Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Beginning to Live the Dream Part 2a

When Jamie decided to buy the former TFD fire engine, I of course volunteered to help with logistics. The fire engine was located on Whidbey Island. We made a plan for him to ride the train from the Portland area to Tacoma on a friday night. I was to pick him up at the train station and he and I would go pick up the baby bright and early Saturday morning. Both of us had plans for the late afternoon/evening that we could not gracefully bow out of, even for something as monumental as this!

When Jamie arrived on Friday evening I was there to greet him at the train station. Anticipation was making me jittery. I was SO excited a) to be seeing my brother, whom I don't spend nearly enough time with, and b) knowing that this was the beginning of a great adventure! As soon as I spotted him I called out, "There he is! How is my favorite fireman?" I wanted the whole world to know how excited I was to see him and how proud I am of him for what he does. We embraced in a giant bear hug and then without further adieu headed for my car.

We arrived at my house a very short time later, having made plans to go out to dinner. My husband declined going because he didn't want to miss his favorite routine of settling in for the weekend, watching wrestling and enjoying an ice cold beer. (Definitely NOT my thing, but hey, he likes wrestling and I like all things firefighting!) No problem.

We had already decided where we were going: the infamous Engine House 9! This is an OLD fire station converted into a bar and grill. It is filled with firefighting paraphernalia and is somewhere I have wanted to check out since I was 13! Jamie has wanted to for just as long so after 27 years of "wanting to see it" we finally did!

Our fine city was suffering an almost unbearably hot spell that August and I am guessing that is the reason that the place was fairly quiet. We were told it was usually a pretty busy and "hopping" place, especially on friday nights but there were only 3-5 small groups of people there when we arrived near 8pm.

The first thing we wanted to do, of course, was explore. The staff there were very obliging and encouraged us to look around and take our time. They allowed us to go upstairs to a section that was currently closed. Upstairs we took pictures of me haninging onto the pole, as if I was about to slide down. Too bad the stove pipe from the level below was only a foot or two away from it! We took a few other pictures then headed down to order some chow.

We chose a seat outside in front of the place and we both ordered the mushroom swiss burger and substituted onion rings for fries. Neither was all that surprised that we found the same things to be appealing. We enjoyed a delicious, ample meal at a reasonable price and lots of good time chatting and catching up and gushing about our excitement over the new fire engine. Our waitress actually sat at our table with us and encouraged us to tell her all about the adventure we were about to embark on. She at least pretended (convincingly) that she was interested and asked us to be sure and bring the engine by sometime. We were having such a wonderful time that the time passed very quickly. It was much too late when I dropped Jamie off at his in-laws house for the night. The plan was to pick him up bright and early in the morning and head out to Whidbey Island. On the ride home, it suddenly hit me! I felt heartbroken for a moment, but tried to get over it. You see, I had suddenly realized that I was going to help Jamie pick up this very special fire engine. YAY! But... when we picked her up, I would have to drive my own truck home! I wasn't going to ride home in the fire engine!! We discussed this fact for a bit and tried to figure out who we could convince to go with us to drive mine home, but it wasn't to be. SIGH, Sniff, sniff! It was much too late when I dropped Jamie off at his in-laws house for the night. The plan was to pick him up bright and early in the morning and head out to Whidbey Island.

When I got home I was so wound up that I could barely sleep! I could hardly contain myself, I was so excited. I felt like a little kid! Finally I managed to sleep somehow and I woke up completely amped up for the day. On my way to pick up Jamie I stopped for Starbucks goodies for both of us.

We had a good time on the ride to the ferry and enjoyed chatting with each other about what ever it was we chatted about. While waiting for the ferry we walked the dock, took pictures, etc. When we finally boarded the ferry we took pictures of me by a "fire station" on the ferry and sent it via telephone to my best friend. When we arrived at Whidbey Island a short time later, we had to meet the seller in town. We located him and followed him the short distance to his property.

As soon as we saw the first glimpse of the engine, I took a picture from the passenger seat of my moving Ford Explorer. Both of us cannot stop thinking about how nuts this is that Jamie is buying a fire engine and that I think it is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. We are nuts! We are nuts! We are nuts!

We drove back quite a way towards it before coming to a stop. Jamie tried to be non-chalont as he sauntered up to her, but I nearly kissed that beautiful old girl! (Nearly!!)

Jamie and I climbed in and on it, walked all the way around it, looked in the compartments and commented on some of the missing features (we were not expecting it to be complete, of course!). We did all this as Jamie explained to the seller the significance of this particular fire engine to us.

Here is how Jamie described it in his blog:

I've been holding a slight hope that it was my 'home' rig, Engine 8, but we quickly spot the '10' on the back. That's cool, it is still one of the eight sisters, and 10 is a busy house adjacent to 8's first-due that shares nearly all its fires with 8, as 8 often did with 10. She was missing her Q siren and all of her original warning lights, only a slightly modernized roof warning beacon remained. She was missing several of her intake and discharge caps as well as her Stang water cannon. A couple of rolls of hose were all she had for equipment, hosebed and ladder rack bare bones empty. But that can all be fixed later.... this is one of the eight sisters.

