Character Camp

These memories came flooding back to me when I picked up my copy of this book the other day.

I didn’t even realize I was hungry until I spied a granola bar floating past the van. It made sense, the hunger, when I saw that it was already 9:00 a.m. and I hadn’t yet had breakfast.  I’d been in the van for four and a half hours now and I feared that breakfast would still be a long way off.  Actually, I had hoped to be in Dallas by now, checking in to the hotel where the workshop at the Character Education Conference I was going to attend would be starting within the hour. That’s right, I was off to Character Camp. And I couldn’t wait! I was going to get to hear speakers who’d been role models in my career like Tom Jackson, Ginger Robinson, and Michael Pritchard. Especially Tom Jackson because I was en route to his all-day pre-conference workshop. But Dallas was a long way off. I was still in the van on my way to the airport and I’d already missed my 6:15 flight. I’d have to catch a later one once I could get there but for now there was nothing else to do but wait. I drove through high water back in 1989 when a small hurricane called Claudette flooded intersections in a flash and I was not going to make that mistake with a vehicle ever again!

Let me back up a bit.  Earlier that morning, I was actually ahead of schedule. I’d set the alarm for 4:30 am but awakened to thunder around 3:40 so I got up, got myself ready, packed the car, and headed out. Being early allowed me time to stop and treat myself to a steaming hot vanilla latte. The plan was to beat the storm on the horizon to the airport. Without traffic, I’d be to the Park ‘n Ride by 4:45 and at the check in counter by 5:00, giving me an hour before the boarding call. By 6:15 we’d take off and by 7:15 I’d be in Dallas, picking up my rental car and heading to the Marriott.  But none of that was to go as planned. Oh, I headed up the highway all right, but the storm proved stronger, faster, and more determined than I that morning. The rain fell so furiously that by the time I exited the highway and turned toward Hobby Airport, the intersection was flooding and blocked by a semi-truck whose driver couldn’t decide whether to go or not.  Without thinking very far ahead, I made a U turn and headed to the 2nd airport exit. Did I really think the rain hadn’t fallen as hard less than a mile down the road?  That intersection was flooded, too, and I had no choice but to pull over and wait for the rain to stop and the water to recede. Remember, it was only 4:30 in the morning, so I still had plenty of time to catch my 6:15 flight.

Or so I thought. The rain, however, had different plans. It continued to fall and fall and fall. The radio reported that five inches fell in less than an hour early. Not wanting to panic my husband, I waited an hour to call him the first time.  Though I didn’t know it at the time, I’d make sixteen subsequent calls that morning. The closer I got to my departure time, the more I worried. My mind started its favorite two--step, the “what if?” dance. What if I miss my flight? What if they won’t let me take a later one? What if I can’t go until tomorrow? What if I miss the conference all together? What if the water gets so high that it starts to seep into my van? What if I have to tinkle?

Waiting for the sun to rise and the waters to recede, I plowed through several chapters of the novel I was reading. Between chapters, I called friends on my cell phone to while away the minutes, which were turning into hours.  I phoned my friend Carol around the time that the granola bar floated past to explain my predicament. At that point, the rainfall had lightened up considerably and a man and his boy were in their canoe surveying the area. When I told Carol about the canoe, she asked if the man was wearing a red shirt. “How could you possibly know that?” I asked her with surprise. Turns out that she was watching on television what I’m living up close and in person from inside my van. The television cameras were on I-45 just above me so I suspected that it might be worse than I thought. Those reporters somehow manage to find the worst spots to share with their viewers. Just then, my husband phoned to confirm my suspicion that I was at the worst intersection in all of Houston and that I’d probably be there for a while. It’d already been four and a half hours; how much more time would it be? Surely it wouldn’t be that much longer.

Will I ever get to Dallas to see Tom Jackson? Check back at the Corner tomorrow to see how this saga ends . . . 


1 comment

  1. As my niece was prone to say, "Fast Foe-Wood!"
    I have to wait until TOMORROW?! I'm not sure I can stand the suspense! It's a good thing I know you're still here...
    Here's a funny detour (haha): When I first started reading this, I thought you were describing your RECENT efforts to get to the "meet-up."
    Okay, Barbara-Dear, I am sending you wishes for a good (no rain) day. I'll eat a granola bar in your honor...

    Finding JOY in 6th Grade


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