Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Follow the continuing stories of Kenai Alaska Or Bust....

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Fire On The Mountain

As seen on: 

Last night we received a call from our son, only hours after he and his girlfriend were over relishing the sun with us and enjoying some time off of his job with the Alaska Division Of Forestry, informing us that he was going to be deployed with 5 other Alaska division crews, to go down and assist the fight with the Colorado blazes. The last time he was deployed to any major wildfire was into the Alaska interior last year, to fight a fire outside of Tok. Our initial reaction was of both excitement for him, and of course, worry. Upon contacting family both on my side and my wife’s to let them know, the sentiment was the same, maybe more on the side of worry.

Here’s the deal: This is what he has trained for both last summer and this side of this years fire season. This is what he has wanted to do for a good 10 years of his life since I took him to the scene of a small wildfire which broke out not far from where we lived in the mountains years ago.

We watched from a mile away as the air attack planes flew low over the fire dousing the flames and the surrounding terrain with retardant. The boy was wide eyed and intrigued over it all! An hour later once the flames were knocked down, I drove him to the staging area, where the sight of forestry rigs, fire apparatus and crews rolling on and off the line had his full attention. We were fortunate enough that day while carefully, as not to get in anyone’s way, strolled around the engines just checking it all out. The Incident Commander must have seen the glow in the boys’ eyes, as he approached my son and began to chat with him. The next thing I knew, we were being walked down a trail with the commander, and as we rounded the hillside into burned out brush and trees, our son about fell over with envy and excitement. There, he witnessed a hand crew hosing, sawing, shoveling and cleaning up hot spots. The leader of the crew came over and took him right into the heart of it all, smoldering hillside either side of him, and walked him through all of the procedure the crew was tasking! This was what I would gauge as one of the most definitive moments of our sons dream career!

It has been tough for him here this year, as unseasonably cool temperatures dominated the little springtime we get, and the summer has seen much rain and little to no fire activity. He has watched from afar as crews have heroically saved homes and property and battled to control the wildfires currently burning in the lower 48. Now, he is ready to serve and protect and put his training to the grind! As parents, this is one of those moments we have to step back, understand that he is his own person who has repeatedly shown that he is capable of handling himself and anything that he takes on. We are proud of him and his accomplishments and know that this is what he wants to do.

Worry. It is only natural for parents to worry about their kids, especially when they are going into harms way. Eight years ago, I was in a unique situation, where a loved one was going into harms way. I was concerned and worried sick about it and consoled myself by thinking he would be fine. I mean, what are the odds?! Out of thousands of our countries finest military men and women… I’ll never ask that question again, because now I know first hand, ‘the odds’ are something not to be questioned, ever, and I relive the pain of such every time I hear of another family experiencing what ours did.

As we have awaited an update, as of tonight, he has been reassigned and will now be deployed into Utah, to assist with one of the many out of control blazes there. As parents, we have to be confident that his training has put him where he is at and if there was any thought that he was less than capable, his Division Commander would not be sending him in. The rest is in Gods hands now. This is the experience he needs to make him capable of advancing within the ranks and again, what he has wanted to do. The best of luck goes out to him and his crew, and to those waiting for relief or those experiencing the hardship of such times, we are sending you our best!

It’s times and moments like these, that make us as parents proud of where our kids are going. It is also times like this which should make us feel a great accomplishment as to the parenting we have achieved. I once said to a friend older than I as his son left the nest, “…you have spent 18 years instilling values, morals and responsibility into him. Now, everything you have given and taught him will be put to use as he goes out on his own and you can only hope that it all works now for the best!” I just now received a text from him that he is at Fort Wainwright up in Fairbanks, with 200 other firefighters, just finished dinner and is going to be flown out of Alaska on a military transport in the morning to head down to the lower 48.

Worried? I’m a parent! But then again, that is what consoles me and makes me proud.

For more info on this fire incident that he will be working, go to:

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

It's Nature's Way

My gripe for the day:  Why can't people just leave things alone?  Some over paid genius at Blogger had the bright idea of completely changing Bloggers' format.  "You", the viewer, don't see it nor do you experience the pain in the butt in trying to figure out and navigate it just to do a post.  Only the administrator, me, can actually see and experience the delight in it all, on my end.  Thanks Blogger!  Great f*^kin idea you guys had!!  The world is a better and easier place now as a result!!

