I really don't know what else to talk about at the moment. All of my thoughts are pretty much devoted to the fire situation right now. On a personal note, our very own MTB Brand Manager- the Bike Biz Babe, Jill Hamilton- is not out of harm's way just yet, as her home is very near a few of the fires. She's safe for now, but our collective thoughts and prayers are with her. Hang in there Velvet Hammer (you'll have to ask her what that means).
I rode my bike after leaving work a couple hours early again today. I got out on the Speciale Fixed, just because the stress is making me a little neurotic and my bike/s has always been my salvation. So I rode around downtown for a little more than an hour. The air quality is "ok" at the moment, as we're out of the direct wind zone of the smoke, but my eyes were watering by the time I got home and the front of the frame and the seatpost were both speckled with pieces of ash. The air near downtown smells a little different, but it's nothing like the air near the office. Put it this way- I worked inside all day and my eyes were burning and the smoke smell was heavier INSIDE the office than it is OUTSIDE at home.
This was the view of the pseudo sunrise on the way in this morning... kind of hard to actually see the sun.
This is the same stretch of road I pictured yesterday, just before the office. Yesterday there was at least some blue sky... not so much today. The fire nearest our office is now 100% contained, so the smoke is coming from that closest fire and all of the others funneling through the valleys.
This is the view of the coast from the road leading to the office- normally you have a clear view of the ocean. Not today.
To the right of this picture, on the hilltop, is our office. Crystal clear skies... not this morning.
This was the view of the sun at 3:00PM- scary. The eerie red glow is just simply surreal. The "sound" outside is also kind of muffled- if you've been in a fire area before, then you know what I mean. I noticed this same thing fighting forest fires in Alabama- when you get out of the sound of the blaze, it is very quiet. Scary quiet.
These two are pictures of the Del Mar Fairgrounds (off to the right and in the distance). This is one of the big evacuation areas. Many residents of Del Mar were forced from the multi-million dollar homes. The fairgrounds are also housing thousands of displaced animals- largely horses, since there are several thoroughbred farms and training grounds in the area- many of which have since burned.
The most poignantly painful images of the day for me were seeing people driving away from the various fire areas with their belonging in their cars. I saw trucks pulling horse trailers. Trucks loaded with furnishings. Kids with stuffed animals. I nearly lost it as I passed a woman driving in the fast lane, very slowly, clearly in shock and crying, with her dog crammed into the front seat and tons of other items in the rest of the car. I couldn't bring myself to get pictures of these scenes, it just felt far too exploitive. I wanted to pull up to them and say something... but what? What do you say to somebody who may have just lost every single belonging in their lives, with the exception of what they were able to grab in a hurry?
I have a very love-hate relationship with Southern California- it costs too damned much, there's too damned many people, development is killing the beauty, the freeways are insane any time of day now... but still I have grown to love this stupid place. I still think of Alabama as "home", but I've lived here longer than I did there. As the events of the past few days have unfolded, I admit that I've found myself choked up from time to time. It's hard to see this happen to so many people- more than 260,000 acres have burned, more than 1,750 homes have been lost, more than 100 businesses destroyed and more than 500,000 people have been told to evacuate their homes.
If that doesn't somehow "move" you...