I was recently recounting this story to a friend and I realized that I never mentioned it on my blog, so here it is.
This tale is subtitled “How My Friend Austin Tried to Kill Me”. We were on Maui for the eponymous Austin’s wedding. A week of sun, sand, surf, and celebration. It was our last day and we all had a late flight so we decided to hit the beach one last time before departing. It was simply gorgeous out. 80’s, nary a cloud in the sky, calm as calm can be. Austin comes flipper-flopping in from a snorkeling excursion and says that he just saw a sea turtle out over by the giant outcropping of lava rocks nearby. I, having never seen a sea turtle in its natural environs, decided that I needed to find said turtle. I grab someone’s snorkel mask and head out sans swim fins because none were available and I’m a decent enough swimmer and my destination wasn’t terribly far out.
I’m out searching for maybe 10 minutes and still no sea turtle in sight. At this point, I’m in this kind of natural alcove made by the surrounding lava rocks and probably 50 or so yards from shore. I’m swimming along the surface, looking down in vain for the turtle when the water kind of slaps me on the head. I find this strange so I bob up to see what’s what and get my bearings again. Nothing seems amiss so I head right back to it. No more than 30 seconds later and I get hit again so I bob back up and the wind is blowing in gales and the ocean is a frothy frenzy of blue and white and everyone is very quickly exiting the beach. It’s definitely time to head back. As I said, I was in this volcanic rock alcove so heading directly to shore wasn’t practical at this point so I decided to try swimming parallel to the shore a while up the beach where i was met by waves of water lolling over volcanic rock which was under water prior to the wind kicking up, but was now exposed to the air at regular intervals. Attempting to get through there with the threat of being smashed on the rocks didn’t seem like the best of plans, so I attempted the same down the beach the other direction and was met with the same conditions. At this point, with the water in a frenzy as it was, I was getting pretty tired so I bobbed there for a bit to weigh my options. I remember thinking to myself that this is when people drown, but I’m not one to panic. I wasn’t entirely sure how far out to sea I’d need to go to get past the volcanic rock so I decided my best bet was to swim further in to the alcove and climb out over the volcanic rock. Luckily, the alcove provided some natural shelter so the water was fairly calm the further inside you went. Unluckily, I was still surrounded by volcanic rock and the water was very shallow at this point. Attempting to walk on the rock in bare feet was painful so I decided to swim as much as possible over the rock before having to walk the rest of the way. Swimming through the shallows, my legs were getting scratched by the rocks and I was getting endlessly poked and prodded by sea urchins that had taken shelter there. Finally, when I couldn’t swim any further, I raised myself up and began the slow and painful process of walking the rest of the way to shore over needle sharp lava rocks. By the time I reached sand, my legs were a bloody mess and my feet were screaming in pain. I doused my legs in sand to keep the worst of the bleeding in check and headed back to our room to lick my wounds. And by lick my wounds, I mean pull shards of volcanic rock out of the bottom of my feet. Rock shards would occasionally dislodge themselves from my feet for the next few months. In fact, to this day, I’m pretty sure there’s still one left right underneath the callus on my left foot by my pinky toe. A little souvenir to perpetually remind me of the day the ocean tried to kill me.
Hurricane Matthew is currently bearing down on Florida’s east coast and it’s still a doozy. 140 MPH sustained winds and showing signs of possible strengthening. Current forecast shows it moving straight up the east coast of Florida, tickling Georgia and South Carolina and then circling around for a possible second hit of Florida. Ouch. There’s also a possibility that it will then cross Florida and hit the Gulf of Mexico whose warm waters might turn it into a hurricane once again, but that’s too far in the future to predict with any accuracy. You can check its progress here.
This is shaping up to be a very serious threat to Florida. Not only will southern Florida have to deal with the hurricane surge itself, but it may come just as it is also experiencing high tide in the middle of the night. You’ll recall what happened to New York when a similar scenario happened with hurricane Sandy which only had 70 MPH sustained winds at the time. If you know anyone in eastern Florida, be sure to let them know that this isn’t a hurricane to mess around with. Get away from the sea and stay indoors.
If Matthew does strengthen and continue along its projected path, we could be getting an early glimpse of what the state of Florida will look like in 50-100 years with the predicted sea level rise due to general warming and the ice caps shrinking. Of which, the Arctic just experienced its second lowest ice extent minimum by the way. So yeah, things are really shaping up for planet Earth.
The day started with a line of thunderstorms passing through the area…
And ended with storms building as the sun sets…
All in all, a good weather day.
Final snowfall totals for Chicago’s 2015 blizzard are in and we just experienced the fifth largest snowfall event in Chicago history coming in at 19.3″. Major kudos to the City for an excellent snowfall removal plan. Side streets are still crappy, but the major thoroughfares are clean. Good luck to all the people parked on the streets. Digging your car out is going to be a herculean task. Also kudos to the CTA for a pretty easy commute as well. There were some issues with the trains, but I still got to work on time. But really, how the heck did you not shovel the el platform?
Here are the top 10 Chicago snow events:
- 23.0″ January 26-27 1967
- 21.6″ January 1-3 1999
- 21.2″ January 31 – Feb 2 2011
- 20.3″ January 12-14 1979
- 19.3″ February 1-2 2015
- 19.2″ March 25-26 1930
- 16.2″ March 7-8 1931
- 14.9″ January 30 1939
- 14.9″ January 6-7 1918
- 14.8″ December 17-19 1928
The picture doesn’t do it justice, but it is what can only be described as snraining outside right now. There is a moderately heavy rain falling and mixed with that is a swirling snowfall. It is bizarrely beautiful.
The weather is a little crazy here right now, but if it can produce views like this, bring on the crazy!
Yay, more snow! We had a few more inches of snow overnight and it was the wet, sticky kind driven by strong winds. The result is magnificently beautiful.
Now go away winter!
An affluent neighborhood. 7:30 in the morning. 5 degrees and sunny.
Public transportation is awesome. Except when it’s not. This morning, it wasn’t. I get on to the train platform just as a train is leaving the station. This is not a big deal. The trains come every five minutes or so. Not today. The train immediately after the one I just missed broke down somewhere before my stop. At first it was just a delay as they try to fix equipment problems. This is not unusual for cold weather and the weather was a crisp 5 degrees this morning. Then they announce that they’re emptying the defective train and have to move it out of the way. Awesome.
From start to finish, it takes them about 45 minutes to accomplish this. And soon, the defective train is rolling slowly past my station. My feet are burning with cold at this point. In the meantime, they take an outbound train and turn it around to try to get things back on schedule. Only they choose the stop after mine to start. Nice. Finally, a train pulls into the station but it is jam-packed like you would expect a train to be after a 45 minute backup of people. It then has to sit at my station for 5 minutes as the defective train gets out of the way somewhere up ahead. Another train comes and there is just enough room for a few people to squeeze on and I make sure I am one of them. Love your neighbor, people! No time to be shy.
My connecting train pulls into the station the same time we do and I think the nightmare commute is finally over. This train is also full, but I manage to squeeze on. It should be smooth sailing from now on. But wait, why have we stopped? Equipment problems with the train directly ahead of us, you say? Wonderful. Add another 10 minutes to the already double time commute. Ugh.
All told, a commute that normally takes 40 minutes door to door took just over an hour and a half. The burning cold in my feet is only just now leaving my body. Happy Monday!
I couldn’t find my good camera so these were taken with my phone, but the still turned out pretty nice. Ice crystals forming on my window. It is amazing how delicate they look.