In this van are 17 quail, our bed/couch, all the appliances: composting toilet, sink (bucket with foot pump and faucet), grill/campstove, fridge (a big cooler packed with food), even laundry (bucket with plunger). Plus Phillip, Anna Lisa & Hannah. Why are we taking these quail? Well, seems like a good way to test out living in the van for a week.
Sunday late afternoon: we get rear-ended in State College and spend a couple hours dealing with the report and then Phillip spends a couple hours repairing the hitch mount bike rack we borrowed from our neighbors. Anna Lisa’s bike is damaged. The van has new dings, we’re fine. But now it’s really late for driving another 90 minutes and setting up camp. So we have a great night with Ken Kline-Smeltzer and Hannah meets a dog she isn’t afraid of!
Monday morning: leisurely morning visiting with Ken, get Anna Lisa’s bike fixed, she goes to a meeting (in person rather than phoning in, since we’re stuck in State College) and we’re off for the Penna Grand Canyon!
We peruse the options and choose Little State Park. We find the section of sites for pets, and check in with the host. He’s sitting in a camp chair by his huge travel trailer, 3 other older guys sitting with him.
He says, “Get in before the rain.”
We say, “That’s the plan. We heard there’s a tornado watch.”
He says, “Oh, really…?” all skeptical. Well, we heard about a tornado watch for Huntingdon, and even State College. But that’s not here. We don’t quite know where we are, and we have no cell service, and only one radio station.
We choose a spot nestled under some of the tallest pines we’ve ever seen, a little wind and rain break.
We hem and haw as we pick this spot, maybe 71? Maybe 74? Well, how about 72? And then pick our view. Phillip backs the van into the long space so when we crawl back in that couch/bed we’ll gaze out on the tallest pine trees we’ve ever seen. We carry the picnic table in front of the van so we can put the quail there, sheltered from the wind by the van. Suddenly it’s pouring, so we jump back in the van to make a plan.
Gust galore. Branches pummel our roof.
“Should we go?” We watch those huge pines sway, but not a gentle sway, they are yanked from side to side.
“I’ve never seen trees do that!”
“We have to go!”
We duck under our arms like that will protect us from the trees falling. Oh!
“The picnic table!
We dash out into pouring rain and carry the picnic table to the side as a tree falls on the back of the van and destroys Anna Lisa’s bike, a window, and some brake lights.
Those huge, tall pines are falling on either side of us. This is a horror movie, but real. Phillip drives us out of the space but where is safe? We head for a parking lot by a bathroom.
We pull off our soaked clothes and cuddle Hannah who is afraid of thunderstorms. And trees falling on her. Now what? It keeps pouring. Phillip uses a tarp to block the opening the window left behind. Oh, here are pieces of that window and parts of the van in the bed/couch. Let’s not camp tonight.
We head back toward the campsites and there are trees down everywhere. The host comes by in a golf cart and says no one is injured so far. We pull branches and trees away as much as we can and Phillip drives through campsites to get us out cause the little road is blocked by trees too big to move. We see destruction all around, and nowhere as much as the campsite to our left and the campsite to our right.
It takes a few detours, but finally, in the pouring rain, we get over a mountain and fine a town and supper. Should we go a couple hours tonight and get home? Nope. Our neighbor says the road is closed with trees down, and there’s another tree down on our driveway on our power line. No power, and we can’t even get close. We’re in Lock Haven. Sleep tight.