I changed my header image today, replacing the colourful Steller’s jay I had taken a picture of in the back yard with a picture of a Merlin, or Pigeon Hawk (small northern falcon) taken on top of a housing complex in Wood Buffalo, Fort McMurray, Alberta, on the day I was leaving there.
There’s a story behind this. Some months ago I had decided to join up with a construction/re-building volunteer organization to go up to Fort McMurray and help re-build some of the 2400 homes that were destroyed by last year’s wildfires. Some 1500 other constructions were also either totally destroyed or badly damaged by the rampaging fires (2016 Fort McMurray Wildfire – Wikipedia) of last May.
So, my partner, Vic Janzen and I drove my van the 1500 km to Fort McMurray from Chilliwack, B.C., doing the drive in two days – easy stretches – had the power steering pump not sheared its shaft 300 km south of our destination. So the rest done with armstrong steering and since the pump also runs the power breaks, some interesting moments practically standing on the pedal to bring the vehicle to a standstill. It’s doable, and we did it without incidents.
This was meant to be a somewhat long term involvement but we literally ran out of work after two weeks of steady labour and long hours. We got three basements formed, cement poured and basically ready to receive the “ready to move” pre-built homes that are being trucked in from southern Saskatchewan where another group of volunteers built them with help and donation of materials from a local firm.
I met one of the people whose house our group is replacing. Lots of teary emotions as these are proud people who never thought they’d be in such a situation, having to accept hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of “charity” from complete strangers. I was reminded again of how little we can rely on what we believe to be certain. Even with all our fancy technology, our way of life can be taken from us literally in hours; all that we’ve worked a lifetime for gone, just like that. All is ephemeral.
So, we came back, without incidents this time except for the “check engine” light and “check oil” light constantly popping on and off. This has yet to be analyzed and corrected… will it be another $1000 repair job… or worse? I suspect a leaking head gasket, but what do I know about modern vehicles and their convoluted engines, except to drive them?
Would I do that again? Sure, only I hope it’s closer to “home” next time! I hear there’s been flooding in the Okanagan valley in central B.C. That would be only 600 km from here. Would I go back to Fort McMurray? Only if there was better organization and my time was better allocated, as in productive long term work.
Anyway, the other side of … ~burning woman~ … eager to make this planet a better world for all. We do what we can, eh? 🙂