His Private Fire Dept Is Ready to Serve. Can I Offer You a Cocktail?
RD Beacon is known far and wide. When I asked my hosts for my usual request for ‘interesting local people’ with whom I could meet, this name came up and he definitely is an unusual character.
RD is the laid back proprietor of RD Beacon Light Bar, perched on the top of a 2000-foot high hill overlooking the gorgeous Pacific in Elk. But on the way to the bar, which is only open on Friday and Saturday nights, you pass by RD’s personal fire department, a sprawling collection of bulldozers, tankers, fire engines, and other trucks in various stages of working order.There’s even a cement truck (unworking, vintage 1950) that he got in a trade for some stuff he wanted.
RD was once the fire chief in Elk, the community just down the hill. But today he commands his own personal battalion, The Greenwood Fire Dept, and the forest service hires him to put out forest fires and dig trenches to stop spreading fires. He’s also got a thriving lumber business, hauling redwoods out of his multi-thousand-acre tract that stretches way back behind the fire department and the bar and goes back many years.
RD was pleased to host us and mixed up cocktails for a group of us on a rare Thursday night session. He even turned away a few guys he didn’t know who wanted to come in and drink with us. Later he played piano for me, while his massive Great Dane mix, Pinot, nuzzled me in my lap. “I never look at the keys,” he said, “if I do I can’t play it.” On the way to the bathroom, I had to laugh at the poster pictured here.
RD lacks any of the sympathy some residents here have for the many people who make their living growing pot. When he suspected growers cultivating on his land, he phoned up the DEA and joined them in a Blackhawk helicopter as they identified the locations and later he asked what they do if the growers try to shoot at them. The answer was simple when the agents pointed to the 50 caliber machine gun in the chopper.
RD has big plans, appropriate for such a big man with a big laugh. He wants to solve the problem of a lack of reliable high speed internet along the coast. It all comes down to the big Telcos deciding that so few people living here means not enough monthly bills to cover their costs. RD wants to put up towers and begin offering the 500 or so households their own Wi-Fi internet, placing the towers all over his vast tract of land high above the coast. Even cellphone companies scoff at putting up towers, figuring there are just too few people and if they do it anywhere near Mendocino, they’ll run into big opposition.
So the coast remains a romantic place since you just can’t yak on the phone. More time to gaze at the passing whales and canoodle in the romantic inns like the Elk Cove Inn down on US 1. Elaine Bryant, the Innkeeper, swears that her guests have some of the best sex in their lives inside her cozy rooms.