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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Step Backwards?

It happens every year... The sun comes out, the temperatures rise, and gratefully, the snow begins to melt. Until today one would have been impressed at the rate that winter was making a retreat. It creates false hope. I was just about to pull the deck furniture back out, to enjoy afternoons in the sun, until I was greeted with a wintry scene this morning...

Snow in March is by no means an unusual sight... not even in April. I've seen two feet fall in April storms and even half a foot fall around Mother's Day. So this little dusting really isn't that big of a deal and will probably melt away before noon. But still, I had already come to terms with the fact that I won't be snowmobiling again until next winter. I've brought out my short sleeve shirts. The windows in my house have been open all week and the fresh air flowing through has been wonderful. Now it is back to stoking the wood stove and wearing sweaters.

This season flip-flop is not only highly annoying, but will also continue until the better part of May... ugh. My mother bought me seeds in MARCH to plant. She keeps asking me when I am going to plant them and what I am going to grow in my garden. In fact, she is down right excited about my horticultural adventures for some reason. I just don't think she understands that I really do live in Vermont. Northern Vermont. And its winter until Memorial Day.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

A Serious Siren

My job is great. Everything from teaching and training to ambulance calls. And now apparently my job has branched out into testing and comparing ambulances and ambulance options for purchase.

Every few years our ambulance service looks into purchasing a new ambulance. Its a normal part of running and working for an ambulance service. And being that our service is small and rural (not like a city service where ambulances are as expendable as band-aids) getting a new one is a big deal. Not only does it have to be functional for us and our service, but it also has a need to be impressive. After all, we need to take pride in our equipment and making other services jealous is always an added bonus.

So yesterday my partner and I went to the other side of the state to the EMS conference to take a look at a specific ambulance my boss had been specking and thinking over. He wanted some other opinions and ideas of what we liked, didn't like, and thought could be added to the ambulance. I thought I was a great choice for the job... after all... letting someone know my opinion has always been a strong suit of mine! The ambulance we were looking at was a Ford E450 chassis with a Osage box, a 2005 demo that they were discontinuing, trying to sell. The design would essentially be the front end of one of our current ambulances and the box would be very similar to another services brand new ambulance... larger than any of our current ambulances. It was nice. We test drove it and the feel in the back was very comfortable. I could definitely see myself doing IVs and CPR back there. We also discussed add-ons. You don't just buy ambulances as-is (well you can... but why would you?). You design an ambulance for your service and your equipment. When it came to discussing sirens we discovered the COOLEST siren EVER. Seriously.

The Howler Siren.

That video is a police vehicle demonstrating the Howler Siren. Essentially it is just a sub woofer attached to the vehicle's existing siren that periodically in cycles makes an intense vibration felt by all those directly in front of it. They demonstrated the siren for use yesterday while we were standing fifty or sixty feet away and could feel the vibration in our chests. The idea behind the siren is to help notify vehicles in front of an emergency vehicle. A driver in a vehicle in front of the siren would feel the vibrations, even if they didn't notice the lights or hear a normal siren. You would be surprised by just how many people do not realize an ambulance is behind them.

So after seeing, hearing, and feeling the Howler Siren I am dead set on convincing my boss that we MUST have that in our new ambulance... if not in all of them!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sunshine and Free Time

Spring has officially begun. In about two weeks I have gone from snowmobiling to short sleeves. The minute the temperature gets above 40 degrees people seem to come out of hibernation, and I am no exception.... not that I have been "hibernating", but I sure haven't been playing outside much for the last few months! I finally broke out my sneakers and have enjoyed a couple of runs down the dirt roads already. And just like everyone else I have taken to the streets of town by storm. Its a phenomenon. People are walking everywhere and anywhere, anything, just to spend some time outside. After a winter of consistent frigid -20s and even colder, 40 degree weather feels down right balmy. I could be outside every day.

