Archive for the ‘California’ Category

Recovery: A Special Edition of The Board Chronicles   1 comment

The Board Chronicles is an ongoing series of articles about the adventures of Mrs M’s Handmade as a vendor at community festivals & craft fairs. Mrs M’s subsidiary, Mr M’s Woodshop, has been approved to create this chronicle for the good of vendorkind.

When I left you, dear readers, I had a rental car and was in a hotel in Gilroy, trying to imagine what should be next. That was Monday. If you need to catch up, you need to read about our experiences at this year’s Gilroy Garlic Festival. Read about it, here. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Since that fateful Sunday evening just 5 days ago, I’ve driven several hundred miles, finally gotten all of my stuff back … and am now sitting at home. Here is what happened:

Velda & I spent Monday watching the news and trying to figure out what to do. We networked with other vendors and read email updates that we began to get. The Garlic Festival website had a dedicated link to news as well.

CNN was carrying all of the Gilroy press conferences live at this point, and we were eager viewers. We learned that the entire Christmas Hill Park was now considered a crime scene, and that the entire area was now under FBI protection. It appeared that it would be days before anything could be recovered from inside the park – where the jeep and trailer were parked, and the booth was set up with all of my wooden pieces on display, open to the elements 24/7.

Remembering the Enterprise Rent-a-car slogan (“We’ll pick you up!”), we took them up on that offer and got a rental. We stayed near Gilroy on Monday night, which was an extra night in the motel, plus food (an accurate accounting will follow in the formal event review, but for now, you’ll just get approximations). $200.

We communicated with our final customer of the day, who had bought a beautiful, large Black Walnut cutting board and left it with us for pickup later … until we were all interrupted by the idiot with the gun. The buyers, luckily, lived in Gilroy, and we agreed that we would see each other when we returned, so they could get their cutting board … which was currently in the FBI’s protective custody.

We decided to drive home with the rental on Tuesday, and drop it off in Santa Clarita. $200.

Gas, $40.

On our way home, we learned at 2:45p – when we were 4 hours away from Gilroy – that we could pick up the Jeep if we were there by 6:30p. No way we could make that, and having the Jeep wasn’t that helpful anyway in the near term. The trailer had to stay with the booth – and the product was not accessible. Yet. We decided to keep on the road to home and do nothing, for now.

Wednesday was more of the same. I called the offered information number … and got the main receptionist for the city of Gilroy. No help there. Velda got a call from an FBI agent, who verified that she did not see the perpetrator.

We saw nothing.

Our near-complete lack of information, and general confusion continued throughout the week. Official announcements were typically made shortly before the time period that you were allowed to do something, so you really had no advance notice when anything would change. No. Idea.

Late Wednesday, an update landed on the website saying that “sometime” on Thursday the vendors on our side of the park would be able to recover their property. No other information was given. No time. No schedule. Nothing. We were cautioned that we would need an ID or driver’s license, proof of insurance and registration for the vehicles before they could be recovered. Well, OK, then.

Velda & I agreed that we would pack up Wednesday night and drive north Thursday morning. We would take the opportunity as it presented itself.

Velda, who had her fair share of anxiety – and then some – woke up at 2:15a. She puttered in the kitchen. At about 4a, she starting making the bed with me still in it and that’s when I got up.

We were on the road shortly after 5a. We drove her car, with the plan being that she would drive it home while I drove the Jeep & trailer home. Gas to & fro, $80. Wear & tear … well, we’re way beyond accounting for that on this one.

We were in line behind a flatbed produce truck. I have no idea why.

When we were almost to Gilroy, we learned that we could get access to the park after 1p. Since it was shortly after 9a, we had some time to kill. We ended up at the Gilroy outlet mall, and Velda did a bit of shopping. I read a book. We ate lunch (she made our lunches at 3a, I think it was). We headed out at about noon, and we were at the gate at 12:15p. A CHP officer was manning the barricade, and he told us where to wait. We got in line; about 10 cars were ahead of us.

Soon after we got in line, an FBI agent came out to talk to everyone in line and tell them what to expect:

  • You would be individually escorted at all times
  • You were not allowed to do anything but recover your property that was located on what’s called the “park side” of the park … where our booth was.
  • Everything in your booth had already been examined by the FBI.
  • All cash in the booth had already been photographed, logged and removed by the FBI (we had left none).
  • All valuables were similarly removed from the booth, we were told (so my cutting boards were not considered valuable. This is SO WRONG.).
  • They had already arrested some people that tried to sneak through the protective line of police. The crime scene was still being managed by the FBI (how stupid do you have to be to try and sneak onto a crime scene while the police are still there?).

