Jesusita Fire in Santa Barbara

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ray ford airplane drop

[Photo by Ray Ford]

Santa Barbara cannot seem to get a break from wildfires. In 2008, there was the Gap Fire followed by the Tea Fire and now they are dealing with the Jesusita Fire.

I know the area well. I used to hike and occasionally mountain bike on Jesusita Trail and Rattlesnake Canyon, even though biking was technically illegal and you could get a ticket. I have not been on the trail in years yet I still remember the sights, sounds and smells.

The fire spread down the canyon to Tunnel Road and the Botanical Gardens. Not sure how the plants have fared, but a century old building was destroyed. Two of my favorite places at the Gardens are the small redwood forest and the dam which was constructed by Chumash Indians under the instructions (demands) of Spanish missionaries. The Mission is down the stream about five to ten minutes away by car. When I was young, a group of friends hiked up the creek to a secluded spot and we built an impressive hut which included a woven roof and an old, empty spool of cable which we used as a table. The place was eventually occupied by a homeless person (or people) and subsequently destroyed by the park rangers.

Another place I worry about is Skofield Park. The Tea Fire came perilously close but did not destroy it. From the map, it looks like the Park may have made it though this fire as well. Skofield was the place to bbq on weekends for my friends and I. Eventually we had been going so long we got to know the ranger and his dogs and he would allow me to drive my truck out to the bbq site instead of leaving it in the parking lot. This meant we could crank up the tunes without having to lug a battery-powered boom-box out there. Our regular spot was on the down side of a slope on the far edge of the park, so we did not disturb any families or people trying to enjoy a quiet day outside.

But what I worry about the most are my friends, especially those in the path of the blaze. One of my high-school friends is in the evacuation zone and I am not sure if his family residence is still standing. Give me a call when you have a chance!

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