Thursday, October 26, 2017

Our rockety friends in a lovely video

Ernie and I laid low for this one, but you can see the heater we slept next to, and some of our goofball friends.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Well, that was an adventure ...

August 31, 2017: Call Bill Duguay of Methow River Wildfire, ask if he'd be interested in another crew member for the tail end of wild fire season.

September 4: Finish new hire paperwork for Methow River Wildfire

September 5: Dispatched with MRW engine 10 to Norse Peak Complex, Snoqualmie WA.  Serve 11 days under engine boss Clayton, mostly structure protection.  (Soundtrack: Reggae, hip-hop, and chainsaws...)
Clearing fuels back from structures
A charming bark-clad structure

Family cabin with Mom's garden and Swedish wood stack

Silver fox says, "This is poopy."
Morning briefing
Standing by for structure defence
Helicopters run water to steeper slope areas
Fire rolls down toward our previous location;
the structure-defence lines hold.

Sept. 18: Relief crew replaces us; caravan 6+ hours home to central WA.

Sept. 19: Sleep, wash socks, eat

Sept. 20: Dispatch calls regarding Umpqua North Complex, southern Oregon.  Proceed in the morning to Wenatchee, meet engine boss Judy and crewmate Damien.  Long, funny, 10-hour road trip down Route 97.  Last 4 miles to fire camp, we are passing by snow on the ground.  Boss suspects we may not work very long, if at all.  *My cell phone quits getting service for some reason.

Morning frost, flagged-off muddy road, and a chipper
Sept. 21: Staging/IA = wait out the rain, and sometimes snow, in a gravel lot near the temporary heli-spot.  On the third day, I become restless and collect some of the larger rocks into a stone chair. 
Crewmate Damien tries out the stone chair
Hiking into burn area
On the fourth day, they send us out to unwrap "cultural sites" and repair hand lines.  By day 6, we are working 8 to 12 hour days feeding wood chippers; along with another MRW engine and crew.  When most of the trails are repaired and the management team times out, they disband the camp and send us home.  Total of 10 days.
Needle fall covers charred ground

Masticator \ excavator
Nicknames earned:
"SuperNanny" (due to frequent provision of spare paper napkins, map/route details, snacks, and hot cocoa for mocha upgrades when the food tent ran out)...
"Stonewall" (from a charming equipment driver who enjoyed watching the armchair masonry).

Sept. 30: Another 10-hour road trip home: engine to Cashmere, convoy to Wenatchee, drive myself home from there.

Oct. 1: Sleep, wash socks, pack.

Shadow of deer in dust
Oct. 3: Load myself, Ernie, and Radar in the station wagon, head for Montana. *6:30 pm: stop in Colville to buy a pre-pay cell phone for travel safety.
8:05 pm: Large, white-tail buck emerges from the darkness - takes out 3 panels, driver side mirror, and windshield of station wagon. 
White tail hairs, dog leash

8:10 pm: Call insurance, lash rear door on with dog leash, limp back to Colville, find motel, call home.

Oct. 4: Phone calls, body shop, backtrack. 
Estimator warns it is likely totalled, describes the car as non-drivable despite apparently intact engine, wheels, and drive train.
Highlight: he explains to insurance claims agent,
"Technically, if zombies were coming and we had to get away, we could use her car ... but [describes damage] ... short of a zombie-level emergency, I would not recommend taking it on the road."

Load car contents into Ernie's dad's pickup, say goodbye at body shop. 
3 hour drive back home.

New car, as seen in daylight
Oct. 5: Phone calls, carry water, chop wood.   Discussion; Internet; more phone calls.  Get final numbers from insurance and bank, call dealer, pile back into pickup, drive 3 hours to Wenatchee.  Decide on a new car 5pm-6pm, load gear, paperwork.  Reserve hotel near Spokane, drive 3 hours, sleep.

Oct. 6: More paperwork until 1pm, finish drive to Montana.  Arrive 4:30 pm, prep, present our first session on schedule 6pm.  (Fire Science Theater).

Casserole-lid door:
thanks Uncle Mud!
Oct. 7-17: Rocket Mass Heater Innovators' Jamboree.  Enjoy watching Donkey and Uncle Mud get to know Paul & co.  Build unique slider door with extensive bubble-gum welding; help it be upstaged by a thrift-store casserole lid.

Paperwork continues (taxes, notaries, etc).

Oct. 19: Field trip to Missoula Fire Science Lab, take colleagues to airport, shop for hardware and fire gear. 

Fire service quilt

Fire behaviour test bed

'Recorder tree' marks historic wild fires

Oct. 20: Pack, clean up, Spokane VA, then home.
(6.5 hrs road time + 2 hrs medical/food stops).

Oct. 21: Sleep, wash up, eat, finish book. 
Fire chief calls with update, next tasks for fall.

Oct. 22: Work on commission from Spirit of Grace.  Trap 6+ mice.  Take Ernie's dad shopping in new car, obtain mouse-resistant storage containers and enzyme cleaner.

Oct. 23: Formally declare War on Mice, first battle: the bathroom.

Oct. 24-25: Back to work: office, wintering in/repairs, meals, dishes. 
Catch up with all you lovely folks.

What's next?
- Remodel experimental rocket stove in northern CA
- Set up Portland visits with family, friends, colleagues, clients
- Catch up on fire hall business
- Line out winter work.