We have heard of the power of a tornado but we rarely have a chance to see one living in California. There were only a couple of tornado reports locally that I knew of in the last 20 some years, one incidence in Sunnyvale where a trampoline ended up on a tree as I recalled. Although we saw the movie “Twisters” many years ago, tornados are as foreign to us as earthquakes are to Midwesterners. I knew that as we drove across the country we could possible run into tornados and was a little apprehensive about camping in that area of the country. I wasn’t sure what we could do if we encountered a tornado.
In early June, as we were driving through Wisconsin, we thought we were safe as we were out of the area known as Tornado Alley but we started hearing news of tornados on the radio. The report was detailed with which counties tornados were and which counties they were heading. The only problem was that we had no clues what county we were in and where all the mentioned counties were. So we figured if we started seeing cars making U-turns, then we most likely were heading the wrong direction and we should follow other cars. We didn’t see anything dark in the sky so we figured we probably not in anywhere close to a tornado.
We found a campsite at Lake Kegonsa State Park and started cooking dinner. Then out of nowhere, a loud alarm broke the silence. Although I had never heard of it, I knew instinctively that it was a tornado warning. I rushed to the car and listened on the radio to find out more about it. Again the news was meaningless to us. I ran around to find someone to ask. There weren’t many campers there that day so it took me a while to find someone. The guy told me that the tornado was moving away from us; we should be safe. What a relief!. I wasn’t sure what I would do to protect the family.
A few minutes later, a ranger came by to inform us the information and to check up on everyone. She informed us if the tornado ever changed direction and came this way, we should go hide in the restroom, the sturdiest building around. We ate our dinner quickly, partly because of concerns for the tornado but also because there were a lot of mosquitoes there. Soon we retired into our tent and had a fitful night of sleep. Although secretly I had a wish to see a real tornado, I was thankful that it never materialized. Maybe another time in the future when we don’t have our kids with us and only from a safe distance.