Vacation: The start of day one - The Whale

Vacation: The start of day one - The Whale

The first leg of our vacation calls for a one way rental car from home to Redding, where we will pick up the Amtrak train. I called the car rental place the afternoon before I was supposed to pick up the car, and was informed that they

...did not have my car, or for that matter any rentals cars at all on the lot. They were waiting for a half dozen to be returned. I was not sure to get the type car I ordered, but they would find me something...

Deep breath. Ok. Please don't let it be a SUV that sucks gas like a, well, nevermind, just not a SUV, ok?


I called again the next morning, and guess what they had for me, that's right, you guessed it, a SUV. A monster SUV. Specifically, a Lincoln Navigator. Super luxury to be sure, but... I started to make unhappy sounds and the very nice woman (Jessica I think) at the Eureka Hertz location offered to knock $50 off the already AAA discounted rate for my original car choice. So I ended up with a deluxe SUV at intermediate prices, and they paid for all the gas (I ended up using $48 worth of gas from start to end). I have dubbed the car, "The Whale." It was actually quite a nice car, GPS, Sirus, Bluetooth, electric everything, rear camera, I kept finding new things every time I would flip a switch or open a panel.

Here is a pic of the whale:

(formatting edited 6/6/10)

A public thank you to the LA Department of Public Works

ED. Another post from my Father.

12/14/09

TO:                CHRISTOPHER STONE, LAPWD

FROM:           BILL GEHR

SUBJ:            OUTSTANDING TOP TO BOTTOM FLOOD CONTROL WORK DURING EMERGENCIES

Chris:  You may remember that I have, in the past, sometimes been critical of the Department of Public Works.  Not this time!

I want to commend the administration for the attention they have given to this at risk area.  I know that there are other ares of the County that are as devastated as is La Canada, and I find it remarkable that your department has been able to protect all of them from the recent three-day storm as well as you have. 

As much as we are grateful to the administration, we are equally indebted to the dedicated workers who risked their lives to alleviate the flood danger.  They labored mightily to unplug the drain from the unexpected, intense November rain storm, and they were there in the latest freezing cold and pouring down rain, checking our Catch Basin and drain almost every one-half hour.  I am certain that our home was spared primarily because of their valiant efforts.

Thank you, and thanks to them.  We are eternally grateful.

Bill and Robin Gehr

Playing mud roulette in La Canada

ED. The following post is an e-mail from my father:

Well, the sheriff came around last night about 6:00 PM, and told us to
evacuate,  They said we didn't have to if we didn't want to, but if we
were going to stay, they wanted to know it so they could identify the
bodies the next day.  

Needless to say, we made like hockey players, and "got the puck out of
there."

Stuck the dogs in a kennel, and checked into the Best Western Eagle Rock
Inn.  Woke up this morning to a bright sunshiny morning; packed up and
went home, where everything was just fine.  I have now taken the plywood
from in front of the sliding glass doors, unplugged the pool overflow
pump, and we are enjoying the sunshine. 

A couple of neighbors down the street were not so fortunate--mud in their
yard, but thank goodness, no mud in their house.  One of our other
neighbors on Wednesday had had a complicated hernia operation, oops, I
mean a "surgical procedure;" complicated because the hernia had wrapped
itself around the intestine.  They had to evacuate, and he was having
difficulty even walking.  They are elderly.  His wife called a limo
service, and told them that whoever they sent had to be able to handle
the luggage, and to assist a 180 lb man into the car and out of the car
at the hotel.  The limo service said not to worry, and sent a huge
weight-lifter guy who literally picked the man up and carried him into
the limo. 

I hope it gets a chance to completely dry out before we get the next
rain. 

Bill & Robin

The geekiest birthday party EVAR!

What a fantastic birthday dinner and party!  Lauria cooked three different kinds of quiche for my birthday, from full-fat traditional quiche to a crustless non-fat healthy version, with a low-fat alternative quiche in the middle.  Unfortunately, I did not get pictures before we consumed them!  I tried each one, and they were all great.  We did kick around the idea of chopped jalapeños in the non-fat version next time.

The cake was great, a chocolate Ramone's Vellutini overdose.  It was so perfect to just use my @GregGehr on the cake too!  (1st and 2nd pic)

We were drinking a very pleasant California white wine, out of @Lauria's  new pre-chilled Fire and Light wine goblets, very nice (third pic).  

My presents were like mana from geek heaven.  I got the first two seasons of The Big Bang Theory, a bottle of some of the finest Nagori Sake, a R Crumb Blues calendar, tickets for an evening of Zappa plays Zappa with my daughter, and a coupon for an evening of babysitting that is worth it's weight in gold several times over. (4th pic)

We realized that every person at the party had an active twitter account.  However, we had no time to actually tweet during the party, we were too busy with Mario Kart and Katamari Forever on the big screen.  Still, I liked Joe's t-shirt, it was so appropriate (5th pic).

Thanks to @Lauria and @JoeEphemeral for the wonderful evening, and to @vurayav and @ifipaan for helping me have a great birthday!

