Monday, September 01, 2008

What the hail?

or Good thing it was the day before Labor Day; The tale of 5 hours without power.
It started out a nice warm summer day in the lazy little city on the shores of the Great Salt Lake. Sunny and warm, it was 76F by the time I got my butt out of bed around 9 am, completely oblivious to the drastic changes that would occur in the next 24 hours.

Bleah! I sound like a really pathetic 3rd rate novel. Let's cut to the chase, at 4:30 pm yesterday it was 84F and by 5:30 it had hit 63F (today's high is supposed to be 63F, tomorrow 72F). Welcome to Utah in the fall.

There, now for the full story. Yesterday was a warm day, I had the swamp cooler on cooling down the house, had done a load of dishes, couple of loads of laundry and was working on changing my seating charts. (Kids are idiots, they show me in the first week who needs to be separated from who. If they were just a little more subtle, they could get away with stuff for a lot longer.) Around noon I got a call from one of my old roommates inviting me over for a bbq around 6, which I accepted. Around 2:30 I got a call from my little brother reminding me of an old Ford show that was going on in Park City, suggesting we take a couple of my old Fords up there. I told him I had to be back by 6, but then again so did he so we decided to go. He, his wife and kids and I all headed up there in Old Blue and the Battlecruiser, looking forward to a little relief from the heat. It was beautiful up there. We went through Park City, didn't find the Ford show, went further up the hill a way and then came back. We'd been told that it was in The Canyons (formerly known as Park West, because it's just a few miles west of Park City) on Friday, then in Park City on Saturday, so we decided to see if it had headed back to The Canyons for Sunday. Yo, it was there, right at the foot of the gondola ride up to the resort. By this time it was almost 5:00, but we decided we had enough time to check out the cars, and the kids needed to stretch their legs anyway. We spent a little bit of time looking at the cars, there were some really nice ones, and then decided that since the gondola ride was free, we'd take it for a quick ride, the kids were kind of hinting they wanted to ride it. We rode it right over my cars, got a couple cool pictures from right above them and then the storm that hit SLC hit us. A 20 minute round-trip ride on a gondola seems a lot longer when it's cold and raining, although the ride back was better because we were going with the wind, so the rain wasn't hitting us as hard. And at least it wasn't the worst part of the storm, which hit on the ride down Parley's Canyon. They were in Old Blue and I had The Battlecruiser, so we decided to just part ways and head straight to our respective bbqs, since it was almost 6 already. Well it's about a 30 mile drive from The Canyons to Salt Lake City, most of it along a stretch of I-80 that was recently repaved. Nice, smooth road, but it seems that new pavement has something in it that, when mixed with a heavy rain, comes out of the pavement like a big sheet of frothy soap. It was slick as snot. On a road that I would normally travel between 70 and 80 MPH, I found myself slowing down to 50 MPH at times. Just a wee bit scary, but I made it, although a bit late to the bbq.

The bbq was great, even sat out in the hot tub in the rain. Which was a mistake because it was so relaxing that I was falling asleep by 9 and headed home. I became a little worried about the possibility of no power at my house when I got to the intersection of 13th East and 17th South and the power was out there. No signal lights. Fortunately most of the people there understood the concept of treating it like a 4 way stop, so there was no big confusing mess there, and I made it through the intersection smoothly. That area is actually on a different circuit than my house, so I wasn't positive I was out of power, but having lived here for 15 years, I knew that the probability was high. Yep. Total darkness. Good thing I keep a lantern, with good batteries, in an easily accessible spot. It really wasn't totally dark in the house, the moon must have been out, or the lights from the city were bouncing all off the clouds, because there was enough of an eerie light throughout the house for me to get around easily. (I can make it around the house in total darkness, but a lot slower.) The house was a little warm for sleeping, and I love listening to the rain anyhow, so I went and layed out on the futon on the back porch. I dozed, listening to the rain, traffic and other sounds of the city, until it got too cold and damp and then I moved back into my room. Opened the window up all the way, still listening to the rain and went to sleep. Until the accident out in front of the house. I heard the crash and then the sound of screeching brakes, and thought it was weird, because usually the smash comes after the brakes. So, I got up, went out there to see what had happened, couldn't figure out what exactly had happened but saw enough people walking around to know that they didn't need any assistance. One car was filled with high school aged guys, who were all high 5'ing each other like they had just accomplished some astronomical feat. Um, yeah, You got in a wreck. Cool. They couldn't have been going that fast, the cars weren't that badly damaged, so I don't think it was a "thank God we survived" kind of high-5. Ah, well, whatever. The cops showed up and I went back to bed, just to be woken (is that a word?) up around 2:30 with the sound of air conditioners kicking on at the apartment complex next door. I was really, really glad that this was not a regular night where I had to work in the morning, I would have been too worried about getting up on time (no alarm clock) and getting enough sleep that it would have been really frustrating. Instead I just kind of faded in and out of sleep all night. And woke up to a hail storm this morning. Yup, had to flip on the heat. So, in the last 24 hours I went from a swamp cooler on full throttle cooling down the house to nothing because of no power to heating up the house because it was 50F outside. Yes, I do love living in Utah (and that's not even sarcasm).


A Paperback Writer said...

Wow. I couldn't cool my house below 69 -- even with no power failure (okay, 5 minutes).
I know what you mean about alarm clocks,t hough. And I always have two -- one electric and one battery, just in case.
And I have a lantern and several flashlights and huge candles -- cuz this is Utah. And I remember the power outage at Christmas a few years back where my neighbors had no power for 4 days. (I was lucky.)
However, it was so dark at 9 this morning with the incoming rain that my twilight-activated lamp timer got all confused and came on.

Max said...

I have two alarm clocks too, but they're both electric. One is for school days (never change the alarm times) the other is for whenever I have to get up at a different time. Guess I ought to invest in an battery or wind up one. As for the weather today, holy cow, can it make up it's mind? Hail this morning and now it's sunny and over 70F, according to my thermometer outside my kitchen window. It's only 3:00, I suppose we could get a hurricane by dinnertime.....

A Paperback Writer said...

I put on my wellies and got out the umbrella to walk over and put library books in the after-hours drop-off bins.
And I felt just like I was back in Scotland....

Max said...

And ya sound like you're in Scotland, what the heck's a "wellie". My guess would be some kind of waterproof foot protection, no? If it were a raincoat type of thing, it probably wouldn't have been plural. I dunno. Just guessing here.
For me, laying out on the porch last night, it reminded me of summer evenings at my grandmother's (Ida) cabin in Mahopac, NY. The kids always slept out back on the screen porch.

A Paperback Writer said...

"Wellies" is pretty much standard slang for "Wellington boots," which I knew were rain boots even before I moved to Scotland.
Here's a link to a pic and the tale of when I bought these wellies:

See, if you'd read my blog regularly, you'd know what wellies were. ;) (Grandma Ida)

Now, if I'd wanted to confuse you, I would've said I'd put on my wellies and grabbed my brolly (Scots for umbrella).
Gee, it's been fun harassing you today.