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The Pack Family Journal is a place where we gather text and images of our lives, adventures and travels. This is a very personal site, written openly and honestly. Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

November 2009 - Gypsy Journal - Hurricane Jimena

We had been watching the hurricane for days. This was on Tuesday and our son's wedding was in five days. The direction of Hurricane Jimena would force our hand; would we be able to go or would we be trapped?

As Loreto prepared, we too prepared what we could. "Talking cars" were driving through town announcing that the water was going to be turned off. We filled our tanks and our two five-gallon bottles of drinking water. Our neighbor had even filled his boat with gas, "might need it to get through town," he said, not setting our minds at ease.

Tuesday night, Rachel began to cry as the fear was building. I assured her things would be okay, and I had a plan; of course, that didn't help at all. We could hear the wind whipping outside as we reviewed the plan. We would sit tight; if it looked as if it were going to move northeast, we would leave early in the morning and try to race past it; if it appeared to head directly east or southeast, we would batten down and pray.

At 4 a.m. it looked as if it were heading northeast—this was the deciding factor; we needed to get past it or we would be be stuck.

Outside the wind was howling and it was eerily dark. Our greatest fear was the wind blowing a hatch off the top of the RV and rain pouring in and destroying it. So, Rachel and I worked as a team to hoist large rocks onto the roof and strategically placed them on and around the hatches to help hold them in place. As we were about to leave, Yolanda, the park owner, kept saying, "muy peligroso, muy peligroso" ("very dangerous"). But, if we didn't leave then, we wouldn't be able to leave at all.

As the rain fell and the wind blew, we said good-bye to our cats, which would be cared for by our neighbor. We got our dog, Cai, into the car and left. We drove through the darkened town toward the highway, dodging growing streams of water in the streets and only passing two vehicles; a local police pickup helping another police officer change a flat.

When we reached the outskirts of Loreto, at the military checkpoint, the soldiers were holding their posts. The wind made holding the steering wheel difficult. Our windshield wipers had not been used in so long, they had dried up and now were almost useless, so the rain made it hard to see.

As dawn approached, we had still not seen any other vehicles. The sky was ominous and dark, and strangely beautiful. North of MulegĂ©, the highway was becoming washed out. We had to cross streams of water 30 feet across and thankfully only as deep as our floorboard. Then we reached a bridge being built, and at the bottom of the bypass around the construction the river had overtaken the road and there was no way to pass. There was no room to turn around, so we backed up the highway and drove over the unfinished bridge—still unpaved, without railing and covered in gravel.

In Santa Rosalia it seemed that they had already been hit by the hurricane; although they had not, the highway was covered in mud and water. In many places the water flowed across the highway into the sea. If this is how it looked before the hurricane, how could it handle a direct hit?

As we crossed the peninsula towards Guerrero Negro, the skies cleared and the day became beautiful. When we reached the El Rey Sol Posada hotel in Ensenada, it was dark and we were exhausted.

The next morning we were heading to a wedding! Santa Barbara was beautiful. David Cybulski, my best friend since Jr. High, and his wife, Karin, and daughters Sarah and Amber, welcomed us into their home for the week. That night our son, Troy, came by after his bachelor party in the mountains—a full moon and plenty of bourbon!

My mom and my sister, Suzette, arrived the next morning. That evening we met our son's new family. I hate this kind of stuff, but surprisingly it went well and everyone had a good time.

Just as we were finishing dinner, David called and said they were out scouring the neighborhood in search of Cai. Apparently, the gate was left open and our dog went looking for us. So, Rachel and I spent a exhaustive evening out prowling in search of Cai; we turned up nothing and went to bed empty handed.

The next morning, as we began to continue our search, my Mom leaned out the car window and asked the first person she saw if they'd seen a little red dog that looks like a fox. "Last night," was the reply.

It turned out someone down the street had picked her up. After knocking on several doors, we came up empty handed again. So, we went to the pound and asked if they had seen her. "We just brought her in. Here she is," a man said as he handed Rachel our scared puppy. I had two very happy girls!

The wedding was the next morning. We had left in such a hurry that I only brought dress shirts . . . no pants, no belt, no tie, no shoes . . . nothing! Fortunately, David enjoyed the culinary delights and spirits as I did, and had similar girth; so, I was dressed in David's attire and was "wedding ready."

The wedding was on a beautiful grassy knoll, overlooking a lovely golf course. In the distance I could see the Pacific Ocean and endless blue skies. The ceremony was stunning, my new daughter-in-law, Cherise, was gorgeous and my son was more handsome than I've ever seen. Rachel, of course, was tearing up, as well as my Mom and nearly every person around me.
We had outrun Mother Nature to get here . . . and I couldn't have been happier!

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