As you know, I recently returned from a week-long trip, during which I traveled with my family over 2500 miles by car. We went to Texas and Louisiana, to visit family as we usually do for the holidays. This trip, however, was different than in years past. The Texas visit was the usual, but it was the Louisiana visit that was unusual. As you probably predicted, this is because of this year's devastating hurricane season.

Luckily, my family live in a part of Louisiana that was untouched by Hurricane Katrina. And when Hurricane Rita came around, it wasn't supposed to strike their area. But the nature of nature is that, hurricanes don't like to follow predicted paths, and Rita made a beeline for them.

Fortunately, everyone is okay, but a few of my cousins' homes were damaged/ruined. Of course, this happened a while back, so I've known for some time that they were all fine. What truly hit it all home for me was seeing everything firsthand. I saw the news reports and the pictures, but none of that compares to seeing it for yourself.

We drove through Beaumont, Texas, and it was the first stop on the way to Louisiana where you could see just how much devastation there was. Some of it had been repaired by the time we drove through, but much remained. I saw whole buildings crumpled to the ground, huge trees that had been or nearly were uprooted, and just a general mess of scattered debris all over the place. Throughout all the places we saw, throughout southern/southwestern Louisiana, much was the same. Blue tarps were on countless rooftops, as they were blown off and are in the process of being repaired. Trees are leaning at odd angles, or are completely felled. Signs, if still standing, only display fluorescent light, having lost their plastic covers to the storm.

No matter how much I saw, I never once became "accustomed" to the sight of damage that is so common in the area. It amazes me still, and I find myself in awe of nature. No matter how much we think we can do to make ourselves more safe/secure, we have no control of the weather. Nature is a part of our Earth, and it does not discriminate what is affected by it.

I was thrilled to see my family, though, and thoroughly enjoyed the visit. What is even greater is that none of them are the worse for wear. They are making the most of everything, and their only concern when we visited was whether we were hungry. Family. Gotta love 'em.