Saturday, July 24, 2004


I live in Utah. Utah is 99% Mormons.  Ok, I don't know if that figure is absolutely correct, but it is pretty good guess.  In 2001, I did a paper for an internet class and had to do the demographics.  I found that there were about 20% other races in the state.  However, I did not find that all unbelievable. 

There is a guy on Jeopardy right now (well I haven't checked in a while, but I am sure Ken is still there).  He has won like 35 days in a row and is up to 1.1 million dollars.  He is an active member of his church.  Which means they are looking to bank about 110,000 dollars at the moment because rumor has it that 10% of earnings go to the church.  Could be more as I write this.

Want to read a great book about the Mormon history and the Fundamentalist Mormons (polygamist sector)...Under the Banner of Heaven.  It will make you say huh, wow, and I can't believe that.  And I am sure there are others one out there just as good, but that was an interest to me. 

Mormonism is the fastest growing religion out there.  Crazy to think that, but then again they give their youth the opportunity to travel to far away places and convert people.  Which they don't do too often.  They are allowed one suitcase and minimal clothing.  I think that is crazy.  But I give it to them to give their youth the opportunity to see other places without having to join the military. 

I have this thing that I call the Mormon airbag.  And I have heard other law enforcement individuals refer to it as that.  Lets say you have a family of 11, which includes ma and pa.  You own a suburban that seats 7 people, which means there are 7 seat belts.  I am going off 2 in the front, 3 in the next seat, and 2 in the back seat.  So that leaves 4 individuals you have that are without a seat belt.  State law requires:

(1)  The driver of a motor vehicle operated on a highway shall:      
(a)  wear a properly adjusted and fastened safety belt
(b)  provide for the protection of each person younger than five years of age by using a child restraint device to restrain each person in the manner prescribed by the manufacturer of the device; and      
(c)  provide for the protection of each person five years of age up to 16 years of age by using an appropriate child restraint device to restrain each person in the manner prescribed by the manufacturer of the device or by securing, or causing to be secured, a properly adjusted and fastened safety belt on each person.

Plain and simple.  However, to every law there are exceptions...but first let me give you a definition.  "Seating position" means any area within the passenger compartment of a motor vehicle in which the manufacturer has installed a safety belt.
(2)  This article does not apply to a passenger if all seating positions are occupied by other passengers.

Now there are other exceptions as well, but this is the one I am looking at.  And just for giggles I checked the Wisconsin State Seat Belt Law and it is not the same, but they seem to have some craziness in their law as well.  But what can you expect from a bunch of Cheeseheads. 

So you strap in the 7 individuals.  Some say that a suburban holds 9, but nonetheless there are some individuals without seat belts.  And this is where the Mormon airbag comes into effect.  Ma takes a child and places the child on her lap.  Sometimes this child in retrained with ma and other times not.  The other children not belted in are wherever they want to be in the vehicle.  Standing between the seats, jumping over the seats, pestering their siblings. 

So then the accident happens and...well I don't need to explain what usually happens. 

In no way am I slamming the Mormons for this because the individual I pulled over today was from California.  But since it is a common thing to see in Utah, I call it the Mormon airbag.  As soon as the vehicle passed I saw the child sitting there.  My initial thought was -- our speed is no more than 45, they weren't speeding, Jr. just wants a better view.  The second thought was -- if they were to get in an accident and Jr. got injured, I would feel absolutely responsible. 

There were three jeeps traveling together.  The one in question was in the middle.  I pulled in between the two and hit my lights.  I noticed him immediately get on a radio and talk to one of the other ones.  There was finally a place to pull over and the first two jeeps pulled over.  I was waiting for the 3rd to pull in behind me, but the first jeep understood something about law enforcement and waved him up ahead.  I walked up to the vehicle and saw one of the cutest little beings sitting on mommie's lap and strapped in.  I said he has to be in the child seat.  It isn't that I don't trust your driving, but I don't trust the other drivers on the road and I would feel terrible if something happen.  They knew as soon as I walked up to them why I was coming.  And without any argument put Jr. in the car seat. 

I bit my tongue in telling them about the Mormon airbag.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Summer Ears

I felt it last week.  The itching starts first and then the build up.  Actually, I can't describe the feeling.  And you wouldn't understand any way unless you have had ear problems.  Mine started back when I was like 3, 4, or 5.  I think somewhere in there I burst an ear drum.  But the real pain and problems started after my brothers and sisters persuaded me to dunk my head under water.  I lived in the hottest place in the nation most summers so you lived in a pool or lake.  Each summer, I made the routine visit to the doctor's office for the ear drops and the plunging of whatever had harvested in there.  Those visits still continue today even though I have yet to have my head under the water yet this summer.  I think my ears just realize it is summer and react. 

