Some say the world will end with fire.

Others say with ice.

From what I've tasted of desire

I hold with those that favor fire.

But if I had to perish twice,

I think I know enough of hate,

To say that for destruction ice,

Is also great and would suffice.

Robert Frost


"Good things come to those who wait, but, only the things LEFT by those who hustle." - Unknown (at least by me)

"Life is wonderful, without it you are dead." - Hy "Pete" Peterson - Park City and Kenecott Miner

"Don't worry about those people in your past---there is a reason they are not in your present." - Unknown

"Life's tough - it's even tougher if you're stupid." - John Wayne

"The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary!" - Vince Lombardi

"If you aren’t living on the edge, you’re probably taking up too much space.” ~ Attributed to Jim Whittaker by Doug ‘Swani’ Swantner, Alaska Smokejumper and Air Attack Base Manager (Ret.)

About Me

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I am married and have seven children and twenty grandchildren. I retired January 1, 2010 after working 39+ years for the Forest Service...NEW CHAPTER IN MY LIFE HAS BEGUN!

Monday, December 30, 2013


This is a photo of me finishing off the last of the Christmas balls at our traditional visit to the rifle range.  It is always fun for me to take the kids and grand kids that want to go out and shoot the glass balls I spend much of the year looking for at yard sales and at DI since they make very few of them anymore.  If you look close at the photo you can see the parachute cord strung across the plywood.  There are a couple of pieces of balls left that I shot before we pulled out.  I also shot the screw holding the parachute cord in placed on the right side.  That made a couple of participants smile.  Me and my youngest son.


Thursday, December 19, 2013


It has been a while since I had anything to say on here.  Not because I didn't have anything to say, but mainly because I just didn't take the time to sit down and take care of it.  A lot has happened since I was on here last. I had a very good fire season, at least for me, and ended the season with four fires.  The Black Forest in Colorado I already wrote about.  About a month after the Black Forest assignment I went to Boise, Idaho on a small fire assignment to help them prepare for and fight any smaller fires that exceeded the initial attack.   This was a fun assignment on standby and we were utilized on a small (about 1,000 acres) fire that we were able to catch on the second day.  The small team I was with thought this was a worthwhile assignment as the fire we were assigned would likely have grown to a large incident had we not been right there and ready to support the small team that was assigned.  There were six of us on this assignment and it was interesting that there was nearly 200 years of experience on the team.  All of us had served together elsewhere and we enjoyed getting back together again.

In the last two weeks of August I headed north to Ennis, Montana and the Eureka fire.  This was a relatively small fire (nearly 6500 acres) that was managed by a Type 3 (smallest organized team size) that mainly came from the local resource management agencies.  I was really the only member that came into the incident from a long distance.  I had worked with many of the team members elsewhere on fires and got reacquainted with a co-worker I had worked with on the Philipsburg District from 1980 to 1981 during my assignment on that district.  It was a great assignment and like the other fires this year, shortly after I arrived it rained and gave us the opportunity to catch it.  I spent eleven days on this fire.  I had hopes of seeing one of my previous Forest Supervisors that is stationed near this fire but we just couldn't work it out.  I felt bad about that but the times that were available really didn't fit into either of our schedules.

In the middle of September I headed to California and the Rim fire that had burned most of the summer and was finally controlled during my assignment at 256,569 acres.  Like the others we got a little bit of rain that helped us catch it and I only spent 12 days on this one.  I went out as Supply Unit Leader on this assignment and spent most of my time there sending materials and supplies back to the Supply Depot at North Zone. While I was assigned to this incident it was managed by a Type 2 team from California.  Previous to our assignment there had been four other Type 1 (the highest qualified) teams assigned.  I am looking forward to getting the notification of the fire loss on this one in the spring after everything is cleaned and put away.  Even though the management of the fire changed hands a lot of times I felt like we easily met the loss tolerance allowed.  If not the last man standing (ME) gets to take the hit for not managing the supplies properly.  I still think we will be good with what we sent back.

