Tag Archives: thunderstorms

We Should Have Stayed at Home

In a change to our regularly scheduled program . . . . .

We were frightened witless last night. Well I was. Himself was stoic. We picked the wrong day to take the travel trailer out of storage and head in any direction from Phoenix. Thunderstorms, high winds, flash floods, hail and wild fires abound in the rest of the state.

Sheet lightning lit the distant mountains we could see from our apartment balcony and had provided entertainment every night for a week. But there had been no rain, no thunder and only a light wind.

Just seven miles up the road from our built up town we towed the trailer into the county park with panoramic desert and mountain views in every direction. A coyote greeted us as we drove around the campground, indicated which site he thought best, then gathered his mates in the dense scrub and sang a welcome chorus.

Shortly after we unhitched and shut ourselves into the air-conditioned trailer for the evening the lightning started. I opened all the blinds to watch. Black skies advanced and forked lightning flashed to the east. The sunset, to the west of course, was glorious with bold stripes of gold, pink and white and it lit half the cloudy evening sky in a seductive dusky pink.

The wind suddenly picked up and gave us a little shake. Jimmy and I glanced at each other but didn’t speak. The looks said uh-oh.

The sunset disappeared under impenetrable black clouds. Forked and sheet lightning flashed in every direction, rain battered down and we were thrust violently side to side by the wind. Thunder began to rumble and then hail crashed down on our poor little box home.

“Did you wind the steadies tight?”

“Of course,” said himself, slightly offended. Corner jacks in England are called steadies. They’re called that for a reason. “I think I’ll go and tighten them again if this ever stops.”

We sat, away from the windows – all of three feet, and stared at each other not voicing our thoughts. I wondered if we could blow over. Should we have stayed hitched up to the truck for extra stability? Could a gust blow the truck and trailer both over? The gas was on low under our gently thawing dinner. Should I turn it off? Would it blow up if we blew over?

Rain pounded us and created leaks we’d never had in three-and-a-half years on the road.

“I wonder how long the electricity will stay on? That,” said Jimmy, mopping water off the floor in front of the fridge, “is coming right through the fuse box.” He could have kept that thought to himself. If we lived through the storm we’d gently steam, like our dinner, all night without the benefit of air conditioning. The desert can be cold at night, but not here. Not in August. “Maybe we should go home.”

“I don’t like to leave the trailer with all our things in it.” After last-minute trailer repairs in the morning, we’d spent all afternoon packing up, carting stuff and loading the trailer in 100+º heat. There was no question of hitching up in wild weather and if we did, nowhere to park the trailer at our apartment complex. We could only sprint to the truck and abandon the trailer to the storm.

In my tired and fractured state of mind it seemed better to sit tight with my things and get blown over with them than to sleep safely in our apartment. Just seven miles down the road.

The wind and rain, lightning and thunder raged on. The sudden buffeting gusts were the most unnerving. Our whole tiny world was shaking as though we were in an earthquake. I tried not to think about a lightning strike. The high ground site the coyote chose for us had afforded good views, but apart from two saguaros and one twiggy tree our roof was the highest point for some considerable distance.

We did the only sensible thing given our vulnerable position. We closed the blinds and opened a bottle of wine.

I’m sensing some judgment. So what would you have done?

Please click to enlarge pictures.

The next morning I read an email from a friend in England asking how we got on as we’d been messaging the day before. My reply:

Exciting evening. Terrific thunderstorm. Trailer shook till our teeth rattled. Lightning in every direction. Battering rain, then hail. Thought we were going to blow over. Other than that, ok.
P.S. Sign on ladies loo, “Please keep door closed. Snakes are out.”

McDowellMtnPk 010

You may recall that what seems moments ago we were on the east coast in the last post in a place with a remarkable lack of saguaro cactuses. (If you are still judging me, the plural in Latin is cacti. Cactuses is ,are?, acceptable in English.)

That was then. This is now. All was revealed in The Confession. We will return to our regularly scheduled program on the east coast. Unless something else hair-raising happens out west in the meantime.