June 13, 2012
The Colorado High
Park Fire and Us
June 29, 2012
High Park Fire
Pics & Update
July 1, 2012
Our First Trip
Back to "Paradise"
July 12, 2012
Ash Day
Reality Check
August 6, 2012
Progress Report &
Pics on the Fire
August 16, 2012
Before & After
Fire Pics
September 12, 2012
After Fire
Progress Update
September 27, 2012
Work Parties and
Donkey Story
November 29, 2012
OK - The Black
Truth Blog
January 2, 2013
Looking Forward,
Looking Back
June 18, 2013
One Year Later -
The High Park Fire
September 20, 2013
We Weathered
the Storm


The following letter was sent on June 29, 2012:


Colorado High Park Fire Pics & Update

(contains three photos - please be patient as they load)


Dear Friends, Family, Fans, and all of you who reached out to us,

Once again, thank you for your continued prayers, and your patience for news from me. I never knew being evacuated would keep me so busy. We've been putting on about 100 miles a day on the car, driving from insurance appointment, to Citizen Briefing Meetings, to the storage unit, to WalMart to buy necessities, to the post office, to the hotel, etc, etc. In between all this, I've been helping maintain daily contact with our immediate neighbors, as we stay in touch with each other with the latest updates, concerns, and for support. Twelve homes were lost in Paradise Park, and numerous outbuildings. We were the first to be evacuated, and are the last to return. Yes, folks...

It's Day 19, and today it was officially announced that at 5:00 PM all who wish to return to our neighborhood, Paradise Park, would be allowed in with the proper credentials. Even better, we've been informed our local electric company has already replaced poles and lines and has power back in that area. Amazing!

Due to Mike's heavy schedule this weekend (he's the venue coordinator for a mounted cowboy shooting event here), we don't know for sure what day we'll be able, or emotionally ready, to drive up the charred mountain to view our place. We know from photos sent our way by kind firefighters that an oasis of angel-protected greenery surrounds our standing Studio/Shop, so we've got that to look forward to. However, the beautiful mountain across our meadow was scorched to the top, and those trees will not return in our lifetimes.

Our house, which burned on Sunday, June 10. These three photos were taken by Channel 7 News from Denver on Tuesday, June 12.

Not only will there be emotional issues to deal with, but I never thought about all the hazards they are warning us about when we return. Things such as rotten food, wildlife and foraging bears, dangerously-burned trees and power poles, safety of wells and septic systems, along with the dangers of working with removal of debris, downed metal roofing, inhaling too much ash, and disinfecting everything after smoke and fire-fighting chemicals have filled the air. The list goes on and on.

The fire is 85% contained, and they have been sending troops and equipment to help with the other very serious fires in our state, including the new devastating one in Colorado Springs. They are letting us back into our neighborhood under a "Pre-Evacuation" category; in other words, we need to keep our eyes peeled for anything bad, and need to stay prepared to leave again immediately if need be. Smoke and smoldering can go on for days, weeks, even months, and if we see anything "green" catching fire, we need to let the authorities know immediately. They also told us to make sure we all had a "safe zone" picked out to run to, in case a fire flares up, roads get blocked, and we can't get out. They advised us to go to one of the "black zones," that is, an already-burnt area, or to the center of one of the green meadows that survived the first blast, on the theory it hopefully would survive another. Pretty sobering stuff.

Because of this fact, I plan to leave my evacuated valuables in storage until this fire is truly out. "Contained" means they don't think it will spread anymore; "controlled" means they think they've got it all out in the interior. "Controlled" can take months.

The lost house is in the center, the garage is on the left, and across the driveway you can see our beautiful, saved studio/shop. What a miracle!

During the past 19 days, I found that "normalcy" became very important. Things like purchasing and using again my usual shampoo and soap gave me comfort. I became somewhat obsessive about keeping track of my remaining "stuff." For the first two weeks or so, I was glued to the phone and Mike's side. I find myself babbling incessantly, even more than usual.  : )  The fire chiefs are now referring to the "New Normalcy," that is, getting used to a new landscape as we return to our "moonscape" properties, in some cases.

My quote to folks is, I'm fine until I'm not. One day I'm good, joking and comforting others. Then, any little thing can bring tears, especially unexpected kindnesses. One evening complete strangers paid our dinner bill and left without us knowing. Hotel clerks have done us favors. Or hearing bad news about a neighbor can throw me for days.

But funny things happen, too. I joke about my "Eye-Pad" - the folded up hanky I carry constantly in my back pocket. I have my "closet," a large cardboard box in which I stash my non-summer clothes I grabbed as we left the house for the last time. I carry from hotel to hotel my "refrigerator," a brown paper grocery bag in which I transport our snacks.


Part of Paradise Park. Our property is located at the left of the large green meadow that survived the fire. Another miracle!
You can see how the fire swept around from the back to take our house, then winds carried the burning embers from torching trees across the meadow to the other side. The bottom left of the photo is what's left of Spencer Mountain, which we view from our front door. It looks flat in this photo.

For those of you wondering - all gigs are still on! I haven't cancelled any events yet, including one I had to do the day after we evacuated. That was hard, but I was surrounded by love. I look forward to seeing many of you at upcoming dances and programs this summer. Normalcy.

For those of you who have generously sent us donations, gift cards, emails, letters, phone calls, and love - thank you so much! While we do have good insurance, the mortgage still has to be paid on a house that isn't there anymore, and bills, gasoline, food, and other necessities are still needing to be taken care of. Mike has been unable to work in his studio for almost three weeks, and he will be losing more work time as he gets the tractor fired up to start making our neighborhood safe again by removing burnt trees and other hazards, and of course, removing our own debris and starting the rebuilding process.

I'm not used to being on this end of charity, but someone asked where they could send us stuff. Currently, we actually don't need "stuff," since we have to take an assessment first of what was lost, and when we finally finish our list of items that we need, I may open a "Fire Registry" at Bed Bath and Beyond or something like that. Since Mike and I all but eloped and cheated you out of throwing a bridal party for me, maybe now we'll have a do-over!  : )  In the meantime, we are doing fine, but if you want to send donations, or gift cards to Macy's, WalMart, Home Depot,, Barnes & Noble, Bed Bath and Beyond, or such, be assured they would be humbly accepted and put to good use. Our mailing address is PO Box 127, Bellvue, CO  80512 (We're not asking, but you did).

Believe me, I will be compiling a list of help we will need, too, and I promise I will ask for help when we're at that point. The clearing and rebuilding process may take years. In the meantime, hugs, prayers, and love go a long way. Oh yes, and a good meal with friends is always welcome!

Last thing - Mike and I were interviewed for NPR's "Marketplace" radio program this week. They wanted a perspective on how the evacuation affected us from a financial point of view. It will be airing this weekend on KUNC.

And apparently the story of the evacuated brave donkey, "Ellie," from our property has intrigued the press. I've had at least four different news agencies express interest in her story. Maybe another day I can share that one.

Enough for tonight. I'm tired, and have an emotional day to prepare for tomorrow. One friend said, "Sharon, when you view your lost home for the first time, and see the burnt mountain and blackened surroundings, and smell the smoke and ash, it will be the worst moment yet.  But it will be the last of the worst. It will get better from there."  I believe she's right.

Thank you, my dear caring friends. I will take new photos and share them in a future posting. Hopefully soon we can get back to using this email list for happier things. In the meantime, thank you for your love.

God bless every one of you.

Most sincerely,
Sharon & Mike Guli
Guli Productions/Michael J. Guli Designs/River Crossing Inc.