Fire Chief Ashley Dent from the Madray Springs Volunteer Fire Department in Georgia just informed me that he was notified by MSA Safety Company that his department won the contest for the MSA thermal imaging camera. He received 9,434 votes which is more than 8,000 votes over the person who came in 2nd. Chief Dent said the MSA company representative told him that in all the years their company has held contests, no one has ever had that many votes. Thank you MSA for having contests and donating equipment to fire departments. Thanks everyone for voting, especially when the contest lasted several weeks. When there is another contest to win more gear or equipment, we will let you know. Feel free to check the Madray Springs Volunteer Fire Department website. On their Donate page there are links to their Facebook and other social media sites. Chief Dent always lists his contests, current events, pictures, fire scenes and vehicle calls, etc. on his Facebook page.
On behalf of Chief Dent, the Madray Springs VFD, and myself… I want to thank everyone who voted and helped them win this much needed piece of equipment which sells for about $12,000. We all hope that it’s not needed, but it’s comforting to know that they will have in case it is. The thermal imaging camera will help the firefighters see people, objects, and details around flames even in the harshest environment like heavy smoke. It can help to save lives by locating people in a burning structure, and perhaps alert the firefighters in advance of a dangerous situation. It can also be used to find missing persons in wooded areas and/or high grass in daylight or at night, or perhaps missing children that may be hiding in structures or trees. There are many uses for this thermal imaging camera. The thermal camera detects heat sources, people included.
Chief Dent said that the model of the thermal imaging camera they won in the contest is the basic model. Evidently, there are 3 different models. However, when he actually received the thermal imaging camera, the company sent him the upgraded plus model, that was really generous of them. Here is the picture Chief Dent sent me of the MSA thermal imaging camera and case.
Here is a picture of the entire department when they received training on how to use the thermal imaging camera.
Chief Dent and his wife Lindsay welcomed their 2nd son, Murphy, to the family in May. I got to meet Murphy when I was visiting them on the trip I took to Georgia and South Carolina this past May and June, I wrote stories about my visits with the various fire departments on my trip. I just received this new photo of Murphy at age 3 months. He is so cute.
Because I have new readers to my website that have not been following my story for the past few years, and because it’s now become more public about my donations to volunteer fire departments, I thought I would add the links here to my stories from July 2013 when I made the decision to go public with donating funds, and also about when the Georgia firefighters came to visit me.
I’m still planning on taking a trip in early September to Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas. Based on my experience of my recent trip in May and June which was about 1,800 miles, I don’t expect this to be an easy trip physically, however, I’m hoping I’m wrong and it that it will be easy. I estimate this trip, if I make my entire route, will be about 4,500 miles. I used to be able to fairly easily drive 400 to 500 miles in a day, now about 200 miles is sometimes too much. I will take my time and as long as I arrive safely it will be fine. I am allowing myself about 15 -18 days to get to Albuquerque which is about 2,100 miles. I will stop and rest, or take a nap when I need to. I don’t like to drive when I am sleepy, or if it’s raining hard, it’s too dangerous. If the pain gets too bad, or my insides get too uncomfortable from sitting and driving, I will stop and take my medicine and rest for however long is needed. If there are days I’m not up to driving, I will stay where I am, or drive a short distance. I may stay on major roads this trip, rather than taking scenic back roads. There is a Travel Map 2014 tab on my website, I will try to keep it updated as I travel so you can see the route I’m taking and about where I am at any given time.
I feel it will do my mind and spirit good to get away and take this trip. I’m a bit apprehensive about going, but I know once I start it will be fine. The pain around my tumor is getting a bit more intense every now and then. The numbness in my left foot and leg is also more noticeable, but it has not stopped me from any activities. I’m sure my camper, named Molly, is ready for another trip. She loves to be on the road taking me from place to place. In preparation for the trip, I had her washed and waxed, she looks so pretty, you can’t tell she is a 1998 model. When I bought her in 2005 she had 25,000 miles, now she has 82,000 miles. We have had lots of fun experiences together over the years, and we hope to have many more. This weekend I will begin assembling what I need to bring on my trip like food, clothes, linens, kitchen items, etc. Packing and unpacking are not the fun parts of traveling. It was much easier to live in the camper full time and have everything I needed with me. I was amazed at how little I really need to live. I can usually get by with 1 pair of jeans and 3 t-shirts for a week.
