Log Book

Transcendence- Death Valley 2017

Location: The Now- Santa Rosa, CA

The Past- Death Valley

The Future- Endless Roads

In spite of the recent wildfires that have taken away so much in my area I have spent the past few weeks looking over my scribbles from my journey to Death Valley. I am overwhelmed by the memories and the sensations that filled me a little over seven months ago when I felt the desert landscape. During these trying times it’s those memories that can give you the absolute strength you need. Those memories when you felt the strength and peace flow within you as you rise from the ashes. Although I did not lose anything I have felt the loss of many. Strangers and friends. And this memory. This moment gives me hope to continue on with them as we will all help rebuild.

I remember entering the valley at 4:50pm on the 22nd of April. The temperature was already resting comfortably at 91 degrees. The showers from winter’s breath brought a great renewal to Death Valley. The super bloom took over the month before as the temperature began to rise. There were still flowers on my arrival. At the Father Crowley Vista Point the cliffs before me possesed a splash of green hues amongst the brown and red rocks. The pyroclastic rock exposed and a variety of other material aid in the reds, grays and pinks. To be honest, if I had not come to know through the arrid view I may have thought I was staring at the cliffs and landscapes on the Isle of Wight.

The panoramic view captured me displaying the wild and desolate landscapes that etched over the Panamint Mountains striding down into Rainbow Canyon and up towards Zabriskie Point which could not be seen with the naked eye. Some of the green grasses remained and the rocky structures were no less than a natural splendor. When the weather was right for it, the green would explode into a whole new reality for the area. Flowers of purples and blues still remained in view as I looked onward towards the white salt flats deeper into Death Valley. This was a sense of renewal. Even the driest moments would not allow for life to stop here. Once a fresh rain came, no matter how long it had been life would erupt once more. Hope still exists here.

There was a monument to one Fr. John J. Crowley, the desert padre for whom this vista point is named. He was a key figure in Owens Valley and a local hero. He was the first priest to celebrate mass on top of Mt. Whitney with his own portable altar standing outside a hut. This was in September of 1934. He was a beacon of hope to the locals in a time when conservation efforts proved futile. This particular vista point displays that sense of renewal. This was not the final stop. But merely a beginning for my adventures on this trip and many more to come.

Father Crowley Overlook April 2017

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Sunsets While on Duty: Off Road Retales of a Park Aide (extra help)

Location: Spring Lake Region

I had been volunteering here since March. A man made lake in the Sonoma County area this place has become a second home to me. I spend most of my days at a discovery center where I educate the young, feed our resident animals and dwell in the passionate naturalist I have become to be.

During the public hours where our center is open for the general public to come and explore I encounter those who are suprised to find such a building in what appears to be in the middle of a forest. Let alone an actual human being with a park shirt ready to answer questions on the local flora, animals, and of course the recent damage caused by wildfires.

On days when I am alone I can view some of the greatest distances around me, igniting that passion I have come to sieze within myself. No mater what walks of life I see people come from when they reach the windy trails and are encompassed by some of the mountainous forests that erupt around them they are left in awe.

Off Road Retales: Shelter from the Storm

Location: Santa Rosa, CA

I have been working for the past three days in retail. The bookstore has been operating on modified hours in cooperation with the local curfew and for us workers to get home safely. That is if we have homes to get to. The fires are still raging but the battle is starting to be won.

At the bookstore I am hearing stories from those who have lost everything. Some still in shock are unsure how to carry on. Others are maxing out their credit cards to replace what they lost and continue to smile. It is most difficult for them though when they realise they have lost valued family items such as photographs or heirlooms from their great grandparent.

One woman realised this as she entered our doors to buy a new e-reader for her husband. Attempting not to break down she smiled softly as I set her up with a new device. Once she saw her library she was overjoyed for her husband and herself. But attempted to hide the tears from me of “the old editions passed down from her grandmother” that were lost to the inferno.

The unbelievable destruction of the wildfires continued to spread for the past eight days. The entire city of Calistoga has been under mandatory evacuation. “You are not wanted.” Said the mayor, “This is for your own safety.”

In Santa Rosa entire neighborhoods have been turned to ash. “Part of my life is gone. That is what hurts the worst.” One person told me as she recounted escaping the flames that greeted her in the early hours of Monday morning last week. No time, she quickly was able to flee her house with her family and only the clothes on their backs.

The enduring winds continued to spread the flames a few days ago. The smoke and ash moving across the North Bay area and into the surrounding bay areas. Due to the air quality it makes it difficult to fight the fires. Thousands of Californians have fled the apocalypse, filming the walls of flames in their wake. There was a light dusting of ash outside the bookstore today. And it was difficult to imagine. This was from the fires being put out in all directions, carried on the light breeze that came through.

On this blistered Earth are so many stories of unimaginable loss. I overheard a phone call from one man, “I am figuring out where I am and what I am.”

Another spoke, “I didn’t know what gone meant until I saw it.” This was a fire responder when he saw that he had lost his own home to the devastation.

