Winter Storm Leon snuck up on the south this week. Folks that were caught off guard ended up being stranded at work, and in their cars on the highways. Schools cancelled buses due to safety concerns and kids spent their nights in the classroom. Being prepared can make a dangerous situation a little more manageable. I left work to head before everyone else was sent home. Road conditions were changes fast and I did not want to be stuck at the office all night. The drive home is only 12 miles but in the short two hours since the rain/sleet started roads and bridges were already getting icy. What most people don’t think about is what happens if you get stuck in traffic due to accidents or the roads close due to weather.
We can all start with being prepared.
I need to work on being prepared too. In the past I kept a flashlight and blanket in my car. After a while they seemed to take up space and ended up back in the garage. After seeing what happened this week its time to build a better car kit so that I don’t end up in a bad situation. After all it might not be weather, but what if I ran out of gas or my car broke down.
Let’s build a car kit and here’s what we’ll need:
- Duffel bag or Plastic Tub
- Hat, Toboggan (Took) and Scarf
- Energy Bars and Snacks That Won’t Spoil
- First Aid Kit
- Flashlights and Extra Batteries
- Matches and Small Candles
- Cat Litter for Traction
- Small Shovel
- Battery Booster Cables
- Flourescent Flag or Cloth to Tie to Your Car Antenna
Be creative and create your own emergency kit. Check expiration dates on edible items and replace as needed so that you always have a fresh supply. You may not get stuck in a snow storm, but if you do you’ll be better prepared to handle the situation. Remember – stay with your vehicle.
Yesterday we woke up to below freezing temps and rain. It wasn’t too much longer before the rain was mixed with sleet. We headed to work even though we knew soon we’d be released due to weather. Here in central Alabama we are not prepared for snow and ice. At 9:30am hubby and I decided to head for the house since everything was starting to ice over. After only two hours our truck was covered in ice. The bridges were already slushy and we did see a few wrecks during our 12 mile drive. This morning we woke up to more snow, but since temps were in the teens last night everything turned to ice.
We didn’t go to work today since all the roads are officially closed until tomorrow at noon. I hate burning leave for a snow day, but better safe than sorry.
A couple of weeks before Thanksgiving the weather was so nice we planned a long weekend camping trip. How bad could it be? The daytime temps were in the upper 60s to mid 70s and the nights weren’t too cold either. So I logged onto Reserve America and searched for camp grounds that still had vacancies for Thanksgiving. Gunter Hill came up in the search and it was one of the few that had a site open. Plus it’s close enough to home we can head to the house if the weather gets too rough. Also, who knew that camping on holidays was so popular! I booked us a site for the day before Thanksgiving and all the way through Sunday.
We’re going to make this camping trip count even if I have to figure out the best way to cook a turkey on a campfire! Each day forward I watched the weather and realized we may have to do a little adjusting…our sunny warm weather was slowly turning into rain, freezing rain and coldest temps of the year. Due to the heavy rain we delayed going camping but did show up on a sunny Thanksgiving morning to set up camp. Yes, we were the only people at the campground in a tent! This was also Ironbowl weekend and all the campsites were decorated up as either Auburn or Alabama.
Most nights were a little cool (ok FREEZING) and in the 20s to 30s for most nights. Saturday night was much warmer in the low 40s. We prepared well and took a lot of clothing layers. Our old Coleman sleeping bags were left at home and we used our Mountainsmith sleeping bags which were rated down to 20 degrees. We stayed snug and toasty and the bags lived up to their reputation.
A little secret…our tent had a television. Yes, I had to bring my little 13″ television, but with a digital converter and antennal we were able to pick up about 20 channels. Most importantly we could watch the Ironbowl for the comfort of our tent. Needless to say if the television didn’t work out there were enough big screen tv’s in the campground to make Best Buy jealous. Side note… satellite broadcasts vs over the air broadcasts = a 15 second delay for the folks watching via satellite. It was like yelling out spoilers once the game started since we could ‘see the future’! :-)
Overall the trip was great and it was good to get away for awhile. It was just the two of us since the kids have their own things to do for the holidays. Click here to see more of my Gunter Hill Campground photos.
Here are a few observations for Gunter Hill Campground:
- Showers were heated and there was plenty of hot water. Note: Use the old shower house since the new shower house shower’s on a push button system. Also the new shower house has automatic fans that come on when you enter and within a few seconds all the warm air is sucked out of the room and cold air is pulled in. Great for summer, but not for winter.
- Catoma Loop reopened this year and has been fully refurbished
- Sites are cleaned after each camper leaves. Leaves are blown from the site and ash from the fire pits are removed.
- Sites have concrete parking pads and a gravel area large enough for even our tent
- Sites have picnic tables, lamp hanging post with small table and a grill
- Road through the park is newly paved
- Sites have electric, water and sewer
- Plenty of room to ride bikes and playgrounds for the kids
- Pet Friendly
- Did I mention clean? Very clean campground.
I’ve been a little busy this weekend and thought I’d try something new. Over the years I’ve made jelly and jam for canning but standing over a pot worrying about it burning or trying to remember when the boil started took away the fun. The past week I saw a couple of video’s showing how easy it is to make jelly with an automatic jelly maker. So I did a little research and picked up my own Jelly Maker Needless to say I’ve been on a jelly roll since it arrive on Saturday! My first test was an easy blackberry jam (recipe book included). I picked up some berries, sugar and pectin on my grocery trip. My first batch (4 – 8 oz jelly jars) was done in about 45 minutes. The jelly maker made it so easy that I wanted to do more! Since that first batch I’ve made some Irish Breakfast Apple jelly and some scuppernong jelly. I called one of our local wineries and they had extra scuppernong juice left over from pressing a few days earlier. The scuppernong jelly was a test since I did not have a recipe. Instead I used the apple recipe from the guide and used scuppernong juice instead. The first batch turned out awesome! The second batch did not set so I will reprocess it later today. I was going good until I ran out of pectin and used a different brand. Lesson learned…if a recipe calls for a specific pectin don’t swap it for a different brand. Well swap if you’d like, but you’ll be doing twice as much work when re-batching time comes around. Take a peek at all the jelly!
In my previous post I gave you a little tease of our trip to Ireland. Now I will try to fill in all the details but overall my mind is still spinning from the wonderful trip we experienced. Ireland itself has always been on my list of places to see but this past year I was drawn in a little farther. I’d always heard stories of my mothers family being Irish, but it wasn’t until doing more genealogical research that I began to feel the pull. The cherry on top was finding out via DNA testing that I was in fact 51% Irish! I’ve not been able to narrow down the exact part of Ireland that my family came from but was able to come up with a general area.
Searching and planning for the trip started slow, but after a few weeks I was in information overload! I finally decided to try and plan a trip that would cover several areas of Ireland. This way we could see different places and get a better idea of what makes Ireland, Ireland. Read more