Saturday, September 6, 2014

Great Job–If you don’t starve.

Things in the fire camp were still moving along according to schedule, but perhaps it was beginning to drag on a bit as the plentiful rains had made the likelihood of new fires a rather distant chance.  Lookouts are still spotting smokes and crews are responding, but more often than not it turns out to be a vehicle on fire or a house being torched.

Lookouts still have to be serviced however, so off we go into the wild blue yonder yet again with our load of valuable water, supplies, and food.


A couple of the lookouts are sitting on mountain tops at around 8000’. 

That’s one just left of centre – below.IMG_5632IMG_5637IMG_5633

Others are much lower, and well below tree line in the timber.


In this case we slung in a full propane bottle to replace the empty one at the tower.


Just as my days off were approaching, I got a call offering me an all expenses paid trip to north western Alberta!   (For the second time this summer)  They needed someone to fill in at a remote fire lookout for a ‘few days’.  So I said ‘Ok’ and started to throw Hailey and all of our things in the truck, including a new toaster; everything but the kitchen sink!  Then I got another phone call – advising that it was in fact a 30 minute helicopter flight north of Peace River.  Well, Hailey has never been in a helicopter before – though she is now quite used to them flying all around and landing at our camp for the last two summers.  I had picked up a small carrier for her last year for just this situation, and this would be the big test.  But, I had to unpack the toaster, the satellite dish, and quite a few other necessities.

In Peace River, I was advised that my stay would be ‘a week or two’, so I bought groceries and cat food accordingly.  You can see where this is going …!

After a luxurious night at a brand new fire camp at the Peace River Airport …


We found our ride, and Hailey got into her travel crate.


We headed northward, at first over wheat fields, then soon over nothing but forest. Hailey did not seem concerned in the least, and took her first ride like the veteran traveler she is.


After circling our destination, we landed and moved into our new cabin in the woods.


And, had a look around from – upstairs.IMG_1264

A day or two later, word came down that we were expected to be here for almost three weeks!  Hmm, I think things are going to be a bit tight in the food supply department.  At least I had purchased an extra bag of cat food – I wonder what that tastes like anyway?  The cabin was well stocked with food – an empty salt shaker and some relish and ketchup!  The previous occupant had left a bit of a garden, but a few dry beans and two carrots would not last long.

Then one day a relief flight came in!  Unfortunately no food was delivered, and they ended up flying off with my lawn mower.


I guess only time will tell if we survive on meagre rations, or if I have to find out what cat food tastes like!


  1. Wow! What an experience! I'll be praying for you. Blessings, Lynn

  2. Hmmmm...perhaps your furry companion Hailey could use her feline huntress talent and catch something(?!) to add to your meagerrrrr rations!

  3. I think you have an amazing and fun Summer past time. I agree with Renee, let the kitty do the hunting.

  4. Hey Ivan!...Can you tell me why the pilot in a plane is on the left side, and the guy in charge in a chopper is on the right side?

    1. Hi David, I have tried to reply to your question twice now, and Blogger refuses to let me reply on my own blog!
      I'm not sure why smaller helicopters (and boats) are piloted from the right. But some larger helicopters - like the blue 204 taking my mower) have dual controls so they can be flown from either side. Like this one, many have a bubble window on the left side so the pilot can see better below. They will fly from the left when long-lining cargo or bucketing on a fire, but will fly from the right when carrying passengers or freight internally. 'Dual controls' is how I was able to 'fly' one of these on a recent trip!

  5. Like that colorful photo of the Helomacopter sitting on the mountain top with those nice cloud formations behind it.

  6. Thanks Ivan. When I took flight lessons in a helicopter I had dual controls. I sat on the left but the pilot was on the right. When I took lessons in a float plane the instructor sat on the right but put me Pilot's seat on the left. I was too interested in learning to fly, way back when, to ask this question.
    Enjoy the weather! It's getting down to 30* here by Hwy 97 Washington.
    Oops, I must have meant..Helimacopter.....

  7. so your not retired! ...great "retirement" job Ivan!