Monday, September 5, 2011

Project AWARE and Saga of the Ice Cream's Near Tragedy

DNR's River Clean-up: Little Turkey, Turkey, and Volga Rivers
July 9-16, 2011

At our February White Pine EXCOM meeting, the idea of providing ice cream at one dinner during this year's Project AWARE was brought up due to enjoyment of ice cream at last year's AWARE on the Nishnabotna River. One evening it was provided and hand-dipped by a long-time AWARE participant from that area and another evening by a sponsoring company that had a Schwan's truck come and open up a lot of boxes of ice cream treats. Those were some pretty hot evenings, so the unexpected ice cream extras really hit the spot.

Brian Soenen, Project AWARE director, was contacted about providing ice cream as a White Pine Group in-kind contribution and he thought that sounded great. So, since this year's Project AWARE was located within our Sierra Group's northeast Iowa membership region, our EXCOM agreed to dedicate $100 to the cause: $75 toward an AWARE sponsorship contribution and $25 toward ice cream.

Since this was to be my 6th year of enjoying a full week of AWARE, I easily justified adding to the Group contribution so that a $125 contribution could be recognized as a River Rescue level "sponsorship", getting our Sierra Group name onto this year's AWARE t-shirt. :-) In addition, two other Sierra members added to the contribution to help cover the eventual total of $119.48 worth of ice cream and dry ice.

Jackie Gautsch, AWARE staff organizer, was consulted closer to the AWARE date to determine a "best" location for the ice cream provision related to menu compatibility. Motor Mill on Thursday was selected due to being more "remote" and to add some zest to that night's dessert of Rice Krispie bars. Elkader was Googled and Wilke's grocery store was contacted as a potential source of ice cream and dry ice; but Wilke's directed us to the R&R Dairy, a home operation in Elkader, that has BULK ice cream, dippers, and coolers!!! What a find!

Since Motor Mill was to have the largest dinner attendance during the week due to over 80 Upward Bound youth arriving from the University of Iowa that evening, we settled on providing five 3-gallon tubs of ice cream. R&R suggested there would be 70-80 scoops per 3-gallon tub and Jackie's reference suggested there would be 48 servings per 3-gallon tub. I, being an ice cream glutton, wanted a "serving" to be two scoops, so we figured that 80 scoops per tub would equal about 40 servings per tub which was pretty close to 48 servings per tub each! Whew!!! For flavors, besides the regular vanilla, chocolate and strawberry, Jackie suggested cookies & cream and mint chocolate chip. Cookies & cream went fastest!

R&R later phoned with the news that the owners would be away all day Thursday due to a medical appointment, but that a friend would be at their home and have the ice cream packed in coolers ready to be picked up anytime between 3 and 5 PM. An AWARE van driver would pick up the ice cream and the location of the R&R was passed along. These logistics were working out far easier than we ever expected! All that Jim Fahrion and I would have to do was dip ice cream! Ha-Ha.

Thursday evening's AWARE dinner began being served at 5:45 PM rather than 6 PM due to the large number to be served; and, due to an unexpected shuttle run for folks with cars at the Osbourne Nature Center, the shuttle driver did not even PICK UP the ice cream at R&R Dairy in Elkader until well after 6:15 PM. The R&R helper waiting patiently had even phoned my home wondering if the ice cream was to ever be picked up... a call reported and discovered later via a message left by my wife on my cell phone.

So, the ice cream did not arrive at Motor Mill until 6:45 PM, an hour and 15 minutes later than the 5:30 PM expected arrival time and well after most of the over 210 people there that evening for dinner had eaten their Rice Krispie bar, washed their dishes, and were on their way to the 7 PM evening programs. BIG UGH! Except for the half-consumed cookies & cream, due to many Upward Bound youth stopping by rather than rushing to programs, we were left with the barely scratched surfaces of 5 tubs of ice cream in coolers, now barren of any remaining ice.

What to do??! I happened to have Wilke's grocery store's phone number with me. So, due to the miracle of being able to make phone contact with Wilke's from Motor Mill via my aged cell phone, a very weak signal, and a failing cell phone battery, a cooperative and patient Wilke's employee answered four of the "lost" phone calls and we made headway in my request for freezer space, which WAS available, for storage of the ice cream for use at Friday night's dinner at Osborne. But, how would the ice cream get there?

Tours of the Mill were being given as part of the evening programming. I scurried there to see if our Sierra member, writer and photographer Larry Stone, might be there to let me borrow his car. However, a Motor Mill Restoration Tour fellow, noting my wild-eyed desperation as I searched for Larry or ANY vehicle to commandeer, loaned to me his truck! So, I sped off with the ice cream to the upstairs freezer in Wilke's grocery store, with the help of a nice young man there, by 8:15 PM just before the ice cream melted and well before the store's 9 PM closing time.

I had my own car available Friday evening at Osborne Nature Center so was easily able to get the refrozen, but still perfect, ice cream from Elkader ready to go BEFORE the serving of dinner began and in line just past the caterer's very appropriate strawberry shortcake dessert! Whew!

We were able to serve everyone desiring ice cream and got down to the very last dip of the final (chocolate) tub to be emptied. Jackie and another AWARE staff member even dipped ice cream for a while toward the end so that Jim and I could get our own dinner and have ice cream scooped for us onto our strawberry shortcake! I was then also able to return the two coolers and ice cream dippers to R&R soon after dinner--during a heavy rainstorm that had cooperatively waited for the outdoor dinner hour to end.

We love these little adventures! By the way, I found out later from Larry Stone that the Motor Mill's, Roger, I think, who loaned me his truck, s the mayor of Elkader! Lucky I didn't get stopped for driving the mayor's "stolen" truck!!! Oh, boy!

Some of the repeat folks who DID get ice cream Thursday evening were quite surprised and pleased to see the ice cream available again on Friday evening after an even hotter day on the river than was Thursday! Great planning, they figured! :-) Yup! A perfect "plan" that went awry then had a Plan B develop that worked out so very well! THAT sort of "it" also happens!

Lynette of the AWARE staff may have taken a photo of the ice cream serving operation Friday evening. I was busy dipping and failed to think about such. ME!!! Forget to take a photo!!! Give me a break! I later did take a photo of the empty serving table and the empty cart next to it over which had been draped our Sierra Club banner.

See Ginger's e-mail below. She is a Sierra Club member from the Des Moines area.

Sent: Monday, July 18, 2011 11:06 AM
Subject: Ice cream

Dick: Thanks for the wonderful ice cream at Project AWARE. I really enjoyed it and heard many good comments.

I didn't stop to ask about the details. Was it just White Pine Group who provided it? I saw Jim helping you but don't know his last name. I'm glad you had the big Sierra Club sign there; great PR for the club.

Thanks again.

The 2011 Project AWARE will be the subject of the program at a Spring White Pine Group meeting preceding the 2012 Project AWARE. Mark April 24 and May 22 as options. See the 2011 t-shirt!!! :-)

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