Thursday, April 5, 2012

Texas, Thousand Trails and Tornadoes

2012 Apr 4

As we left the Thousand Trails, Bay Landing, headed off to our next TT stop, at Lake Whitney, Texas, the sun was shining, which we took to be a good sign. We are mistaken. We had chosen a somewhat circular route, mainly in an attempt to avoid anything even resembling a metroplex beltway. Our destination is about halfway between Ft. Worth and Waco. It should take about two hours. We planned for three, including a grocery store stop. 

As we drive along, about five miles from our start point, it began to rain. Oh well, that's not so bad. We proceed to spend the entire drive, in rain. Sometime, gentle drops, sometimes coming down in buckets, but in unrelenting rain. 

As we drove through Texas hills, I was becoming more and more aware of the ominous clouds on the horizon. At one point, I mentioned to Raymond that I didn't like the look of the clouds, because they remind me of tornado clouds. I guess that time spent living in Kansas years ago, did provide some education. R asked about the color of the sky, and we discuss greenish hues and their association with tornadoes. At one point, I remembered that we have a weather band radio in the motor home, but I never did turn it on. Perhaps it was just as well. When you're traveling through unfamiliar counties, its hard to know which warning and watches apply.

When we stopped at the grocery store we were only eight miles from our destination. The sun was shining, though it was clouding up, and the humidity was oppressive. As we left the store, the sky was growing darker. As we drove up to the gate and Ranger station at Lake Whitney Thousand Trails, the rains began in torrents, and the wind began to gust. The gate into the park was closed and there was no one manning the entry station. We decided to sit it out in the motor home. After about five minutes or so, a Thousand Trails employee, DJ, came driving down, ran over to us in the rain, and said she would open the gate, and that we should follow her.

We parked in the main parking lot outside the family center. I followed DJ into the center, thinking that Ray was coming too. While  inside the center, I met another employee, Margie, to whom I had spoken the day before. These folks informed me that there had been either a tornado watch or warning for Meridian, about 20 miles to the west. While I attempted to dry off with paper towels, it began to hail. Most of the hail I saw was about marble sized with a few quarter sized thrown in. DJ and Margie told us to go ahead and drive down to section A where there were pull thrus and just picked any one of them for the night. The plan was to head up to the center in the morning to register and pick our site for the duration of our stay and to minimize our time in the elements.

When the rains and hail slowed down, I went back to the motor home to find that Raymond had stayed there because Greyla was freaking out. Between the heavy rain, the whipping wind, and the hail, poor Greyla was a total stress ball. 

Later, in the early evening, as the sun was setting, after making a brief appearance, Margie came by with our reservation information and paperwork. She said that since we didn't have a car, if we wanted to move to another area in the morning, we should come to the Ranger station and let them know. This was because, section A, where the pull thrus are located is the farthest area from the activities area. She also told us that if there was any threatening weather, she would come by with her car and bullhorn and we should either go to the bathhouse or up to the family center. Thankfully, evacuation was not necessary.

Watching the local news made us realize how fortunate we were. There had been as many as 10 tornadoes which touched down that afternoon. It seems that we had been ahead of the storm front the whole time we were driving. And the tornadoes touched down in some of the very areas we drove past of Saturday as we made our way from Point to Bridgeport, Texas. In fact, the Flying J on I-30 was destroyed, and that had been one of the places described to us in directions. Raymond heard that the edge of the storm was heading toward Lake Tawakoni, and Sulphur Springs, both places where we had recently been. 

So many people were affected by these tornadoes, it makes me wonder how effective that prayer I said as we left Bridgeport was. I mean, we took a roundabout route, instead of a more direct one. We managed to be in, or near communities that were hit, before it happened. I thought about turning on the weather radio, but didn't. And if I had, would I have panicked?  I don't know. But what I do know is that we are safe. Thank you, Jesus. 

I am sorry we don't have any pictures to post of the ominous clouds. Since I am both the driver and, generally also the photographer, it was not possible. Although, Raymond could've taken some shots. We will work on being better at documentation. 

Now, we've settled into our time here at Lake Whitney Thousand Trails, planning for the next leg of our adventure, which will be New Mexico and then the Grand Canyon, where we have reservations from May 8 till May 18. I am so excited! Raymond has never been to the Grand Canyon, and I haven't been there in in 38 years! And neither of us has ever camped there. We're staying here past Easter and I am looking forward to Resurrection services here at the campground. 

1 comment:

  1. Well I guess we may cross paths on the highway, as we are moving to an RV park in Granbury TX on Monday. . .only about an hour away from Lake Whitney.

    We are staying put here at Medina Lake Thousand Trails over the Easter weekend. . .and will attend services in San Antonio.

    Have a great stay at Lake Whitney. . .if I remember right, the deer are everywhere!