Charlie's Dad and his wife, Kathleen, flew out to visit with us on Thursday, June 28th. We live in Northern Virginia, so the optimal airports for their arrival would have been Reagan (25 miles away) or Dulles (15 miles away). But their airline only offered direct flights from Phoenix to Baltimore, Maryland. Considering Baltimore is "only" 90 miles from our house and assuming they would drive 60 miles per hour, they expected it would take them approximately 90 minutes to get here. Alas, this is the mid-Atlantic and the freeways around these parts very much resemble a full parking lot. Assuming cars in that parking lot were parked bumper to bumper, four lanes across, for as far as the eye could see.
By the time Alex and Kathleen retrieved their luggage and secured their rental car, they hit rush hour traffic, which just means that the bumper to bumper cars move even slower and honk their horns more. All told, it took them five hours and I'm convinced, they might have made better time if they'd rode bicycles from the airport. (Since we're south of Maryland, isn't it downhill most of the way?)
There was much celebrating and and rejoicing with Alex and Kathleen on Thursday and all day Friday. There was yoga and book reading and mid-day napping and all around fun.
But Friday night, just as Charlie and I were about to turn in to bed for the evening, the wind started whipping up outside. And then, there was the thunder. And the lightening - which looked like an illuminated spider web across the sky. In my life, I've never seen a storm like it and I've been in some BIG storms. At one point, when the hairs on my arms were standing up and it felt like I was at the center of a plasma globe, I informed my husband that I was going to quickly dart outside and make sure the back windows on the van (which was parked beneath our massive maple tree that looked like it was about to be ripped from the ground) were closed. Charlie disagreed and indicated that although he, too, was concerned about the interior of our eight-year-old minivan, in the grand scheme of things, it would be terribly inconvenient for him to become a widower should the tree fall atop my head.
The lights flickered a few times and went out and almost immediately, the house started to heat up because our insulation is practically non-existent and the hot air from the >100 degree temperatures earlier in the day, were seeping out of the attic. It turns out, we were incredibly lucky since our power came back on at 3 in the morning, when most of the area was without power for another several days. In fact, Kathleen's family - that they were planning to go and stay with on Saturday - wound up coming to stay at our home, because their power remained out for the next four days.
Saturday evening, after Charlie spent most of the day helping our neighbors clear fallen trees from their yards, we departed for a 500-mile drive to Michigan to visit my sister, Eileen and her family. Now, OUR PLAN had been to drive part of the way Saturday and the rest of the way on Sunday. However, when we stopped at a hotel in Pennsylvania at around 11:00 Saturday night ... we were informed that they were completely sold out. The clerk at the front desk kindly suggested that there would be no vacancies at ANY of the hotels south of Pittsburgh seeing as there was a huge storm in the area that knocked out power to more than 1,000,000 people AND it was a Saturday AND it was the weekend before a major holiday.
(But we didn't believe him because seriously. No vacancies? In the 20,000+ miles that our family has traveled by automobile, zig zagging across the entire US in the past four years, I've never heard of such a thing! Of course he had to be mistaken!)
So Charlie called to no less than 20 hotels and indeed ... they too were all sold out. My husband kicked in to survival mode and became desperate because WE NEEDED SHELTER. But at that point, it made perfectly good sense to me that we just push through and drive all night. And that plan worked splendidly for approximately 25 minutes until I nearly fell asleep at the wheel. So we pulled over in to a parking lot and I dropped the backseats for the kids and rolled out their sleeping bags, put William under the seats in his sleeping bag, and tucked Louie in next to William's head. We tried to rest, but within two hours, when the kids wouldn't doze off because they were paranoid we'd be arrested for sleeping in a parking lot, we buckled up and kept driving. (And the children promptly fell to sleep.)
We arrived in beautiful Michigan on Sunday morning and our children ran directly from our car in to the beautiful lake in my sister's backyard. They then smothered their cousin, Diana, with hugs before jumping in to the lake again - which is where they'd remain for the better part of the next week. Meanwhile, Charlie and I marveled at our ability to fall asleep standing up.
Speaking of backyards ...
When we arrived home this past Sunday night, we discovered that one of the 70+ foot trees in our backyard, with a circumference of approximately 30-inches at it's base, decided to fall and take out several smaller trees during it's rapid gravitational decent.
Charlie is currently pondering whether or not his 12-inch chainsaw will be sufficient to remove this thing, in it's entirety. Because we're saving to upgrade our bathrooms this year, I'd suggested that in attempt to save money and not hire a professional tree company, if his chainsaw was unable to cut through the tree, that he employ his handsaw like people did in the good old days. Although it would save us a bundle and seriously buff up his bicep muscles (swoon!), he's not fully on board with that idea. He's always sooo practical.