Apparently they get a lot of unsettling weather in North Dakota. I’m basing this premise solely on the fact that it has at least drizzled if not down-poured rain every single day since we’ve arrived with many severe thunderstorms scattered throughout. Our county is under a severe thunderstorm watch until next Tuesday! This is new! This didn’t even happen in Georgia! A watch or warning might last a few hours, but days?! Kinda crazy!
The week before we arrived they had a tornado pass through. The good news is that they have the warning sirens here. The bad news is that I’m living in a camper in a middle of a field and I have no place to take shelter should a tornado spring up. And some of these people seem to think you can either outrun the damn things or ride them out in your camper … JEEZE! Did they miss the news about Joplin?!
I’ve been looking for a ditch. So far I haven’t found one. Maybe it would be better to just lay flat in the field than stay anywhere near these campers or shop, since they’re pretty much the only thing around for a tornado to pick up. Hmm. It’s definitely something to investigate further. Strangely enough I’m not really all that concerned, whereas once upon a time I’d be totally obsessed, but now I just think what are the odds?
Yesterday I thought I was thawing out chicken for dinner but when it came time to cook I discovered it was actually country style pork ribs. This wouldn’t have been an issue except I just baked some ribs two days before and while we do love ribs having them three nights in a row is a bit much. I knew Jay was on his way home from work so I called to try and catch him before he got out of town so he could pick up something else for dinner. But he was already at our exit when we connected so then we decided since he’d gotten off work early we’d just go back into town for dinner.
As we were leaving for dinner a storm was rolling in. I’m just simply fascinated by the sky here anyway, but when it’s got crazy cloud formations and strange storm colours I can’t resist it. So I took my camera with me and tried to get some shots.
Jay wanted to try the Bonanza Steakhouse so that’s where we went for dinner. It was absolutely pouring by the time we arrived with constant lightning in the sky everywhere you looked. If you couldn’t see the chains it was just flashes of bright light, like bombs going off everywhere. Bonanza is a chain I’ve never been to before but Jay had and always thought it was good. It reminded me of those Ponderosa Steakhouses they used to have back home (is there still one in Fredericton maybe?) where you order like a fast food joint at the counter & then someone brings it to your table when it’s ready. They also had a food bar that came with all the meals or you could just buy the bar & have that. The food was okay, not spectacular, but not anywhere near the worst restaurant we’ve ever been to, which is what one of the guys told us about it … that it was the worst restaurant ever. I didn’t try any of the buffet, but Jay said everything looked good & his salad that he made was pretty tasty. He got steak, shrimp & a baked potato. Of course I got the chicken strips & steak fries. I know I’m close to Canada now because sweet ‘n sour sauce was actually an option! I’ve eaten chicken fingers all over the country now, and never once have I been able to get them with sweet ‘n sour! My food was good … and yes, it is possible to screw up chicken strips & fries, I know this for sure because I have tried them everywhere as I said!
The rain had ended by the time we left the restaurant, but the lightning continued. I can’t even imagine how many strikes per minute. That was the big thing they’d always tell you on the news back in Atlanta, how many strikes happened per minute. It’s gotta be a lot higher here … and it was pretty high there, that’s for sure. I was oohing and awwing like I was watching a fireworks show. I’ve never seen anything like it in real life, only on tv, like spiderwebs of light bursting in the sky. I didn’t get any pictures, because I was in awe, and because it all happened so quick. I’ve googled lightning pics and can’t even find any that come close. I’m not exaggerating at all, it was like nothing I’ve ever seen in nature.
When we got back it was obvious that it rained very hard and fast here from the state of the lane. I took one last pic as the sun was about to disappear.
Sunset here is really cool. It lasts so long! And then it’s like watching it over the ocean, where you literally can see the sinking red into darkness. You don’t get that kind of effect where there are trees … or mountains, like in Colorado. And a Colorado sunset is a mighty fine thing, don’t get me wrong, but these are different.
Two hours later
While I was writing this post earlier, I could hear the thunder in the distance. I knew we were under warnings, like I said we’ve been under warnings and will be through next Tuesday. So I checked the weather network online for an update and radar. The update was not good. A severe storm heading straight for me with rotation in it, huge hail and deadly lightning. That’s their word, not mine. In no other state I’ve been in have they ever warned of deadly lightning. The sky looked bad for sure. And I didn’t like that I could suddenly hear the traffic from the main road either, like someone had put up a wall someplace and cocooned the sound. The clouds did look like they were walling us in, they were so close to the ground.
I didn’t know if Jay was out on location yet or not, so I tried to get a call through to ask what I should do. They were still driving in a downpour when he answered and he told me Brock (the owner of the company), his kids, and Debby (the sales manager’s wife) were still here and if it got bad or looked like it was going to, I should get with them. I asked if he had told any of them that I don’t have my license, because his truck is here, they might leave without me to go to a shelter. But he never heard me because the call dropped. I couldn’t get him back.
So I took another look at the sky, then went and put on pants, socks, running shoes (studies show that most injuries in bad storms come from improper footwear you know) and then grabbed my purse as the rain hit. I know it’ll sound nuts, but one of my main thoughts was that I needed to protect my passport (after my feet, of course) 🙂 As the wind picked up a bit (it always blows here to begin with) I tweeted that a storm was coming in and I’d be riding it out on my own without Jay. I could hear Brock getting his kids out of the camper, and I went to the bathroom window to see where they were going. They got in the truck and I panicked thinking they were about to leave. So I went outside and surveyed the sky again. It was bad. That greenish smoke colour, clouds roiling in it, practically touching the ground.
That was enough for me! I ran in the pouring rain over to Debby’s and banged on her door. She opened the door and I don’t even know what I said, something like, “I’m scared to death! Can I come in?!” She poked her head around and looked at the sky and then said I’d better. A few minutes later the kids came in. I had to help them with the door because the wind was blowing so hard they couldn’t get it open by themselves. Then Brock came in a few minutes after that. He had only been moving his truck into the shelter of the shop.
The kids were terrified, which made it a little easier for me to put on a brave face as the camper started rocking in the wind and hail beat off the roof. I liked having companionship during the storm, I did not like that all her blinds were closed and I couldn’t see what was really happening outside. The light fixtures were rattling. The wind was howling. The slide was moving and I was worried it was going to blow right in. The worst lasted about 15 minutes.
I’m telling ya, everyone here is so worried about winter, the cold, the snow, the notorious North Dakota blizzards, but I would gladly take a blizzard any day over tornado weather. ANY DAY! I would weather any damn blizzard in our camper and not bat an eye! This I know for sure.
As the storm petered out, Brock took the kids into town. They’re staying in a hotel for the rest of their trip, leaving Darrin to stay in Al’s camper by himself. I visited with Debby a bit longer, learned some more about her family, life in New Mexico, and her hobbies that include cooking, baking, canning … and collecting snake skins. She showed me the skin of a snake she killed here. Like RIGHT here, in these fields that we’re living in. It was about 4 feet long and I don’t know if my fingers would touch if I wrapped my hands around it. Not a rattler, which are her favourite to collect, but she tells me there are rattlers here. But this one reared up on its tail to look at her i the long grass, thus cutting his life short. Yeah, there goes my thoughts on getting in a ditch during a tornado. I think I need a new emergency plan.