Posted by: joenaiman | January 2, 2011

A New Year, A New…

I am horrible at these things.  I should’ve known that I am horrible at journaling in general from the get-go as I never know what to post, or how often I should do it and cannot keep a pen and paper journal either.  I guess I get intimidated by trying to do the as often as possible and not quite the when the mood strikes.

So yup, as for the meat and potatoes of this blog.


And wow have things changed, especially in in the last 3 months.  I had the intention of not returning to Tallahassee so as to make a new life with Erin, my significant other at that time.  Well how things can change in a heartbeat.  Erin and I decided mutually to call off our romantic relationship as DC was not right for me and many things just were not quite what we had expected them to be when we rejoined.

So, just before Thanksgiving I returned to Tallahassee where my parents were waiting with open arms.  That said, I am using this time back here to really search for those things that made me HAPPY before Erin and I started dating as well as trying to get a respectable career path started.  I am in the middle of some interviews with Talquin Electrical Co-Op right now that is sounding quite promising working as an Education and Outreach Specialist.  I will keep you all updated with how that turns out.

As far as resolutions, goals, reviews and what not, I am going to make another post here in the next few days.  One thing that I really took away from my stint with the NWSA is some ways of helping track personal growth.  And really setting out goals and expectations and reviewing them periodically in order to take stock in oneself and their development.

Lastly you may see some seemingly random things I am planning on starting to post here more as a bookmark for myself of cool things I have found online via a cool little application called StumbleUpon.

Posted by: joenaiman | March 29, 2010

1 year and counting!!

So, I was reminded by a significant other that I have not written anything in my blog yet about us.  I am proud to say that we have now made it to a big one year from our first date on March 20th, 2009.

This year has flown by with lots of uncertainty.  At first, I thought I was a fool because I was going into a relationship that we both knew could last no longer than a month, because at the time I was looking at working for Eckerd Youth Alternatives.  Well, how things change!!  Soon after we started dating, I knew that Eckerd was not right for me, and at this time in my life Erin was!

So, even though now we are separated by 3000 miles, and mabey as much as 10 months if she gets a job in D.C. I am glad to have spent my time with her, and am more than happy to keep myself dedicated to our relationship, even though it is being very tested right now.  I am not sure how many people would stay dedicated to each other after just a year, knowing close to another year may pass with out seeing each other.  But this woman is incredible, and doubt I could stay the course for anyone but her.

I am glad we met at that chance St. Patty’s party, and that we both want to be in each other’s lives for a long time to come.

Posted by: joenaiman | March 29, 2010

Wow, no time for nothin!!

So, I can already see this blog turning into another attempt for people to follow me like my TrailJournal that ended up fading into non-existence..  For that I am sorry, but these last two weeks has either been so packed with learning and homework, or hard work I have not had the time nor energy to keep this upto date.   Again, sorry, but it is what it is…

Two weeks ago: WAFA Madness.  So WAFA stands for Wilderness Advanced First Aid.  Its pretty much taking a WFR (Wilderness First Responder) coarse which is normally an 8 day course and smashing into 5 days.  It was full 9 hour days, plus chores and homework… and St. Patty’s day smack in the middle of all of it!!! Anyways, it was a blast, I learned alot, and expanded my knowledge from my WFA class I took a little of a year ago.  The teachers were phenomenal, and the coarse load huge.  But I made it through, and the whole time anticipating Chainsaw week!!

Last week: Chainsaw Week!! So when I worked for Bill Armstrong, my introduction to chainsawing consisted of being handed a saw, told how to start it and instructed to cut a log into firewood and dont let the chain hit the grown.. I had no inkling how they could stretch this out into 4 days.  The first day we spent in the classroom going over chainsaw basics, watched a Stihl video, then ate lunch and got to cutting.  I was often giving as much instruction as the teachers, though I learned a few bad habits I have with a saw, and worked for 3.5 days trying to correct them.  By the end of it we were pretty much on our own, given the saws, to finish bringing all the trees to the ground, and cleaning up with out supervision.

On Friday, we did our Cali prep, and learned our placements for the summer as well as who our co-leader is going to be.  So I have been placed on NWSA’s 2010 PCT team 1.  What that really means is after I get back from Cali, I have 4 weeks in Trout Lake, 2 with out our members, then 2 with them.  Then I go down to the Kalamath area of southern Oregon just outside Ashland, about two hours from Crater Lake!!!  I will spend 8 weeks doing work for the PCT in the Big Bend Area of the PCT (not like the Big Bend of FL or TX, but an actually couple hundred mile bend in the PCT).  Then I return to the MAC in Trout Lake and spike out of here for 8 weeks working in the Columbia Cascades (The Cascaded Mountains around the Columbia River Gorge), followed by finishing out my term back in the Big Bend area.

My Co-Leader is going to be a young lady by the name of Stella Torres.  I can’t say I am super excited about working with her, because our leadership and general approach to life is significantly different, and so it is going to be a personally challenging experience for me.  But, Chris Lowry did explain their reasoning for this placement combination, and it makes alot of sense.  I can be loud and abrasive, she is often quiet and reserved.  I lead by doing, she leads by delegating.  In both of us, just about anyone could find something in common with one of us and therefore be approachable.  That, and as a bonus she has spent her whole life in the western portion of Oregon from Ashland to Eugene and Portland, where as I have ZERO experience in the area.

