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Anderson: Not exactly the vacation we envisioned
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Anderson: Not exactly the vacation we envisioned

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Our son, Eric, shared plans for a vacation in the Georgia mountains and forwarded photos of the property. Noticing how spacious was the rental, I noted there was room a-plenty for guests, such as his parents. Not very subtle.

They did courteously bid us come. Yet, little did we anticipate a vacation from “ach-E-double L.”

That is an exaggeration. It wasn’t dreadful; it just became an adventure!

We headed out with every supply imaginable, including foods they’d forgotten. Parents to the rescue! (Well, the oil did come in handy for cooking pancakes!)

It was amazing when our grandson (age 3), excitedly ran up to us, yelling, “Gramma!,” “Grandad!,” with huge hugs. The shy 10-months-old grandson had no recollection of our extended visit at birth, but he eventually tolerated us.

Grandson#1 helped us explore the property, specifically the pond—where, to his irritation, I anxiously gripped his shirt. He repeated (!) his favorite song, “The Wellerman,” including keeping time (he’s got rhythm!) by pounding on his thigh. I tried but I’m not a very accomplished pounder.

He and I played in a brook. I convinced him to hold my hand “so I won’t fall in” until we found a smaller, safer creek. I said “we,” but he was the sole wet explorer.

We had a pleasant visit—until the following afternoon when a massive storm developed. The wind howled, and rain pounded brutally. We couldn’t see out the windows. Then the power went out. And it stayed out.

Which wouldn’t have been so awkward except the well pump quit. No power, no water. No toilets. We waited. And waited. We tried the yard pump—useless. We checked the neighbors, stepping gingerly over downed power lines. No power there either.

Soon we saw the neighbors’ car leaving—encouraging us to hastily pack and depart. We didn’t get far, as the road was impassable.

Hearing a generator, Eric and I went to inquire about the situation. The kind homeowner invited us in. As we entered, those same neighbors were exiting! The downed trees had also thwarted their departure.

We were informed of a tornado nearby; serious weather was yet impending. Returning to our desolate rental, we were thankful for the gas stove for heating baby formula, and a grill. (Though cooking pizza directly over gas flame is not advised.) The glow of fireplace and candles provided light. Husband and I suspected we added a measure of calm.

A utility truck arrived in the dark. We ran to the porch to wave them down, like frantic, forlorn castaways. The road was open but rough. With the babies already in bed, we stayed.

Twice in the night, the power surged briefly, bringing unnerving, sudden light and water running in sinks. The next morning with cold pizza for breakfast, we headed home.

It wasn’t the vacation we’d envisioned, but surely a memorable one!

Susan Anderson lives in Opelika with her husband. Contact her at susan12anderson@gmail.com.

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Michael Paul Williams — a columnist with the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Richmond, Va. — won the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in Commentary "for penetrating and historically insightful columns that guided Richmond, a former capital of the Confederacy, through the painful and complicated process of dismantling the city's monuments to white supremacy."

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