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Sunday, September 17, 2017


     My sons and I spent a week camping in the Nevada desert two weeks ago.

     We were attending the Burning Man Festival which requires attendees to practice “radical self reliance”. You must provide your own food, water, and electricity. There is nothing for sale but ice and coffee.
    When we returned to Miami -and Hurricane Irma- our lives got even more “radical”.  After the storm we were without the basics and for days, there was nothing for sale. I can do without coffee but iced drinks?  They comfort me so through sweltering days.

     As I write this our part of Coconut Grove has been without power for ten days.  At night I dream of ice. During the day Francesca and I camp on our back porch. 


    These no-breeze 92 degree days suck but we know that some day we’ll look back on this lingering sweat storm and think, “Yeah, except for breakfasts on the porch, that really did suck”.

    No doubt hundreds of years ago the Calusa Indians said the same thing. Nobody really loves the heat, or hurricanes, not even a little category one 'cane like Irma.

    The worse part was waiting, watching the TV meteorologists us, “A class five hurricane is heading directly for Miami. In three says you are going to be so screwed!”.

   We worked non-stop screwing on shutters and
waited for our own version of Wizard of Oz, which really could have happened. 
    Hurricanes spawn occasional tornadoes. One lifted my mother’s house in Miami’s Hurricane of 1926. Her family was still hiding in a hole when it landed two blocks away. While it was ripped apart, my mother’s sister (my Aunt Dorothy) remembered finding, in the ruins, a bowl of pears miraculously left intact.

    On Saturday, the day before Irma hit us, it seemed half the town had evacuated. Five millions Floridians had headed north.  At least two-thirds of my street fled succumbing to 140  mph wind warnings.  But then we learned it was edging to the west and our city would be spared the worst.  Hurricanes are like that, unpredictable. 

 Around five p.m. Dylan and I rode our bikes down to the bay to see the waves whip up.
The day before it arrived a banyan tree fell in a 45 m.p.h. gust.  It blocked Douglas Road for the next six days. 

After six p.m. the wind was such that you did not want to venture outside. Tree limbs were beginning to fall and electricity failed.

    We were hit by the western edge of Irma for twelve hours on Sunday, from dawn to dusk.  While winds were thrashing the trees above our back yard it was almost calm at ground level. The huge houses around us but they offered  protection. We were able to watch the show sitting on our back porch which became,

    I watched the show from my camping chair.  When the winds topped ninety I’d run inside where more than a sheet of plywood overhead would protect me.
Big wind continued on through the night and into into the next day.


 We woke up on Monday to see streets looking like this,

     Avocado Avenue at Plaza Street, looking west. It is still blocked a twelve days after the storm.

A walk down to Coconut Grove’s bay shore revealed scenes like this,

Scotty's Landing. It used to be our favorite hang out.   

 Scotty's patio


     The storm  scared us and it’s aftermath is a mega-mess but in Miami, it seems like 98% of the houses were spared.  If you parked your car under a tree (bad idea!) it probably got crunched.
 Rick's car (insured)

No one was hurt except for the Grove sailor who decided to ride it out in his boat.  Irma relocated it to the Mutiny Hotel parking lot on Bayshore Drive. They found his body in the pile of seaweed nearby, another nominee for a Darwin Award.
      Most streets were blocked by fallen trees. It was kind of cool to climb through them to check on the neighbors who stayed.

    By now most streets were cleared and there were huge piles of tree debris lining the road.  I enjoy pulling it back onto my street again. 
In my own version of “traffic calming” Range Rovers are forced to zig-zag slowly through Glenn’s Rotting Limb Gauntlet. I'd like to slow the morning traffic in front of my house like this everyday.

    These sweltering days are all the same.  We are hot and at times, grouchy.  We pretend that cold showers aren't that bad. We are fortunate in many ways, we have been through storms that took our water as well.
     The power company tells us we’ll get juice on day eleven,  manana.  Most grocery stores are open again, powered by generators, but still they can't suppy ice for us un-connected.

     Some of our neighbors have annoying generators of their own. Nights are hot and all of our windows, open.  Sleeping near a neighbor’s  chugging generator is like trying to nap in your  yard while a lawn man cuts the grass.

   We have no electricity, cell phone, or internet service. Thankfully I found a hotel lobby three miles away with “everything”.  I spend afternoons there posing as a guest as I breathe in the AC, enjoy iced drinks, and communicate with friends.  I still lack the nerve to use their pool. 

    Hopefully I can go home for good soon. Radical reliance is getting old. I look forward to the day when I can radically rely on my Kenmore to fill my glass with ice again.



  1. I was going to express my frustration at being able to read only parts of your blog because the blue copy bled into the blue backgrounds...however, having signed on, ALL has been clearly revealed!
    You must live near where I grew up (on Royal Palm Avenue, in a concrete block home which was bulldozed some 25 years ago to be replaced with a faux hacienda McMansion).
    Scotty's Landing (since renamed, what I can never remember) was THE place we always went to every time we visited family (now down to only one sister in Miami; the other siblings have scattered) and friends (my friend since Coconut Grove Elementary School, a former Dinner Key boat resident Sue, put me on to your blog). I had heard a while back some big developer was going to "redo" that whole strip occupied by Scotty's Landing & the restaurant next door (which we never set foot in). Each visit Scotty's was STILL there; I can't imagine their rebuilding -- unless the development project fell through or was otherwise stymied.

    1. Hi Pat, Yes, I live a block or two from your former residence. Scotty's actually cleaned up a bit and re-opened. Sadly, in six months, they will tear it down to build two mall-like mega restaurants. Our funky beer shack on the bay will be gone for good. You can thank our former Grove commissioner (Marc Sarnoff) for that.