My dear friends Bay and Jesse, and their children Stella and Mosely, live in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, and Bay's 30th birthday was last Thursday, May 1st. As a gift to his wife, Jesse flew me to Arkansas to surprise Bay on her birthday.
It was great fun to be in on such a surprise. I called Bay on my way to the airport, as I call her every year on her birthday. We'd been playing phone tag for about a month, so I felt like I had to be somewhat talkative, even though I knew that we had all weekend to talk. I still kept the conversation pretty brief and told her I had to get back to work.
Of course my plane was late. If I had arrived on time, Jesse would have gotten home at his normal time. So, Bay kept calling his phone as we drove from the airport in Tulsa (about 1 1/2 hours away) and Jesse didn't think he could pull it off if he answered the phone. So, he just ignored it. Her final message said something to the effect of, "I'm home cooking my OWN dinner on MY birthday...where are you?" Hee Hee....
So, needless to say, Bay was super surprised! When Jesse told her to come outside and see her birthday present, she thought it might be a tree, or some sort of livestock.
We had a great birthday dinner Thursday night with Jesse's father and grandfather. And then the real excitement began....
I was sound asleep when I heard some sort of loud siren through the open window. Bay came in my room shortly afterwards with Mosely in her arms, and woke me up. I immediately asked her, "what's that sound?". She replied that it was a tornado siren! Well that got me up. She told me that we needed to go to the crawl space and then left the room. In my sleepiness and unfamiliarity with tornadoes in general, I didn't realize the urgency of the situation. So, she soon came back into the room and told me she meant that we need to go to the crawl space NOW!
So, we spent about half an hour in the crawl space with the dogs and kids while the storm raged outside. It was VERY exciting! The siren wasn't sounding anymore, and the rain seemed to have subsided a bit, so we headed back inside. It definitely took me a while to fall back asleep after all that.
The next morning, after the power finally came back on, we learned that a tornado had in fact set down in Siloam Springs, that severe damage had been done in the town, and that a 15-year old girl had been killed when a tree landed on her family's trailer.
On our way to the store, we drove around town to survey the damage. There were lots of very large, old trees that had been completely ripped out of the ground.
We also saw this house which had been practically cut in half by a tree.
The damage appeared to be very localized. Some of the worst damage was just blocks from Bay and Jesse's property. Luckily, their farm wasn't damaged at all, and their friends and family were all safe. Still a pretty amazing lesson in the power of Mother Nature.
Friday afternoon we packed the kids and gear in the suburban and headed east from Siloam Springs to go camping with some of their friends to celebrate Bay's birthday. On the way, we stopped for a quick hike to see some petroglyphs that Jesse knew about.
We drove and drove to the top of White Rock Mountain (which Stella was quick to point out wasn't actually white, but more gray-ish). We had the most beautiful campsite.
The kids were happy to just be running around outside after all that time in the car.
We watched the sunset from the edge of this cliff.
Bay made a big pot of chili for the group, and friends from all over showed up to play music, eat birthday cake, and sit around the campfire. It was a very cold night, so we didn't waste any time packing up camp in the morning and heading for the nearest truck stop for breakfast.
We warmed up with eggs and pancakes and coffee...but before we headed home, Ed and Jesse wanted to pick a little. And what better place to do that than in the parking lot?
Pretty soon, we were sprawled in the parking lot listening to the music and visiting.
We ended up being there for about 3 hours! We definitely had some curious onlookers....
Bay was even wearing her birthday socks that I knit for her.
As soon as we were home, Bay and I showered and jumped in Ben's car and headed to Fayetteville for the night. We were so pleased to make it to the Hog Haus brewery in time to watch the Kentucky Derby.
Then Ben (Jesse's dad) treated us to dinner at the Pesto Cafe, which was a great italian place with pictures of Jerry Garcia and mushrooms all over the walls! We took our time enjoying dinner and sharing a bottle of wine. It was so nice to have Bay all to myself...we probably haven't had a night out like that in over 5 years!
We spent time around the house on Sunday morning. Bay and Jesse live on a family farm where four generations currently reside (Jesse's grandfather Pop, Jesse's father Ben, Bay and Jesse, and the kiddos). Here's the house Bay and Jesse built a couple years ago.
We enjoyed the beautiful weather, and visited Stella's pony.
The weekend was full of surprises....including this goat that made an appearance in their yard right before I left for the airport!
Thanks Jesse! It was a dream come true to spend the weekend with all the GreenHills!