For various and sundry reasons, we decided to drive from Colorado to Florida for our second Disney Cruise. I don’t know, it made sense at the time. Then we decided to not just drive, but to rent an RV. The children and the husband were thrilled! Me, I was just along for the ride.
As the departure date approached, the weather started looking increasingly bad. My love for snow and cold is so great that it causes a sort of inverse reaction in the universe. Where ever I happen to be experiences record heat, while at the same time, where ever I just was is now getting slammed with the Storm of the Century. I’m a sort of sun god. If I believed in such things.
So we decided to outrun the storm by leaving a day early. As I left the state, taking my heating abilities with me, the storm grew in strength and size and was unleashed like water from a broken dam. This was the storm that covered most of the country in snow and ice and below freezing temperatures. You’re welcome.
And we journeyed along in our RV. The trip went something like this:
DAY 1. We hit the road about half an hour earlier than planned. My plans of doing school and playing games in the RV along the way went quickly down the drain. The RV was loud from road noise and the rattly-bang of the stove, microwave and luggage. It was also swaying and moving in a different way than a car does. Poor Bip got car sick. He missed the bag I’d given him, but fortunately I was able to access his clothes and got him a clean shirt. The trip took longer than we planned and when we arrived at McConnell AFB (Kansas), the gate was closed. We had to drive around looking for another one. We were tired and discouraged, but the weather had been good.
DAY 2. We woke to frost on the ground, but not the ice pellets that had been in the forecast. Our destination for the day was Little Rock AFB. At some point our Triptik directed us to leave the interstate for a state road. By now it was dark and we were not quite sure where we were. Not lost, just unsure. We drove through an area that looked a little sketchy. Not inner city scary, but southern swamp scary. I told Phil that whatever he did, he should not pull over for directions. I worried that someone might decide that he had a purty mouth.
We did find the base just fine, except that the gate had barricades that our RV could not negotiate. If you’ve been to a US military base, you know what I’m talking about – those blockades that make it impossible for terrorists in Winnebagos to speed straight through the gates. So we had to turn around and find a different gate. The MP’s instructions were vague, with no street names and filled with things like “turn left at the Sonic”. We got lost of course. We did eventually make our way to the family camp site around 6:30 PM.
It began pouring rain in the middle of the night and continued on into
When we woke the next morning, we were surrounded by huge puddles. The storm we’d been outrunning had caught us. We packed up and headed out, this time for Maxwell AFB, AL. After about an hour or so of driving through unrelenting rain, I used my phone to check the weather. The storm system was sitting right on top of us, with no real way for us to get ahead of it. The forecast called for Maxwell to be getting severe storms with the potential for tornadoes.
Have I ever mentioned my phobia of tornadoes? Yeah, and here we were, driving right at them. In an RV.
I’d been sitting in the back this whole trip, so I moved up to talk to Phil about the situation. What I saw confirmed that we needed to pull over somewhere. Visibility was down to about 2 car lengths. Between the heavy rain and the other cars kicking up water, it was not good. Phil agreed that we should find a place to stop for the night rather than try to keep going. We found a rest stop, made some calls and found another military RV near Memphis.
Once there (yes, we went in the wrong gate again) we did a lot of school reading and when the rain stopped, let the kids run around outside. I was feeling a little sheepish about making Phil pull over. Even though my fear of tornadoes is real and profound, was it really worth delaying our trip for a whole day? I thought about it for the rest of the afternoon.
Around dinner time I checked on the weather for the next day in Alabama. I saw the radar of the current weather and it showed the storm bearing down, a red band of rain right on top of Maxwell AFB. I showed it to Phil. He reminded me that we had planned to be arriving right about then, in the dark, in the storm, in the RV. It was indeed a good thing we had pulled over.
Days 4 and 5
We continued our trip to Maxwell AFB under clear skies. We arrived early and used the time to do some laundry and little more school. We woke to icy roads and a few ice-caused accidents on the highway. Icy conditions were expected to last until 10 am so we decided to wait until then to leave. Ten o’clock rolled around and the weather advisory had been extended until noon. We really couldn’t delay much longer, so we left. The roads were fine.
We arrived in Jacksonville at a decent hour and found the correct gate the first time around! We finished up the last of the precooked dinners from home that we’d brought along, as well as most of the other perishables.
We spent the day doing laundry and repacking for the cruise. Phil walked to the commissary for food for dinner and when he returned he took the kids for a walk. There is a manatee viewing area on base, but they didn’t spot any.
We packed up all the luggage and made sure the RV was neat and clean. Gassed up and hit the road and headed out for our last stop – Port Canaveral and the Disney Magic. That was probably the longest 2 hours of the whole trip but the last 15 minutes were a blur! As we exited the freeway we spotted the ship and she was just as beautiful as we remembered. Pulled up, handed off our cruise luggage to the porter, parked the RV and walked to the terminal. We’d made it!