Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Moving At The Speed Of A Turtle

I was pretty excited when Chris told me he was heading back from California. This was at noon Tuesday, so I figured he'd be home in about 2 days. I realized I was totally wrong, however, when he called at 7:30 last night to tell me that they'd gotten as far as Santa Clarita (just north of Los Angeles) before stopping for the night.

Santa Clarita is a mere 155 miles from San Diego. They drove to Santa Clarita at 22 MPH?

The trip back seems to have been complicated by the following factors:
  1. FEMA (or something like that) requires that they stop for a break every 2 hours. So they pull off, get gas, get coffee... in all their little stops probably cost them about 30 min. every time.
  2. The other rigs in this caravan want to take their sweet time getting back.
Apparently they stopped twice in the first 8 miles. I think one guy was hungry, and another guy wanted to buy t-shirts or something (isn't that what they invented the internet for??).

I think they left Santa Clarita at about 7 this morning. If they drive until 7:30 tonight and limit their manadatory stops to 30 min., they should be able to get to Redding tonight. Which will put them to Seattle late Thursday if they drive like hell. Then he has to take the rig back to Vashon and clean it before he can home.

He's going to be SO cranky when he gets back...

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Chris just called to tell me that he's NOT going to Prado Dam -- he's coming home! It took them 32 hours to get from Federal Way, WA to Lake Arrowhead CA. From where he's at in San Diego now, I imagine they'll have about a 34-35 hr. drive home.

FYI for Ryan's family: Chris said that Ryan was out on the Harris fire today, but that he (Ryan) might be going home tomorrow because Ryan's team got to California the day after Chris'.

On The Move

Chris' team is moving from San Diego County up to the LA/Orange/San Bernardino County area. Specifically, they're headed to Prado Dam, a recreational area near Corona, CA. That's about 20 miles from where I grew up, so he's headed back to my old stomping grounds.

This morning's progress report is a change from last night. Last night he thought he was going to be put on another 12 hr. shift on the Harris fire (southern San Diego area). Now that he's moving up to Prado Dam, it looks like he'll be sent to the Santiago fire in Orange County.

The LA Times is reporting that the LA County Fires are all about 90-97% contained, including the fire up in Lake Arrowhead. The Witch fire (northern San Diego) is 95% contained. The only ones left are Harris (75%), Poomacha (northeast San Diego - 65%), and Santiago (65%).

The Times also said that "officials" are worried that the Santa Ana winds might start up again Thursday or Friday. Chris verified this, adding that he thinks they're going to be kept at Prado as a contingency plan. The Santa Anas are the main reason these fires got out of control last week. They're hot, dry, gusty winds that come from the eastern desert, as opposed to the usual cool, moist, onshore flow we get from the ocean. If the last of the still-burning fires isn't out Thursday and the Santa Anas return, the fires could get out of control again.

Dude, I'm like a news reporter today!! Like Katie Couric, only younger and hotter. Maybe I missed my calling; I should've been a "legal correspondent" they bring on for legal segments! Its how Star Jones got her start...

Monday, October 29, 2007

Can You Hear Me Now?

Chris got sent out to babysit again today, but he's in an area that gets little to no cell service. He didn't even know where he was, so I can't fancy up the blog with photos or links to google.

Babysitting Millionaires

Photos of some of the places Chris was babysitting on Saturday. He took them on his camera phone; I'm pretty impressed with how well they turned out!

I don't know why the photos got smaller towards the end.

Somehow I have the feeling that Chris' million-dollar home would consist of a single-story, one room shack attached to a massive climate-controlled, wharehouse-type structure he would have as his shop/car storage.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Its A Family Affair

Chris ran into his cousin Ryan over at Gillespie Field, the campground/base camp for all the firefighters down there. Ryan is on the strike team for Whatcom County. I'm surprised they managed to find each other; there are so many firefighters down there that Chris had to wait 40 min. to shower. He hadn't showered since Monday night, before he ever left his station. I'm surprised he wasn't able to jump to the front of the shower line just based on his body odor.

Yesterday, Chris and his team were sent down to Jamul to babysit a few million dollar homes. They were treated very well by the grateful residents of these homes. There was a never-ending supply of cookies, brownies, cupcakes, etc. At one point they even brought out warm brownies and vanilla ice cream for everyone... Chris was in heaven.

Chris is on a 24 hour break right now, but he'll find out tonight what tomorrow's assignment will be.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Party Like A Rockstar

This afternoon Chris' team got moved from Lake Arrowhead to Potrero, just across the border from Tecate, Mexico. He LOVED Lake Arrowhead; mountain air, pine trees, warm weather.

And he's going to HATE Potrero. I've never been there, but I can tell from basic geography (and Google satellite) that it is in the middle of the desert. Chris hates the desert. This should be interesting.

In other news, Chris reported that the firefighters are treated like rockstars everywhere they go. When they stopped for gas this afternoon they were practically mobbed. People were thanking them, trying to buy them food, wanting to shake their hand, wanting to take a photo with them, wanting their autograph. He was really surprised and, I think, a little flattered.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Lake Arrowhead

I got to talk to Chris a while tonight. They got in to Lake Arrowhead this morning at 5:30 am and proceeded directly to nap time. (You try to ride 24 hours in fire engine). They should be up on the fire tonight.