Between and after these assignments I worked at my new job inspecting a new 345 kV power line they are constructing through this area.  I have shared a job with a guy I worked with for many years at the Forest Service.  On this assignment I have had the privilege of working with many of the finest heavy equipment operators in the world.  It has and continues to be a good assignment and I am learning a lot of new things while working on it.  I am happy that I accepted the offer from the company I work for to go to work for them.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


For the past few days I have been thinking about the loss of the Granite Mountain Hotshots.  These were an elite bunch of firefighters that have lots of training and experience in dealing with wildland fire.  In order to be a hotshot crew they have to have lots of leadership training in the key positions and lots of experience fighting the worst kinds of wildland fire.

Through this process I have recounted many days in my life when I was fighting fire.  I did the fire line thing for sixteen years and got qualified to be a Division Supervisor, this position is responsible for a segment of the fire and is responsible for all of the resources assigned to that part and for the safety of all of them.  I worked hard to become an Operations Chief, this positron is responsible for all of the resources and firefighters on the entire fire.  

I tried very hard to get there but was finally told that there were way too many full time fire people ahead of me for the Operations Chief job and that if I wanted to continue fighting fire I needed to find another occupation.  The Incident Commander (IC) that told me this was one of the fire people who I respected the most---then and now.  I was crushed---he knew it---so he went way out of his way to help me stay in the game.  

I was brought into a fire where he was the IC as a field observer.  This position gets out on the fire and tries to figure out what the fire is going to do and how best to attack it.  The person reports back to the Plans Chief and the Plans Chief and Operations Chief determine where the next days resources will be assigned and what their assignments will be. 

The IC met me at Check-In, which was unusual then and unheard of today.  He told me he didn't need another Field Observer on the fire but he really needed a Supply Unit Leader.  I laughed and said I don't know one thing about being a Supply Unit Leader.  He asked me how long I had fought fire.  I told him sixteen years.  He said that was long enough to know what was needed and he wanted me to go into the Supply Unit on the fire and get trained up.  I went over to Supply, where two long term Supply Unit Leaders that I was well acquainted with were working.  It didn't take me long to figure out that I had been fast tracked by these two Supply Unity Leaders, the two Logistics Chiefs and the IC to get qualified.  

This was a fairly large fire in southern Idaho and it was burning like crazy.  It ended up being 3500 acres, a large fire for the times.  I spent the first two days working as an Ordering Manager, the person that orders everything for the incident.  The next two days I was the Receiving and Distribution Manager, the person that gets all the materials and gets them to where they are supposed to go.  There was nothing in either of these jobs that was confusing to me because I had worked for my Father in a grocery store and did these two jobs there all the time when I was growing up.  The fifth day I was put in the position of a Supply Unit Leader Trainee.  This was a new experience to me because I had never supervised anyone to do these jobs.  I had a lot of line experience in crew supervision and my two trainers told me it was the same thing I just needed to make the assignments and make sure they got done.  I worked as a trainee the rest of the fire and when the team went home they left me there as the Supply Unit Leader for the team that took it over to close it out.

The next year the IC picked me as one of the two Supply Unit Leaders assigned to his team.  I look at the training I got compared to the training required today to be qualified for this position and I am amazed that I got through it so easily.  Ever since this first fire I have felt that I personally could do more for the fire suppression effort in Supply than anywhere else on the fire.  I loved the job and stayed at it for twelve years.  I worked with some of the most gifted people in the world while I was doing this job.  Everyone on every fire knew me because they depended on me to get what they needed.  I knew most of their faces but never got all of their names down.  This was a period of my life where I got to train up a grundle of new Supply Unit Leaders---I had a ball and loved them all.

This takes me through the first 28 years of fire---there are 16 more to come someday.  


Monday, July 8, 2013



I was gone from the 12th of June until the 22nd of June on the 12,480 acre Black Forest fire right out of Colorado Springs.  They made me fly out to the fire but I rode home with a man from Tropic that was on the fire and was allowed to drive.  I was really glad he was wiling to let me ride with him because it feels better to me and it saves a lot of money for a one way ticket.

