On the road to repairs! Did someone say TORNADO???? Part 2
Santa Rosa Lake State Park in New Mexico is just under nine miles from Santa Rosa and the I-40. The park features the large 3,800-acre Santa Rosa Reservoir that is home to various fish species including largemouth bass, catfish and even walleye. The park elevation is 4,800 feet above sea level. The water levels were astounding low….(around 300 acres of lake right now, not 3,800, a man said I met walking) it was shocking. We were here in March 2017. The campground was closed for remodeling but we dry camped and met some wonderful Kiwis here, Debbie! I had known her father, Trevor as a child in Whangarei, New Zealand, he sailed on a boat my mother did to Australia, attached is the newspaper headline of their voyage….how small is the world sometimes!
It was nice to get power this time, I thought we might have water but that was only in a few sites. We circled around and I’d picked out a level pull through, I was feeling pretty chuffed as a lot of the sites were REALLY uneven…well smell me! Ha! Slides went out, we stopped, it was SOOOO quiet, so wonderful but the shock at the levels of the lake was mind-boggling. It looked like a swamp compared to 2017.
I needed to walk, too many hours sitting so I took off on one of the paths around the lake, except the lake was now a long ways away from the path!
The only colour I encountered were some Christmas Cholla Berries-the plant grows red berries that when consumed, can have an intoxicating effect. The fruits are crushed and mixed with a beverage by the Apache, Chiricahua, and Mescalero to produce narcotic effects. Inquiring minds want to know! I may need some of these berries down the road! Ha! It was somewhat appalling seeing so little water. Makes you wonder what will happen to all these small towns and agricultural operations when it gets even drier. They’d had no winter rains the one birder/photographer I talked to. He and his wife stopped me as I walked down the road to ask if I’d seen anything…nope….there were some deer, last week, he mentioned….
After a walk down the road in the morning I was ready to go. Not even a birdsong in the scrub. The landscape didn’t change much as we headed east on the I-40.
So, I looked at billboards along the I-40…lawyers and guns…can someone tell Keller that pointing pokes holes in the air and lets the flies fly through? New Mexico marijuana is legal…Texas…NOT! Call Tisdell if you get caught with weed in Texas! But your AK 47 is just fine! Then came the endless miles of plains. Sadly the 007 truck was NOT being driven by Daniel Craig;) Ha! The “Get Off The Phone Idiot! Yes You!”…I don’t get all the capital letters here but then understood after seeing the Make America Great Trump 2020 sticker….
When you leave New Mexico and head towards Texas and Oklahoma, the Spanish named towns fade into names like McCleans, and Erick. This church is a giant rest stop, for those in need of spiritual help as well as rest. A reminder of the area’s strong religious beliefs. Are there crosses so big because everything in Texas is big, or maybe just their sinners;)
We’d reserved a spot in Eastern Amarillo at a RV park for the night not far from the I-40. The constant hum of traffic and jake brakes along with large flapping Texas flags (did we need to be reminded we were in Texas?) at the end of each RV spot were a stark contrast to Santa Rosa State Park. Rocket went out on his leash for a few moments then said…Nope, going back in. Even Groot wasn’t too happy. Gamora always astonishes me, she’s aptly named, if she were in human form she’d be a kick ass princessa! So brave! I’m going here, I’m walking there, dogs, don’t care, I’ll take them on! There was a pond with ducks, Groot and Rocket felt the back window of the trailer was the safest spot for bird watching!
We left Amarillo early to try to avoid the high wind warning to get to Elk City, Oklahoma. It was broadside and blowing but not horrible…yet! Rolling Retreats had texted us the address where we could hook up for the night, at their old facility, it was odd to be in the company of so many like us! Ha! Others waiting for service, parts trailers, several of the workers lived in trailers here as well. The lovely DRV service rep who will be taking care of us tomorrow morning stopped by to tell us there is a tornado watch in effect, and if we see him running from his rig, we should follow him as well, there will be sirens as well he said…He showed Mike where the shelter was…0_0…how to carry 50 lbs of cats now running?…If the day wasn’t long enough! I looked at the phone, it didn’t look good. When they start calling them derechos, that is bad news.
