The third and final chapter of our 1960 Honeymoon.....
Finally, they put out all of the hot spots and the daily helicopter trips came to a stop. After the excitement died down, we started to glance around at the equipment left by the fire fighters. One of the items that was left was a back pump. This is a black rubber sack with a pressure nozzle attached. When strapped on the back, it is a very useful item in fire fighting. They had left the back pump lying in the sun, and after testing the water; we found it quite warm. Due to the high fire danger in the park, we had been on standby for several weeks; which meant that we worked on our days off. This being the factor, we hadn’t been near running water for quite some time to take a much-needed shower.
A brilliant ideal struck us and we decided to make our own shower. As soon as the sun settled down for the night, we took turns setting on the tower stairway, and spraying the soap off of each other. The idea was just great, until the smell of rubbery water began to take effect. That was the last of our homemade shower!
As things returned to normal, I began to return to my activities of reading books and helping in the tower. I soon began to realize that the occupation of a lookout could become extremely tiring at times. Nothing to do except watch for fires and listen to people talking on the short-wave park radio. But then we always had lightning storms to make up for the lack of excitement during other periods.
After one of our storms, we had retired to the cabin for the night; when a familiar voice came over the radio. One of the backcountry Rangers was reporting that the tourists in the area had spotted a fire. He stated that the fire should be visible from Ash Peak. With this information, we were sure that they would be calling us any minute for a report. This was fine, except that my husband was in the middle of a sponge bath and unable to do much in the way of anything at the moment. Frantically reaching for the transmitter mike, he made his report stating that he couldn’t see anything as of yet, I was holding back the curtain of the window and he was halfway gaping out of it.
Within seconds he was in his pajamas and running up the tower steps, radio in hand (we always brought it down with us at night; to make his actual report. The situation turned out fine, as we were unable to see the fire from our location; a fact which the Fire Control Officer soon remembered himself; but not until Jim nearly broken his neck going up those stairs.
The last lightning storm occurred the Friday before we left the mountains. The storm didn’t begin to break until after dinner. By dusk the lightening was really starting to strike all around us, and we were charting them for future reference as fast as we could. By nine o’clock the storm was in full force and the lightning was coming down in two or more forks over the complete area. What a beautiful sight. The complete sky would light up as we were standing there in the darkness of the tower; with rain dripping in from every corner; we had stuffed a magazine into one of the broken windows and held it in place with the back of the chair. Other than being extremely cold, I think the ideal of lightning striking the tower was the most frightening experience that night.Although the tower wasn’t hit that evening, we had one strike within several hundred feet of the tower earlier in the season; last year they had had a direct hit on the tower. This being the possibility, everything in the area was grounded; including the bed in the cabin. The only bad part of it was that one wasn’t supposed to touch anthing metal if lightning did hit, so with approximately two feet of space on each side of the firefinder (this was the instrument that we gave fire readings from) there wasn’t too much room to move around in without danger of touching something metal. By midnight the storm was over and we had spotted one fire and given a negative report of a fire on our peak that had been reported by another lookout. Slipping down the wet stairs we headed for the welcome bed and set the alarm for five o’clock, so as to be up at the break of dawn to watch for more fires started by the storm.
And so another honeymoon hit the dust and we left our hills and returned to the low-lander’s life with all the modern conveniences. All that was left were our wonderful memories of an unforgettable honeymoon, filled with many unusual occurrences; and a lifetime ahead to reminisce about them.
I don’t know what Martha wishes or expects me to write about since she just ran out of news, perhaps, she expects me to invent some. I’ll try one way or another.
Martha has adapted herself very well toward the monastic type life that a lookout leads, but she looks forward with such enthusiasm to our non-existent days off. We may get a day off today and then all stops will be pulled. She’ll run down the trail like a doe chased by a buck and deter me from stopping to talk to my friends at the Park Headquarters. Down we shall go to Visalia, the local metropolis, which even has a show, and there we shall spend our evening, but not before we go to a Motel. At this oasis, we will enjoy the unheard of pleasures of running water sprinkling through shower-heads, even though we have a substitute occasionally. The substitute consists of spraying each other with the back pumps that the fire crews left behind.
After a good nights sleep we shall collect our dazzled wits together with our pocket books and buy food for two weeks, but this will only happen after I use all the hot water up that the Motel has for shaving. Then we shall make our way back to our Peak of Ashes, tired, but happy, although remember this will only happen if we get our day off.
As you see, we lead a simple life that is only detoured by pouting, yelling and crying.
Martha has to put her approval on this before you see it, because she has the stamps. Jim
Censors Approval Martha (He made me sign before I read it.)
EDITOR'S NOTE: I hope that you've enjoyed three days of reading about our honeymoon that happened 51 years ago this summer. Tomorrow I'll begin the story of our first trip to Europe in 1992...