Tuesday, May 10, 2005

More Tales from Key West Past...

This journey to Key West will be the third time there for me and Mrs. Pratt. Five years ago, a month before my heart surgery, I had decided to go there for a week of partying just in case things didn't turn out so well on the operating table.

You see,when your doctor tells you to "put your affairs in order and write a will", and your family asks you where you want to be buried...yeah I think 7 days of Jack Daniels,Coronas and Rum drinks and bikinis was what I needed.

The first time we went though was back in September of 1998. It was our 5 year wedding anniversary and we were trying to decide whether to go back to where we honeymooned (Virginia Beach) or someplace more exotic. Heads VA Beach- Tails Key West.We flipped a coin.

I think it landed on the Tails side because the hurricane winds were starting.

That's right folks, Mrs. Pratt and I kind of neglected to be aware of hurricane season- but what was there to be worried about? A hurricane hadn't hit Key West directly in 70 years.

Oh you know where the story is going don't you.

Our first few days were pretty amazing- we saw the Hemmingway House and the Lighthouse(of course) and sipped many a cool beverage in many a cool bar.

Then people began boarding up the town. And the rental cars were all gone.
And the island was being evacuated. The airport closed.

Hurricane Georges had a bead on Key West. You know it's bad when the bars all have the Weather Channel on tv and not ESPN. There is a church with a special grotto built by a nun who said if you light a candle key west will be spared from storms. We passed by as news of impending bad weather was circulating. the grotto was stacked with candles . It looked like Strom Thurmond's birthday cake...if he shared it with Bob Hope...and George Burns.

The storm raged through the island and even though I think it was a Category 1 we stayed safe and dry in our inn. Our hosts let one of their cats bunk with us, an elderly feline named Cleo. She was great company and remained calm for most of it. You know that old saw "if the animal freaks out the storm is bad.."Cleo was content to sleep on the bed through most of the racket of the hurricane(it did sound like freight trains passing by - for 12 hours straight)

In the morning the debris in the streets and damage to homes was everywhere. Power was out.Water was out- and so were the telephones. But I walked around the back of the bed and breakfast where they had a pay phone - I picked it up and to my amazement heard a dial tone.

I called my parents who watched the storm courtesy of CNN and the Weather Channel and were promptly having kittens worried about us. The next 2 days we helped clean up debris on the property -we owed our innkeepers for taking care of us so helped them in return.

Pt. 2 of the story is waaaay back in my archives which I doubt most have you have never ventured...it's worth reading how we escaped the Island. It is the single most strangest event to ever occur in my life. Whet your appetite?

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