I cannot begin to adequately describe the skill and bravery of the pilots who pummeled these hillsides dropping load after load of water and retardant. Between my proximity to the flames and all the military aircraft in the sky I felt like a war correspondent. I kept hearing The Ride of the Valkyries in my head. I could hear the flames roar and crackle like an angry beast from hell, feel the heat, smoke, and rumble of engines and propellers. And then the wind came up, in 40 mph gusts; that’s strong enough to sting your face and make you lose your footing. From the very beginning of this event we have been at the mercy of these evening “sundowner” winds.
The larger craft are led out by smaller spotter planes
Firefighters and news crews assembled at the gates of hell
On the drive to the hotel July 4th
Unofficially out of immediate danger (and unofficially back in my crib) I can hear the men yelling on the lines, choruses of chainsaws and massive water tanker helicopters flying overhead as they turn around and head back to the latest drop zone a few miles to the west… My thoughts are with all the Goletans to the west and south because the fire is heading their way. At this writing the few puffs of smoke that I saw driving home on July 1st has now grown to more than 6,600 acres.
I can’t wait for that first blessed bike ride (tomorrow?!) I did get to see the first stage of the ‘Tour DAY Frantz’ at the hotel – yes, even with all this my concern over tv access for today never left my mind. Cathy was equally concerned. She wanted to be able to catch it live at 5:30 a.m. We bike nerds are all completely mental I tell you. Certifiable!