Come on, Irene.

At about 10:30 a.m. this morning I suddenly came to my senses: Why in the world was I considering making the next leg of my trip to Washington, D.C.?

Yes, I finally realized that:

  • The weather would be the pits even if the damn-near-the-end-of-the-world computer models about Hurricane Irene didn’t come to pass. In other words, too much rain to move about easily and/or safely.
  • If the weather were that bad, some of the attractions I wanted to see could be closed.
  • If the weather were that bad, there could be power outages and just about everything I wanted to see would be closed.
  • If there were power outages, the hostel would get fairly unpleasant fairly quickly without fans or air conditioning and with the rain too relentless to allow for open windows.
  • What the heck would I eat and drink if all the stores were closed/power were out?

So yes, the Surviving and Thriving meet-up scheduled for Sunday is now officially canceled. Sorry, guys, but it doesn’t sound as though it would have worked out very well.

In the next couple of hours after this belated epiphany I got a big bunch of things done, starting with calling the D.C. hostel to cancel. Then I looked up two different buses to South Jersey — after getting back to Philadelphia it will be about another 95 minutes down to where my dad lives.

Once I’d written down some possible times, I called my dad and asked him to book a Megabus ticket for me. I couldn’t do it because I didn’t have a secure Internet connection — only wifi. Since I’d paid only $1 for my trip to Washington and another buck for my return trip, I didn’t feel bad about ditching those tickets.

Incidentally, even though I bought the new ticket just a couple of hours before leaving it still cost only $15 to get from New York to Philly. I love the Megabus.

Carbs and subways

Then I left the McDonald’s where I’d been eating free oatmeal (thanks to the Mickey D’s booth at BlogHer 2011) and walked a couple of blocks north to buy a couple of bagels and an apple in case I didn’t have time to grab lunch. I headed back to the hostel and finished packing a bunch of conference tchotchkes into a flat-rate box, then trotted over to the nearest post office to mail it. (It was only one block away, incidentally. I love the HI New York City Hostel, too.)

Back in my room I put the few things I’d taken out of the suitcase back in, put the food and a few things that wouldn’t fit into my suitcase into a shopping bag, packed up my computer and hauled everything it all down to the front desk. There I politely said that I needed to cancel my last day at the hostel in order to get out of the city before the hurricane — and that while I’d certainly understand if they had to charge me for tonight’s lodging, I sure hoped they wouldn’t.

Bless their hearts: They didn’t. The gentleman processed my refund and wished me a safe trip. I am so coming back here to stay after attending SaveUp 2011 in New York in October. That’s when I hope to do some of the things I’d planned to do today, including the Staten Island Ferry, a walk in Central Park, another shot at the ticket lottery for “The Book of Mormon” and the Museum of Modern Art, which is free between 4 and 8 p.m. on Fridays.

Then I jumped on the subway to 28th Street and hauled all my gear about half a mile to the place where the Megabus to Philly leaves. It’s basically a vacant lot where you line up. It was only 1 p.m. by then, so I asked a young Megabus employee if I might be able to hop on the 1:45 p.m. bus if there was room, rather than wait for the 2:45 p.m. bus. By then it was beginning to cloud up and the humidity was so high I felt as though I were swimming, not walking. I really wanted to get out of town.

“If there’s room, I’ll get you on,” she promised.

On the way over I’d asked a dapper young New Yorker if there were a McDonald’s in the area. He said it was on 10th Avenue and a few blocks from where I was then — and that I couldn’t miss it because it was a drive-through McDonald’s. In Manhattan.

I can now attest that this is really true, because I used the bathroom there. I also redeemed another BlogHer 2011 freebie, this one for a chicken sandwich, and refilled my water bottle.

And mirabile dictu! There was room. I am writing this from the Megabus (did I mention the bus has wifi?) as we roll past the Cherry Hill Mall, heading toward the Ben Franklin Bridge to Philadelphia. I will be a couple of hours early for the New Jersey Transit bus to my dad’s, but that’s all right with me. Plenty of time to walk up to the Reading Terminal Market (about six blocks from where I’ll be dropped), use the rest room and, yes, have another one of those addictive, freshly baked soft pretzels.

