Spherical Magic & The Basin Complex Wildfire – Day 217/11/08, 5:30 AM
So much for fires moving slower when backing down hills. I said that wildfires are unpredictable. This one proves that. When I crashed last night, it was still near the top of Uncle Sam. This morning, it was already over the ridge top of Elephant, one mountain closer to us. There isn't a very deep valley between the two, so the front moved quicker than I would have liked. (Not moving at all, I would really like.) The nerve meter went up a few ticks after seeing this. I thought I had a few more days than I now have to get this built, up to speed and do some training.Work on clearing the fuels is going really well. Every stick and leaf that is gone helps me to relax just a bit more, as if you can call this relaxing.... If the fire is contained before it gets here, we'll at least have a really neat place. Got some office work done this morning when I got up. Couldn't sleep anyway, so may as well move some things along. Double-checked the "shopping list" that I prepared yesterday (but got the changes done too late to make it to the shop before they closed). Should have moved it along so the parts could have been here today but assisting the clearing operation took most of the afternoon. Today would have been good to work on assembling the pressure header. The wind shifted to the NW last night and blew the smoke out. Still hot but better hot than hot smoke. Maybe the wind will hold. Left this afternoon for the shop and to get stocked up with food and water. We're going to have to be long-term self sufficient, so provisions is a high priority item. Decided to wear a short sleeve shirt, Joy's in shorts and tee. Heck, by the time I got out of the shower, dressed and out to the living room to leave, my shower was waxed. Good thing the truck has Air, so I can dry off. Got to the highway leading over to Salinas and stopped dead. What's this, it's only 4:00? Inched along for miles. Came up upon a Highway Patrol car sitting behind a pickup; the officer talking to two guys. Looked ahead and the line was speeding up. Jerks! Stupid California gawkers can't pay attention to the road and create a multi-mile parking lot, so they can.... I don't know what they get out of it. The clown who started it doesn't care. He's long gone and certainly oblivious to the long term effects of his selfishness. Because of this, we nearly missed the shop hours AGAIN. Today, it was important to get there, more so than yesterday because of paragraph one and I was really steamed at this traffic jam created for no reason at all. Got there in time, though, and we set to work gathering the parts to build a 2" diameter, 4 input, 3 output header that connects the tanks with the pumps. Going in, I asked some more pertinent questions about the two pumps we have. After digesting the specs. and conferring with Joy, my Financial Officer and Sounding Board, we made the decision to move up to a higher output pump to take the place of one of them. Still a 2", isn't as good a construction but having the extra power and throughput seemed like the good thing to do. While we were "hip pocket engineering" the assembly I had drawn out, not knowing exactly what parts they may have available--but the objective is there, I spotted a 3" version of the really cool 2" pump that we have two of. I asked about the specs on it and the price difference between it and the bigger one we had just opted for. NOW, we're talkin'! 85 PSI through a 3" input/output at 275 Gallons Per Minute. Yeah, baby. MORE POWER! The 2" pumps push 151 GPM and I was becoming increasingly concerned that we may not have adequate throw with them. I don't have that concern quite so much anymore. The assembly of parts went well. Had to redesign part of it to accommodate the new 3" but it's gonna be sweet. Black matte PVC fittings and bushings throughout, full flow ball valves on each tank, and on each output line... DARN! I just realized that we didn't change out one of the ball valves for a 3". Now, I can't finish it tomorrow and start filling unless we go back. I could close the tank valves and fill, yes, but that won't leak test the joints until it's way too late. Well, gotta take that 2" pump and a few other fittings I already had back and we're already doing a "cardboard run" to the recycle transfer station to get that stuff out of here, so I guess that's the plan. Mistakes like this could make the difference between success and failure. I had better not make another. Coming out of the shop with [almost all of] my goodies, it was COLD! Overcast, fog, wind, and us in Arizona garb. Joy dropped me off at Home Depot and she headed to Costco for the supplies. By the time I was done getting the remaining hoses and fittings for the RainBirds (and a really big pipe wrench for that 3" stuff), mist was falling. Yay! We happily loaded my haul into an already stuffed truck and headed off to our local Cowboy Bar for dinner on the way to the studio. What? 9:00! They're gonna close! Joy called and, once they recognized who it was, gladly started our order for us while we drove toward them. Nice to be regulars. That was the good news. The bad news is, as soon as we started up the grade that leads to our valley, the mist stopped, the fog dissipated, the clouds disappeared. Rats. It was getting warm. No help for the plants. We had a nice dinner. Good to get out after a long stretch in the trenches but gotta get back, unload the food and get some rest. No help indeed. Coming around the corner on the winding flat portion of the road leading to our place, I saw a sight that I prepared Joy for. Didn't want her driving off the mountain, now that we had our plan almost complete and a lot of it and both of us were in this truck. The ridge in the distance was totally in flames. Never saw it this severe. Last night in comparison was a set of stationary bonfires. This fire was active, exhibiting extreme fire behavior with group tree torching, spotting and short crown runs. This was across the west 45 degree span that I described last night. The southeast was fairly calm looking. I shot some panos and a few long lens closeups but couldn't watch anymore and came in to work a bit to try to get myself tired enough to wind down and go to sleep. As you can see, that's not working.