Beaver Creek Fire

*I actually started writing this while the fires were still strongly burning. I was headed out of town and it just slipped through the cracks but I wanted to post it anyways. I feel that I need to keep it fresh in my mind as I know this won’t be the last go-around with Mother Nature we’ll be dealing with as the climate changes.*

The last few days have felt like living in la-la land {no, not L.A. land}. I live in Sun Valley, ID which is known as being the gateway to the Sawtooths. Therefore, I live in the mountains, in forests, in woods, in short – wilderness. Wild fires are far from uncommon up here. In fact, in the last 3 years that I’ve been back home, every summer we’ve had intense fires nearby and around that have caused us to live in smoke for sometimes up to a month at a time. The fires have, for the most part, been started naturally by lightning and unless they are directly threatening homes and general livelihood, are allowed to burn themselves out under the watchful eyes of firefighters and forest service personnel. Living in a valley means the smoke just loves to pour in and settle here. While it’s gross and nasty, it’s a part of life. I’ve often joked that we’re “blessed” with 5 seasons now: winter, spring, summer, fire and fall.

My normal, silly day-to-day life was upended a bit last week {August 16-19} when I woke to the the nasty smell of campfire in my bedroom. When I walked downstairs to the kitchen, smoke was actually visible in the house. I knew that my morning dog walk was going to be nasty. We walked outside and the clouds of smoke were so thick I could barely see the tops of the hills right across the street. The dogs who normally run amuck and act like a couple of spazzes in the morning were soon lethargic on the walk, panting heavily although the temperature was quite cool. When we went back inside they looked absolutely miserable.

Through the billowing smoke clouds and ash, I carried on with my Friday as usual. I made my eggs and bacon, went to work, started answering emails and phone calls – the usual. I had FaceBook up the whole time as well to stay updated on the fires as they had actually started a few days before {local radio station KECH 95.3 was on top of posting every piece of information that came its way}. An employee soon called and said that a part of the valley that is en route from Hailey to Ketchum, East Fork, had been put under mandatory evacuation and the highway was opening and closing as needed for fire fighting. We sent our South Valley people home right away so they wouldn’t be stranded, away from homes, family and pets.

Not 30 minutes later, our cell phones were ringing, with disembodied, automated calls telling us the entire cities of Ketchum and Sun Valley had been put under pre-evacuation notice. That meant we didn’t have to leave right away, but we had to be ready to leave immediately if necessary. My heart started racing. I became pretty emotional and was fighting to hold back tears. It felt like our world here in Idaho was on the verge of ending. It was strange for me to feel this way as I had lived in San Diego during both of the huge wildfires (2003 & 2007) we had that were really quite scary, but I hadn’t felt as though I was in danger. Here, I felt that no one was 100% safe.

After talking with the store manager, who was fortunate enough to be in NYC at Market with another associate, we decided it was best to close the store so the rest of us could get our affairs in order. As I was heading home {I live in an area called Warm Springs which means I headed in north} the line of traffic heading south to leave town was unbelievable. August is the busiest time of the year for every business in town and watching the visitors, second home-owners and full-time residents flee the choking smoke was disheartening to say the least.

On my short drive home I had been thinking of what needed to be packed in case we did end up being evacuated: family photos, grandma’s Derby Crown China, passport, birth certificate and other paperwork, jewelry, certain pieces of art work, dog food, laptop, wedding dress for my sister’s upcoming nuptials and of course my basic bathroom necessities and clothes to last for weeks if necessary.

Packing took me about 2 hours as my mind was a jumble of thoughts. To ease my busy brain, I had a few glasses of wine, walked the dogs again {the smoke had cleared up a bit} and talked with some neighbors who had stayed in their homes through the Castle Rock Fire{Quick aside: I wasn’t living in Idaho during this fire and I’m more than grateful because the house I live in now was threatened by the fire as it was across the street from the hill the flames were cresting. Thank god for firefighters.} They assured me that we were completely safe as it had created a back burn around us, acting as a natural fire barrier. My mind had been put at ease, somewhat. {Here’s a map of the fire in comparison with past fires.}

I went back in and waited for my boyfriend to come home. He had taken it upon himself to make sure we had gas in our cars and was currently waiting in an hour long line at one of the very few stations we have in town. I packed some things for him and started loading my car. One bright side to this ordeal was that I was being much more conservative than I ever thought I’d be in this particular situation. Sure I grabbed a dress or two that I absolutely loved, but I didn’t fill boxes with high heels and knick knacks. It was a sobering moment, realizing that if I lost it all that day, I would of course be heartbroken, but it wouldn’t mean the end of the world for me.

