Traveling Towards Paradise

Thursday, January 10, 2018

Our drive from Cal Expo RV Park in Sacramento was almost uneventful- almost! Google maps shows us the easy way out of Sac. Just take the North Sacramento Freeway to Interstate 5. Easy Peasy, right? Except I missed the part where one exits the North Sac at Richards Blvd. So here we are in all our glory (50 feet of it). We are heading towards downtown just blocks from the state capitol on a surface street. Oh my! We take it slow and deliberate until Jil can crank up the map on her “smart” phone. Directional signage indicating how one proceeds to the interstate is nonexistent. This time the phone bails us out, we turn right on I Street and within a few blocks we join I-5 heading north.

A short drive takes us to our preferred route to Chico, Highway 99. This highway used to be the main north/south thoroughfare traversing the great San Joaquin and Sacramento Valleys. Same valley really. The southern portion lies in the San Joaquin River Drainage, the north in Sacramento River Drainage. Highway 99 is more interesting than traveling the newer I-5 which runs parallel but farther west. The difference is Hwy 99 is not a freeway and in many instances is a two lane road where I-5 is a freeway and is mostly two lanes each direction. The big difference is Hwy 99 goes directly through every farm town east of the Sacramento River on our way to Chico, large or small. Travel is much more slow than the interstate so the scenery doesn’t pass by as quickly.

Our 90 mile excursion takes 2.5 hours. It’s raining off and on and the wind is blowing. The big box we travel in lets us know that it’s not happy with the wind. We pass through several towns- East Nicholaus, Yuba City (pop. 64,000), sideswipe Marysville, Sullivan, Sunset, Live Oak (8300 souls), sideswipe Gridley (6700 souls), parallel the Feather River Project’s huge Thermalito Afterbay, then through Shippee. As you may recall the Oroville Dam’s near failure in February 2017 caused the evacuation of 250,000 people. We stopped for some coffee and to walk the mutzos as we were in no hurry. Our appointment with Samaritan’s Purse has us arriving at 8 pm this evening. We arrive in the late morning.

Samaritan’s Purse is occupying two locations. We are confused as to which we are to report. I call the national number and am given the location of a more remote Christian Conference Center. I also had a call into the local S.P. hotline. A person from Chico called us back as told us the national info was incorrect and that we will park our RV at the Calvary Chapel parking lot in Chico. That makes sense to us as the Chapel is the location of Samaritans Purse base operation and is located 10 miles closer to Paradise.

We pull in and are directed to set up near the other RV’s. There are 5 rigs here now. We are informed that if we can set up in 45 minutes we can attend the mandatory orientation. No problemo! We attend the orientation, fill out various forms and are told that we can go to work this afternoon- a day earlier than scheduled. Not knowing the conditions in Paradise we decide that I should stay with the mutzos and Jil will go up and do some work. She will decide if the dogs can join us in the morning.

Parked by Calvary Chapel
Samaritan’s Purse Supply Trailer in Front of S.P. Command Trailer at Right, 

The Calvary Chapel kind of looks like a big box store with a cross prominently displayed on the front of the building. When we entered to attend orientation we walked past a coffee/drink counter that looked familiarly like a movie theater’s snack bar. The ramp leading to the many conference/gathering rooms looks theater like also. The loudly colored wall tiles and paint echo the same. Heck, this place is a converted movie theater! Turns out this location wasn’t a good spot to attract movie goes so the church bought it lock, stock and barrel, right down to the audio system and movie projectors.

Calvary Chapel Coffee and Tea Bar
Main Gathering Room

Other than add a desk, closet or small room inside an individual theater or three not much has been changed in 10 years. Our gathering room and I think every other room that used to be a theater room still has the movie screen and those floors still slant at least 10 degrees back to front. The main theater still has the original chairs while some smaller ones do not.

More on volunteering with Samaritan’s Purse and the devastation of the Camp Fire in my next post.

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