We woke early the next morning and let the kitties out, got them fed (we’d kept them in the bathroom overnight), and though they didn’t eat much, we knew they were okay. This was our view when we woke up; the smoke was bad even an hour away from the fire we’d just left. I-5 is just over the berm.
Oh! I didn’t mention that we also had my parakeet, Hulunani, with us. He was a great traveler in between the kitty carriers (they couldn’t see him). So we had to bring his food, and the kitties’ food and litter box. He did a fair amount of chirping the whole time, in the car and in the motel as well.
I checked the evacuation map and saw that our house was still at Level 1, but there was no guarantee that it’d stay there; and Level 2 was only two miles from us. We live in Sunshine Valley.
We checked at the front desk first thing to see if we could get a ground floor room and fortunately they had one available almost directly below where we were, near the stairs. Yep, the two flights of stairs. (Never again!) So Nolemana and I changed rooms (we hadn’t let the kitties out of the bathroom yet in hopes we’d be able to change rooms). It took awhile, and a kind employee helped to carry down one of the carriers. This was our new view. The room was better than our first one; the sheets were actually tucked in, which they hadn’t been upstairs. Weird.
Unfortunately, in the chaos of the previous day, Nolemana had forgotten to pack his insulin syringes, so we needed to make a quick trip to Walmart in the neighboring town of Longview. We left the kitties in the bathroom and put a Do Not Disturb sign on the door to make sure no one entered our room and inadvertently let them out. After doing that, we headed back to Kelso because he really needed to get something to eat. His blood sugar was really getting low. We couldn’t find the breakfast place we were looking for, but we did see this cool way to advertise the muffler shop we passed on the way back.
I am definitely not a chain restaurant person, but we needed to get some food into Nolemana soon, so we stopped at the Shari’s right up the road from our Red Lion Hotel. Fortunately, we only had to wait for a table for about five minutes. The employees were being really careful about keeping people apart, wearing masks, and sanitizing every single thing, including the entire booth we were led to.
One thing that’s interesting is that because the threat of fire, leaving our home and wondering if we’d ever see it again, and the stress of everything, it was really easy to forget (for a very short time, till we saw people wearing masks) that there was even a pandemic going on. It was as if the smoke and fire danger obliterated all that. Then we realized, “Oh yeah, Covid.”
When we got back to the motel after a pretty good breakfast, we let the kitties out of the bathroom. Kalakoa is our feisty girl, and to my surprise, she sauntered right out and made herself right at home.
Noelani and Keola decided to stay in the bathroom, so we brought the carrier into the main room, hoping they’d relax enough to use the litter box and eat something. Keola came out and promptly went under one of the beds, and Noelani did the same with the other bed. We stayed quiet, and didn’t turn on the TV or anything, hoping it would let them know it was safe to come out.
All this time, I was constantly checking the evacuation map. Thank goodness for technology! Not only was I checking our place, I was also checking on the homes of dear friends who were right in the path of the raging wildfire. They were all at Level 3, and had to leave. Thank goodness they had places to go with family, but it wasn’t looking good for their homes.
We spent Friday quietly; I did some journaling on our laptop, distracted myself by checking out Ravelry, my knitting/handspinning community, keeping in touch with our girls, and watching to see what the kitties were doing. Nolemana read; his blood sugar was doing much better.
About 5 p.m. I turned on the news and saw this:
After seeing that, we decided that even though we had reservations for two more nights, it was probably safe enough for us to leave the following morning. The evacuation area hadn’t changed in over forty-eight hours, and it was getting more difficult to manage the kitties’ welfare. We wanted to honor our girls’ wishes and talked it over with them before making our final decision.
Kalakoa was very interested in watching the going’s-on outside.
People in the path of the fire were getting a lot of help with trailering their livestock out of danger. Community volunteers were absolutely amazing, and fairgrounds were opening their barns so that those in the immediate evacuation zone had a place to go for safety for themselves and their livestock. We live in a fairly rural area, and horses, llamas, alpacas, sheep, goats, and cattle all needed places to go. I had tears in my eyes watching people helping people. At a time like this, it just didn’t matter what your political affiliation was, whether or not you were willing to wear masks, or any number of differences that so often divide us.
This photo, though, tore me up. My nerves were kinda shot, and I thought of the people who were trying to save their horse.
This was also difficult to see: our veterinarian has her office right at the junction in Carver, and the Level 3 evacuation zone was right across the road!
All we could do was to wait, and pray. The motel was full of evacuees; we’d see them in the hallways (all of us masked). One family came all the way from Oregon City, not because of the fire, but because the smoke was so bad. We were a small community of people trying to make the best of what we had; the parking lot was full of vehicles with Oregon license plates.
To be continued…