Monday, April 16, 2018

Turn Left at the Blue Whale

The Summer of 2012 we were spell bound by the horrific wild fire that was destroying thousands of acres of beautiful mountain forest just west of where we live. We worried for friends who had built their log cabin home on the top of a mountain. We had spent time helping them work on building their dream home. While they built the home, they lived in a house trailer with their two young children, living a frugal life with a windmill and generator to provide electricity and they hauled water up the mountain. The young man cut down trees for his home, hand stripped them, log by log of the bark, and built his home. We had visited them only once when the home was completed when they had a picnic to thank everyone for their help.

And  then the fire years later. It took everything but the house: a shop with tools and a garage with a vintage corvette. We had taken a couple of drives up into the mountains to see the burn damage, but had not visited our friends, so yesterday we took a nice Sunday afternoon drive to visit them. I took photos with both the iPhone and my Canon. For some reason my phone camera does not take very good photos anymore--probably because I have dropped it too many times.

Their turn off the main highway is an easy one: turn left at the blue whale on to Whale Rock Road (I actually took the photo on the way out).

And then we begin the long six miles ascent to the top of the mountain on narrow, windy lane. My anxiety level rose just as quickly as the road climbed the hill. In the previous trips, the dense forest hid the steepness of the hill side below road. With my acrophobia in full bloom, I clutched the arm rest on the door of the pick-up as we slowly wound our way up the mountain.

In between anxious gasps, I was overwhelmed by the damage that the fire had caused. A once lush, green pine forest was gone, leaving behind a stark, barren landscape for miles and miles and miles--as far as the eye can see. 

The forest floor flora has recovered, but with such a dry spring the wildflowers have yet to bloom, though it is early yet for them and with a goodly amount of moisture wild flowers will be spectacular and the mountain sides will be lushly green with charcoal black accents.

Wildlife has returned to the barn forest, but our friends made note that the deer are eating the new baby trees that are sprouting. Deer for some reason, our friend had read, need pine needles in their diet, even if just baby pines.

The fire burned so rapidly that it skimmed over the ground and burning trees only enough for the heat to kill those that didn't actually catch fire. Even ground debris didn't burn up only got scorched. And that to me was the sad part that the fire didn't really clean up the forest debris, only made it look worse.

At the top of the mountain, the foot hills sprawl eastward to finally meet the city of Ft. Collins and beyond to our home out on the prairie, and on a clear day--a really clear day-- as far Nebraska. With the forest now cleared away, the network of roads is easily seen as some hardy souls return to the mountain life, a much altered mountain life.

Our friends loved their mountain home that they worked so hard to create and the place where they raised their children. They returned after the fire, but our friend admitted to being angry for a long time, now he seems to have accepted the altered landscape and will not leave his home.

Our friends were lucky not lose their home because 50 other homes were burned. They have accepted their altered landscape and still enjoy the view. Looking northeast to Wyoming on the far horizon.

Meanwhile back on the prairie at the Garden Spot, I went out to take photos of the garden, and of course the hens wanted out, but I took their photo instead.

Look: asparagus. Two spears won't go far. A nice nibble. The other clumps have yet to send up shoots. The rhubarb will be ready soon, too.

Thanks for stopping by. I appreciated you kind thoughts last week. Thank you.

I am linking with Maggie for Mosaic Monday. See you there.

PS After a long absence from working on the dollhouse, I'm posting on Ann's Dollhouse Dreams, too. 


  1. Hello Ann. Fire can do such incredible damage in such a short time. I'm glad your friend's home was spared, but sad that they lost other assets. I hope rain soaks the ground and trees this spring to help prevent fires this year. We had a devastating fire season last summer, and I hope we don't have the same this year. So far, we've had lots and lots of rain, so perhaps that will help.

  2. Hello Ann, the views are fabulous. It is sad to see the damage from the wildfire. I do not see the deer eating pine trees around here, maybe other baby trees? It is good news your friend's home survived the fire. I like your chickens. Have a happy day!

  3. It's very hard to drive through areas that have been burned and see the devastation. I hope things work out for all of those that suffered from losses. I'm off to see what you've been working on! Hugs!

  4. Such devastation must be very hard to come back from especially when you have toiled so hard to make a home for your family under such hard conditions, I can well understand your friend's anger. The hens look a bit feisty I hope you let them out after the photo shoot? Did the asparagus taste good? I love to eat food that I've grown myself it always seems to enhance the taste somehow. Hope your week ahead is a good one, thanks for your company again at MM this week.

  5. Ann, What a devastated landscape. I'm so glad your friends did not lose their home. Thanks for sharing and have a great week. Sylvia D.

  6. As someone who just finished building a log home, and living in an area that can easily experience a wildfire, I can really relate to the feelings of losing even part of your dream. Hopefully they are young enough that they have plenty of years left to enjoy the home while the forest around them recovers. I suppose one blessing is that they are unlikely to experience another fire in their lifetime.

  7. I hear your pain re the fires, something we are sadly all too used to in Australia. I suspect it is tough to move on until the regrowth starts to happen, I admire those who do return and won't let nature defeat them.
    On a jollier note: Now don't eat your asparagus all at once!
    Wren x

  8. Forest fires are really scary. It's heartbreaking to see these views. Wildfires haven't been really a problem here where I live, but even that may change with the anomalous climatic conditions.
    Why was your friend angry? Was the fire intentionally set or did it start because of somebody's negligence?
    Your hens are beautiful. Happy spring! xx

  9. Such a scary time - and the sadness left behind. So glad that some was spared.