Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Girl Who Cried Fire

I had the chance to go camping this past week with my sister and her family. Blaine is busy working at his summer internship, so he was unable to go with us. The day we left for camping I confidently went and, in a noble leap of faith, purchase a one year fishing license.

I went fishing a lot as a kid and it's something I hope to be able to enjoy with my kids as they grow. Blaine mocks me and jokes about how no one wants to go fishing with me because I don't do any of the hard work. Sure, I cast, I reel in, I even bait my hook, but when it comes to things like yanking the hook out of the fishes mouth I tend to rely on whichever poor sap I've conned in to going fishing with me (Hi Dad!). 

Since my dad wasn't with us on this camping trip I was forced to rely on the good graces of my dear brother-in-law Wayne to satisfy the hook-ripping-out needs of my children and I on our fishing trip. So on Thursday night Wayne, his dad, his nephews, Bentley and I headed a half mile or so away from our campsite to go fishing. 

It had rained all afternoon but by early evening though the ground was damp, the sky was clear, the air fresh, and the lake inviting. The rain had cleared out everyone from the lake and we had the entire place to ourselves. It was so serene and peaceful. We found our respective spots and got our lines already (and by we, I mean Wayne). Got our lines in the water and enjoyed some very active fishing. 

A few fish later and one of Wayne's nephews shouted from several yards away, "hey, is that smoke?". We looked over and just beyond the lake, over a hill, we could see billows of smoke. Not such an unusual site as it was the campfire building time of the evening, but there seemed to be a little too much smoke for an average camp fire. We all nervously glanced at each other but quickly figured that it wasn't too big of a deal. 

We continued on fishing for about ten minutes when we heard the same nephew say, "whoa, look at that!". As we all turned we saw huge billows of smoke, spilling down from over the hillside and creeping rapidly across the lake and through the trees. 

That's when the panic set in.

And oh, I know what you are thinking, I am easy to panic. It wasn't even me panicking at first! It was the nephews, Wayne, and Wayne's Dad, this was like three generations of panicking people. Wayne and his dad exchanged a few exclamations of "this is not good, this is really not good." I quickly reeled in my line as the smoke billowed ever closer. It was creeping through the trees and nearly to us. 

The smoke was coming from the direction of the only exit out of the camp ground. It's one thing to think about having to quickly evacuate a mountain with countless others, down very windy, narrow road, but it is entirely more terrifying to think of your only exit being blocked by a forest fire. Thinking of being trapped or trying to outrun a fire through the bear infested woods, at night, with your three small children. Agh!

As soon as my line was reeled in, I saw the nervousness in Wayne's eyes as he looked at me and very firmly said, "GO. GO NOW! RUN!". The smoke was on our heels as we attempted to high tail it back to the campsite.

We were at least a half a mile from our campsite (where Gwen, Ivy and countless others were, blissfully unaware of our impending demise). Now half a mile isn't very far in general terms, but let's be honest, Bentley is pathetically slow at walking, let alone running. And he weighs about a thousand pounds. 

The nephews (ages 15 and 12), were so nice asking how they could help me as I fumbled up the path carrying a fishing pole and holding the hand of a tearful five-year-old, and fighting a full blown anxiety attack. I told them the best thing they could do was go alert our group to what was happening. So they sprinted ahead. I looked back to see where Wayne and his Dad were...all I saw was smoke. 

As I got in to the main camp ground I expected to see flashing lights or a flurry of activity, or hear someone barking orders from a megaphone. The reality was nothing. I could see the smoke sifting through the trees, it had caught up to me. I found the campground hosts' trailer and pounded on the door. By this time it was about 9:30PM. The poor old man groggily came to the door. "We think there's a fire by the lake!" I wailed. "Hurry!". 

He seemed very perplexed by my panic. Yet, quickly laced his shoes and hopped in his truck to go investigate. Just then my niece returned from the pathway to the lake and reported that you couldn't even see the lake through the smoke anymore. 

I made it back to camp to find everyone in a flurry. I ordered my confused and terrified children in to the van. I hurriedly grabbed our suitcases and flung them in, ready to evacuate. I was practically behind the wheel, ready to fend for my kids and leave the rest of our group behind to figure out their battle plan, but then...


 in the middle of all the chaos, and fear, and madness, the message got relayed back to us from the campground host that there was no fire. 

No smoke.


I really wish I had a video camera, or a regular camera. I wish you could see what I saw, because it was the most forest fire looking fog I've ever seen. Fog doesn't chase you, I mean, does it? It like, settles upon you. It's just there all of the sudden. This. This was demonic smoke. Like the monster from LOST. 

And once my blood pressure settled back in to the normal range (which took at least six hours), the hilarity of the situation caught up to me. And I'll always remember the day I nearly single handedly evacuated a campground because of fog. 


Emily said...

What an excellent excuse to dust off your blog.... ;)

ToddS said...

I wish that you had your own reality TV show. I would watch it all day, every day.

simple mom/wife said...

Ahhh, I'm still freakin out just reading about it and I know it wasn't even fire now. Yikes. Still love your writting!

Sharon said...

Thanks for the Friday laugh, that must have been terrifying! What a great memory though, "mom, remember when we ran away from the fog?"

Sheyenne said...

How in the world does this stuff happen to you? That is SO so funny!