The MODUS is quiet tonight.....which is odd because we had big plumes of smoke freaking some folks out coming from the Anastasia/White Oaks area. Backburns, finally....the East Coast humidity has finally gone off East.
I had to calm down a "firefighter"....wearing a Crocodile Dundee hat with a bandanna: "No....I am a firefighter and I KNOW! Those flames are coming from Parrot Ranch!" People started scurrying around.
I had just returned from Parrot Ranch.....and Laurel Springs.....and the fire was the least of the problems.
I was up there driving around by myself in my Bronco because the locals rejected all my volunteer co-pilots....those with local knowledge and functioning 4wd vehicles.
The run started out well.
As I was plotting with an un-named fire authority to breach the gauntlett on my own in a sketchy vehicle....two Sheriffs came into the Store.
Keep in mind my name is on the Arson/Looter WatchList.
"Uh.....Listen. We understand that you......"
I ran into the back. "You are making illegal deliveries that are encouraging rampant law-breaking that is endangering the lives of the gallant firefolk with your silly civil disobedience......."
"We understand........ that you know the local community. Can you tell us how to get to the MIRA observatory?"
Flash, out from the back.
"Even better. Let me show you how to get there! You can follow me!"
I feel so safe under Sheriff Kanalakis' watch. Someone did point out that we may be getting the Special Olympics Deputies. Who else would volunteer to drive around in the middle of nowhere, without a donut shop in mortar range?
My first stop was an aging, one-legged, heavily medicated person a mile up a crappy dirt road. She needed Ben and Jerry's, muffins, oreos, and crappy chocolate to match her road. Of course, the gate was locked, with nine heavy locks.....and pit bulls chased me around when I tried to walk the stuff in. And I could be sending people bills in my nice office rather than taking this shit.....
Next was the older Italian couple up the hill. They got fresh figs and zucchini from Joanie and Lyle, only slightly smashed toilet paper, organic extra virgin olive oil from Petaluma......and milk. Well, and some heirloom tomatoes. If your name is Salvatore Megna, and you need olive oil.....you might as well have figs and tomatoes to round out the deal. Oh, and 50# of kitty food for the crazy cat lady neighbor, grace a SPCA.
Then up to the Solar Guy. His directions involved going to the Jamesburg School. I had last been at the Jamesburg school in 1978. I remembered a steel post and a gate.....which I thought was good going. It turns out there are more than one steel posts and gates. My delivery guy was patient: "Starting at Sal's driveway....you have Pinkie's across the street. That doesn't really count. We'll call that driveway Zero. I am at Driveway One, Two, Three....."
Let me guess....steel post and gate.
Solar Guy was thrilled to have salad fixings and a porterhouse steak. Joanie's zucchini, Ed Stark's porterhouse.
I got directions to my next stop....which actually I had been to three times looking for the fucking steel post and gate.
"Go down the driveway.....and when you get to the 'This Way, That Way' Sign.....they are That Way....."
Talking about pot smoking in Jamesburg/Cachagua not only pisses off the locals....but treads on the ground of something akin to racism. Like admiring the watermelons at Mississippi county fair. Or talking about whiskey and potatoes in Ireland.
"This Way, That Way"?
Am I wrong to think that marijuana may have been somewhere involved in that thought process? Possibly. But likely back in the Marble Cone Fire era......1977.
Well, actually....it works. The This Way guys needed propane and gas. I found my clients on the That Way side. Their son had sent up specialized cat food and some Coronas.
On the way I ran into some neighbors who stopped me to tell me how happy they were to have retrieved the Sunday Herald from the floor of Toddie's truck the day before.
Voila! I had today's Herald! There was Joy In Mudville! Uh.....Dustville.
On the way out I passed a firetruck. I would have loved to have seen their directions.
At this point the motor on my rear window failed....so all the dust from the road poured into the Bronco.....and into my lungs.
I had many more stops, most of them up Laurel Springs.
