The day started normally for a vacation day. I woke and sat on the balcony looking at the stars over Monte Rio. It was 5 am – jet lag, I guess. I had some neck pain, so I went in the Jacuzzi and after sat in the sun with an amazing dog. It’s Paradise.

Me and Chopper

12 hours in and the word over the news: evacuation suggestion nearby. A warning…

We knew we would eventually have to evacuate because of the fires. We just were hoping it would pass us by. It’s not so difficult when you’re not leaving your own home behind. But when it’s yours, you push it off – denial? Hope? I don’t know.

I remember doing that in the ‘93 Laguna Beach fire. That was one of the 20 largest fire losses in U.S. History 16,000 acres and 400 homes.

I was 19. I had just returned home from the hospital, because of stomach issues. I packed a few of my paintings and a box of photos. I was still living at home with my mom. We left town hoping to make it safely out. Luckily the Ritz Carlton gave us a place to stay for a few nights.

The worst part was returning, though. On the drive back through the aftermath – smoke everywhere, houses gone, trees are gone. You pray that your home is still standing. It’s nerve-wracking, in a mom driving with the kids in the back, fighting for hours, kind of way.

This fire is much larger: “The Kincade Fire has burned 25,955 acres, forced more than 80,000 evacuations and destroyed 77 buildings. It is 11 percent contained.” Abc news 7 as of 9 pm.

Kincade fire map as of 12 am 27 of October

We waited for hours realizing we will have to evacuate, but pushing it off. We drank 5 bottles of champagne between 10 people. It had an apocalyptic feeling, with this our reaction.

Shooting cans with a BB gun.

Two had fixed the carrier to the roof of the Jeep, as our friend received the notice for mandatory evacuation and told us we should probably go home.

We packed and offered to help, but there was nothing we could do. Everyone scattered to their homes to pack.

Some of these people I haven’t seen in 14 years! One had been through Katrina in New Orleans and another lived in Puerto Rico during Maria. There was a mix of emotions in the group: fear, fatalism, and a little shock. So we hugged them and I had tears from having to say goodbye so soon and empathy seeing them having to go through it again.

Driving home through the hills – thank you September!

I’m sorry for those who have already lost their homes. I pray our friend’s homes will remain ok. Most importantly, everyone has safely evacuated.

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