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Running from Irma

 

I’m not proud. If I’m outgunned, outmanned, or outmaneuvered, I’ll run away, reconsolidate, and go to Plan B. The important part is having a really good Plan B, even if you think Plan A was adorable (and a good C, D, E…). Tuesday morning, I looked at Irma, Irma’s track, and then my boss.

Me: I gotta go.
Boss: You gotta go.

Mid-afternoon Tuesday, I ditched work and hied home to Key Largo. I started battening down the house. Living in an idyllic, waterfront house with views that should both be on postcards and inspire Jimmy Buffet songs sounds great. Then you have to batten down and realize that every lawn chair, the grill, the kayaks that we keep on the boat ramp out of habit because it’s easy and when all the kids are home they love spotting the occasional pod of dolphins and running out to the kayaks, pushing off, and frolicking with them, all the patio furniture, everything, is a potential missile and must be brought indoors. Then you have to pack up the essentials (Mrs. Mongo packed our wedding album, which I found touching and romantic and told her so; Yeah, says she, I know. Keep packing.), clothes, chow for the dogs and particulars. Particulars in this case meaning weapons, ammo, whisky, and Copenhagen. Best way Plan A was going to work was us two, two cars, one dog in each car (I got the Big Dog; not as much fun in my sensible Nissan Altima as it would’ve been in my manly Dodge Ram pick ’em up truck), moving out and making our way to Orlando.

I know a guy, and got a rate. I told the lovely and talented Mrs. Mongo we’d be moving out at 0-dark thirty. Yeah, says she, no. Okay, I concede, we’re moving out at the crack of dawn. Well, says Mrs. Mongo, I thought I’d go to the hospital, check e-mails and make sure everything there is locked down, then come home in the afternoon and we’ll launch. Yeah, says I, no. We’re leaving in the morning. We left the Keys on Wednesday morning. “We left the Keys” sounds pretty expeditious, but it wasn’t. Traffic was already clogging up. Miami traffic was even more awful than usual, as everyone that was evacuating was on the FL Turnpike, and everyone that was going to work and would make decisions later was on the FL Turnpike.

We made it to Orlando. It’s usually a 4.5-hour road trip. It took us 9 hours. Since we’ve been ensconced here, Mrs. Mongo has gotten calls/texts/posts from her peeps (I’m a misanthrope. I don’t have peeps) lauding her for being prescient in getting out when we did. The Keys have been slammed: stalled/slow bumper-to-bumper traffic; no gasoline anywhere on the island. Mrs. Mongo has admitted unequivocally that I was right and she was wrong on our launch time. I’m being magnanimous about it. Okay, I’m aiming for magnanimous; pretty sure I’m just hitting insufferable

Governor Rick Scott waived all tolls on all roads in the state in order to encourage people to evacuate. Because my critical, possibly life-saving decision to go North hinged on ~$18-32 in toll fees. It was probably a good decision, but there were unintended consequences. All of the turnpike median service stations had long lines that extended out into the turnpike. We saw dozens of Florida Highway Patrol personnel at each service station, most likely to control traffic flow and keep people from beating each other to death over that miracle liquid, gasoline. Great. Except with all the tolls lifted and people that don’t usually drive on toll roads were zipping through 10-12 lane toll plazas at 55-65 miles an hour, totally oblivious to the fact that within 500 meters, the turnpike was going to choke back down to two lanes. There were accidents on the north side of almost every toll plaza. Maybe some FHP guys there instead of swarming at the service stations could have helped traffic keep moving. Maybe not.

We got to Orlando, checked in to the hotel. I downloaded the vehicles, walked the dogs, then hauled back south 159 miles to pick up my two college girls, and then turned north again to go back to Orlando. That sounds fugazzi, but it made sense when we were putting together Plan A, and the only person that had to suck it up was me, which is kind of what I do. Got the kids back and bundled into the rack and at about 0330 got my first real sleep in two days. Aaaand at 0700, the dogs were harassing me to get up and take them out. Do they harass the lovely and talented Mrs. Mongo? No. Do they harass my spoiled rotten kids who don’t do enough to pay their own freight or pull their own weight? No. It’s me. Sorry. That sounds like a snivel because it’s a snivel.

This morning was our decision point for determining whether to ride Irma out here or push north. We’re riding it out here. I talked to both the head of security and the maintenance chief this morning, and they recommended staying here. In fact, the hotel has made the offer to staff that they and their families can shelter here, and help with all the refugees inundating the place. By the way, the staff up and down the chain are just awesome, couldn’t be better. Let me do a grateful plug, here, and say that if you’re going to see Disney World, Sea World, Universal Studios, etc., etc., you can’t go wrong staying here. Truly outstanding people, and I don’t complement much or often.

We’ll get hurricane winds and rain, here, but no storm surge. I’d rather bet on this place and its outstanding staff than push north, betting in vain that all the vagaries and variables of the road will break my way.

