Winter blunderland…and zombies…

Sitting in my house the last couple days, frozen in, has completely instilled a sense of cabin fever I rarely feel.  Typically I thoroughly enjoy the downtime and solitude from taking a time-out from living life.  Staying in comfy clothes all day, watching my favorite shows that have been building up on the DVR, and possibly getting some chores done around the house.

Well, earlier this week, we were hit with a rather noticeable ice storm shutting down businesses and activities across the board. As I wandered through the house and gazed out the window, I knew it was only a matter of time before forming ice on the electrical lines caused a massive power outage experienced only one other time in my life.  During my college years at Ball State University, we suffered a MASSIVE ice storm and were without utilities of all varieties for approximately a week and possibly slightly longer.  My roommates and I rapidly came to the realization that we were not prepared for an emergency of this magnitude.  We were without power, heat, and water.  That means we could not open the refrigerator because things would spoil.  We could not use our bathroom because the toilet wouldn’t flush.  Showers were not a possibility.  We could only dream of using the stove or oven to prepare some food.

As fast as we could, we hopped in the car and tried to get to the nearest department store.  Water, milk, and bread were long gone.  Generators (while out of our price range) had been sold out for hours.  Kerosene heaters?  Empty spot on the sales floor where they had previously taken up residency.  Oil lamps?  We wished.  Batteries?  Nope.  We ended up walking out with a small package of 100 count tea-light candles.  And a package of twinkies.  Making our way back to the house, we were witnesses to countless explosions while ice turned transformers into fireworks blazing the sky into a shade of sea-foam green.  For the remainder of that week, luckily, we were fortunate enough to crash on the couches at some friends’ house.  They were fortunate enough to have an oil lamp, candles, and not one, but TWO, kerosene heaters!  Although, for whatever reason they stupidly decided to try to burn diesel fuel in one of them, turning it into a rather large waste of space.  They were also located close enough to the college that the power grid they were located on was one of the earlier sections of the city to regain power.  We hung out around their place for 3-4 more days after their power had been restored because our neighborhood clearly wasn’t much of a priority.  Once things calmed down and a sense of normalcy returned to our ravaged town, we decided it was time to be responsible and prepared. 

We headed back out to the store to pick up some survival kit necessities.  I grabbed the first oil lamp I came to with a bottle of lamp oil, a shake flashlight, crank flashlight, and crank radio.  My roommate headed straight for the kerosene heaters.  For Christmas that year, I asked my parents for a battery jumper/power inverter/air compressor/power pack thing-a-ma-jig.  As you well know though, now that we had some essentials, we’ve never really needed them (other than using the battery jumper a couple of times on my motorcycle).

Fast forward to this week.  With the threat of another sizeable ice storm looming over my residence, I was almost giddy with the thought that I might get to break out what I had termed my “zombie apocalypse survival kit!”  Then I remembered one two minor details.  The kerosene heater went with my old roommate when we parted ways…D’oh!  And the battery jumper/power pack had since been stolen.  As I rummaged around my basement, nervousness, fear, and anxiety washed over me when I came to the realization that I couldn’t find my zombie apocalypse survival kit!  I quickly moved upstairs with tears forming in my eyes knowing that I might not be prepared to defend my family from mother nature…or zombies!  After several minutes of roaming around aimlessly, I caught a glimmer of something in the guest room, packed neatly into a nice little cardboard box.  My zombie apocalypse survival kit was discovered, and in-tact.  Then I pathetically noticed that all it included was a shake flashlight, crank flashlight, crank radio, and oil lamp.  Anxiety started to creep back in.  I didn’t have the equipment needed to keep my house warm and running.  Bundling up to battle the elements, I headed outside to the car to try to scrape off some ice and make a run to the store.  The side windows came clear with relative ease.  The front and rear glass were completely different stories.  Multiple inches of ice had formed and bonded to the windshields.  After scraping for what seemed like forever, I decided it would have to be good enough.  I hopped in, fired up the engine, dropped the transmission into drive, and started rolling.  For a good 4-5 inches.  I had been plowed in, and was entirely too exhausted to do anything about it.  I went inside hanging my head in shame holding out hope that we would retain power throughout the night.  After spending another hour first thing the next morning freeing the car, we had a line of transportation to the outside world…but my wife needed it to get to work.  Worn out and not able to feel my arms, I couldn’t bring myself to start all over again on my car in the back of the driveway.  By that afternoon, I mustered enough energy to break my car out of its frostbitten cocoon.

Stairway of death!

Look closely. Those grooves were created by a boy literally ice skating down the sidewalk.

I went back to work today – but not before stopping and buying a kerosene heater.  I will be stopping for a power inverter and replacement battery jumper/power pack on my way home.  And another box of twinkies.  A generator is surely on the list of not-too-distant future purchases.  Bring on the zombies.

Thank you, that is all.


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