I was pretty excited to go because I thought I was going to be assisting a woman I have been fire friends with for over 25 years.  When I got there I found out she was in London and I was going to have the Logistics Section alone.  That doesn't mean all alone as I had two facilities unit leaders and a trainee, two supply unit leaders, two ground support unit leaders, one communications unit leader and a communications tech., and a security manager that worked for me.  There were also some equipment managers, base camp managers,  radio operators and an incident communications manager and two camp crews in the section.  After a couple of days an additional logistics section chief showed up to help me run the section.

This was the fire that had the heaviest law enforcement presence of any fire I have ever been on.  We had 120 National Guard M.P.'s doing the road blocks and at the height of the fire we had 100 police officers (deputy Sheriff's and City Police) that were working the fire.  The reason for such a large law enforcement group is that last year looters got into a fire area near this one and stole a lot of personal belongings of the people that were evacuated.  It is really sad to me that this is necessary but I am glad we had that kiond of support.  I am not aware of any looting that took place.

On the third day we had a logistics chief's worst nightmare occur.  The caterer we had in place had a lot of equipment fail and was unable to provide timely meals for the firefighters so he requested he be replaced.  This made it so we had to provide Dinner, Breakfast and lunches without a caterer on site.  This is a very difficult thing to do with over 850 firefighters in camp.  We got authorized to purchase the meals from a conglomerate of local restaurants but we had to serve the meals ourselves.  It turned out good when all of the Operations Section and the IC showed up and served.  That was a nice touch and the firefighters all thought that was pretty neat.  We made it through the three meals without having to serve MRE's so things turned out OK and the new caterer was able to get set up and operate well for the duration of the incident.

This fire had the greatest monetary loss of structures of any Colorado fire.  We lost a few more than 500 structures but it could have just as easily been 2,000.  We lucked out and got  a tiny bit of rain on the third and fourth days (0.03 inches each day) which was just enough so that we could safely take out the head of the fire and secure the flanks.


Sunday, June 9, 2013


 Getting set to pick up some 30 feet of culvert to put in a draw crossing.
 Moving the culvert to the site.
 Starting the drop into the draw where the culvert will be placed---D-8 Cat constructing road and the pad.
Water truck and D-6 Cat constructing road in the opposite direction.

Here are a few photos of what is going on with the power line construction.  Right now they are building roads to access the structures and pads for them to be built on.  These photos show what was going on Friday afternoon where they were installing a culvert in the road to one of the towers.

The job is finally starting to move along fairly well.  It isn't as much fun to do this as it is to do rehabilitation on fires because things do not move as fast.  There are lots of times when changes need to be made but they have to go through an approval process where in the rehab world you have to make the call on the spot and go on.  This is a little different for me because of what I did in the job I retired from.  There I was the decision maker that approved any changes---here I sometimes don't even get to make a recommendation.

A big plus on this job is that I am getting to know a lot of really good equipment operators.  I really respect the good operators because when I was trying to operate Cats and back hoes I never got to where I could really do a good job with them.


Monday, May 27, 2013


This is a photo of Jake Garn speaking at the dedication of the Veterans Memorial in town today.  It is an awesome memorial and although I did not grow up in this area I know a lot of people that have their names etched into the granite blocks.  It was a good thing to go to this dedication, if no more than just to be thankful that we are free because of many peoples sacrifices.

The honor guard reminded me of several times assisting with those honors at a funeral.  I thought long and hard today about the three that died in the plane crash on B Hill many years ago.  That was a tremendous loss to two communities.  RIP Dave, Steve, and Randy.

Sunday, April 21, 2013


It has been nearly a month since I posted anything on here.  I could use the excuse that I have been really busy but that would not be true.  I evaluated it this morning and it is mainly because I am lazy and didn't want to spend the time sitting here thinking about what to say.

I took a new part time job as an inspector for the construction of a power line through  a good portion of the state we live in.  I am working about half time and that feels pretty good right now. I think when the dirt starts to move and the construction really starts (they are just doing survey and design right now because of environmental constraints) I will be working almost full time.  Time will tell about that.

