Tag Archives: Dad

Only the Brave – The Story of the Granite Mountain Hot Shots

The family went to see “Only the Brave – The Story of the Granite Mountain Hot Shots” last weekend. It is a great movie about a group of 19 elite firefighters who died fighting a fire in the Weaver Mountains near Yarnell, Arizona in 2013. It was a shocking loss by any measure but especially because these were guys who were trained to avoid such disasters. I mean the movie was great but it was based on a true event and to me that kind of overshadows everything.

Below is one of the eeriest videos I have ever seen. It includes some footage shot by the guys who died soon afterward.

There is a lot of commentary and articles speculating about what happened. Just google it and you can find plenty of articles with all sorts of speculation about how these guys ended up in such a terrible situation. It is all overwhelming especially since nobody knows for sure.

There is now an Arizona State Memorial for the hotshots. It is definitely on my bucket list. Check the link. It has brief profiles of each of the guys who died. It is heartbreaking, these guys were in the prime of their lives.

How much of the movie is true? A lot of apparently on the stuff that matters. The USA Today has a great article on that.

 

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One of my favorite shots of Dad.

I had a very personal interest in the movie. My father, who passed away in August, worked in the Forest Service and although he wasn’t a hot shot, or spent much time on the front lines, he fought forest fires for years. When I was a kid, during a dry summer he’d be gone almost the whole season, Idaho, Montana, California, Nevada, Arizona. We didn’t hear anything from him, and then he would show up one day covered in dirt and soot, smelly, and exhausted. Afterwards he would have to be very careful around my mother to give the impression that he didn’t like the work.

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Payson, Arizona

When I was a kid, the hotshots, the smoke jumpers, and helitack crews were hard as nails men doing back breaking labor. The hotshots rode in trucks to as close to the fire as they could and then humped across country with their equipment, food, shelter, and water on their back to the fire. The theory was that you get these guys on a fire fast to keep the fire from getting bigger. They were expected to handle anything that came up. I remember my mother talking of the hotshots as being a rough bunch.

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Payson Hotshots, playing frisbee football

So nowadays, they have a little bit of glamor to them and have really nice vehicles to ride instead of the backs of trucks that I remember but the work itself is just as hard if not harder. After a half century or more of fire extreme suppression, and perhaps global warming, the fuel to burn is more than ever and the weather conditions hotter and drier than ever and so the work may be  difficult and dangerous than their predecessors had it.

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Forest Fire in Idaho, 1960’s, photo by my father.

I have only seen a few fires and they have been from a distance and they definitely puckered me up although I was miles from them.

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Forest Fire in Idaho under control, photo by my Dad.

I can only imagine what being  next to one would be like. It is hard to figure out what my Dad went through. He tended to downplay everything to no big deal and my mom’s Irish tended to embellish things perhaps a bit much. She was part of the Forest Service wives club that was pretty close knit so she could find out about stuff that dad didn’t like to talk about. She said she heard one time he drove a truck through a fire to get a guy that had been stranded behind the lines and that the paint had got burned off the truck in process. Dad said nonsense, he got the guy sure, but there was no danger, and no paint was burned. And it wasn’t just Dad. In the small towns we lived in, the Forest Service guys were the dads who took the Boy Scouts camping and led all sorts of other things. They were community minded men, and so were their wives. It was very close knit. Whenever dad got transferred somewhere we generally knew people where we were going.

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Slurry bomber in Idaho, mid 1960’s, photo by my Dad.

So anyway, it is a great movie. I think it accurately shows how brave these guys were. And like I said, I have never been anywhere close to a fire but I think it shows accurately what being near a fire is like and how backbreaking building a fire line and clearing brush is. So as you can probably guess, I strongly recommend this movie.

Our World – Eagle Rock USA at the Museum of Idaho

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Idaho Falls, Idaho is home to the Museum of Idaho which has evolved into a first rate facility that is able to host traveling exhibits and employs a professional staff. Presently they are hosting an exhibit called Space that chronicles the past and speculates on the future of our exploration of Space.  Our family went to the museum and paid our entrance and we toured the traveling exhibit and enjoyed it very much. What we were really interested in though was in the older part of the museum where idaho history is featured and where a replica western town called “Eagle Rock USA is located.” Eagle Rock you see is the original name for Idaho Falls.

