Tuesday, November 07, 2006

North Coast Travelogue 11/5-11/6

Got to actually see the mechanical and human dynamics of a fire in action while in San Francisco yesterday.

We pulled into the parking garage at UCSF yesterday morning and parked on the second floor. As we’re parking we heard a bunch of sirens. No real surprise there since they’re common everywhere. But we kept hearing more of them, and they seemed to be staying put on the street below us.

Finally I notice a couple of people looking out of the parking garage down at the street below us. By the time I go to look, I can see a fire ladder going up the side of the building. Hmmm… something’s happening here, says I. For some reason I didn’t think fire. I figured maybe some suicide case was threatening to jump, or some such.

As we made our way to the elevator, I see a fireman with a Scott Air Pack on his back and realized there must be a fire somewhere in the building.

I was under the impression the elevators wouldn’t work if there was a fire in the building. I guess they do. We got in the elevator and took it to the top floor. When the door opened, there was a closed door in front of us. The fire doors were closed.

Kinda startled us, at first, thinking we might be stuck in the elevator. Then I noticed a lever on the door for opening it. It opened right up and we go into the hallway. That’s when we could see smoke billowing up the north side of the building. Not a whole lot, but obviously from a fire somewhere in the parking garage below.

Everything seemed ok otherwise, except the hallway, restaurants and businesses in the building were empty and their doors were closed. There were flashing lights from the fire alarm. The noise from the alarms wasn’t as loud as I would have expected it to be.

An employee from the Subway was looking out at the smoke and seemed concerned. We just headed out to the street and noticed the businesses upstairs were all closed as well. When we got to the street, all the evacuated people were milling around on the sidewalk and there were yet more fire trucks on the street.

I’d say there must have been six to eight fire trucks there altogether and someone, I don’t know who, had put signs up in front of the parking garage entrance saying, “Parking lot temporarily full”. I was getting to wonder if I should have taken my truck out of there. Might this end up being a big deal after all?

I guess not. Went down there maybe twenty minutes later and everything was back to normal and no fire engines were in sight. Must have been a small fire.

Still, I think that was the first time I’d been involved in a real fire, rather than a drill, and got to see how everything worked.

We listen to the radio while traveling. One thing I don’t normally do, but started a habit of, is listening to talk radio while in the Bay Area. I’ve found it keeps me more alert than listening to the same music all the time. That, and some of it is funny.

I don’t listen to the right wing political stuff on AM radio, as some of you would expect. I listen to those guys, and gals, that talk about just about everything else. I found 106.9 FM, in San Francisco, seems to have those people on non- stop during the day.

After a few days of listening to them, I found most talk about the same stuff and most are funny now and then. My all around favorite, one I stumbled into a while back and actually got me to stay on 106.9, is Leslie Gold aka The Radio Chick.

Her web site makes her look like she’s real racy and obsessed with sex, but I don’t know that I’ve ever heard her get real nasty. I don't know that I've ever heard her talk about sex much, either. She has a couple co- hosts and, between the three of them, they can be real funny.

Problem with The Radio Chick is they seem to have changed her time slot. Seems to me when I first started listening to her, she was on earlier in the day and we’d regularly pick her up when leaving San Francisco before noon. Now she’s on from 1 to 4(?)pm and we don’t get the chance to catch her very often.

The other problem with 106.9 is it’s a Bay Area station so we can only listen to it for an hour or so, usually losing the signal around Healdsburg or Cloverdale. Yesterday we weren’t much north of Santa Rosa when the signal got so weak it was more pain than fun to listen to and we switched channels.

To bad they couldn’t put a satellite up over Northern California to relay all my favorite radio channels.

Speaking of travel radio, I’m always amazed at how hard a time I have finding KMUD. They’re based out of Redway and sometimes it seems I can’t find them even right near their station.

And nothing against the guy, but that classic music show KMUD has just drives me nuts. It seems we always get stuck with that show when we can’t pick up any other stations.

That’s what happened yesterday. We couldn’t get anything but the KMUD classical music show. I was about ready to just turn the radio off but tried one more time and got KHUM. A relief as we were down a ways and it’s a toss of the coin what radio stations you’ll get on any given day down there.

KHUM had some fun music. Then, when we were just around Shively Road on 101, the radio guy tells us about some phone calls he was getting. Apparently, people from Fortuna to Ferndale were calling in reports of a commercial style jet plane was flying real low to the ground, one lady saying it was flying below tree top level.

Wow. Gotta see this, says I, but we still had some miles to go and the sun was almost down. I was thinking this would be wild to see but also thought it likely something might be horribly wrong if this is true.

So we kept going and the last word on the radio, from a caller in Ferndale was the plane was flying in low circles just off the beach. You couldn’t help but wonder if it was going to crash.

The radio guy makes some phone calls and both the Coast Guard and Fortuna P.D. say the plane was out of some Boeing factory down south and was on some test flight. Ok. Still sounded kinda weird to me but, whatever.

Then, to prove that even if The Conspiracy didn’t exist, someone would make it up, some lady apparently called into KHUM and said she’d just "talked to someone who just talked to the Fortuna P.D." and they said the plane was just off the coast dumping fuel in preparation for an emergency landing at Rohnerville Airport.

I thought that a bit weird. If they could do all the flying they were supposedly doing, why wouldn’t they have gone up to Mckinleyville Airport rather than Rohnerville? I don’t know that Rohnerville is long enough for a jet to land on anyway.

So the radio guy calls Fortuna P.D. again and they tell him once again that, as far as they know, it’s a test flight from Boeing and they weren’t concerned about it. End of discussion, with the radio dude going a bit overboard trying to reassure people that was the story as he knew it.

Just as well, I suppose. We never did get to see the plane.


At 1:41 PM, Blogger Eric V. Kirk said...

It's partly my fault you have to listen to that classical show on Monday afternoons Fred. Tom Hanson gave up the show, and they asked Bill Shoemaker to fill in. But he already has a show on Tuesday mornings. He agreed to do both shows if he didn't have to drive home way out in the woods that night and be back at 5 o'clock the next morning (He's 81 years old right now, and a veteran of WWII with ongoing problems with his foot due to a landmine).

So my wife offered him our spare room in Redway every Monday night. So both shows remain on the air. Works for me because I love his selection of music.

At 5:19 PM, Blogger Fred said...

Ok. Whatever. Just doesn't get my heart thumping.


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