Our trip south this morning began right on time, even though we had a good six inches of snow dumped on us last night. We were packed and ready and on the road by 8, making our way down our unplowed roads to the highway. Traveling south toward Mt Shasta and Weed on Highway 97 was a bit challenging, with long rows of trucks lined up putting on chains. We saw a few California Highway Patrol enforcing the chain up, but with four wheel drive, we were waved on through. For quite some time, I noticed that there wasn’t a single line of tracks through the snow coming toward us and we were the only ones on the road. As we approached Weed, however, the traffic got a bit crazier, with some folks flying through and others crawling along. We actually saw a few unchained trucks going very slowly, and wondered how they got past the CHP. After we stopped for the mandatory agricultural check at Dorris, I hit the button to roll the window back up and nada, nothing. The window was not going up. I had Mo put Jeremy back in his cage, we donned hats and gloves against the wild snowstorm coming in the driver’s window and continued south. I wondered just what this trip was going to be like if we couldn’t close the window to the car, but the wondering only lasted an hour or so, because with some extra coaxing and a prayer on my part, the window finally went all the way back up. Silly.
Mo and I don’t do fast food a lot, but it’s a bit of a tradition to pull into South Weed for a McDonalds McMuffin breakfast. This morning the trip took so long that we almost missed out, and once there, we were amazed at the deep, wet snow. Inside the store we found dozens of Japanese families, with kids running and playing everywhere and long lines for the food. What? Weed? It is never busy!?! With coffee in hand, we asked a young woman next to us if she knew where everyone was going. Seems they were all on some kind of tour bus from Vancouver, BC,which didn’t have chains,and they had been sitting around for over three hours waiting to get back on the road.
The drive over the pass was a bit harrowing, but not too bad, and it was with a sigh of relief that we pulled into the high locked security gates at Redding RV Storage. Mo unlocked the big doors and when we slid them up, I noticed that I smelled gasoline. “That’s weird,” I thought. Then I looked toward the back of the shed, and again thought, “Why is the door open back there?” “Wait, there isn’t a door back there!?” But the light was streaming in, the gas cap was off and drooping, and as I looked more closely, I realized that I was looking through a gaping hole in the solid metal wall at the back of our shed. We looked around in disbelief, trying to see what might have been taken, assuming that someone wanted the gasoline. Then we realized that the back storage area was open, the side storage areas were open, and when Mo looked inside the cab, we saw all the maps and papers strewn all about. With trepidation, we walked back to the main door, left ajar, and stepped inside to find the entire contents of the MoHo dumped and thrown all around the interior.
It took awhile to figure out what was gone, what was destroyed, what was left. The sick feeling and shaky knees didn’t go away for some time, for me at least. I called the Redding police, who were not available “because we need to deal with life threatening situations and don’t have enough personnel at the moment to take a report” Someone will call you later. I then called the owner of the storage facility, and got an answering machine. Within a few minutes, though, he called me back and they came right over to asses the damage. He kept saying,”This has never happened before!”, and then of course had to mention right away that our contract stipulated that we were the ones responsible for insuring the contents of the units.
He opened the back gate of the facility to check out the long wall where one set of units backed up to a long hill above the highway. Sure enough, a second unit had a similar hole where the burglars had used some kind of sawzall to get through the metal. In that case, however, there were boxes right up against the wall and they weren’t able to get in.
After the owner left, we began cleaning up the mess and listing what was missing. The more we looked around, the more amazed we were at what was taken and what wasn’t. They unscrewed the face plate of the DVD/stereo, but didn’t take the unit. They completely emptied our drawers and cupboards, but only stole my Leatherman tool. They didn’t touch the two bottles of whiskey or any of the food, they left the binoculars lying on the sofa, but stole a ring Mo had left in the dash that belonged to her grandmother. They stole the battery charge meter plugged into a socket by the door, the portable inverter, and all of Mo’s electrical volt meters along with our solar panel from the back storage area. For some stupid reason, they stole our fold up picnic table, the kind that has the slats on top that roll into a nice bundle, but then they left the two hundred dollar telescoping ladder right in place.
Much later this evening, the Redding police finally called for a report, and the officer wasn’t the least bit surprised at the erratic, completely unpredictable list of stuff taken and not taken. He said it was obviously a meth burglary, and that Redding was the “meth capital” of California. I wonder how so many different places can claim to be the “meth capital”. They said that about Sonora when I moved there, and they say that about the rural county in Missouri where my son lives, and they say it about Klamath Falls sometimes as well.
The officer said that people on meth are usually looking for money, jewelry, drugs, anything small and light that they can sell. What they take sometimes makes no sense at all because they are all drugged up and completely weird. That surely was the case here. Once we finally got the place cleaned up, it hit me hard that we were incredibly lucky. Nothing had actually been vandalized, no real damage to anything. They didn’t break things, tear doors off, put rocks through the windows, or scratch the paint. Everything seems to work just fine. They didn’t touch our house batteries, or take any of the engine parts, or bother the nice flat screen TV. They took down our little pillow that says “Home is Where You Park It” that we had pinned up on the wall and left it on the couch. ???
I am sooo grateful, and after we traveled south for a couple of hours, the heavy pall began to lift and we kept saying how incredibly lucky we had been. We slipped through the huge California storm without any major problems, even with torrential rains south of Sacramento. For the first time, Mo got to see the Yolo Bypass north of Sacramento in full flood stage, an amazing feat of flood control doing just what it supposed to do. By 7pm, the Technicolor lights of Flag City RV Resort showed up on the gray horizon signaling an end to this long, slightly crazy day. Everything again seems normal, and yet I still feel that moment of incredulous disbelief when I looked back at the gaping hole in the wall at our storage unit. I sure am glad we are taking the MoHo all the way home this time.