Thursday, September 18, 2008

Coffee break's over -- back to work

We are at a familiar Wal-Mart in Tallahassee (map), on our way to an even more familiar location in Baton Rouge. It looks like we will get to help with the Gustav relief effort, after all.

We never made it to Disney World, or to Wet & Wild for that matter. We had hoped to wrap things up at the old HQ Monday, and maybe get out someplace on Tuesday, but the cartage company never came to pick up the 30-yard dumpster, which was the last item keeping us from locking the place up. After a few phone calls, we managed to get them out on Tuesday, after which I did a walk-through of the building with someone from the chapter and turned the keys over; by that time, it was close to 5pm.

Even though we had already processed off the job, we had kept the rental car until all these niggling little details were handled. Since we had missed the Tuesday morning drop-off anyway, we took the car to dinner at the Citrus Club, our affiliate club in Orlando, on the top floor of the BB&T building. We had a wonderful dinner, but no sooner had we sat down then we got the call from the Disaster Operations Center (DOC) to head to Baton Rouge.

Since we are going in to relieve other workers already on the ground, this deployment for us has somewhat less arrival pressure -- we took the time to finish our dinner, and handled a few personal items Wednesday morning before we left. The guy who's been sitting all day waiting for truck tractors in the enormous gravel lot where the semitrailers have been staged was kind enough to pick Louise up at Avis, while I spent the morning ordering satellite parts and resolving some billing issues (more on both of these later, possibly in another post).

While we had been luke-warm on the Disney visit in this weather, and the water park idea was just a substitute recreational activity that we could take or leave, the real disappointment in getting called early for Baton Rouge (we were hoping for a call much later in the week) is that we did not get the chance to connect with our friends in northern Florida. We waved wistfully as we passed their campground, the Spirit of the Suwanee Music Park, on the Interstate at speed for the second time in a month. But we know that Red Cross resources are strained to the breaking point right now, and, even though we had asked for a full week off, watching the reports coming in from Ike have gotten us itching to be redeployed.

We finally rolled out of Orlando right around noon. We dumped our tanks at the same Petro truck stop between Ocala and Gainesville in which we had spent a frustrating morning on our way south, and set our sites on Talahassee for an overnight stop. Louise was scheduled to teach the technology training by teleconference last night (ironically, in lieu of our friend CC, who has got her hands full with Ike right now), and we needed to be off the road early in a city with good cell service. We stopped at the Olive Garden for dinner before rolling here for the night.

In a few minutes we will be back on the road, and I expect we will be in Baton Rouge, or someplace close by, tonight.

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