Sunday, October 8, 2017 Canadian Thanksgiving
Even with the current state of Elvon, we have much to be thankful for. We had a quiet day, French toast for breakfast, with bacon and sausage, cleaned up paperwork, and booked hotels for Singapore and Hong Kong. That had been nagging at me, as we are going around Chinese New Year, and the local people travel. Now, our little group has two great places to lay our heads, The Marina Bay Sands in Singapore and the Conrad in Hong Kong. That done, we spent an hour in the gym, I picked up 9 eggs from our Lodge chickens, and we had leftover chicken with gravy, sweet potato sauce, and a Caesar salad, on our balcony, with its lovely sunset.
I had a couple of nice phone calls with friends, and we settled in to watch Anthony Bourdain at 9:00 pm. He’s my kind of tourist, all about food. By 11:00 pm, we were in bed for sleeping purposes, but I smelled smoke. It was coming from outside. I called the concierge and she told me not to worry, the fire department was on its way. The fire was at some little distance. What she didn’t know was how big it was. I had no sooner turned off the light when a text from Susan came in, to the effect that Silverado was being evacuated. So, I turned on the TV and found ABC was covering the story. There was also a fire in Calistoga, which is at our level in the Napa Valley.
Next thing I heard was there was another fire at Mark West Springs and Riebli Rd. Now, that’s close, not more than 5 miles. The fires were big and the winds were strong, gusting to 55mph in Santa Rosa. I decided to take no chances, as evacuating Elvon was going to be a serious project. I ran down to our locker and grabbed an overnight bag, and Sylly P’s carrier and traveling gear. Then I called Pat Gustafson, to tell her we were leaving, and did she want to come. She called her son Matt, who coordinates the CalFire in this neck of the woods. She got his wife, Cindy, who invited us all to their place in Windsor for the night. It was serious, all right.
Pat, Mike Desky, Elvon and Helen mustered and were ready to go, in three cars, in about ten minutes. The Lodge had just decided, or had been told, to evacuate, and people were going door to door, rousting the residents. We were none too quick, either. Just after we started north on 101, we saw the flames, and they were close. We drove through a lot of smoke, with flames on the right shoulder. You could barely see, but it was, thankfully, a small area.
By the time we got to Windsor, I had figured out that I wasn’t going to risk taking Elvon into a private home, with the possibility of another evacuation looming. I got back on 101, with a plan to drive until I couldn’t smell smoke any more, and then some. When we got close to Ukiah, about 60 miles up the road, it was smelling bad again, and you could see flames ahead, and, about 5 miles further up, the road was closed. I told the nice flag man my story and asked about options and he sent me to the coast to pick up US 1 north.
On the way there, I decided to go south to Mendocino to hole up. It’s a quaint little town, but it doesn’t have much in the way of basic, flat, and accessible rooms. The Mendocino Inn was charming, and Mitch was very helpful, considering it was after 5:00 AM, but his accessible room was located up a long winding path that I couldn’t see myself dealing with. He suggested Fort Bragg, which is flatter and has chain hotels. So here we are at the Holiday Inn Express, where the seals were waking up and barking, as we got out of the car. Elvon didn’t want to stay there, but it was after 6:00 by now, and I had driven all night on no sleep. Breakfast was open, so I got us some cinnamon rolls and tea, and we had a little snack, while we watched the fires on all three networks.
Napa, and particularly Silverado, is a full-blown disaster and so is Santa Rosa. Fountaingrove Lodge was still standing at 10:00 am, when I turned off the TV, and its occupants were in the New Vintage Church, in downtown Santa Rosa. They may have to move again. I’ll find out when I turn the TV back on, which will be right after I send this. We’re well, albeit tired, and relatively safe, although there is another fire in Willits, 35 miles north-east of here. I hope we don’t have to move again. Here the air is relatively clean, with the ocean is across the street. It’s the roads that are iffy. I grieve for Napa. I saw Sallyann and Peter Berendsen’s house burn down on television. They won’t be the only ones. Our hearts go out to all of you. We are so sorry.