We finally got to go in a little after 2p.

Each car had to be checked in by the FBI. A form had to be filed with my ID info for each of my 2 vehicles. Velda was also identified with legal ID and logged into their system. While in the park, we had a nice FBI agent named Matt (badged & armed) by our side at all times. Our trailer was an additional wrinkle; but we got a ride in an FBI cart to the Jeep, where I could then hook up the trailer, drive to the booth and begin to do what we were there to do. Velda took the pictures … this is exactly how we found the booth. The empty containers in front of the booth, the products and the canopy were set up exactly how we had left them Sunday evening.

This is the area of our booth after it was removed. The mostly brown grass was the walkway between my tables. The green grass was under the tablecloths. The rectangles of dead grass are where my empty containers were sitting under the tables. As you can see, most of the other vendors were already out of the park, but work continues.

There was some minor damage to most of the boards due to exposure to the elements; they’ll need to be refinished. Unfortunately.

Thursday evening, we went to our motel for the evening & I took a shower, thankfully. We went out to dinner, and then found our customer to present her with the board, now liberated from protective custody.

Motel, $140. Food, $52.

We got up Friday morning, had our horrible but “free” breakfast at the motel, put gas in both cars and got on the road. We’re now home with the Jeep, trailer & my boards. The trailer is in the driveway … and now I have to fix all of the damage.

But not today.

I need to repair 200+ boards before my next event in 14 days. Costs … let’s call it a day or more, and at least $100 for supplies (sandpaper, oil, beeswax, lacquer).

Home again.

We now know that the FBI investigation will continue for perhaps another week; all booths and property left on the other side of the park (the “ranch side”) are still in place. Those vendors must simply wait.

We now know that our last customers of the day – the couple that bought the nice Black Walnut end grain cutting board – were RIGHT THERE when the shooting happened. They saw it all. They ran for their lives, and, fortunately, were not injured. They are also 100% certain that the shooter acted alone. There was no accomplice. There was no 2nd shooter.

There was just one stupid, crazed gunman who wreaked havoc on a community.

More

Terror: A Special Edition of The Board Chronicles

Shredded: A Special Edition of The Board Chronicles

Wind. Blows: A Special Edition of the Board Chronicles

It’s My Birthday: A Special Edition of The Board Chronicles

When Nature Fights Back: A Special Edition of The Board Chronicles

Terror: A Special Edition of The Board Chronicles   3 comments

The Board Chronicles is an ongoing series of articles about the adventures of Mrs M’s Handmade as a vendor at community festivals & craft fairs. Mrs M’s subsidiary, Mr M’s Woodshop, has been approved to create this chronicle for the good of vendorkind.

2 July events … and both get a Special Edition of The Board Chronicles.

Not. Good.

I was a vendor at the 41st Annual Gilroy Garlic Festival. It’s been on our bucket list for many years – long before we were vendors, Mrs M was a great cook. She is a foodie. And if you’ve ever eaten at her table, you know she loves garlic.

Loves. Garlic.

So, of course, we wanted to go to the world’s pre-eminent festival in celebration of the Stinking Rose. Since the event is always in the heat of summer … and Mrs M’s products don’t play well when it’s in the 90s … we decided that I would be the vendor, and Velda would be the tourist. We had a plan. I applied to the Festival, got accepted as a vendor, and we were on our way.

All was good through most of the event, which will be reviewed separately. It’s a 3 day event, and Friday and Saturday passed without incident. We had fun. Sunday was a slower, relaxing day as is typical for a festival. I had just finished with my last customer at 5:35p and sat down to rest for a few minutes before our packing & load out would get started at 6p.

5:41p. We heard some pops. And then some more.

It sounded like gunfire, but some pops didn’t, I thought. No clue what it was. We then saw people running by my booth, screaming. “Shooter! Run!” But … run where? We had no clue what was happening where, so we didn’t move. We did go behind our booth to not be as visible.

5 sheriffs ran by, towards the source of the sound, guns drawn.

A 30-something woman was also behind our booth, with a crying, lost child. The woman called the child’s mother trying to reunite them.

