Sunday, June 28, 2020

Holding Pattern

The lockdown is starting to get to me.  I don't do much of anything.  I do try to walk down the road about a quarter of a mile to the stop sign at least twice a day.  I keep the motorhome more or less clean in case we end up having another fire and it needs to be Mom-ready.  Mostly I watch stupid video clips in my FaceBook feed all day.

The winds are picking up again, and the temperatures are starting to moderate a bit while the humidity comes up.  Understand, by comes up I mean it is it up to 13% and the dew point is 31* rather than 23*.  We aren't even in the desert up here.

Everything is fine, Mom is doing well.  She did lose her phone the other day.  I went over and found it in the seat of her car.  She had taken D, her neighbor, and gone to WalMart shopping.  Both of them are doing better in that even a major shopping trip went well, except for the losing the phone temporarily.

I'm thinking while the temperatures are to be in the 80's tomorrow I'll drive over to the Painted Desert/Petrified Forest.  It is about 2 hours away and could be a day trip.  I just need to get out.  I thought about asking Mom if she wants to go, but I think I need the time away by myself.  In a normal year I'd make a run somewhere for several days and camp and sight see, but not much is open.  Not even sure the Painted Desert area is open, but it is drive through if it is so fairly safe.

The fires are coming back up, being smoky.  Luckily for us here the smoke tends to go East.  There is a rumor on FaceBook that Tonto National Forest will close on Friday.  Most of us who live up here are hoping it will happen.  There is already another fire from yesterday at the recreation area around the Salt River near Phoenix, human caused by a UAV wreck.  The winds made it more difficult to suppress, but I believe they were successful.  The Tonto Basin fire is burning in the center in an area that the fires originally surrounded, and it is causing a lot of smoke but so far no evacuations.

There is a small chance of some rain at the end of the week.  Maybe.  Hopefully.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Back to Ready! mode

The large Bush fire is now in mop up stage. There is still a lot of work for the firefighters to do, but the perimeters are secured, at least as far as public safety and infrastructure are concerned.  The people living along Hwy 188 will be allowed to go back home today.  Sunflower, over on Hwy 87 is still in Evacuation mode. 

I am really happy that we didn't have to evacuate.  Mom is in recovery mode from the stress, as am I.  Our preparations will remain until we get some major rain.  There is a fire, the Central fire, over by Interstate 17.  That is an issue for us as that has potential to close one of our 2 remaining routes to Phoenix.  The fire is East of the interstate and moving North East, but isn't close to us.  Yet.  We could still head north or east if we need to evacuate.  For me, this means that Flagstaff is probably easier to get to than Phoenix, even though mileage wise it is usually about 30 miles further away.

So, back to knitting and cleaning and petting Bosley.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Why I Haven't Left... yet

I am thinking a bit more logically now.  I am definitely in a Set! frame of mind, as is Mom.  We could be on the road in about a half hour.  The reasons I haven't left yet are below.

The area that has burned between Phoenix and Hwy 188 is all open recreation land belonging to the Tonto National Forest.  Don't be confused by the 'Forest'.  It is pretty much all desert.  There are grasses, and as it moves north and up in elevation, some shrubs.  There are no buildings or people.  The firefighters have said that their 'Values' are Firefighters and people, structures, and then everything else.  The fire has been kept in a triangle bounded by Hwy 87 on the West, Salt River and associated lakes to the South, and Hwy 188 to the North East, the direction the fire has been moving.  The only town within that triangle is Sunflower on Hwy 87, which was evacuated.  They evacuated the small towns along Hwy 188 yesterday.  If the fire does cross 188, then as it goes north it starts to get high enough in elevation that there is more fuel in the form of trees.  There is also a lot of infrastructure between here and there.  There are high tension power lines with the poles, approximately 100 of them from the report, needing to be defended and at least 2 large power stations, one new. 

The upshot is, as long as the fires stays in desert landscape and the winds have died down, the fire lines they have been building for the past few days should hold.  There firefighters were reinforced yesterday with more people as well.  It is only if it jumps those fire lines and heads up into the timber land that I'll turn the key and go.

Cons of going is how much of a strain it will be for Mom to drive the 100-150 miles to get to my friend's place.  Her neighbor who would go with us is going blind and can no longer drive.  If we take my car and I drive, taking care of my cat is an issue as far as room during the drive and lodgings on the other end.  If we leave the cars and take the motorhome, we have no transportation on the other end.  Mom can't drive my car as it is a stick shift, the only other accommodation would be to put her car on the dolly and both of them ride with Bosley and I in the motorhome, which would be on the table as a possibility if Mom doesn't feel comfortable driving at any time.  There would still be the issue of very little braking power while towing a car with the motorhome.  I can't emphasize how much this stress on Mom plays into the decision. 

It comes down to, I don't think the firefighters will allow the fire to destroy the infrastructure between here and there.  There is a major dividing line that the firefighters have been reinforcing for a few days and should be able to hold.  IF the fire jumps that line, we will go.

