Vehicle Rescue Squad

Wednesday morning we woke to find a parking lot full of RVs like a group of random animals who all found shelter in a protected valley. As the morning went on, they started filtering out to find more permanent places to wait out the upcoming days or weeks waiting to return to their homes (if they were even still there). Late in the morning a Channel 7 camera crew arrived and started to interview the stragglers who hadn’t yet motivated themselves to move on.

They eventually got around to us, and we talked for a few minutes on-camera to share with the world the harrowing experience of sleeping in a K-Mart parking lot. Afterwards, I went over to the cameraman to see if he wanted my footage of the lot when it was full (he didn’t), but he suggested I give the reporter my name, address, and phone number. If they could get in to the burn area by our house, they would check it and let us know whether it was still standing.

Our neighbors Darryl and Jeannie had already planned a camping trip to Marina Dunes RV park in Marina, CA so, lacking any other plan, we thought we’d see if we could head down there also. As luck would have it they had a 30′ spot available, which my 24′ rig would fit perfectly, so we got packed up to caravan down to the park.

Meanwhile, Jen had to head off to Redwood city to meet with her mother’s doctor. She had made the appointment back in the “normal days” and if she didn’t keep it, it would be several weeks before they could reschedule.

As our little modern-day wagon train headed south on Hwy 1 I received a call from Fred. She was able to get back to her house and asked if I wanted to go back to rescue one of my cars. I sent Darryl a garbled message on our crappy two-way radios that I was going to rescue my cars, and pulled off the highway.

We were going to meet at the K-Mart parking lot, and it occurred to me that if I could find one more driver I could get both my remaining cars out. When we had left the night before I had piloted the RV while Jen drove her car out, that left my car and my Jeep behind. If I had the choose I would drive the Jeep out, but with one other person I could rescue them both.

As luck would have it, Robin, a friend from the Jeep club, had also evacuated and had parked next to Darryl in the K-Mart parking lot. Unfortunately, he was not able to help, but he had a neighbor who was on the other side of the parking lot that might. We went over and I met Wade, who agreed to drive the Jeep back. He wanted to stop at his house and grab some more stuff, so it was a win-win for both of us. I asked Robin is he wanted to get one of his cars. He said yes, so the three of us met Fred and headed back to Boulder Creek.

CZU AUGUST LIGHTNING COMPLEX Downtown Boulder Creek Monday August 24, 2020 (Shmuel Thaler – Santa Cruz Sentinel)

Heading towards home, the horizon featured a dark grey layer obscuring the sunlight, and as we arrived in Boulder Creek the haze had cut visibility to a minimum.

After dropping Robin off at his home, we pressed onward. At the intersection of 226 and Jamison Creek road we were stopped by a police cruiser blocking the road. As the office approached the car she saw Fred and said “Oh, it’s you”. Fred had come through earlier and always leaves an impression with people. She waved us through and we continued to our house, where I got the key to the Jeep and sent Wade on his way. It’s funny that an emergency would put you in the situation where you give a stranger the keys to your Jeep and watch him drive away.

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