More than 600 cats saved in Paradise and Magalia, and still so many out there needing rescue, but the time has come to leave this mission to new hands.
Together in Paradise
Time and circumstance have led us here, to the final kittie round up.
We learned so very much.
Together, with strangers turned friends, I’ve shed tears of joy and sorrow.
Living a “Nomadic” life, I have experienced a lot in these past two years. I have personally grown as a rescuer and as a human being in the residue of this tragedy. I gained a new travel companion, along the way.
These hills, strewn with debris and melted cars, will slowly alter and life will prosper.
Life abounds amongst the burned out rubble.
The Earth greens into rebirth despite the sorrows that lay beneath the ashes.
Paradise, Magalia and Concow may never be the same, but the will is strong here to rebuild. The sense of renewal is palpable.
To some it may just be a bunch of cats, but to many here, it is the sign of hope.
Over 600 cats rescued, easily thousands of cats, if all combined rescues are accounted for… and I was a part of it. Just a small part… but part of it nevertheless.
Stay Strong Paradise and Magalia. The sun will continue to rise.
On November 8, 2018, a fire started on Camp Creek Road in Paradise California. The resulting fire become the most destructive wildfire in California history.
Somehow thousands of kitties survived.
Even if locked in homes in completely obliterated neighborhoods, kitties… thousands of kitties… escaped through broken windows. They were found hidden within drain pipes, under cars, inside chimneys.
Dusty aka as Dusty the Campfire Cat was rescued from the fire by a good samaritan on November 13, 2018 and found his way to the UC Davis Veterinary Medical School.
This is his story.
Known as the Camp fire (aka the Campfire) due to its place of origin; the fire ripped through the rural mountain communities of Paradise, Magalia and Concow.
The speed at which the fire burned left it nearly impossible for many to return to their homes.
With no chance to retrieve loved ones, belongings or pets, residents were forced to remain behind the fire lines. Left with no choice but to watch as the fire consumed their world and those they loved.
Many that were either at home or close enough to home to get to their pets, could not find them in time.
Explosions and the resulting confusion during a frantic egress, caused pets to flee. Many hid or were simply too frightened to catch.
The fire, that at one point was burning at the rate of a football field a second, came in so fast, that many people had no choice but to leave the pets they carried behind when the fire roared to their feet.
So many campfire (camp fire) survivors quite literally ran for their lives as the fire surrounded them. Some did not make it out.
After the Fire
The devastating effects of the Camp Fire (Campfire) in the aftermath was stunning. Entire communities were so utterly incinerated, that in looking at it today it is difficult to tell what once stood there.
Homes gone, trees singed, cars that may have pre-fire been brand new, stripped of paint and tires, some even partially melted, left looking derelict and like something from an ‘End of Days’ movie.
FieldHaven Feline Center with the support of Alley Cat Allies, as well as other local rescue groups and shelters worked together (and continue to do so) with online Facebook pages, made up of dedicated cat matchers to find lost kitties and try to reunite them with their people.
A myriad of groups built databases, manned Facebook pages to tirelessly find, trap and reunite kitties from the burn zones.
With the help of so many dedicated volunteers, NVADG saved hundreds, if not thousands of animals. Despite NVADG’s inexperience and refusal to coordinate with other groups and their lack of preparation, the volunteers made a huge impact and helped so many.
I may go further into this matter about NVADG in future posts, but we return to the story of Dusty the Campfire Cat.
Once NVADG pulled out, countless independent trappers, feeders and shelters worked together to seek out and rescue the thousands of surviving cats left behind.
They continue to do so today.
FieldHaven, an established and well respected cat rescue and shelter that has provided shelter and TNR (Trap Neuter Release) assistance in many neighbouring areas for the past 15 years, received funding support from Alley Cat Allies to open a second shelter in Marysville California, to provide space for the unbelievable amount of cats being rescued every day.
TheAlley Cat Allies Recovery Center for FieldHaven, was filled the first day open.
A few months later the Alley Cat Allies Transfer Station for FieldHaven was opened in Paradise.
Having worked civilian rescue remotely, for the last 5 hurricanes and floods, as well as for the Woolsey Fire, I jumped in to support FieldHaven with the campfire kitties.
I can safely assume that this is why my precious Dusty the Campfire Cat is here and with us today. P
See Banana, another Camp Fire cat on Instagram.
This top teaching veterinary hospital, offered a chance for these cats to live and Dusty now know as Dusty Roads or Dusty the Campfire Cat, was one of those survivors.
