Beep…Beep…Beep

We interrupt our travelog for an important message:  

SEVERE WEATHER IS COMING.

A hurricane warning has been issued for the entire Florida coastline…including the one that’s 2 miles directly east of our house.

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I had ‘one of those hunches’ last Friday when I saw that a storm was forming in the southern Caribbean, just north and east of Columbia.

Something was wrong.

We were in our Michigan ‘dry dock’, cozily plugged in at my Dad’s house in Milford, thoroughly enjoying fellowship with family and friends.  Our plan had been to stay until the latter part of this week so Rob could work in Ann Arbor and I could do some routine maintenance on the Airstream.

As soon as we arrived, it got cool and rainy and stayed that way for the entire week we were there.  Walburnizing (waxing) the Airstream was out, but I was able to do some minor repairs and use the time to catch up with family and several friends.

On Friday, when Hurricane Matthew amped up to Category 4, I texted Rob to see what he wanted to do.

We agreed that the best thing was to end our trip and head south.

We said our goodbyes, sadly cancelling our remaining plans, then loaded up and headed down I-75 to Knoxville, cutting across North and South Carolina to I-95 down through Florida.

A two-day drive with a quick overnight at Walmart and we were home.

When we got inside, the dogs were ecstatic.  Sugar ‘whoop whooped’ a few times and danced around the living room.  Chula got so excited that she started choking and couldn’t breathe.

Dogs sure love consistency, don’t they?

We unloaded the Airstream and I got busy washing, sorting and organizing…the usual things I do after a long trip.  We checked in with our neighbors, most of whom had delayed putting up their storm shutters, knowing that storms can be fickle and just hoping this one would take an eastern turn out to sea.

We weren’t going to be lucky this time.

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This morning’s sunrise.  A few fluffy clouds, with 80 degree heat and 90% humidity.  Something’s up.

While many of our neighbors plan to stay at home and brave the storm (even after seeing the photos of Cuba and Haiti), we decided to leave the east coast, taking the Airstream west toward Tampa and out of harm’s way (we think…).   My brother and sister in law are staying in Fort Myers and we’re hoping to enjoy some time with them while we wait out the storm.

I’m almost afraid to make this next statement:

Our house is built to withstand a hurricane.

We were careful to buy a house that met the current hurricane standards.  They sure don’t make them like this in Michigan, where we are from.

The house itself is made of rebar-reinforced concrete blocks, anchored down to the poured concrete foundation and to the roof joists above.

The garage door has thick metal bars across the back for strength.  A long vertical metal pole is installed between the floor and ceiling to add further stability and the door is securely latched shut.

Our roof is metal, screwed on for strength, with metal supports anchoring every joist.

We have galvanized metal storm shutters that screw on with thick bolts at the base.  We’d never put the storm shutters up before, but we found that we got into a (sweaty) rhythm and they were up in just over an hour this morning.

Our vulnerability is the pool screen….but that can be replaced.

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It’s a good thing the panels are numbered!

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The house is spooky inside with all the windows blocked.

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Chula inspects the preparations from inside the air-conditioned house.

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Lawn furniture is safe in the pool.

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Unripe lemons from my Meyer lemon tree.  What do you do when life gives you lemons?  You board up your house and take off!  Lemonade will taste great when we take the shutters down and do our post-storm clean up.

We helped our neighbors get their shutters up, then loaded up the Airstream and headed west.

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The sky looks ominous near Port Saint Lucie

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Near Tampa on the western side of Florida, the sky is clear.

We weren’t the only ones with the great idea to head west instead of north, but made fairly good time to Lazy Days RV park near Tampa.  It’s a pretty sweet deal, with full hook ups, paved sites with grass and small trees, a pool, loads of activities (classes on RV care, movie nights), free breakfast and lunch.  It’s near Tampa and it’s a great price, $39/night.  It’s full of Class A’s and other large and fancy RV’s and wouldn’t be my first choice if we were just out camping, but the electricity and great internet allow Rob to work, it’s cool, and doesn’t have big trees (with big limbs that can dent an Airstream during inclement weather).

I expect we’ll still get some rain and wind from the storm.

Stay tuned and hope that Matthew spares our neighbors and doesn’t go much further west…

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Home Sweet  (and safe) Home in Tampa

 

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