A little over a week ago three members of my family and I set course for home from Gulf Shores, Ala., where we had spent the previous week on vacation.
I was dreading the trip home because it had taken so long getting there. Going down we broke the trip into two days. After spending the night in Jackson, Miss., we anticipated the final leg of our trip south would take “just” four hours. Instead it took eight.
In Mobile, Ala., we encountered a tunnel that funneled four lanes of traffic into two. Because it seemed everybody else and their brother who were heading south chose that time to be on that stretch of pavement, we found ourselves in gridlock for an extended period of time.
Consequently, when it came time to head back to America’s Hometown, I encouraged our trip’s navigators – Nancy, my wife, and our oldest son, Caleb – to find an alternate route that would keep us moving without adding hundreds of miles onto an already long trip.
The new route took us off the interstate highway, but that was fine with me since we were able to keep moving at a decent speed on the two-lane alternate road.
We made surprisingly good time during our trek that took us through Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas and along pretty much the eastern edge of Missouri. There were none of the traffic delays that we encountered going down. Coming home about the only stops we made during the 876-mile trip was to purchase gas ($3.19 a gallon in southeast Missouri), take in fluids or download what follows the intake of fluids.
It also helped that we had multiple drivers to utilize during the 16-hour marathon. One of those taking a turn behind the wheel was my 17-year-old daughter, Anna.
During last year’s vacation trip to Charleston, S.C., Anna, then a rookie driver, was anxious to log as many miles as possible. We tried to oblige her, choosing stretches of open highway that did not entail driving through a large, metropolitan area, such as Atlanta.
On this trip, with Anna having gained considerable experience behind the wheel, we were more confident in her driving abilities out on the open road.
As we reached southern Missouri I turned the driving duties over to Anna. We hadn’t gone too far before it became obvious the clouds were thickening. A few more miles down the road and lightning could be seen dancing in the distance.
Before we encountered any precipitation I asked our young pilot if she was comfortable driving in rain. Anna assured me she was.
However, south of Cape Girardeau it became apparent that we were driving into more than an early-summer thundershower. Looking out the backseat passenger window it was hard not to notice large flags were being fully extended by the wind.
Page 2 of 2 - As the rain picked up in intensity, I made a comment to Anna that there would be no shame in pulling off the road if the rain became too heavy. A short time later, with visibility down to a couple of hundred yards because of the driving rain, Anna guided the car onto an exit ramp in Cape Girardeau.
I was thankful my daughter had heeded my suggestion, and a bit surprised. Being a hard-headed Henley, she could have easily resolved to just punch through the storm, despite the fact conditions warranted doing otherwise.
Hopefully there is a life lesson to be taken from this. While there are certainly times when we must muster the grit to battle through life’s “storms,” there also are instances when we must have the wisdom to hunker down and wait for a “storm” to pass.