Friday, October 1, 2010

Pounded by Nicole

We are at the Elks lodge in Hampton, Virginia (map), next door to Newport News and across the river from Norfolk.

Yesterday morning found us at the Wal-Mart in Williamsburg (map). Considering what a touristy place Williamsburg is, we were surprised parking is allowed there, but we had plenty of company, and more rigs were pulling in as we left yesterday afternoon. One rig appeared to have been there for weeks (it was actually months, we learned later) and had a sign on the windshield that said county ordinance prohibited such parking. It was laser-printed without any official seals, so we presumed the store management put it there after growing tired of this dilapidated class-C setting up permanent residence in the lot. Just before we left that rig got a visit from the sheriff as well, but he was uninterested in any other rig there.

We had a nice drive to Williamsburg on US-60, which is the "slow" way compared to I-64, but even then it was only an hour or so. We got a late start from Glen Allen due to our conference call, and besides, we are not due in Norfolk until Monday. The only full service restaurant near the Wal-Mart was IHOP, and it was surprisingly good for dinner -- we've only ever patronized them for breakfast. We needed the Wal-Mart stop anyway, to stock up on some essentials, and I also walked to the Lowe's next door to pick up some Romex® for a new power outlet in the living room.

By the time we left Williamsburg, we were already starting to get drenched by the remains of Tropical Storm Nicole. So we opted for the freeway route to Newport News, where our guides said there was both a Wal-Mart and an Elks lodge with overnight parking. An Olive Garden was nearby but not walking distance, and, with nearby parking all but guaranteed, we made the uncharacteristic choice to stop for dinner first in the bus.

That proved to be an unwise decision, as the Wal-Mart and adjacent Sam's Club were posted No Overnight Parking, and when we arrived at the Elks we were informed that they no longer offer it. At this point we were now driving around unfamiliar territory in the dark, and in driving rain to boot. This Elks in Hampton was the next closest choice, and a quick phone call confirmed that parking was still available.

The rain had become torrential by the time we arrived, but I picked out a parking spot that had no standing water when we pulled in. The GPS said we were three feet below sea level. After we got settled and checked in with the lodge, we started getting pounded. The rain was about the hardest I have ever seen, and the winds drove the water into every available bay seal, door seam, and window casing in the bus. Most of our leaks have been repaired, but we still have a drip or two that seldom even show up in the first few hours of rain, but in this storm we used every microfiber towel in the house to sop up water.

At some point I just had to go out to walk the dog, and it was then that I realized Odyssey was surrounded on all sides by water 3" deep. The two of us just had to slosh through it, and I remembered that this region had flood damage when I worked Tropical Storm Ernesto here back in 2006. Fortunately, the water level never came close to the underside of the bus itself.

Somewhere in the nighttime the rains finally stopped, and we've been drying out all day. I opened up all the bays to air them out, and we've had fans blowing on any wet parts here inside while I finished installing the new power outlet. The good news is that, as bad as Nicole was, the massive flooding that had been feared in North Carolina did not materialize (you know you could be in trouble when Jim Cantore from the Weather Channel lands in your city, as he did in Wilmington yesterday). We will not be called to a relief operation as a result of this event.

In a few minutes we will pack everything up and continue to Norfolk. We have dinner reservations for tomorrow night at our reciprocal club there, and our satellite gear is due in nearby Chesapeake on Monday.


  1. Wow - 3" of water, and still raining. I might have been looking for higher ground in that situation!

  2. Hi Sean & Louise,

    Evan got out of the Navy and is a federal fireman at Fort Bragg.



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