Friday, March 5, 2010

Memory Lane Friday - A Crazy Weather Story

My parents have had a lake house in Lake Ozark, Missouri for a number of years now. Actually, it's been well over a decade now - ever since I was in college.

It basically just gets used during the summer months as a vacation home. My dad will head out there at the first hint of spring to "open" the house. He'll do a walk-through to ensure that all looks good with the house and do any kind of maintenance that's needed, get the boat and wave runners ready for use, that kind of thing.

Back in the day while I was still in college and my brothers in high school, summer trips to the lake house were AWESOME. These were the days when there could easily be multiple week-long trips to the lake house, anytime between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

My brothers and dad were the ones who really looked forward to these trips. They were the ones that were there at every single opportunity. They'd be out all day on the lake, with my dad manning the boat, and my brothers having fun being pulled along on tubes. Or, they'd be out on the wave runners. Those two would be out on the water practically all day. If it were raining, they'd have a bunch of videos they'd watch inside the house.

I'd try to head out there at least once a summer to spend time with them. I wasn't so much into tubing (I'd tried it a few times, but I wasn't all that thrilled with it). What I liked was riding the wave runners. And sitting in a quiet house, reading. Or heading to the outlet mall. I also liked watching movies with them (a perennial fave was "The Cutting Edge").

And on the 4th of July, everyone would go out on the lake on their boats at dusk to watch the show; a local resort would host a fireworks display over the lake, and it was SO COOL. Everyone would be there in their respective boats, having a good time, watching the fireworks while floating in the middle of the lake.

But this story is supposed to be about a crazy weather experience. And this whole lake house story was simply to set the scene.

One summer in the early '90s, I was on summer break, home from college for a couple months. My mom, brothers and I were going to head to the lake house together for the week surrounding Independence Day. My dad would be driving himself later that day due to work commitments; he wasn't able to leave with the rest of us.

So my mom, brothers, and I climbed into the van (they had one of those huge vans at the time) and off we headed. Well, at some point on our way from central Iowa to central Missouri, we passed through a thunderstorm. My mom, the driver, just plowed along in the van.

Until it happened . . . suddenly, we felt like something had jolted the van. The radio went out, the van shook, and there was a bright flash, all at the same time! The van had been hit by lightning!! Now of course, lightning isn't a laughing matter, and we were all momentarily stunned. But once we realized everyone was okay, we did start laughing, maybe because we'd been scared for a moment before realizing all was well - we were all okay . . . or maybe it was because of our mom's reaction. With one hand on the steering wheel, she took the other hand and started patting herself all over, like she'd been shot, not exactly sure what the heck happened.

My brothers and I still get a chuckle out of that memory. Laughing at the shock of it all (no pun intended) and realizing there was no damage.

However, that's not the end of the lightning!

Last summer, Andrew, Olivia, and I headed out to the lake house for the 4th of July holiday. During our visit, my dad took me, Andrew, and another family out on the boat for the annual 4th of July fireworks display. Olivia stayed at the house with my mom, reading kids' books, watching fireworks on TV, and getting a bath.

As the rest of us headed out to the designated area in the middle of the lake, we'd noticed that there were some suspiciously stormy-looking clouds over the horizon. We kept an eye on them as they crept closer, seeing lightning flickering way off in the distance. 

Then the fireworks started. But the clouds (and lightning) kept coming closer. At some point, we started wondering: was that noise from the fireworks or was it thunder? And to top it off, we realized that everyone's hair was on end, really full of static. A very good sign that we were all lightning rods. We started discussing whether we should leave right away, or wait until the fireworks were over.

And then, maybe because someone was reading our minds, or maybe due to the impending storm, the fireworks finale began. But by this time, it had started sprinkling. My dad decided to head back before the finale wrapped up, as it would take a good 10-15 minutes to get back to the house.

On the way home, it started raining harder. The next thing we knew, we were in a downpour and were getting pelted by hard rain. My dad couldn't even see past the bow of the boat, so he was heavily relying on his GPS to get us home.

Somehow we made it home safely, without an actual lightning strike. Thank goodness. What a ride!

1 comment:

varunner said...

Awesome story. My gosh, I'd forgotten about The Cutting Edge. I loved that movie!
If you get a chance, go enter your info into Mister Linky, so others can come read your story :-)
I didn't think it was possible...but now I wish it was summer even MORE. Ah, the lake.

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