I’m planning on being away for a few months if all goes well. When I was out west in 2011 and 2012, it was really cold. Temperatures were in the low 30s and got into the 60s on a good day when the sun was out. So I have to pack some warm blankets and jackets. I usually layer clothes so I can remove layers if the day warms up.
Once again, God is letting me know that I am being watched over. If you read my story last year when I began my 2013 trip, you may remember that when I had my tires checked they found that I had cracks in my wheels and I got new wheels, tires, etc. Yesterday, I took my camper to the mechanic to have the oil changed, and to have the tires and everything else checked. I mentioned that the tires might need to be rotated because I have 5,600 miles on them since I bought them. Good thing I mentioned it. After they took the tires off to rotate and balance them, and they were checking the brakes they noticed that a spring that holds the brakes together was broken. They were able to locate the replacement spring and now as far as we know, all is well mechanically for my trip. I’ve also learned that as prepared as I can be, things happen. I also know how important it is to make sure that my vehicles are mechanically maintained. There are many times on my trips when I drive for hours, often on back roads, where I don’t see another car or building. There is also not always cell phone service to call for help.
On my way west to Albuquerque, I plan on stopping in Oklahoma City to see my friend Albert Gray Eagle. I have written about Albert several times in my posts. He is such an inspiration to me in so many ways. He has such a huge heart. Despite the fact that he has been battling pancreatic cancer and other serious health issues for more than 4 years, he still gives so freely and generously of his time and talents, especially to children with cancer, and also veterans. Please keep Albert in your thoughts and prayers. Last Thanksgiving I was at the Chambers Farm Annual Pow Wow and I got to spend time with Albert and his niece Tori. Albert wrote a special song for me that he played on one of his Native American flutes, it really touched my heart. In the November story there is a link to the song he wrote and played for me. We also received the honor of a healing dance in the sacred circle where dances have been held for generations, surrounded by large trees that have also stood for generations.
I talked with my friend Scott in Albuquerque and he said that I can crew for him at the Balloon Fiesta again this year. His hot air balloon is named Big Blue. I crewed for him in 2011 and 2012, it was such fun. What an incredible experience it was for me. I even got to live one of my dreams which was going up in a hot air balloon. I would love to do it again anytime the opportunity presents itself. However, even being on the crew is great fun and an interesting educational experience. You can read about my time at the Balloon Fiesta in the archived posts from October 2011 and 2012. I also have several photo albums you can access in my photo gallery. I took this photo in 2011 when Scott was lifting off after we inflated the balloon and he was given permission to launch. It’s an extraordinary experience to watch all of the balloons inflating and seeing the colorful patchwork, especially from the sky.
After leaving Albuquerque, I will travel to Texas, where I’m planning on spending about a month or so. I’m looking forward to seeing my friends in Texas. I lived in Fort Worth and the surrounding area for 19 years, before moving to Florida. I still consider myself a Texan. I love Texas. Other than Fort Worth, one of the places where I like to spend time and visit with my friends is near Waco, Texas. There is a community of people who I have come to know and love, and we consider each other friends and family. Visit Homestead Heritage to read about this amazing community of people. They grow their own crops, there is a gristmill to grind the organic grains they use and also that are sold to the public. Thanksgiving weekend there is a Homestead Fair which I have been to many times over the 16 or so years I have been going there when I can. In 2011 and 2012 I was there in October and November and I had so much fun helping get ready for the fair. I will write more about this in another post or add to this story later. In the meantime, you can go to my Archives and photo gallery albums in October and November 2011 and 2012, and March 2012 to read about my time in Texas.