So about a week ago it started.  I thought it was just wax build up so I went to the market and bought wax removal.  Directions said to put 3-5 drops in so I did.  SNAP, CRACKLE, POP.  My eyes start watering and I can hear it working.  I closed my eyes and fell asleep.  I expected to wake up with a candle wax (like on Shrek) on the pillow, but nothing.  The next day I feel something move in my ear and there some of it is.  Am I grossing you out yet?  Later in the week, the ear continued to bother me so I administered more.  It did its bubbling, but then it did nothing more but seem to clog my ear.  I finally decided it was time for the syringe and hot water at the doctor's office.  I don't have a doctor here, but I was able to walk into a doctor's office and get an appointment immediately.  Not only that, but I was out of there within 20 minutes.  Quite amazing if you think about it.

I admitted to the doctor that I had used a Q-tip that morning on my left ear.  Had got quite a bit out, but it wasn't the left that was bothering me.  Of course now that she looked and touched it, it is bothering me.  My right had a little wax, but had some redness and she didn't like that.  So they flushed it.  If you have never had this done, you would cringe the first time.  Your eyes will water more than anything before.  And you feel like they are filling your head with water via your ear.  If you are a chronic ear problem person, it is the greatest feeling in the world.  I smiled the whole time and the assistance was quite surprised I wasn't cringing.  When I told someone at work about it they cringed.  People without ear problems don't understand. 

And neither do pharmacists.  I have to put 1-2 drops every four hours in my affected ear for 7 days.  Hello, like I am going to walk around my job with cotton balls in my ear.  How the heck am I supposed to do it every four hours.  I don't know where or what I am going to be doing from minute to minute.  Crazy.

But my ear infection helped some people out today.  It was bothering me and I wasn't in the best mood to deal with people.  If you never have had an ear infection, you wouldn't understand.  The first lady I pulled over started crying.  Women, yes women because men don't cry when they get pulled over, don't cry.  It doesn't always help.  The ear infection helped this lady.  Not the crying.  After finally getting her to pull over this is how it went...

Me:  Reason you were doing ##?
Her: No.  I was trying to get to the VC before it closed.
Me: Looking at watch (which said 630, VC closes at 630) Well doesn't seem like you are going to make it.  License, registration, insurance.
Her: Digging through an unorganized wallet for too long in my book Starts sobbing. 
Me: Laughing uncontrollably inside Stay right here.  Walk back to vehicle Did you find any of it yet.
Her: Still sobbing and getting worse No, can I call my mom.
Me: Thinking, lady you are over 40 years old GROW UP.  No just stay right here.  Ponder and let her panic some more.  Walk back to vehicle.  I am just going to give you a warning and slow down.

Later that evening I was driving and talking on the telephone when these lights entered my lane and the radar said 62 MPH.  I immediately hit my lights and stopped three motorcycles dead in their tracks. 

Me: To the first one How fast do you think you were doing?
German: Ah, I don't speak English.
Me: Of course you don't because that normally gets you out of a ticket. Ear flares up.
2nd German: I speak English.
Me:  How fast you think you were doing?
2nd: Um, 45, 35, what is the speed?
Me: Pointing to the radar, to the 62.  That's what I have you at.
2nd: Oh no, that must be kilometers.  My bike is German.
Me: Have a nice night and slow down.

I couldn't go any further with them.  I was laughing inside too hard.  Like the radar deciphers between Miles Per Hour and Kilometers Per Hour.  I have to give it to him for cleverness. 

