Mountain life was stressful during and after the Cranston Fire. Like the Bee Canyon and Mountain fires, it felt like being on the outside looking in on a war zone. I have never been in a war zone. I’ve only lived in a war zone through tales told through books, movies and documentaries.
Looking back, the heat and adrenalin of that time seems unreal except now it’s the cold and the adrenalin — dealing with frozen pipes over a three-day period when the furnace needs repair. The irony of lugging store-bought water while walking on frozen ice and snow to the house for what my mother would call “spit baths” and for basic chores.
And while we ponder the consequences of the collateral damage to our highways these past few storms have wrought, Mother Nature continues on. The mountain seemed to melt around us. We just happened to be here when it did.
Caltrans spokesperson Shane Massoud told JP today that its engineers are estimating Highway 243 to open in five to six weeks. To me, that seems like a miracle. To imagine replacing a mountainside seems an enormous engineering fete.
As to Highway 74, no estimate was given. Several more areas of potential slides were recently discovered, bringing a total of 10 areas of serious repair work needed.
Early Tuesday morning, a rock slide occurred around lower Saunders Meadow Road, blocking the northbound lane. Another storm is coming soon — not as strong but still, our mountainsides are fragile right now. If you are like me, you gaze up at those steep sides as you drive our highways and see boulders whose time to move could be at any minute — the minute you drive under them.
Several people have complained to me about not getting deliveries on time. Companies seem to be finding it a challenge to navigate around our predicament.
Last week, Mountain Center Post Office closed until further notice and residents were told to pick up their mail in San Jacinto. It seemed much easier said than done. It made more sense for the post office or its contractor to do the delivery.
And so, Ray Wilson, Idyllwild Post Office officer in charge, made it happen. He also worked on getting Amazon orders delivered to Idyllwild. He is one of our local heroes during this time.
Last week on Thursday, during that neverending snow, Jack and I made the decision to deliver the newspaper to the Mountain Center residents with carrier delivery. He managed the two in Pinyon early in the morning and we managed just one in Garner Valley before the snow forced us back on the highway when we nearly got trapped ourselves.
Emily at Mountain Center Café agreed to take the post office ones and hand them out to residents. We stopped there for lunch after getting back to MC and she told us the goods news, that Gary at the MCPO had re-opened. After lunch, we dropped in with those papers not delivered, and he kindly said they would be delivered the following day.
If you don’t get a delivery and it’s something you can buy in town right now, I encourage you to do so. Without visitors, many businesses are hurting. The Cranston Fire was not that long ago, and so many of them are still recovering from that disaster.
Becky Clark, Editor