SMOKE JUMPING

As you know we have been camping in Eastern Washington for a week now and have been running away from the forest fires. Before we were evacuated from Twisp we had visited the Smokejumpers complex just outside of Winthrop. This is the first opportunity I’ve had to post that story.

Oh by the way we are safely ensconced at the Suncrest Resort in Moses Lake and there are no fires around!

While in Twisp we decided to visit the birth place of smoke jumping just outside of Winthrop, called the “North Cascades Smoke Jumpers Base”, it’s where, in 1939, Francis Lufkin developed the “smokejumper’s” technique’s that are still practiced today throughout the country. In the United States there are some 400 smokejumpres spread over nine bases.

They are “undeniably the most highly trained and fastest deployable wildland firefighters available today.”

Ironically we visited the base in the midst of five forest fires around our campground and the Twisp area. There were almost no smokejumpers at the base as they were all out fighting the fires but Jason Ramos, one of the remaining firefighter’s on standby, gave us a great tour of the facility and shared many stories about the smokejumpers with us. Since then the fires have merged and become the Carlton Complex Fire burning 238,000 acres and is zero percent contained at this time.

The following pictures are from the base but sadly without nearly as much narrative as Jason provided.

We knew we had arrived when we saw the welcome sign.

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The first thing you see as you approach the buildings is the “Birthplace of Smokejumping” sign.

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Underneath it reads:

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First stop was the parachute packing building. This sign caught my eye as the bird’s wings were made from gloves.

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Inside Jason explained the protective jump suit to Marilyn. What’s most interesting is that the firefighters all sew their own special clothing. The suit they wear when jumping has Kevlar in it which protects them from tree branches and such when parachuting into treed terrain.

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There were long tables used for folding and packing their parachutes. Everyone packed parachutes for anybody and not just their own.

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Here Jason is explaining everything that they “jump” with when going into a fire.

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We went to the building where they prepare all the other equipment that gets dropped along with them. It’s things like chainsaws, buck saw, food, water and much more. This pallet contains everything they should need and it will all be dropped to them once they are safely on the ground. It gets dropped from around  500 feet in the air.

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Ten smokejumpers and all this gear go into their CASA C-212-CC.

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The cockpit is very small but leaves lots of room for the troops.

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The seats are for the smokejumpers and the equipment goes behind the cargo net.

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While walking around there were many other “assets” being deployed to fight the fires including this big helicopter with the water drop bag hanging underneath.

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I thought this sign sort of said it all about the smokejumpers.

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We’d really like to thank Jason for such a great tour and especially thank all the men and women off the “Smokejumpers” for all they do to help protect the people and property in the path of these forest firers.

HIGHWAY 20 NORTH

Now that I have Twisp covered it’s time for us all to go for a nice walk north on Highway 20. It’s kind of unfortunate but there are no hiking trails around the campground so to get in some miles I have to walk on the highway with cars racing by at 60 MPH. Still it was a beautiful walk and I got a better look at the Methow Valley.

This is the Methow River, reflecting the smoke clouds which really caught my eye.

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This buck was posing quite nicely against the scrub grass.

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There was a steady stream of fire and rescue vehicles heading toward Twisp and beyond. They were from all over the state as well as from Oregon. There were also about eight large vans carrying firefighters with all their gear stowed on the roof rack. This is one of the fire vehicles.

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I believe this is what they were racing towards. It appears as there was a bit “flareup” on the other side of Twist.

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Oh and did I mention that this is really different but beautiful country? Click on this panorama to see what I saw during my walk this morning.

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Thanks for walking with me, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Be sure to come join me again tomorrow!

A DAY IN TWISP

Yesterday we spent the better part of the day in Twisp. It’s a really small, quaint, town that has two main streets. One is the highway and the other is one block over. If you ever visit Twisp be sure to visit both, there are interesting things all around.

NOTE: You can click on any of the images to make them bigger.

But first some fire news. There are three forest fires withing eight miles of us and it’s been quite smokey and even raining ash.