Judy Symansky said:
This is so weird. I came upstairs to doublecheck your address on my Xmas list as I was pretty sure Santa Rosa figured in it. Had just seen the fires on tv. And found this message. How much more are you going to have to cope with? However well you do it, you shouldn’t have to! It’s awful. And I feel so sorry for your friends whose homes are in danger. If I prayed, I would.
Thinking of you both with love
Marge Mapp said:
Hellen! I’m so glad you and Elvon are safe!! Please keep us posted.
Marge and Chris
What an update. I’ll take my hurricane and tornado any day. You guys have some adventures whether you are overseas or home. Thankful you are safe and observing from a distance. Take care of yourselves. Looking forward to reading about your triumphant return home.
Kathie Alexakis Keefer said:
Just was about to send your birthday card and received your blog. Helen, you are a wonderful and brave girl,. Needless to say I am relieved to know that you are safe. My thoughts are with you and sending what I can of vibes to help you and Elvon deal with this undeserved disaster.
All my love,
Claude Lacasse said:
Oh Helen we are so sorry. Take care we are thinking of you , we saw it on the news.Stay safe. Love.
Mamie LaValle said:
Happy Thanksgiving,Helen and Elvon.
SO sorry to hear you have had to move out,how upsetting for you both. I heard on the news today about the fire and was wondering if you would be affected.
You’re all in my prayers.
I stayed at the Conrad in Singapore at the end of the Azamara cruise ….very elegant! My daughter had stayed at the one in Hong Kong and she told me about the rubber ducky in the bathroom and the teddy bear on the pillow. She said you’re allowed to take them as souvenirs but I checked with the front desk just in case. We had an early flight so they gave us a packed breakfast to eat at the airport. Maybe you’ll remember I met you,Elvon and the group at the Long Bar at the Raffles Hotel for a Singapore Sling. I had planned to come on a tour with you but had to back out because of my early start the next day. The Marina Bay Sands Hotel will be amazing,I’m sure!
Take care of yourselves,
Sent from my iPad
Sharon Bobrow said:
Our condo at Oak Creek burned to the ground. So bummed. Still don’t know about Marlene and Stan’s home.
Please let me know if you hear anything about the Oaks.
Peter Aglaganian said:
I am relieved that you are both safe. Your courage, perseverance, loyalty and devotion are EXEMPLARY!!!
Jane Wandell said:
Dear Helen and Elvon,
So sorry to hear about the Fire but I am relieved to know that you are safe. I am currently in Rome – a few days before our Mediterranean cruise starts – unfortunately it is hard to get much news of what is going on in California and no news of Canada!
Please give us updates on how you are doing. Our prayers and best wishes are with you.
Wanda Arti said:
Amazing grit and courage alright. How come you guys over the pond are constantly battling the elements?!! All quiet over here in the UK .
Keep safe X Wanda
nancy nelson said:
I have been wondering if you had had to evacuate. Weren’t you smart to jump in ahead of the crowe, and to go farther afield. We hope you’ll stay safe, and we grieve with you for all the losses that are currently taking place.
Nancy and David.
Dearest Helen and Elvon,
So sorry to hear of yet another of life’s trials landing at your feet, but relieved you are all safe. It’s not easy being the tough one, however thank goodness for your resilience, alertness and ability to navigate challenges so efficiently.
Praying your next move is back home. Stay safe, alert and packed – moot point – I’m preaching to the choir…
Love, hugs and light
Deb, Dusty and BioBoo xox
Jennifer Mascola said:
Glad you have your fun travel to look forward to after getting to experience this forced travel experience. You are a wise, wise, wise woman to think in advance like you do.
This is not going to be a quick fire event. Also you are in area more likely to have stocked pharmacy and stores.
Amazing forethought that this was not a short term event. Glad you got some sleep.
Phew! Smart to stay put until the roads and access have been open for infrastructure repairs for enough time. Roses 🌹