A month in the life of… August 2021

Hey kids. Looking back at August, me and your mom are sitting in the Bighorn RV back on JC & Vickie’s land in Ingram, Texas. It finally hit 98 °+ today. The RV will not cool below about 84° on days like this in the sun. Mom prefers 68°. The truck read 133° when we got in it.

Moving back to the Hill Country
Not a ‘days like this in the sun’. Moving back to the Hill Country on Gramps and Grammy’s land. Happy. Content.

Living

Austin living in the A-Frame, outside of Sisters, Oregon and working in Bend at Black Strap doing photos and video. @AustinGWhite on Instagram | @blackstrap

Austin living
Austin living in Sisters, Oregon

Kes fighting fires for your first season, becoming squad boss after a few tours. Room-mating in Bend, Oregon on your days off after graduating from Colorado Mountain College last year in outdoor leadership. @thetrailof_ondine on Instagram. You’re kind of a big deal.

Kes living
Kes living on the road and in Bend, Oregon

Sunny building lesson plans and teaching, living with room-mates, and adulting like a champ.

Sunny living
Sunny living in Bend, Oregon

Home schooling worked out for you all. I’m proud of the lives you’ve built. We’re settling.

We’re not together, and that’s uncomfortable. Airlines say ‘If you’re with a child, put your mask on first, then the childs mask’. If you’re dead, you can’t save the child’s life. Your life. A metaphor for life, really. You all have learned to take care of yourselves first. It’s rewarding to see you care for others, selflessly & often.

When you’re in trouble these days, I can’t put your mask on first. We’re working on getting our masks on these days.

Kes reached out this week concerned for our health and well being. It felt different. A first of sorts. We know you’ve all cared, but something triggered her to show care for us as ‘elderly’. It pissed mom off, but excited me (I’m older?!?).

Kes: I just want y’all to be healthy. I want to be healthy too. I was worried about bringing that conversation up because I have no ill intentions or I don’t want to be aggressive or sound rude.
Mom that brings me to (a bunch of questions for mom)…

Degs: Hey. I’m all fucked up too. And fat. And addicted to sugar. And heroin. But ok.
Jenn: Shut up. You fat lard

Welcome to our world.


Early August

The start of August had us putting in our 30 days for the rental in Smithville, Texas. A place we’ve wanted to live most of our lives. We made it for about 5 months.

Smithville is a small town about 45 minutes east of Austin with lots of Pecan trees. Off the highway, not really a place anyone just drives through. It was a railroad town way back when.

Smithville, Texas
Smithville, Texas. You were muggier than I remember.

I delivered Auto Parts there in the ’80s for Carquest. Fell in love with the small town. Bought a rose for the Zimmerhanzels bbq joint girl then never saw her again.

Brought Jenn here on some of our early dates. Brought y’all out through the years to pick pecans from neighborhood walks through the plantation style homes in the historic district.

We’ve watched Hope Floats too many times and still love it. Projected that movie on the shiplap wall our first night here this time.

Tried to like Tree of Life and topped the Christmas tree for years with the cowboy hat that we liked to believe was Brad Pitt’s, found in the trash from the alley behind the set .

It’s become quite the artist community as Austin prices out the best. Stefanie Distefano helped raise you guys when we lived in South Austin. She helped us find a place and welcomed us like family. We became best of friends with her dad during our time there.

Sa Sa Lit
Sa Sa Lit at Flamingo Ranch (July 2021)

Smithville has been good to us. And the cat. We also got a dog there, Chi Chi 2.0 as Sunny called her. Her new name is Guadalupe.

Early August

August 2021 started our 30 days notice at the Smithville house Stefanie helped us get into. Off MLK, built in the 1920s, blocks from the train tracks. The noise was amazing.

The cat has to move again.
The cat has to move again.

The cat, Forrest is probably 14 years old now. He’s lived in probably 12 different houses (Wilson, UV twice, Dogwood, Pinewood, Warrenton twice, 8th St, Tada, L&C, Seaview, Floral, Bighorn, MLK…). Probably 40+ different states. How are we still moving this much? Your parents like the term ‘velocity’.

In heat and wanting a back scratch. Works well for both.

Kes: On the road back on fire! We’re going to Orleans CA

Kes sends more pics than any of you. I save most, or all of what I can find from all of you. She texts more, so she gets more attention here. I feel like your little sibling spat and your big changes cause you other two to go into yourselves. That’s okay. Your family will always be in your psyche whether you want them there or not. Good luck with that.

Kes fighting fires.
Kes fighting fires in Northern California.

If I’m tracking this right, this year took you fighting fires from Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Utah, Arizona, and back up through California.

Before and after.
Before and after. Skills and dirt.
Squad boss.
Kes became a Squad Boss after a few fires… of course. Taking care of the men.
Holding the line
Holding the line? Making the line? You’re smarter about fire than we are.
Kicking ass and making names.
Out there kicking ass and making your name.

I get to keep my wood coin I made! Practiced a lot on the chainsaw today and practiced different kinds of cuts!

