Move to Saint Simons, they said. We have beautiful beaches, they said. And we never have hurricanes, they said. So we did, and they are, and they do.
Less than three months as homeowners and we were re-packing boxes in preparation for the largest hurricane the US has experienced. Now that the week has passed, the clouds have cleared and we are finally looking looking at a Monday where we know where we will be Tuesday, let me tell you about our hurrication!
For months, Evan and I have eagerly been awaiting our September getaways: Chicago for the UGA v Notre Dame game and Pennsylvania for a Meyers family gathering. I left Tuesday for sales calls in Chicago with the intention Evan would fly up and meet me on Thursday night. I left hours before the breaking news that our island was potentially in Irma's direct path. For the next 3 days Evan was left to work full days in the office and full nights at the house making preparations for our home, belongings and, of course, Liza! By the time Evan took off Thursday night, our county was in a state of emergency, a mandatory evacuation had been declared, and we were holding our breath from a thousand miles away.
If you know Evan and I, you know we can make the best of any situation, and our hurricane evacuation was no different! Our hurrication got a new, robust itinerary in Chicago as we committed to crashing on my brother's couch until we got cleared to come home.
Friday night we saw the Cubbies play in Wrigley Field among a sea of Georgia red (the stadium was even calling the dawgs at one point or another), Saturday we took a bus from the city to South Bend and explored the emmaculate Notre Dame campus (and watched UGA pull out a one-point win over the fighting Irish under the stadium lights and Touchdown Jesus mural, thanks to our amazing friend Gabi for the tickets and tour and friendship- best wedding gift yet!), Sunday we kept our sporting weekend rolling by going to a Bears v Falcons NFL game in Soldier Field (another big hometown win in the last nail-biting mintues of the game), Monday we were tourists and sipped bourbon on the 95th floor of the Hancock Building and soaked up the sunshine from the architectural boat tour (maybe with a local brew in hand,too), finally on Tuesday we got out of Chicago and back to Jacksonville, Fl (which was mostly under water at this point) to get my car and drive to Atlanta (the county was still closed to residents, so we continued our evacuation at Evan's parents home in Peachtree City).
Chicago has been such a fun, spontaneous getaway. Hunter and Sophie were the best hosts and live in a fabulous, 42nd story apartment overlooking Lake Michigan and downtown. In hindsight, had Evan and I had a more cushy wallet and less stress about the state of our home, we would have just assumed stayed there for the rest of the week! Instead we spent Tuesday and Wednesday as couch potatoes awaiting news that we could re-enter the county and our island home.
Thursday we got the word and made the five-hour journey south. Though mid-day when we arrived, we were one of the first neighbors back to our area, and couldn't have been happier at the sight we saw! While lots of tree debris and Spanish moss littered the yard, no water made its way to our door and our Giant Live Oaks stood tall and strong surrounding the house. Power had been restored earlier that day and we consider ourselves among the lucky few who fared so well.
For the next 5 hours we busted our butts to clear limbs, rake moss, pile the debris and mow the lawn. It felt great to see the results and we knew it would feel even better leaving the next morning with peace of mind that we were coming home to a beautiful yard. There was one glitch to our re-entry plan, however, the water and sewer system was not ready for use and residents were banned from running water, flushing toilets, etc. let's just say our icy, sailor shower from a gallon jug that night wasn't the most relaxing end to the day. But we did it. Then we slept.
Friday's alarm came too early it seemed, but we loaded the car, drove to Savannah, and boarded our flight to State College, PA (the 30 passenger prop plane was less than appealing to Evan and his fear of flying, but he did great!). The evening unfolding in a series of greetings and meetings of 25 or more of Meyers family members, all gathering for his dad's 60th birthday! Nearly all Steve's siblings, their children and grandchildren still live in the area, so it was the first time I met everyone.
Evan and I, along with his brother Matt, his wife Jess and their 8-month of baby Brantley all stayed up at "camp," a small cabin at the top of a rolling hill of corn fields. The one-bedroom cabin was filled with bunks beds, lazy boys and endless memories of hunting weekends. At the bottom of the hill was the Meyers family home. Over a hundred years old, Steve's parents have lived in it for nearly 50 years, raising 5 kids in 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom.
The weekend was one of stories, laughter, kindling old relationships, starting new ones. Saturday was dedicated to PSU football and I quickly understood why! A five-car caravan headed out at noon, parked in a field and within moments, tents were up, tables out and food and coolers open for enjoyment. By the time the 7:30pm kickoff rolled around, the stadium was buzzing with fandom. Georgia State didn't put up a fight worth noting, but it was a blast seeing the traditions and hearing the chants the students and Lions fans displayed throughout the game.