4:30am...for FUN?? YES!

Trip Start Feb 07, 2012
Trip End Nov 15, 2012

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Flag of United States  , Maine
Saturday, April 14, 2012

Ah yes, April Fool's Day… once a year when all of mankind abandons their morals and principles to frolic in jestering and, occasionally, terrible misjudgment. For Raven 2, our chuckle of choice was to prank our esteemed team leader, Davey. Off on our own in the BIG city of Portland for a day, who knows what could happen…

* Riinng!!* - "N triple C, this is Davey."

Colleen: “Davey – Davey, we can’t find Travis. We’ve been waiting at the van for an hour and he hasn’t shown up!”     Colleen: “No, he didn’t tell anyone.”

Davey: “………Okay …… Wait for a while and a I’ll call you back…...”

Colleen: “WAIT!”

Here’s where things could have gone wrong, as Davey was just about to call our Unit Leader, Jen. Getting campus staff involved on what would turn out as a practical joke would NOT have been pretty! Now, Davey, as you can see, is a really chill guy, so it was only when we returned from our trip to Portland that he let on how much “OH MY ----!!“ was blaring through his head at losing a cellphone-less team member in Maine’s biggest city!  

April 2nd marked a team member’s 21st birthday, so needless to say we celebrated at the local Irish pub – responsibly! as we did have to work the next day.

That Monday also kicked off Micheal’s and my two-week dash of CAP events, giving presentations at a couple high schools, setting up an informational table at a local college, and attending a big service day up in Penobscot at a JobCorps Academy with fellow CAPers from a nearby Buffalo team as well as a couple staff members from campus. That was quite an interesting experience, as we walked in the doors to hear “And let me introduce the NCCC team!” and had to walk promptly to the front, bags and all, under the eye of an audience numbering about 320 people! Up till then, we’d been presenting to classrooms of 8-10 people. Luckily, we didn’t have to speak, just stand there looking pretty, and then were able to talk to anyone interested afterwards and help fill out applications. We had 15 filled out that day - and ran out of time! Quite the learning experience, and worth the 2 hour drive to get there. Upon returning, the Buffalo CAPers and campus staff took a breather from driving with a competitive game of wiffle ball in our driveway. It was a miracle nobody got injured!

We also began a demolition/weatherization project at a very… interesting site that week. Let me tell you a story…
The worksite was originally designated for a “simple” weatherization project – foaming, caulking, etc. - when it was discovered that the kitchen had very little insulation in the ceiling, and zero insulation under the floor. Reallly, just boards then dirt. Nothing else.  The homeowners told us that the original house had been build in 1791, and then a second floor added in the 1840’s. Finally, a second section had been added on around the 1890’s for a stable for the fire department. The husband’s ancestors had lived in the house next to it and kept slaves (I think the Underground Railroad came into the story somehow too). Did I mention Harriet Beecher Stowe’s house – author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin -  was just down the road? Needless to say, the 2/3 day weatherization project for this sagging, ancient house suddenly became a week-long demo/insulating project. We tore up the floorboards – which I spent nearly an entire day pulling nails out of to reuse but which ended up being thrown anyway – and put in strip supports along the joists to hold up the blueboard insulation that we cut and fitted, caulked and foamed. Finally, we laid down a plywood subflooring, the final flooring to be done by somebody else. For the ceiling, we pulled millions of little staples that had been holding just a plastic sheet before installing inset lights and drywall. But the homeowners were what made it the most interesting. The husband had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and had been given 4 months to live, which was part of the reason why Habitat had taken on the project to finish what the couple had been working on for the past 2 years. He also chainsmoked to no end! Those two made quite the characters and led a bit of a dramatic life, judging by the visiting friends that they were always willing to help out - even if they ended up with a punctured tire for it. Everyone knew them! Unfortunately, most of their visiting friends also smoked, so between the smoke, whatever was in the air from such an old house, and the looooong project time, a few of us were quite eager to exit the premises! A skill building, yet educational experience, if you know what I mean! Though, one day, a volunteer (friend of the family) found out we hadn’t tried Maine’s lobster yet and promptly walked off site to buy us lobster rolls! Yep, I tried seafood! Not bad, but not my favorite either.

