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  • Muddy Waters

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on May 25th, 2015 (All posts by )

    Well, here we have another more than normally interesting Memorial Day weekend – first for a meet-up on Saturday in Austin with several of the other contributors to the Chicagoboyz blog. This would have been the first time that we would have met face- to-face; an experience that I have had several times before but with other blogging groups. The first time was when Robin Juhl organized a meet for a handful of San Antonio bloggers, back about the time that I was still working as a corporate drone. The first few minutes were a bit painful, because Robin was the only one who knew all of our blogs. Here I go with the bright social smile, and the chirpy question, “So, what do you blog about?” The meeting eventually got quite jolly – and so did the next one, a mil-blog convention some years later. I was on a panel with five other long-time mil-bloggers, and although we had never met face to face, we all knew each other’s blogs. With this meet-up it was even more relaxed, and the only awkwardness being that none of us knew what they others really looked like, so it was a matter of looking each other over in the foyer of Gordough’s on Lamar and venturing, “Are you …?”

    From then on, it all went swimmingly, although when it began to drizzle, we had to move indoors, and it was so noisy inside that the group eventually decided to move on to a coffee shop down the street. Blondie and I felt that we really did have to bail at that point. We couldn’t find a parking place, it was raining again, and we’d have an hour drive home … in the rain. Blondie decided not to go back by IH-35, but rather west and south to pick up 281 at Blanco. We had always come over from Fredericksburg to Johnson City and taken that way south to home – this way we would be coming from the other direction, which had the charm of the unusual. It would take about half an hour longer … but the skies looked pretty threatening over that way, and we happen to know that it is hell driving the 35 in heavy rain.
    The clouds looked pretty mottled, when we headed off, and it was continuing to rain, but in the off-and-on way that it had been raining for much of the afternoon. It seemed to get heavier when we got to where the road we were on merged with the 281, and there were some stretches as we edged around Blanco where there was water in the low places of the road – not running water, and certainly none of the places along the road marked as low-water crossings had anything significant in them. We had already gotten two weather alert warnings on Blondie’s cell phone. Still – it was a little unnerving. But we could see cars ahead of us driving through, and it all seemed to be about rim-deep. We agreed that we would rather be driving in the rain on a relatively uncrowded 281, then sharing the 35 with all those 18-wheelers, which tend to splash up blinding splashes of rain.

    But the rain got heavier and heavier – the worst of it coming at about the turn-off for Kendalia, in sheets against the windshield. Blondie sensibly slowed to about thirty miles an hour and put on the flashing hazard lights, saying cheerfully that being able to see through the front windshield was very overrated. I believe that the handful of other vehicles on the road out on their hazards too, but it was almost impossible to tell for certain – but they all were going slowly as well. I think we were skirting the edge of the worst, to judge by the areas that flooded out on Saturday, and in the even more ferocious storm that hit in mid-evening. After Bulverde the rain eased up to scattered showers. Blondie kept saying that we’d get home, and find that it hadn’t rained at all and our neighborhood would be as dry as a bone.

    Well, it wasn’t quite that dry – it had rained ferociously, but for only for about an hour, so the neighbors told us. And as we drove in, we could see one particularly dense black cloud drifting off on a north-east tangent. Blondie wondered if it were the kind of cloud that breeds tornadoes, as there were some oddly finger-shaped edges to it. I’ve never seen a tornado first hand, so I couldn’t really say. We got home; the sun was out, everything thoroughly wet and fresh-looking, the chickens all safe in their run and the dogs merely happy to see us.

    About mid-evening, there was another weather alert – a possible tornado. The wind began to blow ferociously, and the rain came in sideways again. We went out to the back porch, wondering if this was the one time that lightening would strike the tall standing granite-paneled cross at St. Helena’s, across the way. We watched the lightening for a while – night-time thunderstorms are spectacular around here. The storm was moving off to the north, on the same trajectory as the afternoon storm – that is the one which sent the Blanco River overflowing, Wimberley, Blanco and Kyle, and a driver in an SUV managed to get carried away in floodwaters near Boerne. We are pretty certain that some of homes destroyed in Wimberley are along a stretch of the Blanco that I photographed a couple of years ago – beautiful stands of cypress trees all thrown down like match-sticks. There are more storms predicted for tonight, as well. Who knew that South Texas has a monsoon season, every couple of years ago?

    Stretch of the Blanco River near Wimberley in earlier years. This is the bit that we believe flooded out a number of homes nearby.

    Stretch of the Blanco River near Wimberley in earlier years. This is the bit that we believe flooded out a number of homes nearby.

    Now, one of the most ironic parts is – we went downtown Sunday morning, the very next day – to meet up with Jonathon G. and give him a personal tour of the Alamo – and it was a beautiful and intermittently sunny day. The water in the river was pretty murky, lots of leaves and stirred-up gunk in it, which the water-taxi drivers say always happens after a heavy rain, but the downtown Riverwalk was crowded, and even the restaurants along the upper reaches looked as if they had standing room only. And that’s our Memorial Day weekend. We will do barbequed beef ribs tonight – but I think on the electric griddle. It looks like the rain will come in again tonight.

