Tuesday, June 20, 2006
The real world is different than the "road" world. In the "road" world, Extremely Trendy Southwest Tourist Town is 40 minutes away from here. We either drive out to the end of the rim, then plunge down Way Cool Creek Canyon for miles of twisty, turny switchbacks, then drive the bottom of the canyon to the town, or we take the highway, which goes a different direction, paralleling (parallelling? neither looks correct...) the aforementioned canyon, then slowly curve downwards off the rim, then take the state highway back west towards ETSTT. Both ways make it seem a long distance away. In reality, though, if one looks at topo maps, ETSTT is about 20 miles away. The fire that is burning in Way Cool Creek Canyon is 12 miles away. The next community down the highway from us is only six miles from the fire, and there are pictures that people have posted of the fire at night as viewed from their community which make its nearness frighteningly obvious. The fire is smaller than the first estimates; as always, when the mapping folks sit down with their digitizers and the perimeter marks on the fire, it ends up being fewer acres than originally estimated. So, Sunday night they downgraded it to 1,000 acres, and by this morning it was 1,500 acres. We'll see how big it is tomorrow... Now it's officially down in the canyon floor. Canyons are interesting things when it comes to fire--a big fire creates its own weather, its own winds, and a canyon acts like a chimney, channeling the wind--and the fire--upwards, up the canyon. Last year, when we had the enormous rains, the canyon acted as a funnel downwards, and we were graced with pictures of RVs floating in water, having been swept from their camping pads by the onrush of water that collected from miles around on top of the rim, then went spilling in a torrent downstream. Way Cool Creek Canyon is, as I call it, just way cool. It's lush with greenery. The water runs year-round, a rarity in these climes. There are campgrounds, and hiking trails, and a state park with natural water slides. OmegaDad goes fishing there for rainbow trout, and if he's lucky, he can try for a brown trout or two (the native fish). It's a mecca for recreation in these parts; people drive up from Big City every weekend, crowding the road with wall-to-wall vehicles. Surrounding the creek are forest lands. But the land right on the creek is ferociously guarded private property, except for certain areas. When people moved into the southwest, places with year-round water were coveted areas to homestead, and when these regions joined the United States, people who owned the land next to water insisted on having the rights deeded to them. In the years since, the national forests were created, with the borders coming right up to the private property. And since then, wilderness areas have been created out of those forest lands. What we have now are inholdings of private property--some tiny ancient vacation homes, some grand new abodes--in this lush, green canyon, surrounded by red rock of extreme beauty, and pinyon-juniper forest that eases into ponderosa pine forest at the proper elevation (which is different depending on which direction the slopes of the canyon face--southern faces get more sun, so the ponderosas start higher up on those slopes). And all of it is dry, dry, dry. OmegaDad got to hear his first real use of the Emergency Broadcasting System this afternoon, when the fire finally reached the canyon floor, and the firefighters finally called a mandatory evacuation and shut off the powerlines traversing the canyon. Hippy Dippy Enclave in the Woods has been mentioned more times on the news lately than it has in the past decade; we have an official Emergency Preparedness Advisory, due to the smoke. All of that aside, we here are protected by 12 miles of forest plus an interstate highway between us and the fire. But, still. Still, I called the Omega's insurance broker this afternoon. For years, I've been asking Mr. Oh-So-Nice, who owns the brokerage, whether our insurance was for replacement value. He kept waving his hands vaguely and reassuring me that it was. This time I spoke to someone else, and asked specifically, "Does our insurance coverage cover full CURRENT replacement value?" Well, no, it didn't. So, after she checked to be sure there wasn't a hold on upping coverage for homes in Hippy Dippy Enclave due to the fire, I increased it. A mere $50 per year increased our coverage 60%. I did a quick google on insurance coverage replacement value, and ran across a bunch of articles estimating that most people are under-insured by at least 22%. Doesn't sound like a lot, but think about having to replace your home. Much better to find out before the fact, than when you are dealing with trying to rebuild. Really, though, it's 12 miles away, the hummingbirds are humming, the neighbors are hammering away on new tiles on their roof, and all is well.