Absolutely Stunning Tea Fire Footage

There is an absolutley stunning video of the Tea Fire available from Patrick Lawler. The footage he captured is simply stunning and paired with the soundtrack, it will make a grown man cry. I am blown away by the flames burning near the power lines. It is truly a miracle that my house survived!

Tea / Las Alturas Fire, Santa Barbara California from Patrick Lawler on Vimeo.



Tea Fire – Devastating Stupidity

On Thursday night, November 13th, I came around the hill to find the foothills above Santa Barbara on fire. My heart sank… The Tea Fire had begun. The fire looked to be close to home, so I hauled ass back to the house in time to grab some belongings and my pet. I was lucky I left work early and was able to get back to the house before the fire came roaring down the hill. As I left, hot embers and fire surrounded the house. I was certain the house was lost.


The story of the weekend was alcohol consumption and awaiting news, any news of whether or not the house made it. What else is there to do? Being in this situation is an experience that no one should have to go through. I kept thinking of things I left behind only to imagine them go up in flames. Stress is an understatement.

Then, word spread that a few houses made it through the fire and that mine was one of them. I was so happy, but then the waiting began. When would officials open up the area so I can see for myself that the house was still there? From all of the stories I was hearing and pictures of our humble neighborhood, I really couldn’t believe that a single house made it through the inferno.

We were finally able to return home to utter devastation. Driving along Mountain Drive toward Coyote Rd I was speechless. I knew people who lived in the area and everything was just gone… our neighborhood was reduced to a desert-scape of ash and dirt. Stunning.

Coming around the corner to my house, I was amazed. The house was still standing with minimal damage to the main structure. The north end of the property went up in flames, consuming the patio gate, the tool shed, and half the tree. In the back, there is a foot diameter hole in the middle of the deck where an ember had started a fire, but was put out. The fire burned up to the garage and blackened the stucco. Clearly a fire crew had been at the house, fighting the hurricane force wind driven fire, saving the house. We are one of only two houses in that area that pulled through.

The neighbors above us, below us, and to the side, all burned to the ground. Living at the house is quite depressing… ghost houses surround us and at night it is so dark and quiet, it is erie. In all 210 homes burned to the ground, with countless more damaged. img_5723

The Tea Fire started from a bon-fire that a group of Santa Barbara City College students started at the Tea Garden, above Westmont College. The saddest part is that this devastating fire could have been avoided. These students are just plain stupid… they went into a know fire hazard area where high winds were predicted and started a fire that quickly got out of control. I hope the justice system works and all ten of them have their wages garnished for the rest of their lives paying for their stupidity and then get locked in prison for life. Stupid, stupid, stupid…


Goodbye Summer!


This summer has certainly been interesting. From my travels, the death of my mom, flight simulator releases, triathlon training and my award winning recipes, I feel like my summer has been full of extremes.

The highs include traveling to Colorado and visiting Rocky Mountain National Park and having lunch with the elk to winning “Best Meat Chili” at the company cook-off for the second year in a row.  The lows were extreme in their own right.  I laid my mom to rest after months of heart disease and visits to the doctor. I also decided not to participate in the local triathlon this year, feeling that I was not quite ready. 

I look back over the entire experience with a long list of emotions, but look toward the future with optimism and happiness.  Afterall, this November we get to get those icky, destructive, Republicans out of office.  I will continue to train for next year’s triathlon season, studying up on productivity and leadership, and keeping you all informed of my reality and the flight simulator world! 

As I look forward, I offer these images of summer as a point of reflection.


Boats on the beach near Santa Barbara's harbor.
Boats on the beach near Santa Barbara’s harbor.



The USCG cutter "Blackfin" in Santa Barbara Harbor.

The USCG cutter "Blackfin" in Santa Barbara Harbor.


To The Future! Cheers! 




November Aviation Photos

I took this sequence of photos about a year while walking on the pier at Goleta beach Park. In this case, an America West Express (AWE) CRJ-200 was leaving SBA on runway 7 and climbing out on the departure. Unfortunately, I only had a 200mm zoom lens and no tripod, so the quality isn’t what I usually get with my Canon Rebel XT. The fourth photo is my favorite with a little blue sky, the clouds, and the graceful roll of the CRJ.

AWE CRJ climbing

Still Climbing

Climbing Still

Turning Climb

Hope you have enjoyed them!