September 03, 2008

I don't know if you have talked to anyone in Baton Rouge, so I'll give you a quick update on how it looks.

Pretty bad.

The storm blew through all of the daylight hours Monday, with wind up to 95 mph. There's been much debate about whether it was worse in Baton Rouge than Andrew or Rita (which the consensus holds as the worst so far), and I'm going to go with Gustav over those. In fairness, I was passed out drunk through the meat of Andrew (it was in college), but if it were all that serious, something would have woken me up.

On Tuesday, there wasn't a spot in the city that had electricity, and many of the lines and poles were taken down by trees. In the part of town where I live, it was hard to find your way through because trees blocked every road. I only heard of a couple of freak deaths, and I didn't see any homes destroyed, but nothing is open yet where people could get food or ice or anything like that.

We were planning to leave town on Wednesday anyway, so we just packed up and headed out a day early. I'm comfortable at a hotel on the beach in Florida, with a million other Louisiana residents. Everywhere I turn, there's someone like me wearing LSU gear, walking their dogs. When I walked my two idots this morning, I checked the plates in the lot. I looked at about 40 plates, and only one was not Louisiana. So we're all here for the same reason.

By the way, there's one other guy downstairs working on his laptop. I'm a nerd, yes. But at least I'm at a window overlooking the ocean in a t-shirt and swim suit. He actually got up and dressed in business casual to come sit in the lobby and work. He has a fine view of the front desk, and when I walked by, he was telling someone at his office, "I don't even think we lost power there. I would rather be there than here." Some people.

Last night, we checked in, walked the dogs, got a drink, and headed to the beach. It was the first time for Vanya, and I haven't ever observed a kid's first time to see the ocean. He walked down the steps toward the sand very slowly. I was at the bottom, waiting patiently.

On the second to last step, he pointed down and said, "What's that?"

"That's sand." Has the kid never even played in a sandbox? Maybe not. I can't think of a time.

He got to the bottom step and brushed a toe over the top of the sand. He looked down at my feet to see if I was sinking. "Come on!" I encouraged him.

He put one foot down. Then the other. Then, he shot both arms up in the air -- the universal toddler sign for "Pick me up."

"No, just walk, you'll get used to it."

He looked like he was laboring as he walked toward the surf, but he did get the hang of it in a minute or two.

We walked on the hard wet sand for a long time before a wave came up and got his ankles. He was all smiles. "Wader cold!"

From then on, when a wave would come up, he would run uphill laughing to the dry sand so the water wouldn't get him.

With all that's going on, I've taken no pictures of damage or the vacation, but I'll pick up on my photography today. I did post this set of photos from a couple of weeks ago earlier in the week, but I haven't let you know that it's out there yet.