For several months we have been experiencing poor air quality due to smoke from many western fires, including ones in California, Wyoming, and our own state.
Here's a quick summary of the Colorado fires that have affected us. At the end of July a lightning strike near Grand Junction started the Pine Gulch fire which burned until the end of September, destroying 140,000 acres. In August we followed the progress of the Grizzly Creek fire that threatened Glenwood Springs and closed the famous Glenwood Canyon highway on I 70 for several days before it was contained. On August 14th the Williams Fork fire started near Fraser and Granby, the area where Turbo's breeder is located. As of the end of September it had burned nearly 13,000 acres and it is still burning. The Cameron Peak fire started on August 13th near Ft. Collins, about an hour from us, and it has grown to be the largest fire in Colorado history, burning more than 164,000 acres and still only 56% contained.
Depending on which way the wind blows each day, these fires have sent plumes of stinky smoke our way, greatly decreasing the quality of our air. And these are quite apart from the fires in other western states which also send smoke our way some days. Some days the smoke is quite dramatic. And it is always sad to realize that we are destroying our air quality.
For example, on Friday afternoon as I walked Turbo I was mesmerized by a plume of smoke that appeared to billowing down from Boulder Canyon but was actually from the Cameron Peak fire. The smoke was so bad that I drove up to the half mile up to Chautauqua park to pick up Ben and his friend Scott after they had finished a big hike. Of course they could have walked on back to our house but the smoke was so thick that I was quite worried for them. And we ate our carryout dinner in the house rather than outside, even with the pandemic raging. What was worse; the smoke or the virus? We decided on the former and set up two air purifiers in the dining room and wore masks as much as possible.
|Smoke on Friday afternoon |
Ben found this photo online of the Cameron Peak fire taken, I think, yesterday, with the Lumpy Ridge climbing area on right and Estes Park below. Estes Park is about an hour drive from here.
|Cameron Peak fire above Estes Park, source unknown |
But now all of a sudden there are several wildfires burning in the Boulder area itself. None are threatening our own home in central Boulder, but they all are scary and dramatic and threatening to some of our surrounding neighborhoods.
On Saturday I was taking an online workshop about using digital photographs in quilts. At the lunch break I took Turbo out for a walk and was astounded to see that the sky was turning an amazing orange. This was from a new fire, the Calwood fire, named because it began close to the Cal-wood Education Center, where Paul first went to camp the summer we moved to Boulder. The nearby mountain town of Jamestown was evacuated that afternoon. I haven't heard the fate of the buildings there and I really hope that the Mercantile restaurant where Paul's band played several times was spared.
|Orange skies from the Calwood fire on Saturday afternoon at 4:30|
It happened that Ben and I had 6:00 dinner reservations at the Flagstaff House, up Boulder Canyon. Our table on the patio gave us an amazing viewpoint from which to watch the fire spread down the ridge towards the northern outskirts of Boulder. In fact, the fire destroyed 26 homes north of town off of route 36 and is now threatening the town Lyons, about a 30 minute drive from here and where my favorite quilt shop is located. Here's one of the photos we took from the Flagstaff House. It was an amazing experience to sit on that restaurant's lovely patio and watch the fire as the night descended.
|courtesy of the Daily Camera |
The Calwood fire continues to burn and has destroyed almost 9,000 acres, making it Boulder county's largest ever fire.
And today yet another fire has sprung up, this one up Lefthand Canyon, again right outside of town. This fire is threatening the mountain town of Gold Hill, where our neighbors have a second home.
On another note, my sister Jean arrives tomorrow for a visit and I'm very excited to see her! We were last together a year ago and it's been too long. Unfortunately, our friend Janice, who was also planning to come, has contracted COVID and had to cancel her plans to join us. She lives in Utah which currently has a positivity rate of 15% compared to the 5% where Jean and I live. Many people in Utah resist masking and social distancing and everyone pays a price for that, which leads me to share this link to a clever song about masking up.
Since I always like to leave on a happy note, I have to share this photo of Paul and Turbo that we took last week when we visited with Paul at his new place. Aren't they the cutest?