From the Facebook page of Andy Rydzewski, HSU alum, passionate lover of all things Humboldt and, until yesterday, resident of Tujunga Canyon:
Aug. 27, 12:06 p.m. It is officially orange and raining ash outside.
Aug. 28, 11:48 a.m. Andy Rydzewski is evacuating.
Yesterday, 12:54 p.m. eating some food provided by the very sweet Red Cross workers.
Yesterday, 5:50 p.m. alright, folks...it has been confirmed. My home (the Ranch for all you souther Californians) is gone. Thanks for all the kindness. Life adventure, commence!
Reached by phone this morning, Rydzewski said Red Cross will take him up to see the property (or whatever's left) in a couple hours. The Ranch was a large piece of land in rural Tujunga Canyon, which is more or less dead center of the devastating Station Fire currently rampaging through southern California. The Ranch's six residents, all filmmakers and musicians, lived in cabins in the strangely beautiful valley.
"We had been evacuated last year, so we were a bit cavalier about it," Rydzewski said of last Friday's voluntary evac. "We just grabbed the super-expensive stuff like computers, hard drives and music gear. No one really grabbed the sentimental stuff."
Also left behind, he said, were three cats who lived on the property.
Seemingly in shock, Rydzewski described the experience as surreal. "I'm having a hard time separating what I'm doing right now from being a memory," he said. "I feel like I'm traveling backwards in time -- like, in the future, I'll look back on this as a life-changing event. For better or worse, this is something that will be significant. Everything I own that I've accrued in my life is gone." He chuckled in disbelief. "A very thorough life clean."
Raised in Gloucester, Mass. , Rydzewski faced down another natural disaster at age 12: The Andrea Gale (aka, the Perfect Storm ) came through his front yard. "I think maybe Mother Nature is trying to get me, but I'm too strong," he said. Asked about his future plans, Rydzewski said he's not quite sure. "I'm thinking about leading a nomadic life."
UPDATE: A testament to his Humboldt love: "Ryz" is the unofficial record-holder for most oysters consumed at the Humboldt Bay Oyster Festival, an event he considers "better than Christmas and my birthday combined": 107 oysters, documented (see T-shirt below) and witnessed.