Yes, We’re Safe
This text was originally posted on Facebook much earlier this morning:
Good morning everyone. Up at 3:30 doing what all old men do at 3:30 in the morning, but today I stepped outside on the patio to check news and give the insomniac neighbors a peek of my favorite boxers. The moon is sitting in the sky right where the plume of smoke from the San Marcos fire was when I went to bed. I can see stars in every direction on a cloudless night and have smelled more smoke from neighbors fireplaces and smoking than I do from the fire. Yes, we’re less than two miles from the fire zone, but we’re also less than a quarter mile from the place to which those people are being evacuated. We’re safe, and Randy’s sleeping peacefully. I’ve woken to far worse mornings.
We got to see much more when we took Diego out for his walk. There are some smoke plumes to the south, all blowing away from us and nothing as dense as it was yesterday. So far, at least as it impacts us, this is nothing like the 2007 wildfires. There are no layers of ash, and even at its worst the smoke is barely noticeable.
A local realtor is holding an open house for a condo one building over from ours with the same floor plan and placement as our unit. Hoping he had baked goods (he didn’t) we decided to step inside and see what the comps were doing. Ignoring the differences in personal style (scary wallpaper but nice tile, etc.), the unit’s upkeep and fixtures were comparable to ours. No marble floors, and the faucets didn’t appear to be brushed platinum. The shocker then was the asking price: 177% of what we paid for our unit less than three years ago. I know we got lucky with timing the bottom of the Great Recession, but it’s really hard to continue to see the local increase in real estate prices as a correction and not an over-reaction.
The escrow from hell ended at about 5:00 last Thursday when our realtor handed us the keys to our new place over in San Marcos, California. Our realtor was outstanding throughout the process, kept us sane and kept things moving forward even when I thought the deal was lost beyond hope.
Can’t say the same for our mortgage broker, or our direct lender, or however he’s representing himself today. Senior loan officer or branch manager were also used interchangably, probably based on his e-mail signature on different computers. His company was well-recommended, but the individual himself was a disaster, and unfortunately we didn’t realize how big a disaster (expecting a squall, ending up with Katrina) until we were already in the first extension of the escrow and felt it was too late to switch mortage-provider horses. Yes, first extension – ultimately there were three, and the process took 3 1/2 months from offer to closing.
We’re happy now though. Three bedrooms, three baths, three levels in a townhouse. I have some sore calves from all the stairs this weekend, and don’t expect them to not be sore anytime soon, but it’s a good hurt.
Many of you have probably heard the news elsewhere, but we’re moving. We’re in escrow on a townhouse in nearby San Marcus and hope to complete the move by the end of the year. There will be more details and more photos down the road, but as a teaser some shots from the inspection yesterday have been posted over at the photo gallery.
While the place is in good shape, there are certainly a lot of things we want to do to make it a home we can really be proud of. A perfect example is the lighting. Sure, this works in that utilitarian sense that it provides illumination and prevents people from falling down the stairs. But something like this would be so much more fabulous, wouldn’t it?
Roughly one in every ten people in the San Diego metropolitan area were evacuated today. The fires just kept appearing out of nowhere and jumping across even ten-lane highways. A local newsreader just said our local fire, one of the eight in play, has destroyed 600 structures and damaged 300 more.
We bailed out in the early afternoon. The fire just got too close, both to us and our escape route, so we went to an Evacuation Center at Mission Hills High in San Marcos. Nice snacks, cool people and helpful information. Loud shout outs to the Red Cross and the California Department of Forestry.
We eventually confirmed an open route and drive to some friends’ house where we were warmly welcomed. More snacks, naps and then dinner out. The dinner out concept seemed very, very popular tonight.
While we were out we got a call from a neighbor telling us that our little community had been reopened. We confirmed it with a phone call that verified that our answering machine had not yet melted. With a little internet help we found an open route and set out for home. Coincidentally, about this time our hosts started getting calls from others, and more refugees were arriving as we left.
The road was open, but there were still significant blazes pushing right up to the shoulders of the interstate. Home is smoky, but not nearly as bad as it was eight hours ago.
For now my stuff is staying in Nissantruck, even though we’ll be here tonight. No computer network for a while yet, but the Blackberry has been a lifesaver. Hopefully the drama is over, but I know all about twisty endings and hopefully won’t be caught by surprise.
[Ed. - Back on the big internet Tuesday a.m., where I took the opportunity to unscramble HowlingBerry's late night work and make some minor edits.]