No one knew anything. Hysteria. What? Where?

Terror.

A little after 6p, event organizers (all volunteers!) told everyone to evacuate to the south (away from the gunfire). I had already emptied the cash drawer; I gathered up our electronics and was ready to go. Velda … she picked up her valuables, which were 3 braids of garlic and her purse. Yes, I got to carry 10 pounds of garlic the rest of the evening. But, it was safe.

Velda saved the garlic.

We walked away from our $4,000 Trimline canopy, and my 200+ boards in the wide open booth. We moved with the crowd to the southern-most area of the park, and then eventually were moved to a nearby large concert amphitheater.

We simply abandoned the booth. We walked away from everything, open to the breeze. It’s just stuff.

We. Got. Out.

Organizers were there to help keep people calm and announce what was known (nothing). Velda shot a little video (why?) that shows you what the chaos sounded like.

We were in the amphitheater with several hundred people. Most were normal guests of the Garlic Festival. There were several volunteers, and many vendors as well. Eventually, it was decided that the guests that were in remote parking could walk to a nearby elementary school, and meet shuttle buses there to get them back to their cars. Those with cars on site (us!) would sit tight. That was just getting going … when 6 police moved quickly through the theater, guns drawn. They were going further south. Quickly.

Soon, there was a panic and people started running away … to where? Back to where we were evacuated from? Chaos returned. We had been sitting on a straw bale in the front of the audience area; Velda and several nearby people were now face down on the grass, hiding from … what?

We had no real information.

After that calmed down, we were quickly told that everyone would go to the elementary school. We started walking: six tenths of a mile to the school. We got to the school, and many people got picked up by family members there. Buses were there, taking people to parking lots. We … sat on a curb. We had no easy way to get anywhere we wanted to go. Our hotel was 8 miles away. No family or friends to come pick us up. We heard there were 3 Uber drivers in all of Gilroy, and they would clearly be overwhelmed.

Then we heard from a bus driver (!) that we were all to get on a bus which would go to the remote parking lots the Festival patrons needed, and then could go to Gavilan College, where people like us would get assistance to leave the area.

We got on a bus, and the driver immediately got lost. We turned around, circled the neighborhood, and then finally got to the Green lot … and waited behind some unmoving buses for a while. The driver eventually determined she needed to go around the buses that weren’t moving, and we got to the loading zone. Some people got off. We turned around … and then another party on our bus determined they should have gotten off at the last lot. We had to turn around. Again. The chaos continued.

We got back to the Green lot … but now we had to wait to be interviewed by an officer there that were taking down ID info, phone numbers, and statements. We saw nothing … but they have my cell number if they want to ask me any questions. After the interview, the CHP did arrange for us to get on the bus and get transport to Gavilan College.

Once there, another officer stepped on board to ask if we had seen anything. With that negative answer, we were free to go … where? We had no way to go anywhere and thought that waiting for a cab would probably be hours at best. That’s when a nearby young man raised his hand and called out, “Anyone need a ride?”

Fidel was simply a good samaritan that was helping out. He lived in Gilroy. He and his buddy Neil had their families in a safe place, and they were now offering rides to strangers.

You bet we got in their car. We do rely on the kindness of strangers all of our lives; but it’s always surprising when it’s such a large kindness. Fidel, AKA “Pops,” gathered up 5 strangers, and we proceeded to go to 3 different hotels & a restaurant that the strangers needed to get to. We were the last stop, and discovered that Neil was actually our vendor neighbor. His girlfriend is a 2D artist; the Gilroy Garlic Festival was her first-ever event. We met them Friday; hadn’t realized that he was the boyfriend until we got out of the car.

Kindness.

One passenger in our SUV was 80 feet from the shooting and talked about throwing kids in his booth behind boxes to try and get them undercover. We met another vendor that talked about how the shooting happened right beside the booth they had last year … but they were in a different position this year. But for the grace of God….

We got back to the motel at about 9:15p, 3-1/2 hours after the incident. Velda bought screw top wine from the motel gift shop. We ordered pizza.

We now know that the shooter cut through the perimeter fence to bypass the entrance security for the event. We now know that the incident was contained VERY quickly by the police force on duty at the event. The event site was divided into 5 zones, with officers patrolling each zone. We saw cops on foot, on horseback and on dirt bikes throughout the event, and 3 of those cops responded immediately to the shooter, and killed him with their pistols within a minute of the shooter opening fire with his AK-style rife. The cops were out-gunned, but they ran to the danger. And, perhaps, they ended it right then. Perhaps all of the uncertainty that thousands felt after the shooting was unnecessary, if that idiot shooter was truly a lone, crazed gunman.

