|The purple thumbnail is not covered with polish!|
But like an 0 for 19er who yearns for a dying-quail double sliced inches inside the line or a soft seeing-eye single through the hole or even a deflected drive off a diving shortstop’s glove, I needed some cheap hit, some unusual play to startle me back to my posting ways. I had scorched some long blog drafts, but they had fallen foul or been fielded, yielding nothing to show, at least yet.
Even so, I hadn’t expected a wind-blown error in Omaha to break me out of the blogging slump.
After Arby had arduously trudged through the hills of western Iowa throughout mid-day, we docked in at a sunny spot atop a hill overlooking the lake at Walnut Creek County Park just south of Omaha. Since the sun was bleating down on the bare site with a ferocity that caused high double digit temperatures to look attractive, I extended Arby’s electric awning, which had been one of our regular sources of possible comfort. I told Bonnie that, because the wind was occasionally snapping at the canvas of the umbrella, I’d retract the awning before we left for the ballpark.
A couple of hours later the wind gusts had dissipated, and Bonnie was snoozing so smoothly that I decided not to wake her for the game or disturb her with the sounds of the awning retracting. As the sun shone across the horizon, I left at 5:58 for the Omaha Storm Chasers’ game less than five miles away.
When a brief rain shower sent fans scurrying to the concession concourse during the third inning, I interviewed several who clustered around me. After a few outs, the rain eased and allowed them to return to their seats.
Instead of resuming attention to the game, I looked toward the west where dark clouds with bolts and sheets of lightening looked more threatening than Albert Pujols stepping to the plate with bases loaded and none out in a tie game. So I left the ballpark immediately and headed back to Bonnie and Arby.
Alas, the thunderstorm moved through the area faster than Toad could run back to Walnut Creek Park. Alarmed by the winds’ sudden arrival, Bonnie phoned that the initial gusts had bent the awning arms before she could retract the cover. While we talked as I started the car, the gale ripped the awning from its support, throwing its heavy roller over Arby’s roof. Later in the evening, we learned that the winds had been clocked at 65 mph.
|After the rain shower, fans start back to their seats.|
|Noting the denser storm in the distance, a few other fans precede me in leaving early.|
|While this car pulled out ahead of me, Bonnie called with news that the awning had already been ripped.|
By midnight, the storm cells had passed into Iowa, and we slept, or at least tried to sleep. Rising at dawn under clear skies, we quickly surmised that the awning was an entire loss: the support arms were twisted, the canvas torn, and the roller bar bent. The entire set-up would need to be removed. As I began to disengage the roller bar, the spring in the arm released, thwacking my thumb, which throbbed with pain as it began to swell.
|Bonnie surveys the damage.|
Thankfully, moments later two RVers who had anchored at the park for several weeks offered to help with the removal and disposal of the awning. Both brought tools, expertise, and energy that were indispensible. Vern Bridgewater, who now spends winters in Alabama and summers in Walnut Creek Park, had been a metal worker and tool specialist before his retirement a few years ago. While I unbolted the arm supports and drilled off the heads of rivets securing the sidebars to Arby, he used his reciprocating saw to cut through the final portion of the support whose complete release had been prevented by the hinges on a storage bay.
|Vern cuts the awning roller's cover.|
|Mike hauls away the pieces.|
After a quick breakfast, Bonnie and I attached Toad to the tow bar and headed west across the recurring sameness of Nebraska’s prairie, a flat terrain across which Arby sighed in relief.