Florida is a swirl of winds, waving palms, splashing rain, rain, rain.

When I left my home on the east coast on Tuesday, a few days early for a meeting on the west coast, the Tropical Storm Fay was bearing down and I feared not being able to get out once the high winds began. At that time, the storm's track was up the East Coast. Or so the forecast said.

So moved to a motel partway to my destination, in the early evening when I was too tired to drive far. The only motel for miles around? An under-construction Best Western literally surrounded by a truck stop, the big rigs chuffing in the showers angling in under giant kleig lights. A sweet guy at the desk, sensing I felt a little out of place, watched me safely into my room. But the room was perfectly comfortable.


Nevertheless, I cried several times that night. Leaving your family –and the dear beagle–with a bad storm bearing down is a knife aimed right at any mother's gut.


By the time I got up the next morning, the storm's track had been changed to filter out over the Atlantic, then back into the Sunshine State (Ha!), aiming straight for my house. My husband encouraged me to go on, with assurances he had everything covered at home, and the storm was "just" a tropical storm with winds of 35 miles an hour or so.


Wrong. The winds were around 50 mph with gusts up to 60. I've been in one storm where the winds topped 70 mph. I never want to do that again. My modus operandi–and, living in Florida, one must have one–is to leave when the storms get rough. But before now, I've left with my family.


I went on. Then Fay took a left turn and headed straight for the coast I'd driven to. Not to worry. Storms always dissipate over dry land. Except Fay. She stayed at 50 mph as she headed for Appalachee Bay, near my meeting site.

So now I'm sitting in a motel room in Tallahassee wondering when my job became outrunning storms. I don't know, but I'm getting good at it. As long as the credit card holds out.

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