21 hours after leaving our home, maybe a few minutes more, we had succeeded in reaching our destination- 9 hours from our house. At least, it is normally nine hours from home.
We have always known there might be a danger of evacuation and every time we have moved we have looked for an alternate route. We took one early Thursday morning. It wasn’t our normal route and, somehow, we got turned around. We spent four hours going 45 miles, and that 45 miles would have been 17 if we had left on our normal route.
We traveled on 146 for 4 hours and went 45 miles.
Then we went on 59 for 100+ miles. That took 5 hours.
Then we went meandering down smaller roads. We found gas without problem, although we did have to wait in line behind six other cars.
Then we got on a small road and went over to 69. We had been told by someone in the small town that 69 was as bad as 59. But they were wrong. We were inching along on 59 and we were going 70 on 69. But we were only going a few miles up the road. (And we did know that as of 7 am the mandatory evacuation of Beaumont was coming out on 69, but it wasn’t up north yet.)
We stayed on that for a while, then we went 255 to 96, which turned into 59 again, but had no traffic. When we got to Marshall there were hundreds of people evacuating, both from New Orleans and from Houston. It was the fork in the road where both groups hit. But even so, though the Wendy’s had 100 people ordering while we were in line, the traffic wasn’t bad.
Then we went to 71. It’s a small windy road and we decided to take it, rather than go through Oklahoma, because it was close and because we had already heard the every hotel in Oklahoma City and Tulsa was reserved by folks coming in from Houston. We didn’t want more of that traffic.
Then we got to Ft. Smith. There no one assumed we were from Houston. No one even noticed.
It was another hour north to the in-laws. By that time we were so tired, and I was sneezing so much from the dog being in the car with me, that we missed our turn. We caught the second one, though, and went through a town that has NOLA evacuees from Katrina, but not much from Rita. At least not yet. (The paper says they will help if Texas needs it.)
We got here and unloaded the boys and the car. We kissed my MIL, my FIL was at a poker game, and went to WalMart. We needed a crate for the dog and hadn’t brought one because we didn’t have room.
I took 2 Benadryl and 1 3-gm melatonin and went to bed. For 13 hours.