Friday, June 29, 2012

Colorado Fires!

I know I still have a few weeks of back pictures to post, but everything was put on hold this week when the Waldo Canyon Fire started in Colorado Springs.

For those of you who don't know our history in Colorado Springs, we moved there in 2007 when I was pregnant with Jack. The month before Jack was born we bought a house. Two years later, Luke was transferred to Switzerland We really loved Colorado Springs and liked our house so we decided not to sell it. Instead we hired a management company and rented out the house. The family who rented our house really liked it and have been in the house the entire time we were in Switzerland.
Saying goodbye to our house before leaving for Switzerland

Fast forward to our current trip in the US, we flew to Colorado on June 20th (Wednesday) and then on Thursday we made a trip down to the Springs to visit friends and check on our house. Everything was great and we drove back to my parents house two hours north of the Springs. On Saturday June 23rd the Waldo Canyon fire started and for a while it was not an issue. I was in contact with friends in the Springs and although the air was smokey, no homes were threatened. It seemed like all of the sudden things took a turn for the worse. On Wednesday June 26th the fire moved into the community of Mountain Shadows (where our house is). I watched in horror as friends posted pictures of the fire growing and growing.

When I saw this picture, my heart sank. I recognized the top of the church right away. Our house is somewhere in the smoke/flames.
There was no information on what homes had been destroyed. I tried to find information on the internet and the only thing I could find was this map which showed the burned areas.
Burn areas in red, our house is the yellow dot
Our house was right on the edge of the burn area.
And then I found pictures of homes in the Mountain Shadows community:

I was sure that our home was destroyed along with all of our neighbors.

While all this was going on, Luke was on a business trip in England and had no idea about the fires or our house or anything. He had no cellphone and no internet connection either so I had no way of contacting him. I decided it was for the better that he didn't know, this way he could concentrate on his work and then deal with our house when he got back.

Thursday morning I found these aerial pictures of the aftermath of the fire:
I emailed the photographer and he sent me a high resolution version of the image and I was able to zoom in and see our house... still standing
Luke got home late Thursday night and I debriefed him on the whole situation. We were both anxious to find out what happened to our house, but we couldn't find any information. Our tenants were invited to a private meeting on Thursday night to hear the status of all the affected homes. Everyone who attended was given a list of addresses and next to each one was listed "total loss" "visible damage" or "no visible damage." Our house was listed as "visible damage"

That is all the information we have right now. It will be several days before they open up our streets again, so until then we just have to wait. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Back in the USA...Recap of the last 3 weeks

It's good to be back! These last few weeks have been a whirlwind of non stop madness, but the kids have been real troopers and Luke and I have acquired a new level of flexibility and patience that only the craziest of situations can bring.

Backing up to 3 weeks ago: we were still in Switzerland trying to clean our apartment to "Swiss" standards and we had three days of non stop cleaning. Our friends took turns taking Jack for the day while Luke and I (with Lily strapped on to my back) cleaned every tiny speck of dirt from our apartment. The Swiss are known for a very stringent cleaning standard and most sane people will hire a company (usually costs 2 months rent) to clean the apartment. But seeing as we had no income (more on that later) we decided to take this daunting task on ourselves. We slaved away for three days while spending the nights in a nearby hotel. On Monday morning (June 4th) a man from the bank and the new tenant both came to inspect our apartment. The bank man went through every room and filled pages upon pages noting every little scratch in the floor or dent on a wall. Of course, he was writing in German so I had no idea what he found. But at the end of the inspection he said that I had no further obligations on my we had passed without having to pay for additional cleaning!! That is just about unheard of in Switzerland (Score 1 for the Americans).
Taking a lunch break from hours of cleaning

While I was dealing with the apartment inspection, Luke was driving our last remaining car to Zurich (2 hours away) where an engineering student at the University wanted to buy our car for his brother in Latvia. The problem was that our car was not drivable in Switzerland (because of certain mandatory tests we did not have done) so Luke parked the car in Zurich where the buyer was going to have a trailer take it over to Latvia. After dropping the car off, the buyer then had to drive Luke all the way back to Biel (another 2 hours) to turn in our license plates. Then Luke picked up a rental car and came to pick up me and the kids. We had a final meal at our favorite creperie and then headed down to Geneva to stay at an airport hotel for the night.

Tuesday morning we boarded our flights back to the states. Our first flight from Geneva to Newark, New Jersey was 8 hours. Jack did great and spent most of the flight watching movies and playing games on the iPad. Lily was more difficult as she wouldn't sleep in her car seat. So I ended up having to put her in the Ergo and walk with her for most of the flight.
Lily says: "No way am I going to sleep" 

Jack in the iPad zone

No naps for Lily

We had a 3 hour layover in Newark and then boarded our next (2 hour) flight to Ohio. Then we had another layover and our final flight to Las Vegas was 5 hours. When we boarded our final plane to Vegas the pilot invited Jack and Lily to the front of the plane, and I snapped tons of pictures.
By this point, Jack is goofy tired

Lily and the copilot

On this last flight everyone was exhausted and both kids were pretty cranky. Lily cried for an hour or so before finally conking out and then Jack had a semi meltdown but finally fell asleep as well. We arrived in Las Vegas at 3:30 am Switzerland time but it was only 6:30 in the evening Las Vegas time. Luke's cousin picked us up from the airport and can you guess where our first stop was?

I'll tell you next time.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Goodbye Switzerland

It was fun...

Until next time...