Three days (actually two-and-a-half since I started Day 1 after 4PM … actually one-and-two-halves since Day 3 started at Noon) into the Drive 2.0, and we have gone through 1372.4 miles.
How is it going? Well, far from perfect to be honest.
For starters, I did something to my back while packing up the car. It’s one of those things where you don’t feel the pain until the next day or something. Then it becomes like an annoying neighbor kid, perfectly harmless most the time, nags you when you want to be left alone, and cripples you when you least expect it. Sometimes sitting in the car seat is fine, sometimes it’s excruciating. Sometimes standing helps. Sometimes its at its worst when standing. Last night, the hotel with all it’s cushy soft mattresses were like daggers – leading me to spend most the night lying flat back on the hard carpeted floor. I stretch when I can, but you know how long that lasts.
That being said, this trip could have been loads worse. About a week ago, I started tracking a weather pattern that was heading east. Most of you know which one I am talking about, because it’s either hit you, is hitting you, or going to hit you. It’s all tied into a system that was called Winter Storm Goliath! Goliath is the jerk that dumped two feet of snow onto New Mexico and Oklahoma; ravaged the Dallas area with Tornadoes, caused flooding across the Mississippi & Ohio valleys, and now is dumping the white stuff onto the upper Midwest. Over the days to come, it is going to run along the Northern states out east leading to the first measurable snows in New England. For those of you hit by this, be careful and stay safe.
For me – I have been adjusting my travel for days to deal with Goliath. It’s no easy task, mind you. While you can pull up a map right now and see how the whole of the country is getting hit – weather forecasts, for the most part, are local. I can see the forecast for towns like White Plains, Cincinnati, Memphis, Amarillo would for given points of time. But there is nowhere that shows the changing forecasts along a 3500 mile route – let alone the tens of possible routes to take. So, I had to keep making educated guesses and adjusting as needed. Basically that meant, start south then head west.
Goliath, though, blocked my path. He reached from the Mexican boarder well up into Canada. No matter what route I took, sooner or later, we were going to cross paths. My goal was to be somewhere safe, preferably in a hotel, when that time came. What became clear over last night, I wasn’t going to be allowed that luxury. Goliath was encircling the pup and I, and sooner or later, I had to be ready for him
As the weather developed this morning, I started to consider just punching through. He was fast moving, and the line was getting thinner and thinner at the Southern point. When I left Cincinnati this morning, it started to appear that I was going to hit him on I-65 somewhere south of Louisville before the Tennessee boarder. In some of the maps, the heavy storms he was bringing were going to take up to an hour to pass. I looked for options – places with canopied parking, so car windows can be cracked for the pup without leaving the rain to flow in; or longer term layover places like movie theaters so I can sit out the weather watching that hot new Jedi girl.
I was a half hour north of Bowling Green, KY when I made my last weather check. Goliath was breathing down my neck, the rain was coming in spits and gushes inconsistently. The radar was turning from reds to yellows. I thought I could make Bowling Green, and the radar agreed.
Ten miles out, the skys had ominous dark clouds that twirled. My GPS was squaking that weather was on the road ahead. But I could see the other side, and the thinning clouds beyond. It showered hard for about a mile, at no time flooding the road but enough that we all slowed under the speed limit. Then as that cloud burst ended, the wind picked up heavy blowing hard to the west. I thought that was odd, because I assumed Goliath was still to the west – and wind usually blows away from the storm. I arrived at Bowling Green, pulled into the mall parking lot, and checked the weather once more.
It turned out that storm WAS Goliath. I punched through that jerk in just about 5 minutes. One toad choker of a wash and we were on the west side of it.
That meant, and I am not coming close to exaggerating this, from here on out the weather will be clear and beautiful all the way to California. It could get cool, and we could have to work through what Goliath left behind, but weather will no longer be a factor on this drive.
I was embracing that whole concept just a half hour down the road, where we crested a hill and Downtown Nashville came into view lit up by the setting sun. It was a beautiful sight, broad and wonderful; like a reward for the hardships of the first thousand miles. And reminding me why I so love road trips, where those moments can just catch your eye as you look out on the ever changing world.
Tomorrow, we begin gunning west. I-40 straight on through as far as it takes us. More than half the journey is still ahead, but hopefully, like Goliath, the worst is behind us.