Friday, June 15, 2012

Little Bear Fire: Part III

June 10th

The next morning Ben, Stephanie, Mannie and Tom left early to practice music at Church Street Church of the Nazarene. Korey and Lauren took their time getting ready, and stopped at McDonalds for breakfast before also heading to church.

Church was also a somber experience for us. There was a spaghetti dinner planned for after the service, but none of us felt like eating or talking to anyone. We decided to go to walmart instead and grab a few items we were missing like deodorant.

By the time we finished walking around walmart, Ben and Stephanie were pretty hungry so we went to the Subway in walmart so they could get a sandwich. While we were sitting in the Walmart Subway, Danielle Pape called. Earlier that day Paul and Brenda Garber had been escorted onto the camp to take pictures of the damaged homes. Danielle had seen the pictures and called to let us know our homes had been burned. She told us that all of the staff housing had burned and most of it looked like black spots on the ground, with nothing left. She also let Korey and Lauren know that she had seen Korey’s Truck and Lauren’s car burned. I think all of our hearts sunk at this time, but it was nice to finally know the truth of the sitation.

At this point, Korey and Lauren decided it would be best to go back to Albuquerque where they could be with family. The headed back to the Bemis house, where they packed their stuff up, got Dugan ready and headed out towards Roswell. Dugan was noticeably upset to leave Sadie behind.

Korey and Lauren decided to meet up with Howard Ours who had been in Roswell since the evacuation began. They sat outside of Starbucks talking for an hour or so. It was hard to see Howard, and know what he was going through. Howard said he did not think he would be returning back to Bonita Park to live, and this was really hard to hear. Korey and Lauren left Starbucks with tears in their eyes.  

Korey and Lauren then headed to Albuquerque and arrived just before 8 pm. It was good to see family for the first time. The first pictures we saw of our house or any of our possessions was on KOAT’s website. It was a shot of Korey’s Toyota Pickup parked infront of what use to be our house. Since we hadn’t eaten since breakfast we decided to head to Dion’s for dinner...that is our comfort food!

We have spent the next few days seeing family members, and taking care of business items like cancelling our internet, deferring our student loans, and getting basic items we need. Our families and friends have showered us with donations, and Lauren has joked that she has more clothes now than she did before the fire.

Lauren has been working to call and email all group leaders for the month of June to let them know we will not be able to host any groups until at least the first of July.

It has been a roller coaster of emotions but Korey and Lauren are both sure of one thing...they are dedicated to the ministry of Bonita Park and despite the items they have lost, they are excited for the adventure that awaits them at Bonita Park in the coming weeks and months.

Little Bear Fire: Part II

June 9th

We slept about 2 hours before waking up to eat breakfast. Ben, Stephanie, Korey and Lauren went to IHOP in Roswell for breakfast. At this point other staff members had let us know the fire had taken Primitive Camp and was threatening Plunkett Hall. This was when we first realized how serious the situation was, and that our own homes were at risk.

After breakfast we went back to our hotels to shower and get our things. Stephanie’s parents live in Carlsbad, and we decided to head there for the remainder of the weekend. We had heard that Stan was thinking we might be able to get back on the grounds by Sunday. On the way to Carlsbad, we drove through Artesia and dropped Lilly off at Ben’s brothers house. The further away from Ruidoso we got, the hotter it felt.

We arrived in Carlsbad in the late afternoon. We went straight to Stephanie’s parents house where we unloaded our stuff and got the dogs settled in. Stephanie’s parents have a large back yard with green grass and a small pond specifically for the dogs. They have a collie named Sadie, and Dugan was very taken by Sadie. They were instant best friends.

We sat around for a while talking to Stephanie’s dad. Tom Bemis, Steph’s dad, is a Carlsbad Cavern pioneer, and has discovered several caves at the caverns. He suggested that we go to the caverns and look around since this day was a free admissions day for the general public. Stephanie said we would need to leave right away because the last elevator into the caves was scheduled to leave soon. We all agreed this would be a good distraction from checking phones and facebook for fire updates.

Before we went down in the caves, we met up with Stephanie’s mom Mannie, who is a Park Ranger at the caverns. She greeted us, and told us that she would make us dinner when we got back to the house.

The four of us took the elevator down into the caves. Stephanie was a bit of a tour guide since she has spent so much time there. Much of the time we were down in the caves we spent talking about what we thought would happen to the camp if it were to burn. We were all really concerned that we might not have jobs any longer if the camp did burn, but it was nice to be away from cell service and internet with all the rumors flying.

After we got out of the cave, we spent about 30 minutes at the car eating peanuts and fruit. Korey called Brenden Smith and Mathew Starnes to let them know what had happened, because they had left voicemails while we were in the cave. Ben spoke with his dad, who had heard some of the homes were starting to burn in Eagles Nest. Stephanie and Lauren started joking about what they had packed - Lauren only packed green undershirts and Stephanie only packed stripes. Lauren packed more winter clothes than summer clothes and Ben packed a dress belt but no other dress clothes. Lauren and Stephanie both packed their matching running shoes.

