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Fires & Gas

I generally go from my newly acquired home in Windsor to Hopland at least once a week. By Thursday morning, October 24, I heard that there was a fire at Geyserville. Certain areas were evacuated and certain roads were closed. I listened, watched, and tried to adsorb as much as I could. First, could I get to and back from my ranch in Hopland on Thursday and if we were prepared this year for a fire at Hopland as well as a possible power shut down mid-morning at our Windsor home on Saturday? 

Thursday night back in Windsor I was feeling confident. Friday, we monitored KSRO for the latest fire news. The inevitable happened Saturday and we did receive evacuating orders from our Windsor home. This time we headed to the in-house office and filled the boxes with business and personal documents. Next were our meds (we are 83) followed by a limited amount of clothes. Sometime around 10 am we were given an official notice to evacuate the area where we lived in Windsor.

We packed both my Jeep and Shirley’s Volvo. We had the foresight to leave early. I led and Shirley followed closely. Getting out of Windsor was a challenge. The crossroad ramps at Windsor River Road and 101 were already filled with cars going south as directed by the officials. We headed north to Hopland, the land of clean air (hopefully). 

The next challenge was getting by 101 above Geyserville due to so much smoke. That concern never materialized and we drove right straight to Hopland. The air was clear and the day was beautiful. We unloaded and enjoyed a beautiful fall day in southern Mendocino County. 

We stayed in an upper portion of my grandfather’s big hay barn where I built a nice apartment style room complete with bed, bath and kitchen. Because of the location at the west end of the valley we have no TV reception. Everything was fine until around 6 pm when the electric power went off. We scurried around for some flashlights and I had a thought to bring a Honda generator, thank god. I put together several extension cords and connected the refrigerator and one light above the table. It was a little like camping.

On Sunday we took the ATV up the mountain and looked at the water left in the two ponds we use to irrigate the grapevines. We had a very good crop this year. My nephew Dan Thornton is doing a great job of farming the ranch. He is in his third year of running the property. We spent most of the day listening to KSRO to get the latest of information on the fire and power outage.

Monday morning was crisp and clear. With no power for a heater the apartment temperature was falling to an uncomfortable level. Shirley was cold and trying to warm up in the sun. I checked the traffic information and it seemed that Highway 101 was open all the way south. The next call was to our daughter in Petaluma to see if we could stay there, as we had done in 2017 when we lost our home of 48 years to the terrific fire storm that destroyed 5300 homes of our neighbors in Santa Rosa. So, we again packed up and headed for Petaluma. Our bedroom was waiting and we were well cared for.

All day Tuesday we again listened to KSRO. We did squeeze in the movie “Judy” which I recommend for all of us Seniors. Late in the day we learned that the evacuations in Windsor were lifted and we could return to our house. The bad news was that the power and gas were still off. We took the low road and decided to stay with our gracious daughter with the extra bedroom one more night. We actually stayed two more days. We arrived home to find the electric power on. I had purchased a small portable heater that was just the right size. The neighbors were glad to see us and it was another beautiful day. The gas was restored on Saturday afternoon. That day was even more beautiful.

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