Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A Circus of Clouds

Tai had never been in a hurricane before. Growing up in Southern California, there were no hurricanes. Plus his limited traveling never put him in the path of one. I had been in one hurricane before. When I was young one passed over Houston. We'd been here visiting my grandma. I don't remember it being a big deal. I do remember that the eye passed over us and I thought that was kind of cool. I later learned that's why we still had a house.
Honestly before Ike hit I was nervous. Who knew if we'd be ok? Have power? Have a roof? The hotel we are staying at didn't seem to nervous and was book solid before the hurricane hit so I figured that was good. Gulf coast evacuates were choosing this place, great! I had some doubts but I figured that if the hotel felt that it was unsafe it would recommend we leave.
Tai was excited. He viewed the hurricane as a one in a lifetime adventure and refused to be as nervous as I was. I wanted to hunker down and he wanted to stand in the middle of it.
Friday evening as the storm grew, Tai made friends with a couple on our floor. The guy told him that they planned to sit on the balcony to watch the storm roll in. Tai asked me if I wanted to sit with them and watch. I figured we could watch for a little while but soon it would be too uncomfortable to be outside.
At this point it wasn't really raining, but we'd lost power so I couldn't watch tv and see how Ike was effecting Galveston. We grabbed some drinks and our chairs to sit outside and watch the storm.
We talked to our neighbors (a couple in their 40's with 2 kids) who lived a few miles closer to Galveston than where we sat. Let's call them Anne and Tom. Anne and Tom were nervous about their house. They recently canceled their flood insurance so they were hoping not to come home to a flooded house. (It looks like their town did experience some flooding so I hope they were lucky). We talked about Houston since Tom was originally from the area. We talked about local restaurants and places to see. Tom asked us about DC while we explained we were from the Washington closer to Canada.
Anne and Tom pretty drunk by now. Apparently liquor is key to surviving a hurricane. I didn't know that. We did not buy beer or any alcohol before the storm although our new friends were ok with sharing until they discovered they ran out too.
Anne had a vivid imagination. She kept seeing "Ghost riders" in the sky. So we sang the song til we forgot the lyrics and discussed the songs meaning. We never did arrive to a conclusion. Anne also heard squawking. It was pretty windy now and everything was rattling and making some noise. But Anne was convinced that it was bunch of bats who were scared of the storm. She wanted to find out who was going to take care of the animals, the animals who were scared of the storm. They had a little beagle in their room and she was so scared for the little animals. Anne started shouting to the bats to flee, to seek shelter while Tom laughed at her, telling her they weren't bats; she was just hearing things. I began to wonder why I was still sitting with these folks.
Then the rain started but the wind was so strong the rain
(which was mist at this point) moved in bands. It didn't fall straight down but it moved sideways. The huge lights on the freeway were still working so we could see the wind pushing the rain sideways. Anne thought it looked like a "circus of clouds". Tai just loved that image so we said it several more times that night.
The power on our side of the freeway had gone out hours ago so we could only see what was going on with the large freeway lights and the light from the other side of the freeway. Watching the storm come in was an awesome experience. Yes the wind pelted us with rain and we moved so we could continue staying outside. Without AC our rooms were stuffy and uncomfortable. But the storm brought a cool wind which made outside preferable. The lightening lit up the night sky and we saw all sorts of colors-red, green and blue. It was beautiful until the wind shifted and rain intensified and we ran for safety to our rooms.

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