Posts Tagged With: tornado


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Jim Jaillet, Bill Gallagher, and Al Penta call themselves the three musketeers. They met in fifth grade and remained best friends through high school. This is the first time in 14 years they’ve all been together. We met for a long lunch at the Skagit County Food Co-op in Mt. Vernon. Talk about timely, everyone worried about arriving on time, traffic was heavy, Al was coming from Monroe, Bill from his business meeting in Van Couver, Jim and I from  La Conner, and somehow we met in the parking lot, having all arrived at the same time.

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 Jim and I have spent time with Al, and time with Bill, but not together. We are, as they say, old farts now, and much of the talk focused on aging with the conclusion that none of us feel “old”, just older. And, a promise not to let another 14 years go by before another reunion. They all attended school in Revere, MA. We last met with Gallagher in New Hampshire, last summer, and Al, in Monroe, last fall. I love listening to these guys reminisce. The stories just reel out, …”do you remember when we went to school and there were only the two of us in class because it was a big Jewish Holiday and we were the only Christians..?”  And,  “ many miles have you ridden that bike, Al?”  “About 100,000 miles since I started seriously riding. I try for 5,000 miles a year.” He is so amazing and will probably outlive all of us.

Bill showed us a recent picture of his mother at 99 years old. She’ll be 100 on November 14th. The whole family will go to Florida for a big birthday party. She gave up smoking at 81, but still drives, and does her own shopping and housework.

We all talked to Bill’s wife Loretta, on the phone. She’s had some health problems but is doing better.  Al’s girlfriend, Kim, had a last minute crisis at work, and couldn’t come. She is set to retire about the first of the year. I’m very thankful to them for inspiring Jim to go to Cuba, which we have planned for Oct. 2015. Bill said he’d like to go, just to see the old cars.

They talked about another close school friend, Dolly and her partner Arthur. They were celebrating Arthur’s birthday out of town when a tornado went through Revere, the first in recorded history. It took off part of her roof, broke all the windows, smashed lamps and a backyard shed disappeared and two, giant trees in her back yard felled like twigs. It swiped two more houses beyond hers then stopped and wheeled through another section of town before disappearing. Dolly is so dramatic, I can’t wait to hear the story from her personally.  Dolly’s house was THEE meeting place when they were teenagers. Watching Elvis’s first appearance on Ed Sullivan’s show, from the waist up. And, so much more. Fun years.

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And, all too soon, it was time to say good-bye with a promise to meet again as soon as possible. Al will travel to Revere in September. We are so glad Bill had a business trip to the West Coast to make this reunion possible. The most important things in life, family and friends. We are thankful and fortunate to have both.




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Chicot State Park, Louisiana – Day 2

The motorhome is parked at Chicot State Park near Ville Platte, Louisiana. We are scheduled to depart here on Friday.

Built in 1939, at 6,400 acres with 198 campsites, it’s Louisiana’s largest state park. You can read about Chicot State Park, Louisiana by clicking this Wikipedia link…

The reason we are here is that it’s located along the Zydeco Cajun Prairie Byway which you can read about by clicking this link…

Yesterday, with a weather forecast of severe thunderstorms with hail and a possible tornado, we decided to stay close to the motorhome. We drove the Bronco the about three miles to the arboretum, within the boundaries of the state park. You can read about the arboretum by clicking this link…

The dictionary defines an arboretum as a place where trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants are cultivated for scientific and educational purposes. Here are some of the photos that I took…

As always you may left click upon an image to see an enlarged view and then click once again to see an even larger view…


















As promised, we had several HEAVY THUNDERSTORMS WITH DIME-SIZED HAIL. Fortunately, no tornadoes. Here’s a shot of the Bronco looking through the passenger windshield…


In this next photo, about 150 feet away, as seen through the driver’s windshield, on the left a blue tarp covers a tent and on the right, their truck is barely visible…


The storm as seen through the dinette window…


Enjoying arboretums and thunderstorms is another joy in the life of a full-time RVer!

The red dot on the below map shows our approximate location in the State of Louisiana. You may double left-click the map to make it larger…


Enjoying 65-75 degree temperatures most of the year is a primary joy in the RVing lifestyle!

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving”…Albert Einstein


If you have not checked out my Ramblin Man’s Photos Blog, you can do so by clicking this link…

All original material Copyright – Jim Jaillet 2013
For more information about my three books, click this link:

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Yesterday morning about 6 a.m., Jim was reading about a  tornado blowing 57 rail cars off the tracks when a horrific crashing sound startled both of us into jumping up and running for cover. We thought it was an earthquake. A cupboard in my dining room, an overladen shelf, apparently, sheared the supports on one side, and gave way. My bone china dishes came crashing to the floor. Two major losses, my grandmother’s crystal bowl and a crystal butter dish. Broken handles, chipped plates,…well, it was bad, but it could have been worse. The taste of Thanksgiving dinner will not be affected. There was a time when I enjoyed setting a beautiful table with everything matching, just so. I’ve been known to become very attached to favorite things. My cousin Marge Rowe gave me a sign and hung it in my kitchen that has numerous times given me pause.

