That is the sun beginning to set over the Pacific Ocean. I was on another detour… the last of this three-day, detour-strewn adventure from Northern California back to San Diego. I was firmly back in Southern California now. Traffic really started to bunch up after I got back on the 101 after leaving that fancy hotel where I stopped in the last post. My Google maps on my cell phone had me get off the freeway and head up into the mountains… a ‘shortcut’. The irony is that there was an accident on the twisty, two-lane road, and I got detoured off onto an even smaller and more twisty road by a state trooper… mmm… shortcuts.
I mean, yeah, traffic had been bad on the freeway, but I was back in sun-drenched, palm tree-ridden So Cal.
While I was on my detour from my detour, I began to get into the scorched lands hit so hard by that huge fire… one of the huge fires… we have had recently. The smell of soot and ash was heavy in the air.
At last I was back on the Highway 101. That is the famous mission in Santa Barbara. All those hills in the background have been burned black.
The mountains in the foreground and the background were barren, darkened wasteland.
I can’t tell you how many miles I drove past jagged stumps and denuded scrub brush.
I pulled over to take that photo. It was sad to see such a sight. It was made more poignant by the fact that, when I turned around, this is what I was looking at…
But here is the true horror of this post. I don’t remember where I took those last two photos exactly, but I had either just passed, or was soon to pass, the area where the tragic mudslides that happened a few days ago were about to happen. The strong rains came, and there were no plants to hold the hills together. More people died. The freeway I was travelling on when I took these, not so long ago, is still, I believe, closed for a large segment, where one of the mudslides washed over it, leaving trees and boulders and the wreckage of people’s lives behind.