Once we learned that our stay would be a fair bit longer than earlier expected, food rationing became a reality. Every noodle, egg, banana, granola bar, and piece of meat was counted and compared to the number of days we had left. It was going to be close, if not a bit on the hungry side.
Then it snowed! Up north, we got the snow before the southern parts of the province by a couple of days, but we made sure to leave lots in those clouds for the good folks in Calgary.
The garden was covered, the sunflowers were toppled over, the flowers shrivelled, and the lawn turned white.
For three days the sun never made an appearance, but at least no new fires were spotted.
Finally, the call came that the tower would be closed down ahead of schedule. It seems they wanted me back to do some work and take a course in Rocky Mountain House.
So the food rationing was put on hold and time was spent thawing out and draining the rain barrels outside, taking down the pine beetle traps, and generally getting the place ready to shut down for the winter.
The evening before the departure date, the sun finally came out with some heat and managed to melt much of the snow in the yard. The next morning, after fighting a strong north wind to get to me, my ride settled into the yard and pulled right up to the front door.
Hailey got into her travel case and found her place in the back seat. Once again, she was as calm as could be.
A few minutes later we were up in the air waving so long to our home for the last several weeks.
In less than an hour we were back at the airport and transferring all the gear into the truck for the long drive home.
Although she was calm in the helicopter, I think she relaxed just a bit more when back in the truck!
Eventually, we made it back to our ‘now abandoned’ fire camp, and found that it had snowed a bit here as well.
In the morning we hooked up the fifth wheel for the first time in a while and dragged it in to the air tanker base where we will be hanging out for the next little while. My work schedule ended a week ago, but I’ll be back at the camp for a day to tie up loose ends and lock up, and then I’ll be on a rescue course for three days.
After that, I may be asked to help out at the tanker base – so THAT’s why they sent me on the course in the spring – or I could be set free to plan the southern migration and take up full time residency in the trailer once again. I’m trying to convince the Bayfield Bunch to come this far west if they do their western Canadian leg before heading south to Utah and eventually to their Arizona place.
Hailey and I haven’t come up with a route plan yet, but I sure liked the scenery on the route we took last year down through Idaho, but I haven’t been on the coast since around Christmas, so we may consider going down that way and see if Paul & Nina (Wheeling It) are still minding the lighthouse! I sure enjoyed the natural hotsprings in NE California where we were two years ago …
I might be working only three more days, or three more weeks, – only time will tell!