March 3, 2012

Wyoming Wind and Tennessee Twisters

This week has ended with a lot of wind. Let me explain.

We had a mission to get home for the weekend. Malcolm's dad was going out of town and he had asked Malcolm if we could come home and feed the cows for him while he was gone. Gladly!

From Texas we loaded poultry meal and took it to a pet food plant in Phoenix, AZ, delivering on Wednesday. Surprisingly it wasn't as warm as I expected. It stayed down in the low 70's, cooler than west Texas had been a couple days earlier. Later I'd remember to be thankful for those balmy temperatures. (not that I wasn't already)

Our broker was having a really hard time getting us headed back towards home. This time of year our freight slows down significantly, and Arizona is never a good place to be for reloading, but even worse in the spring. Not much that goes out of there, at least not for our type of trailer.

The only thing he could come up with that worked for our schedule needs was a load of road salt. Unfortunately, we had to bounce over 500 miles into Utah to pick it up. And then it was only a little over 500 miles loaded, and not that great of a rate, considering the empty miles. Basically, it paid for our fuel to drive from Arizona to home. Just the way it works sometimes.

We were loaded Thursday morning and headed towards Casper, WY. I-15 north through Utah and at Salt Lake City, we turned east on I-80. At Rawlins, WY we jumped off the interstate for a little short cut on 220. It's about 120 miles from Rawlins to Casper, give or take a few.

One of the things about Wyoming is that the wind is more or less a constant. Love it or hate it, it doesn't change anything and if you go to Wyoming, you can't avoid it. Wyoming is windy. So given that, you can have the most gorgeous day, but even in dry summer weather, the wind might knock you off the road. And in winter, the sky can be blue, but the roads might be icy from blowing snow. 
 On this day it wasn't too bad and only the first 30 miles or so had patchy ice and snow. After that I was on dry roads and enjoying the scenery.

 Wyoming is far from flat, but you can still see for a long way from the right vantage point. I like cresting a hill and seeing the road disappear into the horizon.
 Getting nearer to Casper, the road gets closer in to some bigger hills.
 And goes right past Devils Gate, a historical point on the Oregon Trail.
 The snow on the ground had thinned out a bit, but probably it had just blown away to another part of the country.
 We pulled into Casper, WY around 5:00 in the evening. It had been in the low 20's the entire day.
 We finished dumping our load of salt for the road department and were headed north towards home within an hour.
 Home was about 350 miles or so. We took a little bit longer route for the sake of staying on bigger roads. A winter storm had gone through earlier in the week and we knew the bigger roads would be easier to handle with an empty trailer, as they would have been cleaned more. Contrary to what seems logical, an empty trailer is harder to handle on ice and snow than a loaded trailer. We need the weight for traction. So pulling an empty trailer on icy roads...it's not that fun.

The other reason we decided to take a round about way to get home was because we could go through Belle Fourche and get Paris in to see her surgeon. Our "60 days of no jumping" were over, had been for a week, and it was time to see if her leg was doing what it was meant to do. I was really nervous that it was going to be bad news. Paris hasn't exactly followed her doctors orders. We've done our best to keep her still and quiet, but she's done her fair share of jumping and tumbling and wallowing in the blankets, her favorite. So we dropped her off and an hour later came back and her surgeon took me back to show me the xrays. He had them all lined up from her initial break to the ones he'd just taken and showed me all the stages of healing and we had a nice long chat. I LOVE her surgeon! He is great to talk to and really friendly and personable. But I digress.....the point is, he said she was pretty much 99% good to go. There's one little spot that hadn't sealed, but he said it should be fine and she can run and jump to her hearts content! She has wasted no time getting to it!

That was yesterday, Friday. Friday was a big day! We got our great news about Paris, and we got to come home. But not all was grand about Friday. Prior to taking Paris into the vet's, I'd checked the weather and noticed that Tennessee wasn't looking too hot! Mom had mentioned to me earlier in the week that they were supposed to get some bad storms on Friday.

While we waited for Paris, we went and had breakfast and the weather was all over the news on the TV at the cafe.
So after we had Paris, and while Malcolm was driving us the 2 1/2 hours left to home, I was on the computer reading facebook posts and checking news websites from Chattanooga and Nashville. I was really concerned for my sister and her family, because they live north of Nashville, an area that was apparently slotted to get hammered. And Chattanooga was in the process of having some really bad storms. And then people I knew back home started posting things on facebook like "get in the basement if your in this or that area!" It was a little nerve racking to say the least. It was like last April all over again.

