Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Waldo Canyon Fire - More Miracles

As I drove into Colorado Springs, I saw the sign that says Colorado Springs and felt like I was home.  I had seen that sign on T.V. with flames behind it.  That day it was back to normal but there was still smoke.  I took my usual route and went down Woodman to Vindicator.  I went by Walgreen's and saw the hills that once were so beautiful now looking like they had been burnt to a crisp.  I stepped out of the car to get the dog.  It smelled like a big bon fire.  The family dog sitting for me was okay and happy to be home.  We went home and found everything in order.  I took the dog for a walk.  We could smell the smoke.  It was very strong but not in the house.  There was not any ash or smoke in the house at all.  There was a bit on the patio but was easily swept away.  As we walked, we looked over at Mountain Shadows.  It was sad.  Everything burnt.  Homes were all dark with no lights.  It looked eerily empty and very lonely.  The next day it rained.  After the rain, we went for a walk.  It was dusk.  We looked over at Mountain Shadows.  There were lights on in the homes that were still there.  Since it was dusk, we couldn't see any burn marks.  It smelled fresh and new after the rain storm.  I walked with a smile on my face enjoying the moment that everything seemed normal just like any other day in Mountain Shadows.

Miracles, Miracles, Miracles
I went to church.  We heard from a young adult girl that had lost her home.  She spoke on faith.  She referred to verse 5 of a church hymn called How Firm a Foundation.  It speaks of fire and refining.  They had sung it in church the week before.  She said that just a few weeks ago she had thought how lucky she was.  She had so many nice things and such a nice life.  Her home had now been taken away but she still had her family and had seen so much charity for those in the community.  She felt thankful that she had the opportunity to go through such a trial so that she could learn, grow, and be stronger from the experience.  I spoke to another lady that lost her home and everything in it.  She was happy and smiling.  No tears, just gratitude.  She had a new grand baby this week.  She has all of her family.  She spoke of some loss but was happy to be alive and have her family.  The father of the girl that spoke said that was certainly a great way to get rid of a lot of clutter.  I had spoken to him in the parking lot of Albertson's grocery store a few days ago.  He said that he had been packing up things since the Saturday before the fire.  They had taken a lot of memento's and precocious things.  On the day of the fire, he finished loading up and drove away from his home at 5:23 p.m.  A friend of theirs said they saw his home engulfed in flames at 5:30 p.m.  He was thankful for his safety.

I spoke to two other ladies.  One lives on Charing Court.  Hers is one of the only houses still standing.  They have smoke and ash but didn't lose anything.  They feel guilty that they kept everything but their close friends and neighbors lost everything.  The other lady's husband is in our Bishopric.  He is a Counselor to the Bishop.  He gave his wife the keys and told her to go to the Church that is on Centennial.  She watched the fire from the Church.  She watched if burn right down to across the street from the church and burn itself out.  There were no fire fighters there.  It just burned itself out across the street.  Her husband stayed at their home and was hosing down their house.  A policeman asked him to leave.  Later, another policeman asked him to leave.  Finally, a policeman said that he would follow him out of the neighborhood to ensure he left.  He met his wife at the church.  They listened to the radio until they turned off the power and evacuated Pinon Valley then they had to go.  Their home had some smoke and ash but all homes in their neighborhood were safe.  They didn't lose anything.  She said that a home on Manning which was east of Flying W Ranch Road was engulfed in flames.  The firemen put out that fire and took a stand there which saved 195 homes east of Flying W Ranch Road.  I went home after church and saw my neighbor one door north of me.  They had a house full of smoke and ash.  They were there today packing and cleaning.  A company will come and clean out their home of the smoke and ash.  They had left window's open on the West and were not able to come home to close them during the fire.  They haven't lived in their home all week and are staying somewhere else.  I now know just how lucky I was to come home and find my house just as I left it knowing that my neighbors just a few feet away were not so lucky.

