Rather than writing about my 3-day vacation, I’ll talk about a natural disaster that often happens here in California, especially here in the Bay Area and Northern California. If you live in the U.S., you are seeing this in the news today. And just for a quick update, the wildfires are still uncontrollable, and now our families in the North Bay have lost homes and also lost lives (casualty as of today: 21).
The California “Endless Summers”
California has earned many nicknames by the rest of the country (and probably the rest of the world) aside from the official state nickname of The Golden State. One of these nicknames is the more-known “the state of endless summers.” Sometimes, this endless summer term can also refer to as Indian Summer.
These endless summers bit is no exaggeration. Our summer season (and I refer to the entire state, not just Los Angeles or Southern California) last until around late September to early October. The Fall Season, as well as the Winter and Spring Seasons, are usually the best times that tourists can come and visit California, according to us locals, but the busiest times of tourism are often in the summer. Hollywood and the whole sun-kissed lifestyle of hanging out at the beach while listening to some summer beach music or soaking in the sun while you’re climbing up in the mountains or visiting hills and hills of grape vineyards and orchards and farmlands are such attractive factors that define the natural beauty of our state, there are also dangerous factors that come with this endless summer season.
California’s natural disasters are milder than many natural disasters throughout the rest of the country in comparison. We have rain in the fall (sometimes), winter, and spring. We get occasional thunderstorms here and there during the winter and early spring. But the worst disaster for us (not to mention that it’s a lot worse than earthquakes) are wildfires.
What the rest of the world would probably think that the Californian endless summer meant longer summer vacations and longer fun days without worries, to us locals, it meant danger and disaster period. The very hot and sweltering sun meant we are in danger of getting burned to a crisp through sunburns and skin cancers, which is why sunblock is a necessity for us at all times. The very high humidity that incorporates the sweltering sun also means unsafe, unbreathable atmosphere, which makes it dangerous to even stay out in the sun just to get a tan or get yourselves wet in the pool or in the ocean.
Combine the two together along with hundreds and hundreds of acres of beautiful green redwood pine trees with very little water or moisture means a sign that soon, and very soon, the sun will hand off its flicker to the poor trees, which will cause a fast-spreading wildfire.
Endless summers to us mean we have to be alert to the dangers that are about to come if we don’t be careful. Endless summers mean it’s important to stay cool and hydrated at all times, which usually means it’s better to stay indoors with no windows or doors open. Endless summers mean to better prepare, especially when all of Mother Nature’s beautiful, breathtaking wilderness surrounds the community where you live.
Just like up in the North Bay Region in the San Francisco Bay Area, which consists of these majestic nature that is open to danger to this endless summer period. Especially dead trees and plants, they are very attractive to the sun’s deadly rays, and if you’re not too careful, the wildfires aren’t the only ones that can kill you. Just sitting out under the sun under a very high humidity atmosphere can mean skin cancers to heat strokes.
The North Bay Region of the SF Bay Area
The North Bay Region is most famous for the American wine country that covers Napa and Sonoma Counties. The map above shows my approximate location to the North Bay (at least towards Napa). I don’t have any photos of North Bay that I personally took since it’s been forever since the last time I came for a visit. The photos that I have belongs to my dad and his camera, and I don’t want to use his photos without permission.1 Therefore, I’ll rely on Pixabay for the stock photos instead.
North Bay would consist of lands that look like this below:
… and vineyards looking something like this (Castello di Amorosa)…
… with many homes and neighborhoods looking something like this…
For some of us locals, it would be something like “Why travel to the Tuscan Region in Italy when we’ve got the good ol’ North Bay?” For us “cheapies,” this is as close to a European countryside as it gets. The Mediterranean-like climate here helps a lot too.
The North Bay, as well as the surrounding areas of the SF Bay Area, are very important to us, because of the majority of our local-made food, produce, meat and livestock, dairy, and all of our life’s necessities all come from these regions. The North Bay isn’t just famous for the American wine country, but this region is also the heart, life, and soul of California. Even though the stock photos I shared above are only a glimpse of how much of the North Bay looks like, you may have to wait a few years more if you plan on visiting and enjoy this wonderful region.
Because right now, places like these on the photos are being destroyed by the wildfires. Please save our lands, our crops, and our communities.
About 90% of the U.S.’s wine industry comes from here, and because of the current wildfire that’s burning much of this area today, wines with the mentions of “Napa Valley” or “Sonoma County” or “Mendocino County” or any of the cities within these regions will become really pricey. According to the local news, the vineyards that are currently spared by the wildfire have come together to use whatever profits they made from their wines to rebuild this region once this wildfire is contained and extinguished.
The thing with wildfires, in general, is that they are not like hurricanes. Hurricanes, typhoons, and storms that involve rain and wind usually disappear in a few days, as they move along with the winds up in the atmosphere. Wildfires, on the other hand, can take weeks to be contained. The weather also isn’t very helpful in cases, most especially if the days during wildfires have low humidity atmosphere. And when humidity is low, that means there will be winds that can travel to even 30-40 mph. Unfortunately for us, our nights are usually windy, and when the wind blows, the flames and the smoke from those fires go along with them, and that’s when the other neighboring or outside regions get affected.
