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Darkflash: Apple Cola

There will be a few more Darkflashes before I am done. Here is the next one. Originally sent to friends and family 4 Sep 2004 03:20:51 UTC.

So, we’re in Appalachacola, FL tonight.

After my last email in the morning Sonar from work (like Radar from MASH, but Sonar) met me to help put wood up. He had a few scraps left. But we didn’t have the right tools to secure to masonry. And the wood wasn’t the right sizes. And we didn’t have the right stuff to cut to size. But we did our best. Brandy went and got a jigsaw from the WalMart. They were out of circular saws. The front windows had some shutters that were mounted to wood that was already attached to the masonry. So we attached the wood we had to those mounts We used the shutters themselves, plus the plywood Sonar had brought. It was a bit patchwork, and probably not adequate, but it was better than nothing. The rest of the windows we had nothing we could use to mount plywood, so we put up some plastic sheeting with duct tape. Completely useless and would blow away in minutes if the duct tape itself would even stick. But hey, it was something.

Then after Sonar headed off, the neighbors woke up, and we went over and asked if they had any extra supplies. They didn’t at the moment, but would let us know if they ended up with any. A couple hours later, for $40, the neighbors had given us their extra plywood, masonry drill bits, and masonry anchors. At this point we were nearing the noon deadline we had given ourselves for leaving Melbourne. But we had a new supply of wood. So we decided to do what we could even if it meant leaving a few hours later. We ended up getting at least one piece of wood put up over each window. Not everything was covered because we had the wrong sizes. Enough wind and they would get blown right off because the wind would get in the gaps and pull it off. But it was the best we could do.

While we were putting up the last few pieces Ivan’s dad dropped by. He was in town to evacuate the elderly relative we are REALLY renting the house from. We talked for a bit and he wished us luck, and he was gone.

After Mr. Bou left we quickly finished putting up the rest of the wood, then filled our car with the essentials and the stuff that would be hardest to replace. At least the stuff that made the most sense to take. NO, we did not take the email archive. :-)

We tried to get a few things up off the floor and onto higher shelves in the house, moved some things toward the center of the house. Surrounded the fish tank with mattresses and put in a bunch of plants so they can go without electric.

Then we headed out around 4 PM. One car with me (human), Amy (human), Zuri (ringneck parakeet), Nacho (budgie), Skittles (budgie) and Cheese (budgie). The other car with Brandy (human), Princely (dog), Mike (skink) and Nala (anole).

We had decided to go back roads, because major roads were all jammed up with evacuation traffic. They kept saying so on TV and radio. We decided to just generally aim toward Tallahassee. Brandy has relatives there. She hadn’t seen them for years, and we didn’t really intend to stay with them or anything, but it was a direction. We also knew there were no free hotels (especially pet friendly ones) pretty much anywhere in the state of Florida. Well, there were some of course, but they were getting scarce. And the further we went the better shot we had. And most people seemed to be either heading North toward Georgia, or to Orlando (even though it was also in the path). So we thought we’d head west instead.

Anyway, the back roads idea was great. Worked wonderful. We hit almost no traffic. We were averaging over 50 mph almost the whole time. And we got to see all kinds of interesting scenery and small towns. And some of the way we even got to go on some awesome cool DIRT ROADS. You all know how I love that stuff. I had the GPS all loaded up with the maps for all of Florida (except Miami) and half of Georgia and the Gulf Coast out as far as Texas. It was worth it.

Twice we decided to “lets see what the main routes are like” and switched from “Shortest Distance, avoid highways” to “Quickest route, all roads OK”. Both times we ended up stuck in stop and go Interstate traffic never getting more than 20 mph. Both times we went one exit and immediately got back on back roads at the first possible opportunity. Those two times ended up killing almost two hours.

Around midnight were near Ocala. We saw a motel with vacancies. All the hotels anywhere near the interstate were fully booked. But a couple on the smaller routes were not. (On the same note, all the gas stations anywhere near the interstate were sold out of gas, but the gas stations off on the smaller routes were busy, and some had long lines, but still had gas… and the ones way off the path didn’t have lines even.) We did not stop and take a room when we saw the open motel. We probably should have. But we figured we still had energy to keep going, and if there were some with vacancies, we would probably find more later. And we didn’t know if the place was pet friendly. Although we could have asked. But we didn’t.

