We are nearing the final hours in preparation to leave for Purdue which happens to be in West Lafayette, Indiana. It will take us 30 hours of driving, not including fuel and food breaks. This amounts to about 3 full days in a vehicle. This wouldn't be so bad if the drive was interesting but unfortunately we go through desert, more desert, panhandle of Texas, windy oklahoma, and curvy Missouri. It's the same route that we take to get to Bead and Button each year and mostly any other show we do in the eastern US. We used to do the Bead Fest show in PA, which was 4-5 full days of driving, but we've since decided it was too far. With fuel costs at, near or above $4 a gallon, you have to start being choosy about which shows you do.
So, I thought you might need a chuckle and wanted to share our most recent adventure, which was to Milwaukee for B&B in June. The trip to Milwaukee was happily, uneventful. However, the rest of the trip was well….full of mother nature's wrath. Thursday's show was wonderful. We had high hopes that this would be the best year yet. However, the rain came…and came. Saturday there were even tornado warnings in downtown Milwaukee. It was the first time I've ever heard the announcing system come on and say, "you must stay and shop. Do not leave the room." People were a little dismayed!
Not thinking anything out of the ordinary about rain, we went to dinner with friends and then drove back to the hotel around 9:15pm. When we drove up, we saw lots of police lights and the road was closed to the hotel. So we drove into the neighboring McDonalds, thinking we'd walk across the parking lot to the hotel. Blinking our eyes several times in amazement, we saw the parking lot filled with 3-5 feet of water, and yes, in it was our trailer…floating. Yes, those are the tops of cars submersed!
To make things worse, yes, we were staying on the first floor. Yes, the first floor was under 2-3 feet of water. Yes, all of our things were on the floor, including my sketchbook with irreplaceable notes from lots of workshops I've attended! That was the biggest loss for me. Note to self….use pencil or ball point ink for notes…not fun pink ink that disappears when submerged in H2O!
To make things worse the police had condemned the hotel. We were turned away with the clothes on our backs to go to a sister hotel. What a long nite! The next day we ventured back to the hotel where the water had receded enough that we could get in the hotel and get our ruined belongings. Then it was back to the hotel to try and get ready and get to the show. Note to self…stay on the second floor, pick your stuff up off the floor, and don't use the bottom drawers in dressers!
We didn't think the trailer was salvageable. We searched around the area to buy another and reserved a rental uhaul to get our things out of the convention center. All tough things to do on a Sunday morning when everything is closed. Funny thing….insurance…no longer covers the trailer when it unhooked from the vehicle! 12 hours passed and with the help of some amazing and generous friends, Shelia from Paragon and the Biggars (Ed and Martha), the trailer made it's way to dry land before the next down pour came! How many friends would wade in thigh-high water to carry, yes carry, and push a trailer 30 feet to dry land? I wish I had a picture of that to show you. It was quite comical! Then it was off to the car wash to hose everything off, and throw out all the destroyed materials inside. Yes, the trailer had become a small pool inside…pretty. Just in time to make it to the convention center to load up 3000 pounds of booth for the trip back home. Never a dull day!
Sadly the tale doesn't end here….unless you are bored. We rerouted our trip through high states, thinking it was out of the way of the storms. Unfortunately you couldn't get away from them. We feel so badly for those families in Missouri and Iowa where we traveled and escaped a day before they were washed away. However, someone decided to steal/pry the rear-view backup camera off my vehicle causing nearly $400 in damage. Who knew someone would need my camera in Iowa so badly?
And….lastly…..driving through Nebraska we had a blow out on the trailer. As you can see it blew off the fender and everything. This is our third blowout. Isn't that the magic number? Now we are done right? This lovely bystander is a woman who stopped to help. First time ever someone has stopped. It meant a lot to us. So if you have the time, and feel comfortable, stop and see if someone needs help. The first two times we didn't have a spare and we were stranded for hours. I did get teach Sharon how to Viking Knit though while we were stranded last time so it wasn't a complete loss.
This time, we were at least able to change the tire. The lovely highway patrol man, of course, got there when we were finished to "inspect" the job. What he didn't know/catch was that I put the lug nuts on backwards so the next 12 miles would end up ruining the tire and cost us another $225. I was told that I was blessed that the tire didn't fall off altogether in the 12 miles. So that's looking at things on the positive side. So lesson to you all, the lug nuts are not intuitive and can be screwed on backwards! I'm pretty handy but I just didn't get that one right!
So when you think you might want to do a show. Think about all the things that can possibly happen and if you're really prepared. This experience certainly topped the trip when the skies were half blue and half black and we were passed by storm chaser vans. If that doesn't worry you….you are ready to haul a trailer and do shows!
Wish us luck as we travel again through this same area. We'll hopefully see you in Indiana! Can't wait!