Off to deal with my ears.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Morning awakens to construction

I hear the voices before I even open my eyes.  It is as if they are inside my bedroom.  I do not need to look at the clock to know it is approximately 645am.  The voices belong to Jake and Joe (obviously not their real names because I do not even know the men).  But I feel like I should because I hear them inside my bedroom many of mornings.  The conversation goes something like this:
Jake:  Hey Joe, going into town do you need me to pick up anything.
Joe:    Yea, how about a cup of coffee and a donut.
Jake: Sure thing.  Does Jim Bob want any thing?
There are probably 50 men and women that work on the road construction on the major highway that runs in front of my house and all their radios are on the outside of their rigs.  Now, Jake does not ask all of them but it sure seems like it at 645am.  I am not a morning person.  Sometimes I want to walk out to the vehicle, turn on my PA system, and ask Jake to pick me up some OJ and a crossiant and while you are at it can you pick up my mail and some groceries for dinner tonight.  However, I usually roll over and fall back to sleep.
Shortly thereafter the pounding starts in my head.  Now if it is my day off that pounding will continue the entire day until about 6pm.  It is amazing to me how quiet this place gets except for the occasional semi using engine brakes after the men and women of road construction leave. 
That constant pounding is 2-3 jackhammer tractors destroying the hill across the road to widen the highway to 4 lanes.  Just when I feel it has been pounded into nothing they continue to pound away.  How in the hell can they sit there for about 10 hours a day and just pound away.  Do you think they go home with headaches?  Hell, I am with a headache all day until they leave and it quickly vanishes. 
One time we were in the grocery store and BF was still in uniform.  One of the guys from the construction said you would probably know this and asked BF a question.  I said do you work for the road construction on the highway.  He said yes.  I said well you will probably know this---is there a reason you have to have your radios on the outside of your vehicles so that it wakes my ass up at 645am when Jake asks Joe if he needs coffee.  All he could really say is 'well that isn't me'.  Thanks that helped. 
What gets me is when you drive by this construction and see about 10 guys standing around a truck.  What the hell is their job and how much do they get paid?  Because that seems like a good gig. Stand around all day and get paid.  Uh.  Then we have the stop/slow sign holders.  We had these two guys out front the area for months on end.  They were great.  They waved at people, smiled at you, and when stopping you had conversations with you.  Now we have the Nazi patrol out there.  They don't smile, wave, and think they have the authority of a president.  They give you the wave down slow down.  Sometimes I want to roll down the window and say 'The speed limit is 40 and that is exactly what I was doing so what the frick are you waving at me for'.  Lady, I have lived with this construction for a year and I know the speed limit quite well.  Get over it if I look like I am doing 60 because larger vehicles sometimes look like they are going faster.  But instead I just smile and wave.  Oh and when you are waiting in line because they have traffic stopped they will not look at you because they are afraid you are going to blow up at them.  Let talk about a boring ass job. 
And coworkers and friends can't understand why I sleep at my BF's every night.  Shit, I hope my father doesn't read this. 