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There are helicopters flying overhead most of the day with buckets full of water.

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This was the view from our campground at sunset last night.

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Just to show how dramatic it was this was around 10:30 last night just after it turned dark.

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Now onward to Twisp.

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Like I mentioned, Twisp is a two street town and this is the street that’s off the highway.

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Here are some photos of things I found interesting while walking around town.

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We had lunch at the Twisp River Pub and the food was good. Their brewed beer wasn’t all that good but I had a Moose Drool from Montana and it was excellent!

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Although it was around 102 degrees F we made the best of it and had a good time. We visited the Community Center and learned about the history Twisp and the area. Did you ever wonder where the name “Twisp” came from? It was an Indian word for “Yellow Jacket”, who knew?

I’m going to post a second blog this morning with photos from my walk so you can join me there.

METHOW VALLEY

Yesterday we left for points east and traveled the North Cascades Highway. It’s a beautiful trip that everyone should travel at least once in their lifetime. We stopped for a photo opp at the entrance to the park.

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Here is a little bit of what you see along the way.

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It was a toasty 100 degrees F when we arrived at Riverbend RV Part just outside of Twisp.

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It’s located in the beautiful Methow Valley. That’s pronounced “Met-how”, you don’t say the “th” together like you might ‘th’ink. The campground is located right on the Methow River. This is the river this morning as I was starting my morning walk.

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That’s right folks I did walk this morning and I hope you are walking with me because it was a beautiful morning. The temperature cooled down to a very pleasant 61 degrees but it’s supposed to top out at over 103 today, ouch!

Here are some shots of the Methow Valley area as we walk along the highway.

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Unfortunately all this heat and dry weather is causing some very large forest fires. This appears to be a brand new one that’s starting up just to the north of our campground.

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I was being watched as I walked by. It’s nice to have company so early in the morning.

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This is looking down on our campground toward the Methow River.

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Bug Test! Apparently they are doing some sort of bug test around here to see how many and what kind of bugs are in the area. It’s basically “fly paper” with a grid.

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As many of you know my 73 year old brother Ron is traveling the same roads as we are but on a fully loaded bicycle. After going over the passes yesterday and the narrow hot roads along the Methow Valley I have to say he’s either my “hero” or a complete “idiot”!! This is one of the roads he rode on and you can see how narrow he shoulder’s are. Oh yeah, the speed limit along here is 60 MPH, Holy Crap! Better him than me. The good news is that he leaves each morning very early and stops well before noon.

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And with that I’ll leave you to your “Hump Day”. Thanks for walking with me and hopefully we can do it again tomorrow.

ONWARD

Well today will be my last “Coupeville Impression” for a while. We’re headed for points east with a family reunion in the middle of our trip. We’ll be camping and suffering through the 103 degree heat in Eastern Washington but we’ll have a good time just the same. Unfortunately our house/kitty sitter doesn’t walk or blog so no news from Coupeville for a while. I will try and post a blog now and then while on vacation but it will be mostly dependent on the availability of WiFi. We’ll check in with our house/kitty sitter daily to keep a remote eye on our wee town and say “Hi” to Ms. Kitty Kitty :-)

I thought I’d try something a little different this morning. I generally take two types of photos during my walk, “pretty pictures” and “public interest”. This morning I have some of each and will post the “pretty pictures” large and “public interest” smaller.

First off “Pretty Pictures”. This doe and fawn posing in the yellow morning sun were just waiting for me to take their photo.

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The “SuperMoon” is starting to wain but still made for a nice photo.

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Every time I try to take a photo of harbor seals they take a dive just as I’m about to push the button. This morning I got lucky and caught this little guy just before he dove.

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Speaking of Photography, this is John Deir a fellow member of the Whidbey Focus Facebook group. He has a particular interest in time-lapse photography and he was taking a long time-lapse of the sunrise and the wharf. It will be fun to see what he comes up with once it gets edited down. Keep an eye on the Whidbey Focus Facebook page to see his efforts. While your there why not “Like” and “Follow” Whidbey Focus we have some really nice photographers and photos posted.

