Through the River to the Barn
Now that my computer is up and running again, I’ve uploaded the photos I took, got caught up at home including some much needed post hurricane Ike roof repairs, weeded my garden, paid the bills, did my work shifts, unloaded my truck from my trip to Ohio–I’m ready to start posting a summary of my adventures at Nancy Crow’s workshop.
The workshop I attended was the first week of May—and somehow I ended up trying to go through Nashville in the middle of their flood–so a bit of a time warp in writing.
Neither one of us thought that much about the weather before we left Texas. Bits of mist and drizzle and an occasional stretch of wet road were not remarkable enough to give us concern. We stopped in Memphis around seven; bought some cheese and crackers at the Kroger across the street for our supper, and planned an early departure for me, Glen planned to indulge himself in a nice breakfast at Drury’s Inn.
There wasn’t much traffic on an early Sunday morning and I made fairly good time on my way to Nashville. Rain was heavy at times but nothing particularly challenging for someone accustomed to driving through tropical storms. About ten miles east of Nashville, traffic was merging to the left; I noticed there was very little to no traffic coming from Nashville—but that was something I was about to figure out.
I-40 runs west to east through the middle of Tennessee. There are rolling hills covered with thick forests, rock cuts, and streams. Water poured off the rock cuts forming small water-falls; the ditches were full of boiling brown water; and semis gingerly approached an ocean of water at the bottom of the hill. Several cars towing motorboats were pulled off on the shoulder. I pulled off to the side, too, just to contemplate my options.
From my vantage point, I could see both east and west bound traffic. Traveling west, I could see one semi driving slowly through racing water half way up the door. Ahead of me, a truck was on the very far right wobbling slightly. Someone got out of the car hauling the powerboat and ran forward as the semi toppled over and floated down stream. The water seemed to be rising rapidly and with only three vehicles between me and that water, I decided to retreat.
Rain continued to pour down; and I began to regret my decision to delay breakfast until I had gotten on the other side of Nashville—plus my bladder was full—made worse by the pounding rain. I thought about taking photos but I would have needed an under-water camera.
A group of motorists converged under an umbrella; an official car of some sort with flashing blue lights appeared; an officer wearing a yellow slicker surveyed the blocked traffic and then left. A trucker maneuvered his truck so that I could drive past him on the shoulder—at the demand of the vehicles behind me.
Driving on the interstate backwards; driving on the access ramp the wrong way are things I’ve never done, never contemplated, and never want to do again. I had thought the officer was turning vehicles around but there were miles of vehicles waiting to drive through that ocean at the bottom of the hill. Texas has huge traffic information signs at intervals notifying drivers of accidents, missing children or elders, flooding, road closures. Tennessee has none.
I stopped for breakfast and discovered that most of the surrounding areas were without power and so restaurants were wall-to-wall people. Conversation focused on the weather and the flooding; local radio reported over three hundred water rescues in metropolitan Nashville alone. Smaller roads were blocked due to rising water and I was turned back twice due to high water. I ended up crossing through water over the road three times; in Kentucky, water was over the road in one lane slowing traffic to a slow crawl.
My remaining trip was unremarkable—a mere eight hours to get around Nashville—I arrived in Lancaster Ohio at midnight—grateful to find a room in a hotel, and even more grateful to sink into bed.