So, to give you all a preview of what is to come… I have NO clue when I am going to be able to do my next blog, as we head out tomorrow for Southern California, around Idyllwild and the San Bernardino and the San Jacinto Mountains for the next 6 weeks.  There we will get our first official Trail Construction training which I am super stoked about!!

So when I can get time off and find an internet cafe, I will try to get another blog up then… mabey add photos to this one.

Posted by: joenaiman | March 18, 2010

Another Blog

So the North West Service Academy has a blog as well.  The articles in the blog are proved by Interns of NWSA as well as soon they will be provided by myself, my fellow crew leaders, and finally the crews when they arrive.  Check it out.

Posted by: joenaiman | March 14, 2010


“Cherish your solitude.  Take trains by yourself to places you have never been.  Sleep alone under the stars.  Learn how to drive a stick shift.  Go so far away you stop being afraid of not coming back.  Say no when ever you don’t want to do something.  Say yes if your instincts are strong, even if everyone around you disagrees.  Decide if you want to be liked or admired.  Decide if fitting in is more important than finding out what you’re doing here.  Believe in kissing.”  Eve Ensler

Posted by: joenaiman | March 13, 2010

Week 3- Back Country Skills

So again, I am amazed to have a job where I am actually getting paid to do what I love.  This week’s focus for the NWSA (North West Service Academy) was purely on honing our backcountry skills and perfecting our group accommodation skills from everything from pacing while walking during the day to perfection of setting up group structures.

Monday- We were given about an hour after breakfast to menu plan as well as gather our food for our meals for our four day trip.  A few of the meals seemed beyond the scope of backcountry cooking such as veggie curry, but with a little finagling, we learned how to saute on the one setting Whisperlite’s have, Jet Blaster.  Chris our director then issued our group gear as well as gave a brief seminar on how to pack for the back country.  Just after lunch we set off, and arrived at the PCT around 3 o’clock.  About a five days before we were planning on going out, a lady went missing on the portion of the PCT we planned on hiking, so there was near constant helicopters sounds echoing through the mountains an d cliffs and near incessant asking from Search and Rescue teams of, “Which team are you?”  But other than that our weather was fine, if not a bit cold the first night.

Tuesday- we started the day with cooking breakfast, and deciding to break camp and that the conditions predicted were not coming as previously thought.  So we decided to find a camp up the PCT near Carter Creek, which if you have never been on a trail before and trying to identify where you are based on a map, isn’t always easy.  It is hard to tell if little streams are marked or not.  Our group, about half way up a 2000 foot climb thought we had missed where we had planned to camp, but we decided to push on and take a side atv/multi use trail to find camp near a creek (Which is where I think we originally meant to go in the first place.) Before dinner we had a little knot tying demo, which I helped to give instruction during.  We cooked and hunkered down for the evening as the weather started to worsen and now we were at elevation.

Our Snowy Group Camp on our first baccountry spike

Wednesday- we woke up to a light powdering of snow of about three inches and one of our two group shelters having collapsed due to being poorly pitched.  We hiked down from the mountain and had a fabulous lunch time view.  Also in the afternoon we had an early evening entertainment hour where we had everything from the reenactment of Gandolf the Grey in the Mines of Mordor to an opera singer (ligit I swear).

A View at Lunch Time

Thursday- Since we were not far from the rigs, we got up early and broke camp and made our way back to Trout Lake, which by the time we arrived was dumping with snow.

Winter Wonderland

We were given close to 2 hours to clean and check all of our gear in, have lunch and take care of your personal needs, so during this time I took the liberty to go for about a half hour walk into the snowy Back 40.  We got back, did some basic stove repair and maintenance session and a week in review, and then prepared our weekend kick off by mixing up a bunch of dough for pizzas. This is quick becoming a tradition of the 2010 NWSA Leaders, as a way to kick off our weekends.  We get all sorts of recipes and variations as different people take a turn at topping pizzas.  Last week I made an Alfredo Chicken and brocoli pizza, and this week was a homemade BBQ sauce chicken pizza, and a Veggie Hawaiian pizza with marinated Portobello.


Now we have a Three Day Weekend as we worked 10 hour days the first 4 this week.  Callie and I made a trip into the Hood and the Dalles (Pronounced like Dallas but minus the last A) for a few errands and tonight I am going down to White Salmon for a concert at the local pub called Everybody’s.  Don’t ask me what the rest of the weekend has in store because I dont have any clue!!

Posted by: joenaiman | March 6, 2010

Week 2ish

Ok, so as I said last time, I am going to try and get these up as I can.  Unfortunately I have been quite busy the last couple of days, and when not busy I was sick/really freakin tired. 

