The second semester of my sophomore year of college at The University of Dayton I decided to take a break from classes and accept a co-op position 21 hours away in Houston, Texas. It was quite the adventure for me because I had never been that far away from home for an extended period of time. Growing up in Cleveland, OH, I had always shared a car with my brother, so I never thought of my car solely as my own. If a problem were to occur, my Dad was right there to fix it. Everything from changing the oil and rotating the tires to replacing the transmission and tie rods, he always took superior care of our vehicle. After arriving in Houston, I knew that I needed a reliable car to get to and from work. I invested in a beige, 1999 Toyota Camry with 130,000 miles on it. It wasn’t the flashiest car on the streets, but it was very reliable while I was driving around Houston. This wouldn’t exactly be the case for the return home, when a series of unfortunate and unforeseen events would occur.
After my co-op term was over at the beginning of May, I had to gather my belongings and return to my home in Cleveland to prepare for summer classes. This was a 21.5 hour adventure that I would have to undertake alone. I did have a roommate that lived about 2.5 hours away from my hometown, so the original plan was to caravan the whole way. In theory, this was a wonderful idea, but there was only one problem. We both had different GPS devices, which ended up taking us completely different routes. We left Houston at about 6:30 at night, with the plan of driving through the night. We ended up losing each other at about 9:30 in Louisiana, where his GPS took him further east, while mine directed me north. It was pitch black, so initially we had no idea we were separated. It was only when I encountered torrential downpours in Tennessee and he didn’t when we realized we were separated.
On the night of May 1nd and into the early morning of May 2nd, 2010, the state of Tennessee came across some of the fastest rainfall in their history. I had the pleasure of driving through these storms at 1 in the morning. Each radio station that I tuned into for about 10 hours had flash flood and severe thunderstorm warnings until noon the next day. It was at this time that I needed to make a decision. Should I pull over and get a motel, or should I keep going. At this point, I could barely keep my eyes open, and the only thing that kept me from driving off the road at times were the ragged edges of the road which woke me out of the sudden dozes that I had. When this happened, I made sure to turn the AC in the car on to keep myself awake. After going back and forth on whether or not to stop overnight, I decided to keep going for a couple reasons. First of all, I wanted to just get home. Secondly, the explosive thunder blasts, electrifying lightning bolts and torrential rains helped keep me awake. But most importantly, I didn’t want to get caught in a flood.
This turned out to be a great choice. The water built up on the roads as I skidded through them in the early morning hours. My engine skipped like a horse from all the water that the semi trucks were spitting up as I passed them. Unfortunately, as I passed one of the semis a rock was thrown up from one of their tires and put a massive shatter and crack through my windshield. After 22 hours and several Red Bulls, I arrived home. My family was shocked to see me so quickly and wanted to hear my stories, but the only thing I wanted was a couch or bed. I collapsed down on the couch and put the TV on. The major national headline on the news was the horrific floods that destroyed Nashville and the state of Tennessee. Thankfully, I decided to keep going exclusively on energy drinks.
I later found out that my roommate that I was supposed to be caravanning with didn’t encounter any storms on the way home, and he also drove straight through. This gave me a strong animosity towards my GPS system. When driving from Houston to Cleveland, you need to go either north than east, or east than north. My GPS took me north than east and took me right into all the storms. If I would’ve gone east than north, I would have avoided almost all the rain. It is funny how while you are driving through weather like that, you start swearing at your appliances as if they were going to respond and make everything okay. It isn’t really important whether they deserve this hatred or not, anything that is going to happen will happen no matter what. Their feelings won’t be hurt if you have hatred towards them, and they will not be fascinated if you love them. However, it is important to take care of your vehicle, but to go as far as saying that you love it is a little extreme. As for the windshield of my car, I had to get that completely replaced, which set me back a good 500 dollars. If I were to go back and redo my drive, I would have definitely checked the weather first as well as printed off a map of the course so I had a better idea which way I was going.