Goodnight Irene

The title of today’s post is certainly a tired trope, so maybe it is time for it to be retired, but the damage caused by Irene is still being acutely felt, even if coverage of it has begun to wane. Earlier this year, we had our own little Irene, when a nameless windstorm toppled our large fir-tree, along with a half-dozen of our near neighbor’s trees too. It took us three months to repair our damage and one neighbor is only now completing her repairs, some six months after the storm. I expect that our timelines will appear brief when compared to the eventual post-Irene cleanup and repair. After all, New Orleans is still dealing with the aftermath of Katrina, even now.

Living in Saint Louis, we primarily experience tornadoes instead of hurricanes, but even so, the occasional beaten down remnant of a gulf shore hurricane makes it this far inland. A few years ago one such hurricane, hit town and disrupted the Tour of Missouri bicycling race. By the time a hurricane reaches this far north, it is usually moving pretty fast, this was certainly true of Irene, by the time it hit New England.

In 1982, Anne and I had our “Great Adventure”. We took six months off and bicycled around the USA. In early June of ’82 we were in Rhode Island. We had just visited my Aunt Merce and Uncle John and then the seashore resort town of Newport, when a sea storm moved in and sat on Little Rhody for the better part of four days. It took us those four days to eventually escape this tiny state. The remainder of this post is composed from excerpts from Anne’s log that chronicled our days of rain, in early June of 1982.

The day before this story starts, was a play day in Newport, RI, home to many wealthy people. The weather was sunny and warm. We enjoyed bowls of the world-famous clam chowder at the Black Pearl. The next morning this episode dawned ominously cloudy; the fore-tellers of the approaching storm were already above us.

Our first obstacle was not natural though, but manmade. It was the large suspension bridge that connects Newport Island to the western mainland. The approaches to the bridge warned off all us bicyclists, but we didn’t really have another choice. That is until a kind woman with a pickup truck stopped and gave us a lift. Anne rode with her in the cab and I sat in the bed with the bikes. She explained that the authorities were very serious about enforcing this bridge’s bicycle prohibition. Cyclists that had ignored the warnings and had ridden across this obviously dangerous bridge were summarily turned around and forced to ride back from where they had come. That will teach them a lesson! The rain started that afternoon.

Anne and I frequently disagreed on the subject of motels. I was always for them and Anne was the budgetary restraining force. After all, we were always carrying our own little no-tell-motel. Probably the nadir of this little episode can be best summarized by the following diary excerpt.

Well it’s rainy when we start out and it stays so all day. Although, it slacks off occasionally, it’s still pretty miserable. We’ve come about three-quarters of the way around in a circle, back to Providence. Hopefully, tomorrow we’ll leave “Little Rhody”, for other sunnier pastures.

We eventually made it to Massachusetts, by way of Connecticut. I’m still not sure of that navigation, but I suspect that it was my own. It continued to rain in the Bay Colony, but the worst was behind us. We rode through puddles that caused us to lift our feet off the pedals to keep them dry. I saw a much more extreme version of this maneuver in the Irene news. We also got severely splashed by bus #13. This little episodic adventure is in no way comparable to the depredations of Irene. Simply, this is the closest connection that our life experiences have produced to that catastrophe.

5 thoughts on “Goodnight Irene

  1. I wonder if the hurricane that disrupted Tour of Missouri was Ike. Because Ike swept the edges of his skirt over the Planet Ann Arbor too. Not a lot of wind as I remember but a TON of rain! First time the Landfill Dungeon has ever “flooded” (wet carpet). (Except for the crack behind the dryer, which is annoying but doesn’t do any serious damage to anything.)

  2. Also, when I first saw the photo, I actually couldn’t figure out where it was! The streaks were distracting me (you must’ve taken it through the front windows). Finally I saw the chairs. Oh duh.

  3. Ike was the hurricane, lazy me for not researching it. It killed a person in MO, blew a lot and dumped a ton of rain too. The streaks are casued by the slow shutter speed.

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