Wednesday, June 22, 2011

2 hours north

It was Saturday, early afternoon. A blue funk had fallen over the household.

With funds having run dry from our A-Kon adventure the weekend prior, our exuberance had begun to wane. The hot arid wind blowing across the treetops didn't help much either. A dusty atmosphere, thick on our tongues. The sun, white hot. The sky, platinum. The heat measuring 103 Fahrenheit.

I could feel the tension. Something had to be done to lift the heaviness from our souls. There was only one refreshment that could ease our unpleasant state. Road trip!

And so, with renewed giddiness, we packed hastily those things one might need for the road. And tossed in the camping gear, just in case.
Scarcely a cloud to be found.

As we rolled along the glaring highway, I scanned the sky. Incredibly bright it was. Though, off in the distance I could see a small tower of clouds forming. Funny, I mused. Wouldn't it be interesting if that was developing into a storm directly over our destination spot? Then I cursed myself for forgetting to bring the polarizer lens for my camera, to help cut the glare of the road a bit. And to help bring out the definition of that distant cloud.

When sans polarizer, I often resort to shooting black and white photos selecting the in-camera red filter option. It helps some, but still. Frustrating a skoche.

The road unfolded, we neared the border, and there it was. The cloud formation, growing taller, flattening out around the edges. And yes, it appeared to be very near our goal area of interest. I had to consult the weather radar to be sure. Yes, there it was, the only severe thunderstorm on the map! Sitting on top of the highway we traveled.

Now this might sound tragic. After all, this was a lake-swimming overnight-camping trip of sorts we had planned. Sort of. One might think rain might ruin such an occasion. But no, my excitement only grew. We'd not seen rain in what seemed like forever! We had to celebrate the moment.
Ominous, no?

As we came through then around the storm to its northern side, I noticed the clouds somewhat striated in the tower. Perhaps there was some rotation there. I later learned a small tornado touched down in an area we had just driven through. Perhaps this photo is of that very storm system.

No matter. Because whatever rain that may have fallen, or lightning that crashed to the ground, was well to the south and east of the lake. Our camping spot.

It was getting late in the day. Quickly we searched for a good place to set up the tent. The choices were few, as it was Father's Day weekend. Though we did manage to make our home for the night near the lake's edge. Good for swimming.

It took us no time to get the tent ready. With sweat pouring down our faces, it was time for a swim. And so we did. The little ones enjoyed riding the small waves made by the occasional boat passing by. The sandy beach was a pleasure as well. Even the eldest daughter enjoyed the cool water.

Time for a snack. Back to camp we went.

"Take my picture by the grass!" he said.


The night fell fast upon us, but we were not yet through. Though the wind was a bit stiff, a fair fire had to be built. Even now we wonder if it were a wise decision. The land was parched. Grass browned in places. We were very careful to mind the flames and sparks.

A useful tip for those who like to pack lightly, or for those who tend to forget an important item like a lantern...

Make yourself a handy sack lantern! Here I have used a small flashlight, a Wal-Mart sack, and a roll of paper towels. Just stick the flashlight in the paper towel roll, puff up the sack a bit and put it over the light. The glow is just bright enough to see what you're doing. Cozy.

Finally exhausted, we all five crawled into the tent. Sleeping was not easy. The heat and humidity made for an uncomfortable time of it. The youngest daughter and I stayed awake most of the night. We made good use of our time watching a raccoon scavenge around picnic tables. Sara remarked that she'd not seen a raccoon like that before. I suspect she thought they'd be a bit more cartoonish and friendly looking. Even still, she admitted he was sort of cute.

The wind picked up, yet it offered no cooling relief. It only blew the tent around wildly and teased that it might refresh us. The moon rose and shown itself brightly through the fabric walls. Lovely. I found myself gazing at it for a good part of the night. And then, it was over. The sun began to cast pink on the clouds.

A quick bite to eat and down the tent came. We wasted no time. The stifling hot of day would soon return. Laughing and silly, homeward bound we were. Ah, another successful trip on the road. I look forward to the next one!

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