Wednesday, March 11, 2020


"What a drag it is getting old," the Rolling Stones sang, and yes it can be.  There's not a lot to recommend it as a process.  Gray hair, aches and pains, feeling invisible, having some limits where you used to be limitless.  It's easy to fall into the self pity trap about all this.  But this isn't very productive, and it dishonors those who died young and didn't get the gift of all these years.  It's better to be grateful.

"This job used to be more fun," some of us old-timers are heard to say, and it's true.  The temporary employees I supervise now seem less happy, more stressed out than we used to be when we were in their shoes.  Back then, we didn't try to have it all, like people now want to: we knew houses and expensive vehicles were out of our reach, so we didn't worry about them.  We floated around the country like a gypsy tribe, working at whatever forest or park where we could get a job, and traveled, couch surfed, or worked somewhere else in the winters.  At work, there was minimal paperwork, no online training, fewer regulations. 

We had no social media, no "influencers" or "internet models" to make us feel inadequate if we didn't look perfect.  There were no filters on pictures; what you saw in the photo was what you looked like for real. You could be as in touch as you wanted to be, or not.  Sometimes a letter would come in the mail from a long lost friend; this was exciting.  You navigated with maps and occasionally some word of mouth; secret spots stayed secret and rarely got ruined.  I got to see some amazing places with nobody in them; now those lakes and mountains are overrun on most days.

When we went on fires, people didn't sit hunched over their phones during lunch breaks. I remember  discussing literature on a nameless hill, everybody examining the books people had brought. We built creative furniture out of fire hose and limbs we cut.  People made art projects out of paracord and spent up to three weeks in the woods with no news media stories.  Mostly we were out of touch with the outside world; we left it and its problems behind.

I know this sounds like the nostalgic musings of an older person about "the good old days."  It's true that not everything was great, and that some of the advances in technology since then have made things safer and more convenient.  But these things have also brought more worries and pressures with them.  I'm glad I didn't have those.  I might be vintage, but I have had the gift of some amazing times that are gone for good.
Cameron reads a women's magazine while Russ takes a break from paracord; homemade pullup bar in the background, somewhere on a fire in Alaska, back in the day.


  1. It always seems like our best times were the best times. I mean we would not want to live in our grand parents childhood. Outhouses and the depression, don't look fun to us but did it to them. Will this age look like the golden years to our grand children?

    1. It probably will. Kids now will probably experience things like imbedded microchips in people, etc and that will be normal to them. Maybe I need to go be a hermit in the woods.

  2. Liked this have had some many unique (and unexpected) experiences that can really only be understood by those fellow firepeople who were there "then." It has changed alot but those places and friends and quirks of the time can never be taken away from you!

  3. We talk about this all the technology has in some ways made life so much easier..BUT it has taken away so much in the process!!


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