Sunday evening we sat outside by the fire and Dennis got some very old wood from our stack in the back of the garage. It was barren of bark, and you could see the tracks of many insects that ravaged that old Elm, and finally killed it…
(clik the pic to enlarge)
It could almost be sold as artwork, eh??
Unlike most of you RV’ers out there, Den and I didn’t get started in that lifestyle until 2003. We started with a 2004 Keystone Cougar..didn’t have a clue about what we wanted ,but thought this floor plan was a winner…
We went crazy that summer and purchased our Cougar and GMC 3/4 ton dura max diesel pick up within a couple months of each other. (Our 1/2 ton Silverado just wasn’t going to pull this thing….) We were RV virgins, still are kinda, floundering around in a strange land of campers..There were so many kinds…fivers, pop-ups, travel trailers, small motorhomes…HUGE motorhomes..something they called teardrops, and another little one called a Casita, neither of which we could co-exist in for over a couple weeks.
We took our Cougar on a few short outings..and when our daughter, Chris, announced her wedding would be in Long Boat Key, Florida, just across the bay from Saratsota , we just knew we had to take our Cougar. The wedding was set for August 20th, 2005. She and John were married at the Hilton, and we parked the Cougar in the parking lot for 4 days, opting to enjoy the ambience of a lovely hotel room. (We still prefer the RV).
After their wedding, we figured we would head for Key West, having never been there. Since we had been to the Northernmost point of the US in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, we felt the need to hit the Southernmost point…There was a nice state park on Long Key right on the ocean, about 70 miles South of Key West…The date….August 25th, 2005..ring any bells??
We actually met up Chris and John in Key West. I know, the last people you want to hang with on your honeymoon are the bride’s parents...They actually invited us to join them for a day of pub crawling and touring…I want to go on the record and say I LOVE KEY WEST!!!
…If the date sounds vaguely familiar, we were met in the Keys by Hurricane Katrina. That “mother” of all hurricanes made landfall on the East Coast of Florida as we left. This is how it developed…. After our day with Chris and John at Key West, we went back to our camper on Long Key. Watching our TV weather channel,(don’t we all?), we realized that what had been a tropical storm in the Atlantic when we left that morning, was now a category 1 Hurricane, heading due West…Our introduction to Miss Katrina. The following photos were taken the evening before she made landfall…a beautiful, but deadly storm building just off the coast…
We got up the next morning in the dark. With lightening all around us, we got the Hell out 'a Dodge…We stopped at Key Largo for fuel, where they told us the bridge was closing behind us… We put the pedal to the metal and boogied that Cougar all they way up to the Georgia state line before we finally stopped. We met dozens of electrical trucks heading South…This was our view heading North through Homestead, Florida….I kept repeating, “Camping is fun…Camping is fun….”
Little did we know at that time how deadly that hurricane would become. Chris called us that same day from their GROUND LEVEL room at the Key West Hilton, where they had no electricity, ran out of food, ran out of beer (which was the worst crisis), and it was raining sideways…They finally waded through the water flooded streets of Key West to Sloppy Joe’s Bar. Somehow that bar managed to have cold beer, and cold sandwiches.
Long story longer….. Their flight out of Key West to Indianapolis was canceled Sunday, so they rented a car and flew out of Miami ..As for us, we were chased all the way back to Illinois by that ominous circular dark cloud and the rain, oh, the rain!…Our last night before arriving home was spent at Lake Shelbyville, IL..and you could STILL see the leading edge of the hurricane cloud just South of us…
For RV virgins, that was a harrowing experience…but it sure makes for crazy memories!!! As you already know, we didn’t keep the Cougar very long. After a few tire issues (like 3 blow-outs), and realizing that Dennis’ feet were hanging off the bed, we upgraded to the Hiker, and a bedroom with a slide with a REAL Queensize bed!!
So, there you have it…A short story that turned into a novel about Hurricane Katrina..Den and I ,AND Chris and John, will never, EVER forget their wedding!!