Driving in the Hell Storm

After my work shift, I headed out to visit family for the Fourth of July weekend.  It is a 225 mile trip one-way.  About 60 miles in, I saw a doe close to the side of the road eating grass and, after watching it carefully while driving by, laughed and said that was the exciting event for my trip.

Ha.  Naive Krissye.

At around 90 miles out, I saw what looked like melting snow on the sides of the road.  Really weird – it’s only been high 90s-100+ F every day for 2 weeks.  There has been odd atmospheric pressure these last few weeks, giving me migraines, so I figured there was a freak snow storm.  Hopefully that would be the end of the headaches.

Hellstorm 1

Another 10 miles out and I was under a large cloud cover.  There was lightning in the distance and the cloud started blocking out the sun, turning the light a pinkish yellow, like some kind of volcano story.  I drove further under the cloud as the sun set and it was like a two-hour twilight.

Hellstorm 2

Twilight is fine.  Lightning up in the clouds is fine.  Driving in the dark is fine.
Zero visibility rain, flooding, lightning, oncoming traffic headlights, and a trail of traffic with hazard lights blinking for unknowable miles is not fine.

I think I passed 30 other vehicles on the road, all just trailing each other in mild rain with their hazard lights on like ants afraid to lose the trail.  I got around some, almost ran over a snake crossing the flooded road, and went around another group piece by piece.  There were long breaks between oncoming traffic, so it was easy to get around.  Thank goodness for having Bot instead of my little RAV4 whose underside wasn’t solid.

The storm was a beautiful, awesome sight.  I see why people would be so terrified of nature in the days when they had to live in mud huts and why they would possibly believe there were gods in the clouds throwing lightning at each other.  If that was true, they must have had a Monopoly game gone wrong because they were mad little toga people.

There was one little pitstop town I passed through where I saw a “road curves” sign was on its side like it had been hit.  While I was looking at that to the left, a police officer stepped out toward me on the right – wearing a black coat in this rainy darkness with a reflective strip as big as Maestro with Police written on it to make it less visible.  I hit the brakes, but there were peopled behind me and the road was so flooded that a stop wasn’t possible.  I hydroplaned a little (right as oncoming traffic was coming, of course) and kept going.  Then anxiety kept me wondering if he was in trouble and I should have gone back to help.

Other parts of the road had hail pounding down so loud, I couldn’t hear.  The wind was pushing you off the side of the road – until an oncoming semi truck would pass you upwind and the sudden lack of wind meant you almost veered into oncoming traffic.  I’m pretty sure there was a power outage in one town I passed through because all of the streetlights suddenly went off (at 9pm, not normal).

While stuck in a line of cars, the one in front of me swerved quickly; I thought they were letting me pass when I realized there was a tree branch in the road and– oops, I ran over it.  (Bot needs a checkup, anyway.)

There were times that I couldn’t see more than a foot in front of Bot – brights on, going 20 miles per hour – and if it wasn’t for the lightning flashing, there were some turns I would have driven clean off the far side of the road.  This was the kind of storm I would tell my parents not to go out in; had I been anything but a stubborn Sagittarius, I would have turned back myself.

The last 30 miles were dry enough that I could even use cruise control.  The lightning still flashed every other second the whole way, but there was no more rain until the final few miles.  The last 2 miles or so, I thought I was in the clear – then I had to swerve to avoid hitting a toad in the road.

I finally made it to my parents’ house just as it started to sprinkle.  We got everything inside and I’m all settled for bed, so I decided to look at the storm radar to show my oblivious parents (“Was it raining or something?”).  Apparently the 100 miles I spent under the storm clouds were spent traveling with the storm.

Go figure.

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