Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I felt the earth move under my... well, you know.

So there the wife and I were, sitting in an Italian restaurant near Harrisonburg, VA, when I felt the floor beneath us begin to vibrate. It felt similar to how a laundry room floor might feel if the floorboards were loose and the washer was off-kilter. Then it grew stronger, kind of like a train passing only there were no tracks nearby. Now for all I knew this Italian place had a dough mixer in the back that had just thrown a rod, but the first thought I was able to express was...

"Are we having an earthquake?"

The wife felt it too, but said, "No, I don't think so. The powerlines aren't shaking."

I looked up, though, and saw that the chandeliers were swaying. And then it was all over. Probably lasted less than 10 seconds.

Soon other people at nearby tables were overheard to wonder what the vibrations had been caused by. The train theory was floated, but our waitress confirmed that there were no tracks nearby. The wife was still unconvinced that we'd had an earthquake, but she too could see the chandeliers as they slowed to a halt.

A few minutes passed and I just couldn't let it go. Technically, I've been in earthquakes before, cause I was born in southern California and my family lived there for a year or so; I just don't remember any of them. In fact, my father once made a jigsaw puzzle out of shards of a mirror that had shattered during such a quake. It had been leaning against a wall, atop a dresser in my room. He glued the pieces down to a board and it's now bolted to his office wall.

I popped out my phone and did a quick internet search for "earthquakes, virginia." Soon enough I found the US Geological Survey website which showed a big red dot on top of our location, signifying earthquakes registered in the last hour. Bingo. It had been an earthquake and, really, the first one I could remember feeling in my life. I texted my dad to let him know, then began texting friends back in WV to see if they had felt it too. From Charleston to Morgantown, they had.

Throughout our trip home, nearly everywhere we stopped, people were talking about the quake. Some had not felt it, because they had been driving, but it was the primary topic of conversation regardless. I mentioned to the wife that more than likely it was such a small quake--at least for us--that most Californians would hardly count it, but it was pretty cool for Virginia all the same. I kind of dug it.

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