Our perspective is that the event organizers did EVERYTHING right. They had a fenced border. They had security. They had a significant police presence. One idiot lone gunman defeated their planning. Unless they build a border wall around the park … what can you do?

As I write this on Monday, we still don’t know if there was a 2nd person involved in the attack (witness accounts varied). We still don’t have access to the park, so our booth and my products are still open to the elements. The Jeep is still on lockdown, and we now have a rental car.

We’re fine. We’re safe. The stuff we left in the park will be taken care of eventually, and I’m very OK with that.

More

Shredded: A Special Edition of The Board Chronicles

Wind. Blows: A Special Edition of the Board Chronicles

It’s My Birthday: A Special Edition of The Board Chronicles

When Nature Fights Back: A Special Edition of The Board Chronicles

California Pastel   Leave a comment

Propelled by relentless ocean waves and strong onshore winds, small grains of sand accumulated to form the impressive dunes of Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes National Wildlife Refuge in California. Stretching inland from the Pacific Ocean, the migrating dunes are home to a unique ecosystem of plants and animals, like the northern elephant seal, the western snowy plover and the California red-legged frog. Two remote hiking areas offer visitors a chance to explore this dynamic landscape in peace and solitude. Photo by Ian Shive, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Posted on Tumblr by the US Department of the Interior, 7/5/17.

Posted August 18, 2017 by henrymowry in California

Tagged with , ,

Oh, To Be There   Leave a comment

Redwood National Park. Photo by Michael Bandy. Tweeted by the US Department of the Interior, 5/8/17.

More

Redwood National Park

Lady Bird Johnson Grove

Redwood National and State Parks

Posted June 22, 2017 by henrymowry in California, National Parks

Tagged with , ,

Case Mountain   Leave a comment

California’s Case Mountain is home to some of the largest trees on earth! Located about 7.5 miles southeast of the town of Three Rivers, California, Case Mountain was established to protect the giant sequoias. Comparable in size to a 26-story building, sequoias not only loom over their mixed conifer forest neighbors, but they also outlive them – reaching over 3,000 years. Photo by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management. Posted on Tumblr by the US Department of the Interior, 4/28/17.

Posted June 17, 2017 by henrymowry in California

Tagged with ,

Thread Leaved Brodiaea   Leave a comment

Abundant winter rain this year ushered in a series of super-blooms in southern California, including the thread-leaved brodiaea in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains in eastern Los Angeles County. “It’s the only brodiaea left in Los Angeles County, so it’s extremely rare, and what we have on our land is pretty special,” said Ann Croissant, a retired professor with a background in plant physiology, who has led a local effort to protect this endangered plant. Credit: Joanna Gilkeson/USFWS. From the US Fish & Wildlife Service Pacific Southwest blog.

More

Late To Rise, Early To Bed

The Bend   Leave a comment

Sacramento River Bend Outstanding Natural Area in California includes expansive rolling hills of blue oak and lush forests surrounding the Sacramento River and its tributaries. The beautiful and diverse habitat – home to bald eagles, osprey, deer and salmon – offers natural beauty and solitude paired with numerous recreation opportunities, sunrise to sunset. Photo by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management. Posted on Tumblr by the US Department of the Interior, 4/13/17.

Posted May 28, 2017 by henrymowry in California, Photography

Tagged with , ,

Lake Manzanita   Leave a comment

Lassen Volcanic National Park in California is home to steaming fumaroles, meadows freckled with wildflowers, clear mountain lakes, and numerous volcanoes. Jagged peaks tell the story of its eruptive past while roaring steam, thumping mud pots and boiling pools continue to shape the land. Photo of a starry night over Lake Manzanita by Kedar Datta. Posted on Tumblr by the US Department of the Interior, 5/25/17.

More

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Snow!

California Blooming   Leave a comment

Perspective   Leave a comment

The otherworldly landscape of Alabama Hills illuminated at sunset. Photo by Sangeeta Dey. Tweeted by the US Department of the Interior, 3/15/17.

Posted April 14, 2017 by henrymowry in California

Tagged with , ,

%d bloggers like this: