Seriously. When you're driving 12 hours to your first stop and you haven't slept in days, the twists and turns from Ohio to Kentucky through Tennessee to Alabama wrap around the tired quick. Then there's the storm. Now this is what you should know.
I. Don't. Like. Tornados.
So it would make sense that I don't like storms that can produce them. I saw the "Danger, Will Robinson" red overwhelming the doppler radar of my AccuWeather iPhone Ap but thought, "How bad could it be?"
Yeah, you know the next.
The tiny Ford Focus powered into the edge of said storm with a norm-like rain to windshield greeting. In a matter of seconds, we were engulfed in swaths of hurricane like rain. Wind whipping around the frail frame of the car, intent on ultimate compression and the sky ... well, at 6:17 pm shouldn't look like 9:45 pm.
There wasn't a tornado. Let's be clear.
There was however a behemoth of a swell in the sky. Lightning ripping lose in vein like stretches. Big bolts breaking from sky to the ground with determined intent. This storm had furry and focus and the thing wasn't moving fast.
Cars and eighteen-wheelers peeled off the highway, seeking refuge on the shoulder or bridge underpasses, and I continued forward at a mere 10 miles per hour. As the sky darkened and the rain and wind pummeled us, I saw an exit ahead. In horror films, this is where it goes even more on the worse. You know. Small film crew exits off main highway and meets certain doom.
I took my chances and steered off the yellow brick road of sorts. A Stop sign and a right turn shifted the wrath of the storm's attention to my side of the car.
Can I say, THAT SUCKS!
By some good fortune, a Chevron gas station was on the horizon with a L A R G E awning over the gas pumps. I pulled underneath it, turned off the ignition and sat quietly for a moment ... shaking. My adopted father had been a weatherman for a stint in the military, and I had been educated with great consistency when not to tussle with the sky. But there I went, so intent on making it to New Orleans (or as close as I could), and went all out tussle with a tiny, compact Ford Focus.
I think you know who won.
I hunkered down there at the Chevron for an hour and half before the warnings spread to where I needed to travel to get to NOLA. We back tracked our route toward Tuscaloosa where we called it a night in Moundville, AL.
I felt pretty defeated on that drive to Moundville because we didn't make it farther on day one,
but I felt grateful that we were safe, mostly dry and unscathed from
the storm (save the ego but who really needs that thing).
In route to Moundville (I find that name so unique), we saw this beautiful cloud
formation. Looking straight on it, the bubble/pearl shapes were like nothing I had ever seen in person. It was quite a contrast to the storm. While it didn't take away the sting of miles-needed defeat, it was a sort of silver lining. It was a beautiful in the chaos. Which felt kinda of like what I was trying to do this summer.
Well, sort of.
(Travel Date: June 28, 2013)