Rita is gone and we're back home. Our journey began Wednesday at 3:00 as my family loaded up the Suburban and headed north to Waco. 7 hours later, we had traveled 60 miles. Although the freeways were more congested than I'd ever seen before, the vast majority of people were civil. We stopped at a gas station where only two pumps were operational, and 50 or so cars had parked. There was no commotion over getting in line for gas, and everyone inside the store seemed eager to share their evacuation story. There were pet dogs and cats in tow, and even a pet crab. Fortunately after departing Hempstead, it was smooth sailing to Waco.
We stayed with my mother, and my in-laws who live around the corner from us in Houston joined us as well. My mother-in-law cleaned out her freezer, and my father-in-law brought several bottles of wine. So our evacuation was spent eating steaks and drinking Merlot, and enjoying good company.
Our journey back to Houston was much quicker, and we returned to find many large trees uprooted in our neighborhood. Fortunately our home was spared any damage, the only evidence of Rita being a lawn full of branches and leaves. My part of Houston is still a ghost town, as very few restaurants are open and no gas is available. Grocery stores opened for a limited time with short staff. I expect it will be another couple days for everything to back to normal.
All in all, Rita turned out to be a blessing as we enjoyed a mini family reunion, 3 days off from work, and a total of 6 days off from school. As my mother said, "this has been the best hurricane ever". Of course, next time we might not be so fortunate.