This picture was taken on Sunday afternoon, October 21st. It wasn't even the worst of the wildfires yet.
Our phone rang on Monday morning, October 22. It woke us up around 7:20. Ironically, it was the best sleep I had had in days. Our friend AJ was on the other end, telling us to turn on the TV. Apparently, the fires had swept through Rancho Bernardo in the early hours of the morning before dawn, and now there's mandatory evacuation for all of Penasquitos. We got up and got dressed. Todd went to check the internet to see what's going on. My good friend Sally called and said that it looks like we're supposed to evacuate as well. She said we can put our stuff in her garage, and stay at her place in North Park. We thanked her and told her we'd let her know if we need to stay with her. We started packing and frantically trying to find our most important stuff. Then the phone rang again. My friend Lara in Pacific Beach wanted to know if we're okay, and she also offered for us to stay at their place. It was good to know that friends were concerned for us. Since the fires were in the East and slightly north of us, we had to go west to evacuate.
We turned off the gas line to the house. In under an hour, we loaded up the Explorer and left. The streets in Penasquitos was filled with traffic. I called my manager and coworker at work and said I was evacuating and won't be in the office, and won't be online continuously. I called my Dad and told him about the fires and that we were evacuating. He was surprised that the fires got so close, and said he would get together with his coworkers and pray. It was stop and go all the way across the 56-West. We saw so many cars filled with clothing, boxes, and pets. Dogs and cats crammed into cars everywhere. Smoky haze was everywhere. After we got on I-5 North and passed Solana Beach, we could see the edge of the smoke and it was blue skies after that. There was a sharp divide between the smoke and the blue skies. It was so surreal to see it. When we got to Oceanside, we went East on the 78 and went to AJ & Meera's house in San Marcos. They welcomed us with open arms. We glued ourselves to the TV all day and watch the progress of the devastation. On of the reporters for a local TV news station actually reported right in front of his house as he watched it burn down. It was incredible. We watched TV and there was no news that the fires had reached our neighborhood, so we figured no news was good news. I work in Rancho Bernardo, and that was a different story. They showed house after house, all burned down. The hardest hit was the neighborhood right across the street from my office, Westwood. I wondered if my office would be safe, or if it would burn down or be damaged. They sent out an email that they evacuated from the office as well.
Ironically, during these two days, I felt strangely peaceful and at ease. I was with my loving husband and my best friends. I had everything important to my life with me. All the rest of the stuff was just, well.... stuff. Stuff can be replaced. People before things. I slept well. I ate well. We had Chick Fil-A sandwiches for lunch on Monday, burritos for dinner. Tuesday we had Panera sandwiches for lunch, and we bought groceries and Todd cooked a delicious BBQ chicken sandwich and green beans.
On Wednesday, we called our next door neighbors Fred and Annie, and they had gone home already on Monday night. So, we packed up our stuff again and went back home. The air smelled slightly bad, and there was dark ash and soot everywhere. But our house was totally undamaged. We thanked God for his mercy and goodness to us.