North Carolina

Matthew Didn’t Go Away!

What a roller coaster of a week. As we anxiously watched every news outlet regarding Hurricane Matthew we finally realized no one knew exactly what course the storm might take. We finally heard that it was downgraded to a Cat 1 and would be turning and just skirting the coast of North Carolina. With that in mind we took off Saturday morning in a light drizzle to see the North Carolina State vs Notre Dame game in Raleigh, about an hour and a half from home. It was the 50th anniversary of the first game played in Carter-Finley Stadium so it was a pretty big deal. As we traveled the highway we saw several cars in ditches along the side of the road and assumed they were just not driving as carefully as they should. Who knows? We ran into occasional heavy rain but then it would let up.

As usual we met my cousin Becky and her husband Billy at a local mall so we could ride together to the game. Although we always tailgate we decided this week to just go out for breakfast instead. If you are ever in the area of the NC State Fairgrounds or the Jim Hunt Horse Complex in Raleigh be sure to stop by Pam’s Diner for breakfast. It is absolutely the best. There was a waiting line but it was so worth the wait and the cost for two delicious breakfasts was only $17.

By this time it was raining heavily so we put on our rain suits and headed to the stadium. I know – it was crazy but it wasn’t the craziest thing I did that day! As we sat in the pouring down rain and watched two teams slip, slide, fumble and fall I wondered if I had lost my mind but knew I was getting one of the “best wives of the day” award! Fortunately State won – how sad it would have been to sit there for four hours – oh yeah, the game was delayed at half time for lightning 10 miles away – and lose!

After the game we stripped off our soaking wet suits, got in the car and headed back to the mall to get our car. All I wanted was a cup of hot coffee. Billy knew right where a Starbucks was located very close to our car so that was the first destination. How disappointed and surprised we were when we saw the sign saying they were closed due to the storm. How bad was the storm? Then we realized the mall was closed and it was 4:00 on a Saturday afternoon! That should have told given us a clue as to what was ahead.

Jerry and I hopped in the car and slowly started home. I won’t go into the nitty gritty details of our trip home but suffice it to say it was a treacherous drive. We were rerouted only once due to high water but there were many places that had standing water and we had no choice but to go through. When we finally got to Kinston every street we turned on was flooded and we were beginning to wonder if we could get to our home. Of course nothing was opened so there was nowhere to stop so we had no choice but to keep going. Obviously there was no power anywhere because the town was dark! We know we are not supposed to go through standing water but we plowed anxiously on taking turn after turn trying to avoid the high, rising, rushing waters. Short of knocking on a stranger’s door and asking to spend the night we had little choice. Finally we saw the house in the distance and knew that although it would be most uncomfortable to say the least we could walk home in the driving rain if we had to. Pulling in my driveway was a wonderful feeling and an answer to our prayers.

I woke up Sunday morning, got my usual cup of coffee and stumbled to my chair in the den. Jerry looked at me after a few minutes and asked if I was awake. Well, no I wasn’t but I knew he was asking for a reason and that’s when he told me there was a tree on the house. I immediately got up and tried looking out of the window to see but it was so dark I couldn’t see anything. I’m still not sure how he knew! Fortunately it was a cedar tree from the neighbor’s and it didn’t do any damage. Other than debris in the yard, limbs, leaves, etc. we had no other damage.

Our next concern though was getting the motor home out of the warehouse where it is stored since the warehouse is located in the flood zone. We went out there but the road into the warehouse was knee deep in water and we knew we couldn’t drive the RV out. Eventually (hours later) we located a key for another door and we were able to drive through the warehouse instead of around it. Now the RV is home and if we lose power we can use it.

Next on the agenda was deciding about our trip. We quickly realized that we couldn’t leave Monday and with the threat of widespread flooding we recognized that we best cancel our trip. My first call was to Lehigh Gorge Campground and I explained that we had to cancel our reservation. As soon as I said we were from Eastern North Carolina he quickly said, “say no more” and he understood completely. Next I called Artillery Campground in Gettysburg and got the very same response. I don’t know when we will visit those campgrounds but we will for sure. I couldn’t have gotten a nicer response. My last call was to the Small Country Campground in Louisa, Va and while she was very understanding she could not refund our deposit but we do now have a credit there.

Monday morning we awoke to much cooler temperatures and I decided to get my daily bike ride in early. It was a very quiet morning, the calm after the storm I guess, and the only sounds I heard came from generators and sirens. A bit eerie to say the least.

Of course we are disappointed that our trip had to be canceled but we are so grateful that we are safe and warm. There are many who have lost their homes and all that they own plus at this point 14 lives have been lost in North Carolina due to Hurricane Matthew. We know that there is still more to come as the rivers fill and begin to overflow the banks. On day two we are already experiencing gas shortages and if the town gets landlocked like it did in Floyd the food supply will diminish. We have tried to prepare as best as we can. Although we lost power for about 12 hours yesterday it came back on just before dinner last night so our lives have barely been disrupted. A canceled trip is the least of our concerns and we both realize how very fortunate we are. Now it’s time to put the love of Christ in action. Both Jerry and I have called and put our names on the volunteer list so hopefully we’ll get called soon. In the meantime, stay safe folks and God Bless.

