Wednesday, April 4, 2012

On the Run

After two weeks in our RV, a dark grey and menacing shadow crept in to steal our sunshine. As every Alabamian should, we keep abreast of weather conditions and the impending possibilities of violent Spring storms. After last years devastating April tornadoes, we knew not to ignore any significant possibility of tornadoes. Hoping for the best, I completed my morning check of the Alabama Weather blog and found troubling news. The forecast was calling for a "significant" threat of tornadoes in 2/3s of Alabama. Great.

After sharing the news with Que, we had to make the decision...stay or flee. Staying meant going to the storm shelter in the city or going to my mom's 3rd floor apartment in the city. Fleeing meant packing up, finding a campsite and hitting the road to South Alabama in two hours to beat the weather. Weighing our options carefully, we decided to be safe rather than sorry and flee. Luckily I found a FHU campsite in Andalusia AL in The Conecuh National Forest  for $12 a night.

We hit the road after calling family to inform them of our decision to flee. Our trip started off with sunshine and less wind than I expected to encounter with such strong storms coming. We drove for about an hour and a half before we made our first stop just south of Montgomery, AL. The severe weather had begun and was striking farther South than predicted. We began to weigh the options of continuing South or just riding the Storm out in Montgomery County for the night. We decided to follow through with our plan and jumped back on the road.

Not two exits later, the sky turned Twister blackish purple, the wind picked up and it began to rain, with thunder and lightening. The radio station broadcast was interrupted with a severe weather warning from the EMS. There was a tornado warning issued because of a storm with definite rotation and possible touch down headed towards Lowndes County, South of Montgomery, our exact location! I do not drive our camper above 65 mph, but I can say that like every other vehicle on the interstate that night, I wasn't anywhere near the speed limit of 70mph.

With impending doom on my tail, my terrified family beside me, and God gracefully around me we were able to beat the storm and make it into the next county safely. We exited the highway and began the drive down the backroads to the Forest. Back at ease, I returned to my normal speed of 10 under the limit and hoped I'd be at the campsite soon for a nice hot shower. As if being chased by a deadly storm isn't enough, we were stopped by the police while driving through Andalusia. The police car trailed us first, then pulled aside to glance in the window before signalling the lights. I pulled into the first lot I saw and awaited the reasoning behind being stopped.

Apparently an ethnic couple driving a RV to the forest didn't seem like a believable story to the drug task force officers that pulled us over. After running our tag, drivers licence, insurance, we were separated and questioned about the details of our trip. Seriously, where we were going, how long, why and then we were asked if a search of our RV by K9s would turn up any illegal drugs. We welcomed the officers to search and waste their time(and ours). Thirty minutes later and finally satisfied that we were just a young family that was actually going to go camping in the woods, we were allowed to continue our drive.

Arriving at the camp, I was taken aback by the silent beauty of the lake, the forest and the crystal clear sky. It may have been storming all over Alabama, but Andalusia was amazingly clear and still. The majesty of the forest washed away all the fear we had encountered with the storm and the disgrace of being stopped for driving while ethnic. Slowly the worries of the day faded and were replaced by the same stillness and peace manifested by my surroundings. Filled with a new surge of energy, we explored our campsite and headed for the long awaited showers.

The next morning we hiked to the pond and around some marshlands. We found wildflowers, fish, and a broken turtle shell. We took pictures, allowed Kae to explore everything from the squirrels he chased to the twigs he snapped to the flowers he picked and smelled.  You can see the photobucket of our Conecuh National Forest trip here.  I highly recommend this site, it is affordable($12/nite), clean with bathrooms and hot showers, level concrete pads with FHU, fire pits and a sewage dump site. It has ponds for fishing, trails for hiking and even some hunting activities.

I am grateful that we were able to take the impromptu camping trip, even if the motivation of tornadoes isn't as pleasant as just wanting family time. Despite the horrid beginnings of the trip like being chased by a tornado and getting racially profiled by a drug task force, the result of the trip is what matters the most. Being able to connect myself and family with nature is an awesome experience that I will treasure for as long as my mental capacity allows me to remember. And when I am grey, old and forget... I will have the pictures to look at and say, "What a wonderfully happy little family".

1 comment:

  1. Glad you shared your experience - ugly and unbelievable as it was - I pray God's Blessings on you and your family and that this be the last experience of that type that you ever have! Love your blog - keep up the great attitude - it will surely take you toward more beautiful spaces! Safe travels and happy trails ...


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