From the cars we headed to the amphitheater to watch the bat flight. The bugs were crazy around the mouth of the cave, and we were all batting them away the whole time we were sitting there. By this point we were starting to really consider that our homes might be gone, and the mood was really somber. After about 5 minutes of bat flight we decided to leave.

We headed back to the Bemis house where we ate a delicious flat red enchilada dinner that Mannie had waiting for us. When we got back, Dugan was wet from his chest down from playing with Sadie in the dog pond all day. It was late in the evening by this time and we watched the 10 o’clock news, hoping to hear if the fire had reached the main camp area. The news wasn’t much of a help, although they did a special on Fabiola Sanchez for her birthday. It was really cute, and it was nice to see some of our BP family on tv. We went to bed that night completely drained from only 2 hours of sleep and still not knowing if we had homes to go back to.

Little Bear Fire: Part I

So Lauren and I decided to keep a journal of what all has happened to us over the last few weeks. It is written from both of our perspectives so it is not a comprehensive view on the whole fire or what everyone has gone through, just Lauren and I.

Friday June 8th

Lauren: I was scheduled off this morning. I went with Kaylee Bryan and her 4 boys to the park and Walmart. Thatcher was grumpy that day, so Kaylee decided to get McDonalds and take the boys home. Danielle Pape picked me up from McDonalds and we went to Beals/Burkes to shop for dresses. I bought a long striped sundress. Then we went back to the camp and I hung out at home until Korey got off of work.

Korey: I did housekeeping all day until 3:30 pm. Then I was scheduled challenge course with the group. It got switched to high ropes. You could see the smoke billowing all day. I got off work at 6 pm.

Together: We took Dugan for a short walk. We stopped to talk to Danny Watkins. Korey was supposed to take pictures of Rosemary Hezmal’s shed. After our walk, we were going to eat dinner at home. Lauren had cooked chicken and rice. Instead, the summer staff were going to Farleys for dinner, and we decided to join them. We rode with Michelle Howard and Abby Nielson. The smoke billows were huge behind Farleys, and Korey Instagrammed a picture.

After dinner, Abby left with a few other summer staff for Walmart. Michelle, Korey, and Lauren headed off to try and go to Monjeau to look at the fire. After we turned down Ski Run Road, we realized they had already closed it off. We all saw flames maybe half a mile away. Lauren was really concerned. So, we decided to go talk to Paul and Brenda Garber. There was more traffic headed South on HWY 48 than any of us had ever seen before.

Paul seemed to think the fire was moving away from the camp and that we shouldn’t worry. Emily Hutchison was there and was laughing at Lauren for being so concerned. We learned that South Fork had been evacuated and that Angus Church had been set up as an evacuation center. We headed down to the church to help set up cots. Eric Walls was in charge of that evacuation center and sent us home to pack a bag. By this time, the sun had set and we could see the orange glow of the fire. It was about 10:30 pm and we were in the parking lot of Angus with several staff, including Molly Jane, Connor, Felecia, Micha, Kelsi, Steven, the Pape girls, Abby, Liz and Ranae. We all left and went back to our homes to pack.

At this point none of us were expecting the fire to come to the camp. Lauren packed 2 pairs of clothes. Korey packed 5 pairs of clothes. They also grabbed food for Dugan, his leash and bowls. Korey grabbed the CPU for his computer, his laptop, and the camera. Korey packed the firesafe in the car as well, which contained all of our important documents.

Many of the staff had radios with them, and were communicating with Paul and Stan Yocom about the progress of the fire. Korey and Lauren watched one episode of the Office while they waited. At around 11:30 pm Stan called for all staff to evacuate the campers and head to Morris Center for roll call.

Korey and Lauren were in charge of evacuating Plunkett Hall. Several of the campers at Plunkett were asleep/ disoriented as we knocked on the doors to wake them up. It was a hispanic family group, which made communicating what was happening difficult.

Once everyone was clear from Plunkett Hall, Korey and Lauren headed to Morris Center. We were split in Morris Center, the hispanic group was in the South Dining Room, the Methodist was in the East Dining Room, and the Staff, Volunteers, and surrounding community were put in the Fireplace Room. When we were sure all group members were accounted for, we released them to leave. Korey was sent by Stan to check a cabin to make sure it was evacuated. Then Stan sent him to the RV Park with a camp vehicle. That is where we left many of the camp vehicles. Korey grabbed our toothbrushes while he was out.

Once Korey was back, nearly all of the volunteers and surrounding community members had left for the First Baptist Church evacuation center in Ruidoso. The last people on the grounds were Howard Ours, Stan and Sharon Yocom, Corkey Condon, Ben and Stephanie Yocom, Korey and Lauren Fraizer, Michelle Howard, Ryan Sweitzer, and Little Patrick (other than emergency personelle).

Korey, Lauren, Ben, Stepanie, and Michelle sat on Morris Center Roof and watched the glow of the fire. Burnt pine needles and ash were falling on our heads. Around 2 am, Corkey got a call that  a spot fire had started on the other side of HWY 48 at the bottom of Angus Hill. We could see the fire from Morris Center. At this point Stan made us leave the campgrounds. We decided to head to Roswell as we had heard Roswell First Church of the Nazarene was taking evacuees and it appeared that HWY 48 to Ruidoso was closed.

