Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Duke of Earl

1950 Mercury, "Duke of Earl"

Just a short update tonight -- it's late, we've had a long day and are tired, and tomorrow will be an Early morning. We are at a truck stop off I-75 in Valdosta, Georgia (map), en route to US-84.

Yesterday afternoon we unofficially consulted with our leads at the Red Cross Disaster Operations Center about whether we should perhaps reposition ourselves a bit further east, in case we might be needed to respond to Hurricane Earl. It's always a dicey proposition to move ourselves like this, since it costs us real money (we do not get reimbursed for any mileage until we are officially deployed), and we did not want to drive a few hundred miles if they had other resources on hand to deal with it. The answer yesterday afternoon: sit tight, we have plenty of time before the Friday landfall, and no decisions have been made.

9:30 this morning the phone rang, inquiring if we could be in Raleigh by tomorrow evening if we were officially deployed to do so. Still no problem, and we started packing up, a process that took extra time because not only were both scooters still out, but the deck was set up, and I had three eBay items to pack and ship before we left Destin. It was nearly 1:30 by the time we rolled out of the Elks parking lot. Mind you, with no official deployment orders yet, this is still just us leading our usual nomadic life, by heading east.

We did not even make it two miles before the phone rang again, asking if we would be available to go to Boston. By plane. Logistically speaking, that's difficult, and we basically said that one of us could go to Boston, but the other would have to stay behind with the bus and pets -- Louise was not willing to drive the bus all the way to Boston without me, and, in this particular instance, they did not want her without me. After fifteen minutes of noodling through logistics, we agreed that if we were asked to do so, we could try to make Boston by Saturday, meaning someone from the DOC would have to be there ahead of us to cover for me. Still, it would mean 30 hours of driving across two and a half days, a brutal schedule.

We were almost to I-10 (it turns out to take over an hour to reach I-10 from Fort Walton Beach via Destin) when we got word that they found someone else to cover Boston, so we were off the hook, and we went back to our Plan A of heading towards Raleigh. That gave us a little more breathing room and we decided to stop at our club in Tallahassee for a nice dinner.

The club is at FSU and is staffed mostly with students from the hospitality school. With this being the very start of the school year the servers are very green, and despite our exhortation that we were on a tight schedule and wanted faster service than the usual very laid-back, nearly 2-hour affair that normally constitutes dinner at these clubs, we still ended up sitting there for well over an hour, even though we took our dessert to go (12-layer chocolate cake, and we only made it through half our single slice, together, tonight). In hindsight, the club stop was a mistake, albeit a delicious one, because it cost us perhaps 90 minutes beyond what a "normal" dinner would have, and we'd be much farther into Georgia tonight.

Tomorrow morning we will resume heading towards North Carolina. With any luck we will get some official deployment orders in the morning. If we do not get deployed to Earl, Gaston is not far behind, and has the potential for a U.S. landfall.

Photo by The Brain Toad, used under a Creative Commons license.

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