The four days we had there were a whirlwind. Fully booked. We’d get up, blink, and it was five o’clock. We accomplished everything we’d planned, and then some. It was a great four days. And when, at just before six am Monday morning we set out to drive back across the United States – needing to be home by Tuesday night due to work that had to be completed on Wednesday. That meant over twenty-four hours of driving in about thirty-six hours.
We were good with that. The time we’d spent in Ohio was worth the drive. More than worth it. So we set out in push mode. We were going to make it to Oklahoma City by Monday night. We’d sleep a few hours and make it to Phoenix by Tuesday evening. We listened to movies to help pass the time. (I watched what I could see of them on the little DVD player.) We talked and we ate a bit. I drank a lot of Diet Coke. We were passing through the world, and yet nothing existed outside of our truck. One stop to the next, one state to the next, we were in different cultures, different temperatures, different time zones. And yet, our world, inside the truck, was the same. And all that was real.
Until, just north of Tulsa, after twelve hours on the road with another two and a half to go, we stopped at a travel plaza for a bathroom break. On our way back out to the car, we passed an employee who was just arriving. She told us to be safe. Tim didn’t hear her. I didn’t pay attention, until several steps later. I heard her words repeated in my mind. And a third time. I stopped. Grabbed Tim’s arm. Told him what I’d heard.
Thank God. If we’d continued on our way in our isolated world, we’d have driven straight into the numerous tornadoes that desecrated Oklahoma that day. There was the massive destruction in Moore that hit all the news stations across the country. And there were many more that touched down from north Tulsa to south Oklahoma City.
You are getting the facts and video from the tragedy in the news. I won’t take time here to share what we saw. I do offer a huge prayer of thanks that the death toll was much less than had been released from the coroner’s office to local Tulsa TV Monday night.
The photo up above is one of many we took from our phones as we drove to the nearest exit. We were on a toll road so the exits were not numerous. My job was to watch for funnel clouds. And to keep myself calm. After eighteen miles, we found a little town a couple of miles off from the storm’s path and got a room for the night. We had to go to more than one place to find a room still available on the ground floor.
Tuesday morning we woke up to continued storms, but no tornado warnings. We drove half a mile down the road to get diet and coke and coffee for breakfast, but the place was closed due to overnight flooding. At that point I downloaded a weather radar and alert ap for my phone, and stayed glued to it until we were out of the storm. We pulled into home at two-thirty-two this morning.
And from now on, I am paying more attention to what’s going on around me.