October 21, 2004

When smoke gets in your sun

The place we usually stay when we're in Gold Country has absolutely nothing to do with gold. Copperopolis found its fame and fortune in, you guessed it, copper. It's a small town of a couple thousand people that has become a popular location for second homes of Bay Area residents. They're drawn by the relatively short drive to get there, the reasonable housing costs, and the golf courses.

I don't golf and I don't own one house, let alone two, but I like it there, too. I like it because of its proximity to Yosemite and the other Gold Country towns like Jackson, Columbia and Angels Camp, its lovely landscapes, and a few favorite shops and restaurants. Oh, and the olive oil. The Calaveras Olive Oil Co. is in an old brick building near the highway and it has some killer oils. The people who own it are so nice and they bend over backwards to accomodate you and let you try just about everything in the place. It's not at all like some other gourmet olive oil shops I've been in (in Sonoma, for instance) that don't seem to be interested in you apart from what you're going to spend there.

But I digress. As you may or may not know, this is fire season here in California, and in the last month there have been a lot of fire warnings because of a weather pattern with very low humidity and high winds. Then you add in the whack jobs who start fires and this can be a destructive time of year.

While we were on our trip, there were a number of fires burning in the general vicinity of the Sierras, and the smoke from them was definitely a factor. It scuttled a hike out of Tuolumne Meadow and caused us to close the car windows more than once. The upside of forest fires, apart from naturally occuring fires or prescribed burns that have their own benefit to the balance of Nature, is that the smoke from them can make for very dramatic sunsets.

The picture above was taken in Copperopolis on one of our first nights there. I was surprised because the fires weren't really all that close by, but I was very glad I took my camera along on a trip to town. The photo doesn't begin to capture the radiant and glowing ball of red that was the sun that evening.

Tomorrow's episode: Stop already!