“God made the world round so we would never be able to see too far down the road.”Isak Dinesen
The featured image on this post has nothing to do with this day. It was chosen because it makes me happy. It has our son in it. He’s being goofy. We are on a road trip together. It’s good. Today was not so good.
First things first. Our Nashville trip was awesome! We would pretty much do all of it again; the Airbnb, the restaurants, the bars, the baseball game, etc. Other than me being cheap and getting annoyed regarding the “technology fee” (I think that’s what it was called) at Whiskey Row, everything we did was fantastic.
We left Nashville with a +/- 15 hour drive ahead of us. On the way down we broke it up and stayed in southern Illinois, but we needed to get back, so straight through for us. Even though we love road trips, we don’t look forward to 15 hours in a car. We can do it though, and getting back to our son was top of our mind.
Most of the trip was uneventful. It typically goes like this: Drive until Keke has to hit up the bathroom or we need gas, and try to incorporate food stops in with those. In a perfect world, those things overlap perfectly, in reality they typically don’t. Keke also has an irrational love for rest stops, so that further takes me out of my bathroom/fuel fill up/food rhythm.
As we got into Iowa, we were on the home stretch, but the sky started to look a bit ominous. We weren’t exactly sure what that meant and further weren’t sure on if we were going to add miles, but have a similar time by getting of the state highway we were on and getting over to an interstate, or continue on our current course. We take that interstate (I-35) all the time, but had never been on that state road, so the state road prevailed. I’ve heard it’s good to take the road less traveled.
The ominous sky became exactly what we didn’t want. To our knowledge, there were no tornadoes, but almost everything else we didn’t want to happen did. The rain came down in sheets, the sun disappeared (prematurely), and the cloud to ground lightning was pretty epic. This would have been problematic if we were on the interstate that we knew well, but the storm was exacerbated by the fact that we didn’t actually know where we were and didn’t know where safety was.
The very rural topography was extremely flat, which became a problem for me as the storm intensified. I don’t ever remember actually being afraid of lightning in my life, but driving though the Iowa’s countryside left us feeling very exposed and feeling like the tallest thing out there was not good in this moment. It got to a point where I was actually flinching every time I heard the thunder and saw the lightning. I’ll admit, I was freaked out.
With it very dark out and the lightning being our only significant light, we were further nervous about potential flooding. The rain was coming down hard enough to where you’d hydroplane if you went too fast, and that left the idea of a flash flood in the back of my mind. Since we didn’t know the area, we didn’t have a clue on what spots could be more prone to flooding than others. The only hope that we had was when we’d see other cars on the road, but that was becoming rarer as I suspect any local that could be inside, was inside.
We eventually found some town that I don’t remember knowing what it was then, and don’t remember now. What I do remember was there was an open Casey’s gas station. By this point, we needed gas, we needed food, and we needed to feel like we weren’t the only people on the planet in the middle of a violent storm. Casey’s is a running joke for us as we were getting gas at a Casey’s in small-town Cannon Falls, MN one time while listening to a woman with less than the ideal amount of teeth extol how she wouldn’t want to live in a town without a Casey’s to her friend filling up next to us. Kudos to Casey’s for having such a loyal customer base. While we like Casey’s just fine, we didn’t quite understand this person’s joy for them. This night, however, we did, they were a lighthouse in the storm.
Fueled up and rejuvenated we got back on the road. We seemed to be out of the middle of the storm and as we continued north, the lightning seemed to be tracking further and further away from us. Pulling up to pick up our son felt extra sweet that night, and cuddling with him later that evening made me wonder if we shouldn’t rethink how we travel. Maybe we’ll take more plane trips, or maybe we should at least look at the freaking weather forecast and understand what we are getting ourselves into before we go?