Bagels + soft pretzels = enough carbs to keep me going until I arrive in Millville, NJ, around 9:10 p.m. I already feel like I’ve been rode hard and put up wet. But it’s definitely safer at my dad’s tree farm, which has a generator and a ton of stored food, if and when Irene makes landfall. I won’t be sweating in the dark in a D.C. hostel, nibbling the last of the free candies I picked up at the conference I attended earlier this week.

On the other hand, I might end up the way I did last summer: Picking up dead Christmas trees and throwing them in the back of Dad’s pickup. But at least I can have a tomato sandwich afterward. Welcome to South Jersey.

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  1. Good idea to get out of Dodge. Safe and pleasant journey!

  2. Sarah V

    We’ll miss you down here but we understand why you did not want to stay!

  3. Carol in Philly

    Well, if you end up picking up dead Christmas trees, you’ll work off any extra pounds from all those carbs. Stay safe!

  4. Jersey Babs

    Yes, your timing’s not so great re: the weather….. But man, you have arrived just at the peak of the jersey tomato season. Our cold spring and then HOT, HOT, HOT dry early summer delayed them a bit. Just for you? Mmmmmmm, heaven!
    Glad to hear you’ve made it home to Sth Jersey before the storm hits. This one looks to be quite…..fun? Ummm…..an adventure? Thats what I’ll be telling myself as I try and get the generator up and running!

  5. I can only wish my daughter were leaving NYC! If I were there, I would be consuming bagels. They are like nothing I have tasted in the South. Carbs? Oh well!

  6. I would call this a good call! I’m sure you will be much safer with your dad.
    It’s always an adventure with you. Thanks for keeping us posted cuz I was worried!

  7. You manage to have a good time no matter where you go. Glad you got out and moved to safety.

  8. Now A Country Mouse

    You made the right choice…when the Weather Channel folks are setting up to film in one town, go somewhere else.

  9. Harry Martin

    I admire how you flew by the skin of your teeth. Hope you have fun at Dad’s

  10. I was wondering about your plans, knowing that Amtrak had just cancelled my August 27th trip back from Chicago to Hinton, WV, by cutting the route short at Cincinnati. (Cutting it short before Washington I could understand, but Cincinnati?)

    One hopes that the hills of WV (and the hillside towns) will still be standing after Irene passes, not to mention my car, parked in what passes for the Amtrak parking lot there: “…park off the pavement, on the gravel, away from the tracks…” (I was actually more concerned about damage caused by the Virginia earthquake.)

  11. Safe Journey , and Happy travel companions !

  12. Melinda

    Dammit! I even know where that mall is! I lived in it for 2 months while working near the White House. Ah, well, some other time.

  13. Wise decision, Donna! Glad to know you’ll be safe at home. Have a tomato sandwich for me. Yum!

  14. jestjack

    Be safe Donna and enjoy your stay with your Dad. DD2 is away at college and her school will basically be right in the middle of this mess. We have spoke to her and she’s doing great. She seems to have embraced being a part of this historic moment in MD….having experienced an earthquake…a tornado warning and now a hurricane in her 1st three days on campus. . . .She’s fine….her poor parents,,,,not so much!

  15. Please do plan another excursion to DC! I would love to sit and chat!! :)!

  16. SherryH

    Stay safe, Donna! We lost power for roughly 22 hours and some of our skirting blew down, but otherwise we came through unscathed. A friend lost part of her roof – we’ll be going over so my husband can check on that later today, probably. Some neighbors lost trees, but it doesn’t look like they fell on anything important like cars or houses.

    According to the radio last night, there’s a fair amount of flooding and trees down, and some people could be without power for up to three days. My thoughts are with you and everyone in Irene’s path.

  17. Go figure Donna, the weather here in the DC area today is gorgeous! Bright, sunny and DRY. Bummer. Come again!

    • Donna Freedman

      @Sharon: Here, too, the sun finally came out. Still windy as heck, but at least it’s no longer raining.

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