The wind was howling and it wouldn’t let up. I’d felt strong wind gusts, but nothing like this. Never had I experienced sustained winds this strong. The sideways falling rain sounded like hail as it collided with our parked van in Talladega Alabama at a truck stop. I still wasn’t feeling 100% and without the Nyquil I popped a couple hours prior, I probably wouldn’t have been able to fall back asleep.
The night before, I wasn’t feeling well and we decided to stay at a motel for the night. We figured a bigger bed, hot shower, and space would help the two of us get some much needed rest that we wouldn’t get in the back of the van. The next morning I was feeling better and I took a glance at the Weather Channel as we indulged in the continental breakfast. A huge storm was moving through Mississippi and headed our way with the threat of tornados. We could outrun it, but we’d get slapped by the storm system if we ran to the Atlantic Ocean. It looked like we were between a rock and and some gnarly weather and all we could do was brace ourselves.
After checking out of the motel we went to Russel Cave National Monument. We found it on the map in our Nation Parks Passport and it’d let us get another stamp. Once we had exhausted our stay we headed towards Birmingham. Adam drove and I took to Twitter, asking about the impending weather. The skies were beautiful and it didn’t seem like there’d be a mean storm coming through only hours later. Adam had scenes of Twister on his mind and wasn’t looking forward to the storm system barreling towards us.
People on Twitter can be awesome and they let us know that Talladega would be our safest bet. Right away we searched for the Talladega Speedway on our GPS and started throwing out Ricky Bobby quotes. We got there just in time to get a couple pictures in front of the speedway before heading for safety at a nearby truck stop. We logged a few hours of work in the 24 hour Subway, grabbing their wifi, before hunkering down for the night.
It was a rough night. High winds constantly rocked the van which was anything but being rocked to sleep. Rain fell sideways from the winds and it sounded like hail. I popped some Nyquil earlier and slept through most of it while Adam was kept up longer than he would’ve liked, worrying about and looking out the window for tornados.
The morning sun shown through our windshield cover and it looked like nothing out of the ordinary took place just hours before. Feeling crummy, I sat shotgun while Adam took the helm again and we headed for Mississippi. With nothing but rolling hills, we let our minds wander and it became apparent that we needed to slow down. The speed on our speedometer was fine, but having seen 6 states, 7 by day’s end, and knowing we will have visited number 8 and 9 by the end of the week, we knew it was time to start taking in the sights.
I’m very much a Point A to Point B person while Adam likes to meander along. After a serious conversation I realized that was my next challenge of the year, to slow down and be content with adjusting plans and taking the scenic route vs the direct route.
Eventually I took the wheel and let the GPS guide us to a park along the Mississippi River in Vicksburg. Just before the turn into the park we saw a National Monument on a hill. I threw the blinker on and cut the wheel hard to the left. We walked up a hill overlooking the Mississippi River just in time to see the sun set. As I looked out over the liquid line that divides the east from the west, I felt more comfortable with the idea of adjusting our route at a moments notice.