What were you doing 10/17/89?


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Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Topic Author's Original Post - Oct 17, 2013 - 05:26pm PT
Returning from a trip to Sacramento, made it as far as San Jose, and from the news report believed that I was going to return to a "scorched earth" Santa Cruz.
Spent the night in the Los Gatos High School football field, set up as a "shelter". Pac Bell set up a phone system (back then cell phones were the "shoe box" type). I could call 3000 miles away to my Dad in Pa. but could not reach anyone in Santa Cruz.
Pacific Garden Mall, Santa Cruz
Pacific Garden Mall, Santa Cruz
Credit: Santa Cruz Sentinel
Wade Icey

Trad climber
Oct 17, 2013 - 05:30pm PT
riding out the big one in a Richmond district Victorian. Our building was condemned within a week.
Wade Icey

Trad climber
Oct 17, 2013 - 05:36pm PT
did you feel it on the route?
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Oct 17, 2013 - 05:40pm PT
I was in Leverett MA, after hearing about the quake, and watching the news, tried to get in touch with friends in Berkeley, eventually talked to a set of parents in Philly who said they were OK...

Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Oct 17, 2013 - 05:41pm PT
At the critical 20 seconds: in my office - trying to keep my vt100 from wiggling off the desk.
Then I went toproping at Handley Rock, like I did every Wednesday night in those days.

Oct 17, 2013 - 05:43pm PT
Left work early to watch the World Series. Was home in Modesto with my 14 week old daughter when the house started shaking. We hauled ass away from the family room and its chimney to a stouter doorway. The scariest part of the whole event was when I heard on the news a report that “Yes. We can confirm the Bay Bridge has collapsed.” I thought the whole damn thing had toppled.

Given the time and magnitude of the quake, it’s amazing that more people didn’t lose their lives.

That quake also marked the end of the real estate bubble of that time.


Trad climber
Oct 17, 2013 - 06:04pm PT
Driving back to the sh!thole that is Bako after a fun weekend at the Marin County Fat Tire Fiesta. Stayed a couple extra days to do some rides on some trails in the area. Tuesday, we were driving down the SanJuaquin when the 880 pancaked. I didn't really get it till I saw on the news the destruction later that night. My buddy and I realized we were lucky we didn't go back to Marin Brewing for a RaspberryTrailAle growler to take home, otherwise we mighta been in on it! We were on the 880 2 hours before it 'caked.

Trad climber
Bay Area
Oct 17, 2013 - 06:05pm PT
With my wife, working on our 30' sailboat in Sausalito. Preparing for a year at sea.
I was playing contortionist in the bilge, repairing the corroded grounding wires (to prevent electrolysis of the bronze through hull fittings).

Through the hull I heard this really WEIRD thumping noise. Almost as if the slow turning screw of a large tug were moving past the dock. I squirmed out into the cockpit and saw the harbor waters churned up as if they were whipped cream peaks. Extremely short standing waves. Maybe a 5' wavelength and 3' height slapping against the boats and the dock pilings swaying like aspens in the wind. Suddenly I knew it was an earthquake even though we couldn't feel it.

Dock power went off of course and we went up a few boats to see Darwin who had TV. First images were of the collapsed apartments in the Marina district and the collapsed 880 freeway structure. Then the collapsed Bay Bridge section.

We walked up to the street in Sausalito and saw the column of smoke from the Marina district. Sarah (R.N.) walked over to the fire station and offered her services. They were sitting around waiting for the phone to ring. Which it never did. No reportable injuries in or near Sausalito. Just a few moderate injuries further up in Marin.

Back at Darwin's TV we began to see the scope. The horrific destruction of the East Bay Freeway and historic Pacific Garden Mall in Santa Cruz. The houses in the Santa Cruz mtns, near our house, askew and the cracked roads.
At dusk and late into the evening from our boat we could see the fires in the Marina district, across the Bay.

A very strange evening. Knowing so many people were killed and in trouble yet totally untouched just a few miles away.

