Friday, August 8, 2014

Summer Storms Double-Whammy

Just 30 minutes after Dad's plane flew out of the airport, a summer storm hit this area with a vengeance. We were on our way home from taking Dad to the airport when we saw the menacing clouds off to the east. We were lucky enough to make it almost home when the wind hit us, and nearly blew our vehicle across the road.  We made it home safely, only to find a lot of our yard furniture blown over. We were lucky though in this storm, as no other apparent damage or troubles happened in our area.  However, the storm did some terrible damage in other surrounding areas, so much so that my husband's brother and wife, who are storm insurance adjusters were called into this area.

So, last Saturday evening we met up with them to eat dinner and visit.  When we arrived at the restaurant, we noticed a very dark, heavy cloud looming in the horizon.  I said to my husband... if this storm continues to look as ugly as it does right now, your brother could be here much longer... and I didn't realize that my words were very true.  We had no idea just how bad this storm was.  Within minutes though, a crazy wind blew through, and we watched debris flying through the air.  An apartment building across the street had shingles peeling off the roof, flying through the air.  It was pretty wild for several minutes, and the electricity at the restaurant went out.  Luckily for us though... it came back on and we were able to enjoy a wonderful meal... little did we know it would be the last meal we'd have with electricity for the next several days!

As we said our goodbyes, and headed back home, we began to realize that this storm had caused more damage than we realized.  We came over a hill to a scene of fire, smoke, and red and white lights.  Apparently lightning had struck and there was a fire burning on both sides of the road.  We were able to drive through without any trouble, but there were so many emergency vehicles there, that it seemed the fire would be contained shortly, as it was thankfully.

As we continued on towards home, we came upon a sign in the road, and a detour saying "trees in the road".. and so they had us detour through a little gravel road off the main highway.  When we saw this, we knew then that this storm had caused a significant amount of damage to close down a major road.  So, we called and talked to our friends and neighbors to find out how our place had fared.  Everyone was sharing stories of power outage and trees down, although everyone was okay.

As we arrived home, our place looked intact, but we were concerned about our property up on the mountain and how it had fared.  We drove over there to investigate, and it wasn't long as we climbed slowly up the mountain that we began to see trees down across that road too.  Someone had already been by with a chainsaw and cut a path through.

We arrived at our property to find little damage in what we could see in the dark.  We had our camper out there, and also the garden and fencing.  Thankfully, no trees fell on the garden, or the camper, although two trees did snap off close to the garden, but thankfully away from it!

It was time to return home and hook up the generators for our freezer and refrigerator.  It appeared, from all indications, that this was going to be an extended power vacation.


So we pulled out the refrigerator to plug it into the generator, and were very thankful at that point to have our generator!  We have had it for several years, and never had to use it for a power outage, but with all the meat and food we needed to keep cold/frozen... we were so very thankful for the investment of the generator several years ago!


As luck would have it, I also had filled our coolers with water the day before, and then didn't need to use the water for the garden, because it had rained.  So, now we had water to wash with, and flush toilets with.  Little things like this mean a lot when you are unexpectedly without power!  Our well does not have the hook ups to switch over to run by generator when the power goes out.


... and thanks to the generator, we soon had our morning coffee hot and ready!


Cosmo and Annie did not like the sound of the generator, and were just really puzzled about all the fuss going on.  Cosmo especially seemed very worried about it all. I guess he decided to guard the fuel... just to play it safe!


Our neighbors had lost several nice trees in the storm.  Thankfully though, none that threatened any of their fencing or structures.


So with the hot day stretching before us, with no electricity, we decided it was a good day to take the boat out to the lake.  I packed a lunch, slathered everyone with coconut oil, and off we went to enjoy the lake, hoping all the while that the power would be on once we got back home...


The river was beautiful and peaceful, and it was wonderful to be out enjoying the sunshine, and cool breeze!


A turtle sunning himself on a rock...


We passed some beautiful homes, and admired their landscaping, and beauty.



Our son wanted to try his hand at fishing, so we went into the more marshy areas of the lake to see if there were any hungry fish.... the fish weren't biting... but we did see lots of ducks and geese trying to stay cool.



