Tom and I are in our third week at Fort Frederica National Monument. We are starting to develop a routine and getting to know the people here. One of the things that is different here is that we are helping the maintenance crew as well as the interpretive staff.
Although we helped clean Scotty’s Castle and the Visitors Center in Death Valley, Fort Frederica is the first park where we are doing specific cleaning tasks on a regular basis. There is only one maintenance person here and he has more than he can do. So the interpretive staff, including us as volunteers, are in charge of cleaning.
We wipe off the waysides in the town every morning. Tom vacuums the Visitors Center every evening while I clean fingerprints off the museum displays. One of us checks the restrooms every day. Another volunteer, Randy, cleans them thoroughly once a week but we do spot cleaning every day. Today I learned how to replace the toilet paper! We check the trashcans and recycling containers in the park every day and empty them as needed. I know all of this is helping the maintenance crew because he can focus his efforts elsewhere.
Fort Frederica volunteers also pick up litter along the road that leads into the park. The road is about a mile long and today I did the picking up. I wore my reflective vest and carried a bucket and some trash bags. I used the grabber to pick up everything, which was much easier than bending over to get things.
Picking up litter was a zen-like experience. Mostly I picked up cigarette butts. They may be little, but they are still litter. I picked up a pair of gloves near the elementary school. Some artificial flowers blew away from a grave near the cemetery. I picked up four disposable tooth flossers. And I got the usual assortment of water bottles, cans, and bottle tops. I ended up with a 30 gallon bag full of trash. It made me wonder why people would throw things like this out their car windows. Why not just take it home and throw it away? I’m thinking of adding a new weekly column on “what I found while picking up litter.”
Every Wednesday morning all the RV volunteers (there are five of us) gather for an important maintenance task: clearing away trees. Hurricane Matthew last October knocked down lots of trees in the area. The trees have been sawed up, but there are still huge logs and trunks scattered around the park. Our lone maintenance ranger, J.D., cuts them up as he has time, then on Wednesday mornings all of us pick up branches and throw them into the 12″ chipper. In less than two hours, we can usually clear away most of one tree. J.D. figures we should be done with most of the piles by June.
Helping the maintenance crew (J.D.) is dirty but satisfying work. We may end up filthy after our maintenance tasks, but the park looks better and things are clean. We are getting to know Fort Frederica from the bottom up!