Friday, August 7:
I left Sacramento this morning and arrived back at the campground before Noon. Lee, from Maintenance, was unlocking the bathrooms, but otherwise I was the first person back in the CG. Being Friday we had a lot of reservations, but because of the cool snap and the closure for fire danger, there aren’t very many campers here. There was a very heavy rain here last night from what I’ve heard, and I couldn’t get a campfire going so I just came indoors, powered up the generator and turned on the furnace. While that warmed up the rig a little, I decided the electric heater would keep me warmer, so now I’m cozy with all the heat directed at me!
The only reason it wasn’t too sad leaving Jeannie & family this morning is the knowledge that they are coming up for a few days camping around the last of August/beginning of September. I love being around my kids so any opportunity is not to be missed.
Coming up from Old Station to the Butte Lake CG there were many small fires smoldering along both sides of the highway. It was an eerie sight. I hope the recent rain puts a stop to the fire threat, although I know it will take more than one heavy rain to do that.
Sunday, August 9:
Not much going on today – the campground usually empties out on Sunday, and with the recent fires in the area many people went to other Park campgrounds. I spent my time doing some maintenance, and put out a fire left by some campers that could have developed into something much bigger. Two huge logs were smoldering, but it was amazing how hot was the ash in the fire pit. It boiled and bubbled when I put water on it, and it required much more work than usual to get it to where I felt comfortable leaving the site.
Why do I still get so excited when I see a deer walk through the campground? My heart skips a beat, especially when she stops and looks directly at me, and I at her, and we are in complete unison. Marvelous.
Monday, August 10:
My closest neighbors include firefighters from Los Padres, who are here to help with the fire situation. Several people I met on my early morning rounds commented that they were happy to have them here, and so am I.
I seem to have acquired a chipmunk problem and I’m not quite sure how to take care of it. I’ll have to say that I’ve been lax about leaving potato and tortilla chip bags on the countertop, as well as a loaf of bread once in a while. I’m learning very quickly to put everything in the cabinets now, and to keep the dishes washed and put away. I think the cabinets are tight enough they can’t get into them, at least there is no sign of it yet. The little rascals are cute enough outdoors but I don’t want them in my house – they are rodents after all.
Tuesday, August 11:
Our campground has acquired a mascot. A very hungry and underweight female dog wearing a red collar h.as been hanging about since yesterday. Supposedly she is too skittish to every allow anyone near enough to catch her, yet she is eating donuts and hamburger buns from the hand of one camper, and has accepted food from other campers as well. I take her dog food and biscuits on my rounds and she comes right up for it, although she jumps back if I make too quick a move to suit her. I can’t reach anyone on the radio to find out what to do, so I’ll just keep feeding her. I hope she stays in the campground because she has an injury to at least one paw, and would be no match for a hungry mountain lion.
I am listening and learning a bit about firefighting in the National Park. So far the winds have been kind, but when they kick up it will change the picture. I just hope we don’t have to evacuate again because I don’t think I would come back, meaning I would have to get everything ready for travel and hitch up – under some pressure I am sure.
Wednesday, August 12:
It seems like I’m always sitting around waiting for something to happen before I can do what I want or need to do. I want to do laundry and have decided to pay the supreme price charged by the nearest Laundromat, just to save time and fuel. But I am waiting on Lassen County Animal Control, and while I indicated there was no urgency and that the stray dog in question wasn’t going anywhere because she was being fed in the campground, I am afraid of the bonding that is going on, especially with the young daughter of the people whose campsite she visits, as well as with me, who brings dog food to her 3 times a day. She walked out on the loop to meet me this morning, just waiting for her breakfast.
