Monday, June 16, 2008

The Humbolt Fire is fully contained

Well, the Humboldt fire is now fully contained at 23,433 acres. They lost 74 homes and another 20 were damaged. Over 3,000 firefighters were involved, not to mention 10 air tankers, 7 helicopters multiple water tankers and bulldozers. There were only 9 injuries and none of them were serious. I will probably add to this post as other final numbers come out, and will add more pics and maybe videos as they continue to open up the areas to other than residents only.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The aftermath of the Humboldt fire

Ok, I video taped the trip back in to Paradise from Chico after the mandatory evacuation at my house was over. I will add more photos and maybe videos to this post as they get more of the fire out and open up more roads. As of right now, the fire stands at about 23000 acres burned, 74 homes destroyed, and 20 more damaged. There have been about 3400 firefighters, 520 engines, 10 air tankers, and 7 helicopters, not to mention all the other support equipment, including water tankers, bulldozers and other trucks involved in fighting this fire, with crews from all over California and even from Nevada. The farthest traveling crews had more than a 12 hour drive to get here, and I am very grateful to every one of them for their willingness to help us out up here and for their sacrifice in leaving their families and homes to come up here.

The Humboldt Fire

Ok, Thursday started out normal enough. I got up and picked up my mom at the repair shop, as she was having the CV joints replaced on her car. A few hours later we went back to pick her car up.

On the way home my car completely died. It was idling fine, then as I started to go I had no power what so ever. I got down the hill I was on, but couldn't make it back up the other side. I stopped and backed down and off the road and called a tow truck. After an hour the truck showed up and he towed it to my house.
I started working on my car, not exactly what I had planned for my day off, and on my way back home from Auto Zone I took this picture of the smoke from the fire burning just out side of town. I got back home and they had given me the wrong distributor cap, so I went back up to exchange it. As I got home I happened to catch this photo of the DC10 that Cal Fire is using to dump retardant in the path of the fire. At this point the fire and evacuations were still about a mile away from where I live.
I got back to working on my car and was getting ready to change the fuel filter, and then the cap, rotor and plugs. As I got the air cleaner out, which is necessary to change the fuel filter, a get ready to evacuate notice came out over the public radio broadcast that Paradise has set up for times of emergency. I closed down the hood on the car as best I could and moved my dad's van over to start loading things into it to be ready to go if we needed to. As soon as I got the van by the house a police officer drove by using his PA system to let us know that we were in an immediate threat evacuation area. We hastily loaded a bunch of things in to the van and car and made arrangements with friends on where to stay and headed out.
On the way out of town we had to stop and pick up a lady that my mom takes care of, we were in her apartment complex for about 45 minutes and then got back on the road. There are 5 roads that go down out of Paradise only 4 of which are really usable for evacuation purposes. Well, 3 of them had been closed due to the fire actually jumping across them, or burning right up to them. So all 9,500 people leaving town were headed to a 2 lane road with one being used to get out of town and the other being used to bring emergency personnel into town. My first stop was to help some friends load a moving truck as they are moving to Las Vegas. I was going to meet them at 5:30, and left home at 2:30. Their house is about 25 miles from mine using the road I had to, to get out of town, and I got to their house at 8:30. Taking into consideration that I stopped for about an hour total, once to help the lady my mom cares for, and the second time where we were supposed to meet her family to drop her off, that makes it an average of 5 miles an hour to get out of town. I actually got this picture of the traffic while at a particularly long stop.
Once down the hill, I went to where they were loading the truck, knowing that they would be done, but I wanted to call the people I was going to be staying with to let them know where I was and what was up. I then left their house and stopped and grabbed a quick bite to eat and headed off to the West's where I would spend the next 36 or so hours. I caught this video on the way to their house as I had to drive back along the other side of where the fire was burning to get there.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

My new bike (about 4 weeks later)

Ok, one last post on the new bike, at least for now. It has been 4 weeks now and here are the updates on my rides. I can now make it up to the bike path nonstop and can make it ultimately about 1.5 miles up the hill. To get me to that point were a few "interesting" rides.

The first being my decision to ride to the Boulant's flooring store. I was up to about 1 mile one way and decided it was time to push myself. The flooring store is about 1.5 miles away from the house, but the last .5 miles is not all up hill, it just finishes with a "huge," at least it was huge then, hill. I made the ride, after several rest stops and went in to talk to Mike. I was there for maybe an hour and had to head home to take care of a few things. I tried to stand up, and thanks to not stretching at all, immediately went face first to the floor, it probably looked like I fell really hard, but all I could do was laugh. The ride home wasn't to bad, most of it was down hill, but every single time I had to pedal, it killed my legs.

The second was a 5 mile ride in Chico. I went with Richard Jones, the "expert" I mentioned in the new bike post. He rode his road bike, as the planned ride was going to be almost completely paved. Well, as he so eloquently put it, the difference between a road bike and a mountain bike is the difference between a sports car and a 4x4 truck. He took off to make sure his bike was operating properly, and I did what I could to keep up failing miserably. he waited for me at the point we were entering the park, and from there we kept the speed up as high as I could go. We went to the first place we could cross the creek, and started back up the other side. We made it back to the bridge closest to his house and I decided it was a good place to cross and head back, keeping up the speed was beginning to take it's toll on me. I did make it the almost 5 miles, but was again hurting a lot the next day.

