It was as if Nellie knew that we were finally hitting the road, and she pulled out all the stops to force us to stay. Today was our last day in the Seattle area. I had a blood draw to see if the new poison for my Crohn’s disease is poisoning me TOO much, and Nellie was at Camping World to fix the remaining slide.
Then her passenger rear leveler (yes, the one I just had repaired) would not retract. Then the refrigerator began turning off and on. Then the back tire of the pair on the rear driver side would not hold air pressure over 80 PSI.
I took care of it, and I mean all of it, today, driving from Camping World to O’Neill’s Marine and RV Service to Les Schwab Tire Center. We hit the road at 1:00 p.m., and I was a pretty tired puppy already.
At 5:30 p.m. I pulled into Horsethief Lake, on the Washington side of the Columbia Gorge. The setting was lovely, and all was quiet, as fall is definitely upon us. They were only three other RVs. I unhooked the toad and backed Nellie into her spot for the night, with a beautiful view of the water. The animals were pacing, anticipating dinner.
My stomach was growling too. Then I smelled smoke, annoyed that someone was scofflawing the burn ban and cooking dinner over an open flame.
Suddenly I saw billows of smoke coming over the ridge. The orange glow above it seemed like the setting sun, but the sun doesn’t set in that direction. One of my RV neighbors sped by in his truck, honking the horn and bellowing to all the campers to get the hell out. Two police cars, lights blazing and sirens blaring, were close behind. For the time being the road out of the park was still open, but not for long.
I was in a panic. The entire area instantly smelled like smoke, including the interior of the coach. Thankfully I had not yet opened the slides or plugged into power and water. I pulled Nellie out of her berth, then quickly pulled the car up to re-attach it. I stopped for a moment, took three deep, cleansing breaths, and reminded myself to slow down and perform all the necessary steps and not make a bad condition worse.
Then we beat feet out of there. I followed one of the police cars.
The smoke was so heavy in spots, I was afraid I would hit a fireman.
Police and fire personnel were everywhere. Open flames burned along the roadway.
I considered relocating to another nearby campground, then thought better of it. I jumped back on I-84 East and could see the fire from the interstate.
I write this from Celilo Park, many miles south of the fire, and on the opposite side of the river. There are no amenities, but camping is free and the view of the river is beautiful. I am so exhausted I don’t think I will even notice the train going by, or the gusts of wind that shake the RV.
My first day on the road and I was evacuated due to fire! Wow!
UPDATE: The news this morning:
Fast Moving Grass Fire Burns Structures in Klickitat County
Posted: Oct 01, 2015 8:51 PM PDT
DALLESPORT, WA – Firefighters are working to contain a fast moving grass fire that has burned structures near Dallesport in Klickitat County.
The fire started around 6 p.m. Thursday near the intersection of Highway 197 and Highway 14 east of Dallesport.
The fire quickly grew spreading east towards the Horsethief Lake Campground area.
As of 7:15 p.m. the fire had burned multiple structures on the south side of Hwy 14 near Horsethief Lake.
Right now the Klickitat County Sheriff’s Office has issued a level 3 mandatory evacuation notice for the area east of Hwy 197 to the east end of Horsethief Butte on the south side of Hwy 14.
The public is being asked to avoid the area and use alternate travel routes for Hwy 14 east and westbound in the area of mile marker 84.
There are approximately 10 Klickitat County fire departments as well as DNR, Mid-Columbia Fire & Rescue and State Parks crews, involved in the firefighting efforts.
The cause is under investigation.