Monday, August 9, 2010

Family Reunion Recap Part I: Smokejumpers

Joel has been working on a couple projects and, as such, has been holding our family reunion pictures hostage. But guess what a little nagging will get you? PICTURES! Now let me see if I can remember what we did...

Oh let's start with the smokejumpers! Maybe that's capitalized? There in McCall they have a little airport where these people train. It's their homebase and from there, can get to forests as far away as California (that's the radius). Smokejumpers, it turns out, are the people who parachute into forest fires (well, hopefully not INTO, but NEXT to) to fight them. Donovan asked a question early on, "Why did you decide to become a smokejumper?" which was the more tactful way of asking my question, "Do you hate living or something?"

Anyway, this (awesomely) targeted Donovan as the kid the tour leader (he must have drawn the short straw that day - he had just returned from 6 weeks of smokejumping in Alaska) would direct most questions and had try on their gear (he did not load Dono up with the full 100 pounds - bummer).

We got to go inside one of their airplanes, which is a (insert name of plane that impresses people like Joel and my dad but which make no impression on me - the colors, however - PRETTY!) and from the WWII era. So these guys (and ladies - yay feminism!) load up their 100 pounds of gear, pile into an airplane, adrenaline rushing at the knowledge they'll be jumping out of a plane near a fire, and then might have to be in there for 4 hours, anticipating. Anyone who has given birth knows the immediate question I had: there cabin service? No, that wasn't my question. Well, at least not my FIRST question. But this: BATHROOMS? The answer, horrifically, is that no, there aren't any lavatories. And then he said that most of them are all pumped to get on the plane, but once it takes off, they kind of zonk out until it's jump time since they don't ever know when they'll get to sleep again. Harsh.

Awesome faces:

One of the cool things was that all these guys (and ladies, presumably, though I didn't see any) have to MAKE their own gear: suits, backpacks, parachutes, etc. So there's this whole room with a ton of sewing machines. Some of them looked really old and I squealed with delight. Our leader was telling us about how they have to pass off certain requirements before they're allowed to jump with their gear. He mentioned that it had been kind of slow lately so a bunch of them were "doing cool stuff" to their backpacks. My eyes widened as I looked around at these crazy tough dudes hunched over SEWING MACHINES and I couldn't help but ask if they ever had fashion shows. And then the verbal diarrhea just kept going: I'm getting a real Project Runway vibe in here. Does Tim Gunn ever show up? The stitching here is impeccable. You in the corner - I see your vision, but I'm not sure if you can execute. Make it work, people!

I'll leave it up to you to decide whether any/all of those were actually uttered (hint: my self-edit tool, if I have one, may have been on the fritz). But seriously, I thought it was hilariously wonderful.

In summary: it's good there are smokejumpers and I never want one of my children to be one. It's like the danger of a firefighter, multiplied exponentially. But with camping! And parachuting! And chainsaws! Yeah, Donovan's mother is not a fan of the occupational hazards. But maybe it's time to teach him to sew a straight seam...just in case.


laura said...

That looks awesome! Also, love your kids' color-coordination in the last pic. Dono's shirt is especially fantastic.