Angry Irma

Roger and I had planned this vacation/honeymoon for weeks. We planned to leave on Friday, 9/15 to head to the Smoky Mountains. While we started preparing our trip, the news was dominated by a strong, angry Hurricane named Irma.

Over a week before the hurricane hit FL, the warnings began. The governor declared a state of emergency in advance. We ventured out the day after Labor Day to stock up on water, batteries and charcoal. The local Home Depot was already wiped out — every generator had been sold, no charcoal, no D batteries, no water. As we drove home, I called two Publix grocery stores and Family Dollar – no water.

The next day I went out to find gas, water and batteries while Roger mowed grass and readied the property. The very large, very busy Shell station was completely out of gas. I stopped at a small Citgo station (yes, I was desperate) and managed to find enough to fill up the Jeep and gas can. While filling up, I tried 5 more stores and still couldn’t find water, so I drove home.

Once at home, I told Roger what was going on. We decided then that we needed to leave because evacuation orders were mandated in south FL. I started making phone calls. Jim at Sleeping Dog Cabins had no tenants in the cabin we were renting and allowed us to arrive a week early. I called 6 hotels in south GA only to hear “we’re totally sold out”. I moved north on I-75 until I found a vacant room in Tifton. They weren’t pet-friendly but due to the mass exodus from FL, they waived the pet policy.

morning, I packed while Roger battened down the porch, patio and deck. We planned to leave around 1:00 which would give us plenty of time to drive to Tifton in daylight. We took all of the meat and veggies from the refrigerator and freezer in case we lost power. We packed the Jeep, loaded Frankie and Teddy and headed north.

made great time on U.S. 98 and kept saying we’d probably pick up some traffic when I-75 and the FL Turnpike merged. WRONG!!!!! As soon as we approached I-75, we saw the slow-moving cars and trucks. For the next 200+ miles, Roger used the brake more than the gas pedal! Multiple gas stations were out of gas or had cars snaked around for blocks as far north as Gainesville. Rest areas had signs “at capacity” with cars parked along the rest area entrance and interstate as families tried to stretch their legs and relieve their full bladders.

Nine hours later, we arrived at our hotel normally a five hour drive. We were frazzled to say the least putting up with stop and go traffic for 297 miles, a sick Teddy throwing up and accidentally pooping on his pillow. (It’s in a trash can somewhere along I-75.)

We got dinner to go and decided to leave early in the morning to get ahead of the rest of FL’s evacuees. Thankfully, no gas shortage in Tifton, so we filled up and hit I-75. For the first 10 miles or so, I actually drove the speed limit. Unfortunately, it was very short-lived and we saw the sea of red tail lights ahead of us. We experienced stop and go traffic all the way through north Atlanta. AAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!

After another nine hour day, we finally arrived to The Wildflower. We unpacked the car and let Frankie and Teddy run around the yard. As we enjoyed the outside bar, Roger said “listen”. It was perfectly tranquil, birds chirping, no honking horns, no sirens, no 18-wheelers and no interstate hum below our seats. Let vacation begin . . .

“Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side”

“Spreading sunshine” are random acts of kindness, increased community involvement, starting or growing your tithes, spending more time in your Christian Walk, being a loving person. “Stormy experiences” are financial set-backs, physical manifestations, emotional upsets, and worst-case, soul-destroying experiences.  I’ve realized “spreading sunshine” and blessings in other people’s lives, “storms” come fast and furious.

We have recently increased our volunteering and assistance to several organizations which is very fulfilling to us. Last week, for vacation, we planned to spend time with good friends and attend an inspirational seminar.  Well, Thankfully, what we experienced on vacation are manageable “storms” and not “full blown disasters”.  I thought I would share a few:

  • Highly sensitive to soaps, cleaners, etc. I travel with my own soap, towel, pillowcase. Day 2, my face started to break out. Day 3, the hives spread to my chest, abdomen and back! Despite the lavender, baking soda and lotions, I wanted to crawl out of my skin from the itching!
  • We travel with our 3 “fur babies”. Less than an hour from the hotel, Matthew started whining which means “I need outside — NOW!! An exit was 1 mile away and seemed like an eternity! Matthew tried really hard to hold it but spit up on his blanket, so it was a short stop.
  • Back in the car, headed to the hotel . . . realizing too late, I missed I-85 and ended up on I-285. Within a couple of miles, the interstate became a parking lot! I maneuvered off the interstate, used back routes adding an extra hour to our trip.
  • Finally at the hotel, we settled in and tried to “chill” for a while. John realized that his glasses weren’t on his face, and they weren’t in the car. Well, we only made 1 stop.  Apparently during the mayhem of Matthew’s emergency stop, John lost his pricy prescription glasses.
  • Friday night at dinner, my throat was scratchy. By Saturday morning, it spread to sinus congestion and nagging cough on top of the hives. Between the nose-blowing, croupy cough and itchy hives I wore myself out and missed the seminar.
  • Sunday, after driving 7 hours, we arrived home to a flooded pool, dead pine tree limbs that filled 2 garbage bags, grass a foot high – a result of real thunderstorms in Tampa.
  • Today was trash day and yard waste day. While the tree limbs were collected, the new energy-efficient “claw” trash truck managed to only pick up half the trash bags.
  • And to top it all off, my beautiful bracelet with the Christian cross from my very dear friend snapped and broke. I gathered all of the beads and placed it in my wallet. If I can’t wear it, I’ll carry it!
and to top it all off, my beautiful bracelet snapped and broke!

and to top it all off, my beautiful bracelet snapped and broke!

So the “fur babies” are back to their routine, we drained the pool, John’s eye appointment is next week to get new glasses, we’ll have to smell the stinky trash for another few days, my hives are finally calming down, and I will fix the bracelet and wear again soon!

Moral of this story:  “Bea Positive”! There will always be storms, but God will send a rainbow and sunshine afterwards, so “keep on the sunny side of life”!

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