Shit is hitting the fan in Florida, folks... although to taunt any sweaty Floridians with the promise of a fan is just cruel. In case you've been out of touch, a big, fat hurricane named Irma hit our little town of Naples and pretty much all of Florida. The anticipation leading up to her arrival was dramatic, confusing, overwhelming and terrifying. To evacuate? To not evacuate? So many questions. And then, on Sunday, September 10th, she made landfall.
A lot of people ask us why we write this little travel blog... which gets over 1000 views per post but only 4 Facebook likes... LOL... Come on, people! Click the "like" button after you read! The truth is, it's not for everyone else, it's diary of sorts that we hope to someday pass on to our kids. All these adventures, all this time, all this planning... we just want them to know how much we love them and how blessed we are to be able to explore the world together. Of all our adventures, though, we're sure that these last few days will forever stand out in their otherwise carefree minds. Here it is, kiddos.. the story of your first hurricane.
It's hard to believe that just 3 weeks ago we left beautiful Bar Harbor and faced the 1,800 mile drive home. We cruised through beautiful Maine, stopping at LL Bean for school supplies, and then scored one of the most delicious meals we have ever had at the Old Stone Trattoria in Chappaqua, NY.
Having driven almost 10,000 miles in total this summer, Mark was exhausted. His shoulder, specifically, was bothering him. He had injured it during a Jiu-Jitsu workout in Newfoundland a few weeks earlier, but was determined not to expose himself to Canadian health care.
I know what you're thinking, ladies... he cooks, he cleans, he's an Eagle Scout, he can fix computers, he's super handsome and he's got mad fighting skills... but he's all mine :)
He's also now 37... being that he celebrated his birthday on August 21st, the same day as the much anticipated 2017 Solar Eclipse. Being that Mark was super excited about the eclipse, and that Andrew was super excited to visit Antietam National Battlefield, we combined the two into a box-on-our-heads-wearing, battlefield exploring, solar adventure.
Naples has had a lot of rain this summer, and our drive home and subsequent arrival was no exception. Standing water everywhere, mosquitoes, and humidity so thick that when we exited the truck after having last been out of it in the Carolinas, it literally took our breath away.
What is this dense, soggy, substance I'm breathing? Is this air? Good golly... Why do we live here?
Now, I don't know about you guys, but just reading all this nonsense so far makes me tired. It's a lot, right? It's just a lot to take on... but we weren't done yet! Hurricane Irma was pitching a fit in the Atlantic and threatening to get all up in our town. The national news was dramatic and terrifying. The local news was like "Here we go again. Get some water, you fools." We were in the cone, and then we were out of the cone. We were all going to die, and then we were all for sure going to be safe. With a forecast that assured us we were in the clear, April boarded a plane to Minneapolis for a quick work trip to Starkey, assuring Mark that she'd be back to help in less than 48 hours.
By the time April landed in Minneapolis, CNN informed the world that Naples was very much back in the damn cone. Talk began of THE SURGE... and how Naples would certainly be destroyed. Too late to fly home, April called Mark as soon as she could and learned that his Dad, Ray, was already headed down to Naples to save the day and help one-armed Mark board up the house. Anxiety showed up.
Ray then drove Mark, the kids, and Gatsby to Lakeland, where they rode out the storm surrounded by awesome family. Did Gatsby poo on Ray and Martha's white carpet? You bet he did. Whoopsies.
While having an otherwise awesome time at Starkey, there was nothing April could do but stare at the TV and try not to vomit. Waking up on Saturday morning to the news of an expected Category 5 direct hit to Naples literally brought her to tears. Watching it make landfall on Sunday morning was excruciating. But, through it all, Mark kept the kids and pup safe in Lakeland and Starkey treated April like gold, taking care of her every need. Looking back, it's hard to believe how much time this kind of impending doom takes up. It's hard to get anything done other than worry.