Mission San Juan, December 30, 2017

Mission San Juan, December 30, 2017
Mission San Juan, December 30, 2017

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Tornado Warnings - Sunday, April 30, 2017

Our plan this morning was to leave the RV park in Livingston, LA, at 7:15 a.m. to make a 9:00 a.m. opening of the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. The weather service on our phones kept giving us alarms of tornado warnings just to the west of us, heading east. Did I mention I have never been in a tornado alley before? I was so nervous.

The cats were placed in their carriers, we grabbed our "go box" with computers and important papers and headed to the women's restroom. The women's and men's restrooms are the designated storm shelters for this RV park. The buildings are cinder block and the restrooms do not have windows.

We were the first people in the shelter. Over the next 45 minutes there ended up being about 12 people in the women's restroom with about six cats and four dogs. Another 4-5 people were in the laundry room, and about ten people milled around outside watching the storm.

I had the cats in one of the back shower areas. I met a delightful young lady (almost 15 years old) who is going to volunteer this summer in the Deschutes National Forest near Bend, Oregon. We talked and talked, having loads of things in common: a love of travel, we both like animals and birds, love learning new words, both live in 5th wheels, the list went on and on. Unfortunately, I forgot to get her name. 

Bob stayed outside talking to some of the men. I went out to find him. From the time we first arrived at the restrooms until I went out 45 minutes later, the sky had gone from light gray to very dark. Bob told me a little while earlier the sky was even darker. They watched the main track of the storm go north of us with lots of lightning in the sky.

The men recounted the tornado last February in Convent, Louisiana, just a few miles south of us. You may remember the photos of Sugar Hill RV Park from last year with the mangled 5th wheels, trailers, motorhomes, and pickups.

Bob was getting antsy to drive to New Orleans to see the museum. He insisted we take the cats back to the 5th wheel even though there was a monsoon of a downpour, thunder, and lightning when we had to move the cats and go box out to the truck. In the few seconds it took to get from the door of the restroom into the pickup truck, we were drenched in rain. The rain was running into the cat carriers too. 

As we drove back to the 5th wheel, lightning flashed all around us, the rain poured down and thunder mocked us. I would not leave the pickup with lightning flashing all around like that. We sat in the pickup about 15 minutes or so waiting for the downpour to lighten up. Bowie and Sunnie were loudly meowing and restless. 

When we finally got back into the 5th wheel. Bowie was terrified, running all around, snarling and hissing. He couldn't be consoled. 

Bob, meanwhile, wanted to leave immediately for the 1 hour, 15-minute drive to New Orleans. Radar maps showed a north-to-south band of severe weather from Livingston, LA to New Orleans, LA. We would be driving through that the whole way into New Orleans! Not my cup of tea. 

We left the cats in the 5th wheel and off we went. Not many people were on the highways. Sure enough, we had thunder, lightning, and torrential downpours all the way into New Orleans. 

Since we weren't sure where the National WWII Museum was located and we didn't have our phones set to map the way, we got off the freeway in an area with deep standing water. People had been driving through the water and their car engines flooded and shut off. We could see them trying to push their cars through the deep water. Crazy! We tried to stay in the shallower lanes and our pickup truck has a higher clearance, but we didn't want to tempt fate and get into water that was too deep. 

Bob set up his phone's GPS directions. We got back on the freeway and then found the museum. Metered parking is free on Sunday, so we found a spot on the street about two blocks from the museum. There was still a little bit of rain, but the umbrella kept us dry. 

In the museum, we went to "will call" to pick up the tickets Bob had ordered online last night. He added one more day onto our tickets for tomorrow. The exhibits started in the lobby where you purchase your tickets.

To start your "experience," you are issued a "dog tag" with your own unique number on it. At the start of your museum experience, you register your dog tag and choose (or are assigned) a soldier whose story you follow throughout the museum. This is good in theory; however, on a crowded day like today, the stations where you listen to your soldier's story were so crowded with people there were bottlenecks at every station. We opted not to try to follow our soldier's story.

Harley Davidson

DKW NZ350 Motorcycle: see description below

Combat pigeon loft
It was about 1:30 p.m. so we had lunch at the Soda Shop attached to the museum. About 2:00 p.m. we finally started going through the museum. 

I should mention that this weekend is the New Orleans Jazz Festival (with big-name rock 'n' roll, jazz and blues artists) that was supposed to take place outside at a speedway. Also, a big golf tournament was supposed to happen today. The reason I mention these is that it seemed like ALL the people who couldn't go to the golf or music events outdoors because of the weather ended up coming to the museum!

Our experience at the museum was awful. Hordes of people were in the exhibits, making it difficult to walk, read the history, or watch the movies along the way. We got out of there as quick as we could. We had a reservation to see the 48-minute movie at 4:00 p.m. 

Before the movie, we had time to go into the Boeing exhibit building. That was the one part of the museum we toured in which people weren't packed in like sardines. We took the stairs up to the fourth-floor catwalk where we could view the airplanes.

Planes in the Boeing building of the museum

Nose gunner

Looking down on planes from 4th-floor catwalk

After the Boeing building, we made our way to the 4:00 p.m. movie chronicling World War II. We enjoyed the movie very much.

When the museum closed at 5:00 p.m., Bob and I went to visit Mina Lea, Bob's almost 93-year-old second cousin who lives nearby in New Orleans 9th Ward, I believe. We had a wonderful visit with her. Bob walked to a nearby restaurant named Kebab to bring back dinner. Bob and I had falafels and Mina Lea had a pork gyro sandwich. We also ordered bread with homemade hummus which is a specialty of theirs. It was good, but too much food. We should have shared!

Bob and Mina Lea

Me with Mina Lea
Thank you, Mina Lea, for having us over to your home. We wish you a wonderful 93rd birthday!

Well, what a day we had! I was mentally exhausted after worrying about tornadoes and flooding all morning. I kept falling asleep while we talked with Mina Lea. At 8:30 p.m., we headed back to the RV park. Our 5th wheel and kitties were still there. Bowie had calmed down over the intervening hours. 

I think we have decided to skip our 2nd day at the National World War II Museum and head north from Baton Rouge to the Natchez Trace Parkway. Tomorrow is supposed to be a nice day and we want to spend some time in Vicksburg visiting the Civil War battlefields.

I'll talk to you again tomorrow.

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