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October 28, 2016
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For a Quart of Milk

When it comes to surviving in the wake of a storm, I'm more of the "what do we have in the house to work with?" kind of person. My sister is more of the "I need fresh milk now" type. And so, after two days without power, and her (aided and abetted by the state's health counsel) complaining about the milk, I was set upon the errand of purchasing some from the local wholesale club, which had confirmed that it was open (albeit on generator power) and that it had the perishables my sister wanted. After all, three miles (round trip) on a bicycle is a lot less expensive than $20 per person round-trip cab fare, presuming a taxi was available and after three days in the house (and nobody responding at the store), I needed to do some first-person reconnaissance.


So it was out on the bike and out my normal route to work. Two short blocks out, I was stopped by a road closure for a downed power line. My re-route required me to walk my wheels for a block before remounting. The traffic light I'd remembered working last night was out, as was the next traffic light along the route. The folk milling around by their doorsteps were a testament to the lack of electrical power; indoors was dark enough to require donning a jacket and going outside for some light. The next traffic light was also out, but traffic was light, and I thought little of it until I started encountering downed power lines along my route to work.


When I turned onto the main road that is the last bit of my usual ride, I noticed that traffic was diverted from crossing the major thoroughfare that would bring most drivers to the wholesale club. A half-mile down, I found all entrances to the shopping center in which I work barricaded by traffic cones. I re-routed up a side street and encountered a couple of people talking in the street. From them, I found that access to the wholesale club from where we were was all but impossible, and there would be no reasonable route home from there.


After going a few blocks further, to check out the area in which our computer club meets (3 miles total travel), I turned around back to the local supermarket, which had been receiving a shipment when I'd last passed nearby. Except for the few blocks between my house and the supermarket, and a block or two to the west, everything was dark.


While the supermarket was obviously receiving food, it was not open to customers. So I headed out in a direction where I'd heard power had been restored, to another favorite supermarket (distance: 2 miles from current location). After the highly-congested center of town, the roads there are generally shareable and passable. The lack of signage, and lack of activity, by the store suggested that it had closed, permanently, some time before the storm.(After-dark reconnassance by The Other Half determined that this was all storm damage.)


Since I couldn't come home without milk, I went the next "short distance" to another branch of one of the several supermarket chains in my area. While they had milk and eggs, they weren't the organic products my sister insists upon. On the other hand, they did have brand name milk, which my sister trusts more than store brand. Since I was not going further afield, my sister would just have to make do with brand name non-organic milk.


In the end, I'd traveled about twelve miles -- for a single quart of milk.


On the other hand, I needed the road miles.

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