I am often invited to speak about publishing and this past June we planned a road trip around an invitation to speak in Cedar Falls, Iowa. According to Google Maps, we could make the drive in an easy 4 hours. We packed the car (Jack and our dog, Chewy, went with me) and headed out a day early, ready for our grand adventure.
I have always loved road trips . . . there’s something about being able to drive where you want to go and stop when you want to stop. As a young child, my step-father was a traveling salesman, so our Summer Vacation usually meant my Mother and I would travel with him and we would “vacation” while he worked. I spent many a Summer Day in a Holiday Inn pool, from Little Rock to Albuquerque, to Denver and back home to Tulsa.
Around the age of 10-11, once such road trip found me playing water volleyball in a Denver-area hotel pool with two young boys about my same age. My mother later explained that their dad was the TV star of Sea Hunt, Lloyd Bridges. Yep . . . unbeknownst to me at the time, I was hanging out with Jeff and Beau while their Dad read a newspaper by the side of the pool. I had no clue we were in the midst of mid-century TV royalty . . . it probably took me another 10 years, once Jeff and Beau began their own Hollywood careers before I even made the connection.
Needless to say, road trips have always meant adventure, excitement, and the thrill of “something new” just around the next hill or curve . . . kind of like finding the rainbow on the horizon. I can vividly remember my excitement as a child, wondering what great adventure we’d encounter next.
Our Summer 2019 road trip TO Iowa was fairly uneventful. If you’ve ever driven north out of St. Louis, up highway 61, past Hannibal into Iowa, you know you get to see LOTS of agriculture fields and not much else. Chewy LOVED his first road trip and immediately fell asleep in the back seat as soon as the car hit the highway. It was the drive home, two days later, that brought the excitement.
The sky was overcast as we left Cedar Falls and Chewy had settled into his preferred sleep zone in the back seat when we realized we had missed our exit. The grey skies and misty rain prevented either of us from noticing that we were headed straight east, rather than the more direct southern route home. At about 45 minutes into our trip, Jack mentions, “I don’t remember seeing any of this on our way up here,” which immediately prompts me to check our maps app to see exactly WHERE we are.
A quick U-Turn and a sharp left got us headed in the right direction without too much time lost, yet we found ourselves driving into a thunderstorm. The skies grew darker, the rain became more intense, and out my passenger side window, we could see a very dark, rolling shelf-cloud, with 7 (albeit tiny) little “tails” dropping down. Having grown up in Oklahoma, I knew very well that any of that 7 tiny whispers-of-a-tail could immediately turn into one grand tornado.
Again . . . we are in the IOWA plains, so there’s not too many places to hide from a potential tornado.
Rather than pull over, we decided to pick up speed and continue southward as I kept my eye on the rolling clouds. We essentially out-ran the scariest of the clouds and as the rain dissipated the sun began to peek out, casting rainbows all around us. The thrill of not getting caught in a tornado, along with the thrill of seeing a full-arch, double-rainbow along the driver’s side of the car was only surpassed by noticing the rainbow in the back-splash of the big truck in front of us. We were literally driving through a rainbow!
So, wherever your travels may lead, may your personal road trips of life always bring you rainbows!
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