So, yesterday, I thought I'd take matters into my own hands and fire up "Black Beauty". I checked the gas tank and found it empty, so put in what was left in the gas can, which wasn't much. I thought I'd better go get some more, but maybe first I'd better fire her up, to make sure she was still working. She had sat there 'nekked' during Hurricane Ike, all exposed, so who knows whether she'd want to run or not. I leaped into her saddle and tried to coax her into starting. Well, she was pretty balky, and she did start, but boy! she started pouring out big clouds of gray smoke. Cappy was in my ear on the phone, and he said that she must have gotten dust in her engine from the hurricane wind blowing it in there, but she'd burn it off, once't she got goin'. Good enuff fer me. I rounded up the 'boys', SparkyBear and MarkyBear into the SUV, drove to the nearest gas station and rustled us up a couple gallons of gas for $11.(now that's just wrong), drove back home and 'watered' the 15 horse power ol' gal. Well, she drank it in good and all, so I mounted the saddle again, turned the key and at once was sitting in a fog-bank of thick, choking gray smoke! I knew something was definitely wrong, but maybe Cappy was right, the dust just needed to burn off, so I put 'er in gear and she took off, galloping across the lawn at a higher speed than I thought she would. I yelled at the lazing dogs, "Get along little doggies, get back, get BACK!!!", yelled,"Whoaaaaa", got her stopped and put into a slower gear, then off we went again, but she was not happy, and began balking again. Hmmm. I drove her around the yard one time, out-running the cloud of 'dust' behind us, til we saw Maggie, Brett's mother walking toward us, so I shut off the engine. Maggie said that Brett had planned on coming out in the morning to do the yard work, and could do whatever I didn't get done. I said I'd try to get most of it done, because I know Brett's been incredibly busy. I wish she hadn't said, laughing, "Yeah, you might not get it started again", meaning the jittery 'charger' I was sitting atop, as she, no doubt, had witnessed the rolicking ride I'd just been on, before I spotted her. I chuckled back as she turned to leave, got the lawn cutter roaring again, and went bucking across the lawn until we got out by the road next to the mailbox. Then she just broke down...quit. Pore thang. I dismounted, knelt down on my hands and knees and looked underneath. Aha! Some kind of rod had come loose and was half laying on the ground. I tried to get in there with my little fingers and shove the end back into the hole I thought it had come from, but it was going to take stronger fingies than mine. Impulsively, I thought about 'girding my loins' and making it go in there, but before I could ration that I got no loins, I noticed that the smoke had increased and was billowing out of the engine itself. Ok, pardner, I give up!! The whole thing was a lost cause, so I trotted back to the house and flounced myself into a big comfy chair under a fan, like Scarlet O'Hara consumed by the vapors, thinking, "Fiddle-dee dee; I shant think about this right now...if I do, I'll go crazy; I'll think about it tomorrow". And when tomorrow came, from down the street came a sound so sweet; the smooth music of a fast purring engine headed this way. The dogs recognized it at once and ran pell mell, hurry scurry out their dog-door, merrily barking at the approaching lawnmower and it's rider...low and behold it was the Lawn Ranger, Brett, to the rescue! I 'helped' him push ol' "Black Beauty" into the driveway. So, now she can just sit there in her "stall" until some scallywag comes along and fixes her.
Talking with Cappy over the phone tho', I've noticed that he's not been moving his barge from oil platforms as much he usually does; he's been doing a lot of sitting still, "waiting", and he mentioned a couple of times that half the fleet is doing the same. For some reason it didn't register, until I saw on the national news that even as far away from us as Atlanta, that there are people waiting in long gas lines. Whaaaa?? Hurricane Ike hit the area about two weeks ago, why aren't things starting to get back to normal by now?
This morning I asked Cappy what is going on with our country's oil supplies not being met. He told me that so much damage was done, with the two storms hitting in tandem, that electricity is still not on for much of the rural areas toward the coast. He said the oil platforms, many of them are located too far out for electricity hook up, so they have big solar panels collecting energy to be able to facilitate the prodution of oil. Unfortunately, the solar panels...big ol' floppy things during the hurricanes, took a lot of battering in the screaming winds, so you can imagine what happened to them. People are scrambling like madmen trying to repair them, not only for the country's use, but the production of crude oil puts food on their family's tables, as well.
Another problem is that the Gulf of Mexico consists of salt water, so that when the oil platforms were inundated by the storm surge waves, the salt water corroded the valves of the engines, computers and equipment of the oil platforms, and also corroded and ruined the motors of the bridges, which cross the waterways. In Terrebonne Parish alone, there are over thirty bridges which cross the waterways where oil barges, such as Cappy pushes, and other vessels have to travel.
