I drove to Houston today and it seemed like Christmas. It seems that much of this part of Texas has taken off from work to prepare for Hurricane Ike. The inbound roads were nearly empty, perhaps one car every mile or so. The outbound roads were full, but not gridlocked.
That's why it seemed like Christmas. It was apparent that most of the businesses and restaurants were closed, and the lack of traffic and day-to-day activity is only like this on major holidays.
The power has gone on and off about a half a dozen times so far. The eye has still not made landfall, and we haven't even seen any rain yet. But the winds have been gusty (between 40-55 mph so far) and the trees have been falling across power lines somewhere, presumably. Here at Mom's house, we have a bunch of candles and flashlights, fresh batteries for a little TV/radio, and a bath tub full of water.
We went driving around during one of the more prolonged power outages of an hour or so. People by the dozens were outside throwing footballs, playing cards, or sitting in plastic chairs. It seems everyone was just waiting for the storm, and when the power is out you might as well go outside. It was a bit like a big party. Mom and I went by my father and step mother's house (two blocks away) and went in to visit for a while. It was good to see them, since I have not seen them since we got back from Honduras.
Since the storm is supposed to be at its worst overnight, we plan to stay up pretty late. In preparation, we took a nap this afternoon. As usual, when I travel I bring my CPAP machine to help me with my sleep apnea. It fits with straps over my face and blows a Constant Positive Air Pressure in my nose as I sleep. Sound bothersome? Not really. You get used to it. Anyway, when the power goes off while you're sleeping with it, it's as if someone suddenly put a pillow over your face. You wake up quickly!
More later, as long as the power stays on...