This morning dawned snowy, gray and frigid. Never mind, I was on a mission - I simply HAD to find gas. I hopped out of my warm bed on Serenity, showered and dressed in record time. The minute I was ready to go, I feverishly began to check gasbuddy.com/sandy for an open gas station near the marina. At 7:13, there were no updates, just the grim "No Fuel" notation I have come to dread. At 8 am, Has Fuel flashed on the screen from the Mobil station mere blocks from the marina. I raced across the snowy and slippery dock to my car - which I think was colder inside than it was on the outside. Off I sped to the station praying all the way that the information was accurate and not a hoax. Me who usually believes what I'm told, has become suspicious about gas and power rumors.
As I approached the station, I was dismayed to see the gas station attendants shoveling snow and not pumping gas. I followed the line to the end, which I estimated to be about an hour long. Not bad I thought as I made a wild U-turn to get into line. A Jeep coming the other way had designs on the same spot to which I was headed. As our grilles just about touched, I put my hand up and furiously pointed to the spot I had claimed as my own. With that, I put 2 wheels on the sidewalk and voila, I was in line.
We've become a society of gas-starved desperate creatures with only one focus in life - a full gas tank! For the next 45 minutes, I endured such cold that I got out of the car and rummaged in my "barn box" for something to add to my attire. I found a fleece jacket and a towel. I put the fleece on over my sweater and vest and under my jacket. The towel was draped over my legs and feet like an old lady's lap quilt, but it kept me from suffering frost-bitten toes. There I sat shivering, not wanting to turn the car back on until the line began to move.
By my watch, I got into line at 8:03 (who's watching)? The line was at a standstill, but since there were people in line with their gas cans, I figured they had first-hand information about gas availability from the attendants who were standing by the pumps. I called Tom and told him to jump into the Explorer and head to the gas station, it was now or never. To my indescribable ecstasy, the line began to move around 8:49. Little by little, inch by inch we approached the mecca of the pumps. As I neared the gas station, I realized that I was so tense, my shoulders were actually hunched up close to my ears. Soon I was being directed to a pump. I tried not to run over the poor soul directing desperate drivers to their respective pump. When the attendant asked what I wanted, I burst into tears and kept calling him my hero. Though he smiled politely, I think he thought I was nuts. When I heard the nozzle click, I urged "my hero" to squeeze and squeeze until not another drop could be fit in. After paying $4.45 per gallon for regular, my credit card showed a total of nearly $47 to fill my little 16 gallon tank. I would have paid $45 a gallon to get that tank filled. I drove off half crying, half laughing, like someone in a low budget movie.
I am now driving like the folks I used to flip my high beams at - I'm actually doing the speed limit to conserve as much gas as possible during my trips. No more lurching forward a second before the light turns green, no more passing slower drivers, just smooth (and much slower) driving for me for now. I'm carefully planning my route tomorrow since I took a personal day off to get Serenity ready for her trip south on Saturday. As of tomorrow, we're on odd-even license plate number gas rationing, so I don't want to find myself close to E on the wrong day.
Like everyone else, my life has been re-arranged dramatically. My usually jammed schedule has been reduced to going to work and returning to the boat (one of the reasons why I can do a post each night). Dinners, appointments and meetings have been re-scheduled. I haven't seen my sweet Tucker since the Sunday before the hurricane - I have to make do with pictures my daughter texts to me. I used precious gas to go to the barn last Sunday to bring blankets and carrots to Wiggles. I would have been distraught on these cold days/nights if he didn't have his warm blankies. The wonderful angels at the barn who are my helpers have done a fantastic job of taking care of my precious horse this week.
Though I'm happy Serenity will be going on vacation this winter, I'm going to miss knowing she was only 4 minutes from home. She was our solace and protector during the aftermath of the hurricane. We're indebted to her and always will be. We'll be flying down to visit her each month during the winter, so she won't be too lonely. She's heading to Sunset Bay Marina within walking distance of downtown Stuart where she will have the company of at least 20 other Krogens. So tonight and tomorrow, I'll be sprucing her up and making sure she is pristine for her trip south.