Thursday, January 18, 2007

Serious Deja Vu

I used to fight wildfire, way back when, in my adrenaline junky days… Looking back, it’s amazing how blessed I was with cool things to do for work in really beautiful places. I would start my year in Grand Canyon, first at the south rim, and then usually we’d wander over to the north rim to do stuff over there. From there, we’d head north to Yellowstone in the late summer, for Montana’s fire season. When that was done, it was off to Santa Monica for the California fall fire season. Yeah, Santa Monica, as in Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area: We lived at a former Nike missile site converted to barracks for us and a training facility for L.A. County Fire. The Santa Monica pier was right down at the bottom of our road. Debby Reynolds’s house was at the top. Chris Christopherson ran with us a couple of times. Weird, huh?

And it was there that I experienced one of the weirdest incidents of déjà vu I’ve ever had.

There was actually a fire, you see, in the Santa Monica Mountains in ‘82, and we were sent to work it. We were digging line through the Manzanita and whatnot, working up and across a little hill through what was pretty much uninterrupted brush with some little paths than here and there. We took a brief break to assess where we needed line to go, so the Crew Boss and I walked to the top of the little hill to see where we were headed. Down below us was an area on the right which had been partially burned over, with unburned brush to the left. We looked at the site and got the ‘I’ve Definitely Been Here Before’ feeling. We were kinda staring at things, trying to figure it out, when one of the sawyers came up and said, ‘Holy shit, it’s MASH!”

And indeed it was. We were working on the Malibu Creek State Park, which was also known as the Paramount Ranch – Yeah, that Paramount Ranch, which had been donated to the state some time previously. In front of us was the familiar rock circle where the flagpole stood, the outlines of the tents. the whole shebang…

We had been here before, many times in fact. The fire was actually incorporated into the final episode, since, to use the familiar outdoor sets, they didn’t have a bunch of choice, did they?

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