On a brighter note.  I have been trying to do better at grounding myself.  In general but especially after the past week and a half of the major snowfall, days on end with no sleep of plowing, and all of the utter excitement which comes with such a spectacle.  More on that in the next post!  But alas, I found the most intense form of grounding tonight with Maryann.  No, not holding a steel rod buried 12 feet in the ground whilst sucking on a live electrical wire.  Better!  When we went out to hit the hot tub tonight, to our excitement and surprise, we got to see a pretty cool light show, gratis to the Aurora Borealis!  What a better way to practice grounding oneself but to be in nature in this fantastic form.  It was about 13F degrees out, but we got to sit in the warm water of a105F degree hot tub out on the deck under the stars, viewing 'the lights'.  There is not much that comes to mind, at least for me, that makes you realize how incredibly small you are, than to watch this phenomenon before your very eyes.  Words cannot describe it and we both just love it!

I really was enjoying it too much as to want to get out and chase the camera to take pics.  But after a half hour of the show, we got out of the tub, went in and I did manage to catch some pics to share.  Mind you, scantly clothed, mystified in awe out in the frigid cold.....the things we do to bring this stuff for public view! Unfortunately, the best part of the show had already come and gone by the time we got out, but there was still some wonder to be seen!  Not as brilliant I suppose it could have been as if not for a full moon tonight.  But.  Here goes...enjoy!!


Update:  12:10 AM, now 8F degrees outside,was going to bed, looked out the window, crapped myself....here's why.  Not sure why these came out so blurry....maybe a foggy lense from being so cold?  Maybe because I forgot to put clothes on before I ran outside and was shaking so much from freezing my ass off??  It was all too breathtaking!   Still can't feel my fingers!!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Dreaming In Color

I made myself a pinky promise after my last post.  I would try to do better with posting more frequently.  I wish I could verbalize my lack of motivation to write this past year.  As I have seen before, and currently, my fellow bloggers find themselves in the same place sometimes.  For me there is a range of reasoning....some justified, some mystified, and some...as I stated in the last post...just complete frustration that has continually mounted.  Such to the point where I have had to practice the old saying, "if you don't have anything nice to say sometimes it is best not to say anything at all".  However, life....and the world, is far from rosey and this blog is about reality.  If you want a story where everything is portrayed through flowery strawberry flavored glasses, go to Netflix and get a movie!  Hollywood is grand at giving you fantasy.  I still can't believe that Netflix  pulled that hideous price increase amdist an economical meltdown last summer.  There is something to be said about corporate America bending us all over when we are already chafed from the ride, as it is.

On a brighter note, this winter, as every winter, us Alaskans tends to see a lot of nothing but white!  In fact, there just isn't a whole lot of vibrant color in this neck of the woods 9 months out of the year.  Tree's are dormant except for the Spruce, which lack much life either.  Snow and ice prevail.  The cold air paints it's own foggy vision of the sights we see daily.  The one thing we are looking forward to is the coming of summer, one of the most spectacular seasons afforded to so many who have done nothing but hibernate, for so many months now.

A few posts back I shared some shots of a trip dad and I took out into the bush this past summer.  We were accompanied by our guide, Tyler, who if you remember was the nephew of my long time friend from high school, Brad.  He was staying with us at the beginning of summer and he was going to work at the lodge for the summer months.  The story that got lost in my absence, was that Tyler started out as Bob's bitch on fly outs.  When Bob, the president of the lodge and pilot/guide extraordinaire, discovered Tyler's natural ability to flow into the whole wilderness scene, he hired and trained him as his guide, so Bob could focus on piloting.  Into the summer, Tyler got his guide license and began to take the yoke of the plane as he learned navigation and the basics of flying the canyons and ridges of the bush.  Tyler eventually lived the summer out at the lodge, where he was the after hours on call guy for guests, 'the guide', fish processor and all around grounds guy.  It just made more sense considering what he was doing, to be there on site.  Not to mention the extra money he raked in as on call and the tips he got!

