Sunday, April 19, 2009

Thank God for Small Favors...

Michael has been considering firefighting recently and given that the Austin Fire Department is currently on a hiring freeze and cutting their costs, he decided to look into other departments and see what might be in store. So we went to Houston to attend an open house for the HFD and visit some family. The visit on Friday night with Michael’s Nana and his relatives in Baytown was a pleasant one. This rain was ahead of us the whole time on the road, so it wasn’t too bad and we were very fortunate to have left Austin at 3:45 and arrived at Baytown at 7 pm having hit very little resistance and no tolls!

Saturday however, was not so nice. Initially, our plan was that I would drop Michael off at his open house, and then drive out to Clear Lake to go visit my cousin Erin and her family for a bit and then go back and get Michael and we’d leave town. By the time we got to dropping Michael off, the rain was falling more steadily and he didn’t feel comfortable with me driving in it. I had to agree, so we decided that Billa and I would go to this open house too. I ended up sitting outside the presentation room chasing Billa so as not to disrupt everyone who had come to listen to the speakers. During this time, the rain kept coming and coming. I was in the bathroom trying to get Billa to fall asleep in my lap when another lady came in and told me that Michael was looking for me. I was surprised when she said that the event was over. Michael informed me that a nearby street was completely flooded out and that they were asking everyone to leave early so that we didn’t get trapped.

Michael went to get the SUV, I changed Billa’s diaper and then the baby and I ran out to the car to meet him. By the time I made it to the car, I was drenched and Billa wasn’t too far from wet either. We were just south of Hobby airport and apparently it is a very low lying area as we passed several cars that had already been submerged. We’d gotten halfway to 45 before we realized that the only way we knew how to get there wasn’t going to work. The road was just too flooded and so we started trying to turn around. In the process of turning around, we got trapped in the median for a moment and the SUV started making some very awful noises. We managed to pull off into a parking lot to regroup for a moment.

At this point, we were almost in tears and beginning to be very worried. We don’t know Houston at all, and we were looking at the very real prospect of spending the night stuck in a parking lot with no drinkable water, no restroom facility, no food and a toddler irate at begging strapped in the car for so long. NOT an option, so we kept trying. My friend Kellie has gone on at great length about how irritating it is that Austin is not a perfect grid like Houston and we drew on that knowledge to get to 45. It took an hour, but we managed to do it. At one point, we really thought we were going to have to call our new friends from the HFD to come rescue us as the water was lapping at the side of the door panels. That sound is very soothing when you’re in a boat on a lake, not so much when you’re in your car in the middle of a torrential downpour. We prayed and prayed like we’d never done before and thankfully we made it to 45 and got out of town lickety split.

When we got to Katy and the sun had come out, we then decided to continue with our plan of meeting my brothers in College Station for dinner. We got there about 7 and went to Layne’s for chicken fingers. It so happens that this weekend was Parents Weekend for A&M, so Michael and I treated the boys, Philip’s roommate, and David’s girlfriend to dinner. It’s really kind of funny actually, because Michael and I were much like all of the other parents in town, taking their kiddos out to dinner and making sure they were well-fed. We were all amazed because I managed to feed 6 adults and one baby on $40 total and still have leftovers! Yay Layne’s! We had fun, but since I had a baby shower cake to make the next morning, we had to head home. We then got home at 11 and went to bed.

Billa shows off her special cell phone ray protection headcover, inspired by those swan shaped foil leftover packages from fancy restaurants, courtesy of Uncle Phil!

Philip, Kelly, Billa, David & David's girlfriend, Lindsey. Finally a picture of me and my brothers!

As a result of this weekend we are thankful for many different things:
1. Family – thanks to them, we had a place to stay and good company.
2. Gunnar the SUV – I named my SUV Gunnar for the Vikings, who were the toughest warriors around. My Gunnar proved to be just as tough. Without him, we’d be sitting in a parking lot right now waiting to be rescued.
3. Mike and Trisa – for giving us Gunnar.
4. Layne’s – for the kid that gave me 5 baskets of fries and only charged me for 3, and for being so super speedy in getting the food ready. It was also very tasty!
5. Sleeping babies – enough said!
6. Starbucks – for keeping us awake as we made it home on the last leg of journey
7. Kellie’s gripes about road systems – without it, we might not have had enough confidence to get out of Houston!
8. Sunshine - as much as I love rainy days, sometimes, it's really good to have the sun!

Enjoy some of the pictures we took on this journey (sorry, we were too panicked to think to take pictures during the flooding). Our journey, while eventful, was also very informative. Michael has decided that he really does want to be a firefighter and that he definitely does not want to be one in Houston. So rest assured, dear readers, we won’t be moving to Houston any time soon!

This one is of Billa at lunch today...she's wearing a tortilla container hat!

Love to you all,
K & Co.

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