Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sunday afternoon update......

Wow......a day off! Seven hours sleep!

Hence, some updates and some new MODUS images.

The first image is looking South from the Tassajara/Carmel Valley Road area. I measured the distance from the latest hotspots to the intersection of Tassajara and Cachagua Roads. 4.8 miles. It is about 1.8 from the Jamesburg end of Lambert Flats road. The Dam is visible at lower right, and Carmel Valley Road is the snaky yellow line on the left. The oddity of evacuating the Jamesburg and Lower Cachagua is pretty clear from this image.

By the way, the Jamesburg people are understandably miffed at being lumped in with Lower Cachagua.......Cachagua being always a lower life zone compared to Jamesburg! I will not make that mistake here......

The dozer crews are currently working in Anastasia Canyon cutting a secondary break. Apparently there is an old Jeep road from the Nason Ranch down the canyon and on to the Cahoon Ranch on Carmel Valley Road (grace a Lyle Linares). The existing firebreak that was cut up from the Arroyo Seco end of the Indians fire is the one that was jumped by the spot fire.

Anastasia Canyon is the steep little one that falls from the Nason Ranch in front of Lambert Flats road.

The absolutely golden lining to the cloud of smoke that haunts us is the amplified sense of community in our little world. While collecting the straight dope from Bear and Rod Mac at the Ranger Station this morning, Bear gave me a five minute neck and shoulder rub. A fireperson giving ME a neck rub? Various and sundry folk are rallying to get supplies in to those who elected to stay inside the evacuation lines ("Peyton is almost out of beer! And Kenny Klein is out of smokes! Jerry King needs a couple more bottles of wine for Sally!") Strange how no one has asked for milk or eggs......

The best though is the detailed analysis of the local terrain that has come out. I have learned more about the topography and cultural history of our area than I could have imagined. I have driven through these hills a ton for more than thirty years, and now I have a picture of the roads and mountains that goes beyond just the next turn or what I see in front of me. Stories like Lyle's about the Anastasia Canyon trail.....and the sweet spring there. And tying that in to the wake we did for the Cahoon family matriarch, and the gravesite the family established looking out over one of the most beautiful ranches in California. Lyle has ridden those trails and can give a flavor of the country beyond what Google gives us.

Even Pablo chimed in......wearing a new set of teeth he made himself: "Oh, yeah.....that is a steep fuckin' canyon. We used to pick magic mushrooms out of the cow patties on the Cahoon end of the canyon......" (I remember watching Pablo eat an entire ounce of mushrooms for breakfast one day.....not bad for an 80 year old!)

Bear and Rod did the same translation kind of thing for me for Hiding Canyon and the terrain around Miller Mountain and Pine Valley, where the troops are dug in to protect Miller Canyon and Pine Valley. And the dozer guys' reports, of course.

Rod gave me a long dissertation on the White Rock end of the fire, and the effort to solidify the firebreaks along there....and the backup plans. I loved the historical references he used to identify topography: "You know the gate just below "Helen I Love"? That's where they have gone in and out to work on the northern firebreak. And there is another road down from Turkey Flats.....where they used to have the Turkey Shoot?"

"Helen I Love" is the sandstone rock below Sky Ranch with historic Cachagua grafitti carved into it. I would love to know who Helen was.....and where Helen is now. Not to mention the love!

Speaking of Sky Ranch......this is the Sky Ranch viewpoint. San Clemente dam is on the lower right.....Los Padres on the left. The primary firebreak follows the old Marble Cone break up the ridge to the right from the far end of the Los Padres Reservoir. The break continues on the larger ridge up the mountain towards the Coast. The yellow dots from last night are the backfires that were successful yesterday. The streak of white most visible is the amusing Dormody airstrip. Just above that if you can blow up the foto is the streak that is White Rock road.

Humidity was so high today that they had to stop attempting backfires. The fires either would not light, or burned so poorly that they actually increase the danger by teetering on the edge of combustibility. The good news is that the main fire burned poorly as well.

