Sunday, November 29, 2015

To Prove I am Still Alive

Still here, enjoying the world that god has provided us with and still pissed at the absurdly stupid and evil.

My beloved RFD (Kinda Big Fire Protection District) has been under new leadership for over a year now and the new Chief appears to be working out well. Though we do not always agree on things (nor should we), we seem to have a mutual respect for each other and an ability to discuss matters that we might have a difference of opinion on.

Though he has no obligation to do so, he still allows me to serve as the department photographer - a role that I enjoy greatly. It allows me to meet the new people that have come on the department since I retired and it allows me to see old friends that I have known for years. It is alarming however, the number of friends that have retired recently, a sure sign that I am getting older. The other alarming thing is that a few "new" folks that came on when I left are starting to promote. I suppose I will be calling some of them "Chief" some day.

Though The Saint That I Am Married To is still gainfully employed, we are still able to get away now and then. We went to Louisville Ky, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in TN last month and had a great time - though I absolutely hated Pigeon Forge and to a lesser extent, Gatlinburg. The gross commercialization of that area is appalling. I am told it is like Branson on steroids. A good reason to avoid Branson. Every day we were there, we were forced to sit in traffic for hours. Fortunately, the beauty of the park surpassed the ugliness of Pigeon Forge and we enjoyed the trip greatly.

I wouldn't mind going back to the park someday, maybe in the spring - kind of the off-season. I would probably rent another cabin, though closer to the south end of the park.

El Cheepo Jeepo is still running strong though it is eleven years old and has 80k on the odometer. A minor moderate mishap in Death Valley a couple of years ago forced me to upgrade some additional components to finally get it about where I want it to be. Though a little body work could stand to be done, all of the damaged suspension and undercarriage components have been replaced/upgraded and it still serves me faithfully.

I hope that this finds all of you well, I know there have been some issues among some of you and I hope that you have been given the strength and other tools to motor past them. I hope it will not be so long between posts this time and yet I want to wish all of you a blessed Christmas season and a happy holiday to my non-christian friends.

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

It was one of "those" things, a situation that happens every once in a while, kind of a rookie mistake that I still, after 30+ years, make.

I was leaving Lowes, happy that I was only going to have to go there once for this project, when I looked up and saw a large header off to the south. I figured that it was the hills south of town burning an area that usually provides pretty good photography and is only 15 minutes or so from my home.

As I had nothing going that couldn't be done the next day, I headed for the hills. When I got closer to the hills, I saw that the fire was probably in the next set of hills, a little farther south. Only another 15 minutes or so farther, what the heck - it's just gas.

Of course as I got closer, the fire got farther. It ended up being in Lake Elsinore, an area I hardly ever go to to photograph fires. I got through the CHP roadblock and saw that CalFire/Riverside County had things pretty much in hand.

A traffic accident on the freeway had ignited a brush fire that had spread pretty rapidly. I think it got up to around 25 acres or so before being contained. A lot of exposures had kept the county folks busy. When I got there, the most active area was an equipment/material storage area that had been ignited by the brush fire. A pile of large tractor tires and another large area of plastic drainage pipe was going pretty good and sending a billowing column of black smoke into the air. A great opportunity for me.

Though no units from my department were there, I got a few decent shots of the county getting it done.

As all of this stuff was in the middle of the burn, it probably wasn't as critical as controlling the spread of the fire. About the time it became top priority, I was able to get there.

A pretty long lay from a hydrant allowed them to use a master stream, though the piled up material presented a challenge.

Fortunately, they had the right tools for the job.

CalFire operates a bunch of dozers throughout the state, there are a couple in our county. They are a great tool to have.

CalFire also operates helicopters, two of which were on this fire. This is my favorite shot of the day, copter 902 dropping on the burning tires.

Despite tools, toys and technology, it's still boots on the ground that eventually finishes off the dragon.

As the opportunity for dramatic images waned, so did my desire to be there. I was getting tired and thirsty, so I drove the 45 minutes back home. Mop-up on this fire took many hours, I'm guessin' there were units ther till midnight or so. Better them than me - poor bastards.

Though it was my misjudgement on where this fire actually was that got me there, I'm glad I went. It was worth the drive.

Thanks for reading,


Monday, September 15, 2014

I have a fascination with aerial firefighting. The combination of my career and one of my longest lasting interests works for me. A few days ago, I went to San Bernardino International Airport and photographed the loading of retardant into several air tankers, which were working the Silverado Fire.

Two of the tankers were converted DC-10 airliners. Early "Jumbo Jets", the are huge. I had never seen one at SBD, so I though I'd head over and snap a few pics.

I got lucky, and caught two of them. Tankers 911 and 912.

As you can see, pretty impressive. Whats really impressive, is the video below. It was shot a few hours after the above photo, from the Silverado Fire. Watch full screen HD if you can.

I don't know who shot it, I wish it was me. I'm just guessin' that the design team at McDonnell Douglas, back in the '60s, had no idea their jumbo jet would be doing that for a living. I sure didn't see it coming.

Thanks for reading,