Lightning Bolts

By Katiedid Langrock

August 1, 2020 5 min read

"Why was Poseidon trying to kill us?" asked my 4-year-old.

"It was Zeus," said my 7-year-old.

"But we're on the water," said my 4-year-old.

"But Zeus has the lightning bolt."

Our hike began like any other of our family hikes — with me trying to rally like a hyperactive golden retriever. I jumped and smiled and spun, chasing my tail as I tried to reassure the pack that we were going to have fun, fun, fun! They grumbled. They couldn't find their shoes. They wanted to know how much farther. We hadn't even left the RV.

I pulled up the hike on my phone, a long circuitous route to the site of three sunken ships in Lake Michigan. It'd be about a 5-mile round trip.

I checked the weather. Chance of rain in six hours. Just in case it would come a bit early, I packed raincoats — but just for the kids. What are the odds? But a mother always prepares!

I considered that walking to the site of such destruction might be a sign, an omen in its own right that this could be an ill-fated trip. Meh!

We hit the path. I trudged forward, far ahead of the rest, carving the trail, confident in my choice. Yes, this is good for my family. This is healthy. This is teaching character!

I looked over my shoulder. The rest were far behind. One child was complaining of blisters. The other child was being carried by my husband. We were only a third of a mile in. Two more miles to go. So far, this was normal. So far, we were the same as always. So far, so good.

The kids needed to stop for water. It was achingly hot and humid out. No worries! A mother always prepares. One child dumped the bottle over his head. That was the last of the water. But it was OK because we would not be going far. Just a couple of miles. My son asked why I hadn't brought more water. We trudged on.

My phone's battery died. We no longer had directions. We got lost. My daughter asked why I hadn't charged my phone more. Ugh. Good question.

We trudged on. We circled back. We found a curb to sit on while my husband, face covered in sweat, tried to get service on his phone to pull up directions. My son asked why we weren't more prepared. I wondered why myself.

We trudged on. We saw the site in the distance. A land dock of sorts — mud, rocks and gravel that had been placed down to make a skinny path far into the water, from which we could look down and see the sunken ships.

Suddenly, the children with blisters could run. Elated. We all went to the edge of this man-made peninsula and looked all around. The kids noted that the water was too high. They couldn't see the ships. The trip had been for nothing. My husband noted a rock he wanted to stand on have his picture taken atop. I noted the gray streaks of rain coming down on the lake far in the distance. It looked to be an hour or two away. Not nearly the six-hour window I'd been promised. I worried we would not make it back to the RV in time. I suggested we leave.

Then, suddenly, torrential downpour. I rushed to pull out the raincoats. I grabbed the kids' hands to pull them toward land.

Then, all at once, the loudest clap of thunder I'd ever heard and a bolt of lightning hit the water right next to us — within 30 feet, I'd guess.

We ran and hid under a bush. We had no cell service. Could not call a cab. I couldn't figure out what to do. Then, the voice of a hero. A woman had gone out onto her deck. She called to us and invited us into her home. She eventually gave us a ride home.

She told us she had seen us almost get hit by lightning. She said it was the scariest thing she'd ever seen. She offered my crying kids lemonade. She offered us towels. My daughter said she didn't need a towel. "Because Mama brought my raincoat."

"That's because a mama's always prepared," the hero said.


Just before dropping us off, the hero mentioned there's a trail directly from our RV park to the shipwreck. "It only takes 10 minutes," she said.

So prepared.

Katiedid Langrock is author of the book "Stop Farting in the Pyramids," available at Like Katiedid Langrock on Facebook, at To find out more about her and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

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