Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Attracting Natural Disasters

On the American Christian Fiction Writers email loop this week, people are discussing creative ways to make extra cash to help pay for the annual conference. I just thought of one. I can tell folks that unless they send me large sums of money, I will bring my family to camp near them.

My family's camping trips have always attracted natural disasters. We've long been accustomed to heading out in tornado warnings or flash floods. Usually things clear up by the time we get where we're going--at least enough for us to cope.

I was already a grown woman when my dad got a motor home. Family vacations for us had usually consisted of visiting relatives in other states, but now we intended to go play! We planned a camping trip to the beach in Florida, even though it was a little early in the year and the wind was howling. We didn't care. All of us----my parents, my sister and her family (including my niece and nephew) and me--loaded into that RV and headed out.

We basically lay on the beach in a sandstorm. My father still teases my sister about the sand that stuck in her lip balm in the perfect shape of her lips. But we had a blast. The first time my fiancee (now my husband, Dave) met my family was on one of those camping trips. We had a long distance relationship, and he drove over from Louisiana to meet us on yet another beach in Florida.

For years now, we camp every summer at one of my favorite places in the world, Hunting Island State Park in South Carolina. The woods and the shady trees with moss stretch all the way down to the beach. So I can park a beach chair in the shade from the trees, lie there and watch the waves, and not worry so much about burning this glaring white skin. In fact, I once had a squirrel come down out of an oak tree right onto the beach to beg for potato chips, which he took out of my hand.

Hunting Island is so popular that it's very hard to get a reservation, but about three years ago, I snagged one. I planned that trip four months in advance--and managed to choose a week when not one but THREE hurricanes went up the coast. We were evacuated, which is a good thing, or we probably would have just sat there and waited for it to blow over.

We tried again the next year. I know you won't believe this, but as I left the library to start my vacation, one of my colleagues said, "At least there are no hurricanes predicted this year." That was the week Katrina hit. We traveled other places for a few days first, but by the time we reached Hunting Island, boy was there a hurricane predicted! Katrina didn't make landfall in our area, but we got the residual effects, mostly in wind. I had mentioned to Dave and my dad that I wanted one of those screen tents to put around our picnic table. We sat in the motor home and watched other people's screen tents go blowing past, rolling over and over like a ball. Daddy told me to just go out and grab the one I wanted as it went by.

All of this is leading up to this past weekend. I'll tell you about that tomorrow, in part 2 of this fascinating story.