Anyways, he eventually made it home, we packed the car with our things and the pups and went to a friend’s house in town. I couldn’t stand the thought of sitting in our smoke-filled house all day, sitting on the edge of our seats and checking the fire status every 2 seconds on FaceBook. We didn’t really do anything at her house either, but we were with other people and the dogs were with us. From her porch we watched one of the 2 DC10’s and its spotter maneuver through our small, narrow valley to get to the 500+ foot flames that were attacking our community so it could drop some retardant on the fire.

Putting out Beaver Creek Fire

That night, we had more friends over and had some beers. We talked about the fire a lot and who we knew that might be getting evacuated and what might happen if we didn’t get more resources in. The night passed, albeit it was a really long one, and we all went to our homes to catch some shut eye, wondering what the next day would bring.

My phone died during the night and I was woken up on Saturday to my sister calling my boyfriend’s phone, sounding very worried and asking if we were ok. I told her we were fine, just waking up, and asked her why. She informed me the fire had increased by 50% overnight and that the threat to Greenhorn Gulch, the original problem area, now included Croy Canyon, located in Hailey. I woke up quickly, quite literally jumping out of bed to find my computer and find out what the latest news was. It was true, the fire had spread considerably and we were still waiting for outside resources to come to our aid. More mandatory evacuations had been set and I knew more than a few people who’s homes were out Croy and hoped that they were safe.

I sat at the breakfast bar downstairs, seeing images of the raging fire eating away at the place I’ve called home most of my life. I finally broke down and cried. The stress and worry had reached its summit in my heart and I was incredibly sad.

Carbonate Beaver Creek Fire

…………..

The day went on. Again we went to our friend’s house to take our minds off of what was going on around us. We talked about leaving town just for the day to get fresh air but couldn’t find it in ourselves to leave, even for a moment. Our heads and stomachs hurt from the nastiness of the toxic smoke. I was feeling dizzy, weak and out of it in general from the lack of oxygen. It was the most bizarre sensation. I felt like we should be doing something productive, normal really, but couldn’t bring ourselves to do anything other than sit in the apartment, drinking beer and hoping for the best.

Greenhorn on Fire

As soon as it was open, we went to literally the only open bar/restaurant in town to breathe fresher air, numb our disbelief with liquor and eat their delicious food. On our way there, our normally bustling main street was empty, making it look as though we lived in a ghots town. The Cellar became our home base that night. We parked it in a corner and people came and went. We had dinner, then a light snack. We took shots, tried different beers, compared stories with the other brave souls who had stuck around. While it was in all actuality a fun night, it was also disorienting.

The next day, Sunday, I had to go to work. Hardly anyone came in and I was still feeling…odd. I had had a headache for the last 3 days and as I mentioned before, still felt really dizzy.

At this point we had many fire fighters and hot shot crews battling The Beast, as it came known to be, so the threat of the wildfire consuming our town had whittled away. Evacuations were being lifted and through the grape vine we learned that out of the thousands of homes that had been threatened, only 1 was lost {and for that I am still so sorry}. Things were starting to look up.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

That night we took it easy and tried to have a bit of normalcy in our lives. We had dinner at home and went to bed on the early side, wanting to be fresh when we both went into work Monday morning. We again woke up to the smell of wildfire in our bedroom and mustered up the energy to start our day. On my way to my job, town looked as though a few people had ventured back. The phones were ringing with calls from vendors and visitors alike who had come to love our small town, wanting to hear if everything was going to be ok. I answered their questions while breathing in the clean, A/C air at work and trying to get my mind to focus.

My sister’s wedding was the following weekend and I had to switch gears from wildfires to wedding and travel preparations. The rest of the world was still spinning, with people getting on with their daily lives, and now, so was mine.

Meatless Mondays Can Be Tasty

As a CrossFitter and avid supporter of eating meat {read: bacon}, it’s hard for me to get on the vegetarian band-wagon. That being said, I also realize the impact raising meat has on the environment and so do a lot of other people. Solution: Meatless Mondays.

Since around the time of WWI, the Food Administration encouraged Americans to consume less daily staples to contribute to the war efforts, meat being included. The population complied and realized they felt not only not terrible by eating less, but actually felt better overall. The trend lasted through WWII but fizzled out soon thereafter when everything once again became readily available.

