Monday, September 26, 2011

School's out

We are at the Old York Elementary School in Branchburg, NJ (map), where until Saturday the Red Cross relief operation for Hurricane Irene was headquartered. While the operation started at the Red Cross chapter in Tinton Falls, we moved here nearly two weeks ago, as I described in my last post. This school closed at the end of last school year, after 61 years of operation (it opened in 1949 as Branchburg Elementary), and the township's Board of Education donated the use of the space to us for the relief operation. It's been a little strange going to "class" every morning, and having all the bathroom fixtures a bit lower than normal.

The technology department was quartered in Mrs. Barry's art classroom, complete with pottery kiln.

Louise and I are the only ones still here; we just helped the FedEx guy put the last 2,000 pounds of equipment on the truck less than ten minutes ago (it is ten till four as I am typing). This morning, the copier rental company came for the two donated copiers, and the Board of Ed did their final walk-through on Friday, before the operation was even over. We have all three sets of keys, and we'll turn them over in the morning before returning our rental car at a nearby Avis.

We've now been deployed for nearly thirteen weeks this season, and we're going to take a little time off. We're planning to attend Trawler Fest in Baltimore in a little over a week from now, and after that I am slated to teach three days of classes at the Bus Conversion rally in Chattanooga.

Since we found ourselves unexpectedly in the northeast, we're trying to get some visits in with family. We had a very nice visit over lunch last week, on our day off, with my folks, who met us halfway, and we plan to do so again tomorrow before we turn our car in. And we are eager to see my young nephew (really cousin) whom we get to see only once a year, if that, before we miss his childhood altogether. My cousins live near Glens Falls, which is a long way to take the bus for just a short visit, but they will be coming south for the Army game this weekend.

We'll meet in the middle at my aunt and uncle's house, whom we are also eagerly looking forward to seeing. We're planning to be there sometime Wednesday afternoon, and I am hoping the school district will just let us stay here for another night after we turn the keys over tomorrow. That will be the end of our free ride on power, though, as our cord is actually running in through a window -- there is not a single outside outlet on this building.

With any luck my uncle and cousins will be available all the way through the weekend, and we'll start heading towards Baltimore Monday or Tuesday. In addition to Trawler Fest, there are a couple of boats for sale in the Maryland area that we'd like to check out, and we'll try to make appointments for that either right before or after the show.

Louise is going to take the downtime afforded by my teaching schedule to fly to California for a quick visit with friends and family. The best available schedules at reasonable fares are round trip out of Atlanta, and so we may head directly to Atlanta after Baltimore, and I would then head back up to Chattanooga from there. Alternatively, I may rent a car in Chattanooga and drive Louise to Atlanta for her flight, although that would make for a very early morning.

After we depart Atlanta on October 22nd, when Louise returns, our calendar is a big question mark. We will go back on deployment availability, as hurricane season runs all the way through November, so remaining in the southeast is a strong possibility. The Fort Lauderdale boat show is the following week, and we might head in that direction if nothing else calls us.

Now that we are officially finished here, I plan to spend the next two days catching up on sleep and emails. I know I owe a lot of people responses -- I just can't get to all of it while we are deployed. I am hoping we can just stay parked right where we are, as we can use the downtime before having to move the bus.

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