Tuesday, September 14, 2010

"To see the rainbow, you must first endure some rain."

It has been well chronicled in the nearly two-year life span of 'a blog' that road trips and I are quite fond of each other. I've been on many different road trips with many different people, and have experienced many road trip highs and many road trip lows. One of the lowest of lows, and toughest challenges one can encounter while on a road trip is navigating through a torrential downpour. Driving through torrential rain ranks 3rd on the AP Top 5 Toughest Road Trip Challenges List.

The AP Top 5 Toughest Road Trip Challenges List
5. Perpetual Sleepers (I would guess even the novice road tripper has experienced this challenge - when road trip companions decide to sleep for the bulk of an adventure. Road trips aren't for sleeping, regardless of the time of day (or night) you're traveling, and it's especially bad when it happens all the way from Stillwater, OK to Chicago)
4. Instigating Road Rage Among Fellow Travelers - New Yorkers are the worst, and have been known to get so angry at innocent road trippers from Oklahoma that they will cut off said road trippers, approach the drivers side window of the aforementioned road trippers, threaten to bash out the driver's side window of the scared-to-death road trippers, and then when the panic-stricken road trippers attempt to floor it around the stereotypical crazy New Yorker, he will attempt to rip the side mirror off your road trip vehicle - which isn't the personal vehicle of anyone on the trip, rather, it's the van of a mom of one of your buddies, who was admittedly guilt tripped and pressured into letting us take her van.
3. Torrential Rain - Included in this category, but not as commonly encountered, are all unfortunate weather conditions (ie: snow, monsoons, hurricanes, tornadoes, dense fog, and gassy friends).
2. Offroad Traveling Mishaps - Occasionally, you may encounter a situation where someone in your crew decides to travel off road in order to save time, or just to get a better look at the deep woods of a near-deserted national forest in northern Arizona, getting your road trip chariot stuck in the mud for so long that you have to throw up a tent to spend the night because there is no one within a 20 mile radius to come help pull your vehicle out of the mud.
1. Cooler Nazis - Hypothetically, if you were traveling with limited funds to a far off destination (ie: Alaska), it just makes good economical sense to stock a cooler with cheap food purchased before your departure. A Cooler Nazi is the buddy that goes a little overboard rationing food, to the point that he makes a rule that to conserve food, there is a two pieces of meat limit per sandwich - hunger pangs ensue...

These stories, of course, are completely hypothetical.

An extended weekend around the 4th of July generously awaits our summer staff each summer, because it gives our staff a 91-hour weekend (From 7:30 on Friday evening until Tuesday at 12:30pm), rather than the abbreviated 43-hours. Those standard 43-hour weekends don't allow for many adventure options, but when you add a full 48-hours, adventure options are countless.