Zeus, the Great Dane, is now a hotel celebrity, and I’ve gained some notoriety as “the Great Dane guy.” We are trying to empty the dogs out, before the storm hits, so we take the dogs out a lot. The fact that the multitudes of European stewardesses think Zeus is “the best dog evah, absolutely brilliant, darling” has nothing to do with it. I took a break writing this post to take the big dog out, and the coterie of British Airways stewardesses just completely fawned over him. Maybe they don’t have a lot of big dogs in Britain. When I came back up and related the story to the lovely and talented Mrs. Mongo, she said, “They’re probably not digging you wagging your tail, saying ‘Pet me too! Pet me too!'” Maybe, but I think it’s just that famous British reserve that keeps them from petting me, too.

I’ll check in now and again as appropriate/possible. Best wishes and prayers to everyone that has to ride madwoman Irma out. It’s going to suck, but we’ll get through it.

There are 55 comments.

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  1. Thatcher

    Hang in there and good luck!

    • #1
    • September 8, 2017 at 3:59 pm
    • 12 likes
  2. Member
    Boss Mongo Post author

    Mike LaRoche (View Comment):
    Hang in there and good luck!

    Inshahallah, hermano.

    • #2
    • September 8, 2017 at 4:04 pm
    • 5 likes
  3. Member

    Mrs Mongo probably knows by heart your tales about the Swiss flight attendants sunning themselves in Africa. Stay safe boss man. You need to write that book!

    • #3
    • September 8, 2017 at 4:07 pm
    • 10 likes
  4. Member

    Bless you and the L & T Mrs. Mongo and the Mongoettes. Not to mention the Mongerels…

    • #4
    • September 8, 2017 at 4:16 pm
    • 17 likes
  5. Member

    Boss Mongo: If I’m outgunned, out manned, or out maneuvered,

    I think in this case it’s all three.

    • #5
    • September 8, 2017 at 4:18 pm
    • 12 likes
  6. Member

    Good call hermano. Riding this one out would have been a mistake of Biblical proportion, no shame in living to fight another day. We got peeps all over that state and are thinking and praying for them all. Stay safe. Let Zeus dookie in the hotel – I am sure that will add to his already legendary status…

    • #6
    • September 8, 2017 at 4:25 pm
    • 14 likes
  7. Moderator

    Kate Braestrup (View Comment):
    Bless you and the L & T Mrs. Mongo and the Mongoettes. Not to mention the Mongerels…

    Mongorels?

    • #7
    • September 8, 2017 at 4:26 pm
    • 6 likes
  8. Member

    Glad your all sheltered Boss. Prayers and observances from my easy chair.

    • #8
    • September 8, 2017 at 4:29 pm
    • 7 likes
  9. Member

    Glad you made it out of Key Largo. Watched your Governor (not Mrs. Mongo) informing gas station owners that Florida police officers would provide police escorts for their employees when it was time to leave, encouraging them to stay open until the last possible moment.

    I’m also glad that your entire family is together, prayers and best wishes friend.

    • #9
    • September 8, 2017 at 4:36 pm
    • 15 likes
  10. Member

    Hiya Boss, Thank you for the report.

    What about lassie #3? You do not specify.

    Of course the English like big dogs, even the dogs of the Danes. They revere their Mastiffs:

    The ancient Roman poet Grattius (or Grattius Faliscus) wrote of British dogs, describing them as superior to the ancient Greek Molossus, saying:

    “. . . If you are not bent on looks and deceptive graces (this is the one defect of the British whelps), at any rate when serious work has come, when bravery must be shown, and the impetuous War-god calls in the utmost hazard, then you could not admire the renowned Molossians so much.”[3]

    • #10
    • September 8, 2017 at 4:37 pm
    • 5 likes
  11. Member

    You made the right call. Quilter and I got out of Houston for Canyon Lake when Rita came through. We left early, early and got to Austin in 4 hours while our friends who waited another 3 hours to leave got stuck in bumper-to-bumper and did not get to College Station (normally a 2-hr drive) until midnight (about 14 hours after leaving).

    Staying in Orlando in a sturdy hotel is also a good call. Hurricanes are not atom bombs. Riding through one inland is uncomfortable but generally safe. You might want to plug the bathtub and fill it with water. If power goes out I don’t think the toilets will refill.

    Seawriter

    • #11
    • September 8, 2017 at 4:43 pm
    • 19 likes
  12. Member

    That’s a dog gone story Boss. Keep your head down but above water.

    • #12
    • September 8, 2017 at 4:44 pm
    • 7 likes
  13. Member
    Boss Mongo Post author

    jzdro (View Comment):
    Hiya Boss, Thank you for the report.

    What about lassie #3? You do not specify.

    Of course the English like big dogs, even the dogs of the Danes. They revere their Mastiffs:

    The ancient Roman poet Grattius (or Grattius Faliscus) wrote of British dogs, describing them as superior to the ancient Greek Molossus, saying:

    “. . . If you are not bent on looks and deceptive graces (this is the one defect of the British whelps), at any rate when serious work has come, when bravery must be shown, and the impetuous War-god calls in the utmost hazard, then you could not admire the renowned Molossians so much.”[3]

    First, this comment is why I love Ricochet.

    The unaccounted for daughter is going to either work and shelter in her hospital or launch to this location tomorrow a.m. She’s only an hour away and will be heading south when everyone else is heading north. She’ll make the call at/about 0600 tomorrow.

