Dan Flirting With Isabel

Hurricane/Tropical Storm Isabel 9/18/03

So, on Thursday I’m sitting at work listening to everyone talk about the “impending” storm Isabel. The radio and news media has the whole area worked up into a frenzy. I started joking around with co-workers that I’m going down south to see the storm. As I joke about it, I realize that it’s really not that bad of an idea. I love the fury mother nature can unleash and at that point they had already stated that Philly would only see some rain and possible flooding because the storm was going to track way west of us.

But I hadn’t planned on any of this. I hadn’t brought my GPS, laptop (mapping software), change of clothes or anything. I had to decide if I wanted to go south and see more of the destruction or go home first and get more prepared and possibly miss some of the action. As I turned out of work’s parking lot, I decide and head south. I have a couple of Pennsylvania maps and the clothes on my back.

Follow along on my adventure...

9/18/03 – 4:45 PM
Leave work. Heading south. It’s barely raining. Getting out of Philly proves to be hard. I miss the exit for 476 and end up sitting on 95 FOREVER…ugh.

9/18/03 – 6:00 PM
Just inside the Maryland border I stop for a MD/Delaware map. It blows. No detail at all. It shows a couple cities along the Chesapeake Bay, so it will have to do.

9/18/03 – 7:00 PM
I’m in Havre de Grace, MD. Followed some signs that said there was a scenic route to get here. There’s a dot on my map that shows Havre de Grace. It rains like crazy for short periods of time but the wind is always intense. Several times driving down the highway the truck changes lanes on it’s own…I slow down. I try taking some photos of the Bay in Havre de Grace, unfortunately it is very dark and they won’t come out. (But look at the comparison of the before and after shots.)

9/18/03 – 8:00 PM
I travel down Rt 40 and get through Aberdeen, MD. Things are very intense and there is debris everywhere. More then half the traffic lights aren’t working and about half the stores I see have no power. There’s very few people around, little traffic. I’m a little concerned that the police are going to pull me over and start questioning what I’m doing. I decide I better find a place to stay. I’m right outside Baltimore. I contemplate whether I want to sleep in the truck for the night on the side of the road or not. I decide the chances of falling trees and flying projectiles, I’d be better off in a hotel. I stop at this dumpy hotel, Regal Inn. “Dumpy” is being too kind. It’s a shit whole. Oh well, they have my money. I can survive one night of anything.

9/18/03 – 8:15 PM
Turn on the TV in the room. Porn is the first thing that comes on. Great. Nothing like a cheesy hotel with free porn. (That's sarcasm for those that can't tell.)

9/18/03 – 8:30 PM
Call a few friends to let them know just how crazy I am. (Dinner in Boston doesn’t sound so bad now, does it?!)

9/18/03 – 10:00 PM
The storm’s really intense. From my room I can see and hear debris blowing around outside. The rain is steady and the wind is relentless. I decide to take a ride. I have no idea where I’m going, but I want to get close to the Bay or see some destruction. I drive around on a bunch of back roads. Several are impassible because of large trees down. I see wires down everywhere, trees and pieces of trees are everywhere. Trash and debris are being blown around. Pretty intense.

9/18/03 – 11:30 PM
I find my way back to my hotel room. I notice a scent I’m not familiar with, something being burned. I figure it’s gotta be some dope one of the other customers is smoking. But nothing I have ever smelled before. I turn on the porn, leave the light on and go to bed, fully clothed, on top of the covers, with my wallet in my pocket.

9/19/03 – 06:00 AM
I’ve been awake for a while. I had to swoosh away some friendly coach roaches throughout the night. Yeah, I slept well. I look at the bath tub…it’s disgusting. I decide I’d be cleaner if I just wash my face in the sink. (Note to self: Next time take chances with flying projectiles and falling trees.)

9/19/03 – 07:00 AM
It appears to be a nice day out. I leave the hotel. Now I have to decide where I want to go today. After a few u-turns, I decide I would head towards Annapolis, MD. My dad’s been bugging me about going there forever now. What a better time to go to a touristy place, right after a hurricane blows through…

9/19/03 – 09:00 AM
I stumbled upon Annapolis, no help from the map. My first glimpse of Annapolis is from this scenic overview. I can tell it’s soggy looking (not enough detail in photo sorry), but can’t really tell how bad it is yet…

I stop on this bridge overlooking the US Naval Academy. A nice fellow there took this photo of me. Needless to say the Academy is totally flooded. The wind on the bridge was so intense I could barely stand. I drive around the backside of the Academy and take this photo.

9/19/03 – 09:30 AM
I find the Annapolis Visitors Center. I get a map of Historic Areas of Annapolis. I quickly find a boat would have done me better then walking shoes…

  1. Historic Main Street
  2. Historic Main Street
  3. Annapolis Harbor (At least as close as I could get.)
  4. A building with a pier…sorta.
  5. Cleaning crew at the Academy
  6. I did notice and enjoy how beautiful of a city it is. Nice architecture everywhere.

9/19/03 – 11:00 AM
I decide to get out of Annapolis. It’s a really nice city, I’ll need to come back when it’s less soggy. I head back the same way I came. I notice that many more traffic lights are on. This slows down traffic quite a bit. There are also a few places that are now detoured because crews are working on getting the power lines repaired.

9/19/03 – 12:00 PM (??)
Stopped somewhere on Rt 40 and took these pictures. This was a real common site. The bridge was acting as a dam and the whole area was flooding.

9/19/03 – 12:30 PM
I’m back in Havre de Grace. The town is bustling. People are everywhere. I guess everyone has off work. A lot of the streets I was on last night are now closed. I get out where I see a bunch of people looking at something at this park. I take lots of photos. I talk with this nice young woman that explains what we are looking at (a couple of busted up boards) used to be a ˝ mile long boardwalk. It starts to hit me the destruction.

  1. Promenade
  2. Promenade
  3. Promenade
  4. Promenade
  5. Promenade
  6. Promenade (That’s a cop car bobbing up and down out in the water.)
  7. Your's truly
  8. Maritime Museum
  9. Maritime Museum
  10. My “tour guide” (And NO, I didn't get a phone number. She had on a big rock and was probably 19...)
  11. I also stopped and admired the ducks, they didn’t seem nearly as bothered by this as the people did.
  12. A wet seat.

9/19/03 – 1:30 PM
I’m back on the road heading home. The drive is pretty easy.

9/19/03 – 4:00 PM

As I reflect back, I think about all the strangers that were very friendly. People seemed to really come together in all this. I don’t think I ran into a mean person the whole trip. Everyone was friendly. Very cool.

The other idea that is sketched in my mind is the intensity of the storm. The flooding and damage afterwards is only a reminder of how extreme it felt at the time. Really, beyond anything that can be put in words.

Yeah, I know, if you’ve read this far, your thinking I’m completely crazy. I know this. I embrace this. And as crazy as all this seems, many of you are probably a little jealous in some way.