Viewing the Destruction
My neighbor and I drove through Mountain Shadows.  It was totally amazing.  It was obvious how many homes were saved by the fire fighters.  A fence line was partially burnt and partially removed by the fire fighters.  The fire engulfed the fence but not the homes.  One home only had it's garage burnt down.  One home just had the roof burnt.  Other homes were burnt down to the ground with only a mound of ashes remaining.  One neighborhood had two homes burnt and the rest look just fine.  One home had one wall burnt.  My close friends live on Chuckwagon Road.  It goes to Flying W Ranch that burnt to the ground.  The flames were burning down Chuckwagon on the South.  They live on the north.  The fire stopped just before it reached there homes.  It was coming straight for their building.  She showed me pictures and the flames were right there.  They were able to clean the smoke and ash out themselves without hiring anyone to help.  I was three blocks from destruction.  There were some that were a house away from destruction or across the street from destruction.  One lady at church said that they found where the fire had burnt under their deck and then went out.  Some people had the flames knocking at their door.  For others, it was at their fences.  Unfortunately, some lost everything even their lives.  My neighbor works with a man that belongs to a hiking club and was friends with a fellow member.  His friend was 70 years old.  They figured that he had a hard time getting back into the neighborhood.  He got to his home as his neighbor was leaving.  His neighbor told him to get his wife and get out.  He went in to assist his crippled wife to evacuate.  However, they neither one made it out.  They found their remains later.  Our hearts go out to their families.  I told my friend about it in church today and she cried for their loss.  With destruction all around us, we feel a strong sense of community.  At church, we are going to have a "Shower" similar to a wedding shower for the ladies that lost their homes.  We will have it in August.  We are going to encourage gift cards for the gifts so these families can buy what they need when they are able to move back into their homes after they are rebuilt.  We feel closer as a church and as a community during this difficult time.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Colorado Springs Fires - Part 2

Three Blocks East of Destruction

My neighbor just walked into my house. We were 3 blocks from the flames. She evacuated under a cloud of thick black smoke that made our neighborhood appear like it was midnight in the afternoon. She could hardly see to drive. Four days later, she calls and tells me that I will find my home just as I left it. There is a very faint smell of smoke that can easily be aired out. My church just up the street had flames burning across the road but it is fine too. That is what you call a miracle. There is a world of destruction 3 blocks away from me. My other neighbor called and told me that she had never been so frightened in her life.  In fact, fleeing the neighborhood during the fire was more frightening to her then when her doctor told her she had cancer.  Both of my neighbors are sleeping in their homes tonight but are on a pre-evacuation notice in case the fire comes back. It is still burning.  My dogsitter will return home tomorrow.  She said that both of the dogs were so scared when they evacuated but did fine down near Trinidad where they stayed.  It will be a happy reunion when my dog and I go home together to our home and find it as we left it.  Today is my actual birthday.  Finding out about my home and my neighbors homes is the best birthday present that I could have ever hoped for.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Colorado Springs Fire

