Monday, August 17th was like any other unusually hot, 95 degree day in San Lorenzo Valley. At around 2am we woke to the sound of thunder and the flash of lightning – even more unusual for this area. In addition, there was sporadic rainfall in huge drops that evaporated almost as soon as it hit the ground. Little did we know that the lightning was going to touch off the largest forest fire in recorded California history.
By Tuesday, the smoke from nearby fires was so bad that we could no longer see the mountains is the distance. It was difficult to breath outside so we decided to take the dog to Vasona Lake County Park in south San Jose for a pleasant walk in clean air. We had a nice afternoon walking around the lake and finally figured we should go home and start dinner. As we got closer to home, the smoke got thicker and thicker making us glad we went to the park.
When we got home our friend Winifred (Fred) called and said she had heard there was an evacuation order and asked us to check the neighborhood online chat to see if we could verify it. Within about 30 minutes Jen and I both received emergency text messages on our phones that the Boulder Creek Country Club (were we live) was under an immediate evacuation order. Time to go!
Luckily, we had brainstormed earlier that day what we would bring if we had to evacuate, so we already had an idea of what to grab. We packed up our RV with “survival gear”, important papers and personal belongings. We loaded the dog and I hit the road in the RV around 10pm with Jen following behind in her Volt. Darryl and Jeannie, our neighbors across the street, are big campers and had their trailer ready for an upcoming trip, so they added some personal stuff and extra clothes and had taken off a few minutes before we did.
While on the road, I got a call from Darryl and he said they had stopped in the K-Mart parking lot in Scotts Valley. There was plenty of room (the K-Mart had closed months ago), so I decided to head there for the night also. As the night went on, more and more ‘refugees’ came into the parking lot and by morning it was completely full.