Sunday, July 18, 2004

One Tough 14-year-old

BF left on Saturday at a great time of 4am.  I have reached the point in my relationship where I don't have to get up with him anymore to say good-bye.  He is out on another fire.  Most likely away for two weeks.  No cell service, camping out, etc.  No contact with me.  I have come to accept that this time.  Last time I wasn't doing very well with it.  Live and learn.  So with him gone I decided to totally veg out and catch up on sleep from those 3 hours I had between Friday and Saturday.  I drove into town, bought 3 crossiants and two newspapers and came home and climbed back into bed.  9AM. 
The funnies read I was scanning the local paper for a housekeeper.  You think I am joking, however; I am not.  I was raised a privileged child and have never gotten over it.  Anyway, next to my bed sat a telephone, a cell phone, and a pager.  BEEP BEEP BEEP, but it is more of like a BRRREEP so it sounds like a phone.  I have to get my mind into the realm and decide which techological advancement is going off in my house.  And then the dispatcher's voice rings out.  226 contact 224 via radio for a medical at Windows.  Well, the CF was about to begin...
I quickly dressed, threw on a pair of shoes, and a work hat.  Why didn't I grab a radio and call 224?  Because last week 224 dropped his radio in the river and had mine with him.  I opened the door to the world and realized there wasn't a work truck in front of my house as normally.  I raced down the road toward the big Dodge.  We would need the truck for the litter, wheel, and cooler.  I jump into the Dodge, flick on the radio, and key the mike to call 224.  KEY FAIL.  I try again.  KEY FAIL.  I threw the mike across the cab of the truck.  (Something I do quite frequently with my VERIZON cell phone as well).  I got down to the cache.   Loaded the litter, wheel, and filled cooler into the bed of the truck.  I was still trying to reach him on the radio.  I was getting nothing. 
I jumped into the vehicle and headed up the road to make sure traffic was being dealt with for the ambulance arriving.  They have to go through an entrance station and so traffic needs to be stopped so they can use the outbound lane.  It looked like it was taken care of.  I stopped at the first residence, said we have a medical, and need people.  A former employee was visiting with his friend and they said they would help.  I again tried to reach 224.  Nothing.  526 has contacted me and said they were en route.  I keyed the mike to respond and once again KEY FAIL.  I pulled onto the main road and let the lights shine.  Naes would be in charge of hitting the siren when we were near vehicles or in a congested area.  I was still trying to reach people on the radio with no luck.  We had at least 6 people rolling towards the scene to carry the litter. 
Here is what kills me in these times of emergencies.  We were 5 minutes behind an ambulance running lights and sirens.  Do the people not realize that possibly there will be more emergency vehicles coming up.  We were pulling up behind three vehicles.  I noticed the first in the string was slowing down and going to turn left.  I told Naes to hit the siren.  The vehicle in front of us pulled over, the first vehicle had already made the left turn, and the vehicle in the middle of them stops half in the left and right lane.  How I missed them I am not sure.  Pay attention people. 
We pulled up at the Windows and are immediately met by the 14-year-old's mother.  She wants to vent with us.  She says "I TOLD HIM NOT TO DO IT".  Great.  I need to get this litter up the trail is what I wanted to say.  The ambulance crew yells at us that they have a backboard and just need our littler.  Naes and friend with the litter and I start up the trail.  We take a shortcut and meet up with the ambulance crew which has about 900 pounds of gear on the backboard.  I assist them with the backboard. 
We get to the patient.  He is 14-year-old like I said.  He is laying head down on the rock with his right leg obviously deformed and there blood on our rocks.  And all he is saying is please give me an IV.  The ambulance crew prepares to splint his leg, but first have to straighten it out.  I am at John's (not his real name of course) head.  I have his right hand and I tell him he can squeeze as hard as he needs to and he does.  We keep telling him what is going to happen and tell him to take a deep breath.  If he needs to scream, scream.  He says "mother" and bit his tongue.  I said if you need to cuss let loose.  You don't hold things back in situations like this.  He starts screaming.  His mother is up above us with another ranger.  We get it straightened out and into the splint.  And he calmly says "you guys made it seem much worse, that wasn't that bad".  We all laughed.  We love when our patients make us laugh.  Makes it easier for us.  He keeps asking for that IV.  His little brother runs up to where mom stands and says 'guess what they just did', but mom will hear nothing of it. 
Dad tells me that mom told him that he shouldn't let John crawl up there.  And again that mom told John not to crawl up there.  He said he would be hearing about it for quite some time.  This was his first vacation in five years.  This was day one.  Oops.  They ask if there is an orthopedic surgeon in town.  We all kind of laugh.  This is a place where broken bones are a daily occurrence.  This fracture is probably minor compared to others.
We get John onto the backboard and Tattoo J gets the IV going.  John keeps saying that nothing is happening.  We assure him that it is working.  We load him on the litter and head down the trail.  We get him to the ambulance and get him on his way.  John's dad opts to ride in the ambulance with John.  I think primarily to delay the yelling of his wife. 
I returned to the cache after the debriefing, put together the litter gear, and went home and climbed back into bed.  It was 1230pm when I laid down my head.  I awoke at 345pm.  What will tomorrow's day off bring?

Friday, July 16, 2004

Tax Monster

Is there a tax bracket where your paycheck isn't eaten away from the deductions taken out?  Remember that fire I went on?  Well, I had like 54 hours of overtime during that fire.  We worked 15 hour days.  Come Saturday, when our pay period ended, I already had 80+ hours.  So I figured and knew my paycheck was going to be loaded.  And guess what?  Compared to my other paychecks, this one is going to be. 
The Federal government, the biggest paper waster I know, is trying to cut down by not sending out paystub any more.  Heck, you can barely get a normal paycheck--it is direct deposited which I don't mind really.  Anyway, you have to go online and pick up your paycheck and then print it out if you want a hardcopy.  So I decided to start printing them from the office so technically they are still paying for the paper.  Anyway, the initial page you get to shows how much your paycheck is going to be.  I am one of those lowly paid GS-5s so I don't make that much really so when the pay check is bigger I get excited.  And then I opened the hardcopy.
My gross was over $2500 for the two-week pay period.  The final amount I will be receiving is just over $1500.  And the deductions that were taken out were just over $1100.  Now, granted some of those deductions are things like an apartment I never live in, thrift saving program that I can't get the money from unless an act of congress, and medical.  But nonetheless those deductions just made my heart drop. 
But I can't complain too much because it is the money for Costa Rica, a new camera, and play money at REI (a conspiracy store).  But still the deductions just blew me away.  I am so glad I have a job where I pay a third of my salary. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Elephant Butte Posted by Hello

