Colorado, California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Wyoming are all experiencing wildfires. Actually, those are not the only states, but some with the worst problem right now. Let me tell you, living on the bubble of imminent evacuation is super stressful.
I have preempted several previously scheduled blogs these past few weeks to describe what is going on around me, both locally and nationally. Our original plan was to leave September 14th for the beginning of our equitrekking journey. However, last weekend the Cameron Peak Fire blew up and covered over 10 miles in 24 hours. It now encompasses more than 100,000 acres and is the 4th largest wildfire in Colorado history. It is the largest fire my county has ever experienced.
Our own personal experience
I am writing this on September 8th. Last night, 2 sheriffs showed up on our doorstep at 9:20 PM. About 6 hours prior to that, officials had issued a voluntary evacuation order for our community. (The star marks our home.) The sheriffs were wanting to be sure we had received the notice. Additionally, they were interested in discerning if we had an evacuation plan. They were happy to see the hooked up horse trailer!
We can readily throw 4 dogs in the car and head down the mountain. Having horses does complicate things. To add insult to injury, we are now experiencing snow. This is partially a good thing as the precipitation is slowing the fire. But heading down a mountain with a horse trailer in the snow adds even more fun to our current situation.
Do we leave under the voluntary evacuation order and beat the rush? Even though we’re not quite ready to go? We are leaving for the winter, not just a few days. If we leave, and it blows up even more, we can’t return. Do we wait and finish our escalated preparations, and risk traffic jams and snowy roads? The neighbors we consulted are staying for now.
Right before the sheriff’s arrival, we heard a stock trailer rumble up the mountain to our neighbor’s home. They evacuated their donkeys last night. We don’t really have a great place to deposit our horses. We’re going to stick together. We thought about heading to a friend’s house 3 hours south of us. However, she doesn’t have stall accommodations for our two horses and the temperature has dropped sixty degrees in the last 24 hours! My rarely-blanketed horses are blanketed. They need to be where they can get out of the snow and wind.
The current plan
As it stands now, we are staying on the mountain another night. Several evacuation orders for surrounding areas have been either lifted or downgraded. The snow has slowed the fire’s progress. We are closer to being packed and ready to vacate for the winter.
My husband Alan had to go into town today to complete some errands that really needed to be done before we left. I was too nervous to leave the animals here unattended. (See the story about my neighbors and their Keeshonds!) Alan had to take the truck to town, but before he left he hooked our 4Runner to the horse trailer. Not an ideal tow vehicle, but it would get us all off the mountain! If the situation changed abruptly, I would at least have some options.
Alan and I are both edgy. This has been an entirely new experience for us. Frankly, I wouldn’t recommend it. The dogs haven’t been walked for days. The air quality for miles around us has been extremely bad. It feels as if we are in a Sci-Fi movie.
Believe it or not, we still need to vote! Colorado isn’t making that easy. They are not printing ballots until 3 weeks before the election! We’ll be on the road by then. So either we have a neighbor forward our ballots and count on the USPS to get them delivered and returned in a timely fashion, or we go to the voting office this week. We are given a blank piece of paper and must write in our candidates! Crazy!
National news… not just us!
It is human nature to better relate to stories that resonate with your own personal experience. When our local news comes on, it is a toss-up if they will start talking about the horrendous fires in California, or the ones in our own backyard? Certainly, when the story broke about 200 campers trapped in California, we understood the fear and urgency. When the entire outdoors smells of smoke, when ash falls on your deck and vehicles, and when the sky is yellow…it is real!
Update on last week’s blog
Last week, I wrote about Marissa and her badly burned mare, Ava. I am incredibly sad to report that Ava suffered complications and had to be euthanized. A few concerned and very conscientious readers struggled with the concept of even trying to save the mare. I get that… but I totally understand the need to try treatment. Ava was receiving appropriate pain medication. She was eating. She had a will to live. Sadly, laminitis is quite often the aftershock of severe metabolic stress. Ava’s feet were rotating, and there was no recovering from that. My heart completely goes out to Marissa. I simply can’t fathom losing my entire herd of six horses in a fire.
Do you have your ducks in a row?
Are you ready for a natural disaster? Do you have a plan? I have certainly appreciated the comments from readers who have described their evacuation plans. Don’t wait until you are up against it as we are to get your ducks in a row! Last week’s blog makes some recommendations if you need to turn your horses loose in the face of advancing fire. Don’t rely on microchips alone to ensure that your horses are properly identified. Be proactive!!