Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Seriously?! We can't make this stuff up...

And here you thought that our family leaving Europe meant the adventures were over and my blog was going to be nothing but a collection of mediocre stories.  I really have been thinking that my blog is going to get insanely boring in comparison.  I suppose that would be a pretty normal expectation, but those that know me know that adventure has a way of finding me.

My mom lives on 40 acres in the Mojave Desert - literally in the middle of nowhere.  Our last visit to their ranch was the spring before we left for Germany, and we had a ton of fun adventures that visit as well, including a desert hike with rattlesnakes and a fun visitor in my mom's jeep, but nothing like the way we kicked off this trip.  Everything actually started off pretty chill.  The flight for us from Phoenix where we were visiting Big R's mom was easy as pie.  (Although we managed to pick the one flight that was scheduled during the World Cup game only to land and discover that Germany beat Brazil 7-1, what?!  so crazy...)  After collecting us all, including my sister and her husband, we had delicious BBQ and then got on the road to head out to the ranch.  It takes about an hour and a half with a large portion of the drive being on gravel road.

An absolutely amazing storm was making the sky an incredible sight.  We even stopped to grab some pictures and then hit the road to race the storm home (because you never know if a good storm will wash the road out - exciting, right?).

The New York Mountains in the Mojave Preserve

It rained, but not hard.  There was a decent show of thunder and lightning and the air felt clean and crisp.  Big R disappeared outside to take pictures of the lightning, of course, and as he was walking back inside, the sky lit up and a lightning bolt struck so close the house shook and Big R's hair was standing up when he walked in the door.  That'll get your attention!  We knew it was a stone's throw away, although none of us saw the actual lightning bolt strike the ground.  We all chuckled and caught our breath through sighs of laughter and went about our business.  Ignorance is bliss :)

About five or so minutes later, Big R wandered outside again, and he returned rather quickly and quite casually said, "you guys have fire."  My husband is a wonderful man, but he's also a jokester. I could tell by the look in my mom's face that she wasn't sure whether or not to believe him.  My stepdad, Tom, hopped up immediately to look outside, and Big R repeated, "I'm dead serious, we have a fire on the hill!"  Sure enough, the lightning bolt had struck a juniper on the hill near the house and was flaming.  YIKES!!!  I hate the way I react to these things.  Panic is not my best friend, and two things terrify me to no end:  tornadoes and fire.  My heart was literally in my throat.

Big R is thankfully a leader in crisis situations, and the next thing we know he is gearing up to head out in the "ranger" with a shovel in hand.  The hill is a mini-mountain and quite steep, but that flame was too close for comfort and BLM can only get here so fast.  In his mind, there was no time to waste.  My brother-in-law, Ryan, jumped right in, and despite protests from both Big R and Ryan, my sister insisted she go as well.  Her response?  "If it's safe enough for you, it's safe enough for me. I'm going."  Just love that girl.

Rain picked up and the flame died out.  They couldn't find where the lightning strike hit the tree, so they came back and we chilled out on the porch watching with relief as we saw the flame so much as disappear with the rain storm. We got the boys into bed (finally) after poor little r shook himself to sleep.  Baby c couldn't be happier to fall into bed, but I for some reason couldn't let him go during all the excitement as I kept picturing in my mind us loading up the horses in the trailer and packing up the car in record time. We were momentarily relieved that the fire died down and hoped it would fizzle out naturally.  BLM told us to call if it flamed up again, otherwise they would be out by morning.  Tom and I were already discussing shifts because there was no way this crew was going to sleep with a potential fire in our backyard.

Sure enough, about an hour or so later, the rain stopped, the wind picked up at the start of another storm front, and the blaze rekindled.  In a matter of minutes it went from seemingly dormant to being ablaze!  We decided not to mess around, and after eyeing the location with the telescope and binoculars, Big R was even more comfortable this time with reaching the blaze.  Honestly, the fire was picking up so quickly, we were afraid not to respond especially knowing it could take BLM upwards of an hour or longer to get the blaze.

They parked the mule at the base of the hill, and climbed up.  I was amazed at how quickly they reached the fire.  They were able to contain the embers, but the tree was like hot coal all the way to the core and they didn't have the equipment they needed to put it out.  Needless to say, we were happy knowing BLM was on their way.  Sleep was not going to be had among this group until this fire was completely put out.  Jokes were flying on the radio, and Big R, Ryan and my sister were chillin with the fire until BLM arrived.

BLM showed up with a big 'ol fire truck that was never going to make it anywhere near the hill. So, they packed up water bladders and other equipment, and Tom used the "mule" to bring them closer to the sight to save some energy.  Because this wasn't enough of an adventure, the mule decided to get caught in a ditch and bottom out.  I couldn't figure out what was taking Tom so long to get back, and thought maybe he had decided to join the firefighters on their hike up the hill until I finally saw him walking up from the barn at the base of the property.  What the heck?!  Yep, he wandered his way back in the dark - no flashlight, no radio, and only the porch light to show him his way - only to grab the tractor and my mom to head right back out to tow the thing out of the way.

My parents made it back with tractor and mule in tow, and thankfully both in one piece, right around the time my sister informed me that they were in a mad search for the ranger because they parked it in the dark and had no clue where they put it.  I'm happy to report they finally found it and made their way home.  We all sighed a huge sigh of relief, and Big R had a grin from ear to ear.  I'm about ready to pass out from all the adrenaline and he's having a ball.  Guess I'm glad I have him as a life partner to make it through any life crisis!

Phew... I think after it was all said and done, it was about 1:30 in the morning.  Bed was a welcomed sight for all.  Thanks, mom, for planning an outrageously exciting start to our vacation on the ranch :)

Despite the crazy beginning, we are already having a blast.  The boys had us up early, and we've ridden horses, played with tractors, gone on hiking adventures discovering bobcats, and I even managed to get in a yoga practice during one of baby c's naps. The ranch is an absolutely beautiful place in every way imaginable.

Here are a few pictures to share the fun we are having.  Hopefully we've left the wildest adventures behind us for this trip!!!

that smile says it all!!!

Papa Tom and little r - one happy boy and his grandpa

Big R having a ball training Stella

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