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Eagle Rock is special to us because they guy responsible for designing most of it and building much of it was my father. He and my mother retired in 1983 and moved from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Idaho Falls. I don’t know how Dad got involved in the museum but he did and I know that his volunteer gig building Eagle Rock, along with other volunteers and at times county jail trustees became his second job. I have photos somewhere, but don’t know where they are of the facility under construction.

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He not only helped design and build it he also solicited donations of period furniture and fittings for the various “businesses” featured at Eagle Rock, such as the dentist office, lawyers office, carpenter, and blacksmith and general store. Dad donated a bunch of stuff that he had. The sleeping bag above, used to be his when he worked for the Forest Service. It was very warm, with the canvas outer and everything. My brother Bob and I used it from time to time for our Boy Scout camping trips way back when.

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That’s Dad’s tag on it.

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The Rex Rooms of Idaho Falls was also where the lonely men of Idaho Falls were able to find comfort and companionship, if you know what you mean. Several people didn’t really like its inclusion in Eagle Rock USA but it stayed.

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Here is the Sheriff’s office, complete with jail. I meant to take a photo or several showing the overall setup of Eagle Rock USA but I neglected to do so. Sorry about that.

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Carpenter’s Shop

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And dentist. I’m old enough that I dentists had setups like this when I was a kid.

The museum has a nice plaque with my Dad’s name on it. So it was nice to see something that he did that survives him.

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I’m linking with Our World Tuesday

 

Dad, RIP

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My father passed away last week at 89 years of age. He was active almost right up to the end. He had a long full life and touched a lot of lives. I will never forget that twinkle in his eye.

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He was preceded by Mother who passed away thirteen years ago. They made quite a team.

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Dad always had a great sense of humor, especially with his grandkids.

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He and Mom did a great job raising their three kids.

 

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He is buried next to Mom near Mom’s birthplace in Dubois, Idaho.

His passing, funeral, and burial are of course sad affairs but it gave us a chance as a family to gather together, and get reacquainted. And that is satisfying. Here is his obituary.

RIP Dad

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”   Matthew 7:7

Happy Father’s Day Dad

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Another Father’s Day and I am blessed to still have my Father. He lives a thousand miles away but I think about him all the time. He is my personal hero. Dad is getting better at the group selfie thing.

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He grew up in the plains of South Dakota but somehow became a Forest Ranger with the US Forest Service.

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We lived in some really out of the way places. This was Coyote, New Mexico. In case you are wondering, I am the good looking kid. It has been years since my brother and I have held hands like that. It may be a few years before it happens again.

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He fought forest fires for a living.

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And suffered from the same photography frustrations as I do now. Left to right I think that is me, sister Ellen, and brother Bob.

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Dad was always student of history. We took a journey to Fort Sill, Oklahoma several years ago and found Geronimo’s grave in a very out of the way place on a very cold day in November.

#tbt Smokey Bear dot com posted this photo today on their Facebook site today. It shows me and my father in 1957 at the Pecos Ranger Station in New Mexico. My dad was the district ranger at the time. #ForestService #1950's #NewMexico

Here is a publicity still by the Forest Service with him and me and my Smokey Bear on the Santa Fe National Forest. I am still waiting for the royalty check.

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Here is Mom and Dad in Ireland back in the 80’s. They had lots of fun together.

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This is Dad with my sister Ellen, brother Bob, and me at a church reunion in Payson, Arizona.

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Dad even tried a little geocaching, here with me and sister Ellen. Mainly trying to be a good sport more than a love for the sport. He was always a good sport.

He has slowed down a little bit but is still sharp as a tack and is still living life.

Happy Father’s Day Dad, I love you.

Spring Break Trip to Idaho

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This Spring Break all three of us flew up to Idaho to visit Dad and see how he is doing. And we took a couple of selfies while we were there. Those are big broad smiles above for Dad and I.

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Our trip started out very stressful. We had a late flight out of Tulsa and then a nice connection to Denver so it was like hop, step, jump. That went away with a call from United who said that our flight from Tulsa was going to be delayed an hour so we would miss our connection and they had routed us through Dallas and Salt Lake City via American and Delta instead but we would have to hustle to the airport to get that started. So talk about a mad rush that didn’t quit. We sped to the airport and got checked into American just tin time, then flew to Dallas and changed terminals and endured some hassling from the gate crew about our carry on luggage but who led us board when they figured out that because American and Delta have severed all intercompany ties that indeed they couldn’t check a bag through to our final destination. Then to Salt Lake City where we arrived we spanned the the longest length of the airport and then into Idaho, way past our bedtime.

