Oregon Coast

The World is Burning

This is such a weird post to write. I wasn’t going to write about any of this, but then things changed and shit got kinda real and sometimes this blog is therapeutic so…here goes.

In case you don’t live in the NW, the West Coast is on Fire. California is seemingly always on fire July-September. But in the last 5 or so years, it feels like Oregon is also on fire. There have been some really significant fires here in Oregon. The most notable was the Eagle Creek Fire in 2017.

It’s crazy (I wrote about it here) but Michael and I were out in the Gorge for a day hike without the kiddo when the Eagle Creek Fire happened. We had just missed it. If I remember correctly, we were on the Washington side of The Gorge. That fire devastated Oregon in so many ways. We are still feeling the effects 3 years later and there are many, many hiking trails in the Gorge that are still closed due to that fire.

Anyways, 2020 is just the gift that keeps on giving, man.

Monday (Labor Day) there were reports of “Historic Wind Storms” in Portland and as the winds started picking up in the late evening, I moved stuff inside the garage from the yard. Michael took the canopy down from the deck. I put away anything outside that could blow away. The whole night was the sounds of horrific winds. Our bedroom is upstairs and it sounded like the roof was going to fly off.

There was so much debris outside the next day. Branches, leaves, nothing super significant, thankfully. Lots of power outages all over Portland. The winds were strong all day and the sound of sirens and fire trucks was all I heard ALL DAY while I worked at home Tuesday.

So….Tuesday morning, very very early, I woke up after not sleeping much (because I was taking care of Stevie post-surgery all night and listening to the storm) and saw that my aunt and uncle had evacuated early in the morning due to fires. It was a shocking thing to see and then I saw some news articles and pictures and my breathe caught in my chest. It was absolutely horrifying. Like hellscape, the world is on fire, horrifying.

I spent the morning scouring Facebook updates from family and friends who were giving updates and relaying news. For hours the update was that everything was gone.

These are pictures of the area where my aunt and uncle live that I saw on the news. The picture below of that road? I’ve driven that road a million times.

I broke down when I saw those photos and read the updates about what was burned down–and potentially gone. Late in the afternoon we got news my aunt’s house and barn was ok. The rest of the area was burned. They aren’t out of the woods yet. It’s all so devastating. I just think about what people have lost, the farm animals they lost, the years it will take to recover.

(Picture from the news crew down in Stayton, OR–at NOON!!!!! No filter)

Tuesday night we started getting updates about the fires moving north. Closer to us. Our county was now in Level 1 for evacuation. Level 3 is GO NOW.

I packed bags just in case. I was 85% sure we were fine. But just in case……..I packed a backpack full of documents we’d need. Then a suitcase of photo albums. I got the cat carriers ready and if we got into Level 2 I was going to pack a bag of clothes, meds and last minute stuff just in case.

(Picture from Twitter)

It’s so weird to live your life and then think, “What is absolutely something I need to pack in case I lose EVERYTHING?”

Things I realized too late: too much “essential” stuff was scattered around the house (so not easy to grab in minutes), my car was almost empty of gas, so not ideal in an emergency. I found this on facebook and it’s good info:

Thankfully we were ok Tuesday night. I slept pretty well, despite everything. No updates. When I was taking Logan to school Wednesday morning, the sky was black and gray with thick smoke. I filled up my car with gas. I got more stuff in order.

These pictures were Wednesdays afternoon from my front porch:

I was getting messages from people who were evacuating, updates from family members who said that they were not out of the woods yet and round 2 of the fires was starting. I heard of friends that lost everything. Texts from coworkers checking in. Alerts from news. It was craziness.

And then I looked at our skies and the thick smoke and the maps of how close the fires were to us and it was pretty scary. The next few days are going to be very stressful and heartbreaking for a lot of people. It’s hard to even imagine and words just don’t do it justice. And let me just say this, climate change is real. If you’ve never lived through horrific wildfires, hurricanes, etc, I guess maybe it’s easy to doubt that. But…the crisis is here.

Don’t Even Know…

It’s Saturday afternoon as I write this. Just poured a glass of white wine after doing a bunch of chores. Listening to Kate Bush. Logan is watching Wreck It Ralph. Bella is snoring on the couch. Michael ran to the store. First the bad news.

Michael got laid off Friday morning. I guess in a way we should have seen it coming since he was a contractor and lots of people are being laid off, and lots of companies are freaking out right now. But it was still awful. We are crossing our fingers it’s temporary and he’ll be back with his same company/team when this is all over with. His team was unaware of the plan to lay him off. It sounded like an HR decision. It’s still devastating and upsetting and stressful.

Logan’s birthday party was supposed to be Saturday but we cancelled that, obviously, so we decided to go for a little drive Saturday and then hike and have a picnic as a distraction for everything and it helped.

We had breakfast and did a few things then packed the car and drove out toward the beach to LL Stub Stewart Park. It’s a great place, that we’ve gone a bunch of times for hikes and day trips.

I picked it because it was about an hour drive from our house. It got us out of our house, out of the neighborhood, and I figured that with the social distancing it would be an ok place to go to. The park is huge. And I assumed most people would go to local Portland places (like Forest Park) or out in the Gorge to go hiking. (I was sort of right.)

There was still a fair amount of people at Stub Stewart but everyone was doing a good job of distancing themselves from each other. Families stayed together and away from other people. We went for a hike in the forest and didn’t see any other hikers (but did see a few mountain bikers out there–like two pairs).We were there early enough to miss the crowd apparently. I was honestly surprised at how many people were there after we left…

It was so empty we even took Bella off leash! (And you know how I feel about off leash dogs!) She did great. We were out in the woods alone.

It was a little on the chilly side, since it was kind of towards the beach. But we warmed up with our hike. The park was free. The bathrooms were open and had soap and toilet paper and smelled like bleach, so they were cleaning. That was nice. I still used Clorox wipes after using the bathrooms.

It was really good to get out of house after working from home for 5 days, not going to the gym, not going swimming, not seeing friends or family, cancelling Logan’s birthday party, and Michael’s bad news. We all needed a reset. Fresh air, hiking, getting a change of scenery was good for our mental health!

Then we had a picnic lunch on a table in the parking lot. The picnic tables were all spaced out really far from each other, so that was good. There were more people at the park by this time and I saw a lot of people on the other trail (not the one we did), so it was kind of defeating the social distancing thing with that many people. SIGH. This was when we packed up quick and left.

It was a pretty good day, despite everything. I was glad we got out, I was glad there were no people near us. I was glad we weren’t potentially spreading anything or catching anything. We just got a hike in, cleared our heads, and went home.

We came home, unpacked, I took a long hot bath and read a book and made huli huli chicken and roasted vegetables for dinner. It’s a super stressful time and it’s hard not to resort to old patterns dealing with stress. But trying.

QUESTION: HOW ARE YOU!?!?