Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Little Bear Fire Takes Our Little Cabin in the Woods

I've been dreading this post for days. It's going to hurt to write. But I have to write it. There's just no way I can not write it. So here goes.

On June 10, 2012, a forest fire with the name "Little Bear" raged through the Lincoln National Forest near Ruidoso, New Mexico. By noon it had consumed 26,000 acres and was 0% contained.

Now, when I hear about forest fires in New Mexico, I get very sad. The mountains and forests of NM hold a very special place in my heart. Growing up in Santa Fe, I looked out on the Sangre de Cristo mountain range every single day. I was infatuated with the mountains in their summer greenery. I adored them when the aspens turned the whole mountainside autumn gold. And I fell madly in love over and over every winter when snow covered them with a glorious white blanket.

They are my mountains!

But the mountains near Ruidoso are also near and dear to me because tucked in the tree-covered hills is a beautiful campground. Bonita Park Nazarene Campgrounds and Conference Center. Way back in the 60's and 70's, we simply called it "the campgrounds." For the past 50-plus years, our family has spent time at this camp. I attended Children's camp there as a skinny, scared, homesick girl, as did my siblings. Our family attended many, many Family camps with church friends, old and new.

Years later, because my parents so enjoyed going down to Ruidoso and attending Family camp, they decided to purchase one of the many small cabins that dotted the landscape of the 200 acre compound. They were retired and all of us kids had moved away, so it seemed like a great thing to do.

For the next several summers, Dad and Mom trekked down to Ruidoso and turned their little shack -- which is pretty much what it was when they bought it -- into a real jewel! Daddy installed a little one-unit kitchenette that had a stove, oven, sink and small refrigerator. The next year he began work adding a bathroom with a shower. No more trips down the hill to the common bathhouse! A deck was the next big project. Little by little, the shack became a charming, oh-so-sweet place to get away from the world and commune with God and nature.

Here are some pics of our lil' sweet spot in the mountains!

While Daddy worked inside building and renovating, Mom worked long back-breaking hours digging out earth and laying down railroad ties for a step-way up from the road.

Mom carved their name on one of the steps.

Sadly, after working on and enjoying the cabin for many seasons, Daddy became ill. He was in the early stages of kidney failure and began dialysis, bringing an end to their ability to leave home for any length of time.

But the little cabin was too dear to sell, so it became a family retreat. My husband and our boys enjoyed going there several times, as did my sister and her family, and my brother and his family. I always felt very relaxed and peaceful sitting on the deck, smelling the pines and rain. Ahhhh.

But all that loveliness ended last weekend.

In the wee hours of June 10, Little Bear fire roared through the campgrounds. Our little cabin was in its path, as were many cabins and year-long homes. Lots of the old buildings that have stood for decades are mere piles of debris.

With deep sorrow, I share these pics, taken by the camp directors who lost their home in the fire.

Dad & Mom's cabin was on the slope above the red roofed building. The white building is the bathhouse they used before Daddy added the bathroom.

The bottom portion of Mom's railroad tie steps are to the middle-right of the pic, just under the big tree.

The road leading to the cabin. We would park just down from the neighbor's truck. 

My heart is broken.


Kim Vogel Sawyer said...

I'm so sorry, Michelle. It's hard to say good-bye to those things that hold precious memories for us. Praying for your aching heart right now.

Paula Bicknell said...

Praying for you right now. May our Lord bless and keep you, may he shine his face upon you and give you peace.

Michelle Shocklee said...

Thank you, Kim & Paula. We're thankful for the sweet memories.

Hugs to you both!!

Anonymous said...

Is it too late for us to get fire insurance?

Michelle Shocklee said...

Ha, Big Brother. Me thinks so. Still hard to grasp that it's gone. Glad Mom & Dad will never know. It would have hurt them so much.
Love you,