Saturday, November 30, 2019

"Chasing Smoke: A Wildfire Memoir" by Aaron Williams

Wayne and I are on a Snowbird RV Adventure in California (click here). We've driven through smokey haze as strong winds drove flames through tinder dry foothills.

British Columbia's fire season typically runs from July when the forests dry out through October when fall rains arrive.

Chasing Smoke: A Wildfire Memoir by Aaron Williams (Harbour Publishing, 2018) seemed an appropriate reading choice considering what was happening around us.

Aaron Williams was a BC firefighter with the Telkwa Rangers from 2006 to 2014. Chasing Smoke focuses on the 2014 forest fire season, his last.

Ash layer along Powell Lake shore.
The last major fires along Powell Lake were in 1915 and 1918. We found evidence of the ash layer while digging on shore near our Powell Lake float cabin.

Goat Island disappeared in the smoke.
We do get thick smoke that blows west over the coast range from fires in BC's interior. Everywhere, firefighters and other first responders are putting their lives on the line for all of us.

Through his memoir, Aaron takes us through a summer of preparing for and fighting forest fires. You meet the Telkwa Rangers and learn how they work together to contain some of BC's worst fires like the Euchiniko Lakes fire, the China Nose fire, and two tours on the Chelaslie River fire that became the third largest in BC.

Training begins in May with a Rookie Week for the new recruits, some of whom are students looking for a summer of adventure and a way to earn money. Not an easy way for sure.  In telling the story, he gives you a good feel for life at base camp, in camps where firefighters stay during fourteen-day deployments and on the line fighting and mopping up after fires. Life is filled with highs and lows, and a lot of camaraderie in-between. Here's an informative video by CBC's The National.


As the fire season winds down, so does Aaron's career. You don't know what will happen next, but you do know that he will become an author with a strong voice and the ability to carry a tale to it's end.  

Chasing Smoke is available online at Harbour Publishing and Amazon. It's also available in bookstores and Kindle format.


If you want to read about BC fires from the perspective of people living through them, here are two recommendations. One is written by an author I've become acquainted with, Chris Czajkowski. The other she co-authored with a friend who lived through the same fire.

Wildfire in the Wilderness is by Chris Czajkowski (Harbour Publishing, 2006). You can read more about his amazing woman on her blog, Wilderness Dweller. The book tells about the life Chris lived in a remote cabin/resort she built called Nuk Tessli and how she lived through and was evacuated from her wilderness home during the Lonesome Lake fire of 2004.


Captured by Fire is co-authored by Chris Czajkowski and Fred Reid (Harbour Publishing, 2019). In 2017, fire returned to the region at Kleena Kleene and Colwell Lake. By now, Chris was living in an off-the-grid homestead. She and her friend, Fred Reid, also a homesteader, both refused to evacuate during the massive fire. The book alternates between their stories about how the fire affected their lives, homes and how it was fought.


There's also the monthly Book Review Club for teen/young adult and adult fiction over at Barrie Summy's blog.

Also shared with Your the Star at Stone Cottage Adventures. -- Margy

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Wayne and Margy's Snowbird RV Adventure

Wayne and I have been planning for our first Snowbird road trip in the new RV we purchased last April. It's a Forest River Sunseeker 2250 that we selected specifically for this adventure.

It's getting darker, colder and wetter at our float cabin on Powell Lake. Sun and warmth is calling. Just like the geese, we are migrating south.

I invite you to come over to my Margy Meanders Blog to follow along on our trip. Here's a preview of my first post to get you started.

The overall 24'4" length of the Sunseeker packs in a lot of living space.

An early November departure is perfect. We can beat snow and ice in the mountain pass between Oregon and California, and we can skip winterizing our RV. That's a win-win.

We've planned a three part trip.

Part 1 - takes us south from Bellingham, where we store our RV, to Southern California. We'll explore and camp along the way. In mid-December we'll put the RV in storage and go to USC for basketball. Then we'll fly back to Bellingham for a break.

Part 2 - starts in early February when we fly south to pick up our RV. We'll drive to Arizona for more exploring and a stay in Tempe for Arizona State University softball. Are you seeing a trend here? College sports? In late February we'll store our RV in Tucson then fly back to Bellingham for a second break.

Camping in public parks gives you more privacy and nature.

Part 3 - starts in late March. We'll fly to Tucson to pick up our RV for the final leg. There'll be more ASU softball before heading back north. We hope to make it to Oregon State University for more softball, and anticipate arriving back in Bellingham in mid to late April, after all of the freezing weather has passed.

Private RV parks offer more amenities and full hookups.

Does this sound complicated for a relaxing winter vacation? Maybe, but we aren't the kind of Snowbirds that like to stay in one spot. Our good friend John says we live a complicated simple life. But that's the way we like it.

Come along with us at my Margy Meanders Blog to see what's happening on our Snowbird RV Adventure. I'll write posts along the way when we have Internet. I hope you enjoy our trip as much as we do. -- Margy