Ham Lake Fire Update 5/11/07

If you are ever in a crisis, you want to be with the kind of people who are surrounding us now: The folks actively fighting the fire--bless their efforts and keep them safe; the spokespeople keeping us informed as to what is happening; the neighbors on the Trail, in town, in the county; the many, many people--friends, family and loved ones, keeping us all in their thoughts and prayers. YOU ALL ARE SO AMAZING and we are so very grateful. Words cannot express it.

To say that it's been a busy and tense week is a little understated. Eight years ago, the blowdown and clean-up were stressful. Our forest fires in the following years were also stressful. Now I'm learning that those were the training grounds for this point in time. It has been a tough week, but for whatever reason, this is where God wants us to be right now, and that is where we are hanging out. Even amidst the dark times, we are grateful for the fact that we are all together, everyone is safe, and no one has been killed by this fire.

There is so much to say, but I will have to post the information in pieces. The most important stuff first--We evacuated safely on Thursday afternoon. Word came in at two p.m. Addie left with friends at 2:45, and Greg, Paul and I were out by 3:30. The guys were in the bus, and I was in the car behind. I snapped pictures as I went, and eventually will be sharing some of them here. We headed to Grand Marais, where Robert met us. He and Ben had hopped a red eye flight out of Fairbanks, Alaska on Wednesday night. They landed in Minneapolis on Thursday morning, met Ben's grandpa at the airport for a ride to Hinckley. They borrowed a truck there and headed up to the North Shore. For the time being, we are camped out with Greg's brother Jeff, sister-in-law Susan, and nephew Cassidy. They are wonderful to take in bus people like us!

Moses and Jethro rode out in style on Wednesday evening, thanks to Jeff and Susan. The donkeys are currently residing in the pasture at Greg's sister Geri's place, happily eating hay. It was good to have them leave early, and not be a worry.

Since I have yet to join the 21st century in yet another way--cell phones--I don't have an alternate phone number for you to reach us. That may change, and if it does, I will post it here. In the meantime, we are keeping close tabs on our email: info@hestons.com. You can write to us, and I will do my best to reply, but it may take some time. Thank you in advance for your patience and understanding.

It is Friday afternoon as I write this, and to this point, we believe that Heston's Lodge remains intact. We first heard this last night about 10:30. I know that we all slept a little better with that information in hand. Our chapter is not over, unfortunately, because the wind is still blowing. It has changed direction again, and so we continue to wait, watch and pray.

All through the week, as the fire progressed, we fielded phone calls about what was happening at the moment, and what to expect next. The first part we tried to answer as best we could. The second part wasn't as easy. Fire has a mind of its own, and we could try for some predictions, but we really just didn't know. If we were short on the phone, we sincerely apologize. That's not normally how we are. But these aren't normal conditions.

When will things be normal? We don't know. As soon as we are able to go back to Gunflint Lake, I will post that here to the blog.

I cannot praise enough the efforts and hard, hard work that the fire fighters are putting in. This is a most incredible thing to witness. These people are beyond dedicated, and I fully put my trust in their abilities. Please say prayers for their continued safety.

Thank you to each and everyone of you---we couldn't do it without knowing that you are all there for us.

With much love,
Barb, Greg, Robert, Paul and Addie--and I know that I speak for Sharlene and Jim, too