They don't know whether to feel grateful or sad. At best, for John Mitchell and his wife, Geannie, it's a mix.
"It would be fun if I were camping," said Geannie, looking around their 1992 motor home.
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It is parked, not in a campground but in the corner of a parking lot behind an office. This is what happens when a perfect storm of bad circumstance rains down on the best intentions.
"Three nights a week. It would have been fun," said John. It has not worked out that way.
John, Geannie, and Geannie's mother had bought homes in Paradise to beat the high prices of Bay Area real estate.
From #Paradise to an RV, and grateful to have it. John and Geannie Mitchell cashed out of Bay Area real estate and built a dream home in Paradise. Now, it and their mother's home, as well, are gone from the #CampFire. The RV is all they have left. Now what? #abc7now pic.twitter.com/FtKJjFAfIh— Wayne Freedman (@WayneFreedman) November 20, 2018
They were was big enough for friends, family, and retirement.
"It was such a nice house we could get so much more there for a fraction of what we pay here," said John.
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When they bought the RV a month and a half ago, they planned to use the RV to vacation and during the transition Paradise. Then, the fires hit.
"Whoever heard of 10,000 houses being lost?" asked John.
Geannie was in tears most of the time we spent together. John props her up. They work in SF Bay Area. From a short-term 'adventure' the RV has become reality. "It would be fun if we were on vacation," Geannie said. This isn't. And they feel blessed to have it. #CampFire #abc7now pic.twitter.com/crZpNViuk7— Wayne Freedman (@WayneFreedman) November 20, 2018
They haven't been up, yet, to survey the damage. When anyone approaches the subject of their house, tears well up in Geannie's eyes.
Never say to her, "It's just stuff."
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"Worst thing you can say," she told us. "That it's just stuff. It was my stuff."
The house held memories, dreams. They still have their wedding pictures and a few others, but, "It is an amazing loss of self who you are and we are. Your memories make you who you were and it is hard to swallow," she said.
Geannie's mother has no insurance and little hope for rebuilding.
John and Geannie do. But until then, they will make new memories in a home, on the road, in a parking lot, in limbo, and lucky, they say, to have that.
"It does beat a tent, absolutely. I am grateful for that," said Geannie.
See more stories, photos and videos on the Camp Fire in Butte County.
And now, after. #abc7now #Paradise #CampFire John and Geannie Stevens have yet to see this damage in person. Area remans closed off. The do have insurance, but its a lot to consider. pic.twitter.com/3pOarhCyp2— Wayne Freedman (@WayneFreedman) November 20, 2018