The Woman Who Watches Out For Us


There are many people watching out for us here in Pine and Strawberry. I met one of them during an outing with my grandchildren. We drove up Highway 87 to Forest Road 300, took the first left off of 300 and came to a white wooden gate on the right.

There is no sign, but you go through the gate and follow a short winding road up to Baker Butte Lookout Tower. Shirley Payne informed us that there are 11 of these towers in the Coconino National Forest, seven in the Tonto and 74 throughout the state.


Shirley Payne explains the Osborn Fire Finder as we enjoy the view from Baker Butte Lookout.

Shirley and the others spend their days in the tower and stay in communication with each other, always on the lookout for any sign of smoke. She explained the Osborne Fire Finder, an interesting, simple tool to pinpoint the location of smoke. There is an old cabin below the tower where Shirley lives during the week with her two dogs.

The dogs nimbly climb up and down the tower. She lives with no electricity, but has propane. Water is brought in by the truckload. Her husband is a firefighter and they have a home near Happy Jack. This spot is beautiful and she does a lot of berry picking and makes jam during her off time. Although there are no signs, visitors are welcome in the tower, but only a few at a time. The kids receive some goodies and information about fire safety.

The day we were there, Shirley said that smoke from the California fires were obscuring the view, but on a clear day, she can see Mount Lemmon near Tucson and the San Francisco Peaks.

S.C.A.F., the organization behind the Pine Community Center, is evaluating the need for affordable transportation to doctor's appointments, the senior center and the grocery store for people who do not have cars or should not be driving. Some are driving who would like not to be, but there is no alternative.

S.C.A.F. is preparing a questionnaire to determine the need. These questionnaires will be available at the senior dining room, the thrift store, post office, library and hopefully at local churches. Watch for them, but in the meantime, consider the idea. Call the senior center at (928) 476-4633 for information.

Activities are available every afternoon, Monday through Friday, after lunch in the Senior Dining Room. Come join your friends and meet new ones. Lunch is served at 11:30 a.m. and the games begin at 1 p.m. Play poker, canasta, pinochle or bridge or suggest another game. Contact Bruce at (928) 476-2239, or Barbara at 476-4511 with questions, to sign up or to suggest a different game.

Join the senior center group for only $5 per year. This membership entitles you to a $3.50 lunch each day rather than paying $5. Menus are available at the Senior Thrift Store.

Stop by the museum, see how wonderful it is to volunteer there and join the Pine Strawberry Archaeological and Historical Society for only $20 per year. Don't forget to buy raffle tickets for the beautiful quilt.

This is a quiet time in Pine and Strawberry. If you know of an event or activity coming up, please let me know.

Fax me at (928) 476-2239 or e-mail

Commenting has been disabled for this item.