Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Where there’s smoke

Yesterday there was a good westerly wind and a lot of grass fires. We were seemingly hemmed in and could certainly smell the smoke. Sometimes the smoke will hang in the air for hours, yet because of a good breeze, it headed toward the mountains. The air pressure must have been just so, as once the smoke reached that region of elevation, there it stayed.

I made plans today to find the newly burned fields and took off shortly after 1300, hoping to find some of those higher fields charred before new fires were lit, which makes for a very murky atmosphere to shoot in. Found a couple but not much to photograph, yet some of the few gave me food for thought.
Note that there is smoke in the air. The time was not yet 1400. An early start. I would have to hurry.

To our southwest is an area that had promise, for I had watched smoke rise the last few days, and while much of that ground is somewhat level, there might be enough grade to warrant a trip. I took the long way, planning to make a large loop that would eventually lead me home. I did not see much, took a couple pictures about two miles east of home on our road, and put it in gear for the house. That was when I heard the loud “pop,” and green liquid splash up onto my hood. A quick glance at the dashboard confirmed I was in trouble and I turned off the engine.

Our house stands at an elevation 875 feet above sea level. I would estimate that I shut ‘er down at about 1000 feet above sea level, for I was able to coast at a consistent 15 mph. With a little bit of luck, I could make it home.

I was coming down a fair incline when I saw a temporary road sign, “Controlled Burning Ahead,” and then the other that accompanied the first, “Flagger Ahead Prepare to Stop.” I then saw the first puffs, and then the flagger, the red side of his sign facing toward me. Just beyond him was a little rise, which, if he was instead advising caution, I might have cleared for the last 3/4 mile of road until home. Yet, I had no choice, no chance, and pulled over where the shoulder allowed. I waved to the flagger, for I knew him. Daniel.

Having called my mechanic and secured a tow, I got out to speak to Daniel and inform him that when next he turned his sign, I would not be moving on. He gave me the burn schedule for the fields ahead and it seemed that I would not have been able to leave for quite a while anyway. I assumed this also meant a delay for the tow truck. Together we assessed the damage but could not find the exact source of the eruption. Shortly thereafter Daniel was informed on his radio that he would have to move further up the road, leaving on foot, and me there to wait.

I think I got a pretty interesting photo out of the deal, plus I had a snack of delicious roadside blackberries.
After perhaps twenty minutes, Daniel made his way back, at which time he informed me that today would be his last on the job, as he was soon off to college. Shortly thereafter, the tow truck arrived. I said farewell and wished Daniel well, gathered my equipment from the rig and climbed up into the cab of the tow truck. The driver/owner remembered me from my last tow.

I am hoping two things: that it was the radiator that blew, for it has a lifetime guarantee; and that the engine has not suffered permanent damage. I am grateful for one: I was supposed to drive my truck to Portland tomorrow.


Memphis MOJO said...

Sorry to hear about it, but better close to home than out in the boonies or Portland.

Crash said...

Would have been cool to coast all the way home.

TenMile said...

Some days are better than others. This one seems better.

I liked the human profile hidden in the dark smoke of that last picture.