Friday, June 15, 2012

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.

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