Found with all of his fur singed, Dusty was covered in 1st, 2nd & 3rd degree burns. His eyes were infected and glued shut, his ears and feet scorched, nipples and scrotum seared. Doubtless to say, Dusty was in bad shape.
It is assumed that Dusty got his name because he came in with all of his fur singed and covered in ash, in result he appeared to be grey and not black.
Dusty was transferred from VCA Valley Oak Veterinary Center in Chico and hospitalised at the UC Davis Medical Teaching Hospital on November 13, 2018. Just days into the firestorm.
Dusty aka Dusty Roads or Dusty the Campfire Cat, had his second eyelids removed. He had his eyelids reconstructed, numerous toes amputated and his ears abraded. He was left with chronic upper respiratory issues. Dusty also tested positive for FIV.
Dusty Roads aka Dusty the Campfire Cat
Since the day I saw posts about Dusty I thought about adopting him. But being that I live on the road and travel overseas often, I felt concerned about not only taking on such a responsibility, but also if a nomadic life was right for a cat that had been through so much, so I discounted it.
Yet, there he sat. I adopted. Although FieldHaven is a wonderful place for cats. Huge pens with outdoor access and a well organised and run system. Still it is life in a cage in the end.
As mentioned in my more recent post, my son was sick of caring for my cat Dew, so I headed out from Virginia Beach to Portland to pick her up.
Making a wee detour to Lincoln California to visit Joy Smith the director of FieldHaven Feline Center; the group with which I had volunteered from afar for so long.
The first thing I did once I’d settled into her beautiful and welcoming home was ask about Dusty.
It wasn’t until the second day that I went to meet him. The third day I brought him to Joys house to see how he’d adapt to change. Then Joy and I brought him in a small road trip. Dust The Campfire Cat was nearly unfazeable. He settled into every situation with ease and was completely calm driving with me.
Dusty the Campfire Cat, now know as Dusty Roads, instantly became part of the family.
Together we drove to Portland Oregon, to pick up Dew the cat. Tomorrow we set out on the road to Yellowstone Park.
Does he has issues? Yes. He can’t run. His feet badly scarred, part of his ears have burned off. I do not think he sees well in the dark.
Already sort of a smoosh face, the addition of scar tissue from smoke damage to his nasal passages will mean it likely something upper respiratory that gets him in the end.
Until it is time for him to say goodbye to this Earth, I’m going to be there for him.
A true fighter with an undefinable spirit, I just adore the little guy. I think he feels the same about me.
Stay tuned for Dusty the Fire Cat aka Dusty Roads adventures as a full time traveler with me!
Deep in the farthest reaches of the Scottish Highlands. Tucked between the gold, amber and brown monolithic peaks of t-Eilean Sgitheanach. Across winding, single track, sheep filled roads. There is a land that the Fae call home.
The Fairy Glen
Where eerily ridged and ragged, irregularly shaped hills and dales are flocked by mossy green vegetation. An alien world, amongst an already seemingly alien background of monochromatic tones and craggy mountains.
There it is, blanketed in a lush and vivid velvet verdancy. Castle Ewen calls to you, so you begin to climb. You wander through the worn paths of those that graced this mystical expanse before you.
Time stands still, sheep bah and graze. New lambs bleat, suckle and frolic in the sun. As you climb you periodically gaze up at the flat topped peak, drawn.
At certain angles the tower above appears to be man made (Fae made?) as do the miniature rock fronted burrows below (Fae den?). As a result of the scenery, atmosphere or perhaps something even less tangible, you get a sense of magic.
The hills are steep but not too daunting. You stop to catch your breath. A calm falls upon you. A cool wind kisses your cheek and there you are at the apogee of The Fairy Glen.
Gazing out across the greenery, to the brown and golden ranges that surround you. Waterfalls, pastures, bluffs, lochs and roadways are all in view. Yet none of what you see beyond the point at which you stand is in any way as green or as lush.
The Fairies of the World
There are so many things one could say about the Fairy Glen. If only one could find the words. So easy tis it, imagine magical, delicately winged creatures living here. Like “The Glen” in Ireland, it is simply surreal.
As you stand there, communing with whatever it is that seemingly created this magical place, it is hard not to believe that if the Fae lived anywhere, this would be a place of choice.
Each little mound, sculpted by their wee fairy hands and tamped down by their wee fairy feet. Every rock flown by iridescent wings and tapped into place with fairy spit and fairy dust.
It takes little imagination to know this place as The Fairy Glen.
