What’s wrong with this picture?

The Fire.

Pretty obvious, isn’t it? In any campground, USFS or even a private campground, this type of fire is not only NOT permitted, but reveals the foolishness of those making it.   Most ‘normal’ people wouldn’t even think to create such a potential disaster, but then in Alaska, most Alaskans aren’t normal.  And, yes, this was started by Alaskans.  

The actual tree fell during one winter.  The Forest Service – the name implies their job – did nothing to mitigate a potential problem. They cut this very tall tree into two huge pieces rather than bucking it so it could fit in the fire pits and be used as real fire wood.

This year they took a chain saw and mowed down small evergreen trees along the river bank leaving them there as what I call, Fire Fans. Why? Because people do not know that green wood doesn’t burn and these little branches will just produce embers that fly into the air. And, this is the US Forest Service trying to mitigate the forests.  Protect us from forest fires.  I’m sure Smokey the Bear would be a little disconcerted with what we had to deal with.  Yes, he’s in town.

What would you do in this situation? 

My husband called 911 who told him these people weren’t committing a crime!  What were they waiting for?  A forest fire? A fire arm exchange? Assault? We’re not sure what law enforcement up here considers a crime for all of you who watch “Alaska State Troopers.”  Two years ago when some disgruntled campers who squatted on someone else’s camp site left very nasty notes about my husband and stole our gas can that wasn’t considered a crime either.  It was ‘circumstantial.’ Circumstances such as this fire lead to crimes and well, what about Crime Stoppers?

He was also told by the dispatcher that we are in national forest and this fire is the responsibility of the National Forest Service.  However, they have no one working nights.  When do these events happen?  At night. This was 11 p.m. This is our tax dollars at work!

After being told this was no one’s problem and no one would help us, we called our son-in-law who volunteers for the local fire department.  From this day forward, we will call 911 to dispatch the fire department to an out- of-control fire in our campground. Our son-in-law and another firefighter arrived in a truck to deal with the situation. Unfortunately, my husband had taken issues in hand and they had nothing to do. That won’t happen again. We will walk away, let it burn and call the fire department. In any case, if the fire becomes full-fledged, its the Cooper Landing Volunteers who will be first responders any way. They actually care about the well-being of their families, friends, community and homes!

To make the situation even more ridiculous, the dude had an axe and a saw.  When he was ‘caught,’ he began to chop the tree into pieces (though he laid the burning branches on the ground thinking they would just go out).   Now, why not do that FIRST before starting the fire?

What we do with logs like this that keep appearing in camp sites is throw them in Cooper Creek or the Kenai River and rid ourselves of them forever. This will be the fate of this tree today and many others that campers love to put in these fire pits standing up like a beacon for starting a forest fire.

These are all the unbelievable things that we camp hosts find and discuss when we get together. These are the things that make us scratch our heads or do face to hand plants!   My husband went to check another campsite this morning and those campers had left their fire burning!

Our log home in Boulder, Colorado burned to the ground because of a small fire that still had embers.  When the wind picked up, the embers started some brush on fire and eventually, hundreds of people lost their homes, including the one we built with love and passion.   My trailer is now my home and my daughter lives here in her home with her husband and our grandson. An out-of-control- forest fire essentially could destroy both our lives and many other people’s lives we come to know in this beautiful state.

This is a good campfire! Thanks, Chuck!

The Tent.

Not so obvious is the tent is in the woods near the river and not on the tent pad in the camp site.  This is our responsibility as camp hosts/managers to deal with and they did move their tent to where it belonged after shutting down the fire.   There is a sign hanging on the tree that they walked by with their equipment that says, “No Tents Beyond This Point,” but again, Alaskans think the rules aren’t for them.  “We’re locals,” they remind us.  But, they are some of the worst campers we deal with from fires, to scattered toilet paper, to filleting fish on wooden tables in bear country, to leaving coolers out for bears and insisting their dogs can be off-leash because they obey voice commands. Really? An off-the-leash dog running into a bear will bring the bear back to you! Face plant!  

The Not-So-Obvious

The reason my husband found this disaster in the making at 11 p.m. was because these responsible campers had NOT paid for their campsite.  Though they ‘said’ as many do, they were getting around to it. They weren’t. They have 30 minutes to pay and in that 30 minutes they built a fire, set up their tent and went to bed! They wanted to camp free, pitch their tent wherever they pleased and have an out-of-control-fire.  Three strikes and they should be OUT, but we are only allowed to inform campers not enforce any Forest Service rules.

So, why do we do this? Because we love camping (glamping), the outdoors, visiting family, and meeting new people. Because there are so many other campers who obey the rules and don’t act like complete idiots (using the term an Alaskan State Ranger used in a recent conversation). We love meeting the good people, making new friends and enjoying beauty of the Kenai around us. Unfortunately, and it really is unfortunate, there are those few who blow our minds with their stupidity and put us on the front lines of battles with which we have no support from law enforcement. It is very unfortunate that in an area with so many campgrounds, there is no one to make rounds to enforce their own Forest Service rules. So, we will keep plodding on, learning in each situation how to deal with imbecile campers.

Oh, if you happen to be one of those, could you send me a note and explain why you do the things you do, including smearing poop on the walls of the toilets? Thanks.

©2019 Tentstake Ministries Publishing

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