Ben and Stephanie were in their yellow Escape and Korey and Lauren were in their green Saturn. We didn’t realize Howard was also following behind us. He waved at us from the 4 way stop in Roswell as he headed to his brother and sister in law’s home. When we got to Roswell First, there was no one there. We went to the closest gas station where Curtis and Jeannie Economides were also stopped. A fire Marshall stopped for gas on his way to Ruidoso and recommended we go to the Red Cross. The Red Cross was willing to help but needed to get permission from the Albuquerque branch to give us aide. Stephanie and Lauren filled out paperwork as Ben and Korey kept Dugan, Jezzy Ray, and Lilly busy in the parking lot.

The Red Cross was able to provide us with 3 nights at the Motel 6 in town as well as a 75 dollar gift card for food. We arrived at the hotel around 6 am. This was the first time we called our parents to let them know what was going on.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Gas Tanks and Pickups

So I know that I didn't write about it on here yet, but most people already know I finally got a truck again. My first truck was a '91 Toyota pickup and it was great. I miss that truck a whole lot. Ever since I got rid of it I've been kicking myself and wondering why I did and also looking for another one. I always liked Toyota and so I knew that is what I wanted to get again. The cool thing is that Lauren's dad had a 1982 Toyota Pickup sitting in his driveway and he decided to give it to me!
Me and my '91 Toyota
My "new" '82 Toyota
22R Motor with new Weber Carb.
Right away I noticed that I would need to do several things to the truck. First thing was the carburetor. The truck wouldn't start the first time I went to Albuquerque to pick it up. After looking over all the fuel system it seemed it was the carburetor. I bought a Weber carburetor online and my brother and I installed it. Once it was on the truck started on the first try! I immediately drove to the gas station and filled up.

The truck was running, but it still had issues. Any time I tried to go up hills the tuck would nearly die and shutter. Living the mountains is a little tough when your vehicle wont go up hills. I figured it had something to do with the tuning of the carburetor, so I tried numerous times to tune it but had no luck. I let the truck sit for a few days and the problem seemed to stop yet when I got low on gas the problem returned. I checked the fuel filter, which I had replaced just before filling up the last tank, and it was already full of a bunch of little particles. That's when I figured I needed to drop my gas tank.

I wasn't sure what to expect when I decided to flush the tank. I had already pushed the limits of my mechanical abilities when I replaced the carburetor. I have always wanted to be a mechanically inclined, especially with cars, but I was always a little too scared that I was going to seriously screw something up too. The cool thing about having this truck is that its not my primary vehicle so I am free to tinker. Even still though, I don't want to mess this truck up so I try not to get in over my head.

I also wasn't sure that the problem was really in the gas tank. I have heard several times that because of the altitude my truck is at the carburetor might need to be re-jetted. This is a real possibility because the stock carb had an altitude adjuster which added more air to the mixture via a vacuum hose and I plugged all those up as per the Weber installation instructions.
The cool thing is that as soon as I dropped the tank it was clear that it needed to be done. The noise inside the tank was not just the sound of gas sloshing around. It sounded more like someone had poured sand in my gas tank.

Another cool thing is that I was able to pull the float from the tank which is connected to the gas gauge. Even when the tank was full the gauge would only go up to just above empty and stop. I was talking to RJ, Lauren's brother, and he said the gauge had been broken on the truck for well over a decade. When I pulled the float I found the reason why.
I know the truck has spent a significant amount of time sitting around and I am sure it sat with a little bit more than an empty tank and that is when the float got rusted and the tank became dirty.
I was amazed at how much stuff came out of the gas tank. I am sure at some point the truck got some bad gas in it which contained some water and made the tank even worse.

I now know that it was a very good idea to flush the tank. The truck is running better and I now have a gas gauge which will also help me keep enough gas in it to keep from sucking up any extra particles left in the tank. Also on the plus side I am feeling more confident in my mechanic skills. I know that I don't have all the right understandings and definitely not all the tools, but I know I can take something apart and put it back together again which is pretty cool.

It remains to be seen if the gas tank was the only problem on my truck, but for now I can drive it up hills which is a major improvement.

to life

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Cheaper Video Equipment

So I recently bought a Nikon D3100 to use for taking video footage. However, I soon found out that much more equipment than just a camera is needed to make really awesome shots. Things such as a follow focus, a slider, or a JIB, and a camera rig. None of these things are essential for shooting, but they are very helpful and specifically designed to get specific (and awesome) shots. In many cases the equipment I just listed is much more expensive than the camera itself. However, I found a pretty cool little website called They try and make good equipment which is also significantly cheaper than many other competitors. I still can't afford any of their stuff at the moment, but that's what student loans will do to you. That's not the point though; I applaud indi systems for actually trying to make quality products that many people could actually afford. I know this is a short post and I am basically just plugging a website, but I thought it was worth mentioning. to life, kf