On Saturday morning after packing up camp we went to gas up before heading to Goblin Valley. We didn't get there though because I took the opportunity of being in civilization to check my phone (there's no service in Grover). That's when I found out that there a huge fire burning at Coal Hallow was threatening our use of Highway 6 (which is the road we'd be taking home from Goblin Valley).
To be on the safe side we decided to skip Goblin Valley and just head home (on I-15).
We probably would have still made it through the canyon, since they didn't close the highway until Sunday. But it would have been a smoky, smoky drive.
We had to drive past an older burn getting home, anyway (which the kids (mostly Benjamin, I guess, since the older girls rode in the RV with Grandma and Grandpa on the way to Grover and Zoë is pretty clueless)) had panicked about on the way out to Grover. Benjamin was worried that the California fires had somehow made their way out here. We assured him that this had been a different fire and that everything was fine.
Driving back through that burned out area felt ominous, however, knowing that we were heading home to a raging fire in our canyon. All that remained on the ashen landscape were the blackened skeletons of trees. We passed a highway sign that had been melted and twisted into a misshapen, empty canvas. We could see where the fire had hopped the highway. We could see where it had finally been put out, giving way to mile after mile of bone-dry fields, ready to burst into flames at any moment.
We returned home to a hazy valley. Everything smells like smoke. We can hardly see the mountains.
We have an air quality monitor at the kids' school, which they check everyday before sending the kids out for recess (because that's the environmental hellscape we live in these days) so we've been checking it to see whether we should go outside to play. Usually the answer to that question is no, but last night we actually dropped into the 80s, so we went ahead and took a family walk after dinner.
This morning, however, the winds had shifted and smoke was billowing out of the canyon, pouring into our little community. Our air quality index has been in the mid-300s. So we'll be inside for the time being, but the winds usually head back up the canyon later in the day so things should be getting better in our neck of the woods by this afternoon (already we're down to 292).
Here are the guidelines from the school:
0 - 35.4: All students outside
35.5 - 55.4: "sensitive students" should be accommodated to avoid outdoor activities
55.5 - 89: "sensitive students" and those students experiencing respiratory symptoms should avoid outdoor activities
90 or higher: physical activities should be moved indoors for ALL students.
This doesn't quite fit in anywhere, but check out this story from Farmington, Utah, where residents drained the reservoir in protest of watering restrictions placed by the city. We live in a desert and on top of that are in the middle of a drought, so you'd think our citizens would be rational and mature enough to ration their water use. But evidently not.
Our resources, even renewable resources, need to be used wisely.
I don't understand how that's hard for some to understand.