Just a Bit of Wind

Been busy. As some of you know, I live outside of DC in Northern Virginia. As for the rest of you, now you know. We had a bit of weather come through the other day. Before we get to that, and the pictures, let me tell you the tale of what is quite possibly, my most interesting commute ever.

Rain Can’t Hurt You

On Wednesday, I was planning to leave early in order to spend some quality time with my family. I was going to leave at 3, which would get me home around 4:15. Due to quirks in life, I didn’t get out the door until 3:15. Normally not a major issue, but that day….

At 3:10 the heavens opened up. I got through the rain with my woefully inadequate umbrella. How bad was it? This is the same storm front that did every bit of damage I am going to reference in this post. If I had left at 3, I would have been much drier.

I entered the Metro system so that I could get to West Falls Church and catch a bus home. Because of the rain, I had gone to the closer Metro stop, which requires a transfer to get to the Orange line that I wanted. I had to wait 11 minutes for the next train to take me to the station that I could have walked to at 3 and still been dry. That is nothing really. It is really just setting the tone for the rest of the trip.

An announcement comes over the Metro saying that all Orange Line trains are stopping at East Falls Church. Power problems, maybe debris on the track, all from the storm. DC is east of Falls Church. Needless to say, the Metro is going to cease one exit before I get to West Falls Church. In the city, this is no problem as all the stops are fairly close to each other. Out in the burbs, they are miles apart.

The Metro gets me to East Falls Church at 4:20, already later than my original time to get home. It was a slow ride as we have to wait 5 minutes outside the station while the previous train emptied. This took a while as their are two major bus and parking areas on the Virginia end of the Orange line. One is West Falls Church and the other is Vienna, at the end of the line. There were a lot of people getting off here.

By the time I got there, they had implemented shuttle service to West Falls Church where the trains stuck on that side will carry passengers the rest of the way. A few problems:

  • Each Metro train is dumping AT LEAST 3 buses full of people.
  • From the look of the mob that I saw when I arrived, I was train 4 or 5, and no buses had arrived yet.
  • A new train was going to be arriving every 5-7 minutes on average.

You do not have to be a mathematician to see the problem there. There were 80 people at the cab stand, and no cabs. Some people were walking to the next station, and I wish I had been one of those. I joined the mob waiting for a bus.

I was lucky. The first bus showed up five minutes later. Ten minutes after that, 4 more buses came along. They weren’t able to fully pull into the loading area because of the mob, but the ones in the back opened their doors anyway. I ran and got on one of those and hunkered down.

The whole bus scene reminded me of one of those movies where the refugees are on the bus, trying to get away, while those left behind are trying anything just to get on board. It was a little disturbing. I’m glad I got out of there.

The bus quickly left and chose a puzzling route and promptly got stuck in traffic. Finally, when we were 4-5 blocks away from the station, and not moving, the doors opened and we poured out and walked the rest of the way.

Upon arriving, the smaller mob of stuck east-bound travelers were chanting, “We want the Bus!”. I went and told them that the bus was stuck in traffic and that I had just walked from it. That made them depressed because they realized that the Metro system was being out maneuvered by the traffic system. I wondered how maddening the scene at East Falls Church was at that point with its larger crowds.

I got lucky from that point forward. I grabbed a bus heading home. It got on a clear road, and I was home by 6pm.

Good thing I left early.

This is My House

I’ve been busy, and will continue to be busy. Here is why.


See that red circle? That is where two tall pine trees used to be before the storm. They are down and out now. You also don’t see a large pine tree behind the house. That is because the top half was removed and deposited in my back yard.

We got lucky. Only minor damage to the house and nobody was hurt. There was that whole no-power thing for the town (Not my neighborhood, the whole town), but after two long days, it is back.

For good measure, here is what is left of my favorite tree. [Edit: This tree is now gone.]


4 thoughts on “Just a Bit of Wind

  1. Wow! That is absolutely horrible. I live in Boston now, but grew up in Vienna, VA and went to high school right around the corner from the West Falls Church station (Marshall High School).

    I was actually in DC on wednesday working on site for my largest client (large Federal Agency). We were with a group of senior Adobe Developers building a Proof of Concept with the BETA LiveCycle ES Server and components (building processes in LiveCycle, exposing them as web services and tying into Documentum BPM). The entire day was spent in an interior lab with no windows. We had pizza delivered at lunch time. I did not emerge from the building until some time after 8 pm that night.

    My business partner and I went to dinner and everyone kept asking where we were during “the storm”. I had no idea. My partner lives out near Annapolis, MD and I stay with him when I am in DC. Driving out there on wednesday night was an experience. Trees down and fields/roads flooded. Thursday morning’s commute into DC was a nightmare.

    I am thankful I live in Boston. As the snow melts and Spring is right around the corner here….


  2. Wow!
    We’ve spent a good deal of time sitting in the dark too over the last few days – it sure was scary!

    Glad to see that there was no (major) damage! 🙂


  3. Lucky for me, my parents live less than an hour away. I packed the family up and reveled in their AC. Sounds like you guys are in good shape, aside from the power issue. Good to hear.


  4. Blimey, and I was living through my first Toronto ‘warm spell’ 36 degs C with humidity up around 50% and some big thunder storms. Now in Vancouver, where it is of course, raining 🙂

    Glad your family, and your parents, all emerged unscathed !


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