If you've been reading my blog for over a year (thank you!), you may remember a trip I took you along to one of our favorite places to get away, Arizona's White Mountains.

(click photos to enlarge)

It's simply amazing to us that we can leave our door in the hot, dry, dusty desert at temperatures in the 110s and up, drive for a few hours and be in one of the most pristine wilderness areas you'd ever want to see, surrounded by greenery and wildlife, a new rainstorm blowing over every afternoon, and temps in the fresh, cool 60s.And you may remember the lone Ponderosa Pine in the photo above, also here:

And you may or may not be aware that a huge, devastating wildfire ripped through eastern Arizona earlier this year.
Along with being worried for our friends in the small mountain towns, we wondered: what would happen to our special place? For a while after the fire, we thought about going up, just to check things out, but were afraid of what we'd find.
A couple of weeks ago, we decided to go for it. It was a combo birthday weekend for my eldest son and I, and none of us had the energy for a big birthday bash, so we decided to celebrate with a relaxing family trip to our favorite spot. We crossed our fingers and hoped that it wouldn't be just a pile of charcoal.
We saw plenty of evidence of the fire as we made our way up the mountain.
Between the blue sky and the green grass stood dead, dead forest.
We were so relieved as we pulled into our camp spot that most of it had remained unharmed.
We set up camp, the dogs luxuriated in the cool grass and we went off to explore.
And soon found evidence that the fire had come through our area, biting off big hunks here, and leaving things untouched there.
I have no idea how one tree can burn to the ground, and the one right next to it, survive.
And what of our Lonesome Pine, you ask?
This huge tree, I don't know, maybe 5ft. in diameter, and over 100 ft. tall,
is now a relic:
This fire, to completely burn out the entire core of such a massive tree, must have been so hot, so intense...I can't even imagine it.
But...the grass is green. That means things are growing, right?
One thing about fire is that it feeds the earth to nourish new growth. And the cycle of life begins again.
But the best thing that could have happened on this trip, besides the one fish we caught
Was the most unbelievably bright, huge and beautiful double rainbow* I've ever seen:
It was so close we wanted to look for the pot of gold.
And couldn't even fit the entire arc into the camera shot.
It was an awesome birthday.
On the wildfire:
The Wallow fire, the largest in Arizona history, burned Over 530,000 acres and 32 homes and cost more than $79 million to fight.
The two hikers responsible for the accidental start of the fire are Arizona residents, cousins both in their 20s. They could face up to six months in prison and fines up to $5,000 each. While I agree that people should be made responsible for their actions, I do not agree with "hanging" these two young men for an accident that quickly ran out of control, due to natural forces beyond their or 2,347 fire personnel's ability to contain.
While we use extreme care with our fires while we are camping, we understand that this mistake could have happened to us, or anyone else. The two cousins claim that they believed their fire was extinguished, but obviously a spark remained.
Instead of severe punishment, maybe the two could be used in a public-service ad campaign.
I mean, whatever happened to Smokey the Bear?
Only YOU can prevent forest fires.
Maybe having that mantra firmly re-planted in the American psyche could help prevent a tragedy such as this.
But if it's one thing I've learned from this weekend, it's that certain quotes ring true:
"Without the rain, there would be no rainbow."
Gilbert K. Chesterton
and that when you have a title for a blog post that reminds you of a song,
that song will be running in your head for days.
"Wildfire" by Michael Martin Murphey

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gl4Y4FWWkn0]

*and because I can't even say "double rainbow" with out thinking of this guy, here's the link: