Monday, November 19, 2012

Taking the sandy Sandy road home

Hovering in Norfolk for a night, we're sitting in a coffee shop near my temporary home in Ghent. We'd decided to leave this evening at low tide, which was at 5:06PM. The road home is still washed out but they allow 4x4 access intermittently. The alternative is a 2-2.5 hour ferry ride, which is in addition to the regular drive to Norfolk, more than doubling the usual travel time.

The weather's been bad. Wind and rain. The road keeps getting overwash. All day today the road was closed, but opened just a few minutes before 5:00, and we took off, following the lead car through the sand road, next to the road which was buckled by Sandy a few weeks ago.

Justin said, "It's always an adventure with me!"

I could have passed on this sort of adventure, but what do you do once you're in the situation? You go along for the ride.

Right now I have nowhere else to be. No man's land between jobs, licenses, lives. Trying to start something new. Trying to find the path. I'm trying to live day by day, and not stress excessively about what the future holds.

So we navigated the sand road, arriving safely at the end. We'd caught end of the train of cars following the lead vehicle by less than a minute. Our Trailblazer was the caboose.

Driving through the wreckage of the hurricane was rather sobering. Sand piles, garbage, ocean water in the road. I tried to make a video but dusk acted as a wall of its own, dimming out the images. We gawked. But made it through.

Stopping in Kitty Hawk, we sprayed off the truck, pulling sand out of the wheel wells with our fingers, leaving black fingers.

In the morning we head to Ohio to visit my brother before continuing on to Iowa where we'll have the first Thanksgiving with our whole family since 2000. It's Justin's first meeting of my family, and his introduction to the Midwest.

Hoping the road leads us home safely.

Kinda bad dusk pictures of sandy Sandy road:
(well pretty bad dusk pictures) 

Garbage on the side of the road waiting to be collected by the state of NC. 
Just like North Dakota after a blizzard only with snow instead.
This house is leaning and missing its stairs.
Those last 2 houses are leaning and probably condemned, as well you can see the road or lack thereof in the foreground.
The usual road.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

--Traveling back to the OBX--

Reporting from Kitty Hawk Starbucks

While in Hampton Roads this time, I stayed in Norfolk, near Ghent, which is that area that reminds me of Portland. Old houses. Small, tree-lined streets. Local businesses. Thrift stores. Universities. A coffee shop ran by an Eastern European man and his Asian wife. It's strange how much environment makes a difference. It really does.

I'd posted an ad on Craig's List looking for someone who had a spare room for me to rent when I was in town working. The woman who I'm renting from works in Ghent three days a week and spends the rest of her time in Raleigh with her girlfriend and her son. So the house is mostly empty. She told me to keep a key and use her house whenever I wanted. I just leave a little cash in the drawer when I leave. It's delightful. 

I noticed that all the leaves have changed or fell off since my last drive through. Or last time I came through it was in the dark, so that may not be entirely true. The road is still washed out but they are repairing it. 4X4s are allowed go to through. Some of it is still sand. A 37YO highway worker was killed this week fixing the road. He had three kids and a wife. I am sick for them. What price we pay for roads.

For Veteran's day, I climbed aboard the USS Wisconsin to participate in a Hampton Roads Community Band concert honoring our vets. We were graced with clear blue skies, sunshine and 70 degree weather. Two days of sunshine over the weekend in the midst of grey and cold weather. Today we are back to the 50s and dropping.

We're scheduled to return home to the Midwest next week. Hurricane Sandy disrupted our original plans- we were supposed to hop the train today. Instead we are going to hop in the car with the dog in tow. This will allow for extreme flexibility, and we'll be able to come back whenever we want.

So I am a couple hours into my trip, and now have to drive to Stumpy Point to catch the 2-2.5 hour ferry across the sound to Rodanthe, where it's another thirty minutes to drive home, or so. I'm trying to enjoy the trip. Even if it's rote by now. I stopped at for a soy latte, and I'm on my way.

Crappy Android picture of my home away from home

Friday, November 2, 2012

[Voting, Ferries, Sandy, Confusion]

 In mild depression and scatteredness, I write this blog.

The ferries are allowing non-residents back on Hatteras Island. I thought about returning today, but investigated the situation and discovered the normally 2-3 hour trip was taking 8-10 hours. And this was before they lifted the restrictions, when they were only allowing certain people back. So today it will be even worse.

Instead of an arduous journey at the end of an an arduous month, I've decided to rest in Virginia Beach for a few more days. I'm going to volunteer with the Obama campaign, since it's the end of the election and Virginia is a swing state. I stopped at the headquarters yesterday and the girl in charge told me that they have a hard time getting people to knock on doors. They are only visiting prior supporters, but people who vote sporadically. I've done this before and it was fine. I enjoy taking part in the political process rather than standing back and seeing what happens.

Being in New Zealand during the last presidential election was much less stressful and I didn't miss being subjected to the political ads. However, since I don't watch TV, and only listen to the radio in the car, it is pretty easy to avoid them here, but the climate of polarity and venomous hatred toward people who think differently permeates the air anyway, and I feel bodily ill at moments. What has our country turned into?

Sometimes I daydream of living somewhere else, to escape the insanity that is America. Hoards of uneducated uncaring citizens. Shooting each other for stepping on property. Hate based on race or sex or gender choices.

But then I meet people who really care. People who are passionate about things like I am. I think maybe it's ok. I've never been one to abandon my American-ness, even when I felt we were doing stupid things. When God gives you a difficult kid, you don't leave 'em on the side of the road. I don't want to do that with my country either.

Also I'm concerned that I might not get to vote. The only way I can vote is to make the 10 hour trip to the Outer Banks. I could have registered to vote in VA or in NC based on my residency but I chose NC since I was going to be there this week during elections. I could've requested an absentee ballot but the deadline for that was last week during the Sandy Hurricane. So I missed everything. I'd read all about the voter laws in both states and still got confused. This coming from a highly motivated, educated person. If I'm this confused, I can only imagine that there's millions of others in my shoes. So many new voting laws present a massive wall to voting.

But I am making my own personal effort today and for the next few days, to impact the election.

Last of all, today is the day my dad died. Twenty-nine years ago. It still bothers me. It always will. So I decided I would keep my dad in my mind as I go door-to-door, interacting with strangers. I'll make this effort in his memory. I know he would be proud.