When I arrived there was still a ton of snow everywhere, and it felt somewhat confining. It was a daunting white barrier preventing us from exploring the woods. Although spring has arrived, some of the roads that lead to the higher elevations of the forest are still covered. I have been working with Paul Phelps doing maintenance around the compound. Currently I am working on building a pump house. Over the last month and a half we have worked getting bunkhouses ready for seasonal employees and doing maintenance on various USFS housing, offices, and grounds. While I have been here I have also been able to observe many of the other jobs people do while working for the USFS. I have been CPR and First Aid certified, and took a three-day chainsaw class. Yes the CPR and First Aid was first. Before I picked up a chainsaw I knew that if I cut an appendage off I could indeed tie a tourniquet and not bleed to death. Never the less chainsaws are no joke! Safety first!

I live in a room in a USFS house here on the compound. Michelle, my wife, and Aubree, my 5-year-old little girl, come visit on the weekends. We have started to explore this remote chunk in Oregon. The North Fork John Day is rugged yet accessible; there are thousands of elk around, and we have been hunting horns, exploring the forest, checking out hot springs and enjoying an amazing part of Oregon I have never seen. Which is a delight in itself; new places in my home state are numbered. Soon the season will be in full swing. I will have opportunities to learn more. I will work on trails and campgrounds. I will go to fire school for one week in La Grande. I am looking forward to watching as the season gets into full swing. Equipment is being staged, supplies counted, and tools organized so as to be ready for the short season the USFS has to operate here. The work I have done on the housing has been beneficial. Soon those bunkhouses I helped remodel and prepare will be filled with USFS seasonal workers.