Fire storm clouds during our evacuation from Oregon
It's hard to explain or understand what it feels like to evacuate from a firestorm unless you are going through it yourself.
The first thing that comes to mind is how important (your life depends on it) your decision making is. There is only so much help and information (sometimes little to none) you can rely on from the authorities, government, social media, the emergency broadcast system (where did that system disappear to), Twitter, Facebook, your apps on your phone, the news sources (they are always behind), google map, and the car radio (commercials and music are extremely frustrating when you are searching for real time information during a disaster).
In Oregon, we had to navigate through several fires raging on our way to the California border. While my partner drove, I (holding down an anxiety attack) searched for information on my cellphone trying to find which way to go without running into blocks and/or getting too close to the fires burning out of control in the forests and neighborhoods all over the state.
Twice, we had to backtrack to Portland (which parts of were on fire) covering and recovering hours of ground before we finally made it down the coast homeward bound (circumventing a fire shutting down part of the coastline by navigating back through the dense forest with fires closing in).
When we finally reached the California state line, exhausted after fifteen hours of driving, my partner drove right passed the border booth by accident. We waved "we are sorry for not stopping" at the half asleep agent who missed us by taking too long to get up from her chair for the check in. Luckily, no flashing lights followed us. Most of them, if not all were racing up and down the Northwest battling one fire after another.
When, we finally got to our destination in Northern California (our home now), we lived with the August Complex Fire breathing smoke and heat at us like a neighboring dragon only a crow's fly away for almost two months (the largest fire hitting 1 million acres in California history). We left our mountain home twice when the fire was too close for comfort only to run into the Glass Fire hitting the county next door during our evacuation.
Finally. The rains this week have knocked out fire season to next July.
As I sit here listening to the rain pummel the roof, the cracks in the driveway spread with rivulets of water, the birds are quiet, the only sound besides the storm is the sound of my fingers tapping on the keyboard, I am so grateful. So grateful we are alive to welcome winter. I will not go into detail all of the stories we have heard of people we have met and know that have lost homes, animals (so many animals), their gardens and friends and family during these fires. In California, during fire season, Covid seemed the least of worries until the fires were put out. Now Covid is the monster in the closet. With Fauci's promise that the "calvary is on its way", our friends and family are breathing a sigh of relief. Can we relax soon. Can normalcy truly return next Spring.
In California, we may be able to rest in Spring. Only Spring. Summer will be right around the corner. And the fire season will be upon us again. There will be no vaccine or treatment for fire season in the near future. It is something we live with and try to survive every year on the West Coast.
Many, may ask than why do you stay in California? Oregon? Washington?
My answer is "Where do we go?"