Me Posted by Hello

Little Gothic Posted by Hello

Tuesday's Adventure

I had the day off (Tuesday) so I primarily sat in front of this computer and looked at things. I accomplished pretty much nothing. The plan was to meet BF in the area after he got off work, have dinner, and then hike. Surprisingly, every thing went according to plan. I left the city for the area at 1515 hours and headed towards the area. There has been road construction constantly in the area for over a year. I sat in that construction for 30-35 minutes and I couldn't tell you what the hell they were doing. Luckily I had a book with me (Angels and Demons prequel to The Da Vinci Code). I arrived at my house, gathered my gear including two lengths of rope, headlamp, and radio, and laid down to continue to reading. I had prepared a wonderful meal of pork chops (we forgot the applesauce) and fruit salad. BF and I were meeting Flapper and G-Baby at the BR picnic area. Then BF and I were going hiking. Boy was it hot yesterday. We finished dinner and started hiking up the wash. Goal: To get up that slope to Little Gothic. Goal: Successful.

We arrived at the ledge where two logs were leaned up against the bottom. There were also two drill marks there indicating that someone had been up this before. BF free climbed up the ledge and found a stake up top. I tied our packs with one of the pieces of rope and he hauled them up. Then I tied the rope around myself and started my climb. I like to put him in danger first and then use him as my safety anchor. We checked out this side canyon first in the hopes that there was an arch there, however; disappointment set in when there wasn't.

And then we headed towards Little Gothic. It was up another canyon. And we had to walk along this incline to get to it. I made a mistake right away as we were walking across...I looked down. And then I went into panic mode. I felt like my feet where slipping the whole time. Finally I had to stop and Zen regroup before going on. We got to the canyon edge and were going to have to walk along another steep area. I started to go and then went back into panic mode. I felt like I was slipping and of course BF is 'barking' out commands to me. He is like spider man across the slick rock. I on the other hand am wimpy, wimpy wimp across steep areas. And as I have said before I can go across right, but going left is a whole other story.

And guess which was we would be going when we returned. LEFT. I tried to Zen up, but that didn't help. I tried not to look down, but that didn't help either. Once I reached a flat part I almost took off running to get to a safe zone. But then the steepness just returned again.

We got to the point of our initial climb and he was preparing to jump. I said do you think that is a good idea how your knees have been hurting. So he hooked the webbing and ropes together, lowered the packs, and he rappelled down. I followed suit. Well, kind of. He made me hesitate so he could take some photographs. Then I made it to the bottom. And we had to all figured out how we were just going to pull the rope and it would come easily. Of course Murphy's Law was with us as usual. He pulled and tugged and snapped the ropes. We snapped the ropes together, but to no avail did we succeed in getting down the rope. So I had to climb back up there to unhook the knot from the stake and then rappel back down. I offered my services because he could catch me a lot better than I could catch him.

The sun had set a long time ago and so unlike us we decided to would have to come back and explore more another day. We hit the road just before complete blackness encompassed the sky. And as he said when we got to the vehicle---that was so much better than sitting at home. For once I agreed with a male.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Weight judgers

I spent most of the day sitting at a popular trailhead conducting surveys. It was hot, but I had my book and umbrella and some water to drink. I needed 100 surveys, but traffic was light and I only got about 20 if that.

A motorcycle pulls up and asks me if I was going to be there a while. I said most of the day unless I have an emergency and have to leave. He wanted me to watch his gear while he hiked the 3 mile trail. He decided to take his gear. But his motorcycle was quite an attraction most of the day because it was a diesel, German 325 CC old style one. It was pretty cool.

Ah, a big group of individuals. This should add some surveys to the list. I finished with the 4 adults when one of them said "there is this lady up the trail laying under a tree with her shoes and socks off. She weighs about 300-400 pounds and doesn't look too good". We have only one tree that will provide shade on this trail. I said thank you. I packed up my stuff, grabbed my medic pack, and radioed Opie. I told him we had a possible woman in distress on the trail, 10-300, and I was heading up. I would let him know when I arrived there.

