Big Meadow Fire


Posted by Annie in Outdoors on August 31, 2009

Folks planning a Labor Day weekend trip to Yosemite National Park, may want to consider making other plans.  The heavy smoke leading to poor visibility could spell trouble for those with respiratory ailments.

According to the Incident Information System (InciWeb), The Big Meadow Fire was a 90 acre prescribed fire that crossed containment lines and is now aggressively being suppressed. A Type 1 Incident Management Team (McGowan) has been assigned to manage this fire.

The latest news was posted three hours ago.

Evacuation Lifted at Old El Portal and Yosemite View Lodge

Incident: Big Meadow Wildfire
Released: 3 hrs. ago

Big Meadow Fire

Big Meadow Fire

At 7:30 PM on Monday, August 31, the evacuation of Old El Portal and Yosemite View Lodge was lifted. Residents are cautioned that the Big Meadow Fire remains only 55% contained and fire behavior could dictate additional evacuations in the future, so they should remain vigilant with irreplaceable documents and possessions ready to move.

The evacuation of the Foresta community remains in place while firefighters continue to mop up hot spots and cut down hazardous dead and burned trees along access roads.

I just received an eMail update from the Yosemite Association regarding the Big Meadow Fire.

Big Meadow Fire Update

The Big Meadow Fire that started near Foresta is now 55% contained according to reports this morning. The fire is approximately 2 miles east of El Portal and has burned almost 5000 acres.

Except for the Big Oak Flat Road between Crane Flat and the intersection with the El Portal Road, Yosemite National Park is open and as majestic as ever. The Association offices in El Portal, which were evacuated Friday evening, are now open. The residences in old El Portal and Foresta are still evacuated as the firefighters work to control the fire.

The National Park Service this morning (Monday, 8:00 am) reported that “the fire continues to burn actively (a large column of smoke was visible yesterday) in the wildneress towards Tioga Road near Tamarack Flat and northwest in Upper Crane Creek drainage.

Today, firefighters will continue to aggressively build an indirect fire line away from the fires edge. The strategy is to use an indirect fire line along with opportunities to conduct burnout operations (when conditions safely permit) to stop the forward progress of the fire. Firefighters will also continue to reinforce fire lines east of El Portal and around Foresta. No major fire activity was reported in these areas.

Due to fire operations, the Tioga Road between Crane Flat and White Wolf may close or access may be limited at any time today. Visitors on the east side can access Tuolumne Meadows, Olmsted Point, and White Wolf. However, through travel may be limited or restricted at any time.”

For more detailed information please visit the Big Meadow Fire Website.

I find it simply amazing the number of “prescribed burns” that get out of hand. This was a 90 acre prescribed burn that turned into 5,000 acres and ended up forcing several evacuations. I seem to recall a similar situation last year in Arizona.

Wildfires aren’t necessarily a bad thing — they are actually good for the forest. Nature has a way of taking care of things all on her own. You would think the state would figure that out eventually.

No such luck.


Got Water? Sewer?


Posted by Annie in Outdoors, Twain Harte News on August 31, 2009

Hungry Squirrel

One Hungry Squirrel

So, how about those water bills? Wow! We can’t even get a bill sent to our house, so I’m blessed with the job of calling the Twain Harte Community Services District (THCSD) each and every month, to find out what our bill was.

In April 2006, our Twain Harte CSD bill was $61.92, which covered both water and sewer service.  In April 2009, our bill was up to $80.29 and still climbing.  You could have knocked me over when I was informed our August 2009 bill was $87.94 and before you say, “use less water” — understand that our bill, over the base rate was only $9.00.

Leaving $78.94 as a base rate, each and every month. That might not seem like much but our garbage service is just under $60.00 every two months.  It’s the only utility I am aware of that charges, whether you use it or not.  You see all these empty vacation houses? Their owners pay that base rate – whether or not anyone’s been there all year.

What a racket!  It’s like legal thievery.  I know I am supposed to be grateful to have water and sewer, but the water smells like chlorine and dries my skin out so bad that I hate to get in it.  Our family wouldn’t even consider drinking it.  We buy our drinking and cooking water, which just adds more to the cost of living in these wonderful mountains.

If I didn’t love it here so much, I’d consider moving further down the hill where the price per square foot is well under $253.00. Oh, well. Gotta take the good with the bad. This is just one more shock I didn’t expect this month. After all, it’s time to get the car ready for winter.

Road Work Update

Early this afternoon I heard trucks outside and got all excited, for a quick minute. I flew open the door and saw two large orange “Prepare to Stop” signs – one at the top of the hill – one at the bottom. Surely, today would be the day.