Three friends and I decided to take full advantage of the extended weekend by traveling south to the great state of Oklahoma to take in the 33rd annual Aderhold Family 4th of July Festival. My initial intention of this post was to share all the details and funny stories from the trip, (Like how, since our departure was to be Friday night, we decided that regardless, the start to our journey would be late, so we delayed it even further by stopping at Subway in the Dells to eat dinner with pals, Pat & Tim (and how there were two soccer-loving employees from Ghana that happily talked World Cup soccer with us); or how we decided to drive through St. Louis on the way to Oklahoma - even though, yes, it is the longer route, but when 50% of your road trip crew has never been to St. Louis, that's the route you take (and yes, they got to see St. Louis, but it was at roughly 3:00 in the morning, and evidently the lights that beautifully illuminate the St. Louis Arch at night were conveniently forgotten to be turned on - that, or city officials came to the conclusion that anyone who was traveling to St. Louis to see the arch would arrive well before 3:00am); or how we decided an hour past St. Louis that it would probably be in our best interest to get at least a few hours of rest, so we found a cheap Motel 6 to stay at (and apparently an ant colony had the same idea, because they shacked up in our room with us); or how quality sleep wasn't quite achieved because our bodies had been hopped-up with an abundance of caffeine, which made at least one of us take out our frustration with an early morning full-body flailing session (though the frustration for this particular road trip participant was eased a scosh when we stopped for breakfast at The St. Louis Bread Company, which is a close relative to Panera Bread); or how later on that day, our lack of sleep began to negatively effect all of us, so we agreed to a pact to each take part in our first ever shots of 5 hour energy; or how we didn't finally roll into my parents driveway until around 7:00pm (yes friends, that's 22 hours after we departed...); or how after taking in the celebration of Mass at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Edmond the next morning, my mom and sister took us out for breakfast at their traditional post-Mass restaurant, Jimmy's Egg; or how we 'kids' were humbled by the old guys during the the traditional "Old Guys vs. Kids Volleyball Game" at the 4th of July party, but how the bitterness quickly faded when, after nearly 6 hours and approximately 357 attempts later, one in our crew finally successfully accomplished the elusive front flip off the diving board into the pool; or how we had the privilege of holding the 4-day old baby of one of my old high school buddies, Blaine; or how difficult it was to say goodbye to my family just minutes, it seemed, after we had said hello; or how I had the great honor of showing off the beautiful campus of my old collegiate stomping ground, The Oklahoma State University; or how fate brought us to a memorial of Knute Rockne; or how my football was lost forever when there was an unsuccessful attempt at chunking it over the roof at a gas station), but that would take much too long, and would probably be somewhat boring. So instead, I'll simply leave you with a moment on our journey that definitely makes the AP Top 10 Greatest Road Trip Experiences List (I'll save the rest of the list for another post).

This story takes place as we were journeying back to camp, driving north on Interstate 35, roughly an hour south of Des Moines. Through the windshield up ahead, along the horizon and above the never ending plains of Iowa farm land, we could see the sky begin to turn black. It wasn't long before the dark sky could be seen to the east and west as well, almost as if we were being engulfed by an over-sized, black, rain-filled horseshoe. Within minutes, the horseshoe closed in above us and the heavens opened, blessing the expanse of farm land with an abundance of much needed mid-summer rain, and giving the many drivers traveling on this day-after-holiday an extra obstacle. Just when we thought it couldn't get any worse, someone from the backseat exclaimed, "oh hail," which seemed at first to be a statement of frustration, but turned out to be more a warning of the tiny ice chunks that had begun to fall from the sky. Oh hail, indeed. We endured this pounding for what seemed like an hour. However, before we could wallow in our sorrows for too long, the sky suddenly began to brighten, and before we knew it, the sun appeared to the west. The stubborn rain and hail remained, which at the time seemed like an anomaly, but looking back now, it's obvious they didn't want to miss what was to come... Suddenly, out of nowhere, as if it were a nod to the fact that we hadn't been able to clearly see the arch in St. Louis, an arch of magnificent colors appeared straight ahead, stretching from the horizon to the west all the way to the horizon to the east. It was the most bold and beautiful rainbow I had ever seen, and we were heading right toward it. As we approached the rainbow, we quickly realized that we would soon be driving underneath! Without a word being said, all four windows were rolled down in unison. As we barreled toward the moment when we would drive underneath the rainbow, the song that was being played on the radio was being sung at the top of each of our lungs, and we each had an arm stretched out of a window in an effort, it seemed, to touch the rainbow - despite the fact that the pelting rain and hail were giving our arms quite a beating. It was a sight to behold. It was something amazing. It was something incredible. It was without a doubt, something beautiful ( <-- you should probably click that link. It might change your life (probably not, but maybe...)).

It was a great reminder that in life, to see the rainbow, you must first endure some rain.

Thanks for a great adventure, gang.

Peace be da journey.

Oh, by the way... Congratulations! You just endured the longest post in the history of 'a blog,' 1,657 words!

1 comment:

Andy Miller said...

And all of this happened in IOWA. What a great state!!