flew into Dallas last Tuesday. picked up an e-bay purchase (read:truck) I graciously (read: foolishly) agreed to drive back to Colorado for a friend of mine.
had lunch with a couple friends from college. we caught up on each other's lives. one I'd seen this summer when she drug me to Casa Bonita on her way through Denver. the other I'd seen at our college's alumni weekend the previous fall.
both had bought new houses since the last time I was in Dallas. we talked of remodeling and painting. of boys and how to find a good one. and of how silly boys think to get the Direct TV turned on, but not the power. (little hard to watch those hundreds of channels with no juice...)
after hanging out at one of their houses with her two year-old, comparing kitchen remodeling stories. went to dinner with three other friends. tales of weddings and boyfriends. cats and dogs. past travels and upcoming adventures. we talked about Katrina, about our friend and her family. about boys and where I should look.
sitting around giggling and gossiping like school girls, my phone rang. it was my friend who I was going to meet for lunch on my way to Houston the next day. she told me that my friends that lived in Houston were likely evacuating becuase of Rita, but that I was welcome to stay with her.
I called my friend in Houston, they were indeed evacuating. but since I was now driving the truck and no longer flying I had a bit more flexibility, so we made plans to try and meet up on her way north, as I was on my way south.
it never really crossed my mind that driving towards a hurricane was a bad idea. I live in Colorado. except a few rain storms in college and one since, I'd never experienced any personal inconvenience from them.
the next morning, I got up and did some work at the evil empire (that although evil, is the most constant way to get wi-fi while travelling). then headed off to College Station (CS) where I was now going to stay and meet up with my Houston friend.
on my way south I noticed the traffic heading north was pretty heavy. and a truck eats a bit more gas than my little car. so I pulled off on the turn-off to CS to make sure I had plenty of gas. there were long lines for the pumps. the people in the convenience store had a franticness about them. it made me a little anxious.
I continued on to CS, and my friend's house. I got to meet her beautiful little baby girl. we went to a late lunch and waited to hear from our Houston friend. things were going more slowly than they expected.
there was no water, no pet carriers, and they had to find a gas station that still had gas. would we mind finding a cat carrier and getting them some water, so they could spend more time visiting and less looking?
we went to the store in CS, got one of the last cat carriers. the water aisle was empty. but there were a few left in the cooler near the check out. the people leaving Houston, and those worried about the forcasted 75 mph sustained winds in CS were stocking up.
seeing the water aisle completely empty is when it really hit home that Houston very well may be in big trouble.
I know lots of people that live in Houston. many, many friends. friends' parents and family. my CS friend said her parents' house near Clear Lake might flood up to 30 feet if they get a direct hit. it was crazy.
when my Houston friend showed up in CS, with their bird and two kids. her sister-in-law, their cat and two kids. the quiet house with one baby turned into a zoo and child care in a matter of minutes. my friend was so stressed out. I didn't know how to help her but I wanted to so badly.
the girls had left their husbands in Houston, as they were to fly out the next morning with their parents. I've known my friend's husband (and his brother and parents) since I was 10 years old. I knew how scared she was that they wouldn't get out. I was worried about them, too. but I insisted to her that they'd be fine. we attempted to lighten the mood by joking that the hurricane might turn and hit ravaged New Orleans again anyway...
we tried to talk and catch up a little amongst the craziness. I had been so looking forward to staying with them catching up with her and my childhood friend. but life and nature have a way of changing plans. it requires flexibility. after too short a visit they continued on to her parents' house near where I had started my journey that day.
after a fantastic dinner with my friend, her husband, and a slightly fussy 6 month-old, we headed to their house and watched a little hurricane coverage before heading to bed. the next morning I decided I needed to leave a little extra early for my drive to San Antonio, given the craziness on the Texas highways...