Last April I sat and read the same kind of posts from friends who were hiding in closets and basements, and at the end of the day the school I had taught at, the one Mom still teaches at, and the little town it serves had been leveled. That was last year and a town 20 minutes from home. This was now and it was happening in my home town. So close to home, that students at my high school were crouched in the hallways.

I checked in with family and did so again this morning as last nights storms were supposed to be worse than the ones earlier in the day. So relieved to hear that all were OK and no one had any damage. At least none of my family did. But they came close. In fact, my Dad told me this morning there were some very intense moments and at one point my brother and his employees were in the walk in cooler at the restaurant because it had gotten so bad. Malcolm's cousin said it looked like a strobe light was on outside her window down near Atlanta and Dad said the wind was incredible. They ended up with a tree across the driveway, but that was the extent of the damage, and my sister and her husband were spared the worst of it, as the storms didn't play by the pattern the weather service had mapped out exactly, thank the Lord!

I wish I could say the rest for Ooltewah, my home town. On the other side of town from where my parent's live, there are residential areas that were destroyed. As far as I know, "town" wasn't severely damaged, but homes were. Dad said it was a miracle no one was killed, probably saved lives that everyone was at work. Last I read there were 14 injuries serious enough for hospital treatment, but no deaths. Again, thank you Lord!

We have always had storms, and tornado watches weren't uncommon, but I sincerely don't remember them ever being considered a real threat! In my 34 years I have never had to go to the basement for protection. Seems like all of a sudden, the storms are a lot more severe than they used to be. North Alabama always got tornadoes, but I don't remember our area ever getting them! They were always north or south or west of us. So I don't understand why it's like this now. Global warming I suppose or some such explanation. All I know is that a couple years ago, when Mom said they were expecting some storms, I'd tell her to sit on the porch and enjoy them for me! We used to love to sit on the porch and watch the storms. But after last year, she'll tell me they are expecting bad storms, and I feel on edge and anxious till I know it's over. I spent most of the day yesterday checking my computer every few minutes for updates and texting Mom and my sister to see how things were going. I was very glad to wake up this morning to sunshine and then hear from Dad that all was well and they were going about normal Saturday activities!

Whew....didn't mean to go on so long about that! We are grateful that our loved ones were spared the difficulties, and our hearts go out to all those who did not have it so easy.

Back to Montana.....So, the plan is chill here at home till Monday night, drive to Billings, get Macolm's CDL renewed on Tuesday, load, and deliver near Boise, ID on Wednesday morning. I'll be back in touch with you at some point after that.

A CNN video of damage in my home town. One of those times you don't feel honored to make the national news because it's due to tragedy instead of great things!


Badlands said...

VERY thankful your loved ones weathered the storm.

Shirley said...

That's quite the video, how devastating for those whose homes were wrecked.
Now that the worst is over I hope you enjoy your time at home.
I'm happy for Paris, she is such a lovable little girl and she certainly looks happy in that photo.

TexWisGirl said...

glad you made it home, and that your family is safe across the country. i feel for those affected by this horrific weather pattern - and the storm season's just getting started...

Dreaming said...

That video was humbling. For me, it made it even more terrifying without any music or narration. I am so glad that your family was spared. Have you ever had to get off the road because weather that could spawn tornadoes was coming your way? We had that problem one time and it was terrifying. The radio kept telling us where the storms were, naming small towns and telling us what direction they were traveling... but this was before you could get online in your vehicle and we had no idea where the threat was in relationship to where we were. All we knew was that the skies were deep purply/black and the winds were picking up.
Your picture of Paris is DARLING!

Jake said...

Wyoming = WIND!!! We joke around here that it's a breeze till about 50mph then it turns into wind.
Glad your family is safe.

Muffy's Marks said...

I feel for those who lost homes or were injured in the storms. I am so thankful your family and loved ones were missed. Glad to hear Paris is making good progress. Happy trails next week, and I look forward to hear about your new adventures. Have a great weekend at home.

MTWaggin said...

So glad your family is safe, love love LOVE Paris (that blur of a tail rocks) and that she is healed. Hope you take a deep breath while at home and relax.

thecrazysheeplady said...

So glad your family is safe. And good news on Paris too!