Saturday, October 9, 2021

A Second Chance at Fame: October 9, 2021


Another of my photos was selected for YourDailyPhotograph.com. On a road trip through the Pamirs, I took this photo in August 2011 in the town of Alichur, Tajikistan, on the road from Khorog to Murghab. The name of the town may mean Ali's Curse. The town (elevation 2987m/9800ft) is mostly populated by persons of Kyrgyz descent. The scenery was a starkly beautiful high desert landscape. We did not stay at the Marco Polo Home Stay, however. We did stay in Murghab (elevation 3650m/11975ft), the highest town in Tajikistan. We were supposed to stay 2-3 nights, but the elevation got to me and after one entire night suffering a painful headache, we left for a lower elevation.

My photo can be viewed at http://eepurl.com/hKklfr.


Sunday, October 3, 2021

Hunkering Down at Home: September 2021

Back at home after our four days of taking refuge in Sacramento, much of September still had really bad air. We applied additional weather stripping to areas that were allowing smoke to enter our house. Houses are not hermetically sealed (and that would be dangerous) and smoke is insidiously ephemeral and almost impossible to keep out. Our efforts paid off and the outside air quality improved. If the air was really bad outside, much to the annoyance of Syd and Pandora, we all stayed inside. 

September brought three separate rains for a total of .45 inches (yes, three rain storms and less than a 1/2 inch total). Each rain cleaned the air and washed ash off of our plants. September 30 brought the end of the rain year and in this second year of drought most areas reported only about 45% of normal rainfall. 

    
 

The heat and smoke-filled skies mostly put an end to our garden. We pulled up the tomato plants and kept our one pepper plant that still has sweet peppers on it. In the Spring our little pomegranate tree was covered with red blossoms, but only managed to produce five fruits. 



As the Caldor Fire moved east and less and less was burning, our air did improve for at least part of the day. At the end of September it is about 90% contained and most of the evacuation orders/warnings lifted. All the firefighters did and are doing an heroic job and the government doesn't pay the Forest Service firefighters enough. One of the occupations for the Caldor Fire was heli-rappellers. Heli-rappeller firefighters are lowered from helicopters into areas far from roads. In this case, they were in Desolation Wilderness east of Wrights Lake in the Sierra Nevada north of US Highway 50 to establish a fire perimeter, build firebreaks, and extinguish fire. They bring everything they'll need for a 2-week period of time. Super scooper planes gathered 1600 gallons of water in each scoop from Lake Tahoe that was then dropped on flames to slow forward progress.

Last week we had a brief episode of fire panic. We were getting ready for bed when multiple fire/emergency vehicles raced down our street with full lights and sirens. Around the same time we began getting calls and texts. Dan is part of the Diamond Springs Fire Safe Council and each member texted. One said something about the fire scanner and a structure fire on Canyon Valley. A neighbor at the beginning of Canyon Valley Rd who is about one mile from us alerted us to the fire vehicles as they entered our street. We looked toward the destination of the emergency vehicles and didn't see a glow from fire. We drove to the location just as most of the fire vehicles were departing. What remained was the paramedics for a possible medical emergency. We're all a little jumpy when it comes to possible fire.

Fires, smoke, and the never-ending pandemic all merging in September justified staying inside. El Dorado County had an additional 1,349 positive Covid cases and 16 deaths in September bringing the cumulative numbers to 14,939 and 138, respectively. It should be noted that six of the 138 deaths were people fully vaccinated. Eight-five percent of the 138 deaths were people in the 65+ category. Hospitalizations and ICU occupancy were very high most of the first half of the month. The percentage of people fully vaccinated hasn't improved very much. The end of September it stood at 53.2%. 

Syd

Pandora the Explorer climbing the oldest Oak Tree in our forest