No Direction Home

This humble blog was started to document our travels around the country during the summer of 2006, We have opted to continue updating it due to the requests from family & friends. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 04, 2017


September 15, 2017


*photo by Rob O'Neal



We love living in Key West, there are just so many positive aspects to living on America’s Southernmost Point, chief among these is the incredible tropical weather that we experience pretty much year round. It really is a tropical paradise most of the time, except of course on those rare occasi0ons when we get the worst the tropics has to offer and a powerful hurricane threatens.


We have been very fortunate over the last decade or so, with very few storms that really had much impact at all and we had not evacuated since the horrible year of 2005 when four hurricanes impacted Key West, Dennis, Katrina, Rita and worst of all Wilma. Wilma caused much of the island to flood, including our house which experienced about three feet of water throughout the house.


Shelter of last resort at KWHS gym.

This year had already proven to be another especially destructive year with Hurricane Harvey hitting Houston causing the worst Hurricane disaster in the USA since New Orleans was hit by Katrina in 2005. Massive flooding and incredible scenes of destruction were fresh in our minds as Hurricane Irma rolled off of Africa and made its way across the Caribbean with the state of Florida directly in its crosshairs. 

As the storm exploded into the most powerful storm ever recorded in the Atlantic basin and became a massive Category 5 storm, we spent much of the week prior preparing. Having not gotten the house ready in years, we were a little out of practice and had to cut some new plywood to cover the windows and move as much as we could up off the floor. The time before any hurricane is unlike anything else. The constant TV coverage on all the major networks as well as CNN and the Weather Channel just adds to the anxiety as the storm approaches.

Shel Silverstein's house 

This one remaining a strong category 5 as it got closer really had people in a frenzy. Lines like I have never seen before formed at every gas station, with many running out of fuel, there was also mass chaos at places like Home Depot and Publix as people scrambled to get ready. Kathy and I had already made the choice to evacuate, it was only a matter of when to leave. We were all set to leave Wednesday late at night, but were just too damned exhausted to go and put it off until Thursday morning. (The storm was scheduled to hit on Saturday night).



The evacuation itself was crazy, we headed along with our three cats (Sammy, Van and Huey) and dog (Jack) to Winston-Salem, North Carolina where my mother Marta lives and my sister Marika and her husband Brian have a condo we could stay in as well. The problem was that though much of the Keys had already cleared out, the possible path of the storm up the east coast of Florida had evacuation orders in place all the way up the East coast into Georgia and South Carolina. Basically the entire state of Florida was at risk and it became one of the largest evacuations ever.

Monroe County Sheriff's Animal Farm animals taking refuge in the jail. 

Historic Sugarloaf Bat Tower destroyed

To avoid the masses and bumper to bumper slow traffic on I-95, the Florida Turnpike and I-75, we decided to take old route 27 right up the gut of the state. It turned out to be the best decision as while it was slow going, we never stopped moving and gas stations along the way actually had fuel and we did not have to wait like so many others did to fill up. We ended up the first night in Yulee, just North of Jacksonville a normal 10 hour drive taking closer to 14, which is still way better than if we had used another route.


The second day of evacuating was even slower going as traffic from Georgia and South Carolina flooded the interstates and we used back roads through Georgia, South and North Carolina to get to Winston Salem turning a 6.5 hour trip into more than 10 hours on the road. We settled in and watched the news intently as the storm struck the Keys. There is something deeply unsettling about watching the potential destruction of your home, your city and seeing your friends who stayed imperiled. 

The news was shaky at best as far as getting an honest assessment of what had happened, but as word trickled out, it became clear that Key West escaped a direct blow as the eye wall passed over the Keys just North of the island, sadly wrecking havoc on nearby islands such as Rockland Key, Cudjoe, Sugarloaf, Summerland, Big Pine and up through Marathon. Widespread destruction, tidal surge causing flooding and basically a direct hit from the storm caused a great loss of property and thirteen deaths in the Keys. Thankfully none of our close friends were harmed, though we had a number of friends who lost almost everything in the storm.

Of course Kathy and I and our pets were fine, word started coming out within a day or so from those who stayed behind and a number of people went by and checked on our property and reported back to us. The first text came from our friend Leigh who simply wrote,”Your House Is Fine”. Talk about a relief. Thanks to our friends Leigh, Bruce, Joyce, Effie and Greta who all checked on our property with much the same news. We lost a lot of our landscaping including a number of fairly sizable trees, but we had no structure damage and water did not appear to get in the house.

Our house 


While we were very fortunate, many others did not fare so well. Power, water, cell service, internet service, television both satellite and cable were all out of service. The aftermath is always worse than the storm itself and the Keys were in no way ready for us to return. In fact for a week we simply were not allowed to return as the rebuilding and clean-up process got underway. Kathy and I decided to remain at least until our house had power which we were able to check by calling our landline and seeing if the answering machine picked up.

Buco improvises a land line at the Green Parrot post storm.