Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Beached by Sandy

I was supposed to be in Ann Arbor this morning, orchestrating agenda prep for the fall organizational meetings of the Fellowship for Intentional Community. Instead, I'm in Watertown MA, visiting with a dear friend (Tyler), waiting out Hurricane Sandy.

As a wilderness canoeist, I often look for a sandy beach when scanning the shoreline for an overnight campsite. In the Precambrian granite geology of northern Canada's premier canoeing territory, such sites are few and far between, but every now and then you can luck upon one. They represent a safe harbor, easy on the canoe and less treacherous for bathing.

Much as I enjoy being on a sandy beach, however, I'm not enjoying being beached by Sandy. 

As someone who's been involved with FIC since its beginning in 1987, I've never missed any of our semi-annual organizational meetings (board meetings plus committee meetings combined). That's 51 in a row. Tomorrow, for the first time, I'll not be in the room at the opening bell, because I didn't get out of Dodge Boston fast enough after wrapping up a weekend consulting gig with Jamaica Plain Cohousing Sunday afternoon.

My plan was to board the westbound Lake Shore Limited at South Station at noon Monday, getting off 18 hours later (at dawn Tuesday) in Toledo—which is only an hour south of Ann Arbor. Not worrying about the weather (big mistake) I had a lovely visit with Tyler Sunday evening and then got the bad news from Amtrak: my Monday train had been canceled in anticipation of Boston getting slammed by Sandy. 

Hmm. Logan Airport was also shut down, so I looked into Greyhound. There are two buses daily that go to Ann Arbor: one leaving at 12:15 pm and another departing at 7:40 pm. They both take about 23 hours and have a couple of transfers (one at 3 something am in Cleveland—talk about a good time), but at least they'd get me there. I could also rent a car, but the fees were stiff ($336 plus gas). What to do?

I have a decided preference for the train because it takes less time, costs less, offers reclining seats for sleeping, and I can work on the train (as opposed to the cramped seating on buses, or the psychic drain of driving 13 hours solo through driving rain with winds gusting to 70 mph). So I switched my reservation to take the Lake Shore Limited Tuesday and crossed my fingers. Maybe I should have crossed my eyes also. 

Monday afternoon, in the midst of the howling wind, Amtrak canceled Tuesday's trains also, and then Greyhound shut down the buses. Ain't nobody going anywhere out of Boston on Monday. It was about then that the lights flickered at Tyler's house and it occurred to me that I might be in for plenty more adventure yet. 

Worried about the rain and coastal storm surges, Ma'ikwe emailed me yesterday asking how I was faring—the weather maps looked horrific. I was able to assure her that I was removed six miles from Boston Harbor, and that I was hunkered down in the second story of a house built of brick—not the ones built of straw or sticks—and relatively secure from big bad Sandy's huffing and puffing. In short, I was riding out the storm in Watertown, not Underwatertown.

Fortunately, the power never went out and we've had running water throughout (not just in the downspouts). Last night I bumped back my train reservation once more, and now I'm crossing everything (not just my t's and toes). Today (Tuesday) the wind has died down to a modest 20-30 mph and we've even seen patches of sunshine bravely poking through the cloud cover. Who knows, maybe we'll go out for dinner tonight—something that only a maniac would have considered yesterday. 

While I am sad to not be with my FIC friends chewing on agenda this morning, they can get along fine without me. Everyone I know is safe and I can just as easily peck away at my To Do List from my laptop in Massachusetts as I could in Michigan. In the end, there are many worse ways to spend an unanticipated two-day layover than with a good friend who has reliable wi-fi and an ample stock of strong coffee.

With luck Amtrak will reinstate train service tomorrow, and I'll be to get to Ann Arbor for Day Two of our three-day meeting. Failing that, maybe I can catch the late bus (if they're letting the Greyhounds out of their kennel this evening). 

One way or the other, I'm optimistic that I'll find that sandy beach tonight.

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