It is the embers that are the most concerning caught on the Diablo winds. As of this morning thirty five deaths have been confirmed, over 190,000 acres of land burned, over 900 firefighters are on the scene and over five thousand homes and businesses have been turned to ash. This has taken many lives and some are starting to suffer from the aftereffects due to the air quality.

When you go out into the thick air it is advised you wear an N-95 face mask to allow yourself to breath. If you do not have such, then a damp scarf will do. You can hear the coughing sounds of people that pass by attempting to have some sort of normalcy after this damage.

The world continues to turn and grow. In time this community will heal. It will be a long and difficult road, however there is light there and we all will continue to stand strong.

On the Road Again: North Bay Wildfire Updates

Location: Oakland, CA

Hello followers and fellow viewers. The fires continue to rage and the battle is not yet won. I have been told that my neighborhood is clear to return to, so I am returning today to assist in the recovery of the Sonoma and surrounding areas. Many people have been fighting hard and so many have lost their homes. Many people are still missing and several are dead. I know that is such a harsh statement in our society but this is fact. This inferno has been described as the worst since 1933 and in some parts it continues to grow.

There has been such an amazing out pour of support world wide. Thank you so much for the positive vibes and just being there. In any disaster it is sometimes the smallest thought or kindness that helps. And this is what we need right now.

I have heard rumours of price gouging from hotels and business owners. Looters breaking into the homes of those who have evacuated. Obviously this negative shit is not condusive to healing and rebuilding. Remember to keep those around you in mind. I am not sure when I will be back online but for now just thank you and keep on trucking.

Evacuated. Wild Fire Sonoma County.

Location: Oakland, CA

My housemates and I were called to evacuate yesterday. One of the wildfires near Anandel Heights and Oakmont had crested the ridges of the mountains that lined the skyline. Without much thought we threw our bags and quadrapeds in the back of our Prius C and set forth. The world was on fire. The sun fought hard to erect itself on the horizon, only to be covered by smoke. Light ash sprinkled down as I observed some folks with masks waiting by the busstop, suitcases and backpacks in hand. Cars were rolling through working stoplights, panic ensuing. The only desire to survive. As we turned left, passing by the Safeway, the parking lot was still full. People rolling out grochery carts of beer and water. The main necessities of life I guess. For them anyways. Stay hydrated as your whole life burns.

Cars lined up at the entrance to get on 101. North or South, in any direction but here. Blaring their horns to get the whole herd of metalic cattle to move over. Their minds elsewhere on the infinite possibilites. Mainly, “Will I have a home to come back to?”

Those who have already lost so much are struggling to find a path that will be paved for them. Many people are still unaccounted for, having disappeared in the desperate attempt to flee for their lives. Some lost their lives as they had no capacity to evacuate. It is a devastating effect. The fire has turned into an all out war zone. In the Sears Point Area near Highway 37 there is about 65%, the Nuns fire is streaming still. Thousands are homeless and in an area that was already battling with high rent rate this is truly a wake up call.

Most of the evacuations centers are at full capacity, however there are a lot of kind hearted people who are opening there homes, including AirBNB’s who are accepting free evacuees. The smoke continues riddle the skies, blackening the skies. Winds are scheduled to blow in from the northeast. Today of all days this is hell. The embers are raining don and in light of this we need to remember we are together in this. We need to unite as one and comfort those who have lost everything. There is hope beyond this. And we will unite together as one. Take care. Stay safe.

UPDATE! Sonoma County Wildfire

Location: Santa Rosa, CA

My connecction is spotty at best. It is difficult for me to make updates and posts. I am currently safe in my neighborhood, but I know many who have lost their homes due to the turbulent winds that rocked from the ocean’s waves. Due to the high wind gusts power lines got knocked down, igniting various places around te county. We are not the only county to be affected but Calistoga, Marin, Napa included. Thousands have lost their homes and become displaced. Evacuations still ensue as people try to figure out where to go.

From my house over the Annandel ridges I finally saw a break in the smoke, the stars began to shine, however there was still a red glow lingering over the peaks. Reminding me of a Death Valley sunset, I could only stand and watch, then remember. During the day the air quality has been low, masks and scarves don every face who attempt to manage the outside. Most bussinesses are still closed, unsure if they are to open for the public or offer sanctuary.

This is a turning moment where I do not have to post photos for you lot to imagine what this could be like. Some of you may have already seen it on the news and social media. The main point is we all need to band together during this time. Like every single other disaster that has been igniting our planet we need to be strong. Anything can happen at any moment and we need to stay strong. I believe in each of you regardless if you are in this area or not. We can do this for the betterment of our world.

Off Road Retales: Golden Moments and Jots.

Location: Santa Rosa, CA

Here’s doe with a few rays of golden sun I encountered after park work this past week. Working on the continuation of the four corners journey. Coming to you live Wensday! For now I have been enjoying my new job as a park aide and guiding budding young naturalist on their journey as I continue on my own. Have a glorious day and remember you are beautiful. Xoxox Cherry