Saturday, November 01, 2003

Did someone pray for rain? Thank you. Things are far more hopeful today than they were at the beginning of the week, and we are cautiously optimistic about containment of the fires. The total damages, so far, are terrible. Julian was saved, but I am deeply grieved by the price. I don't think any of my dearest memories or sentiments about Cuyamaca, Julian and the back country, are worth a man's life. All of the firefighters gave fully and I hope we can convey our fullest gratitude.

Thank you to friends and family who have stayed in touch. We are doing fine, and looking forward to settling in to our new home. Right now I am supposedly helping Geoff clean and repair; still finishing the tedious details of moving.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Praying For Rain

We are heading back to the coast. Let it rain. Please, let it rain.

Fire and Wind

Spreading out; winds are moving from southwest to northeast. The wind direction helps us, but is keeping Julian in peril.


Updated view of Paradise Fire from San Pasqual area looking northeast.
Check this map for an overview of the county and fires: activefiremap-1029-10am.jpg 791x527 pixels
Prayers for the firefighters and their families. One firefighter, defending Julian from the Cedars Fire, has died. Two other firefighters were also sent to the hospital.

The weather is still making containment impossible.

Details... Fire Update

Escrow cannot close on Friday. Due to the fires, no insurance company will insure new home buyers, and so escrow cannot close; possibly for weeks. We also cannot get new services to the rental home, so we are holding on to our internet connection here at the Rancho. There is an undeniable degree of suckiness to this, but I don't feel entitled to wallow in self pity. We have our home...two homes in fact. We will continue to receive email here, and our landline is set up as well. And I am trying to keep up with cell phone messages. It's encouraging to hear from family and friends, and know that some parts of the world are's hard to get perspective in this bizarre atmosphere.

Humor makes things bearable. This goes out to Bill and Alison: We are evacuating ALL the chickens!
Suddenly our Rancho site, just above the San Pasqual Valley has blue sky. It's hot and breezy. It still smells like smoke and cinders. Now, like Sunday morning, we can see the foothills and mountains, and the thunderheads of billowing volcanic smoke.

This is the view from our porch looking north and east. The high smoke column on the left is from the Paradise/Valley Center Fire, then there is a clear section in the center of the image. On the right is the Cedars Fire. The two fires are forecast to meet around Palomar/Lake Henshaw (the 'clear section' between the two smoke columns.) Taken about 12:45 p.m.
ArtLungBlog»Current Thoughts
Joe is another San Diego blogger with links and thoughts on the fires. Information feels so precious to us right now. We can't get enough news about our community and the people working to save it.

A map of fires, but it's already broader than this reflects.
That's it. I gotta stop for a while. We are trying to finish our move out of the Rancho, and the air quality is hazardous. I have even more respect than ever for the reporters, newscasters, firefighters, volunteers, CDF...they have been going for days. Some firefighters were just pulled from the lines after 72 hours without meals or sleep. They wanted to stay. They want to fight. Another fire has just been reported as starting at Mussey Grade road. Naional weather service has just posted warnings of fire hazard weather and conditions; more winds, more hell. Any single day since this began has contained enough tragedy to merit despair and grief, but it isn't over. It isn't nearly over.

Monday: Evacuating horses from Julian to Del Mar. We were heading to the coast as well.

Taken minutes ago from our television screen: A helicopter making a drop on hot spots just south of Julian town. Flying behind the old gas station at the south entrance of town.

163 at 52 in Kearney Mesa: A new fire has just been reported.
Crap. The Paradise (Valley Center Fire) and Crest fires are five miles apart, with wind, and moving fast. Reports are coming from the south grade pass to Palomar where both fires can be seen. The fire has also jumped the 78 just northwest of Wynola.

Here is what Cuyamaca looked like last night. More of a Mt Saint Helens image-very volcanic.

Sunday morning we had no idea how bad things would get, but looking east toward Ramona and Julian, it looked bad enough.
The Valley Center Fire is making its way to Lake Henshaw and Palomar Mountain. The hope is to keep the two major county fires from converging. Strong winds have returned to the valleys and mountain passes, and there is too little humidity. As the Valley Center fire has moved east, we are feeling less threatend. The smoke is still heavy. Normally we could see the mountains and hills in question, but we can only see the smoke.

Fire Spreading

Fire is descending upon Julian. Cuyamaca is gone. The fire has traveled north, and is approaching Julian from Cuyamaca. Meanwhile demand for firefighters at Palomar has increased, so engines are leaving Julian, heading north on the 79 for Palomar to prevent the Valley Center Fire from meeting the Crest Fire. No one can confirm for certain, but it is appears that the engines that are retreating are leaving Whispering Pines and Kentwood engulfed; homes are burning in the eastern neighborhoods of Julian.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003


Even in chaos there is time to email, and Blog! Go figure!