This is a wildlife sanctuary where the birds are protected, and you can walk down to the water and watch the wildlife.



We saw this seagull perched on this rock sticking out of the water.  He wasn't too concerned with us as we cruised by.





The river was for the most part quiet.  There were a few other boats out on the lake, but we had a relatively quiet ride with not too many waves to have to jump in our little john-boat!



The little wake that our boat left behind wasn't too bad...

A beautiful house built on the rock - literally!




As we cruised around the lake some more, we saw this bird in the water... all you could see was his head sticking out... but then when he saw us coming, my camera barely caught him as he quickly flew away!



We got a little closer to the bird sanctuary, and you could see that all these birds got the memo that this was a safe haven!  Look at them lining the shore!


Another one with his head just barely sticking out of the water... at this point, that is what we were ready to do! We were getting hot, and began looking for a place where we could relax in the water ourselves!




We had a very beady-eyed audience!!!  They were glad when we turned and went back out to open water!



Next we spotted an osprey circling above us.  The kids still had fishing poles in the water, as we trolled along.  I suppose this osprey was hoping our fishing efforts might pay off for him or her... but sadly... we didn't find any fish biting, and I didn't see him (or her) dive into the water with any success either...






Finally we came upon a little rocky shore that was shallow enough for us to beach the boat on.  Someone had built an area for a campfire there, and it turned out to be a great little spot to enjoy the water.


Everyone was hungry , so I handed out sandwiches, chips, and drinks, and we all relaxed on the shore as the waves gently slapped the shoreline, enjoying the beauty of the day.


We walked the edge of the shore for a while, until the shore disappeared into weeds...


 Finally, it was time to go, so we loaded back into the boat, and headed back to the docks.


We wanted to run by the property again in the daylight to see how things were faring there.  The dogs enjoyed the ride over in the pickup!


They always get excited when we let them ride in the back, and they love to lift their faces to the wind.


As we climbed the mountain road to our place, I had my camera ready to take pictures of the downed trees crossing the road.  This was the first set of downed trees that we came to.  There was barely enough room for the pickup to drive through.


These were some very nice large cedar trees that had gone down.



This is the second tree that had gone down across the road.  Again, whoever cut the trail through was in a hurry, because we barely squeezed through again.



In the daylight, we were able to see the damage to the trees on our property better.  It was a little worse than we first thought.  This tree went down very close to the garden, and other wood piles.


This part of the wood pile went over... but not too bad here.



I went to check my garden to see how it fared in the wild winds that passed through.  Several of my tomato plants were knocked over, but no damage to the stems, and they should survive.


Some of the squash plants were toppled over, but otherwise they seemed okay too.


Looks like these lovely green ladies will be finding their way to our plates soon!


Most of the tree damage we had was from the top-heavy trees toppling over.


You can see how this tree just splintered as it crashed onto the forest floor.


No doubt about it... the guys have their work cut out for them cutting up the downed wood...



You see the tree in the middle... it was one of our huge Ponderosa trees that lost its top - see how tall that tree is! So sad to see that tree gone.  It was one of the biggest on our place.



Very sad to see this huge tree down.


Standing far back, you can see another tree we lost... another big Ponderosa.


But considering how much damage other people suffered during this storm, we counted ourselves lucky. Many people lost tens of trees, while we lost about ten.

It was several days before our power was restored, 2-1/2 days to be exact...  and we were very glad to see the power restored!!  I think the thing we missed the most was the running water.  We did have water, but when you don't have running water, you really notice how much water you use in the course of the day.  You need water to cook, water to clean, water to use the toilet... things that you take for granted every day, you suddenly become very appreciative of them when they are not there.  We didn't mind not having electricity... we had several LED lanterns that we placed throughout the house, and they worked great once it got dark.  Of course, without the generator our food would have went bad, and so we were very thankful to have the generator... but other than the generator keeping the food cool, we didn't mind too bad not having electricity... except for our coffee of course run by the generator... but we really missed having the luxury of running water.

So now, life is back to normal... as normal as can be expected in the middle of a hot summer... and now we are looking forward to fall, and realizing that shopping for school clothes and supplies is upon us... wow! Time surely flies... but I guess life would be boring if it didn't!

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