At work its a little harder to enjoy the wonderful weather. I can't just go out for a run or walk because if a call comes in I must respond within two minutes. I've tried going to the high school track, but usually its full of gym class or sports teams practicing or having meets. So to stay active and get some fresh air we have to get creative here at Rescue...

Yes that is our basketball "court". The net has been here probably close to forever and is nowhere near regulation height nor does the back board (which is just a piece of particle board nailed to the deck) come close to touching the net. I actually I think the rim is close to 14 or 16 feet off the ground rather than the standard 10 feet, but we don't complain. Its about the only hoop I've played and practiced at for years and have become quite good at my foul shots and lay ups at the overly high basket. If I had to play at a normal height basket now I would probably suck. We've gone through countless basketballs too. Some have been run over, lost, or just plain abused to the point of disuse over the years.

Today was the first day this year nice enough to play basketball at the station. No one else wanted to play with me and I figured out why... the only ball that had any air in it after sitting all winter had developed some tumor on one side that made it bounce a little off. I was still able to swish in some awesome shots, but also quickly discovered the real reason why no one else want to play.

My hands were FILTHY. A winters worth of sand and dirt was covering the asphalt and now my hands from palming the oddly shaped ball. Once we get a good rain or take the time to spray down the entire parking lot (I'll let you guess which one will happen first...) then our "court" will be much more enjoyable. Maybe we should also invest in a new ball...

Either way, not much is going to deter me from enjoying the onset of spring, because after all... I can't use my new snowmobile so I now have to find something else to do!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Snocross. A sport I never knew existed

I've heard of moto-cross. There is even a track nearby where dirt bike racing goes on almost every weekend. But I never knew about the Snocross, which was held this past weekend. Apparently they build this giant track with curves and hills and jumps out of snow and people on snowmobiles race around them at break neck speed... literally. How cool is that? They had all sorts of age devisions, men's, women's, stock sleds, and modified sleds. We stood right up against the track, probably WAY too close, and had a great vantage point of most of the course. A couple of times rocks were spun up out of the snow and came very close to hitting me, but I was not deterred and captured some great video.

Watching the races made me want to go and buy a snowmobile so I could do it myself. I wanted to be out there on the track with the other girls, holding my own, going over jumps, and hopefully not finishing in last place. Apparently whatever snowmobile you use to race you can't use on the trails because it beats it up far too much and certain parts are often modified for racing, rather than trail riding. Its quite an expensive and time consuming hobby that I could very easily see myself getting into if I could.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Climbing the Hill.

This year there were a lot of firsts for my Birthday. It was the first year I've ever worked on my Birthday. Normally every year I act as if it is a national holiday and an excuse for a vacation. Some how work always seems to take the fun out of everything... This year I also spent most of my Birthday alone, as Shawn was working. I was up to my own devices as far as what to do until he came home late in the day. For the first time ever I also did not get or make a cake. It was kind of sad not having candles to blow out like when I was a little kid, but I was reassured when my mother promised she would mail me cupcakes like she does every year. She really is the best and so are her banana cupcakes that somehow taste all that much better when sent through the mail.

So in an attempt of enjoyment I spent my birthday registering my brand new snowmobile... I did forget to mention... In reference to my past entry about my poor Arctic Cat constantly breaking down Shawn and I decided that instead of buying a used sled for 3/4 the price of a new one and take the chance that it has no existing problems that we would just purchase a new one. Snowmobiles hold their value extremely well by comparison to other things, like cars. So we purchased a brand new Skidoo MXZ 500ss. Once I registered it and transferred all the necessary licenses and papers it was trail legal and I was excited to take it out on my own. My excitement was short lived as I discovered that the trails were less than ideal. With all the warm weather and rain the trails have become mealy and icy. It took me over two hours to go only about 40 miles at a face melting 10-15mph in most places. There were some exceptions, some trails were wonderful due to the lack of traffic on them...

