They Play Solitaire


7) Part of my first meeting with Michael since he got back to Sac’to

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This is part of my first meeting with Michael since he got back to Sac’to. He originally left town to do his refrigeration work at the Lick Observatory. He had been working for the UC system at the Davis med center, here.

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“The people in the observatory office down in Santa Cruz had me leave my car at a place on the edge of Silicon Valley, where I met-up with some other people and we all took a little bus up the mountain. By the time we got up to the observatory on a winding road, I felt pretty bad. I don’t know if it was altitude sickness or if I was just carsick.

“Everybody was talking about a fire, north of the observatory. We could see the smoke. I don’t know if we were getting closer to it or it was getting closer to us on the way up, but there was a lot of confusion when we got there. I spent about an hour going from one building to another. All the maintenance people must have been at the fire.

“It’s like a town, up there… About a mile, from one end to the other… And all the buildings are on tops of peaks. There’s like fifty buildings on the little map they gave me when we got off the bus at the dining hall, where all the scientists checked in. I wound up at the east end. After that it’s all wilderness down to towns in the central valley. At that point the fire was real close.

“I could see fire trucks where most of the smoke was, just down the hill from me. So it was either walk back down the main road to the buildings way back or try to get the firefighters to tell me where everybody was.

“When I started hiking down, I lost sight of the trucks and I couldn’t get reoriented because of the smoke. Right when I saw the line of flames, I realized I was on the grass side, not on the burnt side, so the little edge of flames was moving toward me, but not that fast. By that time I was totally out-of-it.

“I finally saw some guys and they saw me, and they motioned for me to come to where they were. I wasn’t completely sure I could jump over the line of flames without catching on fire, but it was really small and I didn’t want to go back the way I came and find myself in a worse situation.

“After I jumped over, and got to where they were, they said I should have waited until they could shovel some dirt onto the fire, right where I was.”

One of the firefighters told him to sit down and put a hand on his shoulder to keep him from toppling over. Seeing how sick he was, the firefighter called out for an EMT. The EMT told him to lie down. Michael said that the ground felt soft and crunchy at the same time.

“I wiped my forehead and realised I was totally black. I felt some sweat near my eye, but I didn’t try to wipe it away.

“After that, the only thing I heard anybody say was, ‘Get him outta here.’

“They took me farther east.

“It’s all wilderness back there until you get to I-5, like Modesto.

“This bunkhouse they took me to was like a vacation.”

Lick Observatory – satelite view


Written by Kenny Mann

04/24/2006 at 2:22 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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