Friday, December 29, 2006

Mayhem in the mountains

We just got our power back after two days, Please join me for a brief recap of our camp-at-home adventure.

It rained. There was a huge windstorm. We lost power.

Our water comes from a well, and when we’re out of power, we’re out of water. There is a spring, so we can fill containers to use for drinking, washing, and miscellaneous bathroom activities. It's a bit of a hassle, but we're getting the drill down.

Wednesday afternoon what sounded like an explosion rocked the house. A group of tall cottonwoods and doug firs in the beloved "fern grotto” had fallen.

One tired tree landed right in the hammock.

Around 3 pm we heard another loud crash, and saw the power lines that run from the street to the pole next to our house twang like a giant rubberband. A pine tree had fallen on the lines, blocking the road.

To the PG&E arborist who came to investigate our call approximately a year ago regarding this exact tree appearing to be in danger of falling on these very same power lines, and who decreed that it surely wouldn't reach them, "WE TOLD YOU SO." Ahem.

Our hopes of getting the power restored anytime soon were fading quickly.

A neighbor with a chain saw drove by soon after, and got out to start cutting the limbs out of the road.

Even though the treetop was hanging in the lines overhead, people kept driving through. There were a lot of closed roads, so our road was busier than normal (with people who are not afraid of dying by electrocution apparently).

Later in the day, to our surprise, the power came back on. I ran around trying to test everything, but soon discovered the lights were dim, and the vacuum cleaner would only make a strangled hum. My laptop battery wouldn't even charge. Had everything been destroyed by power surges? I began digging around in file cabinets for homeowner's insurance paperwork. Then Popsey figured out the power must be incomplete, and advised me to unplug everything—not at all what I wanted to hear. A PG&E crew showed up and verified that we were on "half-power". Whoever heard of half-power? Soon, without warning, even that power was cut off.

Last night after dark the real PG&E cavalry finally arrived. Several cherry pickers were sent aloft, and there was a lot of loud talking. A few hours later they were gone, and a little later the lights came back on.

We are relieved it wasn't worse. It is tempting to buy a generator when this kind of thing happens, but a friend with a generator regularly spends whole black-outs driving back and forth to the generator repair shop, spending hundreds of dollars each time. His generator usually runs great once the power comes back on.

I did start reading a novel for the first time in awhile, and writing the Great American Blog Post by candlelight.


  1. As you know, we here in the Northwest relate to your plight. It's suprising how easy it is to adjust to life by candelight, to the point where there is mild disappointment when the power comes back on. Who needs the fricking internet I say!

    Welcome back to the grid. Glad to hear there was no major damage to the ranch.

  2. Thanks! Glad to be back. You're absolutely right about getting used to no power. It does start getting easier once the initial shock wears off. After hearing about what you Northwesterners endured (and those poor suckers in Colorado), this was nothing. Except I do miss those hot showers. And who says I'm addicted to the computer? Went 2 whole days without internet, cold turkey, with no apparent side effects (except bad handwriting)

  3. Easy for you to say. It was miserable for us poor saps that are addicted to your blog.

  4. Awww. I'm truly flattered.
    Well, I'm addicted to your comments!