When my good friend Vanessa realized that her apartment was in evacuation zone A in lower Manhattan for a rare hurricane, she quickly procured a weekend rental in Woodstock along with gallery owner James Hendershot. The two were kind enough to invite me along to escape the storm and I was quick to accept. So with my trusty duffle, my computer bag and yoga mat, I hailed a taxi at 6 in the morning and made my way to Grand Central so I could catch one of the last trains to Poughkeepsie.
When James, Vanessa and London (Vanessa’s schnauzer) picked me up, we quickly drove up to Woodstock to stock up. The streets of the famously liberal town were flooded with paranoid New Yorkers who all decided to make a weekend vacation out of the storm. Like every other misplaced short-term refugee, we stuck out like sore thumbs. If the obvious misplacement wasn’t enough, the locals started laughing at our various purchases of firewood, organic local meats and cheeses, marshmallows, graham crackers, and of course- Hershey’s chocolate.
After garnering more stares and laughs from locals we tried to locate our weekend home with little success and varied directions. Upon arriving at our destination, I was surprised to see so much glass in our supposed “shelter” from the looming storm.
“Aren’t there an awful lot of windows here for a hurricane shelter?” asked Vanessa out loud. “I guess we’ll huddle in the doorways if something happens… isn’t that the type of thing you do in these situations?”
“Unclear” I replied.
In anticipation of the natural disaster, we did what any self-respecting adult would do and hopped in the hot tub with a bottle of Prosecco. With James napping, I caught up with Vanessa in the house’s sun room.
“I just want to make my mark on the world in a meaningful way” said the young financier. “I want to do something really special.”
“You will” I replied, “and you are.” Vanessa is currently working on an amazing project with artists and charity organizations that will come fruition in the coming months.
Already warm and verging on over heating from the alcohol and oversized bubble bath combo, we both looked out at the calm, steady shower, and- as if we were fighting for the last drop of water in a desert oasis- ran outside onto a grassy hill and let the water cool our bodies and overstimulated minds.
Hours later, we lit a fire for the purpose of a cozy winter reminder and of course, to make smores (indoors;-).
“SMORES INDOORS!” exclaimed James as he observed me and Vanessa trying to make the perfect toasted marshmallows. “I can’t believe we’re doing this!” We listened to some music a while before dosing off to the sound of rain gently tapping at the window.
The next morning I woke up to the gentle tapping of Vanessa’s hand. “The power’s out and I have no reception.” I could tell this unsettled her. With several major deals about to close, and all of her main contacts in other cities, this was not the time for a disconnect.
Although calming down and forgetting about work isn’t necessarily Vanessa’s forte, James was able to convince her that a makeshift brunch was not only possible, but would definitely cheer her up. So with the aid of a naturally ventilated sunroom, and a grill, we were able to produce a meal worthy of Sarabeth’s Sunday menu… that is, if Sarabeth’s served cowboy coffee.
The rain settled down for a while and we made our way to a local gas station to see if anyone had heard of anything from Manhattan. It was in the middle of the checkout line that Vanessa discovered phone service and decided to orchestrate a deal between LA, New York, and London.
With the confused locals making their way around the stressed out-of-towner, James checked in with his gallery manager and discovered that the storm didn’t hit Manhattan with half the severity anticipated. “What!?” yelled Vanessa “we need to get back then!” We packed the powerless home up quicker than Barbara Eden could blink horny astronauts in and out of compromising situations.
As we made our way through town, we witnessed the damage caused by flooding and even had to move a tree out of the road to get by. By the time we made it to the highway, we were met by a crazed toll worker who could only scream “GO BAAAACK!” loudly without explanation. Hungry, we were forced to stop at “Johnny G’s Diner” connected to a Howard Johnson.
“Excuse me” said Vanessa to the waitress “we have these steaks in our car that will go bad if we don’t cook them do you think you could…” with a hefty tip in hand, our server quickly rushed to the kitchen and okayed Vanessa’s culinary request. While waiting for our food, we discovered that the Howard Johnson was not pet friendly. With James securing our table in a restaurant that was quickly spiking in volume due to the highway closure, Vanessa and I took our belongings (and the Zip Car) to check in at the Comfort Inn down the street.
“Why isn’t this STARTING!? ” yelled Vanessa when we hopped in the car to go back to James and our quickly cooling steaks. The car refused to start and left us with only the option of walking through a deceptively even field. As our feet sank in the muddy grass, we quickly regretted not walking a few more meters towards the PAVED road.
We walked back into a packed and smoky restaurant staffed by two waitresses who had probably only known a flow of customers as slow and regular as Jamie Lee Curtis’s bowel movements. After waiting about 45 minutes for a banana split, we effectively worked out a way to use the Howard Johnson swimming pool since our motel came unequipped with one.
Although it took over seven hours to get home the next day, we were thankful for the interesting (and blog-worthy) experience. When I returned to my neighborhood, I was bombarded with stories of the amazing Manhattan Hurricane parties that lasted all weekend long and a “you should have been here” from nearly every familiar face that I encountered, but I knew that I had a weekend that, although filled with folly, was much more exciting than I could have hoped for.
- Hello Irene! (ecollage.wordpress.com)
- Come on Irene! (kikiandlalaland.wordpress.com)
- Recent heavy rainfall adds insult to injury to towns ravaged by Hurricane Irene (nj.com)