Science? Magic? Or a Little Bit of Both
In the non magical world, The Fairy Glen is a geological anomaly. An ancient landslip, that landed in just the right location to create a semi micro climate, allowed simple mosses, grasses and lichen to flourish and grow on the rock. As the plants broke down and rock eroded, the rocky base became rich with fertile soil, encouraging a normally much more hostile environment. Years of sheep poop likely helped too.
Yet even though the rational mind knows the scientific rationale behind the flourishing surroundings on which you stand. It remains difficult not to feel a sense of the unreal and revel in the magic of such an pleasingly atmospheric quarter.
Directions to The Fairy Glen:
The Fairy Glen is located in the North West of the Isle of Skye. Sadly, it is not as obscure as it was once, so to get there you can simply enter it into your GPS as The Fairy Glen.
It will likely take less than an hour to get there from anywhere on the Island of Skye by automobile.
Take A87, which at one point turns into Dunvegan Rd (but also remains A87). Just follow it around until you see the sign for the Fairy Glen. You will see cars parked about 1/2 mile before the actual location, but I was able to park on a dirt patch directly in front of the sight.
Please PLEASE do NOT park in any passing places. It is illegal, dangerous and just plane rude. Do not park in a way that obstructs the road, obvious sheep crossings, or that in any way negatively impacts the locals or the environment.
To Know When Visiting The Fairy Glen:
There is no admission fee or attendants there. There are no toilets or parking specifically for The Fairy Glen. It still can get very crowded. Even tour buses show up there.
There is really no need for a walking map once there, but here is a link nevertheless. If you get turned around, just a small trek up one of the hills will allow you a view to anywhere you need to go. It is easy to traverse the area by meandering. Some may find it difficult to get to the top, but that is ok, there are plenty places to walk that are only mildly hilly. It is worth the viewing, even if you do not intend to, or cannot walk around.
I think kids would enjoy it there just as much as adults.
Although you could essentially walk for miles around The Fairy Glen, you likely could walk around, climb and photograph within an hours time. I personally spent 2 hours there and enjoyed it.
I suggest you wear hiking shoes if you have them, it can get pretty muddy.
A rain jacket is also suggested.
Photography Advice for The Fairy Glen:
When on the road facing the glen, there is a hill behind you. This hill is an excellent location for snapping shots, as is the top of the glen itself atop Castle Ewen.
Good to Note:
Be careful that your GPS does not confuse The Fairy Glen in Uig with the Fairy Pools in Glen Brittle (also on Skye), nor the Fairy Glen Park in Wigan, or The Fairy Glen Hotel in Penmaenmawr.
Other places to visit when in the area Dunvegan Castle and the Fairy Pools.
Today, I am truly rootless. The view from my window will be ever changing from this point on. Rootless Routes is no longer a concept, it is a reality. But can I write well enough, post consistently enough, draw viewers enough for this blog to self perpetuate and help me to carry on?
Why Rootless Routes? Rootless, because I have no home rooted in just one place, just a vintage travel trailer that is not even yet in my possession. Routes, because I plan to keep moving along, sharing the tales of my journeys, and well. my rootless life on the road.
I write to you from my friend’s place in Virginia Beach, writing before preparing my SUV for my next journey, which is to Austin, Texas. As I sit here writing, I feel the ever present call to pack and get ready. Yet I know I must keep blogging consistently to meet my goals, so I am trying to keep posting. Posting something interesting with good photographs regularly enough is really really hard for me. And it takes me hours.
I love to write and take pictures, but getting them all together and posted in a cohesive manner is just as hard as I expected… maybe even harder. I am unsure how to focus on both things while still getting everything done.
I am quite new to blogging. When I check out other travel logs, Rootless Routes seems an anomaly that doesn’t easily fit into any one category. Is this a good thing or am I fucked?
Every barrier has a window to the sky. It is just that, doors do not need to close for me to go running off looking for another one to pry open. If that makes any sense.
This new sojourn, living on the road and working on Rootless Routes, is not so very far off of my already rather remote but well beaten (at least by me) life’s path. Having traveled alone across the country (USA) and abroad since I was 17 years old and then with my son as he grew, this new life is not so very far a stretch from where I stood not very long ago. As is my way, I have not well mapped out some format or plan to make money or the best way to “sell my blog” to the masses, yet this year, after a few changes in my life came about MY STORY, I decided it was time to fulfill this particular dream of traveling and writing about it and suddenly here I am. Living on the road and writing about it.
Hopefully, my abrasive charm, mediocre photography, repetitive and long winded writing will eventually create an interesting enough blog to help support my desire to travel full time. If not, well fuck it. I’ll just find another way.