He is due back this April for another summer as our guide and who know where that will lead, and there is talk that he will be here to stay this time.  Although, he thought that the temps back in September were cold.  He moaned when the temps were in the 30'sF.  That, to him, was "winter" where he comes from!  He is in for a cold dose of reality this coming winter!! lol 

Anyways, I had more to share with pics and all and then went dark!  So, in the name of kind of a tribute to the end of summer past, and a praise to the summer God to come, I will show some of what was never seen.  There may be even more to muster up as I scan the archives, so stay tuned!

Some of the pics are of a visit to Dick Proenneke's cabin at Twin Lakes.  If you have no idea who he is and have a flavor for the true Alaskan spirit of wilderness survival and living in the desolate solitude of nature alone, you owe it to yourself to check out his DVD,  "Alone In The Wilderness" and get a taste of who this remarkable man was and his years of living alone, in the very place we are sharing with you, through pictures our own adventure into the bush last summer.

One highlight of the trip was meeting up with a husband and wife team, rangers, who were canoeing on the upper lake.  Our pilot Everett landed the plane, we introduced ourselves and broke bread right there on the beach with them....litterally!  Everett had picked up a loaf of fresh bread from the local 'The Moose Is Loose' bakery that morning, in hopes of running into them to deliver a gift, of kindness, a tradition that bush pilots will do often for those who remain in the solitude of the Alaskan wilderness.  We shared some of our lunch that day with Kate and Monroe, gave them a taste of some of the things they do not get out in the bush.  A plane drops them in the bush with all they need as they pack in the essentials and supplies in the spring, and that is it until they pack out in the fall.  So, simple things like a candy bar, for instance, or salami & cheese or carrots;  the things you and I take for granted...it's a rarity for them.  That is where a pilot will bring some the givens of civilization, out to the one's who live in the wild.  Then there are folks like ourselves, who show up and invite them to share our lunch, listen to some stories and commence in friendship!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Scenes From The Road

Finally, a chance for some rest.  It has been one frickin hell of a winter!  Snowfall has been abundant as all get go, blizzards have it seems like a weekly occurrence at times, frigid cold temps and wind chills for weeks on end, work in general has had me slammed to the wall with every kind of emergency service call you could think of at virtually every hour of the day, plowing snow continually sometimes for days on end and rolling right into the next storm with little sleep.  And amazingly, through all of this....it just keeps gettin better! 

But even Superman needs a break from saving the world once in a while!

Why you haven't heard from me in a while?  Sure, yes, I have been busy and unable to focus time to writing.  But there is also another element entwined in my cone of silence.  Disgust.  Just plain old disgust.  Either this wonderful God blesssed place in which we live, truly the 'last frontier', has changed me to the point that I just don't see things nor tolerate that which bitters my taste anymore.  Or, I have just gotten older and wiser.....or both!  But, I am just fed up with much of where I see this country going, and disgusted with those who think that bending liberty over the fence in the name of logic, is a righteous and justifiable act!  You will get yours ya jack bastards!

In the best interest of maintaining poise, and keeping my blood pressure at a manageable level, I have chosen to remain silent and quietly work behind the scenes, supporting those organizations I firmly believe in and the preservation of our American rights & liberties, keeping watch over the values that I firmly believe in, my friends and relatives have died for, and will not lay down willingly upon the whims of idiots! 

Ignorance is curable....but stupid is forever!  Wake up people!  Pull your heads out of your Facebook's and the rest of the distractions that have you lulled into a sense of false security and complete and utter oblivion!  Before you wake up one day and find that you lost it all, including the right to say "no" about any of what you'll be fed.  What you believed in will no longer matter and your all gonna be wondering what the hell happened while you were sleeping away your freedom!

That said, hope you enjoy some of the perks we have provided of being on the road for a couple days of rest. In the mean time, we are grateful for our move almost 5 years ago, and would still never even consider regretting it.  The things we have done, the things we have seen, the opportunities that we have experienced here.  We are so much better off and life, despite how busy we get, is so much better and enriched for us.  We are finally able to achieve some of the goals we never had a chance with, in all the years we lived in Looneyland!  Miss you friends and family, truly do.  Just happier as individuals where we are now and thankful for all it represents in the fiber that we are.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

yeah, we know we SUCK! :0)

