On Saturday, we headed up north to Aurora for a photo with my mom's side of the family. This was a gift to my grandparents, Michelle and Don, for their anniversary. It was a nice bonding experience, seeing as it was the first formal family photo that Al has been included in. And, as my mom put it, "He's right in the middle, so it's going to be hard to photoshop him out!"
Just as an aside, my mom is hilarious. Her humor is primarily based on sarcasm; hence, the seemingly mean comments. I swear, it is all in good fun. Or, at least that's what we keep telling Al! ;)
After the picture and a brief (but awesome) visit with my Aunt Becky, who let me borrow her tent for Bonnaroo, we headed to dinner at La Hacienda De Los Fernandez, where I had an amazing Sangria Swirl Margarita. This is my new favorite drink, and the food was pretty good too. We had a wonderful time with my family, though it never feels like it's enough!
We opted not to stay the night, as it seems we have been running around non-stop lately. We said our good-byes and gave hugs all around, then hopped in the car to get on the road home.
It started with a little bit of rain. Next, we heard mention of tornadoes and began to get a bit nervous, but figured we could pull off the road if things got too bad. Al and I flipped on the AM weather station to get some insight into what was going on. We found out that there had been a horrible tornado in Streator, Illinois. While the damage was still being assessed, tornado warnings began to pop up in towns all the way down I-57 toward Champaign. The map below shows how close we were to the worst of it.
As we worked our way down I-57, the storms began to get quite a bit worse. We decided to pull off at a rest station, where all the emergency lights were lit up. This was when I started to get really nervous. We had Mila in the car, and I knew she could tell something was wrong. However, we figured that it was silly to just sit at this rest station, when we didn't even know how close we really were to the worst of this storm system.
As soon as we got in the car, things got ridiculous. Al told me to keep an eye out for funnel clouds every time the lightning lit up the sky. The rain was pouring down and we could barely see a thing. People were slamming on their brakes about every minute when the lightning would strike and you could see how low all the clouds were. It looked like a series of tornadoes were coming right at us...totally horrifying.
Al pulled off in Manteno at a gas station, where we sat for a while and listened to the radio. The rain stopped but my mom was staying on the phone with me, giving me constant updates on what she was seeing on weather.com. She said there were some "life-threatening tornadoes" developing in Momence, and that people in the vicinity were being advised to take cover immediately.
As soon as this system took a turn to the East, we hit the road. We drove through what was essentially a monsoon the entire rest of the way home, dodging tornado warnings, flash-flood warnings, and thunderstorm warnings. (I'm not sure if it's just a warning if you're in the thick of it.) It took us over four hours to get home, but Al did an awesome job driving and kept Mila and I completely safe. However, this is what we looked like by the time we got home...