September 9, 2011

Darkness Fell

“What did we do before the internet,” the Geezer said laughingly last night.

We had power, yes we did.

We used to listen to the radio, read, played cards, and in our case, we visited with friends, and as a treat we had dinner by candlelight.

A major power line from Arizona went down causing the collapse of power to an entire area in two states and Mexico. When the power line from Arizona failed it caused the shutdown of two reactors at San Onofre. From lower Orange County to the north and through Baja California Mexico to the South, there was no power.

I was sitting in my new ophthalmologist’s darkened office and my eyes had just been dilated. I heard him say when you go home drive carefully then with a grinding noise, the power went out. As I pulled out of the parking lot I called G on my never used cell phone and found him in Claremont. He was trying to upload an estimate and could see that the stop lights were all dead. All was eerily silent. Not a car on the street, no one walking, and only a few folks standing around outside. I tried to call him back but couldn’t get through. At least I knew where he was.

I tried to get the truck radio to work, but all but one station greeted me with static. The old timey, KSON country station had news. It wasn’t just a local outage. We were all in the dark tho no one knew what triggered the outage. The streets were jammed. Everyone was let go from work. Everyone must have headed home on surface streets at the same moment.

I elected to stay on surface streets tho I could see the freeway was moving. No railway crossing guards were working, but I could see a trolley far off in the distance. No trains, no light rail commuter either. I crept across the tracks, and I rolled down the hill to PCH. There I saw what must have been the first of many accidents which was scattered across the street corner. When I found my exit to Barnett Street backed up for a mile, I drove past the exit and hung a U turn. From then on, traffic was backed up almost to the house. I was close enough to say boo but stopped or only inching forward.

Home, I raised the garage door manually, reached Lessa who was in standstill traffic on 163, got dressed for the dinner with her, and joined the neighbors out the front door. Children played up and down the sidewalks. Only slowly did it dawn on me that there would be no dinner, no speech, no Geezer taking Zoe out to Chucky Cheese.

For our neighbors, one came home from setting tile in the terrible heat inland, another canceled her yoga, and still another couldn’t take her charter out as the passengers couldn’t get to the boat. G reached home safely, and we all sat on our front steps and were joined by more neighbors.

Lessa and Zoe joined us, and we sat at our never used patio table. Sandwiches were created, Zoe had bites of her first sweet pickle and we ate in the cooling air while played Chinese Checkers in the waning light. Candles were found. Lessa headed home. We watched the news for a while on G’s laptop, then curled up by candles listened to more news on the battery powered radio. It was comforting to have a voice calling the roll of areas where power was being returned.

We woke to power this morning. Trolley's are still down, and many areas still have boil water orders. Schools and some businesses are closed.

The battery powered alarm clock didn’t work, so we got a full eight hours of delicious sleep. The sky is grey, the air is cooler. He was late to start work, but at least he could go to work. I too get to work today, shuffling books perhaps. After work, I will buy a new jar of peanut butter, lunch meats, bottles of water for the freezer, and a container of instant coffee. Our emergency stash was scanty.


  1. So lucky your Internet worked. I assume you have FIOS or its equivalent. Dianne

    PS, I haven't played chinese checkers in years.

  2. When the same kind of thing happened in the Northeast in 1965, all the guys on the train said it must have been the Russians. Personally, I thought that someone must have blown a BIG fuse. (I was closer to right.)

    Did the thought of terrorists enter any conversation?

  3. Sounds like kind of a pleasant evening after all. Funny how that works. Not funny if you're in an accident or it goes on to long. Another good reminder to the rest of us to fill in the empty places in our emergency supplies. You made me remember I hadn't filled the water jugs since last winter. Our ancient infrastructures and the weather are more likely to leave us in the lurch than saboteurs I think. Be safe.

  4. Sorry all the special plans were cancelled but you did find a great way to spend the evening. Hope the dinner and speech is rescheduled so Grandpa can enjoy Chuckie Cheese.

  5. Glad to see you back on line. I was thinking about you last night and wondering.

  6. I heard about this yesterday -- as a friend was stuck at work in SD -- in the dark.

    Isn't it weird when this happens? I find myself saying something inane like, "well since we have no electricity, maybe I should vacuum"! And then realize, "Oh, yeah..."

  7. How sensational! Though, i am sure there is an undertone of plain scary as well. Do tell more. Please keep us updated.

  8. Seems like sooner or later we are all in the same boat!

  9. Sounds like a truly pleasant evening! I wanna do it again!


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