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As a segue to “Public Interest” I found this little stuffed dog on the porch of the Joseph B. Libbey house, circa 1870. Joseph moved to Coupeville around 1859 when he was nine years old. He built this home when he was only 20. He served as County Treasurer for two years, County Auditor for five years, and was Clerk of the School District No. 2. He died in 1922. (source: “A Particular Friend, Penn’s Cove” by Jimmie Jean Cook).

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The house has been vacant for many years and there has often been talk about moving it. Today I noticed a bunch of white things piled up behind it along with the pile of wire on the front porch. Something seems to be going on. I hope they are going to do something good with it.

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If you remember from a few days ago I showed you the new path along Front Street that’s been rebuilt now that the sliding bank has been determined to be stable. Well they’ve improved it even further with a really nice pole rail.

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And I thought this was funny. There’s a small cabin on Front Street, down the cliff by the water. There is no address sign for the house and I guess the owners decided they really needed one. To the right of this photo are the steps going down to their cabin you can’t see it from the street.

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Here’s their solution!

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Thanks for walking with me today and have a great week ahead. With any luck I’ll have a fun blog from somewhere around Twisp, Washington in a day or two.

PULLIN’ ANCHOR

Wow, what a difference a day makes. Yesterday it was misty fog and this morning nothing but sunshine. It will probably be another scorcher but it sure was a nice cool 53 degrees F for our walk.

The first thing I spotted was this standoff between a deer and a cat. As it turned out the cat ran away but they stood and stared at each other for the longest time.

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Out on Ebey Prairie this barn with the tule fog caught my eye.

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It looks like Colleen is at it again, getting ready to add yet another tricycle to her yard art collection. I wonder what color it will be.

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Out on the wharf I caught the sun just as it was coming over the horizon.

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I also spotted this early bird “Pullin’ Anchor” and heading for distant shores. I also caught the head of a small harbor seal in the background.

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In town, at one of my favorite stores, Far From Normal, I spotted this new board game. We may just have to check it out.

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On my final leg to home I couldn’t resist one last sunrise photo of this sailboat.

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And finally some progress, yippee. Front Street has been half blocked off for almost two years due to the hillside sinking and sliding into the cove. They were concerned about it affecting the road. I guess they decided that it was no  longer a threat, at least not now and filled in the path and removed the barricades. All that was left this morning were some road cones and I suspect that once they get the path tamped down they will go away as well.

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Time to turn on the fans and cool the house down. Thanks for walking with me and with any luck we’ll do it again tomorrow.

MISTY MORN

It was a real seaside kind of morning with fog and a slight mist in the air. Non the less it was still beautiful, like it always is here in Coupeville.

I was gone missing the last couple of days due to a little project and warm weather. We’re getting ready to go on vacation and I’m in the process of waxing our little trailer. I’ve been getting up and at it early in the mornings before the sun gets to it. I should finish it today.

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But I digress :-). Back to our walk this morning.

With all the excitement over the recent World Cup Soccer Match this setting caught my eye. It looks like the game is over!

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The Coupeville Library has beautiful hanging baskets of flowers.

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As the subject of today’s blog is “Misty Morn” it requires a couple of “misty” photos. Here’s the backside of the buildings along Front Street taken from the wharf.

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Here’s a misty shot of the wharf.

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The old John Robertson’s Store, built in 1866, is finally getting a makeover. It’s been closed for the past couple of years after being several restaurants. It’s now going to be turned into four shops and three apartments, one upstairs and two downstairs. Here’s a rather poor shot of the plans that are posted in the front window.

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These are pictures of the outside and inside of the building as of today. In talking with the owner they still don’t have a name for it.

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And I spotted these beautiful flowers on my final leg home.

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It’s nice to have you join in my walk this morning. I’m already looking forward to tomorrows walk.