Sunday, July 1, 2012

Coming Home

I wish I had happy anicdotes from my trip to write about today.  Don't get me wrong, camping was great, and I loved Minneapolis, and cheese curds are AMAZING!  But if you've been watching the news, you might be able to understand the grey cloud that hung over our trip this past week.

The problem was, I hadn't been watching the news.  Or checking Facebook.  Or staying in touch with my family back in Colorado.  I didn't get great reception in southern Kentucky (last week I had to jump on the wifi at a laundromat to post my blog.)  So when I finally spoke with my sister last Tuesday, I was shocked to say the least when the following words came out of her mouth:

"They're issuing a pre-evacuation notice for southern Douglas County.  The fires in Colorado Springs are out of control."
I was sitting in the car and thankfully my husband was driving.  My mind went blank, trying to figure out where in the county I lived.  I tried to listen to what she was saying, but I couldn't process the information.  My first thought was, "We're going to lose everything."  It was a heart-stopping moment, but it passed quickly.  I had everything I needed sitting in the car with me.  My family was safe, my parents and sister were out of the path of the fire, I had clothes and food and enough money to keep me going for a while if the worst happened.  I was okay.  As a matter of fact, I remember thinking there wasn't a single thing in my house that I couldn't live without, and relief flooded in.

I made several phone calls to friends that live in my area.  Was the fire getting close?  Was our town a part of the evacuation notice?  Was I going to have a place to come home to?  No one thought the fires were close yet, and most of them had hopes that it would be under control before our neighborhood was in real danger.  It made me feel a little better, but I couldn't stop worrying.

That night I hopped on my aunt's computer and my heart broke.  I'm talking 'turned to ice and shattered into a million pieces' broke.  I couldn't believe the pictures.  I knew when I left home there were fires to the north.  I'd offered my home to some friends whose house was in the evacuation zone.  But I had no idea that practically our entire state was burning.  I spent half of the next day crying.

By Thursday I thought I was over the worst of it.  We were staying in a hotel in Northfield, Minnesota.  That morning, my family and I went down for breakfast, but a tv in the corner was showing the devistation in Colorado Springs.  It was worse, watching a live report, than the still photos had been.  One woman sobbed as the camraman filmed her.  "My mountain, my mountain," she cried as the camera panned to the fire eating away the hillside.  I knew her pain.  It's my mountain, too.  I think everyone that lives along the front range feels that way.  It's a kind of collective ownership.  We've all invested some level of pride in them and it is physically painful to see them destroyed.

For me, it was an assault on some of my favorite memories.   When my husband and I were first married, we lived in an apartment just a few blocks away from the heart of the fires.  Our first son was born in the hospital down there.  Six months ago, I was a penstroke away from signing a lease for a house smack dab in the middle of the chaos.  It makes me physically sick to see a place I called home go up in smoke.  It was worse when I realized how many people were standing by watching their homes, their businesses, their jobs and pets and photos turning to ashes.  By Thursday afternoon, I decided to come home.

It took us seventeen hours of driving to get back.  I stopped for gas, food and restrooms.  For two hours, I slept in my car on the side of the road in Iowa.  When I reached the Colorado border, I didn't need a sign to tell me I'd crossed state lines.  We could smell the smoke and the sky was a hazy red off in the distance.  When I made it home, it was just as my friends had said: the fires were bad, but they hadn't reached us.  I said what was probably my thousandth prayer for the lives and homes of people living in the path of the fire before dragging myself out of the car.

Needless to say, fireworks have been cancelled state-wide, and the fires still rage all the way through New Mexico up into Canada.  There is still a lot to be done.  For our part, my family has decided to abandon the second half of our vacation.  We're putting some of that money towards the relief efforts.  If you would like more information about sending a donation, click here.  If you are in Colorado and want to volunteer your time or use of your truck, click here.  And if you pray, add the victims of this disaster to your prayers tonight.  As of this posting, the containment has barely scratched the 50 percent mark.  Let's get those firefighters home and start the rebuild.


  1. Oh, Trisha, I'm so sorry. This must be heartbreaking. I'm grateful you and your family are safe. Lots of prayers going out to you and your community tonight.

  2. Trisha, I too am so sorry. I knew there were fires in Colorado, but I didn't realize how truly devastating they were. My prayers are with you and your family and your entire community.

  3. Wow Trisha. I hadn't realized I'd been gotten so out of the news loop this summer, but I didn't know anything about the fires. My prayers are with you as well. Please keep us posted about your home and family!

  4. That's heartbreaking. Love to you and your family. My family is praying for Colorado, and that the firefighters will be safe, and successful.

    This post is such a beautiful and emotional tribute. Keep us posted.

  5. Oh, Trisha, I'm so sorry to hear that your community is going through this. I lived in a community that had just been through a hurricane. It was a tough experience, but it taught me so much. Not that knowing that was helpful at the time. I'll be thinking of you and praying that the firefighters get the blaze contained.


Got an opinion? Use it! Remember... be silly, be honest, and be nice/proofread.