Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Dog walks: 8/28/11

1:00 PM

The power went out in our house around ten AM, so no television, no radio, and no internet. So I did what I usually do when I'm cut off from the world: I went to sleep.

When I woke up at one PM, my options had expanded slightly. The rain had paused, so I was able to walk the dogs. (Trying to walk a basenji in the rain is like trying to drive a car with the parking break on. You can do it, but you'll wish you hadn't.) The dogs didn't seem to mind the gusty winds, so we were able to make our way through town like it was a normal walk. Newport was even more deserted today than it was yesterday. All the tourists had cleared out, and only we townies were left. The power was off throughout Newport, so the few businesses that hadn't chosen to close had the choice made for them. The only exception was Benjamin's Raw Bar on Thames Street, which had managed to keep busy by attracting everyone who was still in town and was looking for a place to go.

While I was passing by the hotel where I worked (which was closed for the weekend due to the storm, and now also due to the power outage), I noticed a man struggling to close one of the gates. As the dogs and I passed by, I recognized him as the hotel's general manager. I asked him how the building had weathered the previous night's storm surge, and he told me that the sea hadn't quite made it over the sea wall, and everything was still unflooded. However, there would be another storm surge during the next high tide, and it was expected to be higher.

The dogs and I went on our way, passing through the wind-tossed trees, which were shedding leaves and twigs at a fantastic rate, with the occasional good-sized branch thrown in. When we got back to the house at two-thirty, the power was still out.

7:30 PM

If you can't watch television and you can't surf the internet, you can still read books, and that's how I spent most of that stormy Sunday afternoon, perched in a chair next to my bedroom window. I finished Murray Leinster's Twists in Time and started Edmond Hamilton's Battle for the Stars. I was four chapters into Hamilton's space opera when the light from the window grew too dim to see by. It was seven-thirty in the evening, and I decided to take the dogs for another walk.

I walked the dogs through the dimming light. Most of the street lights were out, but apparently the city has a few that are hooked up to an emergency generator, and those provided an occasional island of artificial light. More light was shed by the headlights of passing cars, which acted like moving spotlights running through the otherwise almost-unlit city. Perrotti Park fronts on Newport Harbor, and as the dogs and I were passing through, I could see the sea, which was heaving like a freshman at his first kegger. We must still have been a few hours from high tide, because the sea was at least three feet below the top of the sea wall. I thought then that there was a distinct chance that the hotel would make it through the hurricane unflooded.

We were going up Thames Street towards Washington Square, and it was all dim night, lit by occasional car headlights and even more occasional street lights, and then . . . suddenly, there was an island of light and noise. The Brick Alley Pub had its own emergency generator, and it was lit up like Times Square and open for business. The sheer normality of it made it the strangest thing of all on that strange night.

Eisenhower Park was so choked with fallen branches and so dark that I passed it by. The dogs and I made our way up Broadway entirely by the light of passing car headlights, until we reached City Hall, which also had its own generator, and was also lit, though not as extravagantly as the Brick Alley. The dogs and I paused there for a minute before starting on the final leg of our journey home. Back in the house, I fixed dinner for the cats by flashlight, then went upstairs to my bedroom with the dogs, lying down in the dark room and listening to the gusting wind and the occasional emergency vehicle rushing through the night.

1 comment:

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

I could see the sea, which was heaving like a freshman at his first kegger.


I finished Murray Leinster's Twists in Time

Sideways in Time is one of my all-time favorite tales.

Glad to hear you weathered the storm well.