I was in Utah on vacation when I heard that my house might burn down.  I was at the mall with my best friend of 39 years.  We were celebrating our birthdays.  I was in the dressing room trying on some clothes when my dogsitter called.  She said, "Cari, I'm so glad I got a hold of you.  I can see the flames from my bedroom window.  I've got your dog all packed and ready to evacuate.  We are taking the kids and the dogs to my husband's parent's home three hours south of the Springs.  We will take good care of your dog.  He will be fine."  She sounded frantic.  As I was talking to her, her 16 year old son said, "Mom, I can hear the fire.  It is right here.  We have to go now."  We hung up and I was in shock.  She lives just up the street from me and the flames were right there near her home.  I told my friend what was going on and she was surprised.  I immediately called my neighbor but she didn't answer her phone.  I called my other neighbor.  She said, "Oh Cari, I grabbed my dogs and tried to leave the neighborhood as quick as I could.  There was so much black smoke that I could hardley see to drive.  They have turned all four lanes on Centennial to go South towards Garden of the Gods.  No one can drive North.  It took me 15 minutes to get onto Centennial.  It is just horrible.  I wanted to get into your house and get your important papers but I didn't have a key."  I had given the key to my other neighbor.  My co-worker called.  She lives right on Centennial.  She said that everyone was evacuating.  She rushed home from work but didn't even have 30 minutes to get her mail and her belonging to rush out.  I asked her where she was going to go.  She mentioned that two other co-workers had offered their home but she wanted to try to find a hotel.  She ended up down in Pueblo.  I called our Controller but he didn't answer.  My other neighbor called me back.  She said that she rushed home from work and was barely able to get into the neighborhood.  She had packed her things but had left them by her front door.  She went in the house and grabbed her things.  She threw them in the car and didn't even have time to shut the window.  I told her that I had left my window open too.  She said that she was so scared that her legs were shaking and she wasn't sure she was going to get out okay.  She was going to go and stay with her son down by fountain.  I decided to cancel my flight home the next morning and remain in Salt Lake for a few more days.  My Controller sent me an e-mail from his blackberry.  His house was right in the fire zone.  He was one of the last ones to leave his neighborhood.  He had to leave through a wall of fire and smoke and was sure that his house had burnt to the ground but could not confirm it.  Him and his family were staying at a hotel.  He said that it was the scariest thing he has ever seen.  I went to my home I have in Salt Lake and share with my parents.  I went on to see their live stream.  I turned on the weather channel and they were talking about the floods in Florida then started talking about Colorado.  I heard that Flying W Ranch had burnt to the ground.  I was absolutely horrified because it is only about 1 1/2 miles from my home.  My dogsitter called.  She wanted to tell me that they had made it to Circle Drive and were at McDonalds getting the kids some dinner.  I told her about Flying W Ranch and we both started crying.  She said that was her favorite place and she had all their CD's.  We were both just horrified at what was happening.  I felt so helpless being in Salt Lake and not even being able to get my pictures, passport, and important papers.  I only had what I had packed to go on vacation.  She said that her husband and kids had gone in to get food but she couldn't go in because she was crying and just a mess.  She gave me the phone number and address as to where they would be and reassured me that they would take really good care of my dog.  I appreciated so much that they were willing to evacuate him.  My General Manager called and told me to stay where I was.  I told him the next day that I would come back on Monday even if I couldn't get in my house.  If I had to, I would get a hotel in Denver and work out of our Denver Branch and drive back and forth as I had to.  I called my close friends from church that live on Chuckwagon and west of Centennial.  She was on a business trip to Los Angelas and was thinking of staying longer.  She works at the Airforce Academy as a civilian.  She was supposed to work on Saturday to work with the incoming cadet's.  She wasn't sure that she would have to work that day or not.  She said that her husband was hurrying to pack a few things.  He got them packed but before he could load it in the car, he realized their neighbor was not leaving like she was supposed to.  I knew their neighbor and had been worried about her.  He rushed to her house and she was just in shock.  He got her going and put her in her car and got her to drive away.  He didn't have time to get his suitcases and had to leave without them.  He is staying at his work.  He had to go to the store to buy some underwear and clothes since his were still in the suitcases at their house.  He illegally hiked up on a ridge later and saw that their house had not burned down and could see that the fire had not gone into my neighborhood.  We promised to keep in touch.  I am just heartbroken about the people at my church that lived up in the fire zone.  I just know that some of them have lost their homes.  I am also heartbroken about all the wild animals that lost their lives, are running for their lives, or now have to find a new home.  This picture from the Gazette touched me seeing this firefighter helping this poor exhausted deer.  I am now used to living by the Bears, Coyettes, Bobcats, Foxes, Deer, and Rabbits and am so saddened at their plight away from these wildfires.  I'm not too concerned for the rattlesnakes.  They still freak me out.  I am anxious to get back and start cleaning the smoke out of my house and helping my friends and neighbors.  I know that our church will pull together and people will get the help they need.  Our church will help members and non-members alike.  I feel so very fortunate that I was in Salt Lake and didn't have to go through the harrowing experience that my friends, neighbors, and co-workers had to go through.  I have been praying for them.  My assistant at work lives 8 miles east of the fire but has found 3 x 3 ash in her yard.  She is horrified and heartbroken.  It is difficult for her to go to work.  Our plant is just a couple of blocks outside the evacuation zone.  She told me that she keeps an eye out her window and if it gets too bad she is just going to leave work and go home without any heistation.  I told her to definately do that.  She is really worried and especially concerned for the co-workers and former employees that live in the fire zone.  Waldo Canyon and Blogget Peak Open Space are two of our favorite places to hike and they are both on fire.  I have previos posts of hikes we have done in those places.  It is just so sad.  So many lives have been dramatically changed.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Tribute to Ms. Vivian Olsen

