Publisher’s Letter: Continuing Challenges

By Blaine Howerton, Publisher
North Forty News

In recent weeks, I have been writing about my adventures on the mountain burn acreage I own. And I introduced our readers to “Revela,” my second-hand RV that my young sons and I have been spending weekends in. And believe me, with part of the road presenting a 45-degree incline getting her up there was no small feat.

As luck would have it — 2020 luck that is — due to the continual threat of the Cameron Peak Fire, I had to pull Revela back off the mountain this past weekend.

This summer has been hard on us all. In addition to concerns about how to keep my family safe in light of this pandemic, for the 4th time in two months, I was evacuated. The Cameron Peak fire raged east toward my property and dare I say, “my beloved Revela.” As the LETA 911 system started issuing ever more urgent updates, I knew it was time to move Revela to safety (or risk losing her.)

So I raced up the mountain, removed the wooden RV skirt I installed last weekend, locked down the tongue of the trailer, checked the brakes, and made a run for it.

PHOTO BY BLAINE HOWERTON; The 45 degree hill up to my writer’s studio

At a 45-degree incline, I knew it would be much easier going down, then it was coming up — I just hoped not too easy. By now, I’m experienced with driving in the mountains. I knew to pump my brakes to retain constant pressure. The brand-new brake control fried and my trailer brakes stopped working! Excellent (sorry for the sarcasm). With all the things that have been unusually hard these past few months, it figures!

But thanks to my neighbors, who offered to spot traffic and provide help if needed, I made it safely down.

Since acquiring property in the mountains, I have come to appreciate how neighbors help each other. They may lead very different lifestyles but they always help. In fact, after years of city living, I have never had more helpful neighbors.

As the Cameron Peak fire continues to consume ever more acreage including homesteads, I’ve heard stories of small acts of local heroism, people reaching out to help in unusual and touching ways such as opening their homes to firefighters for free overnight stays, offering to help people get their livestock to safety, offering the use of their refrigerators, gift cards, you name it.

While personally, I didn’t need evacuee assistance, I watched, I listened, and I was touched by the outpouring of kindness I observed. At such a difficult time for so many people, I witnessed a community coming together to help. It was easy to get into the spirit and so I offered help where I could.

Now, as the weather has begun to cool and roads are starting to reopen I can’t help thinking of when I can safely call my friend Matt to help me bring Revela up the mountain again. But four evacuations are enough for one summer so I think I’ll wait till the Cameron Peak Fire is 100% contained. My heart goes out to my neighbors, some of whom have lost their year-round homes.

When it’s safe, I’ll go up on the mountain to check on the writing studio I built this summer. And while she is in town, I’ll get some work done on Revela. Who knows, I may be inspired to paint some of her interior — I see that blue painters tape in my future, and in fact, a friend has given me a few rolls to provide some encouragement.

While the threat of wildfire is not yet behind us, I just may be lucky to have been spared its destruction once again. And for that, I’m grateful!

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Blaine Howerton