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  • 08/27/2002
  • WildlandFire.com Team
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I need to snap out of this funk.

Our “whirlwind” Fire Tour 2003 was quite the experience. I drove to Eugene, picked up a rental car I could totally abuse with loads of miles (and it actually turned out to have exponentially better gas mileage than my own little Toyota truck). I headed first for the Idaho Panhandle to take my 8 year old to see her grandmother. That was great fun except that I think the heavy metal in the water up there has taken a more significant toll than folks are willing to admit. I learned to play darts in downtown Wallace while my daughter engaged in her family “get together.” Hard core dart players are a unique breed…at least in Wallace they are.

We then headed to Montana first to check on what fallers we could find (here’s a picture of one of our falling teams), as well as talk to fire overhead. Well, my daughter didn’t talk to fire overhead. She played with her Bionicles in the car while I partook of the business conversations. I don’t have any good fire photos of Montana because honestly, all I saw of Montana was the brake lights of the car 50 feet in front of me. It wasn’t until we slipped over LoLo Pass that we could see any distance. But! There lies a natural treasure at mile marker 142 over LoLo. Hot Springs lovers take note! Let the hordes cloud the waters at Lolo Pass Hot Springs. Jerry Johnson Hotsprings…and other “signed” hot springs. MP 142 isn’t marked. You just have to know its there. Now you do.

We ran into the El Cariso Hot Shots at Gart Sports in Missoula. They’d just come down from a fire near the Canadian border. Seemed like a nice bunch of young people.

We picked up (get this) the books on tape version of Robinson Crusoe. You know, thinking we were on this big adventure, I figured Robinson Crusoe’s adventures would fit right in. WHAT A CROCK! I think I actually convinced myself I had read the book in high school. After listening to the entire 8 volume audio version, I can say.. there’s no friggin’ way. I found myself telling the narrator to “Get ON WITH IT…” Victorian verbosity is unbearable, especially when you’re trapped in the car with it for hours on end! (I would never have imagined that a writer could make a Cannibal scene boring!) I really did grow weary of listening to Crusoe lament his “unfortunate condition.” You know what my daughter told me? “Mom, this is actually an exercise in patience.” Yes! It came out of her mouth! An 8 year old. For the life of me I don’t know where she got that phrase. Certainly not from me.

The best part of our whole trip was seeing my husband in Elk City…and truth be told…that was a largest reason I went. (Big surprise.) We needed to have a “meeting of the minds”…which we did. I could only bear sleeping a couple nights in fire camp (I brought a cooler full of food.) . The last night in camp, there was a tremendous thunder storm. My daughter made camp in the back seat of the rental car (with her flashlight, favorite stuffed dog and box of Bionicles). My husband and I slept in the tent (if you can call starring at the top of a lightening lit tent all night “sleeping.” The thunder shook the ground. Even though it was raining heavily outside, my hair was full of static electricity. (Oh my…Okay…***Lightning***….one, one thou….***Thunder Clappppp*****…Uh…let’s see…what was that “Six Minutes” Safety thing on “What to do in a Lighting Storm”? I honestly couldn’t remember. So, I just laid there.) The next morning we hear there was a man who had died from a heart attack on the fire line.

I swear, even above the lighting and thunder, those Elk City Fire Camp generators were the loudest I’ve ever heard.

On the third day, four of our fallers were not on the shift plan. So, for R&R I took them to Red River Hot Springs (I am a shameless hot springs fanatic…and will even settle for a developed hot springs when there aren’t any wild ones nearby.) It was wonderful to watch them playing like kids.

The last night we were in Elk City I rented a little house on Main Street. My husband had thought we would go in to one of the local eateries for dinner, but by the time he got off duty I had marinated pork chops, dressing, salad, and corn on the cob ready for dinner. I even wore a dress! Woo-hoo! I had no intention of spending the evening around loads of other people. My little one fell asleep on the couch watching a John Wayne movie. … we didn’t…

I do have three photos I wanted to share from Grangeville expanded dispatch. Ab, can we put these in the photo gallery somewhere? These folks work incredibly hard…and they don’t have a window to the outside! Three cheers for expanded dispatchers!

When we got back home, I posted several fire photos. Ab said they’d be up soon. I have some others, and will post them soon. Poet…did you see yours?

TazGirl, I really enjoyed the roller derby pics. What a crack up!

Tonya….I’ve been wondering if you were successfull in delivering your care package???

Heli Groupie, how are things with you?

Southern…are you still around?

Sammi – I can see by the archives you’ve been taking good care of “the girls”! Good job.

Fire Momma

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