A revival in 2003 was led by Sid Lerner, in association with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, with the idea to promote healthier living. It has since taken off in popularity with celebrities, politicians, chefs, restaurants and even entire cities participating. Countries including Brazil, Israel, Australia, France and so many more have also adopted the practice. See the entire list here.

I’m all for promoting sustainability and think Meatless Mondays are a great and easy way to do your part. Food & Wine, also promoters of the movement, have come up with 13 mouth-watering hamburger alternatives that will make you want to have meatless-months. Check out the complete slideshow here, but these are my favorites.

The Black Bean Burger
Food & Wine Black Bean Burger

Veggie Burger with Pomegranate Ketchup
Pomegranate Ketchup

Oat Cakes & Spinach with Horseradish Sauce
F & W Oat Cakes

Corn & Shitake Fritters
F & W Corn & Shitake Fritters

Four Cheese-Stuffed Portobellos
F & W Four Cheese Portobellos

Which ones will you try first? Will this be your first Meatless Monday meal? Please share and tell me what was the best! 🙂

*All photos courtesy of Food & Wine.

Have You Heard About Gazelle?

I’m online all day everyday and you have NO idea how much stuff is online about anything you could ever search for. Well, maybe you do. Anyways, a while ago I signed up to earn coupons and other rewards from Recyclebank.com, an educational site that teaches you about being ecofriendly, which we all know I try to be. Every time you complete a ‘lesson’ you earn points and with those points you can get awesome rewards for everything from magazines to restaurants, from beauty products to donating to a charitable cause. Recycle Bank

It’s a pretty cool site that has a lot of great resources and info to learn about recycling, to teach others about it and generate general awareness. They even have forms available to send to your local waste haulers to set up programs in your neighborhood. Pretty neat if you ask me.

Today there was a company that caught my eye and that is Gazelle. Are you looking to get rid of old gadgets, like the pile of iPhones that somehow keep accumulating? Are they in pretty decent condition, you just wanted a shiny new toy? Gazelle buys them back! They take iPhones, tablets, iPods, Macbooks and Macs, and cell phones by Samsung, Nokia and HTC to name a few. Here’s a complete list of phones. They’re offers aren’t shabby either, might I add. When I’m ready to upgrade my phone I’ll make almost enough to cover the cost. You simply go to their site, select the item you’re looking to get rid of, verify how beat up it is {or isn’t} and bam! you’ve got a quote. I haven’t sent anything in {yet} but their system is very user-friendly.

The idea first started in 2006 when a group of like-minded individuals got together with the thought that, ‘Hey, if you can trade in cars, why can’t you trade in phones?’ Good question! By 2007 Israel Ganot and his team were in business. This year they’ve traded their one millionth item; a Samsung Galaxy II. Kudos Gazelle! That means they’ve kept over 1,000,000 electronic items out of landfills where they could cause serious harm to water supplies, dirt and the local environment overall.

Check it out! I’m sure you’ll be able to make a screamin’ deal. 😉

Easy Tomato Transplanting

I started out with nothing but seeds, dirt and random containers to grow everything in. It took about a week before I started to see life push through the dirt but when it finally happened, I was beyond overjoyed. Now a lot of my plants have been replanted into larger containers, I’ve had to throw out the weaklings and some jalapeño plants have joined the fam.

One trick that I was really pleased with when it came time to transplant the tomatoes, while I’m sure is out there somewhere, I came up with whilst running out of salsa containers for my seeds. I eat eggs daily so there are always cartons around the house. I decided they’d be great for my tomato seeds and got them all planted.

Remember this?

Tomato Seedlings

When it came time to transplant these babies I just soaked the carton on a tray of shallow water to get the cardboard soft. Egg cartons are surprisingly durable and take quite a bit of water to loosen them up but once they were easy to tear through, transplanting was as easy as 1•2•3.

I pushed the seedling up through the bottom for a perfect little mound of dirt and plant.

Tomato Seedling Tomato

And voila! I did this on Thursday and so far they haven’t died but they also haven’t grown anymore which is due to our still-cold weather. Will I get to reap the rewards from my hard work? I don’t know. I kind of doubt it but it’s been a learning experience and continues to be. I am determined to try every trick and technique to keep my plants alive and thriving so if anyone has any suggestions I’m all ears!!

So this is what I’m up to this summer

I can’t believe I did this but a little over 3 weeks ago I decided I was going to plant a vegetable garden. I started out just wanting to have some herbs on hand like Basil, Chives and Cilantro because you know, I hate buying that shit. It ends up going to waste before I use it all up and when I try to dry it – well it gets gross.

