An Ohio Whirlwind

Tony and I returned from a whirlwind of a trip to Ohio just a couple days ago. We left Michigan on Thursday afternoon, and arrived in eastern Ohio some twelve hours later – more than 90 minutes longer than expected. Not an easy journey thanks to never-ending construction on I-75.

I was the photographer for my cousin’s wedding – something I had committed to last year, and then immediately began second-guessing myself. Tony stepped in as my second shooter and assistant, and while I have barely peeked at his shots, I cannot thank him enough for his help. He claims to be antisocial, but he was so gracious and thoughtful the whole evening. It really helped with my stress and made things go more smoothly for me 🙂

We left the Wheeling area Saturday around lunch, and headed to visit our more immediate family in southwestern Ohio. Though they are 500 miles south of us, their fall is further along than ours, I suspect thanks to a dry season and some serious wind.

Berries and Quarry

I had looked forward to kind of an extended fall, but instead I got a preview of what November will soon bring us. Regardless of the bare trees, the leaves on the ground provided ample beauty – enough to make it so that Mom and I didn’t regret our now-traditional hike back to the “falls” at Fallsville.
Dry Falls at Fallsville

Fallsville Basin-2

We didn’t get to see much of Tony’s siblings, but I managed a fun dinner with my sister’s family, and lunch at school with one of my nephews. And since my brother lives in between our parents’ houses, we squeezed in a visit to catch up with him.

My roots, where my dad and brother go to work each day
Farm Country Heartland

The whole trip, I looked and looked for farm country photo opportunities – something to memorialize the area in which I was raised. I took and trashed a few photos, but got lucky our last night in Ohio with a surprise storm. This isn’t my parents’ farm, but it’s one I see every time I’m in the area, so it still says “home” to me.

Farm Country Storm Front

Fall Storm Front Over Farmland-2

It’s been fun catching back up with all of you! I’ll be checking in on your blogs and such over the coming days…in between the hundreds of photos from Monica and Chad’s wedding 🙂

Oh! And there’s a chance that we’ll be getting a contingency offer on our house – I’ll keep you posted!

You might not have heard – it’s cold outside

There’s something about extreme weather events that makes me itch to grab the camera. Perhaps it’s the possibility of capturing something rare and preserving it one frame at a time in my (digital) memory. Whatever it is, the urge has struck a few times recently.

Right before Christmas, an angry winter storm shellacked a large swath downstate in glossy coat of ice. Many people were without power for an extended time, and in the winter especially, I think of their plight. But, as we drove through, I was also breathless at the sparkling beauty. For over an hour as we drove south to Ohio, my eyes were glued to the treetops, marveling at the glittery branches.

And in the past day or so, it’s gotten quite cold across the country. I thought I’d mention this in case you either live elsewhere or in a cave and missed the news. Another winter storm pummeled a large section of the country, dragging Arctic air down and leaving loads of folks – including us northern Michiganders (can the womenfolk up here be Michigeese?) – under windchill warnings.

Click the image for the latest chill map
Screen Shot 2014-01-06 at 10.02.15 PM
So yes, it’s brutally cold out, leading most to remark on the temperature and stay inside, or to grumble about the plowing if forced to go out. (I’d probably grumble, too, if we didn’t pretend it was fine to leave snow piled in the drive since we work from home.)

However, I was just hopeful the sun would make some kind of appearance so I could sneak out for some photos.

Wind carves interesting patterns from deer tracks

It must’ve been mine and Carol’s wishful thinking, because our little ball of fusion 93 million miles away did shine briefly, if only as a nebulous orb.

We even had a bit of a sunset tonight. What more could one ask for, besides perhaps a few more degrees? 😉

Angry Mama Nature

The weather in the last day or so really has me beside myself. Tony and I headed to Nashville yesterday morning to stay with friends. We drove through some fierce sideways rains, and then thought to pull up the weather on a phone. I officially take back every negative comment I’ve made about our reliance upon these pretentious electronic devices.

It was 3:40, and I noticed a warning area we were just a smidge north of. I clicked on it – because some intelligent programmers had the foresight to include this functionality, my thanks to them – and saw that it was a tornado warning. Warning. Not watch. To expire at 3:45. We immediately exited and waited out the warning. Seeing a clear path through the warning areas, we got back on the road at about 4:05 and continued south. Then, traffic came to a stop in Henryville, and deciding we were sitting ducks, we ignored the no-U-turn sign, and U-turned back north.

The road south was ominous and dark, but headed back north, the sun was out, and we were out of the rain. There was almost no traffic headed north with us, but southbound was a parking lot with no fewer than five police headed the wrong way zooming up the shoulder. We passed some slow-moving cars with initial frustration. Taking in the situation, Tony commented that, nevermind, they had been in an accident – they’re off the hook. Then we passed two more cars in the same situation. No wrecks after all; the accident they all survived was the baseball-sized hail and 80 mph straight-line winds of the storm they had just escaped. The bodies of the cars were surprisingly dented, the windshields had obvious, ball-shaped dents mashed into them, and pretty much all the other glass in the cars was gone. A truly sobering sight.

My heart breaks for all the folks who lived in or got caught in the paths of yesterdays storm terror. We were only about 2 miles away, and I still don’t exactly feel unscathed emotionally. We angled around the storms and stayed on the backside until we arrived safely in Nashville. I later learned that a good friend ended up in a shelter under a tornado that had made ground contact in Atlanta.  He’s okay, but the weather simply wouldn’t let up. The storm he took shelter from around 9pm was the same system we ran from around 4pm.

As the storms across the south moved on and wound down, the weather Up North was just gearing up.  Tony and I have been on the phone repeatedly with folks who are looking out for our house and cats while we’re away. Our neighborhood, such as it is, saw nearly two feet of heavy, wet snow overnight, and we’re still getting the fluffy, easy-to-drift lake effect. I understand that the main roads are clear, but that our road has trees across it in multiple places, in both directions surrounding our house. We have power, but loads of homes in the area don’t have power, and aren’t really expecting it before Monday. With trees down on many of the non-main roads (which is most of the roads in my area), many also don’t know when they’ll be able to get out.

Our neighbor, behind a waist-deep pile of snow

Mother Nature can be a cruel mistress. What a dichotomy these storms make me feel. I feel very much separate from the long-track tornadoes in southern Indiana, but also like I was a part of it. I feel so grateful that we escaped when we did. I wish more people had the opportunity we had. The storm Up North is still wreaking havoc, and I feel both a part of it, and apart from it. I can’t decide if I really wish I were there or not. One thing’s for sure – I (selfishly?) am incredibly glad that all those I hold dear are safe from the weather this time. My thoughts are with those who were not or are not so fortunate.