Today was cut short by high winds near Malta. The skies were darkening and high-speed raindrops pelted me in the face as I inched forward under full power but only at half speed. A bit worried I stopped at a farmhouse. A nice lady checked the weather on her phone and reported rain and high winds were coming. Malta was seven miles away. It looked like I had time to get there before the worst of the storm pushed through.
“There’s a restaurant and a hotel there,” she offered by way of encouragement. When I got into town I learned the hotel was no longer there, and the nearest one would be 83 miles away, impossible to reach at this late hour with no sunshine, and a strong headwind fighting me.
The clerk at the local store told me of a place to camp nearby. It was a covered picnic area in the park with a mural portraying Mormon history on the enclosed wall. There was power to plug in my batteries. I checked the weather on my phone, and sure enough there was a high wind warning for the next 12 hours. Winds up to 60 miles per hour were expected.
I got set up for the night and dozed off reading when around 9 p.m. a hoard of teenagers came crashing into my campsite. One spotted me up on the picnic table in my sleeping bag and asked, “Is that a body?”
“No,” I said, “I’m camping.”
They moved on, whispering amongst themselves.
Then a truck with a spot light drove right onto the grass in front of my campsite and shown the light all around looking for hiders ducking below the six other picnic tables that didn’t have a body on then. Groups of five or six kids came through wave after wave, each one startled in the dark to find someone stretched out on a table.
One polite young man apologized for all the ruckus saying, “Sorry sir, it’s homecoming weekend and we’re playing fugitive.”
30 or 40 kids must have stampeded through, boys and girls, giggling away having good clean fun. Occasionally one would break free of the group and sprint across the lawn at full speed. After a dozen or more groups tromped through I was beginning to wonder how long the game would go on. Did all the kids have to be rounded up before it was over? One thing for sure, I wasn’t going to get any sleep until it was. I guess this is the sort of thing they do in small towns.
Around 10:30 p.m. the storm arrived. The last of the “fugitives” left their nearby hiding place and settled somewhere else. The winds howled and the trees around me shook violently. It was like on TV when hurricanes whip the trees around. The 24 American flag banners, hung at the open end of the enclosure, flicked and snapped loudly. This was 60 mile per hour winds. I hope to never see 160 miles per hour. I heard the menacing sound of thunder. Could there be lightning, Sunride’s biggest enemy? We were covered but steel support poles ran along the opening down to a concrete floor upon which my picnic table with steel legs rested, as did Sunride’s tires. A lightning strike anywhere close by would electrify the ground. We could be in the path. Cows in the field are rarely directly hit by lightning; but if standing anywhere near a tree that is struck, the voltage travels outward and if the cow is in the path electricity enters the legs of the cow, past its heart, and kills her.
Maybe sleep wouldn’t be possible this night. The storm was supposed to last till 4 a.m. I prayed a prayer I’ve prayed a lot lately.
Lord, I’ve had a good life. I could have done so much more. I hope to live longer and do many good things, but if I die tonight I hope you will forgive my shortcomings so I get to be with you in heaven.
The kids were gone. The storm raged on and I slept like a baby.