What my neighbors here in the RV park are also looking at is we are surrounded by gated communities with multi-million dollar houses and golf courses in the center.  Those will be protected for sure.  Truly, I seem to be the only one worried about evacuating.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

View from the casino. UPDATED

Looking south from the point where highway 87 is closed.  Seems like the bigger the fire gets, the less news is put out.  Or, maybe I'm obsessing about it.

Edited to add:. Ok, I'm a little stressed.  This is looking at the smoke from the Bush fire raging down in Tonto basin, probably 20 miles away.  Once the fire crosses the basin, if it does, it is an uphill sweep to where I am.  The casino is on the south edge of town and the main highway south is closed at the casino.

The information page has gone back to the fire map from yesterday.  This morning there was a map showing the fire had made it to the basin and to Highway 188 that traverses the length of the basin more or less in the middle.  I'm frustrated in that I will be slow in the motorhome and I don't want to wait until we get the evacuation notice.

AZ uses the Ready! Set! Go! model for the notices.  Communities about 12 miles south of me have been moved to Set! status.

If any of be this (all of this?) is gibberish, basically send prayers for good decisions to be made by all parties involved.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

More of the same

There is a video update in a half hour on FaceBook about the Bush wildfire.  I had said my line in the sand is if the fire crosses 188.  It is 3/4 mile from the highway, or was this morning.  The fire is closest to the highway (from what I can tell) at Roosevelt Lake, so I'm hopeful it won't actually cross the road.  The fire is almost 90K ac. now.  Again, this is as of the morning's update.  I'll edit this after I watch the afternoon update if there are any significant changes.

I have slowly been cleaning and putting away loose items sitting around.  I'm trying to actually sort and put away properly this time.  I have most of the items I had outside put in bins.  I have bin space for the 2 items outside right now.

Phones are working today.  That is a help. 

My plan is to keep monitoring the fire, but not obsessively as I have been.  I keep at least 4 gal of drinking water to cook with, and a dozen at least bottles of water to drink.  If things get closer, but not yet to leave status I'll start the motorhome and let it run, and run the generator.  I replaced the inline water filter at the spigot yesterday and filled the freshwater tank.  This helped me see with fresh eyes my hookups and to have the tool(s) needed to quickly disconnect.  I always do this twice a year, but it is good to have a refresher.  In the meantime I'm cleaning to knock down some of the dust and cat hair around here.  Mom is sensitive, or at least more sensitive than I, to such things.  If I have a few more days I'll replace the filters on the air purifier and set it up again.

I told Mom, and she agreed, that even if this fire doesn't come any closer, this is early in the fire season.  This fire started as a car fire down by Phoenix.  We have 3 or 4 weeks of dry to get through before the monsoon rains show up, probably.  How dry is it?  Humidity is dipping below 10%.  Winds are gusting up to 15mph.  Temperatures down near the Valley are over 100.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

One more stress yesterday

Just to add to my stress yesterday, Mom and my's TMobile phones stopped working.  I went into town and we took her car and filled the gas tank.  I said I'd check on her today if the phones still didn't work.  I read this morning that there was a network attack that caused my phones to not work.  Everything seems back to normal today.  I have a backup Visible cellphone as it is only $25/mo for unlimited talk/text/data and they used to have $19 phones as an incentive.  I wish I'd gotten Mom one at the time, but I wanted to try out the service.  I end up using the data on that one as a hot spot when my TMobile won't connect.  I also have an AT&T hotspot.  Usually I can connect with one of them.

Smoke is getting heavier up here, and the wind is picking up.  Not good things to happen.  I'm slowly working my way through getting ready in case I have to evacuate.  I had gotten lazy and let things pile up. This has been the roundtuit that I needed to get back on it.

Monday, June 15, 2020

My State is Burning

Arizona is burning.  The Catalina Mountains by Tucson is ablaze.  The wildfdire in the Kaibab National Forest up by the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is so large that 89A is closed all the way across, and Jacob Lake is being evacuated.  Now there is a fire between here in Payson and Phoenix.  Hwy 87 is closed from here in Payson to the Bush Hwy exit on the north side of Phoenix, almost to Fountain Hills.  Hwy 188 over to Globe is closed from Rye/87 to Roosevelt Lake and the communities along it are being evacuated. 

I have verified my welcome at my friend's place up in Williams where he has room for the motorhome.  I am  packing things that I have been lazy and let get strewn all over the motorhome.  If/when I need to move quickly I won't want to deal with all that.  I'll get stocked up on drinking water, fill my fresh water tank on the motorhome, Mom is packing clothes and a to go bag, and she will take her friend/neighbor and follow me up.  I will probably take the car on the dolly and baby the brakes on the motorhome and hope for the best.

Once we have the plan in place I will relax.  If the fire closes any further exit points for us, I'll take off.  I'm not so worried about the fire as I am being in traffic with only one way out.  We are down to 2 now.