Finally, the least respected agency involved in working the fire is definitely the Sheriffs. They are cruising around today going house to house personally notifying folks of the voluntary evac. House to house personal service by Sheriffs is not looked upon favorably in this neck of the woods at any time. Plus, the townie Sheriffs have to ask directions all the time, drive too fast on dirt roads and leave rooster tails of dust to compete with the smoke and ash. I tried to gently suggest that slower is mellower vis a vis dust to one Deputy and got the death stare in return. "Don't talk to me. I talk to you."

Last night they were up in Jamesburg going house to house with the mandatory evac. They went down Lyon Springs road and told Sage and Roy Smith, made them sign releases and acted the general badass mo fo. The boys told them that they were the last house on the road....but they got the death stare, too. "What, are you hiding something?"

"We go down every road to the end."

Well......alright, Officer. Good luck on that.

The boys sat back, cracked a cool one, lit a fatty and watched the Sheriff's headlights mark his passage down the canyon while they listened in on the scanner. Sure enough, the headlights stopped about a mile in.

"Uh.....dispatch. I got stuck."

"How stuck?"

"Stuck stuck."

"As in REALLY stuck?

"Yup. REALLY stuck stuck."

The boys finished their beers and thought about it. They realized that the cop would be in there for days before anyone could do anything about it. So......they got out the big truck and some come-alongs and floor jacks and drove down to unstick the cop.

Roy, a not infrequent guest of the Sheriff himself at the Salinas Iron Hilton, got a souvenir photograph of himself behind the wheel of the cruiser. They all collected Get Out of Jail Free Cards......which will probably come in handy.

We all remember Sage's own hard closure of Tassajara Road last winter. Pissed of beyond reason at the townie tourists cruising up to Chew's Ridge to see snow.....and getting stuck and getting lost and getting stuck......Sage blocked the road at the Jamesburg stand with his truck and stood his ground with a rifle, turning away all non-local traffic. He was amazed to discover that this was not exactly legal behavior.

Hang on to that Get Out of Jail Free card, Sage!


Blogger Ellen said...

Hi Michael,
Love your blog! Perhaps Helen is Helen Crocker who married Henry Russell and built the Double H Ranch (now Stonepine).
Ellen Osborne
River Ranch

7:46 PM  
Blogger IBMissinCachagua said...

that is some funny ass stuff there.

BTW, a few of us, who use to live there 20 yrs ago are in contact with eachother, worrried as hell, sitting, watching, waiting, I have been appointed the "offical blogger"

lol, but a question came up, that hasn't been addressed on any blogs ( and I can understand why) but we were all wondering, how many pot fields have these fire fighters came across? Fighting fires from Big Sur to Chews Ridge, you know they have came across something. Is this yr's crop in danger?

6:04 AM  
Blogger kathy said...

So far 1,237 pot fields and 715 meth labs have perished...

9:44 AM  
Blogger mb said...

Life in the Fire Lane has a picture of the unfortunate sheriff's cruiser and its rescuers at
That vehicle is REALLY stuck. Is the deputy the crisp looking fellow at the right edge of the picture?

1:17 PM  
Blogger Freda said...

Hi Cachauga,
I have really appreciated the news on the fire please keep up the good work. I was wondering how Fred is doing? Haven't been abel to find out anymore info on him after I heard he was sitting outside watching the fire line. I sure hope it didn't burn down his home and that he is safe and sound.
I am Fred's little sister who is 70 years old. I live out of state and I am very concern about all of Cachauga and Jamesburg this is a bad fire and I was in Cachauga about 3 years ago and I could see then if their was ever a fire it would burn and burn for all the brush, trees and wild oats the hillsides were just full of it even by your store. When I was growing up on the old Nason Ranch now "Comsat" we never had that problem sure it was many years ago but we let the horse's and cattle eat all the feed so someone better buy some goats and turn them out to keep it cleared off. My thoughts and prayers go out to all of you. Please keep me posted on the fire. Thanks.

3:29 PM  

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