I met Vivian three years ago when my work transferred me to Colorado Springs. I had never been here before then. One of my boys was living in Hawaii and the other one was in College, so I left my family and friends behind and moved out here alone. At church, the sweetest lady introduced herself to me. Her name was Vivian Olsen. She asked me to come and live with her for a few months while I looked for a house. I moved in and payed her rent. She introduced me to Colorado Springs, she showed me around this beautiful city, introduced me to many of her friends, and made me feel at home when I was in a new place all alone. Our journey's through life crossed and she has been a friend ever since that day we met at church. Today, she passed away. She was a vibrant, active, and independent 85 year old woman that mostly lived alone unless she was taking in strangers like me. Unfortunately, the last couple of months of her life were difficult and the last couple of weeks found her suffering. Fortunately, the last couple of days of her life were peaceful, spent with family and close friends. She loved being outdoors. They transferred her from Memorial to another hospital. Vivian's daughter asked the ambulance driver if he could let her see the sunshine before putting her in the ambulance. There wasn't much sunshine in the parking area of the hospital, so he drove out of the parking area and took her back out of the ambulance to let her enjoy the sunshine one last time. At the new hospital, there were picturesque windows in her room where she could look out and see Pikes Peak. She commented during her last day of life that she felt like she was in Hawaii with that beautiful view. What a sweet, sweet lady. I thought that it would be fitting to hike through Red Rocks Canyon as a tribute to Ms. Vivian where I could gaze upon Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods to relive fond memories of this beautiful, kind lady. I took some pictures of my hike and posted them on this blog. I was a stranger and she took me in. I was hungry and she fed me. I was alone and she loved me, and she made me feel welcome. Vivian, may you rest in peace. We love you. We will never forget you or the legacy you left behind.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Waldo Canyon

The dog and I went on this hike on April 1. The earlier in the morning you go the better. It is cooler and less crowded. It is just under 7 miles. When we got to the loop, we went to the right which was the best choice because the dog could drink out of some running water at the end of the loop. This was just what he needed after a long hike. It is not a hard hike. 7 miles is perfect for us. We don't like to go much farther then that.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Day in the Life

Friday was a pretty sad day for me so I decided to drown my sorrows in a good hike on Saturday. Saturday I woke up early like usual. I started the day off by watching a Western called Lone Rider with Lou Diamond Phillips while eating a bowl of plain cheerios with fresh blueberries and strawberries. I then did an hour workout called Zumba Cardio Party. My neighbor and I went to brunch at a fairly new restaurant named Diane's. I came home and got the dog. We decided that we had better take our annual hike through Ute Valley Park before the rattle snakes come out of hibernation. We weren't sure if the grizzly bears were out of hibernation yet or not because it is starting to get warm. We went up trails and down trails, back and forth through ravine's, and climbed up and down rocks. Almost two hours later we took the above picture looking from Ute Valley Park towards Pikes Peak. By the time we walked out of Ute Valley I was absolutely exhausted so we decided to top our hike off with another 3/4 mile around Pinon Valley Park. We finally called it a solid three hour workout including Zumba and went home. That is certainly a good way to drown out any sorrows. I'm trying to prepare to do a 14er (hike up to 14,000 feet high). I'm going to start with an easy one this summer. We will see how it goes. The dog is now 13 years old but thinks he is a young pup when we go hiking. I think that I will end the day by watching Comanche Moon.