It would be ironic, that as a kid, Johns favorite Grateful Dead song, being the son of two devout 'Deadheads', would be 'Fire On The Mountain'! Who would have known that years later....
Have you ever been so excited, so pumped with anticipation...your adrenaline flooding your senses that you can't catch your breath to even talk? This apparently has been a huge problem for John lately. Going into his second week with the Alaska Division Of Forestry, the boy has called several times to convey unbelievable and utter joy in his new job and the tales which abound his days. The conversation usually starts out as, "oh my God, I can't talk I am so excited....". This was the case during his first call, back on Monday May 9th. He was called out to a fire right off the bat and called to tell me...and believe me when I tell you... he was barely audible! It sounded like some sound byte from an exorcism movie where the character is frantically
speaking in tongues as his head spins uncontrollably on his shoulders. Turns out that it was just an abandoned campfire, and the caller made it sound like it was a raging wildfire. Bummed, yes he was. But it was priceless getting that phone call! Since then he has had many minor calls, done numerous patrols, and has been spending time training at the Division base. He told us today that he is actually taking college courses there at the Division, while getting paid.......as well as being trained and schooled on more important tasks on his rig itself such as pump to hose ratios, pressure ect. The kid is stoked! Keep in mind we haven't seen much of him much less heard from him, with the exception of those uncontrollable moments of incident euphoria, as he has been working straight through since his first day. In fact he is working at least 4 to 5 hours of overtime daily.
The whole meatheaded idea of taking time off to go to Cali was on his mind this week. Maryann finally told him to just can the idea, buck up and get on. Oh, sure, he was frustrated, but again, he is jeopardizing a dream that he has worked hard towards for many years. It's best. Anyways, that whole thing would have blown up on him had he acted on his emotions.
Today he got the 'one hour warning'!
We got another one of those calls from him this morning. You know, one of the breathless "I can't talk I am so excited" calls. His commander gave him a one hour notice that they were shipping him off to the fire line on a large fire that broke out Friday near Fairbanks, in the interior.
He was to say the least, beside himself! Apparently he was originally not a consideration because he was pushing so many days of work. By law, they are not allowed to work more than 21 days straight. So when the commander asked for 3 people, he was unfortunately out of the loop to which he was just devastated. But then, they came back and said they needed a fourth person and when asked if he was interested, what would you think he would say?! Funny, all of a sudden a vacation in California took the back seat quick! It came down to an old fashioned coin toss between him and two other guys, and John won. And guess who didn't have a bag with extra clothes and underwear to last him possibly a couple of weeks? In typical John fashion, he never stopped to think they would be sending him that far off so soon into his stint. Mom and dad relayed his clothes and such from Jennifer and shot out to get him his clothes before they headed out. All said, he was in good spirits and eager to roll. They were going to stay the night up in Glennallen tonight and then off to the lines tomorrow.
Here is the incident link for those who want to follow his adventure:
InciWeb the Incident Information System: Moose Mountain
How do his folks feel about this?
When she was hit with the news, Maryann got a little concerned. Me, I was excited for him! Sure, things could go wrong, but then look at your present situation and tell me which one of you couldn't find at least 5 things that could go terribly wrong in your immediate surroundings at any given time of day! You can't learn to ride a horse if you don't get on it. I have incredible faith that he will be fine. He needs the training, experience,' and frankly, the 'head on, in your face' exposure to get a taste of what it is he has signed on for. Like he told us today when we dropped off his bag, he is on a rig with 4 really cool guys who are seriously on top of what they do. He is not worried at all. These guys are brethren in what they are all trained to do. Hang in there Grandma's and Grandpa....he is going to be fine. Be proud of him and what he is doing! He has a 'fire' under his ass and has "one speed, one gear...GO!"
On the home front, we will be hosting a special guest this summer starting June 4th.
Many years ago, at an anniversary party for my parents, my uncle Glen, or uncle Honey to those who know him best, gave a speech. He said that as you get older, you start to learn that if you can count on one hand the number of close friends you have, you should consider yourself lucky. As I have gotten up there in years since this speech, I now know exactly what he spoke of so many years ago. This past summer, I was blessed enough to have one of those best friends I have known since high school and have kept in contact with through the years, Brad, come up to Alaska to spend some time on the peninsula. Coincidentally, it was the first time in 11 years that I have seen him. This winter he managed to get one of his nephews a job at the fish camp that Brad stayed at last summer. I was honored when he asked me to keep contact with his nephew while he was here this summer so that he would feel like he had someone close while so far away from family. The kid is a nephew of Brads and is as good as family to me!
So then, after talking to Brad a couple of times about his nephew staying out at the fish camp, he mentioned his other nephew who was devastated that his cousin was going to Alaska and not him! Fortunately, Maryann was about ready to hire a position for the lodge to do grounds maintenance, processing and other important tasks equipped to keep the lodge running efficiently. Hands down the planets aligned! She found her hire and we decided that he could bunk here, downstairs in the 'Redneck Hilton' or for that matter out in the sauna....when your 18 and in Alaska for the summer, the sky is the limit! With all of the daylight and things to do it is doubtful he will be spending much time indoors with the exception for some sleep here and there. It is already affecting us severely. With sunrise at 5:00AM and sunset at 11:00PM, we are begining to feel the ensuing signs of becoming 'amped' from too much vitamin D!
The Arctic Terns arrived a few weeks back and we believe, have a nest just outside the back door at the top of a spruce along the lake. Our favorites, the Loons, also pulled onto the lake about the same time. I just absolutely love these two. They return every year and remain here until fall. They are such beautiful and majestic fowl to me. They just hang out on the lake and float about! It is heavenly to wake up to their beautifully odd calls throughout the night. I often wonder just what they are saying and what provoked it.... Then yesterday, Maryann's fav's, two Tundra swans, swooned in and have been here since. As I write, I am looking out the window watching them nest for the night across the lake along the grassy shore. Earlier, when the one would float off too far away for the others' comfort, it would bellow out a honk or two, which was reminiscent (for those of you who are old enough to remember how young you where with those cool bicycle horns) of a bike horn from back in the day! It is just too wild!! Yes, at 10:10PM with the sun still up, there is a menagerie of life on the lake tonight. We are so blessed to be a part of this and to bear witness to Gods gift!