I had about a half filled Nalgene bottle of water. Luckily for me and later for us the trail crew was working today and had two water containers along the trail. I am sure that every visitor passing took water from it as we did. I filled up my water bottle upon passing it and was with the patient within 15 minutes. She wasn't close to 300-400 pounds. She was more like 230, 239 to be exact. I give her credit for doing the hike because it is a brutal one.

The first thing I asked was if she was going to be able to get down on her own accord. She said yes, her husband and just went down to get more water. Those were probably the individuals who attempted to talk to me while I was in a mad dash to the patient. They only walked to the water jugs and then returned. I said I was going to give her some water and set my Nalgene bottle down to pull out the water bottles in my pack. She was already downing my bottle when I looked up. That concerned me because it said to me 'desperation'. I told her to drink it slowly because otherwise she would just throw it back up. I took her vitals and continued to monitor her. She said she had to get up because she had something else wrong with her that made her joints stiffen. She was trying to get up by pulling on this tree. Her grandson, who probably weighed about 40 pounds, said here grandma you can use me. Luckily she didn't because she would have pulled him over probably causing another injury.

She was finally ready to move so we started going stopping once more to fill up her grandson's water bottle at the water jugs. Within 10 minutes she had to stop again in the shade. I noticed her breathing had started to get kind of labored. She rested some and then was prepared to get going again. We finally arrived at the vehicle about 30 minutes after departing the tree. I made her sign a refusal of medical responsibility just to cover me.

But the moral of the story here is MEN DON'T TRY TO GAUGE WEIGHT!!!!

Friday, July 09, 2004

My Weekend

My sister and brother-in-law (BIL) have a place in a Colorado town close to where I live. About 3 hours if you drive the normal speed limit. I realized you can make the drive in 2.30 if you drive a little above the speed limit, but that was only because I had 4 loads of laundry to do. Anyway, I headed over there on Monday after work. On the drive over there, I stopped at a Wal-Mart. I was walking blindly around the store when I heard an explosion. I almost fell to the ground thinking this is what Tom Ridge had been talking about, but then I realized they were celebrating the 4th on the 5th and that was the fireworks from the city park. As I drove out of that town and over the mountain, I could see the sunset in the background. The colors were the brightness and orangeness that made the sky look like it was on fire. And I let that smile spread across my face because this was going to be a good weekend. I arrived late, chatted with my sister about life, and headed to bed.

The morning arrived and my sister had a mountain bike ride scheduled for us. JJ (her husband) decided he would be our shuttle driver instead of riding. He was a smart man is all I can say. I haven't rode my bike seriously in a long time so she decided a nice 20 mile ride would break me back into rhythm. RIGHT! So JJ dropped LJ and myself off at the trailhead and said he would meet us at the end. I was told this trail was mostly downhill and mostly singletrack. In my opinion only one of those instances was correct. So we started riding down the trail. I saw the backpack before I actually saw the man. He pulled his pack out of the way and turned around which yielded a beautifully, shiny axe. I am talking a 4 foot handle axe. I immediately clipped out of my pedals and the only thought I had was he is going to cut off my head, but at least it will hopefully be quick. My sister had the same damn thought. I said hello and he said something like "UGH". Here is the kicker...there wasn't a tree within 2 miles for him to cut down. The only positive thing was that there wasn't no blood on the beautifully, shiny blade. We pedaled a little quicker once we were by him. My sister kept saying there was a little more uphill around the corner. I gave up believing her after about the 4th time of her saying that. 4 hours later after one more uphill, we finally emerged onto a dirt road which she said was all downhill to the pickup point. It was downhill, but the washboards were a killer. Thank goodness JJ picked us up on the road because I did not think I could handle the washboards tearing my arms apart any longer. I took a long nap upon arriving at the house.

Now my sister is one who has something planned daily and can't really sit still for too long. Wednesday morning she woke up early and then made noise enough to wake up me. I was laying in bed and heard some rustling in the leaves outside my window. I thought "great, I am going to see a deer right here". But then it was just her pouring coffee grinds on the plants. Starbucks told her it was good for them. Of course at 7am, I didn't think it was that great. I finally raised out of bed, gave her crap about making noise and grabbed the binos to watch the birds and chipmunks. JJ finally woke up and joined us on the porch to finish his book. We were watching Pygmy Nuthatches, White-Breasted Nuthatches, and hummingbirds. Then I saw a lizard on the rock and it looked like a collared lizard. I said pulling the binos to my eyes 'look a lizard, I think it is a collared"...flutter, of those pygmies landed on my hand and binos. I immediately jumped up. I said 'what was it". Through laughter LJ said "it was a pygmy, but I am not certain because you moved so quickly". HELLO. I hate birds!!!! I had it happen one more time before I decided I would watch the damn birds through the windows in safety.

