Update: This is what the sky looked like this morning from the front porch.
Fire still raging - has burned nearly 14,800 acres and is 49% contained.
The smoke is still filtering into the foothills every morning and lasting most of the day.
The Captain and I are avid television viewers. We enjoy nothing better than to sit down, with a good treat,
(we probably enjoy the treat just as well)
and watch a movie or one of the many TV shows that we follow.
I can't abide sitting through a commercial anymore since the advent of the DVR. We have two DVR's recording at the same time so we have quite a selection for our viewing pleasure.
One of the popular shows that we watch is Mountain Men. The series follows the lives of 3 or 4 men, some with a family, that live off the land in different parts of the US in the deep wilderness areas.
As we watched last evening, Eustace, in the wild of the Blue Ridge Mountains, was replacing his tool shed that had taken a hit from a falling tree during a storm. He works with his hands with minimal tools and old-fashioned ingenuity.
My grandfather around 80 years of age
My dad around the age of 19
My grandfather and my dad also worked with their hands. My grandfather owned and operated a shook mill in his early days and my dad followed suite with his own saw mill, both of which were located on the ranch property. They both built their homes and worked the land as well, harvesting and falling and milling their own trees for lumber.
These are pictures of remnants of my grandfather's shook mill.
In this particular picture we climbed up the ladder and across the platform we jumped into a large pile of sawdust that always piled up from sawing the lumber. If I remember correctly, the thin tree truck that you see in the foreground was a wild cherry tree. The ripe fruit was very bitter but my mom used to make some killer cherry pies from it.
As you know from my last post, my family didn't always have the most modern conveniences at their disposal. Looking back, I have to come to the conclusion that maybe this wasn't always due to necessity. I think my grandfather and consequently, my father, enjoyed living close to the land and, to be honest, think they considered themselves somewhat Mountain Men.
My great-grandfather's blacksmith shop
My great-grandparents came over from England. They settled on land situated in the Santa Cruz mountains in the time of Abraham Lincoln. My great-grandfather was a smithy and carried out his craft in a shop that he built on the property. I never knew my great-grandfather but I do remember my great-grandmother although she passed away when I was quite young.
From left to right:
My maternal grandmother
My paternal grandmother
standing in front of my grandparent's log home
My grandfather was raised on the ranch and when he married my grandmother, he built their first home, a log house, on the property. My dad was born and raised in that home and, sadly, it burned down sometime in the 1940's. I was just a little girl but I can still remember, to this day, how that smelled right after it happened. My grandfather then built another house for them to live in on the ranch.
This is the second bridge built on this site. You can barely make my Dad out, on the right side, in the shadow of the trees.
My grandfather and my dad built the original bridge that spanned the Soquel Creek. It was the only access to the ranch after you turned off of the county road.
In 1955 the Soquel Creek over ran it's banks and debris from above stream, washed down and took out the original bridge.
We lived about a mile up the county road at the time and came down to be with my grandparents during the storm.
My dad and grandfather rigged up a seat on a pulley across the creek so we could have access to the county road. They had moved the car to the other side before the bridge was swept away. All of Santa Cruz county was greatly impacted by that storm that year.
A small grove of redwood trees at the ranch.
What looks like a small grove of redwoods was really my "house" from the age of 12 to the age of 17.
It started out as a 'fun summer experience'. My parents were remodeling the house that my dad had built when I was a tiny baby. It was going to be so exciting to live down at the ranch for the whole summer!
He strung canvas around the trees, 'divided' up rooms; a kitchen/living area with a wood burning stove, a small refrigerator (oh, we did have power) and a picnic table with attached benches. A bedroom for my parents, a bedroom for the three of us kids, and a closet for storage, supplies and clothes, rounded out the well-stocked habitat.
Outside the canvas was a bench that held a large tub for fresh water that we took turns carrying, by the bucket full, from the main water tank that was situated across the field from the 'camp', as it was affectionately called! We heated water on the wood stove for doing dishes and baths, which were taken in private, in the closet.
Oh, right! You can laugh at it now!
My dad and myself. What was I pointing at?
Remember when I was a little girl and had to use the 'facilities' at my grandparents? I considered that fun! When you are a teenager and using those same type of 'facilities' for a little more than just 'one fun summer' - NOT SO MUCH!!
This same road that took us down to the 'washroom' was also the road on which I learned to drive. We had a 1949 Studebaker, the ones with the pointy nose in the front. I was able to drive by myself up and down this road but there was really no place to turn around and I couldn't back out between the trees. By the time I learned to drive that poor little car didn't have much of a pointy nose left!
I can't remember if I was pointing to the front of the tree I always hit, or the back of the tree where the outhouse sat!
My Grandpa, Grandma and their dog, Cindy. Taken in front of the old barn where Grandpa milked Old Bossy and let us squirt fresh milk into the mouths of the barn cats.
My grandfather passed away and my grandmother moved into a retirement home until her death.
The ranch was sold around the early 1980's and this is what that big open field, where we picked apricots from a few trees and loquats from a huge tree and watched deer graze, looks like now. Another family lives there and they operate a family nursery.
The beginning of the driveway to the ranch.
It was around this corner where we used to ride our bicycles, climb cherry trees, swim in the creek, squirt fresh milk in the barn cat's mouths, and had the most wonderful childhood imaginable...
All those years that the ranch was in my family's possession, it never had a name. It was just known as the Allred place by everyone in the community or by the ranch when any family member mentioned it.
Most of the old timers in the community are gone now and anyone new passing by on the county road is not aware of the history that was made down this country lane.
Because of the generosity of the present family that live on the ranch now, a glimpse into the past is offered as you turn off of the county road and make your way down towards the sweet cherry orchard and the old swimming hole.
I'm sharing this bit of history with: