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Sunday, July 21, 2013

July 21st Challenge


Hi, it’s Christina –


You didn’t have your fingers crossed hard enough! On Friday, I figured I would write my blog and my Camp NaNo stuff after I came back from lunch with my mom. We planned on doing lunch in Lahaska, PA at the Cock & Bull in Peddlers Village. In addition to having lunch, a late birthday celebration, I was also stopping in at Canterbury Tales to finalize the dates for my book signing. I’m all for killing two or more birds with one stone.


So I pick up my mom. We drive the forty-five or so minutes to Peddlers Village. I finalize my signing dates, September 21st & 22nd, which is during their scarecrow festival. I go out to move my car from the thirty minute parking spot to a real spot which luckily just opened up and my phone rings. It is a publisher in New York and I’m on my phone with him for at least fifteen minutes. Mind you, my poor mom is waiting to have lunch this entire time. I finally finish with the publisher and we go into the Cock & Bull. We sit down, order lunch and my phone beeps. It’s a message from my daughter begging me to pick her up. She’s sick and miserable and wants to come home NOW, not the next day when everyone else was coming home.


My mom and I pack up the remainder of our lunch and I drive her back to NJ, switch cars, then set off on a 330 mile trek to Uniontown, PA. The original plan was my daughter was going to ride with another group who was leaving Friday night and I would meet them along the road so I did not have to drive the full six hours, then turn around and drive back.


Great, right? Well I should have known it would not turn out that way. The first indication it was not going to be a good trip was when I was on Route 78 and a car up ahead of me burst into flames. (The driver got out safely and several good Samaritans with fire extinguishers in their cars got out of their cars to help.) I was one of the few cars that got through before traffic snarled and stopped because of the fire. That was the high point of the trip.


Traffic did clog up a few times, but I managed to get on Route 81 South in fairly decent time. Then two miles north of Hershey, PA, Mother Nature decided to show her might. The first thing was bolts of lightning coming down on both sides of my car. I have never seen lightning stay visible for so long. I probably could have taken a picture with my phone it my hands weren’t white-knuckled on the steering wheel. In twenty minutes, the temperature had dropped from ninety-eight degrees to seventy-one degrees. I looked to my left and actually watched a funnel cloud start to form. Scary as that was, the cloud was on my left, which meant it was east of me, so I knew for the moment I was not in danger of getting hit by a tornado. However, the torrential rain mixed with small amounts of hail was giving me fits. The emergency alert system interrupts the radio station. The announcer starts rattling off counties affected by the storm, but since I really have no idea where I am other than in the Carlyle area, the warning is pretty useless to me. Obviously I am in one of the aforementioned counties.


I drove along at ten miles an hour, lights on, hazards flashing for several miles when the break in the storm came. Traffic picked up and we were moving again. I try to call my husband to tell him what I had just experienced (on the Bluetooth – I wasn’t taking my hands off the wheel anytime soon), but the phone kept saying I was out of my calling area. Huh? This goes on for about half an hour, and I start to panic. How am I supposed to meet up with this driver coming North with my daughter if I have no phone service?


I pull off the highway and into a convenience story. They were out of power, but their land line was working and they let me call my husband. I was amazed he actually picked up the phone considering I was calling from a number he did not recognize. Anyway, I tell him what’s going on and make him call our minister to make sure my daughter has not left yet, and if she hasn’t not to. I was going to drive straight through to her. While I was waiting for my husband to call back, the convenience store guy tells me that the cell towers are down. No, not hit by lightning down, physically down on the ground. When I went around the side of his building to use the bathroom, I saw several buildings in the area with substantial roof damage.


After a few minutes, my husband calls back. My daughter was still at the convent and she would stay there and wait for me. It is now a few minutes after six and the sky in black. I headed back to the highway. The lightning started again, the wind picked up, and you knew at any second the skies would open up again. Traffic is going at a good clip. I think everyone was trying to get as far down the road as they could before the storm raged again. Along the way, I could see trees down and when I drove over bridges, towns below had hefty damage. At one point, there were trees down on my right and on my left, directly across from the downed trees, there was a path ripped through a cornfield. Obviously a small tornado had occurred.


The wind is now getting so strong, I am fighting the wheel to stay in the lane. I’m driving between fifteen and twenty miles per hour at this point. In front of me a tree branch breaks off and comes flying at my car. I can’t stop in time, but luckily all it hits is my bumper – headlights and windshield remain unharmed. The skies open up and visibility is now down to about ten feet. We crawl along at about five miles per hour. At one point we were stopped completely, and the wind was so strong, our cars (and the semi next to me) were being pushed into the next lane.
 

You may ask why I did not pull over through all of this. The right side of the road was lined with trees, trees which were being blown over by the wind. What about stopping under an over pass you ask. Those were few and far between, and they were occupied by motorcycles and their drivers. They needed the protection far more than I did, that’s for sure. So I forged on.


The storm finally broke when I got to Routes 70 & 68 in Maryland. My phone started working again and I called my husband. He checked the radar and the line of severe thunderstorms stretched almost a hundred miles, and I drove their entire length, but I was through it now. Thank God, I could not imagine driving the mountains of Route 68 during a storm!


At a few minutes to ten, I pull into the convent and pick up my girls. There was no way, after the harrowing ride there, I was going to attempt to drive home that night. I found a hotel – thank you Marriott for even building hotels out in the middle of nowhere – and we spent the night in a clean, comfortable, air conditioned room. The AC helped my daughter to feel a little better and to get a good night’s sleep.


We arrived home yesterday just after four, but I had no energy to write. I know this blog was extremely long, but consider it three days’ worth.

 

Your Last Challenge was:


 

Ah, the proverbial fork in the road. Do I go right or left? What do I choose? Most attribute forks in the road to major life altering events, but aren’t we faced with forks on a daily basis? You have your shrimp fork decisions – what shall we have for dinner? Your salad fork decisions – should I buy this or save the money? Your dinner fork decisions – should I take the promotion or settle with the lower salary and keep my sanity? And you have your serving fork decisions – should I move across the country? Although varying in degrees, each decision or fork alters your path in life.

 

Sorry, that’s it. I ran out of steam. Hopefully I’ll have better luck on Corporate Blues today. Until tomorrow…

 

Your Next Challenge is:

 
If I had three wishes… 

 

You have 10 minutes (be honest). There is no right or wrong, just write. Spelling and punctuation don’t count and NO ONE is allowed to criticize what someone else has written. Go.