Mike got our smaller collapsible carrier out of the front cupboard and set it up, just in case we needed to make a run for the shelter 200 meters/yards away. The storm shelter was in the basement of the house, entrance by the back door Mike said. Like sitting on pins and needles hoping for the best, then the phone warning came, no longer tornado watch, tornado warning…then the sirens. OMG they are f@cking loud! I was a bit stunned for a few secounds…the rep ran by, banged on the trailer and said, to the shelter! NOW! Mike managed to stuff Groot and Gamora into the smaller carrier, I was chasing Rocket around in the front of the trailer where he had run as soon as the sirens started, my heart was pounding, I could see the sheet lightning out the windows lighting up the trailer! Mike had put all the outside lights on so we could see he said, in case…yup…case happening! I had my Mexican blanket over my legs as I jumped when I heard the sirens, I had my purse ready on the table. I threw the blanket over Rocket as I cornered him by the bed, his eyes looked like they were going to pop out. I wrapped him up as best I could like a burrito as Mike was yelling at me NOW!!! GO!!! He was outside, I stumbled out clutching Rocket as he squirmed, no way he was going to get away from me and Mike and I fast walked, I couldn’t run, my legs were shaking, I just didn’t want to lose hold of my big orange bebesaurio! I could see the lightning now approaching over the house, the wind was howling and we got to the house, a trap door was thrown open as we arrived inside, down you go! Quick! The man holding the door said as we climbed down some steep stairs and found ourselves in a room with 5 or 6 other people already there. They then closed the hatch…make sure it’s fastenned a young blonde girl remarked! “I’m terrified!” she exclaimed “and I left my cat in my apartment!” Groot and Gamora sat calmly in the carrier, poor Rocket by this time had tucked his head between my arm and stomach and was shaking uncontrollably…like me I thought. There was some cheerful banter, candles were lit, just in case the power goes out, these guys knew the routine. Everyone has their phones out watching the mass of dark red storm on the radar, it’s going North and South of us, the worst someone chimed! Rocket continued to shake. Another lady arrived with a small dog. Everyone knew each other. Rolling Retreat employees or friends. A teenage boy had his phone and games packed in a bag, just in case he’d be here awhile. You could hear the wind. At one point one of the guys sitting opposite us called for quiet…listen….the wind was howling, not a “nader” he said, they roar…
I looked around, chairs, maybe ten of them, then I just concentrated on Rocket, petting the burrito kitty, hoping we’d have a truck and trailer to go back to, trying not to actually think too much…and how is it that Monty Python’s ♫♪♫ Always look on the bright side of life! ♪♫♪ was my ear worm….
The wind died down, a few folks went up the hatch to look and were talking, there was a storm chaser sitting in the parking lot in their car…”Is it such and such?” I can’t remember what they called him, must be a celebrity storm chaser one of the girls asked! It made me smile, no, the guys replied, not him. Ha!
They finally gave the OK, the derecho had blown past us at 70-80 m.p.h. We could come out! “We’ll see you in the morning!” the lovely lady, Mary, with the dog replied “I’ll be at the office, just come on in when you get here at eight!” My heart was still pounding, my legs felt like rubber, I didn’t even remember if I’d closed the door to the trailer….
Rocket leapt from arms into the trailer from several feet away, they know home, and he promptly went and hid under the bed covers, no way he was coming out. I sat and stroked him for awhile, we are OK, we are all OK….Groot and Gamora acted as if nothing had happened…such brave cats! My heart was still pounding. I didn’t think I was going to get much sleep. I sat and studied the radar and weather, of course I’d forgotten the phone in my panic to grab Rocket! There were reports of tornados touching down ten miles to the NW of us, as well as to the SE…we were spared. Several years back Elk City was hit, fifty one homes leveled over by the golf course, really nice, well built brick homes Mary emphasized, not trailers, not mobile homes, razed to the ground. This is still fresh in their minds what can happen.
Oh, what a beautiful mornin’
Oh, what a beautiful day
I got a beautiful feelin’
Every thing’s goin’ my way….the only song from “Oklahoma I know!
