Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Tornado X 2

Wednesday April 27, 2011
Site 79 C
Cumberland Mountain State Park, Tennessee

Still raining………….
A knock at the door around 7:30 AM
proved to be the Ranger suggesting that we might
want to go to the bath house since there was a tornado warning.

Not a watch,
a warning.

We were taken by surprise. 
Even though we had been looking at the weather on line,
we hadn’t seen anything but “severe storms”
which we could see out the windows.

But off we went where we hung out with other
campers for about 45 minutes.
When the warning became a watch,
we came back and made chocolate chip pancakes
to celebrate our reprieve.
I spent yet another hour
on the phone with Citi-card
trying to explain full timing to three
different customer “noservice” representatives,
telling them each that we had received the cards
they overnighted to us at the RV-Dreams Rally
which were now good until 2014.
And asking WHY were they STILL sending cards
to our old address and
then blocking our 2014 card when they were returned?

The incompetence is just amazing.
I have learned just to tell the first person who picks up the phone
that I am furious and want to speak to her supervisor. 
Unfortunately it saves time to start yelling,
Then ask for the supervisor's supervisor in order to get to a
SENIOR supervisor who
be able to actually do something. 

Today was the second SENIOR supervisor I've spoken to.
AGAIN after pitching yet another fit,
I was told things would be different now.
I guess we'll  see.

Rain, pouring rain, more rain and then a break about noon. 
Weather.com said there was a 3 hour window
of only a 10% chance of rain before the
“SEVERE weather”
started again.
We’d been indoors for most of 2 days by now
and were starting to get cabin fever
or should we call it coach fever???

We walked over to the restaurant on our way
to the Pioneer Short Loop Trail.

David, ever interested in any and all food,  
went in to look at the buffet. 
Today was Crazy Chicken Day. 
The restaurant is highly regarded and after looking at the schedule,
 which is apparently the same every week,
we determined that we should have gone for lunch yesterday
when they had not only grilled chicken with rice
but country fried steak with gravy,
white beans and cornbread,
fried okra, mashed potatoes,
macaroni and cheese and potato soup.

The full buffet includes four hot vegetables,
soup and salad bar,
made from scratch rolls,
homemade banana pudding
and choice of numerous cobblers and cakes. 
Such a LOT of food.  

While we were there,
one of the guys from the kitchen came out
on his break and in conversation
asked what we doing in this rain break. 
We told him we were just walking around and, 
since we had this big window of no rain, were going on a hike

He said, in his GREAT Tennesse accent,
“nope, gonna rain again way before that,
stay close to shelter”.

Well you can guess what’s coming.
We were trusting those same weather guys
rather than the local man.
Turned out to be a mistake of course.

But I’m ahead of myself.
We walked from the restaurant down to the boat dock
where we took this rather questionable bridge

and picked up the Pioneer “Short” Trail.

We thought surely we could hike the 2 miles in less than an hour. 
It was a really nice hike down one side of the lake

and creek that feeds it,

across a very cool swinging bridge

and up the other side.  

First half of the hike went just as planned.
But it started to drizzle by the time we got to the
very cool swinging bridge.

(Notice the high muddy water
and raindrops on the final picture.)

As we crossed the bridge,
it began to thunder.
Soon the rain was coming down harder
and it was lightning.
At that point, we were
down that path.

We didn’t get soaked,
but were getting  pretty seriously wet.

Before trail’s end, 
I saw a cabin off to the left.
We scrambled up the hill to the cabin loop road
and got under the overhang
of Timberlodge Cabin #2 to wait it out.  
And JUST in time. 
We were wet but
within a minute of our
getting under the overhang,
it began to pour.

“Sometimes” I have to wonder...........
What IS this man so happy about.
Look how wet he is?

After about 20 minutes it let up
and we walked back
to Winnona in the drizzle,
put on dry clothing,
and made a red bean toss for dinner.

I had just settled in to the continuing effort
to get the Smoky Mountain blog caught up
when the cute young ranger lady came by
and said another tornado was coming our way
and they were asking everyone
to go to the restaurant’s basement.  

Given the change in venue
to a more serious shelter,,
it was clear this was a bigger threat.

This time we drove,
thinking perhaps EITHER
Winnona or the car would be safe.
I keep all our important papers
in one portable filing box which
I hadn’t taken to the bath house in the morning
but did take both this time and previously in Hungry Mother State Park.

We also took cell phones
but the ranger said we had less than 10 minutes so
in our hurry we did not take
our laptops (which of course contain our entire lives)
or flashlights, or food, or water.  

We clearly need a “tornado list”
if this is going to keep up.

Luckily the restaurant basement had chairs,
and couches for us all to sit on.
The staff provided sweet tea and coffee.

A restaurant basement is clearly THE place to be stranded.
with a huge buffet just up stairs.
After about 90 minutes of chatting around the circle,
with all the cmapers in the campground,
the warning was again decreased to a watch
that was in effect until midnight.

The ranger told us we could all go back to our
campsites but to keep an ear on weather radio.

So we spent the rest of the night
listening to NOAA radio
update weather bulletins.

With the Tennessee map spread out on the sofa,
we could track exactly what towns the
severe weather,
golf ball sized hail,
and tornados
were affecting and how close they were to us.

Rain pelted our roof.
Thunder was often so loud we couldn’t hear
the radio and lightning flashed all around.

It was a tense evening for sure. 
Finally around 10:30 it all seemed to die down
and we thought we could go to bed
without concern.

The park personnel had been
terrific at notifying everyone
and we all have them to thank for our safety. 

Happily we are supposed to have good weather
for at least 3 or 4 days
and I’m sure glad of it.  

This has been WAY TOOO
many tornado
watches and warnings for me.


  1. It's clear you need to listen to the locals!

    Glad it didn't do any damage but maybe it's time to get the heck out of Tennessee! ;)

  2. That was a nail-biter of a day. One tornado warning is too many, but two??? We're really glad everything turned out okay.

    Hope you get your credit card problem worked out. How frustrating!!

  3. Wild weather the south has been having this year! La Nina!

  4. Glad everyone is ok. I've got some friends east of you in Oak Ridge that have been hanging in there too! Beautiful pics of the hiking trail & creek. Thanks for posting those. Cheers! ~M

  5. Ok you two...enough is enough!!

    Just glad you are safe and sound.

    What a crazy start to your full-timing adventure. Sure hope this gets you bad weather earned credits as you move west!!

  6. From the sound of all those tornados, we should be thankful you didn't end up in OZ!

    Good thought about a tornado bailout bag, I'd hate to think about losing all my important stuff.

    You have to define "serious wet" ;c)

  7. he is smiling because he know it could be worse... he could be still working ;)

  8. Oh no Paul, you caught me in a serious proofreading error. A blow to reputation of any X-English teacher. I think I'll forward future posts to you before posting! You have lots of time now that you are retired, right???

  9. I believe David was thinking about all of that bird poop that would be washed off the top of his RV!

  10. great photos, great park, great park staff, but crappy weather! we're hoping the worst has passed you by for quite some time! A tornado list is a great idea--maybe an empty crate for just tossing a bunch of stuff into and dashing out the door would work. Something for all of us to think about, that's for sure!


Your comments are the best part of this blog for me.
I LOVE hearing from you!