Eighteen hundred miles ago, we had set out in a Ford Escape, bound for California. Our Type 1 helicopter had come on contract early, and we had to go meet it. J. was my trainee, an amiable snowboarder and rock climber who usually had a smile on his face. "I'm going to eat healthy on this trip," he proclaimed as we drove off. This resolve lasted about two hours, until he emerged sheepishly from a gas station with Chex Mix and doughnuts.
Too late, we discovered that the air conditioning in our car didn't work; we found this out in the 100 degree Nevada desert. We also realized that we had forgotten the two main helitack staples, a cooler and camp chairs. Coffee and energy drinks littered the vehicle. We giggled along with Amy Schumer on Pandora when we couldn't find any radio stations. When we crossed into California it was a shock: all these people! where were they going and in such a hurry?
Road trips for work are a lot different than vacation ones. We looked longingly at turnoffs for hiking trails and climbing areas, but couldn't stop. Our meals came from gas stations. We wore fire pants, not shorts. Still, we made it fun, speculating about life in little towns we passed and taking a lunch break at a Patagonia outlet, where J went in to buy something for his girlfriend but instead got himself a present. And that skirt I bought was entirely his fault, because I was waiting for him to decide between two jackets.
Eventually we arrived at our destination, only to find the next day that the helicopter was being moved somewhere else. Yep, more driving. By then we were used to it. We ended up driving about 3000 miles on that trip. Maybe you saw us, two firefighters in a Ford Escape hybrid, munching on birthday cake oreos and laughing down the road.
|What? We're moving again?|