Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On

What a beautiful day.  As a bike commuting day this was an eleven.  This time of year is prime commuting weather.  In retrospect it was quite similar to the weather ten years ago when a perfect day turned into madness.

I left home a little late and thought I had a 9 am meeting so I put the hammer down.  I NEVER do this but I needed to get to work fast.  I was really feeling my oats, despite a 10 mph headwind.  For about four miles I followed this guy in a red shirt.  Here he is on the right with a rider passing both of us about six miles from my office.  Just look at that sky! It was heaven out there.

Just before 2 pm, the day took a very unexpected change. I was sitting at my desk on the eighth floor of my office at L'Enfant Plaza when my desk started undulating.  Since the desk weighs a good 300 pounds one of two thing could explain this. Either somebody had set off a very quiet bomb in the building or we were having an earthquake.  This is my second big earthquake.  The first one was the Gilroy quake of 1979. I was working in San Francisco then so it was not unexpected. But a 5.8 quake in DC is unheard of. Few events make you feel more helpless than an earthquake. Unless you are in a plane, you basically have nowhere you can go to satisfy your flight instinct.  Of course, our building - and every other building around - was evacuated. I learned this by looking out the window.  No announcement was made inside.  (I do believe somebody is going to be in hot water for that.)

L'Enfant Plaza is not the ideal place to be when an earthquake hits. For starters it is built on mud flats. To add to the fun, the roadway in front of our building is actually a bridge and it is not in very good shape. After about 30 minutes we were allowed back inside to get our belongings and leave for the day.  I lucked out and rode the elevator to my office before they were shut down for the day.

The ride home was nothing short of splendid.  Puffy little clouds drifting by, a nice cooling breeze, and a tailwind all the way home.

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