The next day it got really interesting...........
scuffy b

heading slowly NNW
Oct 17, 2013 - 06:11pm PT
I was sitting on the sidewalk at the big stone streetmarker, intersection of
Indian Rock and San Mateo after bouldering. Parked cars were jumping around
Rachel Freeman, Luke's sister, got pitched off the rock and sprained her
Paul Martzen

Trad climber
Oct 17, 2013 - 06:19pm PT
I was working at California Outfitters in Fresno and Shane, the boss, was on the phone with a rep in Marin. The conversation stops and Shane exclaims, they are having an earth quake in the bay area! I think the rep stayed on the phone, relaying what was going on. About a minute or two later, the waves came through Fresno, like long ocean swells. It was weird to get that much warning and thus know what we were experiencing as the ground moved under us.

The editor of Whole Earth Magazine, wrote a very perceptive article about his experiences and what kinds of actions were most helpful in the immediate aftermath.

Trad climber
4 Corners Area
Oct 17, 2013 - 06:45pm PT
It took me a second, I knew that date . . .

I was working up in La Honda. I remember watching the Brady Bunch flying across the living room!
Then the power went out, and we didn't know what was going on for hours. We had peoples kids to take care of (Science Camp).
Jebus H Bomz

Peavine Basecamp
Oct 17, 2013 - 06:48pm PT
I was sick with the flu when the palm trees in Sacramento started a
swaying. I felt nauseous.

Big Wall climber
San Luis Obispo, CA
Oct 17, 2013 - 06:49pm PT
I was not yet born!

Sport climber
Tucson, AZ
Oct 17, 2013 - 06:50pm PT
I was sitting in my bedroom in Roseville, CA, feeling the tremors and groans of the earth all the way from the Bay area, thinking about the Giants game that was going to be on that night, clueless an earthquake had taken place in SF until my father came home from work about 15 later.
Even up in the Sacramento area, my father stated his truck seemed to roll in a wave along the interstate.

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Oct 17, 2013 - 07:17pm PT
Duh, being miffed that the World Series was being upstaged!
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Oct 17, 2013 - 07:28pm PT
I was in some canyons in central Utah for days, and when I got out I called a nurse I was seeing and she was amazed that I hadn't heard about it.

And 29 years ago today I was in Hell Roaring Canyon trapped by the same snowstorm that, to this day, dumped the biggest one day total on SLC.

Oops. It was today, the 18th.

Gym climber
Oct 17, 2013 - 07:35pm PT
I was in The City, on the 5th floor of my school building, starting an exam...

Foolishly, I went outside and tried to drive home--took me an hour to round the block. I was one of the last cars to travel the Embarcadero Frwy. SF instantly shut off the electricity, and everybody got drunk as hell. That was an interesting evening (what I remember of it).

My GF lived in Santa Cruz, you could only get in from the north via Hwy 1. Man, what a scene, the put a chain-link fence around downtown SC.

My buddies said they saw waves traveling down the street.

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Oct 17, 2013 - 08:00pm PT
Was standing in line in a circle k in Tempe Az. Guy comes in and sez " hear the latest? big earthwuake, the bay bridge collapsed, the series is off!

Went home to check on Michele who was at 38 weeks pregnant. Natalie waited another 11 days before joining our world. I always figure that quake was her setting the stage!

Trad climber
June Lake, California....via the Damascus Road
Oct 17, 2013 - 08:06pm PT
I was watching the start of the ballgame from my home in Mammoth...and was on the middle floor of a 3 story house. Saw the telecast start to flicker, and heard Al Michaels say, "I think were having an earthq....."....when the screen when to fuzz.

Within seconds, we heard it coming....a low, deep groan. Then the wave began to hit....like being in a boat when another boat's wake starts to hit you. It started out slow, then got bigger and faster...all coming from the west.

The 100 foot tall pines in my yard were swaying a good two feet back and forth, and it went on for quite a long time.

Quite an amazing event.

The Hot Kiss on the end of a Wet Fist
Oct 17, 2013 - 08:09pm PT
Housesitting in Santa Cruz, CA from Oct 7th till Oct 17th. I left Santa Cruz at 12 noon to drive back to Yosemite to give my slide show at the Ahwahnee Hotel. I turned the tv on at about 5:40 that evening before going to give my show and went WHAT THE F*#K????!!!!! If I had stayed longer I would have been in the downtown mall at the old beer garden (which is now a Starbucks)where I was almost every day between 4:00 and 6:00.
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