The last and most recent ride, actually happened yesterday which was after the ride to the bike path nonstop. I went to Anderson to go for a ride with my nephews. I wanted to ride trails , and they live out in the country, so i figured that wouldn't be a bad place to find some. We decided on where we were going to ride and set out from their house. We finally got to the trail, and we were 5 miles in to our ride already, however we didn't push the speed at all, and I had energy to go still. We rode the trail there and the trail goes down and up, the first drop was good and steep, however with disc brakes that wasn't a problem. The problem is as I mentioned before, what goes down must come up, and the other side was just as steep. None of us was able to ride it, and the new light bike I got gave me an advantage in walking up the hill, I just picked it up put it on my shoulder and walked up. It was so much easier than pushing it up the hill, and I wasn't as interested in a rest at the top as my nephews were. Luckily for them we had to stop and repair a tire there before continuing on. The next section of the trail did the same thing, down and up, but no where near as steep, or long as the first, so we all made that part. From there we had 2 choices to get back to the house, we could go down in to the canyon and back up the other side, or we could go around it. Of course the down and up was shorter and that was the option we took. The ride down was of course fast and easy, but the stop sign at the bottom of the hill meant there was no help in starting the hill. I made the hill after 4 rest stops, and once up the other side it was a nice semi-flat ride back to the house. The round trip came to almost 11 miles, much, much farther than anything I had done so far, but when we got back to the house there was no pain, and the only effects I have from it is that today it hurts a little to climb stairs.

All in all, I would say buying a new bike has been a very healthy choice, and has been very good for me.

The super mean death machine

A new bike, what a great reason to start riding again. I have always enjoyed riding bikes and that was also a good reason for my new purchase. My first ride was in Chico out in the orchard, a nice flat road, well let me tell you, just because you can ride a mile or so on the nice flat land in the Sacramento Valley, that doesn't not mean you can ride a bike. As you may or may not know, my house is on a hill, and taking in to consideration that what goes up must come down and vice-a-versa what goes down must come up when bike riding, I decided my rides were going to start out going up the hill. Well, at the top of the hill I wasn't doing to bad. Yeah, I had to catch my breath and rest for a minute or two, then I was off. Following the afore mentioned rule about the ups and downs I once again set out to ride up the hill known as Paradise. The next part of the ride wasn't to bad, then comes the "dip" in the road. It really isn't a dip as much as it is the drop from one hill to the creek at the bottom and then the climb up the other side, which is steeper and higher then the down hill side. Well about 1/4 of the way up (still less than half a mile in to the ride) I had to get off and walk up. At the top it levels out, it is still up hill, but very slightly up hill. I get to the "top" of the little hill and then drop down (about 2 feet) to the bike path. I start up the path and get about 1/10 of a mile up it and have to call it quits. All in all my first ride was a whopping .76 miles up the hill. The ride back is a piece of cake, all down hill except for the "dip." The nice thing about the dip this way is that at the bottom I am going 30+ miles an hour and can coast almost all the way up the other side. As if the pain from climbing the hills and actually exercising for the first time in a long time isn't enough, my rear was then killing me from the bike saddle and the next day, I didn't want to move, at least my legs didn't.

Friday, June 6, 2008

My new bike

Ok, so a couple of months ago it started to get warm and while visiting the West's out at the farm house they are renting, I got the brilliant idea to go on a bike ride with their kids. I borrowed Valerie's bike and we went for a ride. We didn't go very far, and the land being flat the ride was fairly easy. I then decided to plan another ride with the kids and once again used Val's bike, after this second ride I decided that my old bike just wasn't going to cut it for me any more. I then made the decision that my economic stimulus check would go toward a new ride. Well 2 weeks before the check was to arrive (it was actually direct deposited in to my account) I started shopping. After several visits to the local bike dealers, including test riding several models, and talking to a friend who is, in my opinion, somewhat of an expert in cycling, my decision had come down to 3 brands. On May 10th, the day after my money arrived, I went and test rode the bikes in the price range I was looking at (by this time the amount I was looking to spend had gone up a couple of hundred dollars because of the difference in ride quality). After my visit to the 2nd dealer I had made up my mind to order a Gary Fisher because the dealer in town was out of the bike in my size and the ride of the Fisher bike was so nice. I went in to the last dealer with my mind made up, and just to ride a Trek in my price range. I started looking through their selection, and noticed that they had a bike from the next higher price range which was discounted right down to the price I was looking at (it was a brand new 2007 model, and the last one in his inventory). I talked to the shop owner and asked what the difference in the Trek 4 series and 6 series bikes was. His answer was, in one word, huge. He started explaining a little bit about what he meant, and was soon speaking a language that I wasn't completely familiar with, then he said something I did understand. He said that for the type of riding I had told him I was interested in doing, both models would be fine, but that the 6 series would be more durable, and to sweeten the deal offered to pay the sales tax saving me about $40.00. That pretty much made my decision for me, but I went for a test ride anyhow. To make a long story short, and yes I know it is too late, the test ride sealed the deal. I walked back in to his place and said sold, now I want I computer for it (I wanted to see how far each ride was and to see my speed while riding) he made his recommendation and showed me what was "most popular" meaning it was less expensive, I went with his recommendation (after all I was still below what I was thinking I was going to have to pay), then picked out a new lock and had them install the computer. They said ok, put the install in to the line up in their repair shop and said it would be about an hour. I said ok, left my cell phone number with them and left. About an hour later I got the call to pick it up and off I went.