Driving into work, traffic was at its normal pace. Unfortunately, this was similar enough to the traffic during the evacuation that it caused me to freak out a bit. Nothing major, but it did inspire and fight-or-flight rise in blood pressure.

The evacuation will probably have lingering effects in my psyche for some time to come.


The (non) Evacuation from Hell

I live in Houston, or thereabouts. We have hurricanes. Occasionally, we should evacuate because of a hurricane. Rita was one such hurricane.

We were packed and ready to go, except for the pets, Tuesday night. We both had to go into work the next day. Kim was expecting to be let go around lunchtime. I was hoping to be home earlier than that. It didn't happen.

I had to stick around and make hurricane-related updates to the website. The final update wasn't ready until 1:30 p.m.

I then zipped down to my mom's place and secured the windows with the plywood that my dad prepared 25-plus years ago. I had her house boarded up in about an hour and then zipped back to my house. We still had some last minute stuff to do so we didn't get out of the house and on the road until 5:15 p.m.

We were not scheduled to leave by the powers-that-be for another 8-12 hours depending on who you listened to.

I'd seen traffic on the way home from work and it was obviously backed up.

We attempted to game the roadways by heading south and then west and north. Driving south, we passed the obvious access to Hwy 6 (backed up) and caught a little farm-to-market south of Alvin and headed west. We drove along fairly easily for a while, zigging and zagging along the roads.

It's now a little after 6 p.m. and we attempt to cross under Hwy 288. Too late. At 6 p.m. they started shutting down various roads and funnelling folks on to the primary evacuation routes. Our attempt to take 1462 all the way to Hwy 36 failed. We had to get on Hwy 288.

We hop on 288 and stop moving. We make it to Beltway 8 a while later, maybe 2 or 3 hours. I think we also perform our first driver change during this stretch. Without pulling over to the side of the road. I mean, what would it buy us? Nobody's passing anyone. We can walk faster than we're able to drive. We're not in danger of getting run over by anyone or anything. Except maybe a cockroach. They're leaving town , too.

I try to grab some shut-eye and fail. Too much stress.

We switch drivers again, probably about 3 hours after our last change. I think Kim just slides over in the seat for this change while I run around the truck. I think we're on Hwy 290 by now.

Kim grabs some shut-eye. Manages to do very well, I think. The dogs are unusually quiet.

1st gear. Standard transmission. 3 hours. Left leg hurts.

About 1 am we switch again. Kim's knitting while driving and making a lot of progress with the hat she's making. Occasionally, she moves the truck up 10 feet or so. I attempt to sleep. Fail miserably. Stress rising about being stuck on the highway when Rita comes roaring through.

1st gear. Standard transmission. 3 hours. Lots of cars in our squadron with only 1 person in the car. What were they thinking? Come on people, carpool! If every car on the road had at least two people in it we'd actually be moving somewhere at maybe 4mph! Instead of this 1mph we're currently experiencing.

We switch again. I think for the last time. I drive. Well, sort of. If you can call it driving.

Around 7am I start really worrying about being able to get anywhere on the gas remaining in the tank. 1/4 tank. No gas stations with gas in sight. Kim's asleep, so I can't get her opinion on my plan. Can execute the plan without her buy-in. Pass an exit.

About the only thing we passed except time.

Kim wakes up and agrees with the plan.

The plan is to take the next exit (1.5 miles and an hour away), wander around the area looking for gas and, if we don't find any, head back in to Houston.

But first, we take a break by the side of the road and let the dogs out. Everyone else seems to have the same idea as dogs start piling out of vehicles on leashes.

We wander. We look. We find, but with long, confused lines. We head back into town.

We head back to my workplace, a nice solid cement structure. I'm the first of a number of refugees from the evacuation.

We take over my office area, get the animals settled, get ourselves settled and collapse.

The rest of the weekend is spent reading, walking the dogs, listening and watching reports on the evacuation and updating the website.


A trip to Austin

Click here to view video.

This was a trip to Austin in support of Armadillocon, a science fiction convention held in austin each year. I've run the Art Show at the convention for the past couple of years. I needed to attend at least *one* meeting of the convention staff and the held one on a Saturday, so A.T. Campbell and I drove up together for the meeting.

I ran out of tape in the camera around halfway up to Austin, so you don't see us arriving for the meeting, but I promise you we made it. You get to see the drive a lot faster than we made it.


Up and running

A first blog at blogger for me. I had a blog on my own server, but failed to keep it up. The same result will probably occur here.