The crews stuck around for a couple of hours, removed the signs and disappeared, into parts unknown. I determined then and there I would make the call I’ve been threatening to make for a couple weeks now.  Actually, when I called THCSD, I thought to ask the lady who’s in charge of the road work. That was easy — Tuolumne County Public Works. I looked up the number online and gave them a call.

The operator answered the phone very quickly — what luck. I asked about the road work schedule and she transfered me to another line, which of course was answered by an answering machine. I was deflated. I left a message but my call was not returned.  I’ll try again tomorrow.  I promise.

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Sampling Jeb’s Waffle’s and Ribs


Posted by Annie in Restaurants on August 26, 2009

Jeb's Waffles and Ribs

Jeb's Waffles and Ribs

At long last the mysteriously elusive Jeb’s Waffle’s and Ribs finally opened it’s doors last Thursday. We have been awaiting this day for years now. From all accounts Jeb’s is off to a rocky start.

One reliable source informed me that they normally have three breakfast cooks — this morning though, they opened with only one. One young man hired just yesterday, didn’t bother to show up for work this morning. The other called in sick. Perhaps the economy isn’t as bad as we thought.

I had stopped in during their interview phase last month, hoping they were finally open, they had an enthusiastic turnout if applicants, with many hopeful prospects. One would think it would be relatively easy to find qualified employee’s in todays market.

When you are collecting unemployment benefits, after working hard, for many years, it’s sort of hard to go back to the daily grind of working every single day. Once those unemployment benefits start to wind down, the full impact of all the recent store closures will hit home with area residents.

New Restaurant Rhythm

After attending the near opening of Gary’s Country Deli, located in Galt, CA several months ago, we swore we’d never do that again.  We made a special trip to the valley and stopped in on their second day of business — it was painful to watch. The right hand just didn’t know what the left was doing — or not doing. It took forever to get our meal (well, just shy of 2 hours) — today was just a repeat.

Club Sandwich

Club Sandwich

It takes a time for a new business to establish routines, set down policies for staff and define job duties. Let’s just say a lot of things get overlooked in the planning stages of any new business. A restaurant is unique because there are so many little details that make up a fine well-tuned team. Working out the rhythm is no simple task. It probably doesn’t help that we showed up at just past Noon on a Tuesday, only their 6th day open.

Delay in Opening Business

Rumors have been flying for years as to why Jeb’s had not opened.  So, I took this opportunity to ask a waitress about the long delay. According to this young lady Jeb’s didn’t have enough parking area for patrons, so the City of Sonora forced them to purchase more land. The auto dealership (who now has a new paved parking lot as well) located next door provided the necessary space that allowed Jeb’s to expand their parking area.

Ordering off the Menu

Shawn claims the turkey club he devoured was one of the best he has ever had. Score one point for the home team. I helped out with the cooked-to-perfection onion rings. If you’ve had onion rings from The Rock Pub and Restaurant, in Twain Harte, and like them, you will enjoy these. They are most likely the very same brand.

Alaskan White Fish Sandwich

Alaskan White Fish Sandwich

I ordered the Alaskan White Fish Sandwich, on a hard, crunchy sub bun that dwarfed the fish in comparison. The fish was lukewarm and very crunchy, not over-cooked crunchy but a very crusty coating, I couldn’t quite make out what it was exactly. I ate the fish, dumped the bun.

Jeb’s colorful nature strewn menu held many options — breakfast is served all day our bubbly drink server happily informed us. The one obvious omission was the absence of appetizers — no mozzarella sticks for me.

 It didn’t take much convincing for Zachary to order breakfast. He said the waffle and sausage were good, and the eggs were lacking bread — a common staple when eating eggs in our home. The menu also mentioned a “cream sauce” that came with their waffles, though the only thing we could see was a lump of butter.

Half-Waffle with Sausage and Egg Over-Medium

Half-Waffle with Sausage and Egg Over-Medium

As for some of the other food; Jeb’s only serves seasoned french fries, mine were rather crunchy and not hot. The cook had forgotten Shawn’s onion rings and as far as I could tell that was the only item served hot to our table.

The portions were fair, the food, of course was fresh. The wait for our food was very lengthy, but it was to be expected at this stage in their development. Picky restaurateurs will want to wait to make visit, until they have all the kinks worked out.

We’ve agreed to try them out again next month and see if we have an improved dining experience. We are always on the lookout for a nice family restaurant to frequent, we haven’t written Jeb’s off just yet. Our family is hoping they can pull their act together.

If you are looking for employment, Jeb’s Waffles and Ribs just might have an opening, stop in for a gander and see.

I invite our readers to stop in and sample Jeb’s menu, then drop us a line and let us know what you ordered and how you enjoyed your meal.

Jeb’s Hill Country Cooking
729 Mono Way
Sonora, CA 95370
(209) 588-9633

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