I like the smell of a campfire. Today, the entire state of Washington (indeed, the entirety of ALL of the west coast states) is surrounded by the aroma of a nice campfire. No doubt it isn’t as strong of an aroma here in Spokane as it is in places closer to the sources of the burning wood.

Why is it that THIS odor isn’t so pleasant? (Why is it that I haven’t been struck down by a heavenly lightning bolt for making light of the situation?) One reason for the unpleasantness is probably that you can’t just walk a few feet away to get some fresh air. Another possible reason is that THIS smoke smells like it has some other gross stuff mixed in — like the exhalations of a million cigarette smokers. Like burning tires. Like property damage, human suffering, and even death.

Old Grumbleface sent me a link where I could get an up-to-the-hour update on Spokane’s Air Quality Index, and I’ve checked it several times this morning. At around 7:30 I took my dog for a walk and the level was 145, or in the category of “unhealthy for sensitive groups” The sky was clearly hazy but I couldn’t smell a thing.

Three hours later, the AQI was up to 167 which is at the low end of the “unhealthy” range. This afternoon the AQI will be over 200, which is considered “VERY unhealthy,” so I figured now is the time to get out for a short bike ride.

Now, it might sound kind of rebellious to go riding in unhealthy air, but I assure you it was much more rebellious of me to brush aside The Feeshko telling me she doesn’t want me riding my bike today. I knew the consequences would be a terrible tongue-lashing.

Nevertheless, when she and her mom headed out in the car, I snuck away. I smelled the smoke right away this time, but I HAD to ride at least a little bit for no other reason than to keep my streak alive. (An aside to Rich: no, it’s not THAT kind of streaking.)

I thought the arches in the featured picture at the top of the page were so cool that I took this picture from the other side. I mean, it’s not that often one can find this many arches in such close proximity to each other.

According to the weather man on KREM-TV, if it wasn’t for the smoke this would be a bright, sunny, cloudless sky. And I seem to have gotten the same color-correcting photo from my phone that Old Grumbleface mentioned. In real life, that sun was a weird pinkish-orange color.

Lucky for me I got back before The Feeshko and her mom, thereby avoiding a most horrible confrontation.


I just took Diggity for his second walk at 1:15. We made it one block before he wanted nothing more to do with that odor in the air. Back at home base, I checked the AQI again. It was 407 — HAZARDOUS — NODODY SHOULD BE OUTSIDE. What the bloody heck is going on here?

Hi. My name is Greg and I ride my bike a lot. That is to say, I ride my bike almost every day. I go on long rides and short rides. Sunny rides, cloudy rides, and rainy rides. I like commuting, errand-running, day-tripping, overnighting, and touring on my bike. I ride on city streets, highways, gravel, single track, and snow with equal enthusiasm. Sometimes I ride fast and sometimes I ride slow. I try to keep my feet on the pedals at stop lights and I do not dismount when I hop up on a curb. I have a roadie bike, a mountain bike and a touring bike. I try to accept any challenge a bike ride can throw at me without complaint. But I don't like bugs.

9 response to "THE AIR IS (cough, cough) SMOKE-A-LICIOUS"

  1. By: Rich-Illinois Posted: September 12, 2020

    Hee Hee
    Ganzaga thus rescinds its scores of 9.8 10 9.9 10

  2. By: The Navigator Posted: September 12, 2020

    I’m so glad you’ve been able to see your son, but very sad that it came through such awful circumstances. Please give my best to The Feeshko. The death of a parent at any time is one of the most terrible things you have to go through in life, to have that occur in such a crap year in these circumstances would be so incredibly awful. I can’t imagine what she is going through.

  3. By: The Navigator Posted: September 12, 2020

    In Victoria, the AQI is based on about 5 pollutants. During the ‘unprecedented’ bushfires here last summer, the air quality index sat above hazardous for about 5 weeks straight where I live. 32 people died in the fires, but it’s estimated >800 died from smoke effects. So there is talk that they are going to have to add a category to the scale (e.g. extremely hazardous) because it doesn’t capture the ‘new normal’. They had to do this for bushfires after the 2009 fires that were so far above the fire index ratings. In that case, they added a “catastrophic” level and “low” became “low-moderate”. A big problem here is that there aren’t enough monitoring stations. Here is the current index standards:

    • By: gregblood Posted: September 13, 2020

      It’s only my second day of “Hazardous” conditions and I’m sick of it. I cannot even imagine five straight weeks of this smoky crap.

  4. By: Laura Posted: September 12, 2020

    Glad you made it back without choking or your puppy falling over from lack of oxygen. It sounds like an awful thing to endure.

  5. By: Bill Stone Posted: September 12, 2020

    Spokane now AQI of 484, almost off the charts. At this point I think you should probably obey The Feeshko’s order to remain indoors. Hope you can head east soon, although the smoke might follow you.

    PS: Today I heard from my friend John, my Coyote Hills riding companion. His family vacation cabin in Oregon didn’t survive the fire.

    • By: gregblood Posted: September 13, 2020

      As I write this, the AQI here is up to 493. I estimate it’s at about the same level as it would be in a 4′ x 4′ air-tight closet with four guys smoking big, fat, cheap cigars and a skunk thrown in for good measure. It’s almost too ironic that I never heard of AQI until a couple weeks ago and now I’m experiencing the highest levels in Spokane history.

      Sorry to hear about John’s cabin. Hopefully it was insured. I suspect fire insurance in forested areas out west will soon become as prohibitively expensive as flood insurance is for homes on the flood plains of major rivers in middle America.

  6. By: NancyG Posted: September 13, 2020

    Stay off your bike when the AQI is that high!!! The Feeshko channeled me.

    The rainbow arch is spectacular.

    • By: gregblood Posted: September 13, 2020

      Okay, Nancy, I think today I will listen to you and The Feeshko. The streak ends today — just two days short of my six-month anniversary of consecutive riding days. Neither rain, nor sleet, nor humidity, nor heat, nor lack of oom-pah-pah could keep me from my appointed rounds, but I was done in by a hazardous AQI. Sad.

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