Jamie was ready to buy it, but the seller refused his money until we took her for a spin.

When Jamie started that engine, with the two of us sitting in the cab, a sense of excitment and familiarity came over both of us so strongly that we both had to comment on it. (Excitement is WAY to bland of a word but I don't know what else to use!) Immediately I reached for the cord to the air horn. BOY did it sound sick!! Oh well. I honked it again.

Again, Jamie's point of view from his blog:

Then, he started her up.

Oh.... that SOUND! I remember it well, and a lot of memories came right back. Hearing that old familiar Detroit Diesel roar to life was.... well... amazing. Inside I am all... 'Yessss!'

I also was all... "Yessssssss!!!"

Then Jamie put it in gear and stepped on the gas! Oh that wonderful sound! So nostalgic and romantic! We took her for a spin to appease the seller, came back and handed over the big bucks. It was completely painless for me because I wasn't the one shelling out, but I gladly would have if I could have!!

After politely chatting for a lot longer than either of us had wanted to, we started the journey back. Our first stop was at a hardware store. It was necessary to purchase some plain white contact paper to cover the markings she still bore from the last agency she worked for, Grant County Fire District #13. We covered the markings on the door and the unit ID markings in various places. I used a permanent marker to clearly mark the engine as NOT IN SERVICE. Jamie was conscientious of the fact that if we happened to pass an accident or other emergency situation, the general public would not be amused to see a fire engine roll by and KEEP GOING! They would not notice the fact that it was devoid of hoses, missing parts, etc. He also covered the now-invalid Washington State "Aid Car License" in the windshield and the warning light on the roof.

Here is Jamie's take on it from his blog:

"You see, I had no interest whatsoever in being waved down by someone in distress. I anticipated having no equipment, and although it turned out to have a little bit of hose aboard, a pneumatic actuator was not functioning and she would not go into pump gear, nor was a nozzle to be had. I admit I did bring my turnout gear and a very nice first-aid/trauma jump kit, but I hoped to not need it. I deliberately avoided wearing anything that would made me look even remotely like a firefighter on or off duty."

Several men, mostly older, stopped to admire my brother's new toy. They were aware it was a toy and not a service rig, but they were envious, you could tell from the look in their eyes and the conversations that were carried on while we got her ready to travel. Jamie was cool and invited the men to look, touch, feel and climb on, if the liked.

Again, Jamie's point of view:

I think we talked to five people in the parking lot of this small hardware store on Whidbey island who stopped to look at her, realizing it was a privately-owned toy. Mostly older guys. Yeah, they had boats and stuff... but you could tell they suddenly (if only temporarily) had Fire Engine Envy. This continued all day.

We also had to fuel up the sadly yellow/green but formerly BRT (fireman speak for Big Red Truck!). It seems one of it's former Fire Department owners was well intentioned but misguided and painted over her beautiful red body with that embarrassing yellow/green stuff! Poor baby!

At the ferry terminal, we both thought, after he had already paid for the fire engine and lined up, that I would not make this same run. We were both sweating that one privately from our own vehicles but finally I was able to go to. Jamie forgot to pay my ferry fee because he was so excited but I didn't mind. Lucky for us both that I had my Visa card on me!!

Once on the ferry, he got out to look for me, as we were not in the same line in our vehicles. I got out and headed straight for the fire engine, even though I knew he was looking for me. I marvelled at what other passengers must have thought. The guy in front of me watched me get out, walk past his car and another and approach the fire engine. Then, as if I owned it, I opened the passenger door and climbed in. I wish I knew what he must have been thinking!! He had no way of knowing that I belonged there, sort of. When Jamie and I connected (cell phones are wonderful inventions) he knew I was having a little bit of a hard time. As he wrote:

"Sister had the roughest time... she wanted to be in the fire engine, not following. Darn all the luck, I swear she would have sold that Ford Explorer to the first person that offered $100 just so she could ride back in the engine, but no one came forward in time."

How RIGHT you are, Bro!

I will again print Jamie's words to describe wht happened next:

"The ride back to Tacoma was uneventful, except for the part where I spoke inside the cab while approaching the Tacoma Dome on I-5 as if old Engine 10 could hear me.

"Welcome home, baby. Welcome home".
*Note, we knew from visible marking under a thin layer of silver paint that this rig had at one time served as Engine 10 while in Tacoma.

As soon as we got it back in town we dumped my car and had lots of adventures in the fire engine.

I have to get ready for work and this is already a long post that I am not finished with, so... I will post "Beginning to Live the Dream Part 2b" later.

1 comment:

  1. Just re-reading and enjoying this stuff! I missed the part about forgetting to pay your ferry fare, though. Sorry about that!