The alarm went off so we could have the trailer to Rolling Retreats by 8 a.m. I thought Rocket was going to go through the roof at the sound of it! Poor baby is traumatized! We dropped the trailer off, Mary Jo was in the front office from last night. I’d written out a small list (ok, maybe not so small!) of our trailer woes and we left it in their hands. They have small private waiting rooms, we tried to take the cats into one, Groot and Gamora were fine, it was just too soon for Rocket after last night’s terror. He found a hole in the bottom of the sofa and managed somehow to squeeze his largesomeness in! We decided sitting in the truck might make them, him, feel safer. We moved the other two out, then had to turn the sofa upside down and squeeze Rocket back out…sigh…they all seemed much happier in the truck, a familiar place.
…and we waited, and waited. We went for a drive to buy some water, a pulled pork sandwich from the Rib Crib and went back to the DRV parking lot, to wait. Part of life. They had the trailer on it’s nose, vanity slide was giving them grief Travis the tech said. The wire for the slide was so snarled up he had it halfway apart even to get at it. Liz, the lady who was taking care of us came out near 4 and said it would not be done today. The front jacks needed replacing and they would be in, in the morning, the slide was still apart. I talked to the tech, he said the tornado sirens really rattled everyone! I went onboard to get the cat food and we started looking for a motel online. We found one close by that took pets, two pets, of course that is all we have, Gamora is so small she doesn’t count! We could drive right up to our room as well which is so much nicer than trying to transfer cats down hallways and lobbies! Groot and Gamora settled in like old pros! They were playing and exploring, poor Rocket was hiding under the bed skirts. I did a quick revision that there were no holes he could climb in anywhere before realizing I’d forgotten the backpack I had packed for us for the night in the trailer. I drove back while Mike supervised the cats to get our things. Liz at the office laughed and laughed as she took me out to the trailer, you remember the cat food but not your things? Ha! Still feeling a bit scattered after last night!
It was time for a hot bath when I got back, and a large glass of wine!…Wait, Groot! Get out of the tub!
One must engage in playtime! They started again at 1:30 a.m. tearing about the room, crawling along the undersides of the bed, all the way around, great fun, for cats…the drawers provide great beds and fun time as well! Everyone has to explore the drawers…except Rocket, hiding under the bedskirts at every new sound. He did finally come and smother me for awhile before creeping back into hiding. If we were in OZ, we could have been…0_0….Ha! He’d be the cowardly lion looking for courage! At 2 a.m. Groot started to growl loudly, protecting, some late revelers were arriving back at their room next door! Danger müther! Danger! We assured him we were safe and he settled down!
I did some reading later on the air raid/tornado sirens and imagine the fear they put into people during WWII. I hope never to have to hear one again! Apparently there are four that overlap where we were and it may have been why it was so loud, and it was just across a field from us as well! This was in interesting article about the Elk City tornado sirens! Click on it! Apparently the tornadoes made the National news as well as the derecho that brought them!
Ok, by now, we were running out of steam. We checked out just before 11 a.m. and after a delicious, OK, not Egg McMuffin we once again went to wait for the trailer. The rebuilt jacks had come in and they had the vanity slide moving again with a new cable, the reverse solenoid had been replaced. The tech, Travis said he’d never seen jacks slide that fast and what a clever way we had fastened them with our fancy yellow chains! One guy used several rolls of duct tape to hold his up, you can imagine the fun peeling that off and cleaning it up he winced! They fixed a few other minor issues and by 4 we were ready to go. We asked if we could go back to their overnight lot to spend the night, shopping to do…and then secretly make sure EVERYTHING worked! Ha! They said no problem so we hooked up and pulled out of the bay. It felt good to be moving with the trailer and we parked back where the tornado shelter was and let out a sigh of relief…except for the fridge. Apparently when the trailer is on an odd angle it messes with dometic fridge. The service manager assured us it would remedy itself in a day…or two….0_0…I should not have gone shopping apparently at WalMart earlier. It was worth it just to see what was at the checkout alongside People and National Geographic…The psalms in color coloring book, Too Blessed To Be Stressed (I might need that one! Hahahaha!) Large Print Bible Word Search and 10 Commandements of Marriage….I resisted purchasing any reading here;)
Enough for now! We’ll be heading South, out of tornado alley and towards warmer temperatures near the gulf. I’ve made the state park reservations so hopefully, just hopefully, I will not have to cancel them again! Stay tuned….:) May the force be with us!