Dangerous ladies. Irma and Elsa.
When Elsa first came to my attention, it was way out into the ocean. Last wednesday or thursday. Too early for the spaghetti straps. Not too early for a cone.
My first impression of the cone was it reminded me of the first time I saw Irma on the Weather Channel. Irma from the very first was always heading directly for Key West. Never deviated. Predicted as a Category 5.
I said, “Get your ass out of here, Louis!”
I drove for 3 days. Thrown out of 2 hotels because “a hurricane was coming.”
The first was a motel in Pompano. The cone showed Irma deviating west. No problem sleeping on the east coast.
So I thought.
Got a call early the next morning from the front desk: You have to leave, hurricane heading this way.
Where next? I had no particular destination. Drive till I was out of the range of Irma. I decided to drive north on the Florida Turnpike. Put me in the center of the state driving north. Went to Atlanta. Irma not predicted to go that far north.
Put into a Marriott downtown. Got the last accommodation. A suite for the price of a room. Like $135.
The suite was on the 27th floor. One wall all window. Thought if Irma comes, I am going to be blown out from the 27th floor. Terrific!
The next morning, I got a call from the front desk. You have to leave. The hurricane is coming.
Irma had changed course again. It was like she was following me.
Where was I going to go? Decided to try Jean Thornton in Birmingham, Alabama. A few days earlier, she had invited me to stay. I called Jean. There was a room at the inn. I was number 6 to call seeking shelter.
I made it to Birmingham with no difficulty.
Came September 10, 2017. Irma which was supposed to be a Category 5 deviated at the last moment. Went over Key West as a 1. Not for long, however. Sixteen miles north of Key West is Cudjoe Key. It hit Cudjoe as a Category 4. Devastation beyond belief.
I stayed with Jean and Joe 10-12 days. No sense in returning home. No one was being allowed down U.S. 1 yet. Trees down, electric wires on the road, boats on the road, cars and homes in the water, parts of the highway gone.
Key West did not have power for several days. Meant no air conditioning. No place to get food. All stores closed. Gasoline a problem. Even cell phones wee not working. I did not know if my house survived.
Experiences consistent with a hurricane.
Needed gasoline. Initially no stations had gasoline. I was going to be stuck in Pompano when Irma hit. Then on the outskirts, I found a small station with like 50 cars around it. No organization. Stick the nose of the car into the mess and hopefully move ahead.
Got to the pump. None of my cards worked. Did not make sense. I knew they were all good. Suddenly several big guys surrounded me demanding I move my car. I knew if I moved it, I would be in Pompano forever.
I went inside the station. The first card I put in the machine was good. The pump rejection was the way the station was doing business that day.
As I returned to my car, I was concerned the big guys had manually picked up my car and dumped it somewhere. I was driving a Volkswagen Beatle. Fortunately, the big guys were no where to be seen. My car had not been moved.
Urinating was a problem. Never had to wait in line before forever to go. I did at a large rest area on the Turnpike. Like a woman.
Waited in line for a half hour. The line moving at a snail’s pace. Finally said to myself, screw it! Went outside looking for tree area. They were all around. A small forest. Went into one area and did my thing. Smiled while I was so doing. I was not the only one. Many men and a few women. What is it called, invention is the mother of necessity?
My eyes were screwed up. I was not aware. I could not see signs in the day time till I was upon them. Night driving a disaster. Never saw a sign. Thank God my cell phone was on the travel guide and I paid attention to turn left, stay in right lane, etc.
I needed my eyes checked! Required new glasses! First thing I attended to when I returned.
I finally made it. I was the last to arrive. I had a lovely large room. A bath shared with another room. The accommodations terrific!
We did our own thing till 5. Cocktail time till 7. Then a terrific meal and wine. I don’t know how many cases we consumed.
The food was excellent. As in Key West, Jean has many friends in Birmingham. Someone cooked every day and brought whole meals to us for dinner consumption.
The partying continued till 3 in the morning. Every night. Even danced. Jean has a video of her and I jitterbugging. I had not jitterbugged since college.
Besides cars, boats and houses not being where they should have been, I noticed one other thing on the return to Key West. On U.S. 1. A large refrigerator lying side ways across 2 branches of a tree 20 feet in the air. Irma had to be one hell of a wind!
I do not plan on leaving. Elsa will not be as bad as Irma. If it passes over or bounces on either side of Key West, it will be either a tropical storm or Category 1. Both can be handled.
Additionally, Elsa is moving fast. The Weather Bureau projects it will pass over the lower Keys in 2 hours.
I wrote a book when I returned: Irma and Me. Sold well initially. Four years later, 1-3 copies a month. It is available on Amazon. Actually, my blog. I continued doing the blog when I was away. Put it together and voila! A book!
So much for now.
Enjoy your day!