Our Adventure Almost Began Today.....

Today was THE day, the day our adventure was supposed to begin.

We got most stuff packed up at the house yesterday and spent last evening supervising Mom & Dad's packing. Mom wanted to take so many books (paperbacks) home with her on the plane that there wasn't going to be room for clothes in her little bag. I assured her that we would be in New England in 2 weeks so we would bring up all the extra books (2 grocery bags full). She picked 2 besides the one she was reading to take with her but when I next checked, she'd pulled out 2 more and the next time I checked there was a third one that was a large hard cover. When she wasn't looking, I quietly grabbed those last 3 books and put them with what we were bringing up. She never missed them. :)

Our bigger problem was Dad. I had a very straightforward, serious talk with him about wearing clean clothes on the plane. He'd already packed everything so together he and I picked out what he would wear. He's always cold - even when everyone else is sweltering - and planes can be cold. So we picked out a short-sleeved shirt, a lightweight pullover sweater, slacks, even his underwear and socksl. Then I pulled out his lightweight, zip-up jacket and put it with the pile of clean clothes and told him not to wear it to breakfast in the morning cause he'd get food all over it. He assured me he would put all those clothes on in the morning. I wasn't so sure.

When I got up this morning, he had yesterday's clothes on again and had packed the pile of clean clothes in a box to take on the plane. I dug out the clothes, put my arm around him and said, "Dad, you're getting on a plane today to go home to New England. You need to take a shower, shave, and put on these clothes so you'll be nice and clean for your trip." He said, "Oh, ok" and actually went off without further urging to take his shower. I don't know if he shaved or not but it was so hectic around there I decided that just being clean was satisfactory. He did not put on the short-sleeved shirt but did put on the sweater and everything else clean. Except his socks had disappeared. 4 different times he came up to me and wanted to know if he was dressed ok and how did I like his fancy shoes? We'd joke around a little and then I'd ask him what color socks he had on. Each time it happened, he'd pull up his pant legs, see his bare feet in the shoes and go, "Uh Oh" or "Oops" then head off to find some socks. Always with an impish grin. Finally, the 4th time he came and proudly showed me the socks he had on. Yay!

But his jacket kept disappearing. Finally, when he was outside helping Mike, I dug it out of the bottom of one of his suitcases - again - and gave it to Mom with the understanding that she was not to let it out of her sight! That was her job. Problem solved.

On the way to Tampa he said 3 or 4 times that he didn't want to go and wanted to go back to the house and stay with us. We assured him it would be fine and he finally quieted down for the ride.

Why am I telling you all this? Because all of this going on while trying to get the truck and 5th wheel loaded up with everyone's stuff from the house was a factor in our safety today.

We were half an hour late leaving the house because of the above situation. As we were driving up I-75 from Sarasota to Tampa, the sky was getting darker and darker and darker. We got some light rain on the way up but nothing serious. Then it quit completely. But when we pulled into Olive Garden's parking lot and were waiting on Brad and Ashley to show up, it got so dark you'd have thought it was 8 pm - not 11:30 am. About 15 minutes before Brad showed up everything let loose. The rain came down so hard for a while you couldn't see 10 feet in front of you. The wind was blowing so hard that the trees around the parking lot were literally doubling over! It was wild! There were moments when we could feel our big truck and the 5th wheel being 'lifted' - not a nice feeling.

Mom spoke up at that point and said she'd had it.....Would we please take them back to the house where it was safer cause she really didn't want to go north anyway - especially on a plane! We told her it wouldn't last and all would be well.

Brad and Ashley showed up and parked in front of us so we could see each other but no way were any of us getting out of our vehicles in that downpour! Finally, it started to show signs of letting up slightly and Brad and Mike decided via cell phones that we would try to find a gas station with overheads so we could get Mom & Dad and their luggage to his car without everything & everyone drowning. As we were pulling out of the parking lot, it suddenly let up to just a normal rain so we drove across the street and made the transfer.

We took off East to Bartow - about an hour's drive on a 4-lane highway. Partly through city; mostly in the country. There were a few times when we had to really slow down because a tree had come down and was blocking the right lane of our side of the highway. Another time we saw a pickup stuck in the water-filled ditch between the lanes. There were skid marks in the road and it's my suspicion that he was blown off the road.

Mike was doing a good job of driving in all this but I could tell he was getting tense. He did finally admit that he was glad we were nearly there because he was about ready to just pull over and stop if we'd had to go much further.

We pulled into the dealership's lot and stopped cold. There's a chain link fence around the property with lots of new and used RV's - trailers, pop-ups, 5th wheels, class A's, etc. In front of us was a section of the chain link fence bent out of shape because a trailer had blown into it. 5 or 6 trailers had bashed into each other (I'm sure their slide-outs are ruined; they were open), and one trailer was on its side up against another trailer. We had missed a small tornado by about 30 minutes! WOW!

There was lots of other damage but this was the most dramatic.

If we hadn't been late leaving the house, if we hadn't had to wait for the rain to let up in Tampa, we would have been there when that tornado hit. So thankful that things worked out the way they did.

Because of the tornado, we couldn't get our work done on the 5th wheel today. The Service Manager kept apologizing but we told him we completely understood. So we are in their little camping area for the night. Our first night in our little condo on wheels. We are to be over to their service department at 8 in the morning to get our work done. Hopefully, no later than noon we'll finally be on the road.

Mike has been napping since we got settled; neither of us slept well last night. I woke up about 2:45 in pain all over my body - which happens when I'm under a lot of stress. When I woke up this morning, I had some kind of bite that was stinging/burning on my thumb. I figure it was probably a spider and that's what had set everything off during the night. Put some Neosporon on it and it's much improved. Now to just get rid of the aches.

Oh, and Mom and Dad? Brad called a little bit ago to make sure we were alright. Mom and Dad's flight got postponed a few times. Finally, Brad said enough and booked them on a flight tomorrow morning; they will spend the night at his place. Understandable but poor Dad must be so confused. We learned that if he has quiet consistency, he does much better. Yesterday would have been very traumatic for him!

So, although we had an adventure today, I'm not calling it the beginning of THE adventure. Tomorrow we'll be like Mike's grandmother and shout, "We're off the Captain shouted as he waved his wooden leg!" as we take off north out of Florida.

Stay tuned!

Gloria - The Internet GADabout


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