Virginia to Texas through Hail and High Water

Illuminated
by lightning striking darkness
followed by thunder,
Toad-escaping-rain
a wet toad shivers
drips falling on the threshold
of an unknown door.

When wild winds blow
and rain falls sideways,
normal vanishes
and new directions appear.   ~ms

Considering everything that I have been through in the past few months, when  I opened the door the other night during a thunderstorm and saw a wet toad sitting on the threshold, trying to avoid the pouring rain—I immediately saw myself in its tired eyes.

My journey from Virginia to Texas began on the morning of March 16. I had never driven such a long distance by myself before, but I thought I could do it—IF I stopped every hour, got out of the car, and walked around for a few minutes. However, there were challenges on the way that I didn’t foresee.

Only 20 minutes after I left home, my windshield got hit hard by a rock that was kicked up by a passing truck. I couldn’t believe it. I wasn’t even out of the state of Virginia, and suddenly there was a annoying ding on the right side of my windshield. I didn’t have time to get this fixed and I didn’t want the crack in the glass to spread any farther, so I simply smashed some gum over the area. Seemed like the thing to do at the time…made me feel better anyway.

With a sticky wad of gum firmly affixed to my  windshield, I made it through Virginia and crossed over the state line into North Carolina—my first milestone!
Welcome-to-North-Carolina
I walked around for a few minutes enjoying the beautiful scenery, before I continued on to South Carolina.
South-Carolina
I began to notice, as I drove farther south, that winter was magically morphing into spring right before my eyes. By the time I entered the state of Georgia later in the afternoon, the trees there were already blooming with warm and vibrant spring colors.
Georgia-Welcome
Georgia-in-Bloom
The landscaping at the Georgia Welcome Center was soothing, so I wandered around for a little while enjoying the face of spring. In just one day, somehow I had left the cold Virginia wintry weather far behind.

After about 8 hours of driving and numerous breaks, I was too tired to keep going. So I decided to stop and stay the night at the Comfort Suites in Commerce, Georgia (about an hour away from Atlanta). The quality of the hotel was impressive and the price was very reasonable. If anyone is planning to pass through that area, it’s a great place to stay.

The next morning, I awoke to find that life was about to push me in an unexpected direction. The front desk receptionist said the route I had planned to take was no longer viable, because I-10 had been closed between Louisiana and Texas due to bad weather and severe flooding. The possibility of encountering hail and high water along the way was something that I had not taken into consideration.

After looking at a map though, I felt I had found the perfect solution. I could get through Alabama, Mississippi, cross into Texas, and avoid the flooding on I-10 by taking I-20 instead (which would take me a little farther north). I thought it was a great alternate plan. So I got back into my car, and it wasn’t too long before I entered the state of Alabama.
Sweet-Home-Alabama
I totally agree with Alabama’s motto  “We Dare Defend Our Rights.” That is something we all should be doing!
Alabama-Defends
Alabama-beauty
As I stood there in Alabama, admiring the blue skies, green grass, and flowering trees, the flooding that I had heard about in Louisiana and Texas almost seemed like an impossibility.

I was making great time. Didn’t take me too long before I was crossing into the state of Mississippi. Although the spelling of ‘Mississippi’ gave me problems in elementary school, I love the way all of the S’s curl around on this welcome sign.
Mississippi-Welcome-Center
Mississippi-blooms
As I was passing through Mississippi, the weather started to subtly shift. Random clouds were gathering together in small groups, as if contemplating rain. However, when I crossed into the state of Louisiana, most of the sky was still crystal clear.

The first thing that I noticed about Louisiana was that all of the land was incredibly flat. There was not a hill or valley as far as the eye could see.
Louisiana-welcome
I didn’t get that far into Louisiana before the weather dramatically changed. The sky that had been so crystal clear began to fill with thick dark clouds. Thunder rumbled in the distance and occasional flashes of lightning danced on the horizon. Oh no! It was apparent that the sunny, happy ride I had been on was about to take an ominous turn.

I have no photos of the thunderstorms that I went through after that, because I was too busy trying to drive. There were periods when the rain was so intense, I could barely see. In many areas, the road was level with fast-moving water from creeks and rivers that were quickly rising. There was no safe place on the side of the road to pull off and rest, so everyone kept driving in spite of the lack of visibility. Water everywhere! The truck in front of me was only driving about 5 miles per hour and its hazard lights were flashing. Afraid to stop, I did my best to follow those flashing red tail lights that kept appearing and disappearing through the pouring rain. Gripping the steering wheel and shaking with fear, somehow I made it into the next city before the water got too deep on the road.

I parked the car as soon as I could—at a McDonald’s in Monroe, Louisiana. I desperately needed a break! I asked the lady behind the counter if she had seen the fast-moving water rippling over the sides of the road right outside of the city of Monroe. She said (rather nonchalantly), “Oh yeah. That area was closed for a few days because the road was completely flooded. It was just opened again this morning. Where are you from?”
“I came from Virginia and I’m trying to make it to Texas.”
“By yourself?! You’re driving this far by yourself?”
“Yes.”
“Oh you poor thing. Have you ever seen high water like this before? Probably not! Here—have a cup of coffee and sit down for a while.”

