It’s Just Stuff . .. . Right?

Tonight, as we sit here watching the High Park fire fiercely burn within 18  miles of our Jerry’s Acres paradise near Fort Collins, two of the biggest lessons we’ve learned while searching for the best place to live are converging before us.

Lesson One: There is no perfect place.

Every place to live has something less than perfect about it, and usually it’s related to weather or natural disasters.

Whether it’s tornadoes in the Midwest, earthquakes on the West Coast, or brutal heat in the South, all of us live at the mercy of Mother Nature’s rage.

When Jim and I bought a place in the mountains west of Fort Collins, we knew the risk of wildfire was present, but like everyone else who dreams of living in an alpine setting, that fear gets pushed aside for the stunning rewards of living among moose, deer, bear, marmot and all of nature’s gifts, right in your own backyard.

You always hope that the day will never come when wildfire forces you out. While our immediate area in Red Feather Lakes still hasn’t been issued an evacuation order, the threat to our place is very real right now.

Lesson Two: It’s Just Stuff

But we won’t be evacuating. That’s because we aren’t there. Since we’re working full-time this summer at Vickers dude ranch in Lake City, about 7 hours from Jerry’s Acres, we can only watch from afar.

However even if we were at our place, what would we grab? After experiencing one serious evacuation, one of the lessons we learned is that the things that matter most to us can fit in the back of our pickup truck.

Everything else is just a physical manifestation of those memories that helped us grow into the people who we are today. And not even Mother Nature can take that away.

Forget the photographs, the memorabilia, the wedding dress, the cookbooks, the love letters and the dining room set. Because as we learned when we put all of this stuff in storage for two years, life can be just as sweet without them. Eventually. . . after the shock of losing it all wears off.

As someone who’s learned to live with very few possessions during the last few years, I know that if you manage to get out of a bad situation with your loved ones and your health intact, that’s really the only thing that matters in this world.

What Stuff Matters to You?

After living through a Texas flood that almost forced us to abandon our rig, we made an emergency evacuation list. It contains just a few items like our laptops, hard drive, and of course, Jerry’s ashes.

Have you made an evacuation list? If so, what would you grab if you only had minutes to flee?

11 thoughts on “It’s Just Stuff . .. . Right?”

  1. Oh my…I really hope your home is OK. I’m very much a “things don’t matter much” to me gal, but it’s still difficult to lose a home. We went through the same “what should we take dilemma” when we were evacuated by fire from TX last year (and like your flooding incident we only had a short time to take action). I think for me the most important are Paul & my pets, followed by my laptop/hard drives. We also have ONE folder of “important documents” (passports, SSN cards, green card etc.) that I would take. Other than that nothing else.

  2. After living through the Oakland Hills fire in 1991 where we were notified we needed to be ready to evacuate within one hour of getting the call, we figured out that all we needed to take (in addition to our earthquake bag prepared after the 1989 Loma Prieta “lesson”) was Maureen’s heirloom clock that her dad had made and a quilt that my mom had made. Everything else was “just stuff” and didn’t matter.

    Of course, we didn’t figure that out until about Tuesday, and the fire danger was Sunday night!

    Sounds like you guys have figured it out…

    • John, I think once you live through a disaster like that, you never forget how little things really do matter. It does change your perspective. Glad that you made it through the fire. -R

  3. Jack would be put in the truck. Lizzie’s ashes. If I had time, I’d grab my lap top, though everything is backed up on carbonate, and all pictures are either originally digital or have been scanned.

    All important papers are off the property in a safety deposit box. If I had time, I’d grab the bin where I put Rich’s personal/sentimental stuff.

    Other than that, as you say, people and pets are the only things that really matter. Still, I hope your home remains safe.

    I enjoy your blog.

    • Hey hobopals, thanks for reading. Sounds like you have your list ready to go. Good for you. I wish I could say we used Carbonite, but being on satellite internet, it would take DAYS to do a backup. For now we just hope that our safe is fire-proof enough to protect our backup CDs. Thanks for the good wishes.

      • Please keep us posted, Rene’. I was listening to a guy on the news last night who said all he can do is wait to see if his whole life will have to be restarted. That’s got to be nerve wracking, to say the least.

        I came down through Idaho with fires right up to the road. I could see the fire jumpers so while I wasn’t panicked, it was an experience, that’s for sure.

        Again, good luck.

  4. Thinking of you guys. So sad to see particularly since we had just been at Horsetooth and enjoyed such a beautiful environment. Let’s hope they get it under control soon.

    • Hey Ingrid, thanks for the good thoughts. Yeah, it’s hard to believe the fire came down to the shoreline at the reservoir. Glad you got to see it before it burned. Sigh.

  5. After the big fires here in San Diego in ’03 (hooray, we get earthquakes AND fires!), we had our cars packed just in case, but never needed to evacuate. So, I do have an evacuation list – and it’s set up in priority order by how much time we have, from just a few minutes to 10 min to 30, etc. We are pretty much the same as you – laptops & imp. paperwork file, Bailey’s & Abby’s ashes, wedding album (since we don’t have any digital wedding photos), and the quilt my mom made us for our wedding. But if we had no time, I’d just be happy to make it out with the hubster and Rita. I agree – you are so right: it’s just stuff!

    Having said all that – I hope YOUR stuff is ok! Hope they get the fire under control soon.

    • Isn’t California awesome, Jackie? Earthquakes and fires…oh my! Those fires were pretty unbelievable. We humans are so complacent until something like that hits close to home. I lived through the Whittier quake in SoCal in the 80s, but it still wasn’t enough to get me to pack an emergency kit in my car. Duh. Fires are scarier I think!

      • Yeah, I think fires are scarier too. I don’t have an emergency kit in my car either… And we don’t really have one in the house, although we have a lot of random food/water in the pantry. Really need to get on it and get one of those hand-cranked radios!


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