So late last week we got home from exile (it was called evacuation), and the first thing to do (alas) was connect the computer and check emails, none of which worked very well in the land of exile. And what comes up but a long post from a neighbor giving us a link to Bob’s Eyes, which seems to be a blog of river realities from a long-time observer.

Bob Jones column photo

Bob Jones

The post I received dealt mostly with Bob riding his mountain bike through the smoldering hills behind Armstrong Woods where the Walbridge Fire was active, and many good people were on the lines keeping it within reasonable bounds. That there were two road blocks to get through and the fact that the motorbike bore no license did not deter this pair of eyes, which seem to be accompanied by a quick talking mouth.

One of the officers told our biker that he didn’t want to have to go up in the hills looking for him if he got in trouble, to which our biker replied, “I know this territory so well, I’d have to come looking for you.” And he rode on.

In the course of his travels, this biker gives us striking photos of live fire, smoldering tree trunk, and ash piled deep on our back roads. We see fire trucks on the job, backfires being closely watched and a masticator at work, which is a big machine that chews up downed trees and brush. We also see luscious plums and berries fresh plucked from gardens in and around the fire area.

Good old river names like Strode and DeCarly are mentioned, guys who, officially or on their own, were up in the hills doing what they could to save houses, sheds and barns. If I rightly recall, they saved all the houses, but not all the sheds and barns.

Time and again, fire and smoke, some of it photographed, stopped our biker from going down a certain road, but he knows many other roads, and he never gets in any trouble, at least none that was reported,    

So, in the unique and thoroughly unheard of way of this fire report, the whole thing comes to us as a wondrous adventure. “Fun” is a word that often turns up, “fun” to travel those roads and trails, “fun” to chat with the fire crews, “fun,” even, to get the ire of law enforcement and then convince them that this particular biker and his buddies are doing more good than harm.

Now I don’t support this sort of thing for one minute. If told to stay out, I stay out; if told to evacuate, I evacuate, and I know the roads around here pretty well myself. But, I have to say, this blog gives a refreshing take on an otherwise long and unrefreshing week. A characteristic lower Russian River take, I’d say, upbeat and maybe a bit out of line.

The attitude seems to be that, in a dire emergency, people are supposed to help as they can, and some River guys who are real familiar with the ups and downs and ins and outs of our back country hills and canyons decided they would do what they could do. And guess what, as the blog tells us again at the very end, “It was a lot of fun.”

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