After all, Rootless Routes at its core, is not actually about creating a successful blog, but about creating a lifestyle that lives up to the term Rootless Routes. But the blog doing well would sure fucking help.
King George V Park Leith Waterway Walkway Edinburgh Scotland Rootless Routes 2017
I am unsure that with blogs like Rootless Routes, by just writing what you wish to write over well researched content, will anyone ever see it? In a realm such as travel blogging, that is extremely saturated, it is crazy difficult to build much of an audience. Add in the fact that I have the attention span of a drunkin’ gnat, that my tempestuous nature means that my style of travel, my posting style, even my ability to post regularly is completely scattered and erratic. That in the middle of all of this I am attempting to sell almost everything I own, fix up and move into a travel trailer, while traveling around the US and abroad and yet need to somehow bring in money… well it is kinda nuts.
Seriously, with travel as my new way of life, completely on the road with short visits and jaunts staying at friends, family and periodically AirBnBs (or the like), the ability to worry too much about formulating the Rootless Routes blog in a manner that will bring in visitors and views is well… not very realistic. I am quite unsure if I can bring Rootless Routes to the level that I would need for it to support making this life a perpetual reality. So if I can’t, then what? Being ‘rootless’ and writing about my routes, seems redundant if nobody wants to read about it. I suppose it will end up being a wait and see thing.
I suppose I am a bit of a non conformist, that has stayed pretty true to my anti establishment sort of roots throughout most of my adult life. I raised a son on my own and we road tripped a great deal. When he was 13 we spent 3 months on the road just traveling the US from Florida to Northern California. I’ve lived in New York, West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, California (both Southern and Northern California), Texas, Rhode Island with fairly long jaunts in England and Bali. So I have been more rootless than most in my 50+ years on this planet it seems.
I guess for now, Rootless Routes is where I live. Me, Dew the cat and Roadie the dog.
Since I do not yet have the travel trailer in hand, I will be driving across the US in just my SUV. I leave for Austin in tomorrow (hopefully) to see family and friends. From there I will head to Portland to see my son and his crew, then I am off to Seattle to help my friend Laurie prepare her house for sale. Once the weather is solid enough for me to pick up the travel trailer,I will then once again be heading back across the US to Massachusetts.
Regardless of the outcome of this blog, the adventure that is my life is always real. After 50 years on this planet I realize there is no way around the fact that traveling is home to me and that I know how to make things work when I need to. If it isn’t this blog that will support my life on the road, I will certainly come up with something else, I always do. I am hopeful though that in getting to know me and following me along the way, I will inspire… if not at least entertain my you enough to keep this thing… Rootless Routes and Routes of the Rootless, keep on keepin’ on!
If you are not from the UK, an archeologist, a paleontologist, an ancient or Celtic history buff or perhaps in the oil industry, it is unlikely you have heard much about the Aberdeenshire region of Scotland. If you are from England, you likely think it is mostly a grey, dreary, wretched place. In fact it seems a great many Scots think this too.
When I decided to drive around the entire coast of Scotland, shunning the typical “North Coast” route for one of my own making, I was inundated with information about the route commonly known as the NC 500 . I found little about Scotland’s North East Coast beyond grumbles from my UK friends as to why I would even WANT to drive THAT coast.
The popular North Coast 500 is a lovely drive through my beloved Highlands, but you miss so very much stopping at 500 miles in. Yes you get to see the remarkable Highlands, but you miss out on most of the castles.
The NC 500 part of my journey was truly spectacular. But Aberdeen and the surrounding area (Aberdeenshire) were equally full of splendor. So much so, I plan to do it all again next year. All of it!
Since I am currently writing about my experiences as they unfolded, we’ve now left Edinburgh. I have much more to write about that city, but for now we are about a 3 hour drive Northeast-ish of there.
I only stayed at one conventional hotel during my month long journey. The rest of the time I stayed with friends or at AirBnBs.
I stayed at Kildrummy Park Castle Hotel for two (2) nights. It was at the tail end of the season, so the hotel was relatively quiet and I got a great deal from Booking.com. It was worth every damned dime.
Although rather remote and only accessible via some extremely rural roads, that is the general nature of such a journey anyway. It’s location made access to the numerous wonders in the area fairly easy and the view, service and food were simply stupendous. If you decide to stay there, ask for Fiona.
The hotel was built in 1900, partially from the ruins of the original 13th century castle that it now overlooks. It was turned into a hotel in 1950. Located near Kildrummy, which is fairly inland from the coast, but nothing in Scotland is really THAT far away (at least not to a road trippin’ American).