Wednesday the 4th, as the Cosmo Club was hosting a club meeting and we needed to exit the building over supper, one alum that I had gotten in contact with invited us over for a delicious dinner. She had been in NCCC with class 16 at the Denver campus and shared some of her experiences with us. 

Then came Easter weekend! True to her word, our Raven Unit Leader, Jen, gave us approval to travel out to Acadia National Park, due to our excellence in accumulating Individual Service Project hours. So up we got at 4:30am to be on the road by 5 for the 2.5 hour drive to Maine’s only National Park.

Great. Day.

The team hiked Cadillac Mountain that morning, the tallest mountain in that region of Maine at 1530ft. After a quick lunch, Most of the team headed over to relax on Sand Beach while a few of us scaled The Beehive, a mountain only about 520ft but with steel bars set into the rock to climb up in some spots! Breathtaking! We spent the rest of the afternoon at the beach or walking the coastal trails before heading in to spend time in the nearby city of Bar Harbor and eat dinner.  It was a much needed recreational day for the team.

Easter Day dawned beautiful. In fact, it was a rather beautiful week. Palm Sunday the weekend before, with it’s anticipation, and, a couple days previously, Good Friday Mass. I don’t remember how long it’s been since I first saw The Passion of the Christ. I do know that it has been three years since I finally understood – and accepted- what the words “see the nail marks in my hands and feet…peace be with you,” truly meant. Ever since then, that particular Mass has held a great – and emotional! – significance for me. Easter Mass was another experience in itself! A fellow Catholic teammate and I were amazed to see ladies in their best Easter dresses and a few bonnets, some with even white gloves to match! And Hope reined! The priest that day gave a spectacular homily about remembering what our faith is about in four simple points. Hmm… I’ve already forgotten two (!) but “commitment” and “JOY!” were in there, and those are rock solid, if anything!

Easter was also my day to cook! So I had planned a meal of a few dishes we eat back home: baked ham (yes, I did actually bake it! 3.5 hours??), cheesy potato casserole, stuffing, veggies, rolls, salad, and a strawberry jell-o with whipped topping and bunny marshmallows (courtesy of my mom) on top. I think the team enjoyed it. :)

This past week I’ve spent my workdays at various sites. At the new build in Brunswick cleaning up tile grout and painting doors and window frames, cleaning drywall and cutting window trim siding at a “rehab” of an old house – the entire house had been tilting sideways about 6 inches. I finally got to spend a day with Tedd – two “d”s, one for danger, he says – picking up donations for the ReStore. Most of the team at some point have ridden with Tedd in the truck. I’d heard he was an interesting character, and true to word we chatted about everything from past jobs/life choices to mentalities of non-profits to a new common language that’s been created (Esperanzo, or something??). Fabulous guy, though, and always on the go! We joke about how we’ve never seen him eat; he seems to run on coffee and his own rolled cigarettes. I take that back-he bought us both a blueberry muffin on our drive all over the 3 counties Habitat serves. We stopped in Booth Bay Harbor so I could snap a few pictures of the original famous giant fisherman that’s in pictures and small replicas all over Maine, as well as a lobster-fishing harbor out on the peninsula.

Yesterday, Saturday, our POLs (Project Outreach Liaison officers) set up a community Day of Service at Popham Beach State Park. There actually weren’t many community members there, as it was a bit of a last minute event, but we did invite a few alum, three of whom joined us, as well as Rangers Chuck and Bryan. We spent the morning pulling out an old snow fence and replacing it with a post and rail fence that would hopefully also keep visitors on the designated pathways so as to not destroy the shoreline vegetation preventing erosion. Afterwards, we grilled out with the alum on the beach. One of the alum, Gifford, had some crazy stories about his adventures in Antarctica after his time in AmeriCorpsNCCC. He’s studying snow and ice at Dartmouth currently. We also had time to explore the old Popham Fort, which had begun to be built during the Civil War to protect the Kennebec River leading to Bath, where ships were built. It was never used or completed, but still a cool historic site.

Mama Bird (Jen) will be arriving tomorrow  - just in time for Meatball Madness Monday – and will be spending a couple days with us to check out the work site. So today the team has been spending time working on paperwork and our project debrief that we’ll be presenting upon our return to Maryland. This is our last week in Maine!
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