I remember telling my kids when they were half grown, never cry for anything that can’t cry for you.
The good sweet earth sustains us, family & friends. Love & happiness & good health are treasures. And I’m grateful for that sign. It helps remind me to put things in perspective.

As the day warmed, Jim got out and finished washing the motor home. We gave it a hose-over wash on the road, can’t remember the town.  Then a major cleaning in Connecticut, inside and out. Now its second major cleaning yesterday with over 16,000 miles of road time. We have yet to tackle the inside except for doing the laundry. Life is good.

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I Thought It Was A Tornado!

Jim says:

It was very loud…It felt like it shook the house…It seem to last a long time!

Those were the feelings I experienced yesterday morning just about this time. Mary and I were both doing our computer duties in the quiet hours before daylight. I was reading about the tornado that happened in Arizona the day before yesterday, when from out of nowhere came this very loud CRASHING…that was shaking the entire house. A tornado here????

The sound originated a mere four feet behind me as Mary’s 50-year-old China set came crashing to her tile floor and for a few brief seconds it felt as if the house was collapsing! I suppose it was the reading of the Arizona tornado at the moment of the big crash that made a brief connection in my mind. I’ve never been in a tornado, but it was just the same feeling I imagined a tornado would seem like.

Mary’s 50-year-old china set was a wedding present from her mother.

It all goes back to Mary’s philosophy of life of “Bite off more than you can chew!”. Mary is famous for putting 10 pounds of stuff into a 5 pound sack. In this case it was put 100 pounds of China on a 50 pound shelf! She believes the China set was on that shelf for 33 years, but it finally gave up carrying the overload.

In other news…
yesterday it was mostly cloudy and the temp only got to 61 degrees and I got to finish washing the outside of our motorhome. It was a big job and it was really dirty. It’s nice to have it clean again. The cleaning process of cleaning the inside and the outside storage compartments will continue in days to come.

All original material Copyright – Jim Jaillet 2010
My three books may be purchased at
Just enter Jim Jaillet in the search box.

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We left Hastings in the rain headed for Benkelman, NE, near the border of  Colorado. Or we could consider a shorter drive to Mc Cook where the options for overnight were better? An uneventful drive in any case, with my turn at the wheel a mere 75 miles. McCook has a tourist park that was so appealing we decided we needed a rest and would stay two nights.
After a leisurely, restful morning off we went to the Highland Plains Museum. So many memories of life long past tickled my emotions.  Like the polio scare we all lived through. The iron lung above brought back the real fear of those times.

This professional movie projector and the Fox Theater Organ brought back the joy of those times. They still performed a bit of on stage vaudeville in small towns during the late 1940’s.  I counted four different organs and as many pianos in this museum.

The first telephone we ever had was similar to this one. And for some reason I remember our telephone number for our families party line-2505XJ. We lived in Danforth, Michigan, then.

This little wind generator could keep one light bulb lit and a battery operated radio alive during a windstorm. Oh the wonders of electricity. Rural farm America was isolated as anyone who lived through it can remember.

This fuel less cooker was a marvel. You had to bring your stew, or beans to a boil, then place the pot on a hot flat stone, close the cover and wait for dinner time for a tender, juicy meal

There were sewing machines, washing machines, farm implements, tools, clothing, toys, by the numbers here. It struck me that an isolated community like McCook just had no place to go with this no longer needed stuff and had the wherewithal to hold onto it for the future. And, while so many items brought back personal memories, I’ve neglected the town of McCook. A precocious kid from McCook by the name of Edwin Perkins became a mail order “chemist” and grew up to start a mail order business when he was 20. His best seller was a drink called Fruit Smack, but it would get damaged in shipment, or leak. He decided to dehydrate it, and the rest, as we know, is history. He named his drink Kool-Aid. And we all grew up with pitcher after pitcher of that stuff.
In this town of 8,000 people is a Carnegie Library. Frank Lloyd Wright designed a house here. There were plans for another of his in the museum, though never built. The Green Dream Home is here. (More tomorrow about that.)

People of McCook had more than their share of disasters, from a major train wreck…

An horrific flood…

A major tornado. Add to that, buffalo roaming through town and the usual mishaps of life.  Early life in McCook wasn’t easy. The stalwart backbone of America was its farmers and ranchers. Its all here.

Then the people of McCook come alive in scrapbooks and pictures. A local treasure to be sure. Above is one such character, Blind Sam  He and his dog “owned” a street corner where he played the violin for fifty years.
I found threads for several blogs in this museum, so you won’t have heard the last of it. I could have easily spent another hour here and soaked up what I’m sure to have missed.

We walked out and looked at the old Fox Theater across from the museum, (its now a church) and thought of the people who built this solid small town.

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