Aug 12: So I’m on the river complex now near Etna CA. We will be spiked out likely for the rest of the run because we just loaded up a shit ton of MRE’s (military meals) and water. I’m hoping to have service at least in some parts but I’m not sure
I believe we have 7 more days on this road so it might be a long stretch without hearing from me!

Aug 18: Safe!!!

Hard set of days for Moms and Pops not hearing from you. Not being able to get in touch with you. Your company responded well through facebook. Thanks PatRick!


The beauty of having a home on wheels is moving. Beneficial if you move often like we do. Parked this beast in a nearby RV park. Cooled it off and moved out of the house, into it around the corner. Much simpler.

Moving back into the RV
Moving back into the RV
At the age where we hired movers.
We’re at the age where we hired movers for the first time since the corporate move back in 1998. Sorry about that King Size Purple Mattress. Ouch.
Still do a mean move out clean
We still do a mean move out clean. Always leave it better than you found it.
Move out shot
Adding to our collection of moving out shots (visit years past: ‘our 26th year in our 28th house‘).
Storage again
Storage again.

We’re expecting to house again soon, so saved more this time. Please keep our storage in LaPine safe and clean. Thank you.

Back where we belong (Ingram just out of Kerrville, Texas) hanging with J&B.
School of Rock w/ the kids
School of Rock w/ the J&B. They had never seen School of Rock, we had to scold Josh & Lyzz.

Also got the Led out for them…

(Blurred, with permission from the parents. Not Led Zeppelin.)
Bill's BBQ in Kerrville
Bill’s BBQ in Kerrville. Currently our favorite of all, just above Rudy’s.

Meanwhile, back at the fires…

Setting the fires, a first
Fighting fire with fire

Did a few night shifts and a shift that lasted 30hrs with no sleep and shit tons of work
I got to BURRRNN!! I used the drip torch!!!!

Kes contemplating, then knowing why
Kes contemplating, then knowing why. This kid came up to her in the store thanking her for her service.

In front of the heavy smoke: That’s the area we were just working on for the last two days.

I literally just walked into the store and this little girl came out of nowhere, ran up to me, and gave me a hug and said thank you 😭 and her grandma was so sweet and thanked us for our service 😭😭😭

Cleaning up where she can
Cleaning up where you can. It’s good to see you in your element.

Kes: First shower in 9 days 🤘. This is after scrubbing. Permanently dirty.
Degs: In the pores. You’re beautiful


Meanwhile, mom and pops back at the ranch…

Evenings on the porch
Evenings on the porch
brunches with friends
Brunch with friends. Mama cooked her breakfast tacos for hosts, neighbors, and friends.
lunches on the river
Lunches on the river – we take sandwiches down here a lot. Water’s clear and cool.
Axis deer in the woods
Axis deer in the woods as we view properties. Cool 5 acres with a cabin, but far too steep.
Finding home
Finding home. This is the backyard from a top contender.

Back in Bend, Oregon. Austin sent a pic!

Austin hated donuts
Austin hated donuts growing up.

Austin: Loving doughnuts y’all.
Degs: Hahaha! Wtf?!?
Jenn: How about you brush your hair.
Austin: Probably should. A is cutting my hair soon because she’s expressed it’s getting too long.
Jenn: Good. You look homeless.
Austin: Haha. At least i don’t have a scruggy crazy beard.

Loves camping
Still loving the outdoors. Always have. Warms us up to see you out there.

Austin: Miss you mama. I’ve been doing great! Just focusing on life and what’s next. Love you all! I’ll call you soon. A and I went camping and spent the weekend together in Mt Hood though!
Jenn: Love you too…😍😍😍

Sunny loves camping
Sunny loving camping. Your solo trip from Bend to Durango. Your pictures kinda suck without you in them though.

Sunny: My campsite last night above Utah Lake outside of Provo! On the road again only a little less than 2hrs from Moab!
mom mentioned this couple that was found dead outside of Moab earlier today and I just went to read about it only to find out this was literally on the same road I camped alone on just a week ago😳
Also been listening to a murder podcast for the past three hours about the Delphi murders (crazy) but definitely keeping me motivated to trek home hahaha

heading home
Always glad to hear you’re heading home. And getting clean.

Kes: Hey, I just wanted to share this with y’all because the more I talked about it the more grateful I became for it. One of my squaddies Tyson is thinking about homeschooling his kid (7) and he asked about how we did homeschooling. I went into the whole unschooling thing and how it was less curriculum based and how it was more based on real life experiences and how much stuff we learned on the road. And the more I got into the more I just kept talking and realizing how much we have actually done in our life. I explained that we started multiple family businesses, coffee shop, families rock, how we did a lot of volunteering the older we got at places like the food bank, tavon center, sunny with childhood development and old people, 448hrs. How we helped out multiple families with different things like Isaacs rock and barenaked Santa. Talked about how we went and traveled and all the historical places we’ve been like Salem and gettysburg and all around. Junior ranger badges and national parks.

