Big Red is a 1955 American LaFrance fire engine that served Ferndale from 1955 to 1977, when it was sold to Westhaven. A few FVFD firefighters from Company 2 bought it back with the intention of restoring it, but after a few years of slow progress they decided to donate it back to FVFD.
Earlier this year a small group of us decided to spend our Tuesday nights getting the engine running again. First on the list was redoing the brakes and getting it a new set of rubber. Our hope was to have it running again in time for the Forth of July rides, but we missed that deadline. Finally in late July we took it for spin on a beautiful warm evening, and then a couple of weeks later we decided to give it a well needed bath.
This month I spent a lot of time with the fire department, mostly going out with Tender 6 to supply water. This photo was taken at a small vegetation fire near Bridgeville. We responded along with 3 engines from CDF (one a borrowed engine from Whitethorn) and also the water tender from Carlotta.
As I write this I am getting packed to head out tomorrow for a 3 day stint with Engine 3 out in the South Fork Mountains somewhere. A huge number of lightning caused fires have scrambled engines from all of the local departments.
Back when we lived in San Jose, we visited the San Jose Municipal Rose Garden one spring when their Cécile Brünner rose arbor was in full bloom, and it was a spectacular site. That was the inspiration for constructing and planting our 150 foot long Cécile Brünner rose arbor at our house in Ferndale.
The arbor has 18 rose bushes, all propagated of the last two remaining bushes we had from our first attempt at planting roses in the front yard. Of the original 13 we planted, most were instantly destroyed by the local population of deer, a problem we never had with our roses in San Jose.
When we did the flood control work in the front yard, we moved the remaining roses to the back yard and then built the arbor. That in itself was a long process, as life intervened and we had more important problems to take care off. When it was finally finished, I moved the two remaining Cécile Brünner roses to flank the gate. I then started propagating the bushes for the remainder of the arbor. Some of them are still getting established, but by next year it should look pretty balanced for the full length of the arbor. It is going to require a major pruning next winter as it’s getting so big the house is disappearing behind it. But when it’s in full bloom it is a sight to see and smell.
April flowers bring May flowers. That’s the popular saying. Only this year there weren’t very many April showers, and really no amount of snowfall in the nearby mountains.
Route 1 runs for 50 miles along the ridge of the South Fork mountains, at an elevation of 4-5 thousand feet. Some years I haven’t been able to get through even in July due to the lingering snow. This year, I was able to make the full length ride in early May, without a single trace of snow on the ground. In fact, much of the grass was already drying out.
Being able to get up there that early in the year, I was expecting I might see different wildflowers than my normal rides later in the year. This display of lupines on the hillside caught my attention. When I passed my favorite wildflower patch I saw that they were still just getting started, but unfortunately it looked like someone grazed their cattle through that area so I’m not sure it’s going to be a good display there this year.
The last few months I’ve been researching all of the historic fire apparatus that the Ferndale Volunteer Fire Dept. has owned over the last 118 years. The department is lucky enough to still own some of the really old apparatus, such as this 1890s chemical cart, which we display upstairs in the fire hall.
This particular piece of apparatus is a bit of a mystery though, as it never shows up in any of the old photos we have, and I haven’t found any mention of it in the research I’ve done so far. My best guess is that it served right around 1890 to 1900. I was able to locate some info on it based on a photo of an identical cart on the web.
But since we didn’t have any historic photos of it, or any good modern photos of it, I thought it would be a good project to try some automotive type lighting on. I set up my studio lighting equipment up in the hall and took a series of photos to document it for the FVFD web site. You can see the rest of the photos on the c. 1890 Chemical Cart page.
So what does a pirate do on their day off? Well, lore has it that they spend all their downtime at pubs, singing songs and getting drunk. But today’s modern pirate is a kinder, gentler, and yes, more socially responsible pirate. You can now spot pirates spending their day off at the local beach, where they raise the Jolly Roger by flying a kite.
The middle of President’s Day weekend marks the day that Ferndale Volunteer Fire Department takes over Main Street for an afternoon of competition between the four fire companies.
Although over time the games have changed, traditionally the last 13 years since I’ve been in the department the games have included the Hose Lay, Buckets, and ended with Water Polo, sort of a tug of war where a keg suspended on a wire strung between two forklifts was pushed with water streams by opposing teams. The last two years, due to drought conditions, the water polo was replaced by other competitions. This year we had an obstacle course quick attack.
Several other things made this year’s competition different. First, it was held on a warm sunny day. While the east coast was fighting blizzard conditions, we were enjoying t-shirt weather. That explains the picture I decided on for this post. It was warm enough kids were jumping in the water to play! That’s not normal in February.
The other main change was the results of the Hose Lay. There are two awards handed out for the Hose Lay. The team that wins it gets the main trophy and of course bragging rights. The team that loses, gets the Hamburger Award, which entitles them to the honor of cooking hamburgers for everyone after the games are over.
Traditionally it has been Company 2 winning the hose lay, if not sweeping the entire games. Also as often, it would be Company 4 finishing up the afternoon cooking hamburgers. Well this year, every company won an award, but not the expected ones. Company 4 won the hose lay, and Company 2 ended up in the kitchen. Everyone agreed that the burgers tasted just a bit better this year.
We got invited by our good friends John and Carol to go RVing with them around at the end of December / beginning of January. This is often a time of the year that we’re underwater in Ferndale, so I’m always hesitant to make plans of being away from home. But with clear skies forecasted for the entire week, it was a go.
We used the KOA in Manchester as our base, and had a lovely 5 days of flying kites on the beach, visiting Mendocino, hiking through the forests, and eating way to much food while relaxing in their RV.
One hike that we went on was to Chamberlain Creek Falls, in the Jackson Demonstration State Forest, near Ft. Bragg. I had been here once before during the summer, but since we had just had a lot of rain, I thought there’d be more water flowing over it this time. Surprisingly, it seemed about the same.
The hike to the waterfall is relatively easy, even though there are some fairly steep sections that reminded me of how out of shape I am. It’s a very pretty hike the whole way though, and one I would recommend if you’re in the Fort Bragg area.
My most favorite night in Ferndale is the annual Lighted Tractor Parade. I love the creativity the local ranchers and other citizens show each year in decorating their tractors and coming up with new themes.
This year was no different, and with a record number of entries and a super slow parade pace led by the chief of police, the parade provided quite a bit of time to admire all the floats. Even better, the conditions were almost perfect. Just enough rain before the parade to wet the streets which makes the reflection of all those lights even prettier, and not too much rain during the parade that I had to put the camera away.
There were lots of great floats this year, and the usual contenders were there, impressive as ever. But the one that made me chuckle the most was this little girl driving her toy tractor, with her little brother riding in the little red wagon she was pulling. Can’t get them started too young!
You can find the rest of the Ferndale Lighted Tractor Parade photos from this year and previous years in the gallery section of my web site.
This month we had to put down the last of our older cats, Trevor. He showed up 12 years ago and we don’t know how old he was when he showed up. His health had been failing the last few months as his body wasn’t absorbing most of the food he ate or the water he drank. So for the fourth time in the last year, we had to make that awful decision to down one of our cats.
We’re now left with just the two kittens, Darcy and Bingley, although they are barely kittens any more. This photo is of Darcy, in one of his sweet tender moments. Surprisingly, Darcy is the real rascal of the two, he’s most often the one instigating fights, and even more surprising, he gets the best of Bingley, even though Bingley probably has a couple of pounds on Darcy at this point.
But when he settles down, he’s a great comfort, and he’s quite the softy, a real treat to pet.