    The lad (oldest of the brood) is in West Palm, bought some plywood, and thinks he’s good to go. He’s of an age where I can hope to influence, but cannot direct. Okay, Superman, ride it out. You got it.

    • #13
    • September 8, 2017 at 4:48 pm
    • 21 likes
  14. Thatcher

    Best wishes from Smoky Montana. Send us some rain, please.

    • #14
    • September 8, 2017 at 4:48 pm
    • 14 likes
  15. Reagan

    I haven’t found many things to smile about today. Your post did it :)

    Amazing.

    Looks like you’re in a pretty solid place in every sense.

    • #15
    • September 8, 2017 at 4:59 pm
    • 11 likes
  16. Member

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):
    The lad (oldest of the brood) is in West Palm, bought some plywood, and thinks he’s good to go. He’s of an age where I can hope to influence, but cannot direct. Okay, Superman, ride it out. You got it.

    One of my twentysomething cousins lives on the Gulf Coast, and refuses to leave. His mother asked him what his plan was. “My plan is, I am not afraid.” he said. Sigh. Young men often have more courage than brains, God Bless them, and God Bless all Floridians. Thank you for this post, Boss Mongo, I am saying extra prayers for your son and my cousin.

    • #16
    • September 8, 2017 at 5:17 pm
    • 12 likes
  17. Thatcher

    With you in embracing the [y]uck, dear Boss and fam: Panda Hugs and Prayers!

    • #17
    • September 8, 2017 at 5:18 pm
    • 7 likes
  18. Member

    Congratulations on keeping that famous sense of humor through all this. If anyone can weather this thing, it’s you.

    • #18
    • September 8, 2017 at 5:24 pm
    • 13 likes
  19. Member

    Love your writing, Boss. Stay safe.

    • #19
    • September 8, 2017 at 6:15 pm
    • 11 likes
  20. Member

    Best post ever.

    Boss Mongo: Copenhagen

    You ain’t kidding. I buy that stuff by the log.

    • #20
    • September 8, 2017 at 6:35 pm
    • 5 likes
  21. Member

    welcome to Orlando :)

    • #21
    • September 8, 2017 at 7:05 pm
    • 5 likes
  22. Member

    Glad you bugged out. Stay safe. Walk dogs between spiral bands.

    • #22
    • September 8, 2017 at 7:14 pm
    • 7 likes
  23. Member

    Glad you made it to Orlando, Boss. With wife and dogs and kids. Good job.

    • #23
    • September 8, 2017 at 8:11 pm
    • 6 likes
  24. Thatcher

    Traveling with kids and spouse and dog just to go down to the lake, can be a lot of hassle. I can’t imagine the fun you are not having.

    You have the right attitude, though! I have faith that you’ll make it through.

    Watch the weather. I just noticed that Irma sunk into Cuba, and it sure wasn’t predicted to do THAT. The little southern dive could force it into the Gulf and drive it up the Western side of Florida, meaning… Tampa. Damn, sorry to pee in your Wheaties there, but a heads-up is a heads-up.

    • #24
    • September 8, 2017 at 9:35 pm
    • 5 likes
  25. Member

    Fox just interviewed a Cuban in Miami. The guy had asked his relatives what they were doing to prepare for the hurricane and they said “What hurricane?” Cuba was unprepared.

    For a true horror, take a look at this comparison of Irma next to Andrew:

    Hurricane Andrew, left, compared to monster Hurricane Irma, right.

    • #25
    • September 9, 2017 at 5:20 am
    • 12 likes
  26. Thatcher

    RightAngles (View Comment):
    Fox just interviewed a Cuban in Miami. The guy had asked his relatives what they were doing to prepare for the hurricane and they said “What hurricane?” Cuba was unprepared.

    For a true horror, take a look at this comparison of Irma next to Andrew:

    Hurricane Andrew, left, compared to monster Hurricane Irma, right.

    Yeah, size DOES matter. You know, it still hasn’t turned north. It is grinding along the coast of Cuba. If it makes it into the hot Gulf waters, we’re in big trouble. It needs to get over land or into the cold Atlantic or else it is going to build into a new Camille, or worse. I hope it turns soon.

    • #26
    • September 9, 2017 at 5:31 am
    • 7 likes
  27. Member

    My parents drove me from Nashville to Davidson in the fall of ’69 after Camille. Most of I-40 through the mountains was washed out.

    • #27
    • September 9, 2017 at 5:37 am
    • 7 likes
  28. Member

    Run and run early. Well done getting out of the Keys with alacrity.

    • #28
    • September 9, 2017 at 6:55 pm
    • 8 likes
  29. Inactive

    The changes they have been making to the storm track indicate that the decision to evacuate from the Keys was well-advised. Some people who are now trapped at Key West are wishing they had evacuated from there.

    • #29
    • September 9, 2017 at 7:41 pm
    • 7 likes
  30. Member

    Yay I am not worried living in Orlando. I would of left if I lived in the Keys. It looks like the storm might not even be a major storm when it lands.

    • #30
    • September 9, 2017 at 9:10 pm
    • 3 likes
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