Part the third: “Breathe through the burlap. It’s a loose knit.”

(My children thought it was great when I had a Veggie Tales title. . .and this line from the “extras” of Jonah fit perfectly as the title for this section. Read on.)

We finally got to a point where we were actually moving again. I was driving, the kids were sitting like perfect angels (I am NOT kidding–they were silent and still and PERFECT the ENTIRE time), and Tony was holding the bags of snakes in his lap.

Some people who heard our story thought I was a saint for doing all the driving in the 12 hours of time we made our mad evacuation attempt. I told them my choices were to drive or hold the snakes. I almost became physically ill at the thought of them in my bags, so my choice was pretty clear.

At one point Tony said, “Don’t look. Don’t look. Don’t look.” So, of course, I looked. What I saw was the head of the corn snake about 6 inches out of my purse headed in my direction. We own a CRV, so I wasn’t that far away from him to begin with. When I calmly asked screamed at my husband to explain why that was the case, he said, while quickly stuffing the loose snake back into my purse, that he was concerned the snake might not be able to get enough air. My reply was, “Well, he can suffocate in my purse or die on the side of the road, ’cause if I see him AGAIN, he’s going out the window.” (I remember my words exactly, because I MEANT them.) After he had gotten the bag zipped ALL THE WAY, I more rationally explained that seeing as how the purse was made of a woven nylon fabric, I was pretty sure that enough oxygen molecules to sustain the life of one snake could make it through.

Other than the little snake hiccup, there was no frustration with each other but lots of frustration with our journey as we finally got off the freeway and started trying to make our way north. We had mapped out several routes, which were all being rather inconveniently blocked by Texas state troopers. I even shook my fist at one of them. I was getting a little frantic and devil may care. We decided that anywhere headed north would do, and we’d figure out how to get to Bastrop (my home town) later.

We’d been in the car for about 9 hours with no bathroom break, no gasoline, and no food other than a couple of bagels and an apple. It was nearly 100 degrees and although we had kept the air off, we were flirting with an empty gas tank. Pretty much every station was closed due to their own evacuation, but we finally found a closed station that had (very graciously) left the pumps on for customers with credit cards. We filled up and found the only road NOT blocked by a DPS officer that headed north. The going was fine for about 30 minutes, then we hit a two lane parking lot just on the outskirts of Vider. The south-bound lane was deserted, but the north-bound lane was packed and standing stock still. In an effort to save gasoline, people had their windows down, mini-van doors were open. . .some people were even WALKING alongside the cars they had been passengers in just to get out and move.

Everyone needed to potty. Everyone needed a break. Everyone was hungry. The cars were barely moving. We pulled into a closed convenience store that had a little shaded yard next to it with a picnic table and some conveniently large bushes. We let the chickens walk around and took the rabbit out so it could get some water to drink. Tony, wisely, didn’t even mention the snakes.

After both the picnic table AND the bushes were used, a man pulled up on a four wheeler and introduced himself. His name was Mr. Porteet, and he lived about a quarter mile up the road. He offered to let Tony come and refill our water jug and watch the Weather Channel. Normally we wouldn’t take a total stranger up on such an offer, but seeing as how we were in a pretty bad fix, Tony took off. About 20 minutes later, he returned with some not so good news. The road we were on was being used by all the people who were evacuating Beaumont, Lake Charles, etc. The storm had turned east and was head RIGHT for where we were sitting. We had to decide what to do. Stay or go back home.

The choice was a hard one but didn’t take much time to make. We had to go back to Houston. We wouldn’t make it more than 10 miles if that far before dark, and the storm, though still a day and a half away, was headed in our direction. It was my turn to lose it. I COULD not tell the children. . .and I could NOT call my mother (who had practically killed the fatted calf awaiting our arrival) to tell her I was taking her grandchildren back to Houston. Tony told the kids what had to be done, called my mother for me, and we headed back home. It took us 10 hours to make a two hour trip to Vider and only two hours to make it back home.

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2 thoughts on “Part the third: “Breathe through the burlap. It’s a loose knit.”

  1. I was in Savannah, GA when one of those big hurricanes was on it’s way. We had to evacuate but we left (we were on vacation) about 1 day befroe the entire SouthEastern coastline had to leave. Those poor people, too, were sitting in a huge traffic jam with the other lane (east bound) empty. South Carolina and Georgia both changed evacuation plans to open both sides of the highway when the evacuation is so large.

    It doesn’t surprise me that Texas thought it’s plans were fine. Opening up both sides of highway seems like a no-brainer.

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