Well, I survived another week in the Carolinas. As some of you may know, two years ago we went there for a vacation and narrowly missed Hurricane Bonnie. Last year we were there for only a day when Hurricane Dennis chased us back to Williamsburg, and then after scouring the Islands for a while like a demented floor scrubber, we gave up and went home. So this year, we went earlier in the season, *before* the hurricane season. The first four days we were there a freak "Nor'easter" hit the islands, and our cottage was pounded by some of the most severe winds and rain I had ever seen. I mean, SHEETS of rain fell like gigantic shards of pane glass some nights, and our house rocked back and forth in gusts of wind that reached up to 72 mph. Yes, *seventy-two mile per hour* winds were recorded in Manteo just a few miles north of us. Most of our deck furniture was made of heavy wood, and even that had to be tied down. The hot tub cover barely survived, and nearly ripped the hot tub from the decking. We lost a lot of roofing tile which ripped from our house like post-it notes. I have seen ceilings leak, but the pressure of the wind and rain were so strong, our walls even spontaneously leaked in some places, spreading dark patches of soaked stucco here and there. The storm kept elbowing the islands again and again as it spun just offshore. Parts of the island chain flooded.
But we only lost power once, and it was before dark, so that wasn't so bad. Although, when the power came back on, the resulting surges fried the circuitry of our heating and cooling system, so we hand to endure a heater that would not turn off for several days until it got fixed. Luckily the presence of windows and gale-force breezes prevented us from overheating.
The last three days of the vacation we had great weather. Although I overdid it, and after being stir-crazy for four days, I spent the better part of the next morning in the hot tub despite the winds and clouds. I spent TOO much time in the hot tub, and got the worst sunburn since my childhood days across my face, chest, and arms. I mean, my skin turned a reddish-purple. Yowch! Turns out I also got sun-poisoning. I had to be bedridden for a while, which wasn't so bad, because that's kind of what I wanted to be anyway. I got to catch up on a lot of TV. It hasn't changed much, has it? Daytime TV has gotten even worse! I am not missing much. My computer refused to work, it would only get AOL mail and instant messages for a few moments before just hanging. The line noise was awful.
But all that aside, the vacation wasn't as terrible as it sounds. It only sounds that way because those were some of the interesting bits, and the happy bits were fairly boring unless you were there. The people that came were Christine, CR, and myself with our friends Brad, Jeni, Sara, and little Chance (my friend Sean's little girl brought as a friend for CR). We played a lot of games, a lot of people got drunk (happy drunk), and a few days I got to go out and see the islands. Brad brought his PlayStation at we played Dragonseed and Spyro. It was a bonding experience for a lot of us, and we got to see some really cool stuff.
* Just after the worst of the storm, we saw some waterspouts offshore, lit eerie colors by the lightning. The lightning shows at times were so frequent for so long, it was like we were next door to a several discotheques with different patterns of strobe lighting. The thunder exploded continuously.
* During one of our clearer nights, we saw a meteor. Not just the standard shooting star type (which we also saw), but a HUGE meteor come slowly from the sky like a normal shooting star, then light up tremendously bright blue, like a flash bulb, which lit up the sky and everything around it like it was daylight for several seconds. Then it exploded into dozens of green and red smaller fragments before finally going dark probably a few miles over the ocean. We knew it wasn't a firework or flare because it was very large, very bright, and very far away. The trail even cut through some high-layer clouds.
* I found a hooded sweatshirt in my size. In black, no less!
* We did get to eat out. Sadly, due to the storm, most people couldn't go out and fish, so the usual seafood delicacies were missing; even Dirty Dick's were out of crabs... Yes, the restaurant is really called "Dirty Dick's," and they are famous for their crabs. Their slogan is, "I caught my crabs from Dirty Dick's," which is plastered on billboards and tee-shirts everywhere. We also ate at the Froggy Dog's, but both places were low on seafood items which are usually locally caught.
* Ahfu and Bear (Jenny's Pomeranian), loved the beach. This was Ahfu's first time at a beach (or traveling so long in a car), and he loved it. He didn't love the surf itself very much. It wasn't that he got wet or was afraid of being washed away, but he just didn't seem to like the thought of waves coming *at* him, and besides, he had digging to do. I swear to the Chinese Sun God that this dog was meant to dig. Ahfu spent almost all his time at the beach digging holes here and there, pausing only to sniff and get his flat Peke face covered in sand. After he dug one hole, he'd stop, look around, and then excitedly dig another hole. He never found anything other than an odd piece of seaweed here and there, and I had to follow him around while he dug, so that future passersby wouldn't break their ankles stumbling in Ahfu's expeditionary trenches.
After we got back, my work turned into a hellish saga of 12-hour days doing reports that wouldn't work. On top of that, I got some sort of stomach virus that has sucked the living soul from me.
Un seemingly unrelated news, a tornado touched down on the evening of the 15th very near our house (in Reston). It touched down in Arcola at 7:20pm, and was over my town at 7:40. I didn't see it, but we had to spend half an hour in a bathroom, and you know how your mind tricks you. You think every roar will be an oncoming funnel. There was a lot of rumbling thunder, and of course we live in one of the major flight paths of Dulles airport, so we usually hear low roaring in the sky as jets pass by. It was touch and go there for a while.