Sunday, October 28, 2007
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
No real post today. Finally the fires nearest San Diego are subsiding somewhat -- but there is still plenty of smoke, soot and ash in the air. The Harris Fire to the south is now threatening areas east of Rancho San Diego near Jamul and points east. Parts of Camp Pendleton and areas of the Rice Canyon and Witch Valley Fires continue to burn....
Downtown, the wrath of the fires makes itself known through spectacular sunsets.
Some early estimates of the cost of the fire damage are above the $1 billion mark.
Huge areas of the county have been affected. If you click on the picture to the left, you'll see the fires in Southern California and the smoke plumes blowing off the coast and out across the Pacific Ocean. The two large fires and the one smaller fire closest to the California/Baja California border are all in San Diego County.
For those of you who know the San Diego area, rest assured that the downtown area, the zoo, Coronado, La Jolla, Mission Bay, the beaches, Balboa Park, Point Loma, Old Town, etc are just fine! We have had no damage in any of these areas, besides some falling ash and hazy, smoky conditions.
In the north, the Rice Canyon and Witch Creek fires moved in from the back country into some areas of northern and central San Diego County: Camp Pendleton, Fallbrook, Escondido, San Marcos, Palomar Mountain, Rincon and La Jolla Indian Reservations, Lake Hodges, Rancho Santa Fe, Ramona, Poway, Rancho Bernardo, San Pasqual, Barona, and the El Capitan Reservoir.
In the south towards the Mexican border, the Harris Fire affected parts of Potrero, Tecate, Barrett Junction, Dulzura, all along Highway 94 and Otay Lakes Rd, Engineer Springs, Jamul, Otay Mountain, Lyons Valley and into the very eastern edges of Eastlake. The fire worked its way up Mt. San Miguel, taking out the KPBS transmission tower.
Many other areas that seemed to be threatened were evacuated but were not reached by the fires. These areas include Solana Beach, Del Mar and Chula Vista.
The San Diego Fires continue, but seem to finally be waning a bit thanks to the huge efforts of the firefighters and the weakening of the Santa Ana winds. Today seems to be the turning point for the fires -- they aren't advancing to the west as they have been for the past 3 days, which means they may turn back on themselves and burn out.
Also, we're seeing many areas which are no longer under immediate threat being reopened and residents are being allowed back to their homes.
There are, unfortunately, many areas in the back country that are now threatened as the winds shift, including the historic town of Julian. I was there a few weeks ago and will try to post my pictures of the town later today to my Picasa site.
Here's a portion of a letter I sent around to friends yesterday. I've added a few links to the text:
I'm sending a quick e-mail with some information about the fires here in San Diego. First, thank you for the kind thoughts and messages. Maik and Andy: I just read your e-mail and it was nice to hear from you two -- and know that you're thinking of us. Michael: I was in a meeting here at work when you called and left your voicemail. We were discussing impact on the store here, whether we should remain open for the day, etc. Thanks so much for your call -- it was great to hear your voice when I finally got to hear the message!
For those of you who know me well, you know I'm a map geek. Here's a Google Map link provided by KPBS, our local public radio station. They are updating it hourly and there's LOTS of information available about different areas, evacuation sites, temporary animal shelter sites, etc. Also, I found a Flickr photo pool of fire photos. Other local news sites covering the fires are: Union-Tribune, KNSD, KFMB, KGTV.
I'll post again in a few days once the fires are fully under control. It looks like the worst is definitely behind us.
Monday, October 08, 2007
My trek out to the desert started with an early drive out the 8 Freeway and then north past Cuyamaca and up into Julian. I made a quick stop in Julian to tank up -- and ended up taking a few pictures, too. (Pictures of the trip can be found through the Picasa link.)
From Julian, I headed up the Banner Highway and then south into Anza-Borrego Park.
I drove into Blair Valley where the real fun began. Here I took my Element about 5 miles through the desert sands to the Pictograph Trail trailhead.
This trail is right next to the Mortero Trail. Morteros are depressions made by Native Americans into the boulders and rocks -- using a pestle, they would grind various grains into flour. These morteros are in many of the larger boulders in the area -- I must have seen 15 to 20 of them, and I wasn't doing a very thorough search. I was REALLY here for the Pictographs.
Apparently, somewhere along the Pictograph Trail, Native Americans had left various symbols and drawings painted on the some of the large boulders here. I had read about them online and in a desert guide book -- and I wanted to see them myself.
I connected back to the Pictograph Trail after seeing the morteros -- my first mistake. I then began to hike deeper and deeper into Smugglers Canyon. This was great -- extremely quiet, very peaceful. It is strange, though, how it takes a bit of time to get used to the silence. At first it is almost uncomfortable and makes me a bit ill-at-ease. But, after some time, the quiet is really relaxing. (I wonder if this is what being in a sensory deprivation tank feels like.) Every once in a while, a bird would fly overhead and you'd hear the wings flap from hundreds of feet away. Or a small rock would roll down the canyon face and make a disturbance. But mostly there was just silence.
I went as far as I could into the canyon without really making a 2-hour hike into a longer daytrip. Still, no pictographs.
I doubled back and found the way uphill, out of the canyon, a lot easier to hike. I certainly didn't follow the exact same 'path' (there was no real path to follow in most places). But I guess I could see a bit further ahead and could make better choices.
Still, though, I was disappointed that I hadn't seen the pictographs. Hey, that's why I'd gone all that way to begin with. I kept a watching for any sign of faded drawings on the boulders, even turning around every few yards to see what I was passing. Nothing.
Toward the mouth of the canyon, almost where the valley started to flatten out into the desert again, I turned around after going forward a few minutes. Sure enough, there on a huge boulder behind me, was a set of crisp, clear, black drawings. I walked back to where there were -- you can see the pictures of them on the Picasa site.
They were pretty impressive -- not too sure what they might represent, but I did read that most of the drawings found in that area were fertility-related.
Then, I finished working my way up the valley and back to the truck before the long drive home.
I got home, excited but a bit skeptical about the pictographs. Could they be authentic if they looked so clear and dark? I did a bit more searching and found that the pictographs mentioned on the web were made with red and yellow pigments -- and much less clear. I'm guessing the markings I found were done recently by someone imitating older drawings....Still, it was a great hike!