We kept going. Around 2 AM we were probably only another hour or two from Tallahassee. If that. But neither of us could keep our eyes open at all. At that point we were in the middle of nowhere. No motels or hotels within many miles. Let alone ones with vacancies. So we just found a closed gas station, pulled into their parking lot and took a nap for an hour. Then we kept going. But only for about an hour. We were still tired. So we drove to an open gas station with a 24 hour mini-mart and pulled into their back parking lot and took another nap. The parking lot was full of other evacuees doing the same thing. Basically slept from about 4 AM about 8 AM. Then we headed on the road again.

We re-aimed the GPS at New Orleans. Not because we have any actual intention of going that far, but just because it was a place to aim at. The plan was to drive until about noon, then take the first pet friendly motel that had vacancies that was along our path.

So, a few minutes after noon, we saw one seedy looking motel. We skipped that one. The next one we saw we stopped at, and sure enough, they were pet friendly. We checked into the “Rancho Inn” in Appalachacola, Florida. After getting the animals settled we went out in search of a few supplies we had forgotten and some food. Appalachacola has basically nothing. We didn’t really get anything we wanted. Although we did find a Subway to eat at (attached to a gas station) and we got Amy a DVD to watch (on the computer) from a drug store. and I got some extra OTC allergy meds since I’ll be sharing a hotel room with a dog for a few days. [Don’t worry, allergy meds are much better than they were a few years ago, I’ll be fine for a couple days.]

Then back to the hotel. Brandy and I took a nap right away. When we woke up, the Weather channel reporters were in Palm Bay, right where the house we have the offer on is. The track, which in the mornign had flipped south, had gone north again and was once again aiming at Melbourne. But it had dropped from a Cat 4 to a Cat 3 and now to a Cat 2. But it will be moving slowly, and so therefore even if it is only a Cat 2, there may be hurricane force wind and rain back at our place for many hours when it hits. Or maybe not. Still a lot of uncertainty. But there is still an expectation of lots of wind and rain and flooding. Meanwhile Appalachacola, which when we went to sleep was outside the cone of possible path, was now back inside it (barely). Although by the time it gets up here, it will probably just be a tropical depression. But still possible bad flooding up here.

After our naps, I decided to try to get online. I couldn’t get through on my cell to the 800 number for Earthlink to get a local dialup. So I asked Brandy to while she was walking the dog stop at the front desk to get long distance turned on, so I could dial the Melbourne dialup, grab the list of local numbers for here, then dial up locally. The lady at the front desk told Brandy that we REALLY didn’t want to get online that way, because long distance calls were $1.50 a minute here using the hotel phone. Ouch! Anyway, I’d ended up calling the Earthlink 800 number from the hotel phone and found out that there were no local numbers at all for Appalachacola.

I was getting quite frustrated at this time. I fired up my work laptop (that I happened to have AOL on) just to see if there were any AOL numbers where Earthlink had none. Slim chance I knew, but I thought I would try.

Then suddenly I notice… there is an open WiFi network. I hadn’t even bothered to check on my own machine. I switched off the wireless and went to dialup mode immediately. This is not the kind of place one would expect to find WiFi. And it was wide open too, not one of those where you sign up and pay $10 a day or whatever. Of course, the girl at the front desk had not mentioned this when telling Brandy we didn’t want to call long distance to go online. Duh! Brandy thinks this WiFi isn’t actually intended for hotel guests, and it is actually just for the office, and we happen to be only two rooms over from the office. She may be right. My signal strength is low. But I don’t care. I have free broadband internet. It is actually better than what I have at home in Melbourne at the moment.

So anyway, we are settled in for the night. Watching the weather channel. Amy is watching her DVD. I am doing this email. We’ll probably turn in for the night soon.

Checkout is at 11 AM. Probably around 9 or 10 AM, we’ll take a look at the forecast and decide if we want to ask and see if they have any vacancy for tomorrow night and just stay here longer, or if we continue going west. Where we are will probably get some heavy rain Sunday night or Monday from the storm, but probably won’t be horrible. Just a bad storm. (For that matter, with it weakening, we probably would have been fine just staying in Melbourne, but at the time, leaving looked good…) So we’d probably be absolutely fine staying here. On the other hand, doing the road trip is fun. And I’ve never been to Alabama! Or Mississippi. Or Louisiana! But then again, once this blows past, we’ll at some point have to drive BACK to Melbourne, so we may not want to go any further than we have to.

OK. That’s it for the update today.

Talk to you all soon!

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