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Published: February 17th 2010
It has been since the fall when we traveled to the Northwest that I have done a blog entry. While I miss doing it I enjoy the break also.
So here is the condensed version of our lives since the NW trip: After traveling east we parked the motor home in Tennessee and drove to MI for Thanksgiving to see grandson Cory, home on leave from Iraq. It was wonderful spending time with him, his new fiancée Kirsten, the kids and grands. When in W MI we stayed with our longtime friends the Lings who have generously provided a very comfortable home for us when we’re there without our home on wheels. Great friends!
We spent about 3 weeks in Florida before we flew back to MI for Christmas and enjoyed the holidays with the kids. Again we stayed at the Lings B&B. We boarded Harley in Clermont and thought she would not survive without us. But she did and we did also (barely). There’s nothing like being with our family on Christmas!
We left January 6 for Galliano, LA where we would begin our Annual Habitat Care-A-Vanners Build on January 10. Our group came together originally to help
rebuild homes in Slidell, LA just 6 months following Katrina. We had so darn much fun while building together that we decided to meet again the following year. That was four years ago and this year was our 5th reunion. Each year we meet again in the location of our choice and the event has become the centerpiece of our winter, often determining where we spend the rest of the winter. Our leaders, Diane and George, who brought us together that first year, could not be with us this year and we missed them so.
We chose the bayou area this year, about 100 miles south of New Orleans. Upon arrival we saw a bunch of cement “pedestals” about 3 ½ feet high in the outline of a house. The rest was up to us.
Our first challenge was to get our 40 foot motor home in the driveway where a manufactured home would be set. With a narrow road and muddy land on both sides this was a small miracle.
We started building the bottom plates around the exterior to which the floor joists would be secured. Then came the floor sheathing, the exterior wall studs and
sheathing, interior walls, top plates, roof trusses and sheathing, fascia, windows and siding with lots of steps in between. And since I actually read the diagrams in the book “How to Build a House,” it sounds like I actually know how this is done. Don’t be fooled. I just do what they tell me, and love doing it.
There is lots of grunt work involved - moving stacks of wood from one place to another and yet another, cutting and re-cutting wood, setting up and cleaning up the work site. We keep pretty busy. While we love the process of house-building, we love even more the interaction (mainly teasing and joking) between us and the support we offer one another. There is a forgiving atmosphere that no one can really do anything wrong.
We were fortunate to work with several outstanding Habitat families who will be moving into homes in the area. In addition to other requirements these potential homeowners are required to build for a minimum number of hours in order to qualify for their home. We loved these bayou folks who worked so hard and extended their love to us in so many ways. They also
fed us that great Cajun food.
We did not have a gathering place, although all 21 of us fit into our motor home for the Saints vs. Colts game. Once one was seated there was no possible way to move, but we passed food and served one another. It was a ball and the Saints won! We had a New Orleans style birthday party for George on the work site. Although he could not be with us, we called him with our wishes and then enjoyed our (his) King Cake.
We ate together at restaurants once or twice a week, played games in small groups, walked after work and went on excursions. The trip to New Orleans included the outstanding World War 2 Museum, live outdoor jazz music, more food (and pralines) and a naughty parade in the French Quarter.
Since the Haiti earthquake had occurred just prior to our build we decided to pool our resources and donate hygiene kits. We shopped for each item, put them together in plastic bags, and shipped out 40 kits to Church World Service.
Our build ended on Feb.5 and we all went our separate ways. Many went on
to other builds and others to travel destinations. We took time to plan for next year, our 6th reunion, and hope to have George and Diane back with us. We can’t wait!
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