Options for summer outings in our little corner of the Rio Grande National Forest are plentiful. There’s something different and fun every weekend. Don’t believe me, check out our South Fork website.
Last weekend we joined the fun on the 14th annual Mushroom Foray.
What’s a Mushroom Foray you ask?
I wondered myself knowing foray is to raid and plunder. Surely, that wasn’t the intent.
I contacted the Visitor Center for information and learned the Mushroom Foray is a simple adventure into the forest to learn to identify edible mushrooms.
And, if you check Dictionary.com, you’ll find that venturing into something new is a less used meaning of the word.
So off we went into the forest on one of the many Rio Grande Forest Service trails. We stopped at three different elevations to find different species of mushrooms.
At the first stop, we gathered our paper sacks and hiked up the hill into the woods. My husband and I were a little fearful that we’d be the only ones of the twenty folks on the foray that didn’t find specimens, but we soldiered on.
Our fears were found less for we quickly located a mushroom by a fallen log and prepared to extract the bloom from its habitat. I dutifully made notes of the location on the sack and carefully dug the mushroom then dropped it in the sack. My husband, meantime, kept searching.
We found six different varieties of mushrooms and proudly dumped our cache for identification along with the mushrooms others had collected. Alas, only one of our finds was an edible variety.
On our third and last stop, we ate our sack lunch then started searching again. More sure this time of what to look for, we were careful to dig only the ones we thought were edible.
In the picture below, the large white mushroom was the star of the pickings. It was the biggest example for the day of an edible mushroom…and it was ours.
The day provided a truly fun foray and an educational adventure. Now, if we are ever stranded in the forest, we won’t starve. We know what mushrooms we can eat.
Although my husband isn’t so sure eating a mushroom is better than starving. Me, I love the fungus blooms.
Our adventure began with the 6 a.m. reverse 911 call on Friday, June 21st, that announced we had to evacuate our home.
Not unexpected. The community meeting the night before had warned of the possibility.
However, possibility is not reality and reality was HARD.
Looking around our little house filled with one third of what we’d had before we moved here in March and knowing we could lose it all sent lumps to our throats and tears to our eyes.
How – beyond the necessary paper documents – do you decide what to load into your cars when you only have four hours? Plus, you’d already downsized considerably to what you wanted or needed.
We settled on all the quilts my husband’s mother made, a wooden carving of a woman praying my father made for me, some pieces of silver from my mother’s family, a Van Briggle vase titled Lorelei that once belonged to my husband’s sister, two antique clocks, a 1840s porcelain inkwell from Vienna, and a Victorian chatelaine.
Crazy list, right? But, that’s what fit in the small suitcase or around the other stuff in the car. And, each of those items holds precious memories.
We also loaded our laptops and one printer. Tools of our trade that we couldn’t do without.
If you’re not familiar with Barbara Rudolph’s work, check out her website. She’s an extremely talented artist who combines objects with birds and creates paintings that capture moments guaranteed to bring a smile to your face. My two pictures have special meaning to me for many reasons, and I can’t wait until I don’t live in a wildfire to get them back.
As we’re packing the cars, firefighters pull our barbeque propane tank and spare gasoline cans to the street. We’d already turned off the propane tank that serves our house and hot water heater. They’re not happy that we have so many trees in our backyard and tell us the outlook isn’t good. We need to leave soon.
We thank them for protecting our home and assure them we are leaving. We never stayed when the Gulf coast hurricane warnings said leave either.
With the two cars loaded with our most precious things and our two four-legged boys, Toby and Buster, we say a prayer for safety and protection, and lock the front door. With the smoke cloud growing, we drive away.
Alone in my car, I look one last time at our little house and wonder if we’ll ever see it again. Tears I didn’t want to shed in front of my husband come.
But, I remind myself it’s just stuff. A phrase I repeat often over the next week.
We bypassed the Red Cross shelter set up in the Del Norte high school gymnasium fifteen miles away from South Fork. Shelters don’t allow dogs inside with owners.
Facilities for small animals and large animals were available, but I didn’t want to be separated from our pets. We’d find a pet friendly motel.
We went through four towns checking availability. There were no rooms. Alamosa State University in Alamosa offered dormitory rooms, but again we’d have to leave our pets at the facility provided.
We’d gone from a big house full of stuff to a small house full of stuff to two cars with all our worldly belongings. I couldn’t leave my babies behind in Monte Vista.
We kept going until Trinidad, Colorado, nearly four hours away. The Holiday Inn Hotel there had a room and allowed pets. We unpack and settle in for the short duration, we thought.
Amazingly, the dogs don’t even bark when we leave to go to the restaurant for dinner. They were too happy to be out of the car and with their humans.
But after a long weekend, we want closer to home so we can find out what’s going on with the fire instead of relying on the media.
Next blog you’ll learn about the next phase of our adventure living in a wildfire.