The first irony of our evacuation was that we had offered our home as shelter to others. As we were scurrying out, we got a call from friends announcing they were going to take us up on our kind offer. They were in their car and heading over. Oops… don’t come here, we had to tell them. We are leaving!
Next stop was the gas station, with lines snaking out into the street …. and tempers short. Horse trailers were everywhere … as were cars with cats and dogs. Howard renamed his car Noah’s Ark… as he was taking our animals out two by two: a pair of cats and a pair of dogs. The air was full of smoke, and winds were whipping wildly.
Because we had lots of offers of places to roost, we never considered going to the local shelter. At the end of the first day, we ended up 100 miles away at my dad’s house. Before that though, we had stopped at both a friend’s house, and then Howard’s brother’s house. Unfortunately neither was any safer than our own home, and we moved on.
Getting on the freeway, trying to out pace a wild fire, the guy in front of us threw a cigarette butt out his window. Can you imagine? What an idiot. From the safety of our car (with windows rolled up) we shouted at him.
Doug Lemmon, who handles the Surfnetkids website and email, had less work than usual because I didn’t write a column or prepare a regular weekly newsletter. He lives within the San Diego city limits, in a part of town that was not threatened. So he spent his afternoon buying supplies at Costco, and taking them down to
the shelter at Qualcomm stadium The Rock. I asked for pictures .. and he sent a few over. I wish he had included himself in the pix, or pictures of the evacuation center. I understand that the evacuation experience at the stadium was excellent, with plenty of donations, food, water, clean bathrooms, and even entertainment. The citizens of San Diego did a great job! Kudos to everyone.
At my dad’s house, detailed updates from San Diego were hard to get. I understand one of the local TV stations had streaming video news, but their server couldn’t handle the strain of the traffic, and they shut it down. I had similar difficulties reaching other San Diego sites. The news in LA was covering fires closer to LA .. and my interest was specifically in the west end of the Witch fire … because that’s where our house is.
A spokesperson for the Witch fire had said that the fire was heading to the coast… putting it right in our path. I, however, tried to focus on positive thoughts, and told Howard that “the fire WANTS to be stopped” and “we will have Thanksgiving IN OUR HOUSE.”
Positive thoughts aside, there were those quiet moments when the “what if” creeps in. I mentioned to my family that if the worse did come to pass, I would buy a Sleep Number bed .. because I had slept on one in a hotel recently, and thought it was really comfortable. My daughter admitted that she was daydreaming about a new bathroom.
We also had time to think about what we should have taken, but left behind. I hadn’t taken our wedding video, and Erica was thinking about a locket she left at home. And I realized that we had not shut off the gas to the house. Dumb move.
By Wednesday night, however, my positive thoughts won out. The fire was stopped … and we WILL have a large family gathering at OUR HOUSE for Thanksgiving.