Crack! You know that feeling when everything comes together and you hit the proverbial golf ball perfectly. The delicious sound of hitting the sweet spot super hard and dead straight…and then you notice something impossible – the ball starts to curve every so gently. But that gentle curve grows, slowly at first but exponentially. Perfection, as it often is, is fleeting and what was once a hard shot down the fairway becomes a hard and undeniable slice towards the large windowed houses lining the course. Despite being a useless strategy we turn to hope as our first defense against the inevitable. We’ll lean our bodies away from the gutter but the bowling ball doesn’t change course. When we are at an acquaintance’s house and the post-flush toilet water is rises too high and ignores our protestations of an ever accelerating “no….no…no..NO, NO!”. And so it was last night.
After driving through a State of relentless cornfields we trusted our GPS and to our surprise and delight we came to the top of what seemed like Nebraska’s only hill and looked down upon a very improbable Lake McConaughy. We put our $18 camping fee in an envelope and into an unmanned steel box and took residence for the night on one of it’s many deserted beaches. We could see a lightning storm in the distance as the sun went down but the weather forecast and radar confirmed they would pass by 100 miles north of us. And so we pitched our tent (nicknamed Wonksworth based on it’s less than perfect shape) on the beach and dined on sardines, yoghurt, ham slices and cherry tomatoes.
Julie woke me up a couple hours later as the lightning seemed closer instead of further. We checked the radar again. Instead of maintaining it’s small shape and consistent course the storm seemed to be elongating and veering ever so gently in our direction. It would come close but it probably wouldn’t touch us. We looked out of our little tent (the only thing higher than a grain of sand for hundreds of yards) and watched the lightning get brighter and louder until the wind started doing that thing it does before all hell breaks lose. I meekly checked the radar again but only to confirm what we already knew.
We ran the bleary eyes kids in the darkness towards the van parked up the beach where it was safe from being stuck in deep sand and dragged our tent filled with sleeping gear up the beach. Somewhere in the distance a train was rolling closer and blowing it’s horn in panicked repetition. We piled in just as it started pouring. And then the pouring tripled in volume as we realized it was ice that was pelting us from the sky. Julie read Booky to the kids as I watched the weather forecast update from clear skies to thunderstorms. Beyond our steel pod the outside darkness was being repeatedly punctuated by brilliant flashes of migrating enraged electrons from above.
It wasn’t what we expected but I guess that is why we are here in the first place. Eventually the storm passed, we dried out and we got back to sleep again. When we awoke the next time all was glorious again. We soaked up the morning sun a little more sandy and a little less cocksure.