June 30, 2016

Looking for a Sign

I don't always see the signs.

I'm always looking, but I'm always missing out on something.

And such was the case when I was driving through Los Padres National Forest through Frazier Park, about two hours north of LA.

The first time I drove through that way, I met up with a friend who asked me if I'd seen the sign for a fire lookout. I hadn't, so on my way home, I looked for it—and couldn't find it.

But when I returned to Frazier Park, this time I refused to leave until I found the lookout—even if I never actually found the sign for it.

I've never visited a fire lookout tower that was actually occupied.

And that seems like a shame.

I suppose technology has supplanted the need for a human being to actually keep watch over the forest for wildfires...

...but sometimes, you need a warning that something might be amiss...

...before things really go wrong...

...and computers delay, until they detect a verified disaster-in-the-making.

Is that a cloud, or is it smoke?

Better safe than sorry.

We spend so much of our time on the ground, in the weeds, that it can be tough to gain some perspective over things.

And somehow, it seems like the only way to do that is to get up high somewhere... it in a plane, from a skyscraper, on a wire, or atop a mountain.

It feels safe up there, where you can see everyone and everything—but they can't see you.

But this lookout, on top of Frazier Mountain, isn't protected anymore.

No one spends their days there, sleeps there, eats there, or washes their hands there.

There's hardly anything left there. The scavengers have taken everything out of there, leaving only an empty shell.

So who's keeping watch over us, now?

Maybe it's a good thing to not always be looking out for trouble. If you expect it, it's sure to come.

And even if you see it coming, you can't always do something to stop it.

Maybe sometimes, it's better to be taken by surprise.

For more of the Frazier Mountain Fire Lookout history (and additional photos), visit

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