In June, one of my best friends had her bachelorette party in Nashville, TN during CMA Fest. Being that the drive to Nashville from my home in Wisconsin is only about 9 hours I thought it would be fun to road trip down to meet everyone at the airport. Our families are close, and most of the mothers of the girls invited also joined us. My mom insisted on driving with me. Since she lives in south jersey, she wanted to spend some quality-time, so we took the road trip together.
The 9 hour drive down to Nashville I did entirely myself. I love my mom but she isn’t the best copilot. By the time we made it to Nashville I was exhausted from working all day and then getting in a car and leaving for Music City.
I like to travel solo or with my husband because I feel that traveling brings a lot of reflection and I like my mind to be quiet to take in whatever is around me. Being in a car or plane can be boring, but I also find it peaceful and gives me a chance to reset and relax. My mom likes to talk. A lot.
For the first 3 hours I am convinced that my mom didn’t stop talking. I made the mistake of stopping at a McDonalds on the way down somewhere in Illinois and introduced my mom to a sugar free vanilla latte. 1. I’m not sure how my mom thought that this drink was so ground breaking and different from every other skinny vanilla latte she ever bought from Starbucks. 2. My mom literally did not know how to order it and I’m not really sure what she thought it was.
Side note: this made her talk even more. even faster. and even louder.
Either way it kept me awake, so after 6 hours of music and my mom talking about I don’t even know what she started to fall asleep and I finally got some quiet time.
The rest of the weekend is basically a blur. I was severely sleep deprived and inebriated at other times. This was definitely not a Tour of Nashville which I have done some in the past and will definitely write another post about it. However, I saw the insides of a lot of bars. Broadway is full of bars owned by country music stars like Jason Aldean, Blake Shelton, John Rich, and more. There’s a Honky Tonk bar that is 3 (or 4?) stories tall where we watched 2 dudes rip their shirts off, fist fight and then get thrown out by security. There’s a mechanical bull, a million rooftop bars, and during CMA Fest there are also a million people.
BUT, I am going to talk about all that another time. For the sake of this post, I want to focus on the road trip back from Nashville to Wisconsin.
On the morning of our drive home it was raining, I was hungover from day drinking for 7 hours the day before, and we had a severe thunderstorm warning. This didn’t phase me. Thunderstorms and severe weather are common in the midwest. We got in our car at 6am and started driving because I was hell bent on getting back to Wisconsin by dinner. We of course had to stop at McDonalds on the way out of town for my mom’s 697th* sugar free vanilla latte of the weekend. (*information was grossly exaggerated).
About 6 miles in we got a severe weather warning followed by a tornado watch. We continued our drive and finally got out of Tennessee and into Kentucky where we ended up stopping at a gas station and KFC to use the bathroom and fill up our tank. “Good, Good Father” by Chris Tomlin came on the radio in the KFC bathroom as I was washing my hands and realized we were still in Kentucky in the Bible Belt. That place is a whole other world.
Exhausted, hungry but craving healthy food, and a little cranky we continued on. So naturally for the next 5 hours we argued about literally nothing in the car, because what else would you expect after a bachelorette 5 day weekend bender with your mom?
The following transpired very quickly and within 10 mins:
The skies opened up and it was a complete downpour. We started talking about how I wanted to be a storm chaser as a kid because I was always fascinated with tornados and I would write school reports on them constantly, but NJ has like 1 tornado per decade so it wasn’t really a good choice. I literally said, “it would be cool to see a tornado today”. Both our phones started to go off, it was a warning for severe thunderstorm which we could see (OBVIOUSLY Weather Channel, are you even predicting or are you just telling me what is already happening?).
Somehow we started arguing about me wanting her to drive or about how I thought she couldn’t drive well because she can’t see very good, I don’t even know. I do remember getting really worked up and pissed off and we were yelling.
Our phone alarms went off again. I asked my mom to look and see what the warning was. She looked up at me and said “Tornado.” I had her read me the information on where it was because I literally could not see 5 feet in front of me the wind and rain was so awful. She mentioned the highway we were on and the mile markers. We were smack dab in the middle of it’s path. I didn’t want to stay there because there was not shelter and we were in the middle nowhere in southern Illinois surrounded by corn fields. I saw an overpass up ahead and pulled over underneath of it so we could at least see. This rain wrapped fucker of a tornado passed right by us as we sat confused and a little scared under an overpass wondering what we should do.
We called Brandon, my sister, and father almost immediately and none of them seemed to care very much except Brandon who likes storms and tornados as much as I do.
This experience left me with three very important pieces of advice for everyone who takes road trips.
- Pay attention to warnings on your phone or the radio when you are road tripping.
- Life is short, and one minute you are sipping a sugar free vanilla latte with your mom arguing loudly with each other, and the next your heart is pounding and you are yards away from a tornado.
- NEVER say the words “It would be cool to see a tornado today”
This whole experience got me thinking, sometimes my iPhone doesn’t work well without WiFi, what if I hadn’t pulled over because I didn’t know there was a tornado warning? What if I had been listening to my iPod instead of the radio AND my phone notifications didn’t come through? A million scenarios have played in my mind, but luckily everything worked out.
I think it just goes to show, you can never expect a normal anything, including a normal drive home.