Our mini-vaction stumbles across fire drama
I promised pictures from our trip, but got ones I wasn't quite expecting. This was the most impressive of pictures, taken out of my front windshield just before finding out I-80, the road we were traveling on, was closed.

At the time, we didn't know what was going on. Nothing on the radio and my husband couldn't find any information online when I called him. But winds were gusting at 50 miles an hour, the air was filled with smoke and one can only imagine how far such a blaze could be carried with the dried out corn husks which were blowing through the air. As we came closer, we saw the farmers had turned on their irrigation systems to help wet down the dried out fields. Later, we saw quite a few tractors out, although at the time we assumed they were doing whatever farm work needed to be done.

Turns out they were trying to help keep the fire from spreading as residents along I-80 were being evacuated from the path of a blaze that was covering four square miles and spreading while continual radio traffic had killed the batteries in firefighters' radios.

A countywide state of emergency was declared, and last I checked the fire still wasn't under control.

And this was truly amazing...conditions south of the fire:

Obscuring the view of the irrigation system not 100 feet from me was not smoke, but dust kicked up in 50mph gusts that were causing the car to slide on the gravel road. I opened the window to take this picture and we choked on the dust and were hit by several flying bits of corn husks before I rolled it up again.

It seems strange now...we spent the entire evening circling this fire without ever really knowing for sure what was going on. We had no idea the area was being evacuated, no idea the fire was out of control, no idea just how large it had gotten.

And yet we were right there as we drove around looking for birds in the fields, taking a break at Cabela's, hiking around the trail at the observation bridge and generally killing time until sunset brought the birds in to roost in the river. The sky was too gray for much in the way of photography...last year, watching the cranes flying in to roost against a brilliant sunset was breathtaking. This year it was gray birds against a gray backdrop landing in a gray river.

But they still managed to fill the air with their karroo, even above the howl of the wind.