We're new to Florida and this whole hurricane threat business. We were closely following the path of hurricane Irma, but we mostly believe that the news sells fear, so we weren't freaking out...until we were. That moment came quickly and unexpectedly at 7pm on a Thursday night. The path of Irma shifted and the projected storm surge was 10-15 feet (we live at approximately 8 feet above sea level.) I'll never forget the fear and urgency we felt that night; Graham looked over at me and said, "I'm boarding windows now, you pack the car, we're leaving in two hours!" See, the majority of the media was saying it was too late to evacuate FL due to packed roads and gas shortages, so we had to leave right away. Graham says he felt it in his gut, and he had recently been reminded to always trust one's gut as it is an instinct created to keep animals alive and safe.
We traveled through the night with some delays and minimal gas shortage issues. We showed up in Chattanooga, TN at noon on Friday to meet up with our Naples friends. It was such an incredible relief to talk with them and voice our fears. We fully expected to come home to a ruined condo, few spared belongings, and a totaled truck. The uncertainty, fear, and stress from Friday until Sunday when the hurricane hit was emotionally draining and really cannot be put into proper words. We numbed our emotions with a little bit of whiskey while we sat to watch our town get pummeled by Irma on TV. We stayed in touch with mom and Granna, who stayed back in Naples; they were scared, but managed alright. Luckily, the back end of the storm was far weaker than projected due to an unexpected landfall in Cuba. Naples was hit pretty hard, and was largely without power for a week (some for up to two weeks.) But overall, our town was better than expected. We were fortunate and suffered no damage to our condo.
Our boarded windows the night we left.
Comic relief from Olya and the kiddos
The Tilleys and Rockleys on Sunset Rock
Fran being especially gorgeous.
We arrived at the Campbell's beautiful homestead in Maryville, TN. We were welcomed with a warm pot of soup, some cozy beds, and an incredible view!
The girls and Josie hiking down the country road.
This is where we sat for coffee each morning. This porch is where all things quiet, happy, and peaceful happen.
Look Rock Tower
I realize we are back lit here, but I still love the view and the picture overall.
Jen taught the kids how to knit. They mostly practiced finger-knitting. It was awesome!
Some of Fran's finger knit pieces.
Baseball practice in the back yard.
We made it up to the Smoky Mountain National Park on one of our last days. Laurel Falls hike does not disappoint.
Our fave picnic lunch...avatacos!
We are forever grateful to Jen's generosity and hospitality. She texted me several days before the hurricane hit offering up her home. I assured her that we would not need to evacuate. When we did, she didn't even hesitate for one second; she said, "Come on up!" We stayed for just over a week! Aside from the stress of what was happening at home, it was a spectacular hurrication!
We made it home! A nearby uprooted tree .
The Naples airport was hit the hardest; this is 2 miles from us. The highest recorded wind gust here was 141 mph.
This photo doesn't really do the damage justice. This is at our condo complex; it was sad to see so many huge shade trees down!
In other news, Alastair loves being pulled behind Graham's bike and all the kids are taking guitar/ukulele lessons.
Fran is a natural.
Dodging mom kisses on the beach.
New jammies for the win!