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The Internet Ramblings of Matt & Lori Knowles

September 2003

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Mon, Sep. 1, 2003 - Larabee Trestle

Larabee Trestle

Day two of my Humboldt Redwood State Park exploration took me to several interesting places. First on my list was to see if the Gould Barns still existed. The three volunteers at the visitor center claimed they didn't exist until I showed them the guide book and then they looked them up on their map and saw them indicated. By the time I found the trailhead it was too late to start the hike since it is 4 miles in and drops 1800 ft in elevation. Getting there is easy. Getting back is the tough part. I'm still trying to decide how much I really need to see two old barns. Next I visited the Five Allens trail which, according to the book, has a small waterfall. Not at this time of the year. But I can say I've hiked underneath Hwy 101 now since the trail passes through a tunnel underneath the highway. Next I went to find Larabee, a town more remote than Shively. The only access to Larabee is over a small cement bridge. The bridge is permanent, but the Eel has to be very low before you could cross over it. In Larabee I found this trestle, built in 1910. I sure hope they get the trains running again up here, because it would be a very scenic trip, and a wonderful way to see some of the backwoods.

Tue, Sep. 2, 2003 - Swimming Hole

Swimming Hole

During the last part of yesterday's ride, I finally found a spot in Humboldt County where the water was actually very comfortable to swim in. So I went back home, and then Lori and I went back to watch the sunset. It was a little bit colder by then because the wind had picked up, but it still made for a nice evening swimming, watching the numerous fish, and hiking around the nearby sand dunes. As you can see from the last few pictures, we had perfect weather this weekend, unlike most of the country, where rain was the norm.

Thu, Sep. 4, 2003 - Wildfires


Yesterday, going to work the weather looked like the fog was burning off and it was going to be another nice day. I had a meeting in Rio Dell and during the drive over it started clouding up and just as I arrived it started sprinkling. Then during the meeting it started thundering and the rain came down in buckets. After about 30 minutes of that my fire department pager went off, announcing that there we were needed for some mutual aid in Honeydew. I got back to Ferndale to find a crew had been assembled. Today I got a wake up telephone call to see if I wanted to go out with the crew. We took Utility 7 out past Honeydew, expecting that we would be using the rig to pump water. Instead we found ourselves deployed on very steep hillsides using handtools to put out small fires or clear firelines to keep them from spreading. It was about 90 degrees out, and fortunately no wind other than what the fires generated on their own. Add to the ambient tempature the heat from the fire, and that you're doing strenuous work while wearing Nomex pants and jacket, along with a helmet and gloves, and you have a recipe for sweat. It was interesting being up close and watching the fire behavior, but I definitely think I'll stick to my day job. I took today's picture as we were on our way back to Ferndale. You can see the fire we were working on in the right third of the picture. It was probably about 3/4 contained when we left. (Update; it rained on the 7th, and put out all of the fires.)

Sat, Sep. 6, 2003 - Bargain Lovers Weekend

Bargain Lovers Weekend

This weekend Ferndale is having a city wide garage sale. Residences and businesses throughout the city are holding garage sales, and we're doing our part to rid Ferndale of its useless and unwanted junk. Or at least it's going to be stored in someone else's garage for awhile. We made some good sales yesterday selling our junk, and the number of people the event brought in also resulted a higher than average sales for the store. While the sale was good for our budget, it's a bit depressing that I can make more money selling our used junk than I normally make selling my art.

Sat, Sep. 13, 2003 - Working at Grandmas

Working at Grandmas

Since Grandma has decided to move down to San Jose with Mom and Dad, the family (well, most of them) converged in Myrtle Creek this weekend to help Grandma with a few yard and house projects. We mostly worked in the front yard, trimming trees, pulling weeds, cleaning gutters, and putting mulch in all the flower beds. Sorry, the staff photographer didn't think to take a 'before' picture until we were several hours into the project.

Sun, Sep. 14, 2003 - Curb Appeal

Curb Appeal

With no 'before' picture for reference, it's hard to know how much we accomplished in the front yard, but it was pretty amazing. With the trees trimmed you could see the house and the rest of the yard, and the mulch made it all look so much tidier. I'm thinking about 40 cubic yards would do wonders for our flood ravaged yard.

Mon, Sep. 15, 2003 - Spiffy Tractor

Spiffy Tractor

Arriving at work this morning I found this very clean early Ford tractor parked out on Main Street in front of our shop. Detailed with a striking two-tone paint job, pinstriped wheels, and more chrome goodies than I've ever seen on a farm implement, I don't expect to see this tractor out in a field doing actual work. But it will be an excellent contender in Ferndale's Christmas time tractor parade.