Logan's Halloween

Here are a few shots from Logan's Halloween adventures.  Logan and I dropped Mom off at the HSU library to study, and then went to Arcata, and "trick or treated" the plaza merchants.  We had a very nice time.  It rained the hour before we went, and the hour after we left, but no rain the entire time we walked around!  After an hour or so of extorting candy under the threat of "tricks" from local businesses, we stopped at Mazzottis and each had a frosty beverage.  Logan had milk, I had Eye of the Hawk.  

In the first picture, below, you see my favorite Marxist dressed as a Marx brother (too too funny), holding Logan.  The second pic is Groucho's wife (in mask), with our friend Dot behind her.  The third and fourth pics are pretty self-explanatory, just us circling the Plaza looking for new businesses to extort.   Logan is stuffing his face with a Brio sugar cookie in the last pic.

Logan ended up with quite the Elmo bucket full of candy.  After well over a half dozen pieces of candy consumed, then birthday cake and cookies at my party later, Logan was on a sugar high the likes of which we had not seen in quite a while.  At one point, he repeated an old family joke, by looking at me and saying "Daddy, I'm vibrating" (and he was too!).

Yet another night out...

Susan and I went out for the second of our six Center Arts shows, that are our anniversary present to each other. This time we saw Chick Corea, Stanley Clark and Lenny White. Three progressive jazz greats, that I have loved since high school in the 70s.

We had dinner at Cafe Tomo's first.

After dinner we went to Arcata Scoop and got some ice cream. As I ate my fudge ripple, I watched as the owner made the Lime Sorbet for the next day.

Then from there to the show in the Van Duser at HSU. We sat in the second row of the balcony for the first set, and moved to two empty seats in the front row of the balcony for the second set.

It was an excellent dinner, wonderful ice cream for dessert, and a great show. We should do this way more often. Of course if it was not for Ifipaan's sister, Lauria and her significant other, Joe, helping with watching Ifipaan, we probably could not do this at all.  Thanks Lauria and Joe!

Thank You!

(Fire Info Links are in the next post down!)

While the Station Fire rages on, it has passed on through our neck of the woods, and my efforts maintaining the links on the Fire posting of this blog will be decreasing.  I do intend on leaving up the fire info posted, as an informational resource for others that are still dealing with the Station fire. The links are very relevant for each of the affected communities still in the path of the fire.

The evacuation notice has been lifted for my parents' neighborhood, and they are back home.  Unfortunately, Mom says that there were 4 or 5 looters discovered on the hill when residents started coming back.  Fortunately, law enforcement has already caught a couple of them.  They did not get my parents house, but some neighbors were not so lucky.

The backyard burned almost up to the retaining wall around the patio, but the house survived just fine.  The firefighters had moved all the patio furniture, BBQ's , etc around to the side of the property, away from the house and heat, and had worked hard to make sure that they did not damage anything.  Most of the larger trees had been "lollypopped" (lower branches removed) by my parents a while ago, and so, survived because the fire could not get established in them.  There are about 59 houses at the top of the hill  Virtually all of the homes back yards border on the canyon or National Forest.  Almost every home had fire come within 20-50' of the house, yet not a single structure was lost.

I would like to take a moment to thank all the firefighters, law enforcement personnel, city, county, state, and federal employees, and the residents and businesses and other volunteers of the local communities who all pulled together to make it through this disaster.   I also want to thank many of the folks on-line who, although I have never met them face to face, are becoming good friends, and helped me to develop the informational links in my blog, promote the resource to others, and kept me on top of what was happening in my childhood town so far away. 

Special thanks go to twitter peeps, @benboychuk, @PEP010, @philhulett, @indie_press, @thereallacanada, @Moeskido, @pixelesh, @gwc11713, @hanineal, @foleypod, @mdstorlie, @nanther, @macgenie, @JamesProps, @bobmorse, @indexing, @k8jonez, @clarikim, @LA_Fires, @cyndie23, @theappgirl, @lamaupin, @heathercollins, @dzurillaville, @wildfireviewer, @AllHitman007, @Jeffpfile, @ddwheeler27, @SamWickersham, @denagirl626, @susankitchens, @rehi, @akitchen, @brianwatkins, @khabalox,  and most of all @vurayav, @ifipaan, @lauria, @joeepheremal, @christylb65 and @wasabineko all of whom either provided information, retweets, link posts, and/or encouragement while I was vicariously living through this fire on Twitter, and developing this list of fire link resources.

Finally, I especially want to remember Captain Ted Hall and Fire Fighter Specialist Arnie Quinones, who were killed in the Mt. Gleason area on Sunday while fighting this fire.  My condolences and sincere thanks go to their families for the efforts of these two individuals who gave their lives trying to save the lives and property of others.

@GregGehr

La Canada Fire (also called "Station Fire") threatening homes, causing evacuations

Photo by k8jonez: Oceanview near Foothill - border between La Canada and La Crescenta http://twitpic.com/ftf78

Please note, this post is now closed.  However, most of the links are to dynamic information sources that update periodically, and can still be of great value to anyone trying to stay on top of the fires.