Anyways, it was just really cool to talk to him and remember just about everything we’ve done. I told him how we each found successful things that keep us creative happy, how sunny still works with kids and how much she kills it, how Austin is an amazing photographer with amazing opportunities in different fields, how I’ve helped mom and dad run weecasa and how much I got into firefighting. I even talked about the mirrassous and how Maddie is a badass with swords and welding, Naomi in her magical photography, brenon who has served and made through college with high grades, Colton being a friggin violin prodigy….it’s just really cool to look back on all the things and people in our lives and be really proud of us and all of our friends and how homeschooling actually worked 😂 he was fascinated hearing about how each and everyone has found multiple things we are good at, finding success in our fields and ultimately being happy with our lives.

You could just see it in his eyes that that’s what he wants for his kid. He admires our story, and all of our friends stories a lot and explaining it to him let me see how we’ve inspired a lot of people to chase happiness and passions even when the path isn’t always clear. I think that was just something worth reminding all of you about how cool and successful we’ve all become and how years later, we can still see the spark in someone’s eyes that gives them hope and purpose. Anyways, sappy rant over. Just feeling it all right now and grateful for y’all and the life you all have given and shared with me. Love you all so friggin much you don’t even know

Sunny: Awww bird, I love this so much!! Needed to hear this today too, I love you tons. Can’t wait till you’re back home in Bend with me♡

Jenn: Love this. Thank you for reminding us of all we have accomplished together. I’m so grateful you guys get it.

Kes: Can’t wait to be back either boobers! My body is friggin exhausted and I’m ready for some decent time off. Love you mama!

Degs: Kes, that’s beautiful. Timing impeccable. I just finished going through bnf.com and cleaning it up. Missing pictures, pages, posts. Shit links, stuff like that. Every page scanned and fixed. An epic journey! Disjointed on the site, but epic. You all are so great at life and its challenges. So proud of all of you! Love you so much ❤

Sisters
Homeschooled sisters
Kes home for the day
Kes home for the day with one of your roommates.

Slept for so long last night and feel so much better. Resting was so needed and panzie is my best friend

Sunny home
Sunny home with one of your roommates.

Moving into mid-August…

Got a fire call. We’re driving out of Oregon and heading to the French Fire outside of Bakersfield in Sequoia national forest!
We’re getting rerouted to this fire (Caldor)

Kes back at the fires
Kes back at the fires. Your sleeping arrangements wouldn’t work for us.
Caldor Fire near Lake Tahoe
Caldor Fire near Lake Tahoe. Hard to imagine you down there, baby girl.
Looking 12yo
You’ll always be my baby girl.
working with inmates
Even when you work with inmates.

I live such a weird life honestly. This shit is a trip. Like imagine an end of the world movie and scene where they have to go to a military camp and that’s my life

The crew
Your crew

We just met up with the other Patrick crew, so now I’m the only female with 39 dudes 🤣

The support
Your support
The motivation
Your motivation – Kes flying high

Found a house
So we made a deal on that house with the backyard. We expect you all to come home.
Porch time
Meanwhile, we’ll be doing porch time here.
Beautiful Promises.
Beautiful Promises outside our door.
Found. Sirius XM. Canadian 359 North Americana.
Guadalupe Chihuahua
Guadalupe Chihuahua. I know we’ve only had her for some months, but only Sunny’s met her. Unacceptable.

Sunny: chi chi 2.0 trying to bite my face off right after I go in the truck this past trip….
Jenn: What?!? You attacked her and taunted her the whole time. You liar. Bitch
Sunny: Hahahaha not that time!! I just wanted taco cabana. Damn
Jenn: You were coming off with attitude. I was watching your face.

Jenn's homemade enchiladas
Mama’s homemade enchiladas should help get you all here.
Texas mama
Texas mama – “I’m not drunk. I’m passing snacks and whoopin’ ass!”. Your mama did it all too.
Guadalupe River
Your pops went on a drive and found this on the Guadalupe River. I want to take you there.

Late August…

Caldor Fire
From Reddit on the Caldor Fire. I love it and hate it that you’re there.
before & after
before & after

My eyebrows are dark for once 😂

Looking in
Looking in
Going in
Going in

Just got down off the hill after a 30hr shift. Exhausted.
My feet have never been in so much pain. Those shifts are so hard. But they’re treating us to in-n-out instead of fire camp food and then bed

Being in
Being in

This fire is getting wild. 3 different divisions lost their lines that they’ve been holding. Mean sections they were trying to keep away from the fire. Just got word that everything we worked on for that 30hr shift got lost the next day and is burnt over 😔

All nighters
All nighters

Going on another 30hr
Have to hold this line.

Hero
Hero

Apparently the last fire we were on where we were doing structure protection has been out of control. I don’t know if the structures are there or if they made it. Caldor fire the one I’m on is now in Tahoe this morning. I feel defeated. This is the first day I’ve gotten emotional and I’m trying not to cry in front of anyone in the truck right now but something just sank in my heart.
This morning is hard. The heaviness is setting in.

Kes Instagram story:

Fighting the Caldor Wildfire in Northern California bearing down on South Lake Tahoe.

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