The dog has made a nest in the hollow of a big log, so she seems comfortable enough and spends most of her time there. She has many health issues though, and I’m afraid that it will take time, effort and money to get her to an adoptable stage, if that’s even possible. She is a sweet young dog, although very skittish around people. So I will go count the clean pairs of socks, jeans, etc., and continue to wash the uniform shirts by hand, possibly until Monday when I can get away. There are a lot of reserves due in tomorrow and Friday, but with the smoke and haze many will probably go elsewhere. The cool night temperatures cause the smoke to settle on and around Butte and Snag Lakes, and along with the strong smell of smoke in the mornings, is frightening to some people.
Friday, August 14:
I am not even going to sit outside tonight or burn a fire. I’m indoors, running my generator so as to charge the laptop, and plan to be in bed before it even gets dark. I am getting bummed out with the situation at this campground – because I’m so remote they only send reservation cards and daily arrival reports twice a week, which leaves a gap whereby someone could rent an unreserved site, not knowing that it has actually been reserved. I got two cards today for reservations tomorrow, and both sites have people in them through tomorrow night. I’ll just have to hope I can smoothe it over with no problems. I wanted to drive out of here in the morning and get my laundry done plus buy some supplies, but I guess that is out of the question until I get the mix-up straightened out, so I will probably go out on Sunday morning. After having two days off during the evacuation I think what is really wrong with me is that I need some time off.
The acreage under fire is growing constantly, but supposedly the situation is improving. I think they are getting a lot of old stuff burned out of the way, which helps keep the severe fire hazards down plus improves the situation for wildlife.
It has been cool today, and I even wore a windbreaker for most of the day since I wasn’t out in the sun for very long at a time. I’m starting to look forward to traveling again in about a month. I don’t like the thought of hitching and unhitching, which I will probably do more of so I can refuel without worrying about maneuvering in and out of crowded stations pulling the 5th wheel. I haven’t really decided on a route yet, although I’ve been studying the maps and checking the routes with the Mountain Directory West. Now I wish I had ordered the Mountain Director East at the same time. I had hoped to go through Butte, Montana, but MDW has nearly scared me away from it. Butte was the place that many copper miners went to when the mines closed in the Irish village I lived while in Ireland, and I would like to visit there. I’m sure I would know many relations of people living there – anyone named O’Sullivan or Harrington, to mention two surnames. I’m really ready to get back to the East, although I’ve enjoyed my many months in California. I just need a “fix” of green grass and deciduous trees (and grandsons). The foliage should be beautiful by the time I get back.
Also, I am going to look for a smaller RV, although I don’t hold out much hope of being able to switch at this time. I’m afraid I would just lose money in the process. To make my 5ver liveable, I’m going to have to rip up the carpet and have laminate installed, and I hope that doesn’t get too costly. But the first thing I will do is to have the oil changed in the generator. I bought oil thinking I would change it myself, but in reading the directions I’ve decided it’s beyond my current abilities and I really don’t want to have to do it anyway!
Monday, August 17:
WAR DECLARED!!! CHIPMUNKS TAKE COVER.
For about the third time in ten days I’ve had to empty and wash every bit of silverware, cutlery, pots and pans and all the utensils I have. And I AM SICK OF IT! This is not the way I envisioned spending my golden years, and I am not going to give in without a fight. Next time I go to a decent store, probably in a couple of days, I’m going to buy bait and cheerfully murder the little monsters,
The fire is still burning but it looks as though the crews may be wrapping things up in a couple of days. I will be glad when that happens, although I have learned a little about fire management in the National Parks, as well as some of the strategy and terminology used by the firefighters.
Wednesday, August 19:
I’m in Burney today and finally got a decent connection, although slower than usual. I’ve decided to work through September 10 and then head out. I’m going through Boise – one of the BLM folks that I got to know from bringing the updates on the fire every day is from Boise, and he invited me to visit him and his family when I drive through. I think I will do it. He gave me some very good advice about traveling through Idaho up to Montana, so I might even see a bit of the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone Parks. I will definitely drive through the Sawtooth Range.
I’ll get this posted now and try to wade through all my emails. I hope the connection holds.