I don’t know about you but I hate flying. I hate the airlines, all of them. The people who work for the airlines though in general try their best to make things work for their customers.

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While in Idaho, we took Dad shopping.

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Note the teenage angst before work starts.

And we (Heather)  rearranged Dad’s apartment.

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Heather is a championship furniture re-aranger. Dad wanted to be able to see who is coming in the front door. So we’ll give this a try.

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We had a little bit of fun.  We went for a walk on the Snake River trails.  About five minutes after I snapped the photo above, son while running sprained his ankle and banged up his knee. Oh well. It was a nice five minutes.

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Our flight back was a lot more relaxing. We had a long layover in Denver but we had a leisurely dinner and enjoyed a lot of great people watching.

So that was our Spring Break. How was yours?

Skywatch Friday – The Super Moon a Day Late

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Here is my Super Moon photo!! Actually I was a day late. I flew up to Idaho to visit my Dad in his Assisted Living Center and I neglected to take my moon camera. So I took this the day after the Super Moon Full Moon so I was close. I have a Canon SX40 SuperZoom and boy does it take great (at least I think they are great, okay) moon shots. I used to use a tripod with it but now I just hold in my hands on the auto setting a let her rip (as we say in Oklahoma). And if you know me, you know I cheated. If the skies are clear I haul out the Canon every time the moon is full and take a few shots . Of course the moon being the moon it doesn’t ever change much so I could really be cheating on this. But you know that I would never do that.

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Dad and I. I think this is like his third or so ever selfie. He has a lot of catching up to do. Not that he feels the need for it. He doesn’t understand why everybody spends all their time looking at their phones.

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This is a door wreath that my sweet, crafty, and considerate sister Ellen made for Dad. If you look closely at his US Forest Service Arm patch from his uniforms, a Smokey Bear, and a University of Idaho rifle team patch from his letter sweater. Dad had to drastically downsize when he moved early this year and Ellen was able to recycle some of the items into this wreath.

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I took a run on Idaho Falls’ river trails. It was ridiculously warm while I was there but is frosty now. Just so you know I’m going to recycle this pic at some point in the future. Idaho is just so beautiful!

I stayed in a separate room at the Assisted Living Center. I think he is in a good place. The staff is very nice and very patient and they know everybody. The rooms are nice and the food is pretty decent. They have lots of activities planned and a couple of vehicles to get everybody to their doctor’s appointments and shopping and such.

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The Falls that give the town its name are very dramatic. I never get tired of going to see them.

So we had a good visit. I got him to go to an exercise class and we both had a great time. The two instructors were very nice and inclusive and very supportive and the other students were having a great time so hopefully dad will go back.

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A cool link between Idaho Falls where my Dad lives and northeast Oklahoma where I live is that Wilson Rawls, who wrote “Where the Red Fern Grows” wrote it while he lived in Idaho Falls. He and the book are celebrated with this sculpture in front of the city library.

But I didn’t take my camera so I took the pic of the moon after I got back to Tulsa.

I’m linking with Skywatch Friday

Our World – The Grand Canyon – 1960’s Edition

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These pics are some that my father took in the mid 1960’s when we went on a family vacation to the Grand Canyon, among other places. He had a nice Canon Canonette camera (which he gave to me a few years ago) and I remember him taking photos but I never remember seeing them.

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I think we went to the North Rim because it was far less crowded than the south. We were never much for crowds on vacation.

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That was probably the last time I was at the North Rim. Heather and I took a trip back when we were childless to the South Rim in the mid 1990’s and I remember it being a zoo. No parking and lots of pushing and shoving and rude behavior by our fellow tourists. It wasn’t much of wilderness experience. If we go again I’ll head back to the north rim and maybe see my favorite Park Ranger, Gaeyln. Check out her blog, it is some sort of fantastic.

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This is the Angel’s Window.  You can reach it from a short trail. The other thing about our vacations is that we never strayed very far from the parking lot. Oh well, we had a good time anyway.

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I’m thinking that this is a photo of me, my sister Ellen, and brother Bob. It is hard to get these kind of pictures exposed correctly. I kind of like it though.

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And the Grand Canyon Lodge. Back then, as now, it was booked up well in advance. We stayed in a trailer on a National Forest campground, miles and miles away at a little town called Jacob’s Lake, if my memory serves me correctly. My memory is pretty poor so I am not going to swear to it.

I’m just gotten started on scanning Dad’s pics and I’m looking forward to what else I can find.

I’m linking with Our World Tuesday.

Stranded in Winnemucca

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I’m guessing that this is the Golden Gate Bridge.

Way, way back in the middle of the 1960’s when our family was living in Price, Utah the parents took us kids and drove over to Winnemucca, Nevada and deposited us kids in the care of our Aunt Mary. The parents continued on to San Francisco to attend the wedding of my Uncle Glenn and Aunt Pat. Winnemucca was quite a place. Out in the middle of the desert but we were kids and we had a good time. I mean, we lived in a desert.

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The images are kind of washed out but left to right this is my grandmother, my aunt Delores, and my Mother. I love the scarves and the handbags, and how my grandmother has her sweater buttoned at her neck.

So when they came to pick up up it sounded like quite a party went on. Mom and Dad went to a topless place for lunch and Mom was telling about how the ladies had tassels and they could make them tassels go round and round and a few of the more skilled ladies could make their tassels go in opposite directions.

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Knowing Dad, he was probably interested in that Navy warship approaching the bridge.

So anyways ole Dad had a camera. A very nice one at that he has given to me. And back then you know film was expensive, and processing was expensive. So taking a photo was a very calculated thing. You were making an investment at the same time as you were taking a photo.

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I struck it rich with this. My folks told me that they drove the old family Buick LeSabre through the tree with the hole and that they took a picture!! Well I never saw the picture until now. My mother is driving the car and my dad my the photo. So thank you for sharing this photo with me.

So anyway these photos you are looking at have never seen the light of day until now. My sister Ellen saved a ton of dad’s slides for me when she was getting the house ready. I love scanning old slides. I love analog photos, warts and all.

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Old dad was a Forest Ranger (or maybe it is like the Marines) and he loved taking pictures of forests and trees.

I love looking at old photographs. It is like buried treasure for me.

And by the way, my uncle Glenn and aunt Pat are still married and doing fine.

Dad Gets a New Home

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I have been flying lately up to and back from Idaho Falls, Idaho where my Dad lives.

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I’ve been going through the Denver Airport, which is huge and has limitless opportunity for people watching.

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It also has the best airport pub in the country, The New Belgium Hub. It was pretty empty last time I was there.

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The Idaho Falls Airport is kind of small by comparison. 

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My dad called my sister and said that he was ready to change his living arrangements. We all went up in early July and looked around and found him a place.  My sister and her husband took over from there and got him moved and his house ready to sell. So he has moved from his house of over thirty three years with the beautiful shady back yard to a very nice place in the same town where people are checking on him and life is quite a bit easier. 

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And he is doing very well. And still has a shady place to sit.

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Thanks to my sister Ellen and world’s greatest brother-in-law, Irv. (Shown here with their grandson Mr. Beans)

Happy Father’s Day

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Dad likes nothing better than sitting in the shade talking.

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Dad, Mom, and my aunt Lois somewhere in Ireland I’m guessing.

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Here we are in Coyote, New Mexico. I had to label everything because when I said that I was the good looking kid people were still confused.

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With son Logan at Dad’s church in Idaho.

#tbt Smokey Bear dot com posted this photo today on their Facebook site today. It shows me and my father in 1957 at the Pecos Ranger Station in New Mexico. My dad was the district ranger at the time. #ForestService #1950's #NewMexico

Forest Service publicity still in 1957. I am still waiting for my royalty checks.

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Dad at his beloved Flandreau, South Dakota with my cousin Bob on his right, and Dad’s brother Glenn on his left.

Dad with Baby

Dad with one of us kids. I am not sure which kid. Not a very good son am I.

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Here we are, my sister Ellen and brother Bob in Payson, Arizona.

Happy Father’s Day to all you Fathers out there!!