Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wow and Awe

I don't get to post my blog nearly as often as I might like. Two weekends back, the twins and I drove to West Texas, where all four of the Coder boys joined up with some Zesches and a few others, and left for the wilds of New Mexico. Daniel and Sam have looked forward to Trek for a number of years now. They had a great time in the Pecos Wilderness.
Meanwhile, I awaited their return, staying nights with Paula and days with Becky. This past Friday, however, I boldly set out on an adventure of my own.
I drove down to see my sister Lalani.... just 35 miles from Corpus Christi. While I had really hoped to get to go on down to the gulf, that just didn't happen.
I haven't seen Lalani since 2005. I went to see her shortly after her husband Gene passed away. So it has been just almost 7 years since we have spent any time together. Lalani is doing well, and has remarried, This was my first time to meet her husband Henry. The three of us had a nice dinner at a Chinese buffet. Upon returning to their home, Henry went into the bedroom to watch TV, leaving Lalani and I to visit and catch up. We laughed and cried together until almost 3 in the morning. We only finally said our goodnights then because I had to get some sleep, as I was leaving by 7 the next morning to go see Chris.
The visit with Chris was good. He has adjusted to his circumstances, and made his peace with God. We found so much to laugh at... and laugh we did. Tears rolling down our cheeks laughter. The visit was over too soon, and I headed back to Ballinger.
At some point between Kerrville and Junction, my cell does not get service. The service doesn't pick up at all until I am nearly to Ballinger... which is well over 100 miles. After having driven six hours on Friday, got two and a half to three hours of sleep, and started the long drive where there were no distractions to be had... I was getting tired. I stopped for some lunch and an iced tea. I had just specified "Iced tea"... one would assume that you got unsweetened tea and would add ones own sugar. Not so! It was syrup sweet. I don't really like sweet tea, but needed something to keep me awake.... and I wasn't going to go back down the freeway and ask them to change it.
As I traveled north up Hiway 83, under sunny skies, I could see dark storm clouds in the distance.
I was very glad to see the town of Eden approaching. Eden is the nearest town south of Becky... and while I wasn't going to Becky's house, it made my destination seem so much near its end! Just as I rounded the curve with Eden coming into sight, I saw what I at first thought was smoke. It took little time to discern it was not smoke... but a tornado far in the distance. I was pretty hyped about it. I saw it for less than a minute. By the time I was through Eden, it was gone. I wanted to call or text and tell Becky and Paula and even the boys (who were by this time headed back from New Mexico.) But... no service.
So I'm still driving north... wide awake and hyped! I come down a little hill, and there, standing at the corner of a dirt county road that joined the hiway... I saw the most magnificent elk I have EVER seen. It was looking as if it were about to step over the decrepit  bob war (barbed wire) fence. I have seen a LOT of elk. We used to live just outside the entrance to the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, and right across the hiway from Ft Sill. But this one was beautiful... the largest rack I've ever seen!
How could I see an elk in West central Texas? There are no elk in this part of the country! I mentally decided that maybe it was one of the animatronic decoys that game wardens use to trap people who try to shoot game from roadways. Or maybe it was a statue/sculpture to indicate the entrance to some rich ranch.
I go along still marvelling that I have seen a tornado... and an ELK where no elk should be. I get past the turn-off to Becky's (I am headed to Paula's!) still traveling under blue skies, with thunderstorms far ahead. I come over a rise (I would of said I came over a hill, but that would be misleading) and see there is a car ahead of me, and a semi ahead of the car. They are a good mile or more in the distance. (In this part of the country, you can see a whole lot of nothing for a very long way.) Suddenly, before my eyes... the semi disappears. Just vanishes. Moments later, so does the car. I am travelling along at the 70 MPH speed limit... thinking of the two amazing things I've seen in the last 20 minutes... and now this. Beam me up, Scotty! Or am I sure I'm not dreaming?
At 70 MPH, it was quickly apparent what happened. Rain! A deluge that quickly caused me to drop my speed down to about 15 MPH. It was so hard and heavy, you couldn't see three car-lengths ahead.
The wind was blowing, and the rain was COMING DOWN. I came into the very small town of Paint Rock... the nearest town to the north of Becky. Water was running 2-3 inches deep across the hiway. If you were outside and looked at the sky, you'd have a good chance of drowning.
Paint Rock is a "blink and you miss it" town. It was pouring as I entered town... yet as I drove out the north end of town, I was back under sunny skies. The bridge marking the north end of town was where I pulled over and rolled down my window to try and get a picture of a TRIPLE rainbow! Still no phone service... I was really wanting to call Becky and Paula and tell them to LOOK east at the rainbow!
In another four miles, I finally came back into phone service. I called Becky... and she warned me to be careful passing through Paint Rock... there was a super-cell on radar! (You think?) I asked her about the elk... and learned there is a hunting ranch in that area that imported elk... but it should of been behind a big game fence, not a falling down barbed wire one. I called Paula and sent her out to see the rainbow... but it was long gone.  Neither Becky nor Paula had gotten any of the rain... it passed right between them. (They live about 25 miles apart).
Next morning, as we headed to the Zesch home, I had just turned up the road to Lowake... and came across huge (for mesquite) limbs laying along the roadside, as well as crumpled metal against a fence line. Evidence I DID see a tornado.
It was a pretty amazing afternoon.
I have pictures on my camera and more stories to tell... but I'm out of library time... and my camera didn't make it home with me. Be praying it turns up soon!
Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Good morning (Would be accompanied by a Happy Dance, but the boys frown on my Dancing)

In public especially.
And why am I so happy this morning?
The AC on my car is fixed! Back up to the point of needing a sweater even on short trips to town.
The AC/heater blower has been making an awful noise since June. It was bad on the trip to Ohio in July, and we almost roasted on the drive. It has whined and moaned so loudly,  we try not to run it unless we have to. And going anywhere in a sealed metal and glass box in triple digit heat, pretty much REQUIRES it.
I was figuring I would have to take Mr C's vehicle down to Texas next week to get the boys to the Wilderness Trek departure. It is generally hotter in West Texas than in Arkansas. Yesterday, I asked Mr C to have a look at the blower, to see if it would be difficult to replace.
He found it located directly behind the glove box, which pops right out. I asked him to pull the cabin air filter as long as he had the glove box out. I had replaced it a couple of years ago, and figured the filter at least needed vacuuming.
 Mr C pulled the filter.
It was destroyed.
 It was collapsed and had been sucked into the blower blades. Mr C turned on the AC with the filter removed... and NO NOISE! The AC blows cold enough to freeze me out! It was less than $20 to replace the cabin air filter... and would of been closer to $200 for a new blower.
Happy Dance!