I certainly appreciated her kindness and understanding. She was absolutely right. I had never actually seen flooding like this before, except on the news. I was definitely scared. My hair must have been standing on end!

I stayed there for a while, until the sky started to brighten up a little. Then I got back in my car, even though I really didn’t want to, and continued on my journey. Originally, I had wanted to keep driving all day until I crossed the border into Texas.  But, a few hours later, I decided to stay in Louisiana for the night. I don’t even remember where I was when I decided to stop, I just stopped. Too much stress! Give me a pillow and blanket, and let me go to sleep and escape this frightening flooded reality for a few hours.

So many people around this area lost everything they had. This website shows how a compassionate group called “Samaritan’s Purse” stepped in to help the people in Louisiana and Texas recover from  extensive water damage caused by all of the storms. It is very sad that the media and the TV news broadcasts don’t put more focus on wonderful people like this who care and put their helping hands to good use.

The next day when I looked out of the hotel window, I saw that the weather was still quite stormy. Sigh. I had to get where I was going by a specific date though—so I reluctantly got back in my car again, and endured several more thunderstorms in order to make it across the Texas state line.
Texas-Welcome-Center
When I arrived, it was obvious that another storm had recently passed through the Texas Welcome Center parking lot.  I decided to put my raincoat on, because the temperature had dropped and random drops of rain were still drizzling out of the sky.
Texas-Welcome

The sign on the door kindly said, “Welcome to Texas.” In spite of everything, I made it!  I knew then that I was definitely going to get to my destination on time. However, Mother Nature wasn’t done with me. About 15 minutes after I entered the state of Texas, I was welcomed by the biggest thunderstorm of all—complete with hail and more high water.

I’ve been in Texas now for 3 months and I have been  hailed on three more times  (in addition to other things—but that’s another story).
Mary_Mirror-Selfie
Anyway, just wanted you to know, I am still standing (even though this is the first time I have written anything since February). May God continue to bless us all as we travel through this unpredictable adventure called life!

About Mary Strong-Spaid

You can find me any time wandering around in my own mind gathering thoughts.
This entry was posted in Nature, Photo Essay, photography, Poetry, Storms, Water and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Virginia to Texas through Hail and High Water

  1. katelon says:

    Glad you got there safely. I have driven often by myself, sometimes driving a car, sometimes a moving rental truck. Hope you enjoy your time in Texas.

  2. sarasinart says:

    That was quite an adventure. I hope you’ll like it there.

  3. Graham Brown says:

    What an adventure, Mary. Pleased to hear you are “still standing”. Very best wishes for whatever you are doing next, Graham (Orkney)

  4. Anonymous says:

    Mary – so glad to know you and Tom are settled in Texas. Driving home from Wegman’s I often wondered if you had made the journey. Now I know – you captured your travels so well with the pictures and detailed narrative – felt like we were with you! It is an amazing landscape that unfolds across this great Nation. Despite the rain, hail and thunder, you made it!!!! May life be good to you in Texas and I look forward to another life adventure from you. God bless. Pat&Tom

    • I’m glad we still have a way to communicate, all these miles apart. Back in the “olden days” it cost a lot just to call from Fredericksburg to Stafford. Now long distance calls are included in most plans. And then there is Facebook too…..
      The internet and cell phones have changed a lot of things. People can stay connected and/or find connections that they thought they had forever lost.

  5. Lovely poem and what an adventure you had. I appreciate you documenting it the way you have. May your stay in Texas be filled with healing and light. Many blessings to you.

  6. Long car travel can be fun if you are in the proper frame of mind and have some objects in mind.
    At least you have family in Texas, it does make a world of difference. Now starts a whole new adventure for you. Wishing you good fortune in all your adventures.

  7. Tiny says:

    Oh that was very brave and well done, Mary!

    • I like an adventure and I like water.
      But not that much water on and around a road.
      I didn’t mention that my windshield got hit with a rock, about 20 minutes after I left Virginia.
      Didn’t have time to turn around and go back, so….creative as I am….I stuck gum on the crack.
      Does that do any good? I don’t know. I just didn’t want to look at the crack. 🙂
      Yep. I drove all the way to Texas with gum on my windshield. Classy!

  8. Anonymous says:

    I’m glad you made it there safely through all your adventures. Can’t wait to read the second half of the story. I miss you. Very thankful for the internet, Facebook and wwf. 😀

    • Tamie (hope I spelled that right) — I think??
      It took me almost a month to see this message!
      Moving is hard and its taking a long time to sort things out.
      It’s 100+ degrees down here in San Antonio right now, so I have been swimming in the outdoor community pool at night.
      At about 10 pm last night, I walked dripping wet into the pool bathroom and saw my reflection in the big mirror over the sink.
      That’s when I noticed…on the top of my head (on my wet hair)…a big wolf spider standing tall.
      EGADS!
      I bent over in a panic, brushed my hand over the top of my hair, shook my head, and prayed the spider would fall off.
      I heard a big plop on the sink countertop, but I didn’t see anything. Spooky.
      There was a box of tissue near the mirror, so I moved it…and the spider was there. 🙂
      THANK GOD. Sigh. I went back outside and jumped back into the 90 degree pool.
      There are always bugs falling into the pool at night, but usually the bats swoop down and pick them out. 🙂
      Hahahaha! Sounds like fun, right??

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