And then we made the decision for a hike. Up through the trees over the rough road we climbed. I had vowed after the fire to never drive a 4x4 road again, but there wasn't any getting out of this one. We would be doing a 9.6 mile hike. Hell, I had swamp ass from sitting on a bike for 4 hours and 20 miles yesterday and my body was not ready for 9.6 miles. We birded for a little while which makes a 9.6 mile hike turn into a 10 hour hike. We got up to this draw and JJ said what do you want to do? I said SIT DOWN. I was hurting, tired, and starting to stumble around because I needed food. We sat down and had a little snack. I said "if you two want to do the rest of the hike, be my guest, but I am going back to the vehicle". They decided since they had a 60 mile road bike ride the following day, they would go back to the vehicle as well. So we returned to the vehicle via the same trail, however; since I was tired and weak, it felt like a longer trail.

We arrived back at the cabin and had a nice dinner. Then LJ and I played a game of cribbage before I headed out of the state and back to Utah. I made really good time for some reason and really didn't feel like I drove any faster. I saw two deer on the side of the road. Their velvet on their antlers was glistening in the evening sunlight. And like the sunset that lit the sky on fire, the deer put that smile across my face.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

A Blue Domer

"Occasionally, acquaintances ask about my religious affiliation. I am a Blue Domer I tell them. Some simply shrug, dismissing this as clever wordplay or a fondness for metaphor. But it is true. The prodigious desert sky forms the vault under which I worship. Unexpectedly, birdsong rises from the land. It blends with the jubilations of crickets, the soaring and dipping phrases of coyotes, the rustling cottonwoods-in a polyphony that praises creation. On a blistering summer day, the shade of an overhand promises salvation. Eternity stares from the beady eyes of a lizard; the incense of cedar and sage soothes my lungs. Alcoves hide plunge pools of transforming power, rimmed by smooth rock like Romanic baptismal fonts. With the luminescence of stained-glass windows, evening inflames cliff bands and willow thickets. It alights on water gathered in potholes. The cathedrals and temples of sandstone and shale that are my destinations were already crumbling when believers still slept as unformed clay."
Where the Rain Children Sleep
By: Michael Engelhard

As I read this page out of Michael's book, I knew he was speaking directly to me. This is my religion. I might not call myself a Blue Domer, but this is exactly how I view my religion.

Also, if you want to read some great words about the Colorado Plateau check out that book. It is sold at if not at your local major bookstore.

Friday, July 02, 2004

My profile photo Posted by Hello

The weather pouring in Posted by Hello

The Long Drive

According some government document, we are only allowed to drive for 10 hours, but work a 15 hour day. In the last four days, I have worked 67 hours. We work 15 hour days. 15 hours of sitting on my ass. 15 hours a day without a coke. 4 days without a coke. I awoke this morning at the usual hour of 530 because that is when every one else wakes and there is no point sleeping. I started the DMOB process and then at approximately 730am, I headed out of camp on the dirt road and into civilization. My first stop was the car wash where I unloaded the entire truck on their sidewalk. And when I left I gave them a case of gatorade and some water. Second stop was Wal-Mart.

I had 5 things on my list. Things to replenish my fire pack. Most importantly on the list was the lotion. Your hands become so dry during the fire. And I couldn't find any lotion while I was there. I walked out of Wal-Mart with just under $100 of junk that I probably didn't need. How does that happen?

My third stop was going to be Starbucks, but they didn't have one. I hit the Interstate and called BF. He was just pulling into Starbucks. I told him he sucked. I drove up the Interstate and when I gassed up I finally purchased that coke. It was 1030am so I was allowed to get one. That is my rule. I headed up through the mountain road to say hello to some people I went to EMT school with. The drive was unbelievable. Through the forest I traveled. The cliffs rising overhead were spectacular. I stopped and said hello to my friends and asked which was I should go. Scenic that way, shorter that way. I went scenic.

The state Utah is so damn diverse. On the drive over, I went through three different climate regions and on the way back, I swear I went through more than that. There was the forest which then opened up to the lava beds which then opened up to the plains and so on. It is crazy. I was sick of being in the vehicle though because that was all I did on the fire was sit on my ass. So I was making quite a bit of stops and snapping photos.

