Lessons from Irma.


So we survived Irma, but it was a closer call than we would have liked. After the last week, I feel like I received a degree in meteorology via one of those sketchy online colleges, and I'd really rather never use it again. It's a special kind of anxiety hell that gets built up in the face of uncertain, wildly changing forecasts and the constant squawking of conflicting opinions. Between squinting at rainbow swirled graphics and trying to decide which weather personality I disliked the most (Jamie Ertle, WTOC), there is the constant refreshing and fact checking and checking the odds against the Vegas betting pool in order to try and make an informed decision based on semi-reliable data. Then there is the planning and packing and deciding. Stay or go? Go where? What to bring? I changed the where 3 (THREE!) times only to have the damn hurricane change right along with us before just saying fuck it; we're staying put.

And stay put we did.

Now there are PLENTY of people who had to bear far more of Irma's wrath than we did and we're damn lucky in comparison that we ended up with minimal, recoverable damage. However, neither of those facts are all that comforting when it's 2AM, you have no power, it sounds like your roof is being peeled off, and you're pissed that people are going to stand around at your funeral shaking their heads and saying, "Why didn't she just listen to Jamie Ertle from WTOC and evacuate?!"

It's in that moment that you wonder if it's worth it to use up a bit of your precious phone battery to Google how likely it is to be killed via flying roof shingles. Then it's the next day and things don't look so bad and while you're patting yourself on the back for not evacuating like the knee-knocking, nail-biting masses, here comes a little storm surge to wipe the smugness right off your idiot face.

So, yeah. Coastal living...kinda over you.

While we turn our attention to drying out, patching up, and de-hurricaning...we're also thinking about taking some of the lessons learned from Hurricane Irma and applying them to future bus life:

We aren't good dry campers.

There's a meme that made the rounds that said something along the lines of "You survive on 4 Diet Cokes a day, now you're buying up all the water like you're a damn fish." We're apparently damn fish because we went through way more water than I would have thought possible. I was good about not mindlessly flipping on light switches, but I found myself staring at a non-working kitchen faucet in complete confusion over and over again.

50 gallon fresh water tank? I think not.

We are resourceful as fuck.

We (meaning Jake) can make good things happen with little more than some 550 cord and a dream. We used panels from the bus ceiling to protect our French doors from high winds, rigged up this outdoor shower with an old shop vac, and fashioned an emergency beekeeper suit out of a wool sweater and duct tape.

The ability to make lemonade out of lemons over here will serve us well when shit goes wrong on the bus...and you *know* shit is going to go wrong.

Our irreplaceables aren't many.

One (not even kind of full) Rubbermaid bin held everything that we absolutely wouldn't want to live without. We've been discussing whether or not we'll be renting a storage unit to hold what won't go on the bus and the wild run through the house to try and decide what couldn't be replaced was eye opening. Sure, there are plenty of things that we'd be sad to see destroyed in the event of a disaster, but the visual of that one bin standing ready to go had an impact.

Priorities: Family, not stuff.

A hot shower is required for Dana-related morale.

4 days. That's how long I went without a shower that didn't involve copious amounts of baby wipes. The driveway shower was built (and then first test driven on the kids) with me in mind. I hadn't realized that I really need that luxury to feel like myself, but for the sake of my family, I totally do.

And, yes, I did take a cold ass shower in the driveway next to the bus. (Sorry, neighbors.)

Our current bathroom on the bus plan is now being reviewed and I'm shopping for tankless water heaters.

Social media is a crutch.

The panic of a slowly dying phone was real over here. Picking up my phone for a legitimate reason (surely the forecast has changed in the last 3 minutes! let's check!) quickly devolved into mindless scrolling. The thought of *not* getting to fall asleep with a glowing screen inches from my face was terrible. I turned more and more irritable the lower my battery got. Waiting for a recharge from the generator was agony and to see that over an hour of that agony only resulted in 40% battery was infuriating.

Houston, *I* have a problem.

Wifi isn't going to be readily available at every location we travel to on the bus, and getting a hot spot seems like feeding the problem instead of addressing it. I want to be present for the adventure, not scrolling through someone else's...I'm working on it.

The kids are ok without TV. The grownups, too...with one important exception.

Everyone as a whole did fine with no TV and no iPad...outside of the hours of 5 to 7 AM. Those are the wonderful hours where Mama and Daddy need to be sleeping in order to be fully functional adults and usually rely on the TV to babysit any demon children who happen to be up that early. Without our usual sitter, we had to have groggy conversations about everything from why Ritz crackers have those little holes in them to detail-rich retellings of Bob the Builder plot lines to moving, passionate arguments about why we should skip breakfast and go straight to passing out the hurricane snacks.

Heaven help us, we are not morning people and we will need to have a solution to keep our early risers happily (and quietly!) entertained when they will be getting up mere feet away from us on the bus.

Now let's see what Jose has to teach us.