If you’ve been wondering what happened to my daily postings, here’s an explanation.
June 1st began with my dad having surgery on a carotid artery that was 90% blocked. He went to the doctor’s May 31st for tests and they put him right into the hospital. He had already had at least two TIAs (small strokes) that he had told us about, so not having surgery was not an option. The surgery was successful and all seemed to be going well, but he suffered a major stroke that night and passed away the next evening, June 2nd. That day, June 2nd, was a roller coaster of emotion as we heard bad news, then good news, then progressively worse news, then the end. It all happened so quickly, we barely had time to register one piece of news before the next hit. Shock does not even cover what we all felt. I’m still in disbelief. Somehow I truly thought he would beat the odds and live forever.
Bill and David and I loaded in the car Friday morning and headed across country, arriving in north Alabama just four hours before the start of calling hours Sunday evening. It’s a long, long trip from Sierra Vista to north Alabama and made even longer by packing three people into a Neon that is built for commuting, not long distance travel. Sunday was calling hours and Monday the funeral, all of which were a blurred madness of activity and talking with people and pure emotional numbness. Tuesday we had to make new arrangements for the handling of our property in Alabama and then we spent the evening with our kids and granddaughter. On Wednesday we headed for Nashville for a job interview scheduled for Thursday morning. By Thursday noon we were heading back home. Have I ever mentioned before how very huge Texas is and how long it takes to drive across it???
We arrived home the night of June 11th and on the 12th the Monument Wildfire started. I saw the first smoke as I was going to the grocery store to restock the fridge after our trip. Day by day we watched the fire progress northward from one canyon to the next in the Huachuca Mountains. By Wednesday I was making a list of the important things that had to go with us in the event of evacuation, keeping in mind it had to fit into the Neon with 3 people and 1 cat in a pet carrier. Thursday afternoon I began going through picture albums and picture frames, frantically pulling pics that I wanted to save. I managed to get all into one good-sized plastic tote. Bill came home that afternoon and sort of laughed at my lists and my picture pulling, which took me several hours, finally finished the last album around 10 that night. But I slept better knowing that I had a plan of action and was ready!
Friday showed just how prudent I had been. While the main Monument fire was still at least five miles away, the evacuation zones were moving closer, and the pre-evacuation zones moved to within two miles of us by Friday noon. Then Friday afternoon (the 17th) crews were trying to create a fire break on the Army base behind our house and a road grader blade threw a spark off of a stone and instantly there was a new fire (which burnt over 3000 acres in a little under 3 hours). 2100 houses were evacuated and we were one of them.
I called Bill at work and told him to get him, now! Normally he makes the drive from the base to home in about 10 minutes; Friday afternoon it was almost 50 minutes, the traffic was so bad. David and I had everything piled by the garage door and within 20 minutes after Bill arrived home, we were heading out the drive. It took us almost another hour to get out of town. We headed to my cousin’s in Phoenix and stayed until Monday night. Our particular evacuation order was lifted that Friday evening, but the main Monument fire itself was burning out of control all weekend and we deemed it safer to just stay away.
We returned home last night (the 20th) to a very smoky house. And just as we were getting things aired out, they set a back fire from where the Antelope fire had burned south towards Ramsey Canyon where some has burned. They are hoping to create a big enough fire break so that even if the wildfire continues its northward march through the Huachuca Mountains, it won’t threaten the town population again.
The winds are quiet today, which is wonderful. Reports are that the fire is over 40% contained, which is a huge improvement over the terror it wreaked this past weekend when winds were 60 mph through the canyons, blasting the fire out into the plains and the populated areas.
And now I am waiting to see what June will throw our way for the remaining 9 days….