I’m still alternating between reading books and working on jigsaw puzzles. Here is the latest one completed. There are lots of interesting items in the rooms which are entitled Jack’s Room and Jill’s Room according to the name plaques on their wall. There is a dog sleeping on the bed in Jack’s room, and a cat sleeping on Jill’s bed. The puzzle is entitled Memories and Dreams. Click on the photo to enlarge it so you can check out all of the interesting things in the room. Look closely at the objects on the night tables and on the floor too. These puzzles are two more of the ones that the artist Lori Schory sent me recently. For some reason, the pictures I took with my phone do not show the true colors, so I included the web photo of the puzzle.
The puzzle I am currently working on is called Irish Charm. I sorted the pieces the other night. Very interesting puzzle pieces. Where the Memories and Dreams puzzle had puzzle pieces larger than a quarter and were mostly a common piece shape, most of the pieces in this puzzle are smaller than a quarter and they are really unusual shapes. And, there are many pieces that are shaped like objects like a guitar, horseshoe, hat, star, and many are really unusual shapes. This is going to be another challenging and fun puzzle. I saw a piece that has a tiny squirrel. I searched the cover for where this squirrel piece would go. I saw a different squirrel, and knew there was another one since this piece did not match the one I saw. It took a while, but I finally found it. This squirrel is sitting on top of a post near the haystack, under the wheelbarrow, and it’s almost the same color as the post.
I have been really working on this puzzle, it’s been challenging and also very interesting. Many of the puzzle pieces are really unusual, and so is the way they are cut to fit together. Look closely at the edges of these pieces and see how they fit into each other. The horseshoe, semicircle and stick shape fit together into the part just next to the wheel. Most of this puzzle so far has been assembled in small clusters, and then it seems that I am able to fit several together to fill in sections.
This morning Emotional Mojo and I did the video show which I was told will most probably air next week. It was about 4 minutes long. I wrote about them in a previous post. Here is the link to the video. It was a pretty fast paced interview, it will be interesting to see how it came out. All I saw was a blank Skype screen, I was told that there were images from my website being shown on a screen in their studio. I had the sound off on my computer, and I dialed into their production room. The sound was recorded as I talked into my telephone. Otherwise, I was told that the words in the video would not be in sync with the broadcast. I was told I should receive the link a few days after Labor Day. I will post the link here and in the previous story as well.
During 2011 and 2012, for the most part, not only did I get to do or see almost everything on my Bucket List, but I did more than I had on it. The stories I wrote and photo albums I posted for these years show my travels and experiences. I even got to go to interesting places that I was not aware of, but I’m glad I found out about such as Golden Spike National Monument, Wind Cave, Jewel Cave, Oregon Trail Interpretative Center, and Hot Lake Springs in Oregon, along with many other experiences and places. I find that talking with people in campgrounds or at local businesses provides the opportunity to share places and experiences so that we can all add to our list of places to see or experience. I like when I share with people who have been full time campers for years and I can tell them about somewhere I went that they never knew about. It’s great to be flexible when I travel so I can take detours and alternate routes. I don’t make reservations so I can be a free spirit.
The few things I did not get to do yet are to go to Italy and Greece, see the Northern Lights, go to Alaska (not the tourist destinations), and to see NCIS and NCIS LA being filmed. These are my favorite television shows. I saw the preview for NCIS New Orleans and I will most probably add it to my list of favorites. I know the new season will be starting in September, and I will most probably have to stop at locations with Internet/wifi service so I can watch the shows on my computer. I bought a 7 inch television, but unless I have an electrical hookup and am in an area where I can get any reception with bunny ears, I don’t often watch TV. I prefer to walk around the campgrounds or read books rather than watch TV.
As I travel, I usually do not have Internet service, so I update my website when I’m able to make time to stop for a few hours to write a story and upload photos.