Sunday, August 25, 2013

Big Cats, Big Fires

Forget chronology, there are urgent things going on right now, so we'll skip over other events and jump right to the big stuff. Big cats and big fires!

Looking across the mountain at the 10,000 acre Coral Fire
The fire, locally called the Coral Fire, is 9 miles from us and zero percent contained. Started by lightning just a few days ago, over 10,000 acres are ablaze and there are almost a thousand firefighters here who traveled from all over to fight it. The firefighter who brought us our daily report tonight was from Michigan, for example. These selfless men and women are camped out in tents at varying local staging areas and some stayed here for a time.  Choppers, fire engines and other equipment have also come pouring in to our rescue.
One of the staging areas for imported firefighters from all over
Another fire above Orleans continues to burn out of control as well, and the smoke from these and smaller area fires hangs on the mountains and gathers in the valleys looking like London fog but burning eyes and noses, scorching throats and turning tongues to leather.
The smoke is everywhere!
Lest talk around Boise Creek campfires be too focused on the fires, one of our campers spotted a cougar and caught a fairly good iPhone photo of it. The big cat prowled through two campsites during the previous night, or so the occupants thought. Both heard a larger animal walking fairly close to their tents. 
Cougar! Taken from a campsite without telephoto lens.
The mountain lion's visit was not a total surprise to us. I have been seeing cougar scat for about two weeks. This is a good year for them, and their numbers are up, hence these very territorial critters are staking out new claims, marking out new Home turfs for themselves. In studying them, we find they normally tour all the nooks and crannies of their stomping grounds about once a week, so we'll be on the lookout for this one again.... and I'll try to get more pictures.
Giving Heather a goodbye hug
Two members of our Forest Service Recreation team form Orleans have moved up the ladder, as I mentioned in a previous post, and now we have also said goodbye to Heather. We're sure gonna miss her! Stephanie has arrived with her willing spirit and quickly fit right into the team of Recreation Technicians we work with.
Stephanie and Bingo... Instant rapport!
In other excitement, we locked ourselves out of the motorhome and learned a valuable lesson about our door/lock setup. 

There are two red plastic toggles on the inside of our door. One locks the dead bolt, the other locks the door latch. It seems I inadvertently flipped the latch toggle when I went out the door, and the keys, of course, were in the house!

Our windows were open, thank heavens, so Richard saved the day with this heroic yet precarious break-in. Safety First is definitely not his motto, but I wasn't complaining.

And I will close with one final misadventure, which was also a lot of fun... We got lost.

It all started when we went to help a Forest Service worker, Diane, who was working with a group of teens building a fence for a remote dispersed camping area. She needed us to take some timber up to the the site.
Diane, Richard and kids loading logs for Aimon Ranch camping area fence. 
It was a beautiful drive and we had followed Diane up there before, so we told her we'd meet her up there and just drove on up while she ran an errand.

Somehow, we missed a turn and wandered all over that mountain! Radio reception was spotty and cell phones worse, but we got through at last, then also met a local who gave more directions, and finally, we arrived at Aimon Ranch, our destination... but, since we were over an hour late, Diane and her charges had left already. There was a happy ending, they came back, we delivered the logs and headed down the mountain, stopping at this creekside oasis on the way. Such a beautiful way to live.

Of course, because of our radio transmissions, everyone in the Six Rivers Forest heard about our wanderings, so we get to take a bit of good natured ribbing... all part of the fun.
 Bye Bye until next time....

Monday, August 12, 2013

Becoming Camp Hosts

We left Lake Mead with little time to spare, much less any extra funds, so we decided to visit family later, when we had more of both time and money. We did however, make a stop at Yreka, CA, to see friends we knew from Florida. Randy operates an RV repair shop and Mary Jane manages a book store. They own both businesses, so have a lot on their plates, but they made time for us, and Randy and his crew did much needed maintenance and repair on our motorhome... at a very, very reduced price. We loaded up on books, too, saving money there as well. 
Joe and deer friends enjoy Shabbat
We parked the motorhome for a few days at Randy and Mary Jane's beautiful home in the shadow of Mt. Shasta and celebrated the Shabbat with them and another couple. Later, on our way over to Boise Creek Campground, we met them all in Redding at a small congregation who was hosting Bill Cloud of Shoreshim Ministries. Such a blessing! 
Our car looks like it belongs in this verdant setting.

Sheneesa pumping water to our tank
We arrived at our campground in mid-May and had two weeks to prepare it and ourselves for guests and get settled in. We didn't have potable water for another month, so Forest Service workers hauled water to us, but we had this shady, luxuriant forest haven all to ourselves.

During that time Sereena, Heather and Sheneesa brought us supplies and taught us the ropes of camp hosting for the National Forest. Pretty simple stuff... mostly common sense and people skills.
Shabbat by the sea with new friends.
Our location is about an hour inland from the Pacific coast where it is much cooler than here. We do our shopping in Eureka about once a week. It took a bit for us adjust to the smaller town after living near Las Vegas last fall and winter. The thing we miss most is a meeting with others of our faith. There are no Messianic congregations in the area. We found one couple who lived right on the coast and shared a delightful Shabbat with them just before they were leaving town for extended travels. Yom Kippur is only about a month away and we don't know yet what we will do.
Richard laying in the sun, er waxing the rig.

There had been no host last year and the campground had become popular with vagabonds and vagrants, so early on we had vagrants and others sneaking in, not paying, leaving big messes... but we maintain a pretty visible presence and tour our 17 site campground often. With the help of a few visits from the Forest Service and Sheriff's deputies, the problem was soon under control, leaving us some time to lay in the sun, wax the rig and generally act like vacationers.
The Forest Service truck makes our job so much easier in every way.
In addition to a morning and evening census and fee compliance checks, we clean and service the bathrooms, gather the trash, clean the firepits and maintain the grounds. It really doesn't take a great deal of time, so we offered to be of more help. Now, we have a Forest Service truck loaded with supplies and tools, and we service the restrooms at a river access site as well as haul off the trash from there and the local campgrounds (ours and one other). We also bring them their supplies since the Recreation office is almost an hour away... We notice that having an official truck here on site cuts the number of homeless, etc.

Sereena got a permanent position. Yay!
Part of the reason we got the truck is that the Recreation arm of the Six Rivers National Forest was undergoing some changes. The head man Bob had applied in another state, and got the job. Then Sereena, who was seeking a permanent position with the National Forest, found one, so that just left Heather and Sheneesa to service nine campgrounds, including the two sites and river access in the Lower Trinity area where we're located.

So, we got off to a good start going from totally green to fairly well seasoned hosts who have experienced most campground issues... No injuries yet, and no brawls, no one we could not handle... If it comes, we'll use our radio and help is only two miles away in Willow Creek.

We're having a blast!