Movers came today and much to everyone's surprise we got about 95% of our stuff outta here. This is great. We also learned that in the entire county, Escondido has the worst air quality: "Hazardous." It feels hazardous, and we have almost no visibility beyond our neighbor's homes. The fire came within just a few miles of here...on the north side of Wild Animal Park, but seems to be making a slow move east. No wind is our salvation.

There are about a thousand emotional details that are weighing us down, especially when we hear about all the losses and damages. Places that are near and dear are in terrible danger, or even completely lost. We saw Bate's Nut Farm surrounded by flames and can only imagine that the outcome is grim. Now Julian, Palomar, Wynola, Santa Isabel and Pine Valley have been added to the mandatory evacuation. These places are very special to me, and I am trying to believe that we will see them again, unscathed.

Dirk Sutro just gave us a call. He read Chicken Blog and thought to check in on us. Just last month we were enjoying our luxury ride up the 78 and through the back country to Julian, and around Mount Palomar. He'll be taking calls from listeners and I think there will be a lot of people that will appreciate having a sympathetic ear as they share their stories.

For now our story is one of relief and gratitude. We have some obstacles yet, and I stink real bad too, but the boys are playing in the home of good friends, and we were fed last night by another dear family. The scope of all that we, as San Diegans, are enduring is unbelievable. Please pray for us all, particularly for the firefighters and other people working to serve and protect. It's time for some relief for everyone.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Last Blog from the Rancho...well, I can't say this is anything like I imagined. We have lost our belt of clear sky, and all around is a murky and ashen fog. I feel keenly in tune and yet completely oblivious. Reality has reached a level a surrealism that is interfering with my senses. I do not want to drive away. I do not want to believe we have reached a point of certain danger. I do not want to accept a probability of loss. Damn. I'm stubborn.

Anne asked whether there will still be a Chicken Blog. Yes, I will still sit at a computer and think deep thoughts and share little bits of this and that. I will still wear my boots and hat, and dig in a garden. And I will look forward to a day when I can raise chicks again.

Thanks to everyone that wrote or called about Nena, and about the fires, and about our big changes. Stay in touch.

My camera cables are packed so I can't share the images I have taken. We are sitting in between the Cedars and the Valley Center Fires. The Valley Center Fire is north of us and moving southwest. The fire chief, desperately, explained that without 200 more engines there is no chance of containing the fire. He predicted it would reach Escondido (it did last night) and San Pasqual and wild Animal Park (it may do that with the help of Santa Winds today.) We are on high wind advisory until 2pm. The same high winds that knock over tables, roll wood benches and sheer metal roofs from horse shelters, are blowing ash and embers over the entire county.

Last night we moved out photo albums and frying pans, Legos, and Diego. We were grabbing really important things and some rather meaningless articles. I wish I could bring the piano and the sideboard that we bought when we were married. The packers we hired can't come. Many of the major highways and roads are closed. Escrow is supposed to close on Friday. There is a toilet to replace, and a roofer is supposed to repair flashing around some pipes. We are supposed to have everything out of here before the weekend. I am prepared to pack up the chicas and rabbits, and then head to Petco for some immeditae remedy for an impromptu farm.

There are so many urgent tasks and responsibilities, and yet I am riveted to the view. Billows of black smoke are rolling up the backside of the nearest range and hazy amber smoke is begining to obscure the foothills and valleys that extend toward the Wild Animal Park. Resources are overextended and even out of town. No one talks about putting out the fires; they are beyond containment. I wish people were not losing their lives and homes.

Ramona, Lakeside, Alpine, Santee, Poway, Escondido, Valley Center, Miramar, El Cajon, Skinner Lake, Harbison Canyon, San Carlos, Kearney Mesa, Mission Trails, Clairemont...if you don't know these names, these places, it may be hard to comprehend the magnitude of this disaster. I do know these places and names, and I find it very difficult to comprehend. The distances are vast. In a county as large as San Diego we seldom ever think of there being any relative proximity between Ramona and Clairemont, Tierrasanta and Alpine, but now the county seems very small.

It seems somehow alarmist to believe our Rancho is danger. I am trying to assess the situation objectively. Using the Cedars fire as a guide, and judging by the rate and distance covered, then it is not impossible for the Valley Center fire to reach San Pasqual. More smoke is filling the view. It smells bad. The sky to the west has turned brown.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Packing and Partying

Packing. Still packing. Moving soon, so we are mostly packing.

Later I may write about how emotionally sucky it is to replace doors, stove burners, and a toilet for the new owners. There's a lesson in this.

Of course no duties or chores could ever come between us and our Halloween party. Geoff, the software Pirate, and I, his saucy wench opened the doors to our new home for a rowdy time with family and friends. We 'bobbed' for donuts hanging from dental floss, and we split in to teams for the 'Mummy Wrap.' Food, fun and excellent costumes were in good supply.*

Pictures later. Ramona and Valley Center fires, and Santa Ana winds have me too edgy to Blog. Packing double time.

*Updated :: October 25, 2010
Gee, that didn't take long did it? I finally got around to posting about our Halloween party.