Fire and Ice

7 December 2017

As promised, we visited the tourist highlight of San Luis Obispo, Bubblegum Alley. 

After 14 years of teaching, trying to stop students chewing gum and sticking it in bad places, having to scrape gum off my shoes a few times after a school day, I find myself in a huge alley of disgusting, revolting, gross, used, chewed gum. Ugh!

The last time ash fell on me was Boxing Day, 2001, when family came over to our house in Berowra. We were in the pool, which was freezing, despite the ultra hot day (we later removed the trees beside the pool and added solar heating), when ash from nearby fires fell upon us. We experienced that eerie feeling again in Santa Barbara. As we approached Santa Barbara on Highway 154 it was ensconced in a thick cloud of smoke. Eric, of Yosemite tour fame, recommended the Four Seasons for lunch in Santa Barbara but because a number of staff were asked to stay home due to the smoke we weren’t able to dine there. On a clear day the ocean view from either of the Four Seasons restaurants would have been magnificent. This is what it looked like on this day.

We ended up at Tre Lune, lacking an ocean view, but great Italian food and service. An older lady and her male companion came in soon after us. She received extra special treatment from the waitstaff and a visit from the chef, so we guess she was a movie or TV star in her heyday. She was obviously used to the fawning and expected it, but in a nice way. Still, it was odd.

Back on the street, the ash was still falling so we went to a local chemist where they were handing out face masks for free. We were expecting to need them on the road to Ventura (Thomas Fire) or on approach to our AirBNB accommodation in Los Angeles, but soon after we passed by some last remaining fire by Highway 101 (pictured below), the air cleared. 

Yellow: voluntary evacuation area / Red: mandatory

The trailer of a semi-trailer truck

The fires are featuring on the local news and we are also keeping an eye on the relevant websites. So reminiscent of fires back home. The fire to the south-west of us (Skirball Fire) is in the rich area of Hollywood Hills and is reasonably contained now with evacuees allowed to return to their homes. The one to the north (Creek Fire) would have to wipe out Warner Bros and Universal Studios before it would come to us and that’s not going to happen. Seriously, family and friends, we are not under threat.

Universal Studios, as viewed from our AirBNB

Our AirBNB is up on a hill with a freeway in the valley dividing us from Universal Studios. We hardly had time to take a breath before we headed to downtown LA to see a very exciting ice hockey game (NHL) between LA Kings and Ottawa Senators (click link for game highlights video) at the STAPLES Centre. Loads of fun. Griffin smiled the entire match. A late dinner and an Uber ride home finished a long day well after midnight.



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