Monday, August 26, 2013

scenes from an alaska fire

Smoke from the fire across the river
Fire camp was at a fairgrounds. This is where the ordering people had their office. Cute!
My signs were pink!
My luxury sleeping accommodations! Actually very cozy.
View from my campsite. This river is a mile wide.
Our helibase was behind this sign.  Hmmm.
Obligatory self portrait while running the aerial ignition machine
The fire is a mosaic of black and green.  Soon after this we saw a grizzly eating a dead moose.
Brrr! It actually got ten degrees colder than this.
This moose visited us at the helibase. 
Glorious day: 6 am from my campsite

Thursday, August 15, 2013

it's raining men (hallelujah)

I forgot this about Alaska: there are men everywhere. Paramedic Peggy and I are at the helibase: we are the only women for miles. Smokejumpers, rugged trapper types, climbers: they're everywhere. They aren't emo, skinny-jeans wearing guys either. A man I used to work with up here is even featured in a reality show about mountain men. So ladies, if you're looking, and you're willing to move, think about casting your net up here. Just remember the local saying: The odds are good, but the goods are odd.

Monday, August 12, 2013


Dear blog readers,
Hi from Alaska! I am here on a fire and will post when I can.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

trail to nowhere

I didn't feel like exercising today, so I went for a walk in the woods.  Our pilot went with me for part of it.   I wanted to show him this:

I found this the other day.  Someone went to a lot of effort to build this bridge.  It looks like it used to be a mountain bike trail.  However, a few steps away, the trail disappears in a tangle of undergrowth. We couldn't find any trace of it.

It hasn't been used for at least five years, judging by the forest around it.  It fascinates me: who built it? why did they stop using it?  where did it start?

I wandered on farther into the woods, keeping an eye out for bears and looking for huckleberries.

Found a few!
Sometimes I get too obsessed with exercise, worrying about when I'm going to run, or dragging myself into the gym.  A trail to nowhere was just what I needed today.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Undateable guys: the firefighter version

So, I spent most of July on fire assignments away from home.  Now it's raining and I'm eating Reese's and watching Randy to the Rescue doing home improvement projects, and it's time to get back to blogging.  Since I spend so much time around men on the job, I figured it was time to make fun of, I mean talk about them.

There's been lists of Undateable Guys around for years; examples include Cell Phone on Belt Guy and Sports Jersey Guy, but since I mostly interact with firefighters, here is my list of Undateable Fire Guys.  (Oh and guys, don't be offended, this is just for fun.  I'm fully aware that there are just as many Undateable Fire Women, including Makeup in Fire Camp Woman, Helpless Line Princess, and Overcompensating Beeyotch).

1.  Sexist Guy.  Hard to believe, because there have been women wildland firefighters for decades, but this species is still out there.  You will recognize him by the way he steps in front of females at the morning briefing, crowding them out so they can't see the map.  When you approach him with your male trainee, he ignores you and directs all remarks to the man, except to ask if YOU are the trainee.  It's not the Jurassic era anymore, so these dinosaurs need to go away.

2.  Way Too Into It Guy.  This specimen probably started fighting fire about two years ago, but you'd never know it by the way he talks.  He knows everything, just ask him.  He wears his yellow fire shirt all the time, even at camp miles away from the fire.  He probably also has a big belt buckle that says "Wildland Firefighter", and associated bumper stickers.  Any sort of smoke has him sniffing the air like a congested Smokey Bear.  He loudly criticizes fireline decisions that he is years away from being qualified to make.  This guy never really changes.  Somehow he will end up being your boss someday.

3.  Gross Hygiene Guy.  Yes, we get it, you're on a fire, and you can't take showers all the time.  But please, wash your fire shirt at least once a season, if it needs it or not.  It's supposed to be yellow, not black.  And for the love of all that's holy, change your socks once in awhile.  Trench foot is not attractive.  GHs often tend to chew tobacco; they leave half-filled spit bottles everywhere.  If he's this disgusting on the fire, he probably is just as bad at home.  Stay away!

4.  Fireline Creeper.  You know this guy: he's a Close Talker and is constantly in your bubble.  He probably has a girlfriend, but he is always looking.  He doesn't seem to get that he is at fire camp, not on  These guys think they are all that and a bag of Oreos.  No need to let them down gently; they'll just think there's something wrong with YOU, instead.

5.  Whiny New Guy.  This guy really wants to go on a fire! He really, really does!  But once he gets there, apparently it's not as great as he thought it would be.  He complains about everything, causing morale within the crew to plummet.  Once he gets home, he is apparently exhausted, because he needs a lot of days off to recover. Then he really, really wants to go back out...

So, ladies, there you have it, the top five.  Avoid at all costs!  And please, guys, take the cell phone off your belt. Thanks....