In Aberdeenshire, or let’s say the area between Edinburgh and Aberdeen (and a wee bit beyond) it seems one cannot drive more than 10 miles without bumping into an ancient castle. Now I am not talking about Tower Houses like the magnificent Castle Fraser, which is not really a castle at all, see my post about this here–> Tower Houses of Scotland aka Scotland’s Castles I am talking about castles, real Scottish castles!
Don’t get me wrong, there is a seemingly endless array of Tower Houses, Castellated Houses and Baronial House in the area. All well worth seeing as far as I am concerned. Some still in use, some well to moderately preserved and some in ruins dotting the landscape. But let’s talk castles, true castles.
Magnificent Dunnottar Castle. A menacing ruin of a castle jutting up from a huge rock, surrounded by what is often a very turbulent sea. Fortified in the Early Middles Ages, the remaining buildings are from the 15th and 16th centuries.
Dunnottar is a little less than 2 miles south of Stonehaven, and you can make a day of castles and tower houses if planned well.
Check ahead that Dunnottar is open before you go. It is private and not attached to the National Trust. It was NOT open when I was there due to weather.
Also check schedules for events, as well as road closures along your route. Drum closes down to the public for special events and road closures happen frequently. I do not advise it, but I drove around the road closure signs after circling for too long. It isn’t uncommon for detour signs to lead you either in a circle or to nowhere, according to the locals.
Dunnottar is truly a marvel, and is a huge part of not only ancient but more modern Scottish history. This impressive group of structures belonged to the Keiths from the 14th century and was practically impenetrable until the shit hit the fan after the 1715 Jacobite rising. See my short post on the subject here–> And then the English…
If you wish to go a bit off of the beaten path, there are the Nine Castles of Knuckle, 2 of which are gone. From west to east, the castles are Dundarg, Pitsligo, Pitullie, Kinnaird, Wine Tower, Cairnbulg, Inverallochy, Lonmay and Rattray
Lauriston Castle – Courtyard Castle with later additions – 13th Century – Private Residence – St Cyrus (right outside of Edinburgh). A beauty with fantastic gardens and views. Lots of people walking dogs! Lots of wonderful little benches and hideaways.
“ABC!” he said to the women in front of him, with the tinge of a cockney lilt. We were all standing in little stone room utilized as the gift shop / lobby of yet another of Scotland Castles, Drum Castle, awaiting the tour to begin.
“ABC!!” he said louder to her back and pretty much all of us this time….
He was a handsome guy. Tall, lanky, pasty white. He looked black Irish to me, definitely a Brit. He had that haircut I love on men his age. Shaved on the sides long on the top, reminiscent of a 1930s style. It added to his boyish charm. His tone was playful.
His girlfriend or wife or whatever she was to him had her back to him (and me), but I could tell she was rolling her eyes as she paid the lady at the counter. His brown eyes twinkled, he was complaining but with mirth. The small crowd in the low ceilinged room was silent.
Having paid she slid by him and out the front entrance, leaving him with an audience staring at him in muted suspense.
“Another Bloody Castle!” he asserted, smiled broadly, swept the long piece of hair from his eyes swooping it back over his head and walked out the door to await the tour guide.
They call them castles all over Scotland, but actually, they are tower houses. Referred to as castles, pretty much all over these days. Even by the National Trust of Scotland which owns and maintains many of the castles aka tower houses of Scotland today. These fortified estates were built with the defensive nature of castles in mind. If you know much about the history of Scotland, you understand the need of such castle like structures.
They initially appeared in the middle ages, mostly in Scotland and Ireland, later turning up in Spain, Italy and France. Built in more remote or mountainous regions, (which at the time was much of Scotland) where people were often left much to their own devices and raids of one’s home was common place.
The high middle ages was a time of great extremes in Scotland and seriously tenuous relations between many europeans. Great Britain changed allies more often than the king changed his hat. There was a rapid and sudden population increase, a mass exodus from the rural areas to the cities, endless wars, economic strife and then the plague aka Black Death… which is suspected to have killed upwards of 50% of the population. Things were a wee bit unstable. For Scotland, perhaps even more so.
Tower houses were simply large homes, built to maintain the safety of those within, with limited man power or forces. They became popular with aristocrats for obvious reasons, and were often stark and foreboding on the outside while filled with the comforts of the wealthy inside. They popped up all over Italy, England and Spain during times of strife, but today Scotland seems to maintain some of the finest examples of such residences.
Some of the tower houses of Scotland are now owned and managed by National Trust for Scotland. Others remain privately owned. But there are so very many you can visit throughout Scotland that continue to be intact. It is so worth visiting as many as is possible.