Bureau? Commission??

I’m so confused.  But I certainly got one thing wrong- this is no “sit around the table and debate” club!  This is what I call action!  In the time it takes to kill a few geese, crash a helicopter, and rescue the pilot smoke jumpers and planes full of aerial suppression are scrambled and on the scene!  Wow!!  If this isn’t justification for all the money spent on maintaining readiness I don’t know what is!

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Well, we can all go about our day now..  move along now…  nothing to see here…

Why? What’s at Wally’s House?

Yes, Abbey, keep running that way- and don’t stop for any reason, especially not for strangers and others that might offer you candy…  Really Mark, she’s a grown woman-person…  you needn’t be quite so directive…

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And how do you know his name is ‘Buddy,’ Mark?  Are all helicopter pilots named ‘Buddy’ just like all Pullman Porters were named ‘George?’  It’s good that we didn’t add to the body count…  but we still may be seconds away from another explosion!

Say good-bye to Mr. Helicopter, kids…

I suppose the lesson here is that nothing is so sacred that can’t be blown up or taken out…  be they boats, (the SWAN,) trucks (Abbey’s,) tanks of propane gas or planes (Wes and Shelley’s,) or even a civil service helicopter bent on protecting the Natural World ends up as so much shrapnel…

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So with Mark and Abbey assuming the super-hero bent forward running/lunging stance, we say good-bye to the helicopter and its inhabitants…  or perhaps they will miraculously survive this imminent impact, which will no doubt spare Mark and maybe Abbey…  Saturday can’t come soon enough for me, what with all that now hangs in the balance…

Geese? Panicking??

I don’t pretend to understand what motivates wildlife, but I really don’t think that geese would care much at all about fire, considering that they can take to the wing and just leave it all behind.  But Helicopters?  I guess they’d find one of those fairly disorienting…  Nevertheless, here we are again, with disaster on our doorstep, brought about by mankind and his careless ways… anyone else sensing a theme here?  No matter what we do to try to control Nature, Nature will always win.

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I think that’s the greatest line ever uttered in the Trailverse- “Aahhh!  Geese!”  And it may be the last line uttered for our spotter pilot- thank goodness he was able call in the fire before being taken down by this random act of Nature.  I think the Forest Commission will re-think their manned-flight protocols in the wake of this apparent tragedy.  I see the rise of the drones coming:  why send anyone into harm’s way when it could all have been done remotely from the comfort of Central Command…

Jumpers on the Peak?

From what I remember, the peak of Slumber Mountain is a rocky moonscape well above the tree line…  And we are going to make the Smoke-jumpers walk/hike all the way down?  Ariel suppression!  A ground crew!  Is there no end to the resources that lay around waiting for things like this to pop?

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Watch out for the geese!  There’s enough collateral damage going on here without adding them to the death toll…

What, no drones?

A spotter helicopter?  This would be the perfect job for a drone!  oh well… another time.  Well thank goodness that Mark and Abbey are out of harm’s way.  and you are right, Abbey.  That fire will take care of those darned “Invasive Beetles…”  Never mind that the fire will also destroy Wally’s livelihood… But no matter, especially if one takes the long view, fire is our friend! All those Jack Pine seeds need it in order to be released from their cones and start a new generation…  in a forest devoid of competition, they are the first to emerge.

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I wonder if the grouse in panel one is getting paid overtime?  This seems to be the go-to species that follows Mark around more than any other…

Make sure you just stand there…

Yes, Abbey- hang on, girl!  Don’t make a move!  Even though you are surrounded by fire!  It’s like Mark is thinking that the fire is a rattlesnake or something, and any quick movement will cause it to strike?  But wait, Mark will run into the fire that Abbey could’ve/should’ve run out of and “save her…”  This is an embarrassment to strong women everywhere!  Whatever…

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I wonder how Wally is doing with the “Fire Commissioner?”  Let’s hope he can muster the resources to save his stand!

Habits are formed over time…

I’ve been at this well over the time necessary to form a habit– whether it be 30/60/90 days or whatever the studies show…  and don’t worry, dear readers (would you? really?) I won’t stop now… reading Mark Trail has become a “habit” for me for nearly 40 years now.  And I am half way into my third year of posting daily (except Sundays…)  I sometimes wonder how long this will go on…  I sometimes ask myself the question, not necessarily about this,  “When does a comfortable routine start to define a rut?”  What is the proper balance of “foundation” activities and “break-out” experiences necessary to keep one enthused about life?  I suppose it varies by person and where you might find yourself, and whether your collection of foundation activities (habits?) are healthy of hurtful to you and others around you…  There are, after all, good habits and bad habits, and the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ can certainly be in the eye of the beholder…

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But back to our story…  Trees falling everywhere in Abbey’s path (Like they were just dying to fall given just a sliver of a chance…) and Mark racing to “save her…”  Why?  She seems capable of moving out of harm’s way (even if she doesn’t have her glasses…)  So with all this manufactured tension, we ask the question once again- Why would anyone associate with Mark Trail?  Where he goes disaster can’t be far behind…

So glad that they keep calling out the points on the compass…

Otherwise I’d be totally lost…   and for those of you who might have missed it, a sketch of the area might prove helpful in orienting yourself to the goings-on… Map sketch 3 …so now it’s not just the bugs that are coming south, it’s also the FIRE!

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Migrated… such a benign notion…  Invasive, destructive species don’t migrate, they move in, infest, take over, destroy…  just like earthworms are doing to the forests of my home state…  nope, not kidding…  careless or even well-meaning anglers, over the years, by dumping their bait buckets on land, have created an environmental catastrophe

Hokey Smoke!!

Yup, that got there attention…

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The Forestry Commission??  What ever happened to the Forest Ranger??  Commissions are usually designed to set policy and create systems change…  not for delivering direct services…  What?  are they going to call a meeting, check for quorum, follow Robert’s Rules and decide what to do about a raging fire?  seems odd to me…

Mark, on the other hand, is wired for immediate action… Got to find Abbey Powell and see if she is in danger…  Haven’t seen that determined a look on Mark’s face since the last time he was face to face with a poacher