Sunday, June 19, 2011


And so our 1960 honeymoon saga'll note that the color slide photos have not aged very well....

Down from our mountain that was on fire, we drove to headquarters for our new assignment. We were posted as lookouts on top of Moro Rock...directly across the park from our tower...during the day; and, since our quarters were located at the tower, we found ourselves living like gypsies during the following week and a half at night.

One of the rangers offered to share his quarters with us. The trouble being that he shared his quarters with another ranger and there was only one bedroom, the first night I found myself sleeping under the kitchen table, while my husband slept on the bedroom floor. This arrangement lasted for several days, after which I declared my wish to see anything other than the kitchen table above my head at night. So, we joined the park visitors and slept under the stars, forgetting the animals that roamed about at night. The main road was closed because of the fire and our thousand star hotel was located within ten feet of the highway!

During the daylight hours, I joined my husband, who had been located on top of Moro Rock, at his “lookout”. This consisted of climbing up approximately 300 rock stairs to reach our daily post. After the morning trek up, we seated ourselves, as comfortably as possible, on the rock and watched the fire burning closer and closer to our lookout tower that was filled with our possessions including a piece of our wedding cake! After a week of this for nine hours a day, I couldn’t decide which hurt the most; our rear extremities from sitting on the rocks or our beautiful sunburns we were acquiring. Don't forget...there was no water and/or toilets at the top of Moro Rock! Thus, we made more than one trip up and down during the day. And this we were calling a honeymoon?

After my constant complaints to the Assistant District Ranger, we were permitted to return to the Colony Mill Ranger Station, where our packer lived, and was our second home. After the first night, we were informed that the fire was under control and they were moving the fire camp to Colony Mill. The fire crew consisted mostly of prisoners, so we had to move again. This time we were permitted to return to our lookout, which had been saved, and start to live semi-normal lives again.

The fire had come within a quarter of a mile of our tower and was still burning on parts of the trail; so we were privileged to ride in the helicopter. Upon arrival; we were quite surprised at the appearance of our home. The fire line had been made up our ridge, and we found our home situated directly on the fire line. They had cut down nearly all of our trees and made a mess of the whole area. In order to accommodate the helicopter, they made a beautiful heliport next to our cabin at the base of the lookout tower. This was nice, except that the helicopter continued to bring in the fire crews everyday for nearly two weeks

With up to sixteen landings a day, on a dirt field, the dust continued to fly into every crack and crevice. I found that there was plenty to do just keeping the dust wiped off the kitchen shelf and other items, too numerous to name. During this time I was told to wear long sleeved blouses and long pants; keep inside a much as possible, with the door locked. I was also told to keep the sheath knife with me at all times. This was all very exciting in the beginning, but seemed very unnecessary after a while. I was surprised at how much the prisoners respected me and seemed to keep their distance. During this time, I had a grand opportunity to listen to their own particular language. One of their frequently used terms was, “Don’t bug me, I’m tripping". Translated into the common terminology this phase means, “Don’t bother me, I’m day dreaming.” The prisoners were from San Quentin State Prison.

Tune in tomorrow for the final chapter....

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