It was difficult to go to sleep that Monday night. Not that it was hard to fall asleep – after all, it had been a stressful day, and I hadn’t really slept the night before – but the idea of going to sleep was difficult, no matter how tired I was. What if something happened? It’s not like we could keep the radio on all night, not with it being powered by hand, and neither of us had any kind of cell service to speak of, so we weren’t sure if alerts would come through. In fact, I didn’t receive any alerts on my phone through the entire event.
We also knew we couldn’t just stay up. After all, what if something did happen and we were too tired to respond appropriately? We were just going to have to trust that we would respond if evacuation sirens went off in our neighborhood. So, with no small amount of hesitation, we went to bed, and I went pretty much straight to sleep. Fortunately, there were no sirens in the night.
Smoke was heavy in the street the next morning, Tuesday morning, worse than it had been on Monday. The wind had died down to almost nothing, fortunately for the fire fighters, but that meant the smoke was settling down to the ground and hanging out like June bugs on a screen door on a summer morning in the South.
I got the radio going first thing, hoping for some good news. There was none. None of the fires were at all contained. Evacuations were continuing, though they were moving north.
Theoretically, my wife was supposed to go to work. Theoretically, she was supposed to have been at work on Monday, too. She had almost gone on Monday, a half hour commute north, but had made the decision to work from home, something that hadn’t much happened due to the power loss and poor internet reception. It had been a good thing, though, because they had shut down the freeway north of us about half an hour after she would have arrived at work. The freeway was still shut down on Tuesday morning, so she would have been stuck there overnight with no way to communicate with us. That would have been a nightmare.
That didn’t change the fact that she needed to do something about work. She couldn’t go there. Not only was the freeway closed north of us but all of the roads that would have allowed her to get there were closed.
While we were trying to figure that out – and doing things like eating peanut butter from the jar because there was nothing else to eat – my daughter managed to get a text through to me that she wanted to come home – she would rather be at home with us and bored than at her grandparents’ – not that I was able to respond to her. So we went and picked her up, got coffee, came home, and ended up back there anyway, because there was internet at my father-in-law’s, and my wife needed internet so that she could “go” to work. And she had a meeting she needed to do later in the day so that everyone could freak out about the fire and the danger to the various vineyards. Yes, my wife works in the wine industry.
We had dinner over there again on Tuesday night, this time with actual food. Not that hot dog spaghetti wasn’t actual food, but my father-in-law and his wife stopped by the grocery store on their way home from work (because their office is also in the south part of town, and not everything could come to a standstill because of the fire no matter how weird it was to have so much completely closed down on one side of town and some areas still functioning normally) and bought stuff for dinner to go with some things I brought over from our now warm fridge.
During dinner, my wife got word from one of our neighbors that the power was back on so, after dinner and talking, we loaded back up, kids included, and went home. After all, if they had turned the power back on in our neighborhood, they must have believed that the immediate danger had passed. I have to say that it was a nice feeling to all go home together.
Not that everything was back to normal. Even though we had power back, which meant the internet, the internet itself went down the following morning. That, of course, meant more issues with work for my wife – she still couldn’t get to her office – and general boredom for the kids, but we got that back on Thursday morning. We didn’t get our gas back on – we were safe enough for electricity but not for gas – until Saturday, and it was so nice to finally have a hot shower again! Which is not to say that the lack of hot water, in comparison to the losses so many people suffered, was more than a minor inconvenience, but I did have a renewed appreciation for the miracle of hot water right from your tap.
[Note: I'll be finishing this up next week with one final post. Everything was in a slow denouement for us after Tuesday so, though there is more I could say about our experience, it's not of much consequence. After the post next week, I'll be pulling all of these prior posts down so, if you haven't read the earlier ones, now is your chance.]