Carol Ann and I left home Friday afternoon with our eight-year old grandson, Jamie, for a short two-hour weekend trip to Jefferson, TX and their Civil War Days weekend. Before leaving we retrieved the coach from a motorhome dealership where some minor warranty work had been performed. The service manager told me that the fuse for the dash A/C had blown but they had replaced it. It blew again before I got out of the parking lot (I should have taken that as an omen) but I started the onboard generator to run the roof-top A/C’s as we drove to Jefferson. I would have the problem diagnosed and corrected once we returned home.
Heavy rain was forecast but not supposed to start until Friday night. We had already purchased the tickets so we decided to risk it. We picked Jamie up from school at 2:30 PM and by 3:30 PM the clouds were black and ugly, the sky was dark, and occasional drops of rain were hitting the windshield. I was crossing my fingers that we would reach the RV park and get set up before the deluge began.
I didn’t gas up before we left because I thought we had plenty for the trip to Jefferson and back. However, just prior to reaching the RV park I realized that I had been looking at the fuel gauge incorrectly. For some stupid reason I was thinking that Empty was Full and vice versa. I shut off the generator to save fuel. Luckily, we were close to the RV park and within a few minutes were pulling into our camp site. I shut down the engine and plugged our power cord into the park’s electric service. We were only six miles from several gas stations and could fill up Sunday on the trip home.
A hard rain began falling soon after we were setup in our camp site. The rain was hitting the roof hard. It was like being trapped inside of a drum with a bored eight-year old. But, I had planned ahead and brought the movie “Blazing Saddles” (starring Clevon Little, Slim Pickens, and Mel Brooks) with me. What eight-year old wouldn’t like a movie featuring cowboys farting around a campfire? Jamie thinks fart jokes are the funniest jokes in the world. Well, I could not get any audio for the movie. The TV sound is routed through a sound bar, which works fine when watching TV. But for some reason, wasn’t working while playing a DVD. I tried everything, pushed every button, studied every menu, and even got out the user manual. No sound could be coaxed from either the sound bar or the TV speakers. I felt beaten and retreated into the bedroom to prop myself up in bed and console myself with my laptop while Jamie continued watching the movie in closed caption. I don’t know how the closed caption handled the farting. Maybe the First Cowboy said to the Second Cowboy, “Pull my finger” and the Second Cowboy pulled the First Cowboy’s finger. The First Cowboy farted and the Second Cowboy responded with a louder fart. A Third Cowboy said “Who fired that shot?” and a Fourth Cowboy said, “I did,” to which the Third Cowboy answered, “I thought you farted!” A Fifth Cowboy looked around and asked if someone stepped on a frog while the Sixth Cowboy blamed it on the dog.
Once the movie was over we all bedded down. Jamie in a bed, which is lowered from the ceiling over the cockpit, and Carol Ann and me in our bed. The rain was pounding on the rook and the only light was from my computer screen (I was still consoling myself) when all of a sudden I was startled by a figure appearing out of the dark on my side of the bed. It was Jamie. He looked upset and I asked him if he was OK. “I miss my mommy and I remembered a nightmare I once had,” he responded. Now all three of us were in one bed. Jamie was in the middle but he kicks the covers off as he sleeps so for the rest of the night it was a tug-of-war over the covers.
We awoke early on Saturday morning to have breakfast and get ready to ride the steam train. It had rained hard all night and was still pouring down. Our tickets were for the 11:00 AM excursion, which would feature Civil War reenactments of the Great Locomotive Chase and a naval battle with an ironclad gunboat on the bayou running beside the tracks. The forecast was for the rain to end that morning and as we drove into town the rain began slowing. We had our umbrellas with us and the train ride had not been canceled. We were ready. Luck was with us and by the time we boarded the train the rain had stopped and the sun was out.
The train left the station with a full load of riders and reenactors. The reenactors were to defend the train and join in the battle that was yet to come. The heavy rains had caused so much flooding in places that some of the train track was actually several inches under water. Except for the smoke and the huffing and puffing engine, it seemed more like a boat ride than a train ride.
About twenty minutes into the ride we arrived at the battle site. An ironclad gunboat, the Virginia, was dueling with three cannons that were firing from the shore. All together there were perhaps half a dozen or more cannons blasting away. We passed by the gunboat and came upon an encampment where Yankee and Confederate reenactors were skirmishing beside the railroad tracks. The train stopped and the Confederates on the train jumped off and joined their Confederate brethren and helped beat back the Yankees who eventually were forced to retreat. Everyone cheered (this was in Texas). Between the cannons and the muzzle-loaders there was a tremendous amount of noise and smoke. It was the best part and most fun of our entire weekend.
After the train returned to the station we had lunch in a local courtyard café and then drove back towards the RV park (6 miles south of Jefferson). We decided to drive past the RV park to take a look at another RV park a couple of miles further south. One-mile south of our RV park we came upon a wreck on the northbound side of the divided highway. It appeared that an 18-wheeler had crushed a car beneath it and there were several police cars, EMS ambulances, and tow trucks working the scene. Traffic was backed up for miles! It would take us forever to get back to the park! We pulled off the highway and asked the GPS for an alternate route. It found one that would require us to drive 28 miles along backroads to the RV park (which was only about three miles from us). At least we wouldn’t be sitting in that long line of traffic.
When we got back to the RV park, the A/C was not running and it was hot and humid. My first thought was, “Oh (expletive deleted), now it’s more than a blown fuse for the dash A/C!” I checked to make sure we were still plugged in to the park’s power and then I checked the fuses and breakers in the motorhome. I couldn’t run the generator to help with my troubleshooting because there was not enough gas in the tank. We had absolutely no power. Nothing electrical worked. I called my brother-in-law, our go-to person for motorhome problems, and he finally suggested calling our emergency road service. Instead, I tried to call a local RV service only to discover they were no longer in business. I get very agitated when we have RV problems. I get knots in my stomach just driving the thing. We were sitting outside of the coach, trying to cool off and remain calm when another camper walked past and politely asked how we were doing. He shouldn’t have asked, only it was good that he had, because he told us that the power for the entire park was out due to the accident we had seen one-mile south of the park.
We learned that the “accident” had actually occurred on Friday night during the heavy rain. A tornado had touched down almost exactly one mile from the RV park. It picked up the 18-wheeler and slammed it down on top of the car, killing the car’s driver. The tornado also destroyed two houses, knocked down six utility poles, and snapped off or uprooted numerous trees. There were sheets of metal roofing hanging in the trees near the 18-wheeler. We could see all of this as we headed home on Sunday. Funny how we noticed nothing but the truck on top of the car before we learned the cause. We didn’t see the forest for the trees.
Saturday night Carol Ann asked Jamie if he was going to sleep in the bunk. He told her that he was still thinking about the nightmare and would feel safer in our bed. I got up and went to sleep in the bunk and Jamie slept with Carol Ann.
The power was still off when we awoke Sunday morning so we decided to pack up and leave. We arrived home uneventfully only to discover that an accident near our house had knocked out a transformer and our daughter and son-in-law’s house (next door to ours) had no power! What were the odds? From powerless to powerless. We parked the RV and left the generator running to await the return of electricity in relative comfort. After a short while, Carol Ann went over to our house and discovered that the power outage had not affected it at all. I shut down the RV’s generator and went home.