And I really didn't have any place to be so I took my time and enjoy the views and just generally let my mind wander. Sometimes the trails are the best place to do that... at least for me. Either that or the open road. And this time of year the trails are way more scene than the road... plus, I get to ride a snowmobile.

Once Shawn finally got home he brought my most favorite pizza and a gift... Wii Fit. Being that I have a degree in Exercise Science this game seemed right up my alley and a good variation of my regular treadmill or elliptical routine. After eating half a pizza and feeling guilty the Wii Fit seemed liked a wonderful option. Once I set it up I was disappointed. I'm by no means a large person and am in decent shape being that I exercise several times a week for the better part of an hour, sometimes two, however the Wii Fit informed me that I was borderline overweight and needed to lose almost 16lbs to be at an ideal weight. I immediately wanted to throw the board outside into the snow, but decided not to before I tested the games. Several of the games were fun and did raise my heart rate, but others were just plain aggrivating, owing to the board and its sensitivity to movement. Overall, I don't know if it will be something I do regularly, but at least it is another option for my regular work out routine. Still... I can't wait until the snow melts so I can begin running outside again. Oh I miss my tennis shoes and the dirt roads.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

And it Keeps On

Things never seem to slow down. Spring is right around the corner. The snow is making a retreat. My schedule is, if anything, more hectic. I'm still chugging along in my firefighter class and loving it. Once it ends I think I will be sad, but I will have no time to think about it because my summer will be spent teaching an EMT-Basic course two or three times a week. I also have to take two online college courses this summer in preparation for my nursing courses that begin this fall. So as soon as my EMT course ends I will be in college once again, four days a week, and working full time. So much education in so little time, whether I am the instructor or instructee. For some reason I have this disorder where I try and fill up every ounce of my free time with something.

In the mean time the puppies are growing up fast. Their eyes are open and they are starting to get the hang of walking around. Pretty soon they will be scampering all over the house. We are still looking for homes for the two girls.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Its Growing on Me.

Snowmobiling is fast becoming one of my most favorite things to do... With a tremendous amount of snow these past two years I have had a lot of opportunities to get out on the trails, even by myself, and really learned how to handle a snowmobile . Handling a sled isn't easy though, at least for me. The smaller you are the harder it is to wield a snowmobile around corners and over moguls. I can already tell I am making great strides in my comfort on a sled. Last year I had a hard time going faster than 30-35, but now I am comfortable going 50-60 on wide, smooth trails. I'm also comfortable going longer distances.

This past weekend we went with a few friends and traveled over 110 miles. The day couldn't have been better... sunshine, warm temperatures (30 degrees), good friends, great trails, and a beautiful sunset to end it all. Not even running into a friend's sled could dampen the mood.

Yes, of course I break or damage something... But in my defense (if there is any) I didn't think he would abruptly stop at the top of a steep hill so as I hit the throttle to climb the hill he hit the brakes at the top and smack! My snowmobile rear ended his. Thankfully it was just a small scratch/dent and he saw more humor in it than anything. I also had a near death experience when I took a corner far too fast and turned far too sharp trying to maintain control. The only thing holding on to the snowmobile were my hands. Some how I made it around the corner and climbed back onto the sled. It felt as if I was on a bucking horse at a rodeo. A brief feeling of victory flushed over me as I remained on my sled, not battered to death by trees or snow at 40mph, but was fleeting as I realized just how dangerous that was. I've picked up people injured and even killed doing what I did, but who were not as lucky.

As we neared home I noticed my poor, old snowmobile was making clanking noises, especially when I took off from a complete stop. The further I went the worse it sounded and soon the clanking when I started turned into a constant ticking and racking sound. Its the second time in a week my sled has had mechanical problems and I have all but convinced Shawn that I need a more reliable and ...ahem.. NEWer sled because I am enjoying riding and getting into it so much. Like any wife, I know my husband's weaknesses, and his are shopping for big toys. I'm pretty sure I will have a new one before next season, if not the end of this one.