Monday started quick with a vehicle check and about an hour ride to Columbia Hills State Park.  Now the best part of my job is that I get paid to go camping.  One of the downers that I have now found is that I get paid to go camping and get critiqued about camping, and no matter your experience level in camping, you can only “meet expectations” and not really ever exceed them.  Monday was dedicated to learning how to set up a front country camp, and preparing a meal for a potluck to be shared between all the leaders.  Now, I love to cook.  And because of that, I have gone out on a few more branches than some of my fellow leaders in the realm of cooking.  So, night one, my group decided I should be the head chef.  This is all well and good if, you can follow a recipe, which I can’t… And if you know about the ingredients used.  Which I didn’t have a clue on one.  Quinua… Now in the South we get some crazy foods, but Quinua…. Well as it turns out it supposedly a full protein source made of only god knows what, and mostly eaten by people lacking protein in their meals.  So to make a long story short, I get to cook a stir fry, with quinua being a prime ingredient, in the field, with it getting dark and cooking by headlamp.  Well lets just say I was quickly looking forward to Tuesday.

Tuesday was actually quite a fun day even though it was spent doing hard service to the park.  After a quick cold breakfast we get carted up to the top of the Columbia Hills to this awesome house that is being converted into a leadership seminar housing area.  This house was built in the Seventies, as the construction clearly showed, but it was set up on the hill-side overlooking one of the most gorgeous views of the Columbia River Gorge I have seen to date, and an awesome view of Mt. Hood towering over the gorge.  We split up into work groups based on project and did various things.  I started the day, and spent most of the day removing sod in a three foot width from the house and filled it back in with wood chips.  Then I moved upstairs and helped brick in this expansive courtyard by hand, and rounded out my day with some very exhausting work of hauling wheel barrows of wood chips about fifty yards up a hill, through soft wood chippy ground.  When we get back to our camp after being thoroughly exhausted we come to find out large 12x20ft canopies had blown over in the approaching storm. For those of you who don’t know the Columbia River Gorge is the world’s home to Kite Boarding, which is exactly what it sounds like.  Get on a surf board, hold onto a kite, and zoom along the water at 40+ mph.  Well, needless to say our canopies found out what it was like to be a kite, even though we had secured them fairly well.  So, we all wearily clamber out of our rigs to try and set our camp back up before making dinner, which by the way was wonderful and copious.

Wednesday began by waking up and breaking down our personal camps by 6:45, so we could begin cooking, eat, clean and have our group camp broken by 8.  From what we are told, this is going to start to be the norm, and when we are in the field not to be surprised at 5 am mornings to cook for your group, so you can start your day by 7am.  But on Wednesday, the reason for getting going so early was because the ranger whom we helped on the parks property was to give us a tour of one of the main reason where we were was a state park.  Petroglyphs and pictographs.  These are rock carvings and rock paintings respectively done by the native peoples.  He gave us a three hour tour of the area and we saw over 50 different depictions.  The most famous from this grouping is the one included below, She Who Watches, which Andy gave us four different stories on the origin and meaning of it.

“She Who Watches”

The rest of the day Wednesday was spent cleaning vehicles and checking them in, cleaning our front country spike gear and checking them in, and cleaning and sanitizing all of our kitchen gear and turning it in.  Needless to say this made for a very long day seeing how that process did not start until close to 3 pm.

Thursday though, made up for the hard work we had put in earlier in the week.  We started working with two rotations.  The first was the hanging (assembling) of our own Pulaski, which is a hoe and axe combination tool.  I have never really had to mount a metal head on a wooden shaft or hand file a tool before, but I really did enjoy the maintainance side of taking care of our tools.  The second half of our rotation was spent biking eight miles or so around Trout Lake Valley and seeing all the local farms where we get all of our food, from the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), to the local Dairy, Cheesemaker, Herb Farm, Fields where the two cows they slaughter every year are raised, and the local chicken farm.  Then by 2’oclock we were riding down into Hood River to meet with a Physical Therapist who talked about the aches and pains we are going to experience and how to minimize them.  All in all very educational.

Friday has been a mixed bag of feelings.  We started the day by getting to work some more on our Polaskis, which had me pumped.  Then  I had my first review with NWSA, which resulted in very mixed feelings.  And then the morning was finished out by having to practice trailering with one of the people I see eye to eye with the least, which was frustrating to say the least.  But the day was short, and we were done by 2pm or so.  Five other guys and I went and played an hour and a half or so of Basketball, followed by three of us put together our own creations served on pizza.  And all Three turned out magnificent. 

Thats my week in a nutshell, and now time for some rest and relaxation… with a 40 mile mountainous bike ride in there somewhere….

Posted by: joenaiman | March 1, 2010

Up and Running

So today after browsing blogs of good friends of mine, I have decided that this might be the more convenient way for alot of people to keep track of me as I spend time in the Pacific North West.  I  cannot promise daily updates, or even weekly as often times I will be on Spikes of multiple days.  (A spike is a series of day where we leave our place of origin/HQ for multiple days working in the field, either Front Country or Back Country.)

But I do hope that as I come back within a few days to have updates of the work and activities we did as well as photos from the activities we did. tomorrow is our first spike, which the focus is on setting up and breaking a Front Country Spike camp.