Volunteerism and Solitude, Idaho

It was a long drive to Idaho, and fortunately my truck was doing pretty well in the way of gas mileage. I drove twelve hours from Vail, CO through Utah and into some Idaho state park on I-84 before I couldn’t see straight enough to steer. Summer nights here are cozy enough that I didn’t even reach for my sleeping bag before reclining my seat for a roadside rest. The next morning I made the final three hour leg to McCall, ID, a lakeside town of three thousand up against the Rocky Mountains of central Idaho.

A good friend of mine was waiting there. He guided me in around the small airport to his barn loft. The airport is impossibly busy. It’s where regional forest fire related air traffic is based, so powerful spotter planes, retardant bombers, and helicopters blazed with orange insignia rattle constantly overhead, on their way to manage a burning state. Rumor has it that this airborne fire fight burns through three quarters of a million dollars of federal money per day in operations costs. Spare-no-expense orders from US Forest Service’s chief in Washington DC after criticisms from last year’s ‘devastating’ fire season. An orange skycrane, a giant helicopter made for lifting heavy loads, took off with a storm of wind and noise, off to douse some burning tract of wild land. Around the corner, Eric flagged me into his driveway. Continue reading

Jackson’s Hole

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Above Jackson Hole, from Josie’s Ridge

Engines roared, and a sold out crowd at the Jackson County fairgrounds cheered with every crunch of steel. My friend Brendan and I showed up late to the Figure Eights — a competition between beat up cars of unknown make doing figure eights around a dirt track and trying not to wreck — so we patrolled outside the barbed wire perimeter trying to catch sight of a spectacular smash-up.

We were closely observing the movements of security guard types as well, who would blast suspected fence climbers with flashlights and jeers until the freeloaders backed off. The small stadium was filled to capacity on this last night of the county fair, but we were not about to miss the championship round of the Figure Eights.

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