Fight or Flight – When an Escape Becomes an Adventure

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 When an Escape Becomes an Adventure

While on our evacuee escape Irma road trip, my 14 year old companion asked me what my super secret super hero power is. She mentioned that she has this skill of playing complete songs in her head from start to finish without a radio or streaming music player. I told her I had to think about that for awhile and I would give her an answer when it came to me.

Some time later she said to me, “I just texted my mom, ‘thank you for going to Italy so that I could have the best road trip ever!’”

We were evacuating Florida to escape Hurricane Irma. Anyone else would consider this an extremely stressful and trying time, terrifying even. But, then it hit me, my super power!

I help people turn the negative in their lives into positives.

I have a gift in figuring out how something that looks ugly and feels nasty can be beautiful and perfect. While yes, we were fleeing a hurricane, and driving miles and miles of heavy trafficked road amidst thousands of stressed and weary travelers. And, we had a blast!

I learned many blessings (see yesterday’s post) along the way that first night on the road. Once the road opened up and we were welcomed into Georgia at 11:11 with an open gas station, the real fun began.

I’m a seasoned road traveler.

My friend knew this when she charged me with taking care of her child during hurricane season while she went to Italy. When she received the above text from her daughter, she could rest easier than most any other mother who was facing Irma in many different ways. I have resources in the form of a complex and elaborate network of friends all over the country, willing and ready to take me into their homes on a moment’s notice. I know how to find a pet friendly motel anywhere. And, if worse comes to worse, I know how to turn the back of my Prius into a pretty cozy bed, and feel safe (thanks to my dog who will wake and warn me if ANYONE comes near the windows of my car). I keep a tool box, spare clothing and blankets, a stash of water, and even extra sheets in my car at all times.

On our first night out of Florida, I knew to think ahead enough and book a hotel in the “safe zone” outside of Irma’s cone, in Columbus Georgia. We rolled up to the Motel 6 at about 2am, and found ourselves in a smoke smelling first floor room. Yes, Motel 6 leaves the lights on for us, but they don’t necessarily provide the coziest of overnight homes…enter the spare set of sheets and pillow cases. We slept hard and fast, guarded by my shiba inu and two noisy parrots (more often than not the best defense is a loud noisy animal). We didn’t shower, and ignored Pepper the parrot’s instructions to do so.

Let the FUN COMMENCE

We found a cute little breakfast café in the heart of Columbus, across the street from a playground. The workers and other patrons at the café took pity on us as waried hurricane evacuees, and suggested many places in town where we might enjoy their quaint city. My teenage companion played on the playground while I walked Sukha, the birds and seedlings happy in the shaded car. Then we went about our journey to our next destination, an old high school friend’s home in Atlanta.

Forgetting that my GPS was set to avoid interstates (since the evacuee traffic was the worst on I-75), we drove back-country roads to Atlanta. We stopped every 15-20 minutes to take pictures of ourselves engaging with various exhibits of Americana. Petting the flower chicken on a hay bale. Doing a cartwheel in front of a “play here” lotto sign. Posing with a found item crazy man statue. And loitering under a “no loitering” sign on an abandoned building. We car danced to a morning road trip spotify play list constructed from my boyfriend in Minneapolis. We got to know each other better by telling goofy stories about other adventures we had had in life.

Upon arriving in Atlanta, I decided we deserved a fun night out on the town. We found a highly ranked sushi joint not far from our home, and quickly executed a sushi massacre, followed by an adventure to a cupcakery across the street from another playground where we took more pictures of ourselves playing on what looked like turtle Stonehenge. Not a bad way to spend our second night as Hurricane Irma evacuees, right?

Hurricane Irma Chased Us Farther out of Atlanta

That night, we got word that Georgia issued a mandatory evacuation of all coastal regions. Everyone was headed…you guessed it…to Atlanta! On our drive home from cupcakes, traffic was heavier. Gas stations had lines out into the streets, and grocery store parking lots were packed. So, I plugged into my network of friends. My college BFF called another college classmate of ours (one I vaguely remembered as a fraternity brother to my college BF) and set up refuge for us northeast of Atlanta in the community of Buford Georgia.

Good Samaritans to the Rescue

At the crack of dawn the next morning, we drove an hour north to Buford GA. Good Samaritans welcomed us into the warm and loving home. I kid you not, their last name is GOOD! Matt Good knew too well the experience of escaping a natural disaster. As a child, he survived a hurricane that destroyed his family home in Kansas. We spent the next four days and nights (two without electricity) establishing a sweet friendship with his new bride and her 15-year-old daughter.

 

Evacuation from a hurricane larger than the entire state of Florida could be a stressful and terrifying experience. I activated my super hero power and made it a fun and playful road trip adventure.

 

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