I don’t even know how to begin this post. It’s been a whirlwind that started with the Riverside wildfire southeast of Estacada. On Wednesday, September 9th our area was in the Level 1, “Get ready” zone. So even though there was no immediate danger, we began gathering photos, important papers, and irreplaceable memories. Nolemana was still trying to work, too; that didn’t stop non-local clients from needing their appraisal work done. I was tense, and yeah, kinda fearful. The fire was moving fast. A number of my good friends were at Level 2, “Get set!”. Smoke from the fire began to make its appearance.
I could barely see partway across the valley.
The hummingbird still took up its place on our tomato cage. It was so weird…it’d sit there, beating its wings like crazy, holding on with its feet. It’d do this all day long. I wish it could’ve told me why. This went on for several days.
The sun wasn’t making much headway against the smoke.
Things kept getting worse and worse, and we were getting more concerned. I took this photo looking straight into the sun.
We’ve had smoky air before during the years, but when I’d gone to Damascus earlier, this was when I saw more closely how serious the fire was.
This was at the corner of SE 242nd and Highway 212.
I headed home as soon as I could. Our girls were getting concerned for us; because of the kitties, we had no place with friends or family where we could stay (allergies). On September 10th they urged us to leave because motel rooms were getting extremely scarce. And even though we were still at Level 1, Level 2 was getting closer and closer. So we started packing up our cars. It’s interesting…when you have to evacuate…what do you take? I mean, the obvious stuff, but what else? Nolemana is an excellent packer, and he was able to fit my Ladybug spinning wheel and my Woolee Ann electric wheel into his car. I was also able to save a very old, large, piece of kapa from back home. And my guitar, an over 50 year old Gibson, that had belonged to my dad. And my koa ʻukulele.
We were both very stressed and exhausted. Anela brought over her extra cat carrier, bless her heart. And she and Leilani began hunting for a motel room for us. So many places were already full of evacuees, but they finally found one for us, pet-friendly, in Kelso, Washington, about an hour north of us. A good friend said we could park Nolemana’s car at their place, well out of the fire area. Another friend came and got our doves from their aviary and took them to safety.
One harrowing experience during all this was that Nolemana simply couldn’t get our last cat into her carrier. I think the normally mellow Cinnamon must’ve picked up on his tension level, and she scratched and bit and fought him. We were all ready to go except for Cinnamon; Nolemana tried different ways to get her, but her screeching could be heard throughout the house. Reluctantly we made the decision to leave her after asking a friend to get her the next day if necessary. Cinnamon knows Joan and we felt pretty good that it’d work out okay. But obviously we didn’t want Joan to take any chances with the fire or with Cinnamon. I can’t even describe how awful it was to leave our kitty behind. We put Noelani and Keola into the same carrier, which was big enough for both of them. It was one of my better decisions because they both stayed extremely calm during the rush to get out.
This is the evacuation map I was watching. Yes, we were still in green, but the yellow area, “Get set” was still getting closer. Yes, we could’ve stayed, but like my friend said, we wouldn’t have wanted to get a call at 2 a.m. saying to get out now and then not be able to find a motel room.
By the time we dropped off Nolemana’s car, got my gas tank filled up on the way to the freeway, it was almost 9 pm. Fortunately, traffic wasn’t too heavy and we made good time to Kelso. We got checked in (the motel was maintaining good distancing and sanitation protocols). Our girls had made us a reservation; good thing, because by the time we arrived, there were no rooms left. But our room was on the second level with no elevator! and Nolemana had to carry all our stuff up two flights of stairs, including two cat carriers. It was after 1 a.m. before we fell into bed; we left the kitties in their carriers to settle down. I knew they were too stressed to eat. I was so stressed and exhausted that I had a hard time falling asleep.