Why can’t I believe it? A few reasons. One is because I have a black thumb and always have. Another reason is because I’m lazy, lazy, LAZY. The few times I’ve ever worked in a garden I lasted all of 15 minutes before succumbing to sun/heat stroke and a hurt back from being bent over. The last, and most important, is that I have absolutely NO idea what I’m doing.

But whatever, I got the bug up my ass one weekend and stopped in at the local garden center (one of them anyways, I don’t really have a preference) and picked up seeds for lettuce, tomatoes, squash, bell peppers and strawberries. As of today, everything but the peppers and strawberries have started sprouting. Here’s my little garden!

BPJones's Veggie Garden

It’s hard to see exactly what’s going on here but it doesn’t matter because by next Sunday (fingers crossed) almost all of my little sprouts will be moved to bigger, more permanent pots. I am a little disappointed about the peppers and strawberries but I’m not giving up! I’ll keep watering them and making sure they’re getting the light they need until the snow starts falling again.

Oh, and I’m quite partial to the lettuce as it seems to have been named after my grandfather…

Grandpa Admire's Lettuce

Helping Save the Planet, 50 Steps at a Time

I like to make an effort to lessen my carbon footprint. There are countless possibilities to do your part and frankly it can get daunting. It can even get to the point where you stop doing anything at all because let’s face it, does it really matter? Well, yes, it does. Duh. I found a great and simple site tonight called 50 Ways to Help and it’s exactly what it sounds like: 50 simple tips on what you can do to help and very short explanations on just exactly how it is you’re helping. Unless you’re completely illiterate, it’s a very easy read. Below I posted my top 5 ways that I like helping best.

50 ways

1. Plastic Bags Suck – They really, truly do. I was so disheartened when the Plastic Bag Ban didn’t pass in my little home town. I really couldn’t, and still can’t, understand why. How difficult is it to bring a bag to the store with you? In fact, I use it as an excuse to get those super cute cotton bags that are super cheap and come in hundreds if not thousands of patterns. This perfectly adorable one was on Etsy.

I'll hold all your grocery needs!

I’ll hold all your grocery needs!

2. Pay Bills Online – One reason I have always disliked paying my bills is the terrible waiting period for my check to clear. Not everyone is a super great money budgeter (God knows I wish I was though) so there was always a 50/50 chance I’d have a little check-bouncy problem. And that’s just lame. Plus, paying bills online takes less than 30 seconds. That’s less time than writing a check, finding your stamps again because you rarely use them, then, if you live where I do, having to drive to the post office to send them off. Bleh. Be done with it.

3. Recycle Aluminum & Glass – I know, I know, Blaine County doesn’t recycle glass. I constantly shake my head about this but they do “reuse glass as cover material at the Inert Materials Pit (at Ohio Gulch) where items that don’t decompose can safely and legally be disposed.” Direct quote from 5B Recycles. Also on the pro side of this, less petrol is used to ship the glass. So there’s that. I also know how messy it can get living where I live when you have to separate every stupid thing or else the recyclables won’t even make it where you intend for them to go. It really is enough to make you say, ‘Enough already!’ but please keep at it.I’m keeping my fingers crossed that eventually in the near future this will change.

Ha ha! There's that bag again!

Ha ha! There’s that bag again!

4. Wash in Cold or Warm Water – This is something I’ve done for years. I do ALL of my laundry in cold water and it has never been a problem for me. I also use the Trader Joe’s version of Oxiclean for every load and my clothes, towels and linens are just as great as the day I got them. When you put your clothes in the dryer you don’t have to use high heat either. I have found that the Permanent Press option dries my clothes just as well. I’ll even take it a step further and dry my clothes on a rack rather than stick them in the dryer. Both of these methods make not only a huge impact on ‘doing your part’ but also will add years to your fabrics. All the hot water and high heat breaks clothes and dyes down pretty quickly over time. So this tip’s really a win-win-win. 😉

This rack from IKEA, my fav place, is super cheap and very versatile.

This rack from IKEA, my fav place, is super cheap and very versatile.

And finally…

5. Shower With Your Partner – This is my favorite one for obvious reasons. Who doesn’t like to see a   sweet bum at every opportunity? ♥ And because my hot water lasts all of 30 seconds, we’re in and out of there super fast while both getting clean. It really makes bathing time that much more enjoyable while doing something good.

So there you have it. My good deed for the day, sharing these great and easy tips. I really hope that you find a couple that you can incorporate into your life without it taking over. Let me know what some of your favorites are!