Camping with Sandy

I’ve never been big on camping and Sandy has only made things worse. While I am getting used to wearing a miner’s light and I love pine scented candles, I do miss running water, and it is a little eerie walking along pitch black corridors and 12 flights of equally black stairs to get to the bottom of our almost deserted apartment building. From our windows we can see the illustrious and still illuminated Chrysler Building, but between here & there is all darkness. Seems like this camping ground is not a popular spot.

On Monday night after Sandy hurled her way through town setting new records for Halloween and havoc, she also divided Manhattan distinctly into uptown and downtown. Downtown is south of East 39th street, which apart from Wall Street and the odd self generated hotel or hospital, has no power. No traffic lights, no running water, no landlines. Uptown is almost like Sandy didn’t even swing by – except for the crane hanging off the side of a ridiculously tall new apartment building on 58th street. The traffic is crazy and the restaurants packed…

On Tuesday morning we crossed the line and headed for the Hyatt on 42nd street to charge our phones. Modern camping essentials. We were the first but within an hour a great wave of refugees surged into the hotel. Until then things were quite merry. A wifi system called ‘Sandy’ had been set up in the lobby to enable a free link to news and the rest of the world. The breakfast bar was buzzing with sympathetic managers who had bunked in the hotel overnight to ensure – at minimum, a morning coffee of sorts. But with people piling around the power points and cords stretched in all directions, it was suddenly time to leave. A wall of suits assembled across the front door and only those with hotel keys could pass. A new line was drawn.

Tuesday afternoon Sean carried our bikes down 12 flights of stairs so we could ride over to the west side where police blockades had prevented access only 24 hours before. The Hudson was still restless churning as though to rise again, with television crews still bearing witness, and debris piled where wind and water had finished with it. Strangely, in the midst of all the mayhem on a freshly washed garden bed, ( now about 20 feet above sea level ), a host of delicate Spring Crocus’ blossomed in the breeze.

Back on the demarcation line, Sean and I had plenty of supplies, but the game changer was water. By Wednesday morning our building’s tank was dry and residents started leaving in droves. Last night there were only 20 of us left, and the temperature was dipping 9*C. The initiative of a nearby building by installing a generator the moment the power went out meant they were beaming with water and warmth. And, fortunately for us, generosity. Their Super allowed us to fill all the bottles and buckets we could carry and we made the most of it. Of course carrying them up 12 flights of stairs was the cardio workout one always feels proud of after the event. Ah water, the new gold!

The sun is shining this morning and a little more buzz is returning to the city. Sean and I plan to ride uptown to hunt and gather ingredients for Christmas cake. We usually put the fruit on brandy around Thanksgiving and each make a wish as we stir the pot. This year we are starting early as there is much to be thankful for and many wishes to be made.

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14 Responses to Camping with Sandy

  1. Thanks for your uptodated report. I sympathise with you both for having to walk up 12 floors of stairs, especially carrying water and supplies as well. I have trouble going up 3 steep steps to open my front door. Best wishes to you both and I seriously hope things return to some form of normality very soon. I love your report and look forward to receiving it, the photos of the fall were awesome and the hanging crane!!!! Its 5.30am and I’ve just listened to you talking to Rod Quinn on ABC, so again thanks and think of the added fitness of all those stairs!!!!!!!!
    cheers exclusively patricia downtown Adelaide..

    • Thanks for your thoughts Patricia – we are back to normal now in east midtown and very grateful for it. Sending a big hello to downtown Adelaide and please have a coffee at Lucia’s for me in the Central Market. It’s still up there with the best in the world!

  2. Thankyou for a wonderful report. It must be extremely uncomfortable all round, but am pleased to hear you are safe and well despite the hardships. What a terrible time for everyone.unbelievable,

    • Thanks Patricia – I really appreciate your thoughts. We are up and running again here in midtown and with glorious sunshine today.
      Like my father always says, the sun will come up again tomorrow…

  3. Dallas Colley says:

    Thanks from me also, so good to hear you are both okay and in usual tremendous style ‘getting on’ with it all. The pictures are so telling both ends of the spectrum. The hanging crane has been a feature of many news broadcasts looks very scary. Just to remind you of a fridge magnet you presented to me many years ago…’My idea of camping is when room service is late’ and an addition ‘The only camping I do is under five stars” good wishes and much love to you both for running water and electricity soon. Dallas

    • I remember that fridge magnet Dallas! We are definitely back with 5 stars now that the power and water are on. Amazing how ‘basic’ things can be such luxuries. Thinking of you post-Paris and hope you found those wonderful cheese markets. Next stop New York!

  4. Hang in there, Fitzy. All the best.

  5. Louise Smith says:

    You two are so great, it is so inspiring to read about your wonderful spirit and resourcefulness in the face of such powerful devastation. We love you, keep your chin up and thank you for your stories. That Christmas cake is going to be yummy.
    Louise Smith

    • What a gorgeous message Louise – thank you so much. In fact we couldn’t wait until Christmas – as soon as the power came on I couldn’t resist throwing a cake into the oven. I will have to start taking the stairs again at this rate! All our best to everyone in beautiful Rainbow Beach.

  6. Dot says:

    Thinking of you guys. Glad you are ‘okay’.. Hope for normalcy for you soon.

  7. Mili says:

    If we can’t share your Christmas cake with you, will you be sharing the recipe or is it a family secret that will go to the grave with you? Enjoying your blog and your Rod time.

    • Thanks Mili. The recipe was originally from the Women’s Weekly, but modified to take out the things I didn’t like ( mixed peel, maraschino cherries ) and to put in the things I did like ( dried apricots, extra brandy ). I also replace some flour with almond meal because US flour is very hard and makes the cakes dry – and I also adjust to whatever I have in the cupboard. So you see the cakes are different all the time! But the best thing about the WW recipe is that you can use the mix for both cake and pudding. Just be sure to make a wish when you stir the fruit & brandy together…

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