I have tried to move links to photos, videos, and news articles that are "static" to the next post down, , and have labeled the time and date to next to most of the news links.

I started this list because my parents live in La Canada, and I was (and continue to be) worried from the other end of California.  It was very hard to find a good source of fairly current information about this fire, and I have never been one to sit quietly and do nothing, so I decided to aggregate my own sources of info, and they have proved useful. Whether you live near the fires, or have friends or family that do, I hope that this information will be of some use to you too.

Cordially,

Greg

________________________________
UPDATING INFO LINKS:

Here is the tweetgrid.com layout that I am using to monitor twitter for up to date info on the fire (lots of pics too).  I think that this tweetgrid is the best source of raw, up to the minute information that I have found, give it a try! http://is.gd/2ES3L 

I have been asked what search terms are used for the columns in the tweetgrid.com link, above (which you should feel free to modify).

They are:

1. La Canada OR Flintridge

2. La Crescenta OR Tujunga OR Sunland -handyman (the "-handyman" switch eliminates some annoying twitter spam)

3. "Angeles National Forest" OR "Station Fire" OR "Angeles Crest"

4. Altadena

Likewise, there is an updating graphics engine at Twitcaps that will present you with photos and videos from around the web.  I am using the search term "La Canada", please modify it to your town or even "station fire" for slightly different results.  http://twitcaps.com/search?q=La+Canada

KNX1070 has streaming audio available and is doing fantastic job of covering fire, very current info. (and, it even works on my mac!) http://www.knx1070.com/

KABC is a great source of streaming video, @wilw (author/director/actor Wil Wheaton) on twitter sez "Thank you to @abc7 for being the ONLY local station covering the huge brushfire that's threatening homes in La Crescenta, where I grew up."  http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/index

Live fire and police radio frequencies can be monitored streaming over web here (try the feeds with the most listeners first)http://www.radioreference.com/apps/audio/?ctid=201

La Canada Flintridge city website has fire updates. Looks like they're posted hourly (mostly): http://www.lacanadaflintridge.com/

Insightful and information-rich blog of the fire from a firefighter's perspective.  Great maps and satellite imagery. http://firefighterblog.blogspot.com/

Angeles National Forest Incident Information System - http://inciweb.org/incident/1856/ http://tr.im/xk1L

Aggregated data collected by the Los Angeles Times and displayed in Google Maps http://tr.im/xknl

Mount Wilson Observatory Webcam (west view), LIVE! Updated every two minutes.    http://www.astro.ucla.edu/~obs/towercam.htm

Mt Wilson Observatory Blog, lots of fire updates from their perspective: http://www.mtwilson.edu/fire.php

ENPLAN Wildfire viewer, Interactive California Wildfire Map, fed by MODIS satellite data (Heat detect data updates received from satellites every 6 hours and it refreshes map data hourly.).  Go to search box on right about half way down screen, enter zip for La Canada 91011) and the sat. map will zoom to a < script src="http://posterous.com/javascripts/tiny_mce/themes/advanced/langs/en.js?1251749459" type="text/javascript"> prox area of fires.  Then go to "hybrid" view to get street overlay, and zoom in on fire area(s) of interest http://www.enplan.com/fires/

The LA County Fire Department website with tips for evacuations and safety during fire storm situations. http://www.fire.lacounty.gov/SafetyPreparedness/SafetyPrepFireStorms.asp

City of Glendale Emergency Opera tions Center fire information (lists evacuation info for La Crescenta): http://www.ci.glendale.ca.us/

Altadena blog begins to track fire updates as fire spreads in that direction.  They have redirected a weathercam toward the approaching fire. http://www.altadenablog.com/2009/08/station-fire-continuing-updates.html

Directory of Glendale blog starts tracking fire updates: http://www.directoryofglendale.com/blog/headline/hourly-updates-la-canada-fli...

"The Real La Canada" friend feed is collecting information and stories about the fire from locals, check it out at http://friendfeed.com/thereallacanada

Another good list of resources, photos, and other information about the Station Fire from Susan Kitchens at 2020 Hindsight: http://www.2020hindsight.org/2009/08/29/station-fire-in-la-canada/

Excellent article about the the effects of this and other fires on the local residents by Kathy Kristof of CBS Moneywatch  http://tr.im/xqtJ

This is Station Fire: http://twitpic.com/fx2f8

8/31/09 NEW LINKS:

As the fire spreads, there are new links that may begin to contain relevant information to those tracking the fires, such as:

Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff incident news web site: http://incident.scvsheriff.com/news_room/

LA County Fire Department information: http://www.fire.lacounty.gov/

LA County Department of Public Works, Road Closure Info: http://dpwgis.co.la.ca.us/website/roadclosures/main.cfm

Phil Hulett of KFWB is back on the job, get breaking fire updates at http://twitter.com/philhulett/

TCN North Now: news about Glendale, Crescenta Valley, Burbank and La Cañada - summarizes some good local fire news coverage: http://tcnnorth.wordpress.com/

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***Please note, this post is now closed.  However, most of the links are to dynamic information sources that update periodically, and can still be of great value to anyone trying to stay on top of the fires.