I came back to the Interstate from the backroads and saw a sign for a state park 5 miles in the opposite direction. Ah, what the hell. I have 15 hours to burn and I am only up to about 8. So I drove down the road and wondered what was at all the point of interest signs, but refused to stop and get out of the vehicle. I stopped at the visitor center to inquire about hikes that I might partake in the future. The 900 year old woman was attempting to talk to me through fits of coughing. And she wasn't that helpful anyway. But the coughing was scaring me so I decided this park wasn't for me. And once again I headed down the road. I passed a highway patrol officer who had this pickup truck pulled over with something in the back piled about 3-4 feet up in the bed of the truck. The officer had to be laughing his ass off when he pulled this one over because holding down whatever was in that bed was duct tape. I am talking about a mound a duct tape that was taped to the vehicle. I was laughing so hard. I mean it had to be like 20 rolls worth. I didn't have a chance to catch the plate to see where the redneck was from.

I made phone calls when the Verizon man visited the area even though I still think he has never been to Utah. I listened to the Xm comedy station and sang along with the other music stations. I did the speed limit, but frequently thought of throwing on the lights and rolling back home quicker. And then I got a craving of French fries, strawberry shake, and a coke. The coke was an afterthought. I pulled into McD's drive thru. Med. fries, strawberry shake, and a coke. "Sorry our shake machine is out right now". Ok. She was actually very apologetic when I paid for the other items. I drove across the street to Burger King. Strawberry shake. "Sorry our shake machine is out right now". WHAT! Are all the shake machines out in the city? This was a conspiracy. How can that possibly be. I drove away thinking if I see another place will I stop. I didn't see another one though. I drove on and on and on.

I stopped twice more to snap some photos (located on More Photos on sidebar-Square Fire at More Photos link). I made one more phone call in a zone I knew worked, but was short lived. I knew that too because it was where I slapped my phone on the steering wheel two weeks prior because I had lost signal. And then I finally made it into town and to my house. I immediately started laundry because it stunk, did some little chores, and then headed to Banditos for dinner. I love going on trips, but hate coming back because there is so much to do.

And for the first time in a year, tomorrow I will be strapping the heat on my hip and getting on with my career. Be safe out there.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

The world of fire

Well I survived. Mostly because I did not go on the line and fight the actual fire. I was sent down to be an EMT on the line and would only be going into the black if there was a medical problem. I have been on small fires before, but nothing to this extent. And I have been on a fire detail where the guys would get fire woodies when they saw smoke. I did not understand it then and I don't understand it now. I don't understand why people get excited about rushing out to a fire where it is like 900 million degrees and trying to put it out. Fire is a lot of waiting. You rush out there and you wait. Just a lot of waiting. But anyway, I said I would go on the fire because my boss likes fire. I drove 7.5 hours to the fire. And I drove to the fire during the night and I guess I could see a little why the boys get fire woodies because it was pretty cool seeing the fire off in the distance. I arrived in camp at 1030pm on Sunday evening.

It was dark and didn't do much but pee and climb into the Dodge to sleep. The next morning I woke up to an entire fire camp. It was crazy. There were showers, catering, supplies, information center, medical tent, etc, etc. It is crazy. I checked in with the medical unit and was told I would be sent out on the line just in case. No problem. And what did I do out there? I sat there, sweating, reading, checking voicemail, reading, drinking, talking to others, etc. Can I say I was bored out of my mind!!! The next day I did the same but went to another part of the fire. Tuesday, I had a partner with me so I had someone to talk to more. I could also do some sleeping. I listened to the XM radio. As I flipped through the channels of the XM, Glen finally said I bet you are really fun to watch television with. I said actually BF can't stand watching TV with me. Oh well. Wednesday, we did the same thing. And today, Thursday, we did the same thing. I did more sleeping today though. We did not have one incident out on the line which is a good thing. There were a few dehydration cases, but they hauled their asses out on their own. Our mission out there was actually pointless because all of the Hotshot teams had EMTs and medics with them. But I can't complain for getting paid good money to read, sleep, pee, drink, read, sleep, pee, drink, and on and on.

I head back to the other side of Utah tomorrow taking my sweet time. Getting in the most of my hours. Glad to be sleeping in my own bed where the dust isn't flying all day and the world doesn't smell like a campfire.

Hope everyone has a safe and great Fourth of July. Be care with those fireworks...last year they started 24,000 fires and more than 8000 people were injured.