In my case here in Union City, the smoke just invaded our blue sky and our breathing air. It was hard to breathe earlier today and had to do whatever I can to stay as much indoors as I can, covering my face with a face mask when I can. My mom became so worried earlier today, wondering what on earth is happening to the world today. So many lives were lost in just a span of 3-4 weeks— the hurricanes that devastated Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico, the mass shooting in Las Vegas two weekends ago, and now this. She wondered if we were being punished for the failures that have happened this past year (I don’t have to explain this further). Aside from chipping in through more donations, the second thing we could do is pray.
And because we’re praying right now, the only prayer that I ask for is rain. Very heavy rain with very little wind.
Hope and Community
This is the worst wildfire case that we’ve had throughout the history of California, mainly because we have many casualties as of today. Because the fires still continue until this day, this also means that the casualty count may still be rising. As of the time of this writing, 23 casualties have been reported, according to the local TV news.
This isn’t the first wildfire that we’ve had that occurred in Northern California. In fact, we get these every single year around this time, during these “endless summers” period. The only thing is that they often occur in our mountains and our forests. This year became so unfortunate that towns and cities that surround these lands are also being affected. Wildfires have always been a disaster for us, just as much as hurricanes being a disaster for many parts of the U.S. And as locals and residents of California (the entire state, not just up here), we know how to deal and handle wildfires in general. Case by case, anyway.
And because of this fact, we rely very little on federal aid. Why? Because we never get them in the first place. If federal aid was that slow for the disaster that happened in Puerto Rico, do they even know how to handle wildfires? Probably not. And because of this, we’re not begging for any type of federal aid. We have more hope and faith in ourselves, our local neighbors, our local businesses, and of course, all the different and diverse communities of the entire Bay Area to help out as much as we can for our family and friends affected by these fires.
We do appreciate that neighboring states like Oregon and Nevada fire departments would fly over just to help us out, because they volunteer to help. All those others who think that “California deserved to be burned to hell” would have to cry a river, because all their favorite “fancy booze” will skyrocket, and they’ll be as expensive as all those European wines. Yup. Hell, we can keep all our “fancy booze” to ourselves if we have to. Anyway.
Many businesses, from tech companies to small business, are quickly opening up aid relief donations and fundraising to help our people up north. Even all of the Bay Area sports teams have also opened up fundraisers and donations to be sent up there. California is the most populous state in this entire country, which means, we can only rely on one another for aid. We’ve suffered downfalls many times before, from the San Francisco Earthquakes back in 1902 and 1989 to the Oakland Hills fire back in the early ’90s to many others. We are capable of rebuilding and getting back up to our glorious days once the storm is over.
Personal Memories with the North Bay
- There is a Six Flags Discovery Kingdom amusement park in Vallejo today. Before that, it was called Marine World Africa USA. The first time we visited there, I was only 11-years-old. Fun times, it was a mix of a zoo and an amusement park. Over the years, it got evolved and the name changed. I haven’t been to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom for many years now.
- During our Catholic Confirmation program, I witnessed my classmates beginning to sing, write poetry, and experiment with their voices. My late friend (the one I mentioned in the beginning of this entry) happened to be one of those members. You know those Hollywood movies about young dreamers starting their own band or musical act in hopes of becoming famous one day, along with those supporting characters that witnessed and got involved in their formation, one way or the other? Yup, I’ve lived in that kind of life before, almost 30 years ago. I was a young and naive immigrant teenage girl who didn’t know what was going on and never really realized that history was being made at that time. It all happened in a school bus travel up in the retreat house located in Napa Valley.
- My first business trip was back in the mid-2000s, and it was in a small wine vineyard inn in Sonoma.
- When the relatives from out of state come and visit, one of the places that we would normally take them is up there in the North Bay, most especially in Napa and Sonoma Counties. They love wine, so why not?
I apologize for giving “false hopes” for my plans to upload all my photos of my 3-day trip to the Sierra Nevada region and should have been my October “At Home” linkup entry, but I want to write about the North Bay as my own personal dedication to all my friends who live there and are also in danger of losing their homes (and possibly their lives if they don’t evacuate as instructed). After all, even when there’s a disaster, we are talking about a portion of my home region after all, so it still counts.
I know I’m “breaking my own rules” a bit, but this is more of a last-minute entry. If it weren’t for all these series of tragedies, I would have proceeded.
I also plan on opening a photoblog of sorts where I would just post galleries of all the photos I’ve taken. Mostly landscapes rather than portraits. I consider photography as an art, after all.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, and please, when you can, join the linkup too!
I extended the date to the 29th for this linkup, simply because I’ve posted this rather too late.
Come and Join in!
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On the sidenote...
- He doesn’t know that I have a blog also… [↩]