09-07-2020 September Times

Such a great weekend we just spent with our California friends, Nickie and Jimmy Wilkinson. However,as I write this morning, I am watching wild winds blowing all sorts of debris across the property, depositing much of it on what just a few days ago was a nice litter free lawn and drive.  Change comes fast this time of year.

The workshop isn’t really crooked, just a phone photo that wouldn’t adjust properly

I am also looking at fire maps, smoke maps, photos from friends and family in other parts of our state that are undergoing a firestorm of huge proportions.  Smoke is thick and dark all the way from Eugene to Portland.

Iconic landscapes that define the Oregon Cascades and their foothills are burning or evacuated.  MacKenzie Bridge along the MacKenzie River, the Mt Jefferson Wilderness, the gorgeous Santiam Canyon, and even our precious Silver Falls State Park are evacuated and in the line of fire.

We were awakened at 1 by 40 mph winds and smoke so thick it infiltrated the house with doors opened for just a moment to check the property. Back to sleep at 4:30 AM, restless, still with power researching as much as I could find out.  A new fire at Collier State Park heading for Chiloquin, that this morning I see has managed to turn just enough west to run into Klamath Lake and miss the town of Chiloquin, but not the many homes scattered in the Oregon Shores developments of Agency Lake.

Power out here for just long enough to make us nervous, but it came back on in time for morning coffee.  Talking to my frightened daughter Melody on the phone, whose home in Brownsville is located between the two huge fires, one to the north and one to the south, and so far her town isn’t in danger. Incredibly, her power outage didn’t last long either.

Melodys house on 09-08-2020

Melody’s home in Brownsville this morning

Our friends left yesterday around noon for their planned camping trip to Farewell Bend, with clear skies and fairly hot temperatures.  They had seen the predictions for a “major wind and fire event” to come.  Their home in California is thick with smoke, and they needed to breathe.  When they left, the smoke maps showed clear skies at their destination, but in the middle of the night when I woke up and checked the map, I can see they were surrounded by thick smoke and being battered by ridiculously high winds.  “Unprecedented”, using Nickie’s current least favorite word.

I worry, of course.  Farewell Bend is high enough in the mountains to have no cell phone coverage, much less internet coverage.  I am reasonably certain that if there were anything to fear, the forest service people would close the park and tell them to go.  So far I have heard nothing, so must assume they made it through the night without any trees falling on their rig, any fires starting in their area, and hopefully the ability to breathe.

I planned to sit and write about our truly delightful visit with them, but couldn’t even begin to do the happy la-la-la story that was completely overwhelmed by the events of the last 12 hours.  It happens so very quickly.

Speaking with daughter Deanna in Lincoln, Washington, I discovered that the fires in that area are even more devastating than they are here in Oregon.  The Whitman County town of Malden, population about 200 people,was largely destroyed by a fast moving fire.  Interstate 90, Highway 395, Highway 2 all closed.  Much of Washington under threat from even higher winds than we have here in Oregon.

The workshop isn’t really crooked, just a phone photo that wouldn’t adjust properly

The sun is shining here, the smoke has thinned considerably, and the erratic winds come and go.  I may even get outside to water in time, but for the moment I will wait for the craziness to ebb a bit.  Those winds kick up with no warning whatsoever.

In the meantime, I will wish the best for my friends camping in the Oregon mountains, for my daughter and her many friends in the Willamette Valley and the beautiful canyons on the west slope of the Cascades, for so many people in so many places that are dealing with what is turning out to be another devastating, unprecedented season of wildfire.

When I am ready, I will slip back into the pleasant recent memories of our time with Nickie and Jimmy, both here at home and on our day trip to the Oregon Coast.

Author: kyotesue

Soil scientist/mapper working for 35 years in the wild lands of the West. I am now retired, enjoying my freedom to travel, to hike without a shovel and a pack, to knit and quilt and play, to play with photography and write stories about all of it.

5 thoughts on “09-07-2020 September Times”

  1. Thanks for all the news, Sue. Another big fire has just kicked up in our neck of the woods, between here and Tahoe. No threat to us yet and unlikely to be. Smoky, some ash and windy. Because I wasn’t paying attention beyond our own problems with smoke, wind, and power cuts, I was unaware of all the fires and craziness in Oregon! I know Jimmy and Nickie will be alert and I am sure warnings would come through the forest service. Sounds like their plan to escape the smoke didn’t work well, and I wouldn’t be surprised if their power was off back home. We also had seen passing notice of Malden, just a mention… this is a very very tough year for the PNW.

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  2. Such a sad state of affairs in so many states now. The local news said tonight that the Cameron Peak fire, which was around 50,000 acres yesterday when we arrived at St Vrain overnight exploded again and doubled in size…only 4% contained since it started burning mid August. My thoughts are with everyone living through the fire season nightmare.

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  3. Yes, we enjoyed our visit with you guys! We were blissfully unaware of the horrible goings-on in our Western states while we camped in Farewell Bend on the Rogue River … till we drove up to Crater Lake on Wednesday. There our phones woke up with a cell signal and lit up with many messages about our safety and the news of the power outage at our house, and all the awful fires. That woke us up and we decided to go home, only to discover that our routes home were mostly closed by fires! We found a way through, thank goodness, and returned home safely, but came back to smoke — just like when we left (maybe worse!)! I hesitate to say, “What Next?”

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  4. We, too, are stunned by the intensity and size of the recent fires in Oregon. Our friends in the Rogue Valley, Portland, and Bend are suffering from dense smoke. And in the Rogue Valley, we have friends who are displaced because the fires destroyed power lines. We’re so glad to know that you all are safe. Take good care. (I just found your blog on WP, I was still reading on your Blogger site and couldn’t leave comments.)

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    1. Yes, Laurel, I switched to WordPress as the main blog but so far am able to make duplicated posts on blogger. I am not confident that the blogger platform will remain viable so am covering my bases. Thanks for finding me again.

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