My sister and I just returned from a weekend driving trip to Warsaw, Indiana for our mom's funeral. I had more excitement (and not in a good way) the last three days than in our four years on the road!
Friday, November 15:
Doris and I couldn’t sleep the night before so we decided to start out at 5:30 in the morning. It was cold but clear. The problems started just as we crossed into Illinois on I-70 east. We saw red and blue lights just ahead, and traffic came to a stop. We didn’t move for 45 minutes. A police car came down the far right lane to tell everyone to turn around and head back to the nearest off ramp. Semi drivers stayed heading east. (Click to enlarge the pictures.)
We knew it was a bad wreck, there were two helicopters hovering above us.
We had to go against the traffic on the emergency lane back to the nearest off ramp.
Thanks to the GPS we found our way along secondary roads heading east. On the way we passed several deer carcasses. We saw lots of white crosses too. We thought maybe folks were getting killed when hitting deer. While we were discussing that a deer went across our road BEHIND the car, just missing us.
We finally picked up I-70 again and things went smoothly until we stopped for gas in Kokomo, IN. We saw the filling station, but by the time we turned off the highway we realized it was a major construction area and we had to go a mile out of our way (slowly) to get to the station we could see from the highway. So it took us 40 minutes to fuel up and get back on the highway.
We finally got to Warsaw at 4pm. But with the time change it was actually 5pm. We were hungry so we stopped at Subway to get some dinner, then went to our friend Evelyn's house, where we stayed for the weekend. Evelyn babysat sis and me when we were little and was a close friend of my mom's since they were in high school. We see her whenever we're in this area. (We saw her this past June when we were in Elkhart getting our rig worked on.)
Evelyn and her two curios.
After visiting for awhile we called it an early night and headed upstairs to bed. We slept half decently till her dog woke us up barking at some excitement across the road. There were police cars near a building close by, but we never did find out what was going on.
Saturday, November 16:
We had ordered flowers and waited for them to be delivered in the morning. We then went to the chapel to set it up for the 1:00 service. Our nephew Dave arrived and went with us. He's a pastor, and he agreed to conduct mom's memorial service. After everything was set up we went back to Evelyn’s and had some lunch, then back to the chapel for the service. Along with the four of us, a couple other family friends came. We even included Jim. I placed a video call to him in Florida using an app called Google Hangouts on my smart phone, and he got to watch the service on his phone. It was a very nice service, and Dave did a wonderful job. It was cold, windy and overcast, but no rain.
We went back to Evelyn’s for the rest of the day and just visited. Evelyn has sheep and donkeys, so we helped her feed them.
My phone was starting to get hot and wouldn’t stay charged. It was very hot to the touch, so when we went into town for dinner we stopped at a Verizon store. They told me the battery was bulging and starting to expand. It's a non-removable battery so it was bulging against the body of the phone. They told me it seldom happens, but to turn it off don’t use it and to call Verizon Customer Service to exchange it for a new phone. (We have a service plan with Verizon that replaces our phones if they're damaged or lost.) They were good about it and I should have a new phone by Tuesday afternoon. So I’m without a phone for a couple of days.
Sunday, November 17:
We had a another rough night trying to sleep. We got up at 7:00 (eastern) and started loading up the car. The winds were high and we knew we were going to get into severe weather on the trip back to Missouri. We had a good start, but that didn’t last long. We had sprinkles of rain outside of Warsaw. When we got to Illinois near Effingham we saw lots of lightning and two shelf clouds.
This photo is from the internet, but what we saw looked just like this, only farther in the distance. (We were too nervous to take pictures.)
It was black, and the wind was so bad the hood of the car was shaking and it looked like it was trying to come off. I looked to the left and Doris and I saw a tornado at the same time. It was a long skinny funnel out in a field with no buildings around, thank goodness. Both of us could feel the pressure on our ears, causing headaches. I was driving at the time, and it was pouring rain but I kept going, slowly, and it wasn't long before we were out of the storm and into sunshine. A rainbow appeared in the distance in the second storm to the right of us.
We had more rain but not like it was when we saw the tornado. Other storms were all around us.
We found out later that tornadoes did major destruction in Illinois and Indiana. We were lucky. After a while it was all blue sky, with no sign of the rough weather we experienced. It was still very windy though, which made it very hard keeping the car between the lines.
The final four hours of the trip went smoothly. It was great getting settled in for the evening and relaxing. I bet we sleep well tonight, at least we hope we do. It’s been a wild weekend!