Home Away From Home

Lessons Learned After Five Weeks on the Road

Wow – five weeks in the motor home traveling from North Carolina through South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, lingering in Louisiana and then back home to North Carolina. Although the great majority of our days were sunny, temperatures ranged from a high of 72 to a low of 10 or was it 7?

Fortunately my husband and I not only love each other but we like each other and for the most part enjoy the same things. Once in a while we will do something that one or the other is not interested in but that doesn’t cause any problems. For instance when we visited Delta Music Museum I thoroughly enjoyed it but after 15 minutes Jerry was done. Instead of complaining or urging me to hurry up he just found a seat, pulled out his phone and began to read on his kindle app. Lesson One – don’t even plan to spend several weeks traveling in a motor home, even one 40 feet long if you can’t get along with your spouse. I can’t imagine being cooped up with a fractious person.

Lesson Two – watch the weather! As I said for the most part we had good weather but as we were returning to North Carolina we ran into bitterly cold weather and we were not quite prepared for it.

Lesson Three – Do Not leave home without a full tank of propane. We had never heated with the furnace before at least not for very long. Our heat pump had always been adequate however heat pumps don’t work when the temperature drops below anywhere from 30 to 40 degrees depending on your heat pump. After setting up in Pinnacle I couldn’t get the heat pump to come on and after an initial full fledged panic we remembered that but realized that we had only a fourth of a tank of propane. We rationed our heat very conservatively, in fact probably too much so but since this was our first experience with this we didn’t want to run out. Mostly we used the fireplace and a space heater (it was safe) but the last night out in Pinnacle the temperature dropped to somewhere around 7. When the furnace finally came on it was 55 in the coach and folks that’s cold! Also, the campground had asked us to turn off the water each night which was a little aggravating but doable, however in doing that we were not able to keep a faucet dripping so three mornings we had no water when we got up. Luckily Jerry had fixed the coffee the night before!

Lesson Four – Again, watch the weather. After a little nagging Jerry finally brought us a weather radio even though we have weather apps on our phones and iPads. We had never used it until this trip when suddenly we were in a tornado watch. We turned it on until all was safe. Know what county you are in because the alerts go by counties or since we were in Louisiana, parishes.

Lesson Five – have a contingency plan as best as you can. We had talked about what we would do if we were traveling and something happened at home, for example if something happened to Mom. Thinking we were preparing for that unfortunate circumstance we bought a suitcase and decided to keep it under the bed. It’s empty thus adding little weight to the rig and it would enable us to fly home if necessary. Prior to that we only traveled with a laundry basket and I don’t think the airlines would approve that. That plan sounds really good in theory but it isn’t realistic. Jerry is a retired principal and while we were on this trip one of “his teachers” suddenly lost her husband. One of my lifetime friends lost her husband and I just couldn’t be there. Jerry and I discussed it and decided that if we had been close enough to return home in a day we would have just left the coach parked and driven the car home. As it was we were over 1000 miles away and it was impossible to return home for a day. Further discussion ensued later in the week as to where we draw the line and I guess it will just be a decision we make when the time comes. Our longest trip had been three weeks and within 600-700 miles from home and fortunately we had not faced this issue before. I asked Jerry if these bad events – and there were more, I just mentioned two – occurred with rapidity when we were home or were we just more aware since we were away. No answer to that question.

Lesson Six – research and research and research campgrounds before deciding. We stayed in some very nice campgrounds but a couple I wouldn’t stay at again. Our most expensive campground had no cable and weak Wi-Fi until there was no Wi-Fi and a call to the office indicated they had no idea what was going on and quite frankly they weren’t quite as concerned as I would have liked them to be. Several people had recommended that campground as it was right on the Mississippi and you could watch the barges go by. Since we live on a river and frequently see them go by that really shouldn’t have been a high priority for us and shouldn’t have entered into my decision. In all honesty though there wasn’t a lot to pick from in that area.

Lesson Seven – if you don’t have cable and are depending on your Dish don’t park under a tree! We did and Jerry ended up watching the Super Bowl on his iPad – fortunately we still had Internet at that point.

Lesson Eight – Always keep extra gallons of water. Since we don’t travel with our water tank filled we decided to keep a couple of gallon jugs of water in each bathroom. As I stated earlier the campground asked that we turn off the water at night. Since the temperature was so frigid and the wind was blowing at 20 mph we had to turn it off early to avoid a trip out later at night. That meant washing my face and brushing my teeth before bed was a bit more challenging.

Lesson Nine – Be flexible. We were scheduled to stay at one campground four days and we enjoyed the campground and the people so much we extended our stay for eight days! We deleted one whole leg of our journey but that was OK! I have heard that RVers write their plans in jello!

Lesson Ten – Eat out when you can get local delicacies but don’t break the bank. Eating in is good too! Without a doubt we ate our way through Louisiana taking advantage of all local cuisines.

Ok – One more –
Lesson Eleven – Enjoy and when it’s time to go home, go. For us part-time travelers right now there’s no place like home and family.