Maryann here-
Greg and I are sincerely sorry for those of you who have logged onto the blog and have said again, " No Post".  I do have to say, we've been busy.  As you know Greg is the one who normally does all of the writing and with his regular work schedule, producing and selling pottery and writing as editor for Stage of Life.com he's really had no time to write in the blog.  However, I'm really hoping that that changes soon as I always enjoy reading what he writes as well, of course when I have the time.  So since he is unable to do it currently I thought I would let all of you know what we've been up to and add a few pictures so that we don't end up losing all of our audience to stagnant blogging.  Again, we apologize for the lack of writing.  tsk, tsk.
John has been hard at work lately snow plowing and sanding now that he has introduced the new sander onto his flat bed plow truck, he's stoked.  What's funny is he used our driveway as his test run and must have dumped his entire load of sand (1 yard) onto our driveway by accident of course because he's learning to gage how fast he should be moving the truck while he opens the sand shoot, not an easy task.  It's somewhat like chewing bubble gum and rubbing your belly at the same time, try it-it's not easy.  Anyway, John's excited he now has another way of making some serious money besides plowing snow as he can now sand ice, which the Kenai Peninsula has a lot of.  Once spring rolls around he will be back at the State Forestry office for his fire suppression job and Commercial fishing.  Jenn, his girlfriend has been at the Nikiski Fire Station on intern work for her Firefighter 3 and volunteering herself at the same station.  It's nice to see both of them doing what they love.  And when you don't find John and Jenn doing the activities above their both working on building their own individual Toyota Trucks (NO JOKE), those two are never boring.  Greg and I just shake our heads, it's all so amazing watching John and Jenn.  :0)
And then there's Greg.  He has been so busy with snow plowing and maintenance work I don't see much of him.  When he is home he's billing his customers and working on his following days schedule and then writing his weekly pieces for Stage of Life.com.  He's not had any real time to himself.  Him and I always said when we lived in CA that we need to move to Alaska to enjoy the simpler way of life and relax.  REALLY!  We're much more busy here than we ever were in CA and at times have to pinch ourselves and come back to reality because we aren't taking the time or finding that balance.  However, there is a lighter side to all of this busyness.  We've managed to do financially better here than CA and have the stability of having steady work than CA so it isn't ALL so bad.  And we are able to fly out of state twice a year, so life is great. Again, we just need to find that balance.  Life is good, it could be so much worse.  We thank our lucky stars!
As for me, I'm still at the lodge although right now I'm working from home as I always do during the Winter and Spring months, it is nice to be back at home.  I've been able to pop out of my office for a couple of hours and cross country ski at the local trails or just ski out the front door, I love this time of year.  Not a lot of ice and the snow has been wonderful for skiing. 
Yes, I did run the Big Sur Half Marathon on November 20 and finished with my medal and it was an accomplishment.  Thank you to all of you who donated to Pancreatica in honor of Carl Schmidt, Beverley's husband who died in 2007, your money is going to a very worthy cause. 
The morning of the Marathon didn't go as I planned.  I had to wake up at 4am in order to eat breakfast and have it digested before the run began at 7am which wasn't a problem since I didn't sleep the entire night from anticipation, anxiety and nervousness, it was a fun night-not really.  Beverley drove me to the race and I lost my breakfast from yet again nervousness, anxiety and anticipation.  This was a downer and I just wanted Beverley to take me back home.  I was standing there thinking of just going back home and crawling back into bed when I thought, "wow, you've trained for this for 10 months and you're going to go back home?"  REALLY?  So I downed Beverley's hot tea and a protein bar and got into my corral and waited for the gun.  What's amazing is I met up with a gal named Kim who ironically was running by herself as well and we both ran the marathon together.  It was a terrific experience and has taught me a lot about the human body and how much of a beating it can withstand, so why not run a 27.10 mile marathon, let's see what will happen.  :0) Crazy huh.  Yes, I am contemplating running the 2013 Big Sur Internation 27.10 mile marathon on Big Sur Coast, yes I know it's pure craziness!!! 
                                           Sea Kayaking in Monterey Bay on my 40th.

Evening moon rise from our deck.

Lunch with our Arnold Friends
Mom, Kim-my marathon buddy, myself and friend Beverley
Sorry, blogger downloaded this one like this.  Kim, myself & Beverley

Anyway, I have loaded a few pictures for you, I will be loading more from the marathon as soon as I receive them.  And as Greg always says, we are still loving it here and have no want or desire to move back.  We do hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.  And much happiness and prosperity in this New Year!