In other news, the dogs got to go to doggie day care today. This was their first time. Usually Chris is home, or I can come home at lunch to break up their day. This week, however, they spent Mon-Wed cooped up in the house.

Here's the thing about having dogs: more and more, its like having kids. Take doggie day care. Growing up my family had dogs, and when we weren't around, the dogs just roamed the house. Now, a "responsible" pet owner should be taking their dog to doggie day care.

There's a scene in the 80's classic "Baby Boom" where Diane Keaton is sitting in the park with her inherited kid and all the other New York moms are talking about how their child is learning French in pre-school and the pregnant mom points to her belly and says something like, "He's been on the wait-list since my first trimester." Doggie day care is the new pre-school.

There are levels of doggie day care. Its like Montessori pre-school vs. regular pre-school. Some places consist of an outdoor facility and an indoor facility and the dogs can play and roam freely. The place our dogs went today, however, is all structured and endeavours to create a "balance between mind, body, and social development." So, our dogs day consisted of group play, leash walks, traning, food puzzles, a rub-down, and a nap.

WHAT? A rub-down and a nap?

So, now doggie day care is the canine equivalent of a spa day? Chris is out battling fires, I'm beating my head into the wall with the BIA, and our dogs are at the spa. What's wrong with this picture?

I have to say, though, that I think I got my money's worth. Since I got home tonight there's been no fighting over toys, no incessant pleas to go throw the ball, and no barking. They've both been totally mellow and tired all night. Based on that alone I forsee more trips to doggie day care for the dogs...

... despite how ridiculous I feel for taking them.

15 Minutes of Fame

The local NBC affiliate, channel 5, has a reporter named Jim Foreman embedded with Chris' strike team. They aired the first segment last night. The guys ARE NOT stoked about this, but its pretty interesting for the folks here at home.

If you are in the Seattle area, tune in to the 11:00pm news. Last night it was the first story they ran. I don't think Chris was in it.

They've also put the video up on the King 5 website:

Change of Venue

Chris' strike team got moved from Chino to Lake Arrowhead - Rim of the World high School. They got sent there because the focus has turned to the Grass Valley/Slide fire in Lake Arrowhead.

As a side note, check out Google's mapping of the L.A. and S.D. blazes. (You may have to zoom in to see the individual icons and what they mean)

View Larger Map

View Larger Map

Very cool. God save Google.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Strike Team Update: SNAFU

One of the rigs in Chris' convoy has broken down on the freeway, somewhere near the Oregon-California border. The whole convoy is stopped while they figure out how to get the rig fixed. I know you're asking yourself, "How are they only as far as the OR-CA border when they left Seattle last night?"

  • A fire truck has a 50 gallon gas tank
  • The trucks are each carrying 750 gallons of water. (What, they can't fill up when they get to CA? No, see next bullet)
  • The suspension on a truck is made to be driven with water. If they drove it empty, it would rattle the truck apart.
  • 50 gallons of gas + truck and water tonnage = gas-ups every 150 miles.
Yes, they're driving to Chino in 150 mile increments. I'm no Mathlete, but I figure that's about 3 miles to the gallon. I think Al Gore just fainted.

Assuming they're in Medford, they've got another 700 miles before they get to Chino. At 3 miles per gallon...

Off to California

Monday night Chris' strike team was mobilized to head down to the fires in California. ("Strike Team" = emergency firefighting crew). After waiting around all day for the mucky-mucks to get the paperwork together they got their marching orders. They're off to Chino!

* Chino is about 10 miles from where I grew up in L.A. Home to dairy farms (manure! It'll be just like Enumclaw!) and the State Penitentiary for Men.

The good news is that Mama Brewhouse will be nearby to supply emergency In-N-Out Burger.

Friday, October 12, 2007


Its a well known fact that dogs LOVE Halloween. Tick CLEARLY loves being made to look like a weiner.

The hot dog costume didn't quite fit, so he changed it to a spider.

Goose-a-saurus? Tyrannosaurus Goo? Veloci-Gooser? Raawrh!

Consoling each other over the humilation of being made to look like a weiner and the Geico lizard.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Humpy Salmon

When my youngest brother Colin was little we had this song to get him to eat. This was all during the summer we lived in Alaska, so all the songs ended up being about Alaskan wildlife.

"Little Baby Colin
Lives in the sea
All he eats are butter clams
Just for you and me."

The first line actually started out as "Little baby otter," which would explain the butter clams. (What 6 mo. old eats butter clams?) On the way back to L.A. we stopped to watch the salmon spawn.... Humpy Salmon!

So, when I came home from work today I took a look in the creek at the back of the property and what did I find? HUMPY SALMON!

Yes, the salmon are spawning. No, he's not dead. He's alive, he just accidentally "beached" himself in the long grass while trying to jump over a log in the water. After it became clear that he couldn't un-beach himself, I went over and pushed him back into the water.

PS: I now feel TOTALLY vindicated for allowing Americorp come out and rehab the salmon habitat back there. There ARE salmon in that stream and, as of a recent court decision, their health and habitat IS more important than your magic cow small farm tax write-off, mr. jerkoff neighbor who lives behind me.

Lawson Moves To Washington

My friend Amy (Engstrom) Carlson always jokes about how she's going to write a book called "Lawson Moves To Washington." Kinda like "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington," only in the wrong Washington and the politicians are replaced by cow pies.

Eh... now that I think about it, most politicians are cow pies anyway.