April First was my first official day of retirement. I was thinking it was a great day to retire - just as spring is getting into gear and all sorts of other new beginnings are starting. But, I forgot that it was also April Fool's Day, and after 2020, I should have been prepared for anything. So, on my way home from Dickinson, after stocking up on 'stuff' I would need for the coming week of retirement, this is what greeted my eyes.
I spotted lots of smoke as I made my way through the Badlands toward Medora. This photo was taken coming down Peck's Hill on I94. I decided to try to figure out just where the fire was, so as I approached Medora, I took the exit on into town. Every westward movement brought me closer to more smoke. To me, it looked like it was right behind the Burning Hills Amphitheater, so I was thinking of driving up cemetery road to get a better view, but as I drove into town I decided that I had better keep my vehicle out of the way of emergency vehicles and I went up on the TRNP overlook on the north side of town and shot these photos.
I decided that I had probably better head for home and stay out of the way of whatever was coming, still not thinking that it could ever become as big and bad as it did. They ended up evacuating Medora and closing the Interstate. For awhile, it looked like the town, the Chateau de Mores and the Medora Musical Amphitheater were all in danger! One local resident told me later, that ,'if you rolled down cemetery hill (pictured above), the fire would have come down faster than you!'
This photo was taken about 30 minutes later at our gate going home and we live about 25 miles away. Everyone was lucky there were so many great emergency personnel and that the wind went town and there were roads, railroad tracks and a river to stop the spread of the fire. It ended up, that no structures were lost and if we are lucky now and get some nice spring rains, everything should be a beautiful green. It is currently very dry and it looks like we are in a drought cycle, so no-one knows what is next. Pray for rain!
This event made me think back over the years I have been in and around Medora and I can only remember two other fires. One was the Congregational Church when I was just a toddler and the other was the Cave Bar Fire about 1975 on March 26, which is pretty close to this date. The Cave Bar Fire occurred during a big blizzard, however. That is how different the weather can be here.
This is how it looks now - I took this photo from the same spot on Saturday after the fire.
So, just since I retired, we have had a huge fire event and Easter. Today a granddaughter has a volleyball game for me to attend and this weekend I plan to celebrate retirement again with some special gals in Bismarck. I have been going to write a blog time after time in the past few weeks, but life has a way of getting in the way. This is definitely not what I was going to write about, so watch for my next blog....no one knows what I may write about next! Not even me!
Then sometimes, other people have plans for me....like this! Yesterday I was the flag pickup for moving machinery.