Day 131: Ken

15 Aug

Ken and Stephan

My family met Ken more than 10 years ago when we were out hiking in the mountains. We kept going up and up and I couldn’t wait until we reached the summit. After what seemed like a very long time, there we were – at the top of the mountain. And what was there? A fire lookout tower!

I’d never been to a fire lookout tower before and really didn’t know much about them. The lookout, Ken, was happy to have some company and invited us in for a “tour.” That day I learned that from the tower you can see in all directions – and a fire lookouts job is to watch the surrounding area for signs of fire.

Ken remembers that on that first day I was not in a very good mood. I was hot and tired and didn’t seem much interested in the view. I looked around and found a photo album and began to flip through the pages. On one page I found a classmate from my college days and I asked Ken why he had a picture of this gal in his album. “That’s my daughter Lynn” he told me. It was incomprehensible to me that this man and my friend were related. What were the odds of that happening?

From that day we have made it a point to visit Ken at least once a year at his tower. I have always tried to bring him a treat of some kind or another. And today was no different. In fact, today I made two “pies.” The first pie was a sweet treat for Ken – a strawberry-raspberry-rhubarb crumb crust pie. And then I thought that by the time we got up to the tower it would be dinner time and so I baked a broccoli cheddar frittata (which is just a quiche without the crust).

As always, Ken was tickled to see us. He showed our exchange student Stephan all around the tower and explained how he located and called in a fire. And today Ken told us that there are only three lookouts left – that the rest of the towers have switched to using cameras instead of firefighters. He said it was a “cost-efficient” move. But we who have been to the top of the mountain, know that this kind of experience cannot be replaced with a camera.

Tonight I offer my thanks to all the men and women who have worked as fire lookouts. It is an incredible service that you have rendered to your community.

2 Responses to “Day 131: Ken”

  1. Debbie Pool August 15, 2011 at 10:02 PM #

    What a great story, Karen. Love your photo of Ken and Stephan.

  2. Alexandra August 16, 2011 at 12:22 AM #

    I miss Ken! No camera will ever replace him on that mountain.

    Lovely, lovely post!!! xxx

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