2020 is the year of “what’s next?” Remember back in January, the big news was President Trump skating easily though an impeachment trial thanks to the spineless jellyfish known as Senate Republicans. In the several thousand years (in pandemic time) since then, we’ve had nearly nine months of coronavirus-mandated stay at home orders and nearly 200,000 Americans have died of COVID-19 thanks to, surprise!, criminal negligence (at best) from the top leaders in our country. Protests have erupted over social injustice and continuing racism, and now people are killing each other over it — violence encouraged and fomented by, again, the top leadership in the country. People have lost their jobs thanks to the shutdown, the government has failed to pass meaningful legislation to help those most desperately in need, and somehow wearing masks to protect people from our germs became a political act. At home, school started… and it’s exactly like the rest of the year, just another Zoom call.

Then on Wednesday the wildfire smoke arrived. Well, back up. Monday was Labor Day, and it appears that idiots started a zillion wildfires. Much of California was already on fire, but Oregon and Washington joined that party. It didn’t take long for the winds to shift and dump a “super-massive” cloud of toxic wildfire smoke over all of Washington State.

Air quality on September 10.
Air quality on September 11.
Air quality on September 12.

This thick cloud of smoke has happily (I assume) hung out here in the lovely Pacific Northwest for the last four days, slowly getting thicker and nastier, until we literally cannot go outside because of the hazardous pall.

Sixty Acres
Before the smoke: A nice territorial view of Sixty Acres and the Sammamish Valley. Taken July 22, 2020.
Sixty Acres in the Smoke
The same prospect in a picture taken today. The picture really doesn’t capture the sickly orange-yellow-gray light quality. Taken September 12, 2020.
Sammamish Valley Sept 2020
Geese fly along the Sammamish Valley, which is mostly obscured by smoky haze.

We (my family) run our house fan continuously. We run box fans with HEPA filters taped to the fronts in our bedrooms at night. We keep everything shut up tightly and go outside even less than we did before, which I previously would not have thought possible. But it is! Now we can’t even go for our 30-minute morning walks or go out in the yard or to the park in the afternoon.

Homemade Air Filter
Homemade air filter: All class, no gas.

On the biking front, I went for an easy ride on Wednesday in “moderate” quality air:

Moderate Air Quality
“Moderate” air quality means I could still see Seattle from the east side of the 520 bridge. Smoke now totally obscures that view.

…but as the haze thickened I’ve stayed inside with everyone else. Today I rode my bike 75 “miles” on the trainer in the air-conditioned garage at my parents’ house. I guess I’ll keep doing that until the smoke clears… some time in October when the rains start. By then I guess the murder hornets will have gotten us.

Wildfire Smoke Biking

At this point, honestly, I’m really ready to just have 2020 over. I’d guess I’m not alone in this sentiment.

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