Of Dog Days, Crappy Plans, and Second Hand Smoke

Continuing what has become an emerging trend, I’ve not posted here for two months because, well, there’s not been a lot of progress  to report.

It’s not for lack of trying mind you.  And we have made several trips to the property in the time since my last post.  Here are some images from those trips.

We’ve widened the access road to where the water tanks will be. We also received some budgetary quotes for paving the dirt road above the house (not cheap!).  This access road is too steep for them to pave, so we’ll probably just stabilize it with gravel.
We also expanded the water tank area itself.  More space = more water = better.  This is the view north, towards the Tenaya Lodge.
This is the view south from the water tank area, roughly towards Oakhurst.  There is enough room for 2-3 large tanks here now, plus space for service vehicles and a “dog house” for pumps, etc.
It is surprising to see how quickly the hillside is recovering from fire.  This is the path down to the picnic area
And this is looking back up that path.  Notice how much green is now visible across the burned-out landscape.
Another example of the green recovery.  This is looking north-east, just below the path to the picnic area.  These trees are all dead and will have to come down.
Wildflowers are everywhere, happily doing their thing
This is the view looking south across the picnic area, with our weather station in the foreground. Both of the oak trees in this image are still alive! They might just survive.
I’ve been collecting any remnants I find of the old weather station, just for “fun”

About those plans

Construction has not started because we’ve been waiting for the county to approve building plans.  Here’s a sample of what they have:

Floorplans of the main residence
Floorplans of the detached garage and 2nd floor living space

As of late last week we heard confirmation that the building department has approved the design.  Yay! 

But we still can’t start construction, because the septic system design has yet to be approved.  This requires, among other things, proof that the soils can absorb what comes out of the septic tank.  The fact that we’ve had a fully functioning septic system on site for 25+ years didn’t seem to be good enough.  So we had to do more digging.

Trenching begins for several “perc” tests.
These are the two access ports for the old septic tank.  That tank was damaged by the demolition crew’s heavy equipment, so it looks like we will need to replace it.
As usual, the finesse of a good operator is avoiding unintended damage to the surroundings.  This guy was pretty good!
Here is the completed trench, now with perc test in progress
They also dug a second test trench at the south end of the picnic area
Here’s a closeup of that trench.  They are about 7-8 ft deep!

Ferguson makes a big stink

California has had more than its share of wildfires this summer and for the second year in a row, our area was not spared.  This time (thankfully!) the fire itself did not directly threaten our property.  But the fire was close enough, and large enough, so that air quality was a major issue — for several weeks!  This is what it looked like at the Trestlewood Chalet (just below the Logger’s Retreat property) during a visit in early August.

It looks like fog, but no, its not!
Morning sun filters through the smoky haze.

The air quality varied greatly depending on local weather conditions.  So a day like this could be followed by a bright, sunny day that looked nearly normal.  But when it was like this (which was most days), the air stung your eyes and was hard to breathe for any length of time.

We spent most of our time inside the house, with windows and doors closed, air conditioning on.  Hardly a way to enjoy the natural beauty that makes this area so popular.

That is highway 41 through the trees below the house.  Oddly, there was hardly any traffic on the road during this entire visit (because most of the national park was closed)
Despite the smoke, you can still see plenty of green on the terraces behind the house.

It should come as no surprise that fire and poor air quality took a major bite out of the local economy, closing much of the park and driving away visitors for the better part of a month during prime tourist season.   Like everyone else in the local area, our rentals suffered badly due to many vacations plans being shortened or canceled entirely.

What is now obvious to me is that this is what we, in California (and indeed across much of the world) should expect in future years.  Yes summer is the tourist high season in Yosemite, but it is also fire high season as well.    There will be more fires, more closings, and more cancellations, not fewer…at least until the bulk of dead trees have been consumed.

The beauty of the Sierras and the Yosemite Valley is eternal.  That will not change. But it is also a dynamic beauty, and we are currently in a state of rapid change.  This is not simply the “new normal.”  It is only the beginning of greater, more rapid change to come.

Hang on tight; it is likely to be a bumpy ride!

On a more positive note, the neighbors have rebuilt their burned-out retaining wall.   I kinda like this style; you may see more of it!

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