Another new hobby

Since my TBI which has been 2 years now I have started many new hobbies to help my road to recovery which is still a never ending journey. I have started hunting and fishing again with my brother after nearly 10 years off. I have started to take photos with an awesome camera that my wife had bought me. I even started to pan for gold just to get me out into the woods. (I live in NW PA so that did not pan out too well….pun intended). This year I am going to begin another new hobby and this is what has kept me awake thinking about tonight.

Mojave Nugget, a gold nugget weighing 156 ounc...

Mojave Nugget, a gold nugget weighing 156 ounces. From the Stringer district, Kern County, California. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)tonight.

I am now a proud owner of a metal detector. I want to use this to help me stay out in nature as well exercise and maybe find some neat stuff in the process. I live in a very historic part of Pennsylvania, so there are lots of options on where and how I could start this new found hobby. 8 miles up the road is the birthplace of the oil industry. We have historic pig iron furnaces scattered throughout the region. We have gigantic Victorian era houses through out the town. Some of these houses date back to the late 1800’s. There are man made stone walls that go on for miles and countless old farm foundations in the woods near where I hunt. there were four forts built on the creek and river who’s confluence is less than a half of mile from my house. The list goes on and on.

So I was attempting to sleep and started to wonder “Where do I start?” This is not something that I feel should take a whole lot of thought. there are so may places to go and so many possibilities out there that I should just pick one and go.  First I have to wait for the ground to get a little softer.It would be useless to go out there right now and try to dig up a hit on the detector. At 1:46 am tonight I need to be asleep, not on my laptop blogging.

The next three days of work a classroom setting course in Task Force Leadership. I can’t afford to be half asleep or unable to pay attention. I am hoping that by getting these thoughts out of my head that I will be able to get a couple of hours of sleep before I get up with my wife in the early hours to see her off to work.

I just looked over at the cat and he is literally laying upside down in my recliner enjoying one of his many naps of the day. Oh what a good life that must be. With that being said and straying off topic hopefully that means that I will be able to go to sleep now.

P.S. To my lovely wife. Thanks for the newest tool to the hobby box. I love you so very much for everything that you have done for me over the years and especially the last 2 years through this very difficult time.

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Still with Hurricane Katrina

A stray dog abandoned by its owners approaches...

A stray dog abandoned by its owners approaches a rescue worker in New Orleans. Many animals were left by their owners who could not take them to the evacuation shelters. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I stated in my last post that I was going to post again on this subject and if you were faint at heart you may want to read cautiously. We were still staying at the same fire dept. or the one down the street responding to calls with them to be sure that the members of the dept’s were able to get the rest that they needed and tend to their own affairs. there were two journalists that also stayed at the station, but really never talked because they were always on a computer. We even had a little mascot. It was a dog that came wandering in all beat up and hungry. I was very surprised by looking at this little 6 pound dog that he was able to survive. It crossed my mind occasionally when I petted him if his family had survived or if they had perished in the storm.

The first trip that we had taken down into the city, downtown was still flooded all except for the French Quarter and some of Bourbon St. there were people just sitting on the street having a drink of their cocktail of choice, in other words a little whiskey.

We saw air boats combing the flooded streets looking for people who needed help out and also assessing the city. The Superdome was devastated as seen alot on TV but the TV could not do it justice. There were helicopters flying overhead still looking for people that needed pulled from rooftops, and there was smoke visible from numerous fires on the outskirts of the city. The next paragraph will be a little graphic

Next we were teamed up with a couple of US Marshalls that would do patrols throughout the city at night. Our team was asked to send someone along because we had medical training. The marshalls would do their job as far as law enforcement and keeping people peaceful and we would do ours as EMT’s if needed. On more than 1 trip into the city we wold see a body laying on the roadway only covered with a trash bag because they had not been picked up and cared for yet. This did not happen all the time, but once was more than enough. We were asked to send some people over to the airport where we could help with bodies at the makeshift morgue. This was not a task that anyone wanted to take part in, but they needed it done because the President was going to be coming to landing there. Fortunately they must have found another team to do the job because we never had to go. I was very thankful for that.

I remember one day very vividly that we were heading in to the city and were stopped a t an intersection where there was a man with his hands in his cooler and shaking his head at the same time. It rather obvious to me that this man was in desperate need of some ice in his cooler. We got out of the car and dumped every piece of ice we had in our cooler into his. He almost had tears in his eyes. We may as well have handed that man a bag of gold. It was a   very good feeling to help someone with something so easy to do.

Back at the fire dept. the members were able to make a comfortable sleeping area for their new guests. they had built a wall behind the engines and placed an air conditioner so it wold be cool when we had time to sleep. They called it the bunny ranch. Where they came up with the materials I don’t really know but it was a great relief after being out in the heat all day.

We ate alot of MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat) but we also were treated to straight up cajun meal when time allowed. Gumbo, tamale’s, and jambalaya to name a few. It was a nice change from the MRE’s. At night you could always here fighting going on in the neighborhood behind us, and on one occasion you could hear gun shots in the neighborhood in the distance. I just stayed where I was because I knew the guys out front were very well armed and not afraid to defend the dept. if needed.

Once our main goals were accomplished, we would be ready to head back to Pennsylvania. It would be a few more days of running calls and keeping the station fully manned then our time here would be over. I can’t say that I was ready to leave because we were doing an important job. I can say that I did miss my family and was ready to get on that plane back to PA. We said our good byes to the dept members and other members of our team and we went our separate ways. Occasionally we would talk on the phone but have lost track of them since.

I am very proud to say that I was able to be a part of a response team, but I can also say that there was a lot of things that angered and frustrated me over the amount of time that we spent in that big convention center in Atlanta prior to our deployment.

A Day on the Water

Today was a day that I had as much time as I wanted to just sit and think, but guess what I DIDN’T DO IT.


Today we spent the day on the water kayaking and fishing with my oldest daughter and some good people. We ranged from 13 years old to 42. When did I become the old guy?  My daughter and I had a friendly fishing competition. She won the first part by catching the first fish and I won the second two by catching the most and the biggest. We watched a bald eagle fly over us and land in a tree directly over us. I wish I could take my camera on the creek with me when I was out there.


We stopped at the half way point and started a small fire to cook some hot dogs and hot sausage. It was nice to just be out there and not have to worry about the things that normally go through my mind on a daily basis.

Bald eagle

There was one spot on the trip as there always is that is not too much fun. There is a certain point in the journey where we have a choice to go left or right of an island. The left side is a nice easy slow trip and the right side is a slightly faster trip where there are two crosses pinned to trees. That is where we lost the two young ladies to canoeing accident years ago. I always choose to go to the right and always ask the others to go to the left. I was the first rescuer on scene and we were unable to save them. I always take a minute or two, stop at the crosses and say a small prayer for the girls and their families.

I also ask them to forgive us that tried so long to get them out there and save their lives. I know that we did everything we could do, but I still always ask. I want them to know that I have not forgotten that day and I never will.

There are some things that I wish this TBI would have erased from my memory. Some of them are the way that I acted after my injury towards my family and friends and the others so some of the things that I have seen since I became an adult. From the Gulf War to firefighting there are alot of things that have been stored in my mind for a long time. Every now and then they peek out of storage and bring me back to that time. It is never fun and none of them are good memories but it is the life that I have chosen and I have no regrets.

The life choices that I have made in my career have given me many opportunities that others will never be able to understand. I am very proud that I have done my very best and made the most out of them. Whatever it is you do for a living or in life, do your very best as well. It will make a difference to someone even if you do’t see it.

I am going to close this post by saying that in the last week or so I have seen that this blog is working for the purpose that I intended. I have been motivated by the comments that I have received. When I first started this blog I thought that I would be lucky if this worked, and I set my goal at six to eight months to make a positive difference to someone. I think this is my third month and it has already happened. I want to thank each and every one of you that follow this blog and leave comments . You are all helping “My Fall to Life” succeed.