Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Lessons from the 'Dog'

For the past several weeks, it has been hot and dry. It’s complicated by the fact that we have been having lightening without any significant moisture. Because of that, fires are popping up all around the state. Right now, the largest fire is 9,000 acres. It’s burning in a steep area with dead trees. Fortunately, so far, no homes have been lost and no serious injuries have been reported.

So, you are probably wondering what is up with hotdog stand?

This hotdog stand is in Aspen Park. It’s been there as long as I can remember. Thirty years ago, when I started my career it was there. Most likely, it was there long before that but I don’t know.

In my youth, I responded to many wildfires. It was still new to me and the only way to make extra money. A young married couple with two small kids can always use a little extra money. So, I went out on a lot of fires. After a few years reality set in and I realized it was mainly the extra income that made me fight wildfires. Fires paid for many things we otherwise could not have afforded.

Okay, okay, but what does that have to do with the hotdog stand?

One day on the way to a fire, we realized we would be out all night so we had better get something to eat. We stopped at Coney Island. I got a foot long dog, with extra chili and cheese. I thought that would last me through the night.

That chili dog taught me a few lessons. The first lesson was chili dogs are not the easiest food to eat while driving. Don’t get me wrong it can be done it’s just not easy.

The fire was in a bad spot. It was near the top of a very steep hill with the closest access over a mile away. We would have to hike in. No problem, we were good shape and had done that time and time again.

That’s when the chili dog taught me lesson number two. A chili dog is not a good dinner choice before doing a hard, steep climb, with five gallons of water strapped to your back and a fire tool in each hand. For me the climb seemed harder than usual. About fifty feet from the fire, I realized I wasn’t feeling good. In fact, I felt bad. Real bad. That’s when I started to throw up. The five gallons of water, the fire tools, and I almost fell down the hill. I dropped to my knees and . . . well, threw up some more.

I was really sick so I curled up under a tree while the rest of the crew tended to the fire. Ever so often, someone would come over to check on me.

The final thing that chili dog taught me was how fires are named. One fire in Colorado will forever be known as the “RAAAALPH” fire.


Blogger 1 plus twins said...

we are having fires too!! it is horrible.

i love the ralpphh fire!!! too funny!! lol

7:35 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

L-really a lot-OL!
Do you still eat those Coney Island hot dogs? Or are you sick (a little pun intended) and tired of them?
We have them here, I don't like them much. There is a new one in Conroe. I'll get a picture.
Again, an excellent piece.

8:47 PM  
Anonymous Jerry said...

So you're the reason they call it Ralph-ing, huh? You poor guy.

I used to eat at Coney Island in Tulsa at least once a week. Until I got a stomach flu and that was the last thing I ate. Can't even stand to hear the mention of coneys since then.

8:52 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Oh poor you Ralph and that experience with that foot long dog! LOL Very funny story. No fun being that sick though.

Sorry about the forest fires. I hope it rains and puts an end to them quick.

10:32 PM  
Blogger Aravis said...

The current fires there made our news in CT. Good luck with it!

Too funny about the chili dog lessons! *G*

1:32 AM  
Blogger Cliff Morrow said...

Hey Ralph, my plans have changed. I was going to pickup some hotdogs the next time I went to the store. I'll pass. I don't even like to read about people throwing up. Or in your case being on your knees, was that throwing down.

5:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Turkey Dogs?

5:43 PM  
Blogger Triplet Dads said...

ralph - while the results speak for themselves, I an enveyed that you have spent your life so close to nature. I wish you would blog more about what you know about wildfires and the natural sort of thing.

9:28 PM  
Blogger Rhodent said...

Ok so I had to stop laughing enough to comment! At least you could keep your pants on... I would be a bit nervous with baring my bottom due to the er er runs so close to a fire! I will always remember... they call the wind Maria, and they call the fire Ralph!

9:43 PM  
Blogger 1 plus twins said...

i am trying to comment on the golf post but it won't let me for some reason!!! sounds like you had fun and i am sure geno will remember that day forever!!

3:51 PM  
Blogger Christa said...


Oh my gosh, 2 years ago on our 6 hour trip to camp, we stopped their and ate some hotdogs. I just had a small regular, Greg and his friend consumed 2 foot long chili dogs and they were super-sick about 3 hours into the trip!!!!!

It was many a bathroom stop over the mountain. :)

Great post, what a legacy that little hot dog stand has left.

11:03 PM  

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