Fri, Sep. 19, 2003 - Kate's Hats

Kate's Hats

Kate, one of our models from the Ingomar fashion show, gave us a preview of her vintage clothing collection earlier this month. She especially loves the forties, and has numerous hats from that period. Tonight she brought over several of them, and we photographed her wearing them, as well as Lori's big Edwardian hat.

Sat, Sep. 20, 2003 - Honeydew Helicopters

Honeydew Helicopters

Well my update to the 9/4 entry wasn't entirely correct. Two fires continued to burn, and last week they both flared up again. The largest, the Honeydew fire has spread past 9000 acres, and is working its way towards Shelter Cove. Ferndale VFD has had Engine #3 down at the fire camp since last Thursday, providing fire and rescue coverage for the helibase. We've been sending down a crew of three each day to staff the truck. Today was my turn. I had to get up early as we were supposed to be there and ready to go at 8:00. When we arrived we found the operation to be much larger than we expected. There must have been around 200 trucks in the parking lot. The majority of them were CDF pickup trucks, but there were crew carriers, engines, and plenty of support vehicles, some were semi-trucks. There were mobile kitchens, communication tents, and two different helibase centers. We are providing support for the smaller helicopters which are primarily used for mapping, scouting, and directing the teams on the ground. The other helibase had the larger copters that were doing the water drops. Our base had 10 helicopters, which seemed to arrive and depart almost constantly. Since we were supposed to be in full turnouts whenever there was a landing or takeoff in progress, we spent a good part of the day taking our jackets on and off. Only during the afternoon did the activity slow enough that we could peel our pants down to cool our legs too. This wasn't as much physical work as actually being on the front line as I was earlier, but it was just as taxing on the body due to the heat. You have to wear a set of turnouts to understand just how warm they are.

The helicopter pictured was the oddest and oldest of the group. Unlike most modern helicopters where the pilot sits in the front, this 1950s vintage helicopter has the cockpit on the second floor. The visibility for landing must really be terrible. This old purple dinosaur was of course nicknamed Barney.

Sun, Sep. 21, 2003 - One More Hat

One More Hat

This is one more hat from Kate's collection. Today I did nothing but yard work, and the after picture wasn't as impressive as Grandma's so I didn't bother taking one.

Mon, Sep. 22, 2003 - Multiple Exposure

Multiple Exposure

I thought it would be fun to have one model wear several of the bias gowns from the collection in a multiple exposure (pun intended). Since today was so warm, I called Kate up and went out after work to the Eel River. She's wearing 5 different gowns in the picture, but I'm not really sure that's clear the way it came out. I need to work on this concept a bit, maybe do it just after sunset so the gowns aren't reflecting so much light.

Fri, Sep. 26, 2003 - More Helicopters

More Helicopters

Day 21 of the fires and once again I was down in Redway with a crew from Ferndale to provide crash rescue support for the helibase. The second time it was a bit easier because we knew what to expect, and even though the helicopter count went up to 12, there weren't as many flights. The two fires are still growing, Honeydew is at 11,000 acres and the Canoe fire is approaching 10,000 acres. The Honeydew fire is contained on the west flank, as the Pacific Ocean is doing a great job there for us. At the end of the day we could here on the radio that supplies where being unloaded at the Women's Garden Club Grove which is on the Avenue of the Giants. Not a good sign.

Tue, Sep. 30, 2003 - Tame Wildlife (an oxymoron)

Tame Wildlife (an oxymoron)

My third day at the helibase, fourth day of working on this fire. The heat was much lower today, only getting into the mid eighties. The other days it had been in the mid to upper nineties, and other crews had it as high as 107. While the heat and humidity went in favor of the firefighters, the wind changed direction and blew the smoke into the camp. It wasn't as bad as when you're working the lines, but you still noticed it in your throat and eyes. On the drive back home we saw our first visible sign of actual flames, as we could see the fire coming down the hill just behind Myers Flat. Since we have to be at the engine all day it was hard getting pictures of other things at the camp, but we were a bit early so I got some pictures of some of the other residents of the camp, some very tame deer and turkeys. The deer come in every morning to get handouts and will eat right out of your hand. Because of all of the prisoner crews that work the fires, the camp is posted as weapon free. I think the deer know this and use it to their advantage during hunting season.