May 26, 2008

Frostbitten Strawberries

The cold, stormy weather canceled our camping plans for Memorial Day weekend, but I still spent a couple days working at the Strawberry Lookout.

We got a couple inches of snow on Friday, and we couldn't see past the guardrail. That gave us plenty of time to finish the In-Tower Training, but we really couldn't look for any smoke.

It was like sitting in a 15' square room with white walls and no windows. Well, kind of. The more I thought about it, the more I came to think of it as a time-share cabin on a mountain top. I worked with other volunteers on Friday, but I had the tower to myself on Monday. In between visits with the public, I was able to get a lot of reading and homework done.

Of course I had to go for the obligatory, geeky pose in the tower. I promise I won't do that again. This isn't about the uniform, or the ego. This is about public service in something other than my usual role as a paper-pushing bureaucrat. That, and getting away from it all for a few hours every month.

May 22, 2008

Freaky Weather

Memorial Day weekend is traditionally the start of Summer -- Wrong! This altered newspaper photo was taken this morning, not too far from Dogwood. We were supposed to be camping there this weekend, but the forecast is for freezing temperatures, snow and rain. That was too much for us, so we wussed out and decided to cancel the trip.

So far, the weather continues to surprise: hundred-degree temps last weekend, and now snow, rain and two tornadoes touched ground near here (one of them knocked over a train!).

I'm still planning on working a couple shifts at the Lookout this weekend, so I'll be packing my tire chains, life vest, lightning rod and an Old Testament.

May 17, 2008

Almost Opening Day

Today was a work day to get the Strawberry Peak Lookout ready to go for the season. It was a great day to be on the peak because it was 101 degrees at home but 20 degrees cooler at the tower. Tony (the Tower Leader) took a photo of the crew that showed up for the work party.

I forgot my own camera, so I'm using a photo from 2005 to illustrate the rest of this post. Some things have changed since then. The microwave dishes below the southeast corner of the cab are gone. The tower on the left of the photo has been rebuilt a few yards away so the old tower is only half as tall as the lookout now.

Up until just a week ago, there was a phone line that went from the cab to a transformer shack, but a lumber truck nailed that cable so we have to use a cell phone to order pizzas now.