    A quiet reach of the upper Riverwalk, Sunday, May 25th

    A quiet reach of the upper Riverwalk, Sunday, May 25th


    12 Responses to “Muddy Waters”

    1. Jonathan Says:

      A great time. Thanks, Celia.

    2. Sgt. Mom Says:

      You are so welcome! You have miraculously skimmed along the worst of the bad weather and seen almost the best of what we have to offer!

    3. Gringo Says:

      The 281 and the 35: showing your California roots, Sgt. Mom. Which reminds me of the time I conversed in a Wal-Mart line with some visitors from Ohio. They had my NE origin pegged down- asked if I were from NH- wrong state but in the region.

      Cooler and wetter makes for a more comfortable summer than hotter and drier- provided that your home doesn’t get flooded out.

    4. Grurray Says:

      Well on the bright side, I guess this means the drought is over then, eh?

    5. Sgt. Mom Says:

      You would think, wouldn’t you? But the Edwards Aquifer still isn’t up to where it ought to be. My daughter wonders if the local water utility doesn’t get some economic advantage of being always under drought conditions.

    6. tomw Says:

      SGt:”My daughter wonders if the local water utility doesn’t get some economic advantage of being always under drought conditions.”

      You betcha.

      They will encourage abstemious use of water, and then ask for increased rates due to fixed costs and reduced consumption.
      Personally, I would have denied them the increased rates and suggested they tighten their belt as they had urged their customers to do. I did NOT buy that bridge that was for sale near NYC.

    7. Jim Miller Says:

      Glad to hear that you’re OK. Those floods sound bad enough to have surprised even those who are prepared for msot emergencies.

    8. dearieme Says:

      Dunno about Texas, but British droughts are never cured by a big downpour. What you need is moderate persistent rain, otherwise too much water is lost in runoff. It also helps if that rain falls in winter, otherwise a lot vanishes in transpiration or evaporation.

    9. Sgt. Mom Says:

      We’re OK, Jim – it seems that the Blanco was flooded over several times the usual flood level, and it took everyone by surprise over the weekend. That stretch of the river by Wimberley is particularly lovely – and all the houses that we saw were set far back from the riverbank and we would have thought they were far enough above any potential flood level.

      Dearie, it looks like we will be having another very rainy summer, just as we did some years ago. Heavy rains about every two weeks or so. It kept all the fields very, very green all through the summer, and wildflowers blooming until August. Usually the flowers are spent about this time, and the fields brown and crispy by mid-summer.

      The peril comes when there is a sudden, horrendously heavy rainfall within hours. All of that water flows downhill. In October of 1998, there was a rain system which poured more than 22 inches overnight into the Hill Country. The authorities never knew how much MORE than 22 inches it was, since all the unattended rain gages topped out at that point. It didn’t really rain very much in San Antonio that Friday night, but by Saturday mid-day, all those rivers and creeks rose to appallingly high levels.

      So far, it hasn’t come anywhere near those levels, So far. Fingers crossed. Yes, water is nice … but there are limits.

    10. Mike K Says:

      I ws briefly at Dallas Love Field today. The last time I was there was in 1959 on the way to Basic Training at Lackland AFB.

      We finally got to Charleston SC after three stops. Jesus ! Charleston is the end of the world, I guess.

      It reminds me of the time I was on a nonstop to Baltimore from SNA. About Kansas City there was a page, “Are there any doctors on the plane ?”

      I stayed very quiet for a minute hoping there was another and, sure enough, another guy stood up. We landed at Kansas City and they took a woman off.

      We took off again and, about Atlanta, another page “Is there a doctor on board the plane ?”

      The same guy stood up and we landed at Atlanta.

      I felt like that today.

    11. Anonymous Says:

      It reminds me of the time I was on a nonstop to Baltimore from SNA. About Kansas City there was a page, “Are there any doctors on the plane ?”

      I stayed very quiet for a minute hoping there was another and, sure enough, another guy stood up. We landed at Kansas City and they took a woman off.

      Instead of “I’m not a doctor but I play one on TV,” we have “I’m a doctor but I don’t want to play one on an airplane.”

      Given how Good Smaritans can be sued these days, I don’t blame you.

      Which reminds me of a dinner I had with my Noo Yawk City cousins. A cousin told a story about “Are there any doctors on the plane?” where the doctor who responded turned out to be Muslim. The implicit lesson of the story being we should be tolerant blah blah of Muslims, not all terrorists etc etc blah blah. I replied that a Muslim doctor was a terrorist at the Glasgow airport. [I forgot about the Muslim doctor’s massacres at Fort Hood. But that wasn’t terrorism, doncha’ know, but a “workplace accident.” You know, going postal in the military.]

      My cousin replied that Muslims had reason to be angry at Americans, as we had killed 300,000 Muslims. I replied that statistic was not accurate.
      My cousin did not reply.

      His sister lives several miles from the WTC, so she saw the plumes of smoke from the WTC from her apartment. But then he probably could have seen the smoke from his Brooklyn apartment, or from his Manhattan work place.

    12. Robert Schwartz Says:

      We all hope you and Blondie are OK Mom.