A Different Kind of Weekend

Well, THAT was a different weekend! A virtual hurricane hit the Northeast at the end of last week; 48 hours of torrential rain and high winds.  Six to eight inches of rain, a gust of wind in Portsmouth NH hit 91 MPH.  The storm hit from NYC to the Canadian border, and we experienced the fury in Massachusetts during the work-week.  I was checking the Ballot Box webcam regularly and the rain and wind was furious up there too.  I checked the webcam a little after midnight on Thursday night (Friday morning) and I was able to hear the wind but couldn’t see the rain because of the darkness.

Friday morning the webcam would not respond, so I figured we lost power up in Newcastle.  I checked the Central Maine Power web site and it listed Sheepscot Road in Newcastle as having a power outage, but there were over 130,000 customers without power in the mid-coast Maine area, so I convinced myself the power was out.

Megan and Dan were scheduled to come up to the Ballot Box this weekend so we checked in with them and they were still game for it, so we drove up in separate cars (we took the PT Cruiser, the van is limited to short rides because of a coolant hose problem that’s waiting for a back-ordered part).  We made arrangements that they would call us when they passed through Bath (cell phones work in power outages) and we would scoot down to the Newcastle Publick House restaurant and meet them there for dinner.

We got to the Ballot Box around 6 pm, and sure enough the power was out.  The lights were on all along Route 1, but once we left the main road all the houses were in darkness.  The neighbor across the street had a generator running in his garage for power, but our little house was in total darkness.  I had stumbled upon “power outage” long-lasting candles a few months back and bought three on a whim, just in case.  Good thing!  But no power means no heat (propane heaters have computerized controls), no lights, no water (the well pump runs on electric), and no water means no flushing toilets!

Megan and Dan called, so we scooted down to the restaurant, hoping they had power (they did), and surprisingly it wasn’t crowded.  We’ve often had trouble getting seated quickly on Friday and Saturday nights, and we figured that with all the houses without power, even more people would be there to get a hot meal. Not true! We got seated right away, the fastest we’ve experienced!  Go figure!

We had a great dinner, then we headed back to the cold dark Ballot Box for the night. Outside temperatures were running in the high 30s during the day, and the low 30s at night, so there wasn’t much danger of having the pipes freeze right away, but it was bone-chilling to sit around the candles in sweaters and jackets inside the house; we should have done jumping jacks!  We had lots of blankets and comforters for sleeping so that wasn’t bad at all, but the power hadn’t come back on by Saturday morning so it was cold in the house in the morning.  We all got up early, dressed, and scooted out to find some coffee and breakfast.  Our favorite breakfast place, cleverly named “The Breakfast Place,” had closed for good recently, but the last weekend up (two weeks ago) we had found a different breakfast place across the street and down an alley in Damariscotta, called “The Blue Marble” so we headed for that – and it was also closed up for good! Bummer! We had lost two great breakfast places in rapid succession!  So we tried the Salt Bay Café, which was okay except the coffee was weak.

The rest of the day was spent in different directions.  Megan and Lynn drove down to Freeport to a yarn and knitting exposition/fair, and poked around in some of the outlet shops.  I had Dan drop me off at the Damariscotta Book Shop and Café so I could get Wi-Fi access and attempt to get onto the Red Sox ticket web site to buy some Red Sox-Yankees tickets (I had entered a contest to win the right to buy the tickets, and my name got drawn.  I was successful, getting four tickets to the May 8th game at Fenway Park.  Sorry, they’re all spoken for).  Dan went back to the Ballot Box and spent the afternoon installing a new car radio in his VW Jetta.

There had been talk in the morning of packing it in and heading home Saturday afternoon if the power wasn’t restored, but I told Lynn I didn’t feel comfortable leaving with the power out without doing some more serious winterizing, in case the power stayed out and the relatively mild temperatures changed for the colder.  In anticipation of that possibility, Dan and I visited the local hardware store to buy some trap anti-freeze and a hose to be used to drain the hot water heater and pump bladder.  I planned on staying until Sunday, and if the power still hadn’t been restored, putting the anti-freeze in the toilet and sink traps, draining the hot water tank and the bladder, and then heading home.  On a separate trip to the hardware store (forgot to look for it the first time) I bought a radiant heater head that attaches to a bulk 20 lb propane tank (like what one uses on a gas grill) so we could have some heat in the house. 

After trying out the radiant heater, the whole troop decided to stick it out one more night.  We headed down Route 1 to Woolwich to try out the Montsweag Roadhouse – a great place – for dinner.  We’ve driven by it many times, but never had the chance to try it out until now.  The ride back to the Ballot Box was in a blizzard as we got about 2 inches of slush dumped on us.  The radiant heater made the house quite tolerable though not as warm as it would have been with power.

I woke up Sunday morning to the sight of 6 : 5 8; the red numerals on my alarm clock – the power was back on! Basing my calculations on the displays of the non-auto-setting clocks (my alarm clock sets itself), power came back on around 6:45 AM, and we all got up and rejoiced! Good strong German coffee was made, then bacon and steak (defrosted in the freezer during the power failure) and eggs and muffins for breakfast, then hot showers all around!  We had heat, hot and cold water, hot food and coffee, and music! Everything was right with the world again!  It was amazing how much we missed the creature comforts that electricity bestows upon us, but it was also amazing how quickly we adapted!  But I still don’t think I’d enjoy a long visit to the 18th century just yet.

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