I think it is really funny that I went to school to be a Forester so that I could work work in the woods all the time.  That worked well for the first ten or eleven years. Then I was promoted (?) into a more managerial position and lost most of the field work part of the job.  I still fought wild land fires so still got to spend a lot of the summer out in the boonies.  As time passed I got another promotion which put me in charge of about 500,000 acres of your National Forest.  That was great but it further restricted my time in the boonies.  I continued to fight fire though. 

When I retired I thought I would spend a tremendous amount of time in the woods.  I did spend some time there and continued to fight fire but it is really expensive to go out in the woods just for enjoyment.  The amount of time I spent out there reduced considerably.  Then I got this part time job.  It is only about half time but all of the time is spent out in the field.  I do not have an office and the only things that resemble an office are the materials and I-pad that I carry in my truck.  I have no supervisory or budget responsibilities and am only responsible for reporting what I see to my supervisor.  It has been great so far and I don't see it changing much. 

Another great thing about this job is that my boss is going to allow me to continue fighting wild land fires.  The company knew before they hired me that if I could not fight fire I would not take the job.    That made me feel really good that they said they could work around that.  This will be an interesting field season for me.


Saturday, March 23, 2013


It has been almost three weeks since my last post on here.  I don't understand why it is so hard to find the time right now to keep this blog up but it is.

I said in the last posting that I had started working for TRANSCON Environmental inspecting the a new 345 kV power line that is being constructed through this area.  I am currently working about half time although that translates to parts of three days per week.  That doesn't seem like much but before I went to work for them I felt like I was pretty busy and in fact was wondering how I ever had time to work.  It isn't the same thing as working on fire because for fire you leave the area for two or three weeks and work about 16 hours a day so you don't have time to think or do anything else except eat and sleep.  That makes the time go by really fast and makes you really tired so when you sleep, you sleep.  When you get home from a fire you don't have to worry about what is going to happen the next day and can revert to your OTHER life.

When I was working I was generally awake at 4:00 a.m. even though the earliest I could officially get to work was 6:00 a.m.  It really irritates me that since I have taken this part time job I am raring to go at 4:00 a.m. again and the earliest I can officially start working is 7:00 a.m.  WHAT'S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?  Old habits die hard.
Inklings had her knee surgery 38 days ago and she is doing very well.  She has been up and going for 10 days and has stretched her work outs on the stationary bike to 30 minutes a day.  That is really good and will probably keep her from having to go through a rehab center to regain her flexibility in the knee.  Time will tell but I think she is doing extremely well---but then again I am not a Doctor.  ;-)  

We also buried her Father two weeks ago and that has been tough for her and for all of her siblings to deal with.  They were all prepared for him to die if he fell and broke his hip or something or if he got really sick.  They were not prepared for him to die from heart failure, in his car, coming over to visit with us.  Her Mother was driving and did really good on getting him into the emergency room of a hospital but his heart was just not strong enough to make a recovery.  The nurse that dealt with him was the son of one of my good friends from high school and I am grateful to him for how he treated my mother-in-law.

Spring is arriving slowly with lots of surprise snow storms.  We got a flurry a few days ago that dropped 10" overnight.  That was quite a shock but now the grass is starting to green up and our tulips and daffodils are coming along nicely.  Here is a picture of the surprise snow storm we had last week.

Sunday, March 3, 2013


It has been almost three weeks since Inklings had surgery on her knee to repair a torn meniscus.  When they got inside the knee there was a lot more damage than they had anticipated.  The surgeon told me they would be out in about thirty minutes. In a little over two hours I got to talk to the surgeon for a few seconds while he was on his way to another surgery for which he was late.  He gave me eight photos of the inside of the knee and talked to me about all the work they had to do on it and showed me how they sewed the tendon back together.  He told me that Inklings was to stay off her knee for three full weeks and not try to do anything.

She is doing a lot better and is counting the minutes until she can start doing some things other than sit on the couch or lay on the bed.  She has been able to shower when she wanted to after the fifth day but was a very good patient for the first two weeks. She hurt like crazy so that is probably why she was so good.  This week she has been doing a little more, probably more than she should be doing, around the house and I think she is feeling a ton better even though she still can't move without the walker or bend her knee very much. I think the healing process is going very well and she is going to be alright again.

