Danger Ranger Diaries #4 - and the hungry caterpillar turned into....well a semi-ish-morning person
I had to lead with a sunrise photo as we've had some wonderful mornings of late, and I've shockingly been awake and walking on the foreshore to enjoy them. 'Shocking' for those who know me and understand that mornings are not part of my inbuilt software. Normally you are at risk of the blue screen of death or a darlek worthy warning of abuses noises and the demand for a special code (= hot food + coffee, given you asked) to exit a grim error cycle triggered by waking me too early.
However, the best light for photography and film making and the best time for getting lots of little things done (like media posts and emails), is at dawn and those early hours when other (sane mortals) are still asleep. Hence, I'm starting that routine now so that during the expedition I am a functional human being at the most productive time of day for what I will be doing. I'm not saying I am particularly happy about this change, or that my mind and body are in any way on board. BUT (had to start a sentence that way just to disturb my mother) damn there are some nice sunrises here at Lennox. AND (again the joy of annoying one's mother) I've discovered the hollywood-wannabe-activewear-junkie set are far fewer before 5:30am. This is a brilliant and crucial discovery as I was not looking forward to doing my fire fitness training with just such an audience. I mean, how am I expected to keep up the fast paced power walk, wearing my 10kg-20kg vest, and not face plant when I can't help but burst into uncontrolled laughter in response to the absurd outfits and workouts worn and undertaken by said crowd. Highly entertaining for sure, but not conducive to an effective and safe weighted power walk.
In other news, just when we thought she was done, mother nature felt the need to advise us she was unimpressed with our response to her earlier message. Let's just say we lost round two as well, thankfully she pulled a few punches so we survived. Still not sure the key decision makers understood though. Perhaps a visual language consisting of economic graphs, currency symbols and polling stats would translate better?
The great thing about all the rain are the waterfalls and thriving rainforest. I had a blast the other weekend out on patrol checking the few sites that were open, and the gates of the majority that were still closed. We may have a depressing amount of road works and repairs ahead of us but at least we can enjoy the scenery (haha is that not life in a nutshell!). My colleague and I even saw the cutest little frog (literally just 1cm long) at Koreelah campground and, whilst enjoyed a spot of cake overlooking the impressive river confluence at Moore Park Nature Reserve because hey why not, we were delighted with the sight of several feeding platypuses who somehow survived the carnage.
We have spent much of the last month working methodically through our parks assessing damage, clearing access along trails and checking visitor infrastructure like walking tracks, campgrounds and lookouts. We had just finished the initial damage assessments when the second round of flooding and storms hit. With Easter and school holidays just around the corner we had to rapidly determine what we might be able to get open in time and focus effort to make that happen.
Everything else is on hold as we navigate the school holidays, ensure visitors are safe and provide the community with somewhere to visit given beaches and rivers are off limits. In two weeks it will be back to the grind stone to assess, repair and plan the rest of the year as we gradually open things up again. This involves a considerable volume of Environmental and Heritage Impact Assessments before works can proceed and is of course all in addition to our normal conservation activities, fire planning, compulsory training, weekend patrols, compliance, project reporting and of course recruitment...to name but a few. After all, our parks and all their challenges don't press the pause button just because we are otherwise busy and staff have been flood affected, some twice over.
That said, assessing walking tracks can be lovely when you have them all to yourself!
The expedition has been continuing to accelerate keeping me busy and definitely a bit stressed over the last two weeks. Thankfully I've had some productive meetings and talked everything through with a mate who is sort of acting as my project management guide so that really helped with the stress and anxiety. Unfortunately a key Fellowship that would have helped with travel costs fell through, ditto my contact for getting my sailing support for leg three, plus I'm yet to secure my vehicle sponsor as the company needs time considers my proposal. So yes, bit stressed all of the above.
That said, my postie has been busy delivering a few choice pieces of kit that have arrived in the last two weeks, the gear geek in me is in heaven! It's served as an exercise in clandestine postal operations to hide the amount of parcels I'm getting from my grandparents who would quite rightly raise the old eyebrows. Hence, I now have a brand spanking new GoPro 8, a new lightweight hiking tripod, a deliciously perfect tech pouch sufficient to please my OCD tendencies, a lap desk for doing computer work (like blogs) from the comfort of a camping chair or bed (guilty as charged), and an utterly brutal massage gun to de-pretzel me post hockey, hiking or intense workout. Seriously, it's amazing but when you have a really tight muscle, even on the lowest setting it's as brutal as those physios who are all pro and no compassion for your need to breath and not pass out from pain. You know, the ones who think bones require massaging and pain is for princesses.
I was absolutely buzzing on the weekend after doing my first proper Diary Cam on my Panasonic S5, with my new fancy Panasonic S 50mm prime and Rode lavalier microphone setup. I battling most of the morning on Saturday trying to get all the tech to play nicely together in time for my to do the blog before I heading to hockey. There has been much procrastination around the diary cam born out of the hesitation to get in front of the camera (not my natural habitat) and speak to camera without feeling like a complete nube. I'm loath to be associated with the typical Instagramers we all too often have to rescue in our parks when it is revealed that sunglasses, a bikini and designer thongs/flip-flops/jandals are in fact not adequate hike-down-a-waterfall worthy gear. Oddly enough. It was the biggest high to finally get that under my belt and even watch it back without needing to shrink back in horror. One barrier down, now to talk to my phone camera in public. Kill me now.
There have been a few blips on the personal flood recovery front like when I saw all my ruined belongings had finally been removed, and again when I went into a book store for the first time since the flood. The bookstore was unexpectedly upsetting. I adore books and thus bookshops too and normally delight in wandering their aisles and making new lists of must reads. This time however, I was just hit with a feeling of devastating loss. In just a few moments my mind shuffled through all the wonderful books, comics and maps I had suddenly lost that I spent a lifetime finding, reading and carefully keeping. Only some will understand the loss of such cherished possessions that are just like old friends. Steeped in memories, wonderfully familiar and balm to the soul when other things in your life seem to change all too quickly and uncomfortably. Needless to say I purchased the map I had gone there for and got out before I got too teary to hide it. It was just a book store for goodness sake. Still, I think it might be a little while before there is more excitement than sadness in such shops of literary treasure.
So lots of ups and downs again but so much progress and exciting times. Several podcast interviews are scheduled in the coming weeks and Easter promises to be a cracker with my parents coming down for a visit which means I get to hang with our adorable family pooch, Archibald the almost brave Great Dane. Thank gosh for dogs 😊 🦴 🐕
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