Stephen McKenna in Ann Arbor Blackout

The system is down! Exactly 24 hours after it started, the largest blackout that I've ever experienced has come to an end for me and hopefully for the millions of other people that have been without power. This is like nothing I've ever not seen before. It's one thing to be without power. It's another thing to be about 100 miles from the nearest city with electricity.

The power went out about 4:15 on Thursday when I was at the office. At first we thought it was just our building that had lost power until we started calling around. First we heard that power was out up to Plymouth road. Later we heard that surrounding towns and Detroit were out as well and then finally hearing that New York was also without power. Communication was difficult, with cell phones at first having poor service, deteriorating to none. Though, the land lines still worked and George was able to chat with friends in the Ann Arbor/Detroit area on his laptop. Fortunately, I was able to get a hold of Amy and Sara before they left from Muskegon to come back to Ann Arbor. They would have run into one of the largest traffic jams in Michigan history and then ended up at a house without power. Instead, they stayed in Muskegon and went and got ice cream.

Pauline Blvd, Ann Arbor during blackout

Traffic was very conjested on the commute home. I tried to avoid intersections with street lights like the plague. The way the streets are layed out, however, I ended up having to go through at least one. It ended up taking me 20 minutes to complete a trip that normally would have taken fewer than 5 minutes. It was so bad in fact, that on my way home I saw a runner going in the opposite direction from me on seventh and then 15 minutes later as I was pulling into my driveway I saw them on the otherside of the street.

David showing off his Honda scooter

With nothing to do that night in the dark, David stopped by on his scooter with George. They were quite the couple. I heard David was telling George to hold onto him real tight :) Anyway, we went over to George's apartment to watch Futurama on his laptop, which ended up being possessed. So, since his neighbors were setting off fireworks we decided to join them. Big mistake. They ended up launching some rockets after they used up the smaller ground based explosives. The first one worked great. It went straight up and exploded like it was supposed to. Everybody's excited. The next couple didn't quite make it off the launch pad and fizzled out. At this point David and I were starting to back away towards the bushes, afraid that one was going to end up projecting right at us. They lit the 4th and final rocket and it went straight up, but there was no explosion. At first, we all though it was another dud, but then we saw a flash of light come down onto the lawn about 30 or 40 ft. away. We all had about a second to react before it blew. I could literally feel the explosion pushing me away. Afterwards, we went to check out the damage. It ended up leaving a smoking crater in the grass about a foot wide! Not cool!

Now that I've got power again, I'd have to say the blackout was a fun break from reality. Besides the near death experience with the fireworks, of course. Being without electricity forced me to do things that I wouldn't normally have done, like read a book for 4 hours straight or go for a long run. There were so many people out running, walking, and biking in the last day that I hope it catches on. Though, the looting can stop any day now :)

(Addition: I Didn't see as many stars as I thought I was going to. I thought I would be able to see the milky way, but no such luck. The moon was a fiery orange though and Mars was a bright red, being the closest it's been to the earth in over 60,000 years.)



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