I slept almost too well. I woke up at some point just enough
to realize something had stung me again, this time on the upper thigh. I rubbed
at it and my leg was numb. Maybe Benedryl is not such a great idea...eep! I
was calmly thinking, "My heart could stop and I would not even know it"
before I dropped right back off.
We hung out at the KOA until we had to leave or else pay for another night. We dinked around, stopping at Etowah for some pictures and so on and Matt's phone rang. It was a lady he works with who lives just down the road from us. She said we had power. OMG! We did not want to believe her because she does live close, but she's in Cullman County, a different system than we are on. We had resigned ourselves to being without power until Friday.
We stopped for lunch and to get some Domo's from a vending machine and made a beeline for home. Then Matt got a wild hair to get a geocache about and hour out of the way called 'Treehouse'. We drove up and up and up and ended up at Flat Rock, Alabama, which was a BAD idea. They were hit hard, metal roof pieces wrapped around trees, a mobile home lifted off the foundation and placed in a nearby grove of trees, houses with no roofs, yards with tents, loads of fires where folks were trying to burn the debris that was once where they lived.
We saw some bad spots, in fact the whole trip we did not go more than 15 minutes without seeing some kind of tornado damage and that was 4 hours of driving north. But nothing at all came close to this place. Things like road signs ripped along the pole, the metal torn like paper. Insulation was just laying along the road like cotton blown off a truck at harvest. We saw several obvious tracks where tornadoes came through and took everything in a strip, but it looked like up on the mountain, they just careened around like pinballs, there was no 'path' there was just shredded houses, trees and cars all piled up. On one stretch, there was a pile 60 feet wide higher than the van on each side of the road that was a mix of branches and debris, road signs twisted into S shapes, chunks of chicken houses and the occasional piece of someone's car.
We reached the cache location at Gorham's Bluff-which seems untouched other than no power-and headed off down a trail to get it. After walking a while, it was very close and I was looking up for the treehouse and Jake said 'got it' and it was...a container in a log. Grrrr. On the trail, I found the W-2 form from 1997 of a man who lived in Tuscaloosa at that time. I don't know if it blew all the way from there or if it was local. I can say, City of Tuscaloosa barely paid their security officers enough to live on in 1997.
On the way home, we saw more damage, more and more and it became hard to look at. Then I started noticing other things. People on their porches, waving. Laundry on lines. Kids outside playing, once we saw several people in an apartment complex sitting in camp chairs out in the common area, roasting hot dogs over a fire of what was probably the tree whose stump they were near. We saw people coming in trucks with food and water in the back, heading to give help somewhere. We saw a house with a tree smashed into the top of the roof and 2 little girls mugging for their parent's camera yelling 'ta-da!' and doing game show poses to cast attention to the main feature.
The closer we got to home, the more lights we started seeing!
The grocery store had power! We pulled up in the yard and WE had power! Eep!
I had read an article from Thursday that said as much as another week! Eep!
It was SO nice to come home and have everything back on.
Matt went to check the animals and...Oreo Blizzard Skunkfluff, or Blitz as we called her, the guinea pig had stuck her head in a gap in the fence and must have gotten spooked and yanked it back because she had snapped her own neck. We had a burial and finished unloading the van. After everything we had seen in the last few days, the passing of a 3+ year old guinea pig did not seem as sad or dramatic as it would have a week ago.
Zeppie all ready to go!
Below, Jake had annoyed Chan, who was quite
mad about it and not ready to look at him, so I put the camping kennel between
them. Instant wall. I wish I had one of those when they were little!
For the record, he had offered her a bite of chicken. When she did not answer because she was thinking it over, he put it up her nose. I have no idea A) why Chan takes 11 hours to decide ANYTHING and B) why Jake thought the next logical step in the 'offering a bite' process was nasal insertion. You can see he is not even remotely upset about it, and this was after she took off her shoe and whacked him with it a few times.
Transformers! More than meets the eyes!
A bluff at Gorham's Bluff. Perhaps THE Gorham's bluff! Either way, there's no treehouse!
See that little poky-point below? I walked out there to get the above shot and then freaked and could not get off the darn thing. I finally shuffled back enough to turn around. Matt claims he did not hear me calling for help. Hrm.
That's it! We are home, Matt is not able
to go to work yet, the plant is still closed.
We are going to make a disaster kit list, this is just the start of the storm season.
We were very lucky to have cash on hand and have so much easy-to-cook food in the pantry for the upcoming camping trip already bought-that made a big difference. We did not have gas in the van, which is something I will not overlook next time they forecast storms. I would feel better knowing we have a kit together, I can make a project out of it, changing out from cold to warm season twice a year and we can always eat the supplies or use them for camping before they expire. Thing is, in north Alabama you can get tornadoes, flash floods, ice storms and snow and any of those can knock the power out for days. I need to feel more prepared for next time.