Volunteer Julie Bahr Makes Friends

One of the first people Tom and I met when we got to Wilderness Road campground was our next door neighbor, volunteer Julie Bahr.  Julie has been a volunteer at CUGA for eight seasons.  Because she has been here for so long, she is a Jill of all trades:  working where she feels she needs to work while she is here.  Her main job in April was to drive the Amish who were doing work at Hensley Settlement.

Julie working

Julie is a self-possessed, friendly person.  She knows where everything is, which was really valuable to Tom and I during the two weeks our volunteer periods overlapped.  One day she took Tom on a tour of the maintenance yard so he could scrounge for the things he needed.  She introduced us to rangers and volunteers outside the Interp division.  Julie also gave us the inside scoop on the things we needed to know to understand how the park works.

Julie also knows all the people in the campground.  During our first week, she introduced us to person after person.  We met more people here in the first week than we have known in any of the other parks because of Julie.  She also likes to make connections between people.  When she heard that we did Living History, she knew that we had to meet retired ranger Pam.  Pam had invited her to dinner and Julie boldly asked if we could come along.  Pam, of course, said yes.

So, one night a couple of weeks ago, Julie rode in the Prius and directed us to Pam’s house.  Pam lives about five miles from the park in a house she had built while she was a ranger.  The house is set back along a dirt road.  Pam bought the land from the family who lives next door and thought she had water rights written in to her contract.  Turns out she did not.  Instead of going to the expense of digging a well, Pam decided to make do with water collected in barrels around her house.  She boils the water for washing and buys bottled water to drink.  She has a composting toilet outhouse.

Table set at Pam’s

Her house looked like a log cabin from 150 years ago.  It was packed with all kinds of historical stuff.  In fact, it felt more like museum’s historical house than a home.  Pam had the table set with pewter tableware with a colonial theme.  Inside the house there were several spinning wheels.  She said her loom was in the barn.

Pam has a workshop where she processes flax, makes brooms, and does some woodcarving.  Her grandfather was a cooper and she has all his tools.  I didn’t take any pictures of the inside of the house or workshop because Pam is wary of strangers who might be covetous of her antiques.

Bear meat

Pam served a delicious dinner in courses.  We started with salad, then moved to bear meat with boiled potatoes and cabbage.  I have never had bear meat before, but Pam only gave us a small piece each.  It tasted like beef.  Then we had scotch eggs and finished off with orange juice cake from Dutch Treat.  We were stuffed by the end of the meal, but the cake was so good each of us had two pieces.

Me and Tom with Julie and Pam

We appreciated Pam’s hospitality.  She was so happy to have company at her house.  She said it only happened once a year or so.  We also appreciated Julie’s openness to us as newcomers and her desire to build connections.

Julie headed back home to Wisconsin at the end of May.  We were sorry to see her go because she made this place so much friendlier.  It was a good example to us and one that we will try to continue.