… and the heavens did open…

by Bella Rum

That’s right. 108 degrees!

Our trip to Dad’s (both ways) was a nightmare . The beach traffic was unbearable on our way down. Every living body on the Eastern Seaboard was on their way to Virginia Beach. Sitting in traffic and the brain-withering heat caused our car to overheat. We could hear it bubbling. Combine sitting still in traffic, a bubbling car and the fact that Dad keeps us on the clock, and you have a fairly stressful couple of hours on your hands. Punctuality is a BIG deal with him.

And poor H had to deal with me and my control issues. What? Do you really think I thought I should be able to control the traffic? Who? Me?

Our usual 80 min. trip turned into more than two hours. If you tell a 94-year-old person that you’re going to be there at a certain time, they watch the clock, and when you’ve finally fought all the alligators, eviscerated all the serpents and slashed your way through the jungle to arrive at their door, they will let you know exactly how long they’ve been waiting for you – to the minute.  Whew!

Two days in a row, we had horrible, damaging thunderstorms. The first night at Dad’s, I sat up straight in the bed and screamed, “Dad’s fallen out of the bed! Dad’s fallen out of the bed!” Then H sat up straight and told me to calm down. It was thunder.

The power went out, but we hardly noticed because The Brother bought Dad one of those super, duper, fancy generators that are the size of Kansas. It’s encased in its own housing, and hooked up at the back of the house. It kicks into action within a second of the power going off. You only notice a flicker, and then life goes on as usual. They are nice, you guys. They’re especially nice if someone is using oxygen.

Once Dad settled down about our lack of punctuality, the weekend went fine, and my peach cobbler was delicious (will post recipe soon).

We started the trip home at about 8:00 pm. I stopped to get a caffé mocha and…. wait for it…. a bag of M&M Peanuts. I can’t remember if I’ve ever told you that M&M Peanuts are my stress/travel/comfort food. I have rules about a couple of foods. I only eat candy corn once (maybe twice) during that Halloween/autumn season. I only eat chocolate covered cherries at Christmas (the cheap kind with the white, sugary, gooey stuff inside), and I only eat M&M Peanuts on trips. Those are all of my disgusting-food rules. I adore these three killers of arteries, but I almost never eat them unless I’ve had to slay dragons for a couple of days and drive through a couple of Dante’s circles of Hell. So the delicious M&M Peanuts was my choice of weapon after a somewhat difficult weekend and a ridiculous drive ahead of me. Put the cuffs on me and drag me away.

Then all hell broke loose. I do mean it. It was positively Biblical. The sky lit up like a futuristic movie. We could see that we were driving straight into the storm, but I refused to turn back. I was going HOME! Then the traffic came to a standstill. Completely still. H entertained himself by getting the flip cam out and filming the storm. After hours of inching along, we finally came to a huge tree that was blocking half of the interstate.

By the way, we didn’t know if we would arrive home to find we had no power. The house had been closed up for days, and if the air conditioning was off, no amount of M&M Peanuts would make it all better. We got off the interstate and made our way to a secondary road. A car, coming from the opposite direction, blinked his lights wildly at me. H said, “Slow down. I bet there’s another tree down.” In a couple of seconds, we came to another huge tree that blocked the entire road. I know I would have run into it if that driver hadn’t warned me. It came up so suddenly.

It took over three hours to get home. Once we got off the Interstate, the lights were out all the way to our neighborhood. Every house and business we saw along the way was without power. Even the traffic lights were out. Just as we turned into our neighborhood, we saw a porch light gleaming into the night. It was a religious experience. I was so relieved, and when I pulled into our driveway and hit the remote, our garage door opened. Hallelujah!

We did lose power while we were gone, but it came back on in time to get my house nice and cool for my arrival. We didn’t lose any food in the freezer. There was no one here to open the fridge door. We had friends who didn’t get their power back for days. We really lucked out.

So that’s my storm story, and here’s my tip. A caffé mocha and M&M Peanuts can be helpful when slaying dragons. When we were finally able to walk around and survey the damage in daylight, we could see that the storm had been wild and damaging. As summer temps climb higher and higher, I guess we can look forward to more of the same.

While sitting in traffic, overcome by boredom, I started singing Thunder Road. No, not Springsteen’s Thunder Road. I’m not that cool. The Ballad of Thunder Road by Robert Mitchum. H couldn’t believe I knew the words. Funny how a withering brain can pull such peculiar things out of its recesses. I also know Big Bad John, Hang Down Your Head Tom Dooley and The Battle of New Orleans. I’ll save those for an earthquake. That will really impress him.

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