Posted by admin at October 25th, 2007

thumb_2007-10-25-022vhp1.jpgSchool called in and informed me that we are off this week. Thank goodness. I know I’m going to drive LD crazy for the next few days.

As a result of all the fires, several things have come to the forefront in my calendar.

Many of you know that weekends during the fall and spring find me judging high school marching band and winterguard shows. I was going to judge a show in Anaheim this weekend, but all schools within the purview of the Orange County Office of Education were ordered to curtail all activities. I tend to er on the side of safety as air particulate matter is very high and, in my educated opinion, dangerous for kids that are doing an 8 minute non-stop marching band show. I am especially peeved with the folks that wanted the competitions to continue because the band booster organization would loose money. Wow…money v. personal health and long term lung damage? I choose breathing for the rest of my life any day.

Next, I finally peeked my head out and took a drive around the neighborhood today. Holy Crap! This thing was bad! All pictures here (thanks LD) are less than one mile away. The top picture is off I15 at Via Rancho Parkway by the SW end of North County Fair near the entrance of the Sonata development. The bottom picture is on the west side of the VRP exit. viarancho11.jpg

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Posted by admin at October 23rd, 2007

Yesterday was the longest day of my life.

Seems the downside of living in Southern California was brought all too swiftly to the national spotlight.

Wildfires Continue To Ravage Southern California.

It started on Friday, October 19 when the Santa Ana Winds kicked in. The feel of the dry air and lack of moisture in the air made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end. Memories of the Cedar Fire were retrieved from the hard drive and brought to the screen.

On Saturday, LD and I were headed up to Simi Valley to judge a high school band tournament. It was blustery all day. We finished the tournament at 9 pm that night and headed to our hotel room on N. Topanga Canyon Blvd. The night ushered in many ugly surprises.

We awoke to reports of damaging fires in Malibu and Porter Ranch (near Simi Valley). Didn’t we just drive through there last night? So we made a quick dash out of the hotel and to our brunch date with friends Ben and Dave in San Pedro/RPV. On the way, I tried to listen to the untrained “3rd String” reporter TiffanyAmberAnnoying try her best to report what was happening in Malibu. All she was concerned about was Mel Gibson’s home. We quickly switched to KNX 1070 where the pros reported what we needed to know and the severity of the situation. Also on our list of Annoying People During a Crisis was the Mayor Pro Tem of Malibu. She told the TV audience that “All is well, don’t panic”. Nice going mayor pt. Meanwhile, hoardes of emergency vehicles are zooming behind her. She must have come for “The Dubyah School of Mission Accomplished”.

The drive home from the weekend was nice. Reports on Sunday night Oct. 21 weren’t good. Friends were being evacuated in Ramona. I let the SDMC guys know what was going on.

But, then 3:30 am, Oct. 22nd came along. The longest day of my life. Words cannot begin to explain the fear and panic that overtook my well-being. I am a survivor and was evacuated from The Cedar Fires of 2003. I remember the smell and conditions triggered an autonomic response to go into a fear/panic/flee mode. LD, however, remained the calming force in Casa Citracado. He took his camera and took some shots of the San Pasqual Fire which merged into the Witch Creek Fire. Yup, that pic is just north of our complex, a quick jaunt up our small hill.

I guess I turned into somewhat of a raving lunatic at that point and was bouncing off the walls and had lost my sense of humor. LD says that he made a unilateral decision to cease and desist the serving of caffeine products in The Casa. Good call.

I was glued to the TV taking in all the information that was being given to us. At 6 am we began packing our stuff and when the smoke and ash became a hazard due to the homes burning in Las Serenas and Sonata homes nearby, we left at 11:30 am.

Refugee status was now in order. Our first stop…Mission Hills High School in San Marcos. We stopped here just to relax and breath some semi good air. After some snackies and phone calls to family and friends, we headed down to chorus buds Don and Larry who very generously offered their home.

Driving through Solana Beach/Del Mar on the 5 south was tragic and eerie. Northbound was gridlocked with people fleeing to safe zones. The drive was like plunging into the depths of hell. There was no blue sky and the sun looked like a single jack o lantern eye looking down on me. The drive into the city changed at the 805/5 split and I saw the blue sky once again.

Don and Larry are quite the extraordinary friends. It felt good to know the LD and I are loved and it was very nice to sit in a comfy chair with a cold drink in my hand. We then had dinner at Soup Planatation.

I received a phone call from our downstairs neighbor John that all was OK at Casa Citracado. So we headed back north at about 9:45 pm.

The 15 N was also something I will never forget. The corridor was a tragic reminder of the days destruction. I could see skeletons of once beautiful homes lining the freeway. More tragically was the eerie glow of the fire line all up and down the drive. Then as I descended into Lake Hodges, the frickin west side of the dried lake bed was on fire. <Sigh>.

Mom, Sis Chris, Greg in law and niece Nathalie are evacuated as they live on the base of Mt. Miguel. Still worried. They are safe at Greg’s in-laws in Imperial Beach.

The view from our place.

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