Laurel Springs is talked about as an actual thoroughfare. Many, many people live up there.....nice, intelligent people. Actually.....some of the more intelligent folk I deal with. But....it is a dusty motherfucker. Including the Featherbow part of the climb.....I kept passing through sections of pounded Carmel Stone chalkrock.....the inhalation of which has proven to be fatal to horses. But, hey. I ain't no horse. I started breathing through my Basque hat like some demented lost Basque soul on the Tokyo subway system.
The best part was that there was a Forest Service brand-new pickup truck in front of me. He had missed that whole "Driving on Dirt Road Courtesy" part of the Amy Vanderbilt education that I am sure all US Government executives undergo. He was punching it....to stay ahead of me to give the dust a chance to settle before I came through, probably.
The dust from his wake will be settling about next March.
In the fog of silicosis I finally detected a living, breathing human form. An actual Irish guy, like me.....strolling on the top of the mountain in the middle of nowhere. I asked directions to my quarry's place.
"Uh. We know each other, so I will do this. But, I will only do this once." Suddenly I was back in the IRA in Belfast. Shit.
"The guy lives up the road, and I will tell you how to get to his place. But you have to know.....it would be better if you didn't go there....."
"You know how you wait for someone to die....because they are so horrible they need to die, but you don't want to kill them?"
"And they don't fucking die on their own.......and it really pisses you off?"
Uh, yeah. If I drive really fast.....maybe the silicosis will get him?
I had two deliveries....three if you count Johnny and Rogelio. The first one had cancelled her order under command of the Queen of the Mountain. All mountain folk were to shun my delivery service because of Toddie. As I drove by, I called: "Uh...I am driving by....if you still want your stuff, I have it in the truck........." No answer.
After two wrong turns, only one of them death-defying......I found my client. As I unloaded the dust-soaked Budweiser and shoveled off the silicosis inducing film from the ice-chest to get out the bags of ice, my guy said: "Uh, actually it is for Brad. Oh, here he comes now."
So.....the guy who actually wanted the beer, ice, cigarettes and milk was afraid to break the Toddie boycott.....so he had his neighbor call in the order his wife had already placed so that I would deliver it 100m up the road......and the only person who could give me directions was a guy who wouldn't mind the death of the neighbor accepting the delivery of the goods for the guy who didn't want to defy the boycott because Toddie used to be an asshole.
Hey....there is a day well spent!
I got me within 500m of Johnny Kinder's farm, though. Johnny and Rogelio.
A nicer, kinder, sweeter couple could not be found on the planet. Even though I arrived unannounced and buried in dust that will require multiple dry-cleanings after the two mandatory hugs.....they gave me the tour of the farm.
We arranged a pickup for tomorrow of salad greens and squash. John was so concerned about the quality of his greens that we timed the pickup to within an hour. Salad is so much better if it is consumed fresh.
This made my whole day. It was an hour drive up the dusty mountain breathing through my Basque boino......but tomorrow I will get greens fresher than anyone in America. We are working for Pakistani Generals and Admirals and their Indian counterparts for my clients who are trying to stop the next war now. These greens are going to be so fucking awesome that it just might work......
On the way down the mountain with my rear window failing and the dust pouring in....oh, and I was out of gas after my one hour climb in Low 4WD.....I noticed an electrical burning smell. The battery was dead, and I had to bump start from Kinder's. Halfway down the mountain, the Bronco was filled with smoke as well as dust.......I had an electrical fire. I was now the Comet Kahoutek.
Picture the joy in PIO Dixon's and Sheriff's Kanalakis' lives if the blockade runner wound up igniting an entire mountain of slacker, illegal stay-at-home lawbreakers....
The impulse of the impending conflagaration meant...no more brakes. The dust and ensuing silicosis caused by my whirlwind passing down that mountain will not settle until the next big fire.......
But....I made it.
All is good and calm in the Cachagua Valley.
And Jamesburg, too........
Here is the MODUS image from Johnny's. Realize that he is a few hundred feet lower. We could see big plumes of smoke from the backfires that MODUS can't see. The fire break that runs along the ridge to the right has been re-worked. It runs up to the MIRA observatory. When John was in good health, the hike would take him about four hours.
So....short of Grandpa Fred...this is the guy closest to the fire.
Are you scared yet?