Sunday, January 24, 2016

Shaking and quaking back home

The wonderful thing about travel is all the excitement that gets added to your life, and the wonderful thing about our Third Thirds is that we get to travel more.

So why was our wonderfully exciting trip to New Orleans so totally upstaged by an Alaska special as we landed back home? A special 7.1 shaker of an earthquake to be exact.

We were coming in from Seattle about 1:30 in the morning. I was wrecked, jet-lagged, tired, and the turbulence was rough. I was thinking how living in Alaska means you’re always flying home wrecked, jet-lagged, and tired. I hate turbulence. It’s just such a relief when we land on firm ground and taxi in.

Except then the plane went cockeyed. Bumping and wagging, flopping and bucking. It felt like it was jumping and kicking. I thought the pilot had a heart attack or something. And then he announced it was an earthquake. The airport had lost power so we couldn’t get the jetway hooked up and the door opened. So we sat.

When finally power came back, it was dark in the jetway so the pilot asked people to use their phones to light the way. I pulled out my trusty headlamp (so pleased it had a use other than not keeping Tim up when I read in bed).

At home, the parrot was on the floor. The wooden parrot. He sits atop the bookshelf and is our too-late warning system; when he falls, we’re in the middle of an earthquake. And all the kitchen drawers were open. But since I’m such an earthquake preparedness fanatic, all our shelves, water heater, etc etc are braced so we’re good. (Remember the Great Alaska ShakeOut?) But I’m sure we’ll be finding cracks and little relocations over the next day or so.

This trip to New Orleans was not a relocation reconnaissance trip; it was just a fun vacation. And I’ll tell you all about the fun, the music, the curiosities, the eye-openers. But it’s interesting what feelings the trip and the earthquake have left me with.

We spent time in the Louisiana State Museum’s terrific “Living with Hurricanes” exhibit in the Presbyt√®re, and it convinced me I didn’t want to live with hurricanes. There were all sorts of facts like how Louisiana is losing a football field of protective wetlands every 90 minutes, and how people are realizing now that the flood control structures they put in place decades ago are the source of the problems today. While we were there, the river was 17 feet above normal, and it all seemed so unsustainable. And our river guide told us about having to strip his entire house in order to rebuild the drywall and there was just so much muck and devastation after Katrina.

And then, of course, the East Coast was just getting pounded by blizzards and they were folding up streets and transportation and battening down the hatches for the siege. I thought of our last trip to Colorado: Sophie’s iPhone interrupted our drive with a warning to take cover from a tornado expected in 8 minutes. All I could think was, I don’t want to die in a tornado.

I didn’t even need to hear our New Orleans river guide tell us that during the summer he has to change his shirt seven times in a day because of the humidity or how our B&B hostess rests after a shower so she doesn’t work up a sweat toweling off.
So there I was, reflecting on hurricanes, tornadoes, and blizzards for which people are unprepared (like lions and tigers and bears) … and then I land in the middle of an earthquake. And I’ll tell you I was … relieved! I was glad to get home to the place where snow isn’t an enemy, where we know just what to do with what Nature throws at us because this is what our Nature throws at us.

Is this just a really odd way to say “home sweet home” after a trip?


  1. Wow! what a welcome home! Yeah, I think I'd rather live in the land of earthquakes than hurricanes too. Good thing you had your head lamp accessible!
    Welcome home!

  2. What perfect timing for disasters you have. Like I was home from college on spring break when the '64 earthquake hit. Perfect! And I agree: earthquakes are disasters, but they are familiar disasters. I'd rather not trade them for many of the other potential dangers out there.


Sharing Button