Saturday, August 16, 2008

Kissimmee, you fool

Just a quick update tonight -- it's been a long day.

We are in the truck parking area across from the Atchafalaya visitors' center, under the Atchafalaya causeway on I-10 (map), about half an hour west of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. We are en route to Kissimmee, Florida, the tentative staging area for Red Cross assets in support of the relief operation for (what we assume will be) hurricane Fay.

Our day actually started quite casually, wating for a thunderstorm to pass before putting the scooters away. We did not roll out of the park until after 10, with the intent of continuing northeast until we heard something definitive, stopping either in Channelview or Beaumont for some visits if nothing came to pass.

Good thing we were not yet under any time pressure, because we had not made it even a quarter mile from the park before a passing car kicked up a rock which put a dime-size volcano in the windshield. We had to pull over just east of the Lavaca Bay causeway, and spend 45 minutes on the side of the road with the chip repair kit. I'm getting better at these as time progresses -- you can hardly tell that this one was even there.

We continued northeast on TX 35 at a relatively normal pace, on a now-familiar road. At 1:30, my phone rang with the (not unexpected) call from the Disaster Operations Center in Washington. With the usual disclaimers that we are not actually deployed and "authorized" to travel until we hear it from our chapter, they wanted to know where we were and that we were continuing to move towards Florida. A short time later, they confirmed that they were requesting us "by name," but the chapter still hasn't seen anything yet, because the staff deployment center is holding all staff requests until tomorrow afternoon. So we are on our own, with no choice but to press on if we are to have any chance of being there on time. We hope that our official deployment orders come down the pike fairly early in the afternoon.

After passing the Johnson Spaceflight Center (Mission Control) and crossing the whizzy suspension bridge over San Jacinto bay, we made a quick grocery stop in Baytown before hopping on to I-10 east, and settling in for a long drive on the superslab. A few miles further east, we spotted a sea of brake lights just in time to bail off the highway, bypassing about three or four miles of backup due to a big-rig accident. We also had a slow-down near the state line, due to an overturned big rig in the westbound lanes, but counted ourselves lucky -- the freeway was closed in that direction, with perhaps ten miles of traffic backed up.

The delays added up, though, which is why we ended up a bit short of our target of Baton Rouge for tonight. We did stop for a nice dinner, though, at local Acadian favorite Fezzo's, in Crowley, before landing here at this well-designed rest area.

Tomorrow morning we will get an early start. If the track really does bring the storm to the keys early Monday, we'll need to be in Kissimmee no later than Monday morning, and we have over twelve hours of driving to get there.

1 comment:

  1. Sean, I think you said sometime back that Red Cross paid you 50 cents a mile when you moved to an area to help. On this kinda move where you were in Texas and are now headed to Florida, are you reimbursed for the whole trip or just from the time they tell you to head east?


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