Who expects hail storms in Dallas, Texas, so severe as to have us diverted to Houston? Not me! Who knew Dallas is in the heart of Tornado Alley? Not me!
Miami to Dallas – via Houston
With tornadoes cutting a swathe across the mid-West, and a hail storm that damaged over 40 planes still on the ground in Dallas in April 2011, our flight was diverted to Houston. That was a story, in itself! Here’s a video taken at the airport, while we were actually being rerouted. Hail storm at DFW Airport
So after a very long reroute via Houston, it was a relief to arrive, check in, and go out to dinner. That was a short interlude.
How did I react in this unexpected emergency?
It’s a very revealing exercise when you are collected from a local restaurant by the staff of your hotel (in this case, Hotel Indigo in downtown Dallas, TX) and asked to wait in the lobby while they ascertain when you have to go to the basement to shelter from a tornado.
Given we had four or five minutes before instructions were expected, I elected to return to my room on the fifth floor and grab some essentials.
The Essentials – grab it and go
First, my glasses – because I had gone out to dinner without them and I simply cannot read without them. Then, passport, travel tickets, travel insurance details which were all in the travel pack and first into the notebook carry case. Followed by two small notebooks that have my itinerary and website passwords.
Next, the notebook and power pack were dropped into their slots along with the camera charger and spare battery that had been recharged while I was out at dinner. That meant my communications system was intact and ready to go. I had no phone except Skype and Gphone.
My Buxton (very small) compartment bag that my friend Alona Allen-Lewis gave me, when I stayed with her back in Burlington NC, had not left my shoulder in days, so it carried my credit cards, cash, ID and camera. It was fully charged and there was heaps of space on the 16MB card.
The optional extras – for creature comfort
With a couple of minutes to spare, I thought about what else I should take. Having showered and changed before going out to dinner, my shirt and trousers were clean – as was everything else. I grabbed a plastic bag and stuffed essentials into it: three pair of clean knickers, toothpaste and toothbrush, deodorant, moisturiser, lipstick, hair brush, small hairspray and foundation.
They were followed by a couple of spare bras, my spare set of glasses and my MuscleEase, because getting overtired, dehydrated and cramped so that I shuffle along looking like “the hunchback of Notre Dame”, as Warren puts it, is not a good look for a cool Nana on walkabout!
Imodium – in case I got scared (you know what I mean!) Painkillers, in case of accidents and Warfarin, because it is essential I take it every day. It works, too. Pinched my finger the day before and the damn thing had bled for about three minutes.
Fashion and memories
Two reasons: it is very stylish indeed and it is partly waterproof.
Whatever was about to happen, they were two good reasons for taking it with me.
In my pocket was the little mosaic lizard I had bought that day at the Dallas World Aquarium for my Mum back in Perth, along with two pocket packs of tissues. That little lizard now resides on my fridge, in my kitchen in Mandurah, along with several others I have bought her over the years.
She loved geckos and I collected them here and there, for her. There is one from the deep outback of Australia, and I will find a way to put them into a story, soon.
The “leave it” things
The truth is I didn’t even quibble about not being able to take my fabulous, brand new New York shoes; brand new Gap trousers; my collectible Britto cat, or my Miche handbag that is the basis of a whole collection. Elegant suits and dresses bought especially for up-market presentations on the trip; my favourite black boots; even my new stylish white hat from Miami – never got a backward glance. It was just grab and go.
I was away less than five minutes – by which time all the guests who were in the hotel were being shepherded down the stairs and into the basement. To my surprise, no one else had made even an effort to bring any essentials with them apart from their phones. But no one brought phone chargers. My mind was focussed around:
- Securing documents that are very difficult to replace when you are travelling
- Having access to money
- being able to communicate and keeping my existing records intact
- being nice to be near in confined quarters
- staying warm and dry (hopefully)
- looking good
The previous day we had been diverted from landing in Dallas to spend the night in Houston and that was a whole story in itself. It took 23 hours to get from Miami to Dallas and included only four hours sleep. So, by the time we hit the basement in Dallas, I had had four hours sleep in the past day and a half. That was after spending four hours in the afternoon at the Dallas World Aquarium.
Some of the photos I took there, that day, are inspirations for stories like
Sofie and the Giant Crabs I love weaving them into the narrative, to share my travels with children.
Texas Tornado in Dallas – indeed!
My room looked like a tornado had hit it, when I got back, just after 10:00pm. My only thought by then was get some sleep and hope we didn’t have to return to the basement. I left my bags packed – just in case.
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