It Feels Like Our Lives have been Erased

In all of our years of travel we have been quite lucky. No bad accidents or illnesses have struck while on the road and very few mishaps. We had a couple bikes stolen from the back of our motorhome once, but that is why we carried cheap ones.

Yes, we try to take precautions. So when preparing for our recent trip to Cuba we decided to leave several things in our apartment that we normally would have carried with us. Our best computer, back up drive, some beloved antique family jewelry, and most of our credit cards stayed behind. We thought that they would be safer there.

Goes to show you never can tell. Here is what happened to our building while we were gone:

A wildfire raged through in the predawn darkness of last Tuesday and completely destroyed everything we had except what was with us in our carry-on bags and backpacks.

Because internet access was scarce, and we spent our days on our bikes with the Backroads tour that we were on, we didn’t find out until over a day later.

At that point we had to decide whether to leave behind the fantastic tour of Cuba we had so looked forward to and head back to California to see if anything could be done, or try to ignore things and stay for the duration of our trip.

Ultimately we concluded that we simply couldn’t possibly appreciate or assimilate the rest of the trip while wondering what had happened to our home, so we cut it short and flew back.

That in itself was heartbreaking because the three days that we did get to spend on the island were incredible, and yes, we will have stories about that soon.

We returned to total devastation, which put us in the odd and uncomfortable position of victims. Frequent visitors to will know that we are inclined to post ways to help when disaster strikes, perhaps sometimes too much. (BTW, there is still help needed for the hurricanes of this past summer.)

When we made our way up the hill to where our home once stood, we found the complex reduced to nothing but ash by an inferno beyond anything we could imagine. Firefighters were still on the scene pouring water on stubborn hotspots days after the blaze.

Fortunately everybody got out safely, but the stories we have heard from our former neighbors are of terrifying escapes in pitch blackness, with only minutes to spare. Some had to flee so frantically that their cars were left behind.

The speed of the fires caught everyone, including firefighters, completely by surprise and electricity was out to the entire city of Ventura. Perhaps we were lucky not to be there; avoiding the trauma, but another side of us can’t help but think that we may have been able to save a few cherished keepsakes.

Our vagabond lifestyle had already reduced our worldly possessions down to the famous 16 Boxes that we wrote about in Going Gypsy, so we are not mourning the loss of a great deal of “stuff.” Unfortunately, that means what little we did hang on to throughout our many moves were the truly important, irreplaceable, sentimental items.

Photo albums spanning four and five generations, adorable baby clothes, favorite toys, and revered books held in hopes of future grandchildren, the emergent works and grades of our offspring as they strived from class to class in their studies, souvenirs gathered from across the globe, and the relics and mementos of our previous careers  have all been wiped away forever.

Processing that loss will take some time. It may be years before we stop recalling some treasure that was once tucked away in what we thought was the safety of our closets. Or maybe that will never go away.

Meanwhile we are faced with the daily tasks of recreating something resembling a normal day-to-day life. In that sense we are better off than many, we have a place to stay temporarily and friends and family have been unbelievably helpful and supportive.

To help those who are not as fortunate, here is a good list of resources that can certainly use any and all donations.

One thing we are trying hard to embrace is graciously accepting the help that has been offered by so many, including complete strangers. Our inclination is to decline and feel that others are more worthy of aid.

A dear friend wisely advised us to stop that, not only for ourselves and facilitating our recovery, but for the people who genuinely desire to help. We should not deny them that opportunity.

With that in mind we are passing along this link to the GoFundMe page that our wonderful children have set up for us.

They felt helpless scattered across the globe in Paris, New York, and Alaska and did this as a way to connect, assist, and show their love and concern.

It is incumbent upon us to gratefully accept that assistance.

Most importantly, we say thank you.

David & Veronica,

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57 thoughts on “It Feels Like Our Lives have been Erased”

  1. Oh Victoria – I’m so sorry for everything. But I am happy to hear that Gypsy Nestor is back. As far as backup – I use Mozy – it backs everything up in the cloud. I recommend it. You will get through this.


    1. Hi Helen. Thanks. We are getting back to normal now. Took a few weeks to shake off the shock but we have found a new place and starting over.

  2. The thing I worry about losing the most is the photos. I know what you are going through. Several years ago I was in a flood a lost everything. Worse, my mother was also in the same flood and lost all her pictures of us growing up, years of slides and movies of all the polaces we had visited. I’m so sorry. From a faithful fan who hopes my husband and I can emulate your traveling lifestyle soon.

    1. So true Mary. So many of them are irreplaceable. We are going to try to piece together as much as we can from family and friends but it will never be the same, as you know. Best of luck with moving into the gypsynester life.

    1. Wish we could say we were covered, but we didn’t really have much stuff like that. It is the irreplaceable sentimental keepsakes that hurt to lose.

  3. You certainly brought home all we have watched on the news. I am truly sorry for the loss of your precious keepsakes and heirlooms, and your sense of security. Your lives could be that of any one of us in a natural disaster. Again, I am so sorry.

  4. My heart goes out to you both. Having lost my home in the Oakland fire in 1991, I fully appreciate the pain associated with these losses. If you want to have a conversation, please let me know. Wishing you strength in the coming days, weeks, months…

    1. Thanks so much Risa. Hard to imagine unless it has happened to you. It’s only been a week but we are beginning to pull things together. Found a new apartment yesterday.

  5. OMG, so very, very sorry to read this. . .we’ve watched random reports of the fires here in Greece and while in Egypt, often saying that the scenes were the things horror movies are made of. . .so sorry to read of your loss. You’ve got a lot of us around the globe sending good thoughts your way!

  6. OMG, Veronica! I am so sorry to hear of this. I can’t imagine the horror you and Dave have gone thru. I am sending healing vibes and prayers your way and hope that 2018 will bring you much love, happiness, and good fortune.

  7. So sorry for all that you have lost. I can’t inagine how frightening it must have felt, especially while you were away. But glad you are safe. That is the most important thing. Sending healing hugs your way.

  8. So sorry to read this. After living through Oakland Hills fires (our house was fine) and then seeing the devastation of Coffey Park in Santa Rosa I am wary of California wild fires. Was watching the glow of fire from above LAX on a flight to SFO Sunday night. Thinking of you both. Nancy

  9. I am so sorry to read this! Thinking of you and knowing that the positive attitudes you’ve always possessed, and your innate sense of pushing forward will carry you through.

    1. Thanks Julie! Still very smokey here in Ventura, but the danger has moved on. Hopefully not into Santa Barbara.

  10. Oh my…. I am so sorry! Glad you are safe, but things like this really make us appreciate what we have and what is really important. I pray that things fall into place for you guys and you are back to “normal” as soon as life allows.

      1. So many prayers and love..,you two have such an adventurous life goals… and you’re attitudrs are amazing… please reach out if there is anything I can do…. Janee in wichita, Ks❤️❤️❤️

  11. How terribly sad. Hopefully, your photos that could be backed up were and found on the cloud. And hopefully your renters insurance will help replace the concrete items that can be bought. Another great way to recover is have your friends and family start collecting every photo you sent them and make copies for you to keep. I can’t imagine how you must feel. So sorry for your losses.

    1. Unfortunately we decided to leave the backup with the computer… I know… pretty dumb! Family has already offered to start digging through old photos and we will be OK.

  12. My offer stands. Dave and I are probably near the same size. If clothing is needed. Call if there’s anything, please.

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