During my blogging break, we decided that a trip to the high mountains would help us to heal despite my terror of the emotions associated with K not being with us in our favorite places.
Early on the day that we departed for the high mountains, I headed out for a spin on my mountain bike to loosen up my back before the car ride. I planned a quick and relaxed bike ride.
The ride did not end up being relaxed. As I pedaled up to the apex of a high ridge, I gasped. A plume of smoke was rising from the south side of the ridge and blowing across the trail in front of me.
The operator wanted an estimate of the size of the area that was burning. As you can tell from my photo, it wasn't easy to see because the ridge fell off so steeply. So, as I talked with the operator, I hiked down toward the source of the smoke. I could see that multiple patches were burning as the fire skipped its way up the hillside but I still couldn't see the main source. I walked further downhill, and the operator abruptly informed me that he could hear the fire crackling. He seemed to panic - and told me, rapid-fire - to hang up the phone and run.
So, I hung up and pedaled away from the fire. Then, I called my friend who has a scanner and asked her to monitor whether the fire crews understood the fire's location. She soon called back to say that the crews were going to the wrong place - a site a few miles away. So, I called 9-1-1 again, and I told them that I'd meet the fire crews down on a road at the base of the ridge to show them where the fire was.
I pointed my bike down the hillside and rumbled straight downhill, taking the shortest route even though I was riding through private property. I arrived down on the road and intercepted a fire truck. As I explained where the fire was, my cell phone rang, with dispatch calling me again for directions to the fire. The embarrassing part was that I'd stashed my cell phone in my bra because it was ringing so often that I needed easy access to it. The firefighter and I had a chuckle as I reached down my jersey to silence my ringing jog-bra.
In the end, about 20 fire trucks and at least one helicopter arrived on the scene. They stopped the fire before it topped the ridge and entered a forested area. Thank goodness... I visualized disaster for all of us if the fire had gone over the ridge.
In case you're curious, the fire was caused by a lightning strike two days earlier. The storm included a downpour, preventing the fire from immediately erupting. By two days later, it was hot, dry, and breezy, which caused the tree that had been smoldering for days to burst into flames.
So, my ride that morning didn't turn out to be even vaguely relaxing.
Fortunately, we did have a relaxing vacation, although every moment was tinged with sadness, and waves of rage would engulf me when I realized, over and over again, that K wasn't physically with us.
We went to the mountains, and they brought us good tidings (John Muir). R played in mountain lakes, and we reveled in his youth and amazing athletic grace. We realized that, although we're very sad right now, these are still precious days for R and for us. Indeed, every day on this Earth is gift. We learned that lesson from K's amazing spirit for joy and love - even when her body was ravaged by cancer.
R is at the peak of his life. He adores retrieving from water. Here, he sprinted toward the lake's edge.