(Watching these bridges operate has always fascinated me since I've been down here in South Louisiana. One night I was in traffic over in New Orleans, just going down the road, when all of a sudden, there was a redlight, and we all stopped, as usual, but then a strange thing happened. White and black lined wooden arms came down, like at a railroad crossing, and the road ahead of us...the bridge started going up. What the heck?? Then I saw this tugboat chugging along toward the bridge, and I knew it was going to take about five or ten minutes for it to make it's way to the other side, so the bridge could go back down. I thought to myself, "They can't be serious!" I'm from NY State, where things go fast-fast-fast. Ya gotta walk fast; ya gotta talk fast; ya gotta do everything fast. And here we sat, a bunch of cars waiting for this tugboat to slowly make his way, putt-putt-putting alongggggg, holding everybody up. This was just crazy. Well...New Orleans isn't called The Big Easy for nothing. One of the first things Cappy did was teach me how to walk slowly, ...get my mosie on..."Take it easyyyy; walk like ya listen' to some Bluessss...if ya don't the heat is gonna get ya". So, I learned to adapt to that attitude for the most part. Now, when I get stopped at a bridge, whether it be a lift bridge, a swing bridge, a pontoon bridge, I take it as a "mini vacation"; an opportunity to look around at the beautiful scenery; even with storm damage, South Louisiana is a beautiful place.)
Okay, back to the issues; with all these bridges now being nonfunctional due to the two hurricanes, nautical traffic has pretty much come to a standstill, especially in the areas to the south, where a lot of the oil platforms are located. In normal circumstances there are only half a dozen or so electricians who service and maintain this maze of bridges. Since the storm, these electricians are hard-pressed to get them back up and running . One bridge in particular in Dulac sustained over $400,00.00 worth of damage, and that's only one bridge. Some bridges are worse off; some are better; some are high priority because of higher traffic usage, but all need attention. With the bridge closures, oil fields can be isolated; cut off from boat traffic.The electricians are working feverishly on them, and more and more help is coming in, but the whole South East needs help...dang...the whole country seems like it's in one big mess just now. Cappy made it through one bridge today and got to load some crude; however another bridge, where he needed to go, was still not up and running, so he had to wait; and may have to wait, perhaps for a couple of days. He's not alone...many, many of the other company boats are 'trapped', too and those of other companies, as well.
Another fly in the ointment: You'd think crude oil was crude oil, was crude oil...it's not. The oil refineries require a certain thickness; a specific viscosity. The different places the guys pick up the oil, the density, etc. are all different, even from a few miles away from one another, perhaps. Now I guess it's getting rather complicated, eh? Well, because the folks in Cappy's office keep track of the 'recipe', they may send Cappy to load a certain amount of one kind of oil, then to another platform for another thickness or mineral content, then to another. It just depends. I wouldn't want that office job. Tugboats and barges all over the place, and the only way of contacting them is through the company radio, or cell phones. They are all doing the best they can. None of us likes paying higher gas bills, and even tho' Cappy brings the crude oil to the refineries, nobody cuts him a break at the gas pumps.
So, the news is not all that great. Cappy got through two bridges today, he told me tonight; but the going is slow. If it's anything Cappy hates...and I do know this for a fact; it's sitting and waiting out there on his boat. He'd rather be moving along, getting the oil flowing, as it were.
Until Obama and/or the 'Greenies' shut him down, he'll keep bringin' it in, then after that he'll most likely find something else that he loves to do out there in the bayous, swamps and back waterways.
Even tho the darned hurricanes are long gone, the political blustering is still raging, our national economy's future looks rather stormy, and we have no answers as to when our oil shortage problems will get any better. I guess I'll just have to say it again, "The answers my friend,are 'blowin' in the wind', the answers are...why can't life always just be a breeze?"
Usually, I would have had Cappy's beloved Abita Amber beer all iced and ready for him while he sweated all day out there in the yard, but there was an alcohol ban for the week after the hurricane, so he was relegated to drinking ice water...not a bad thing, but he really wanted a refreshing 'cold one' all week. (I hadn't had time to go shopping for groceries beforehand and didn't think to stock up on his favorite beverage, because I had high-tailed it up to Alexandria, LA for the hurricane. On my way back home, I drove through a lot of awful debris and wreckage, and was nervous about running out of gasoline, because I was listening to the radio the whole way, and let me tell you, there was very little gasoline to be had anywhere. I heard people saying they had been sitting in gas lines for as many as seven hours!!! Thank the Lord I picked Cappy up at a place near one of his offices and we made it home with gas to spare, because Robert, his co-captain had thought to bring a couple of gas cans full of gas for us to use to get home. That is a good man!)
Now, with Cappy at home this week, we finally we got the yard relatively back in good shape, so we took Tinker Bayl, his Jeep, for a small road trip to Thibodaux to Walmart to try to find a few groceries, and along the way saw a lot of damage done by hurricane Gustav. We made this little slideshow of our Gustav aftermath. I, Peggy, still have my side of hurricane Gustav to complete, perhaps in a few days. Until then...the slideshow @ YouTube, (cuz dis blogger don't wanna upload 'em anymore, I guess.) ALSO: note somewhere there on YouTube, that you can click on the option to view the slideshow in a better quality...I recommend that. http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=CAfZTUAL3IA
The yard is all messed up, and after spending all day yesterday trying to put it to rights, we barely scratched the surface. Please be patient with us and we will both tell yall our stories of riding out the latest hurricane. We are very busy trying to get our house and yard back to normal and it may take a few days til we can sit down and blog. Till then, know we are safe and happy and thankful and sweating our butts off in da yard. Speaking for myself, I'm impatiently waiting for them to lift the alcohol ban so I can get a good cold beer.