In the middle of this her father died.  He was 86 but it was a shock as the night before he had made arrangements with her to come over and visit the next day.  When she got the call she thought it would be her mom and dad telling her they were on their way.  Instead it was her mom trying to tell her that her dad had died but she couldn't talk.  They were on the way to see us when he had a bad chest pain.  They decided to keep coming our way and stop at the closest hospital.  As they got further down the road he had another bad pain in his chest but recovered somewhat from that.  When they arrived in the town the hospital is in her mother drove to the hospital and they took him on a gurney and gave him CPR for an extended period of time but his heart was not strong enough to maintain a rhythm and he died.  He was a good man and will be sorely missed by his family and his friends.

I took a job with TRANSCOM Environmental and am inspecting the environmental compliance for the construction of a new 345 kV power line.  This company recruited me and a good friend to help them with this project.  We agreed to split a job as neither of us wanted to work full time.  I also told them I was going to continue to do fire and if that was not OK then they needed to find someone else.  They assured me they could work around that.  I have worked two weeks and have found quite a few things in the project that needed to be changed.  My friend and I have discussed the changes and then called our boss to let him know our thoughts.  So far so good---every recommendation we have made has been implemented.

It has been kind of fun to be back in the game.  The company is treating us well and we are hoping to see the job through.  It will take two full years to complete the power line.  There is likely be another year of closing the access ways and rehabilitation of the construction disturbance so this job may turn out to be a good thing



Sunday, February 17, 2013


Inklings had knee surgery Wednesday, February 13, 2013.  She made a wise crack that she was having it done on the 13th day of the 13th year but at least not on Friday the 13th.  Her surgery was supposed to be simple and pretty quick but after they got inside the knee they found a lot of unexpected problems.  The meniscus was torn in two, the knee cap was fixed in place with scar tissue, there was lots of irritated cartilage inside the knee, and there was a floater about the size of a nickle running around inside.  The surgery was supposed to take about 45 minutes it took over two hours.  She was supposed to be up and around in five days after the surgery she isn't supposed to put any weight on her knee for three weeks.

The only five after the surgery is that she cannot shower for five days.  That in itself is a tough thing for her.  She hates it when she can't wash her hair every day.  She has washed it a couple of times in the kitchen sink but that is hard for her to do too.

She is recovering pretty well and I can see less and less pain associated with her knee daily.  She has an ice chest and pump attached to a bladder on her knee by two hoses and without it she would be in a lot more pain.  I am thankful for this new development for post operative treatments.  It is an amazing little ice chest with a pump hooked to two hoses that go to the bladder.  The pump puts ice water from the chest up one hose to the bladder and the other hose returns water from the bladder to the chest.  It takes about 15 pounds of ice a day to keep the water cold but the results are amazing.  I really can't see any swelling left in the knee but there are still a lot of bandages around the joint proper.

I am glad we didn't wait any longer to have this surgery done.

Saturday, January 26, 2013


Last fall I was doing a rehab project for three large fires so I didn't get around to doing the maintenance on my rain gutters.  Well that is part of the reason.  The rest of the reason is that the leaves did not fall off our trees until during the snow storm that put all the snow on our roof.

While we were eating lunch yesterday Inklings said "It must be warming up, there is water running off our roof everywhere."  That is really bad because it means the rain gutters are plugged and some of the water is going back under the first layer of shingles on the roof.

I got up and went out to unplug them.  I have had some problems with balance the past few months so didn't dare get on the roof to clean them so I got out my extension ladder and cleaned them off that.  It made Inklings nervous so she came out and handed me things I needed to do the job and took care of getting the hose to me and turned on when I was ready.  Our neighbor from across the street was also nervous and yelled at me to be careful not to fall and watched until I finished the gutter on the side she could see.

It is nice to have this job done and it will last until at least November when the leaves again fall into it.  I have quite a bit of work to do on the gutter itself when it gets nicer outside sop maybe I will add the gutter protectors that supposedly make it so the leaves don't plug the gutter.  It would be nice not to have to do this job every year---SOMETIME---