The windows shook as thunder boomed. Cats Rocky and Stony abandoned their duties of destroying my house and scampered into my lap. I yelled for Stan as the winds howled and things thumped and bumped on the front porch.
He took one look at the fat silver tabby and the lanky white kitten huddled in Mommy's lap, all three sets of our eyes wide with fear, and just shook his head.
But when the storm took out the electricity, Stan began pacing.
No TV, no radio, no air conditioner. It wasn't long after the winds subsided and the lightning faded that he suggested we take a ride to check out the storm damage.
Neither of us remembered the loads and loads of red Georgia clay that Ellis Wood's company had been bringing in by the day, building up our roads in preparation for that glorious day when they begin paving.
I love dirt roads, but the toll on my vehicles and the repair bills have me looking forward to the day Lake Collins Road is covered in asphalt.
As soon as we topped the hill and pulled onto the main road, we remembered the parade of dump trucks that had been spilling red dirt onto the roadway for the past few weeks. Too late.
Stan was driving, and as he pulled onto the main road, the truck slid all over the place. "Maybe we ought to turn around here," I said as we passed a neighbor's driveway.
He kept going, but agreed to turn into the next drive. He turned the wheel, but the truck didn't obey.
"The only thing is to keep on going," he said. I knew that if we stopped, we would lose momentum and would never get traction in the slime that was the result of about an inch of rain on the loosely packed clay.
The road had been widened, except in a couple of places where the road crew hadn't replaced the concrete pipes that carry water from the streams and creeks to the lake. As we drove across the narrow, single-vehicle stretch of road, the truck suddenly went WHUMP! and my left front wheel sank into the soft mud.
Apparently there was a sinkhole in the culvert and the sudden torrent created a hidden danger. A few feet over and we would have tumbled into a deep crevasse. Well, it looked pretty deep to me as I peered into the water-filled hole.
"Have fun walking in the mud," I said as Stan sighed deeply and got out of the truck. I had my scanner, so I turned it on, switched on the blinkers and waited while Stan went to find someone to pull us out.
I listened as Bulloch County Sheriff's deputies, Portal volunteer firefighters and others scoured the area for storm damage. A host of volunteer firefighters and others were busy clearing fallen limbs and trees in the northwestern Bulloch County area.
I heard one deputy radio that he was checking out Lake Collins Road, and sure enough, his headlights appeared. "I think I have one in the ditch," he told dispatchers. Yeah, he did.
Stan returned just as Bulloch County Sheriff's Investigator Walter Deal walked up. "You just had to go out and check the storm damage, didn't you?" he asked, shining his flashlight directly into my eyes.
In high school Walter was voted the quietest guy in class. I think he grew out of that.
Stan couldn't get anyone who owned a big truck or tractor to the door, and with the electricity out, cordless phones didn't work and we couldn't call. I told Water he didn't have to wait on me, but he smirked and asked "Where am I going? You have the road blocked!"
As if his ragging me wasn't enough, Portal Fire Chief Chris Ivey pulled in behind Walter's car. Then someone else arrived, and soon there were about five vehicles waiting for someone to pull my Dodge out of the hole so they could slosh through the slush.
I didn't know what to do. Then headlights came from behind us - and it was a big red Dodge diesel.
Calvin Hendrix hooked up and pulled me backwards until I was out of the hole,but I couldn't get any traction. Chris, Walter, Stan and some others I didn't know pushed as I stood on the accelerator. All I accomplished was covering them all in fine red mud.
Calvin pulled me back some more, then pulled me into a neighbor's driveway. Once I got up some speed, I was able to plow through the mush and make my way home.
Thanks to Walter, Chris and the other volunteers - and to Calvin and his bid red Dodge - all of whom went beyond the call of duty to help a curious reporter and her husband get out of a jam.
The road was so slick you could have gone skiing on it - which is exactly what those guys looked like they were doing as they walked back to their vehicles, slipping and sliding in the muddy red Georgia clay.
Holli Deal Bragg enjoys mud bogging, except when she gets stuck. She may be reached at 489-9414 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.