Hollie Grimaldi Flores: A surreal vacation
My husband and I left Nevada County for a rare fall getaway last weekend. As the wife of a high school football coach, getting any kind of alone time with my spouse between August and November is pretty much unheard of.
When he was asked to coach for the Varsity squad 14 seasons ago, he asked me if I could support him through it. I agreed out of love and out of ignorance. I had no idea what I was saying yes to.
Finding the time
For the casual high school fan, football happens Friday nights. But for the coaches, football is a seven-day-a-week proposition. Monday through Thursday practices, followed by a game on Friday.
Saturday is spent breaking down film, which literally takes hours as they watch each play and make notes, looking at errors, successes and ways to improve.
That is followed up with the coaches meeting Sunday afternoon to discuss and prepare, and then back to it on Monday for practice. And so it goes. There is no such thing as being over-prepared.
I know this routine and I know I fall a few rungs down the priority ladder when the season is in full swing as he spreads himself thin with work, coaching, his own fitness routine, home maintenance and other responsibilities.
But somehow, each spring I suffer from a slight sense of amnesia when it comes to how few hours I have a mate who has any time or energy left for me each fall.
And so it was, with that hazy memory earlier this year, that I booked a surprise trip to Napa for the beginning of October.
We went to watch the final round of a PGA tournament at the Silverado Resort in the middle of wine country.
It was a beautiful Sunday, but incredibly windy. It seemed to me that each time champion golfer Phil Mikelson stepped up to the ball, the wind would gust, making the task of getting the little white orb into the tiny hole all that much more difficult.
Throughout the day crews brought out blowers to clear the greens of falling leaves and debris. But the course was stunning and we enjoyed some amazing golf. In between holes, we made our way to some of the concession areas.
These were raised platforms built with the spectator in mind — partially shaded pavilions facing various areas on the course. We returned to our hotel marveling at the beautiful location, the vineyards and the incredible beauty that is Napa.
Having walked more than a few miles over the course of the day, we decided on an early evening as we would be heading back home relatively early Monday, what with football practice happening and all.
And then our rare weekend away became surreal. On and off throughout the night we heard the sound of sirens going by the hotel but really didn’t think too much about it, but when morning came it was obvious something bad was happening.
Ash was literally falling from the sky and the smoke was thick enough to make visibility a concern.
I looked at my phone to see several texts inquiring about our safety — some from those who knew we were in Napa and others who thought we were home as news of fires in Sonoma, Napa and Nevada County spread.
We got in the car and drove away from one fire, towards several others.
We are extremely lucky in that we do not live too close to any of the active fires but our hearts are with friends and acquaintances who were forced to evacuate and some who suffered great loss.
My daughter was born in Santa Rosa. Hearing about the massive destruction there and then seeing it left me speechless.
More shocking was seeing a photo of the pavilion we had been standing on Sunday at the golf tournament completely destroyed as the flames made their way through Silverado.
We are tirelessly warned to prepare for fire in California. I am not sure how anyone could have been prepared for the speed and intensity of this emergency.
It is one thing to prepare to leave after a call in the morning or during the day, but completely another to be woken in the middle of the night and told to get out quickly. It is not surprising, though no less tragic, that some were unable to survive.
Short of having a “go bag” by the door, there just did not seem to be enough time to do much more than react.
In football terms, we need to practice the blitz. Have a list of what is most important and know where those items are. Most emergency preparedness plans suggest gathering the four “p’s”: prescriptions (and glasses), papers (like passports), pictures and of course, pets.
It’s fall and that means football and unfortunately, it means fire season is in full swing. We cannot be over-prepared.
Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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