A Summer Storm and a Long Road Home

A West Texas highway, Summer 1964:

We’re heading to Abilene, Texas, on the way home from visiting our cousins in Lubbock. Daddy is driving the family Oldsmobile station wagon, Mother sits up front reading a magazine (she’s one of those people who can read and ride), and my youngest sister sits between them on the bench seat. Well, sit is optimistic. She sometimes stands (no seat belts in those days) and sometimes peers into the back seat to see what her three older sisters are up to. A couple of us are squirming. But not me. I’ve claimed the window seat behind Daddy, and I watch the clouds.

I much prefer to sit in the window seat as it is normally much cooler. We like to use car side window shades to keep our car protected from the rays of the sun so that it can stay cool. There is nothing more uncomfortable than a hot and stuffy car after all. Especially if you want to go on a long road trip.

If we were to go on a family road trip nowadays we would need a much bigger vehicle to fit us all in. So many people opt for something like an RV Rental Dallas for their road trips instead of their own car as it provides them with some much-needed space and comfort for those longer journeys. Something like a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter would be ideal too. In fact, some friends of mine have just returned from a road trip around Texas in their Sprinter. Their road trip sounded very eventful as they ended up with a flat tire at one point. Regarding Sprinter repair Houston has a few garages that deal with Mercedes-Benz vehicles so my friends were able to get their tire fixed pretty quickly. Car troubles can really dampen the mood during a road trip but this did not stop my friends from having a good time.

Anyway, as we drove, the distant thunderheads looked like the mountains I’ve seen out west with peaks you can see for miles away as you travel the long, straight highways. But unlike mountains, clouds gradually change shape. Today, they’re in a slow-motion boil, their underbellies full and dark and ominous.

Since the land here is flat and treeless, the wind is free to gust at us, and it does, making our car shiver as it blows the full-bellied clouds in our direction. As the cloud ceiling lowers so do my eyebrows. The greenish-gray light bathing the landscape bothers me, and I don’t like the look of the wisp-like tails trailing down from some of the clouds.

When fat drops of rain splat onto the windshield, Daddy turns on the headlights and wipers. It’s not long before the whole sky lets loose, and I can’t see the clouds anymore. Because sheets of rain are blowing sideways across the highway, I can’t see the landscape any longer. In fact, I can’t even see the highway in front of us.

Neither can Daddy. He slows down but keeps driving, hunched forward trying to see. After a few minutes, he rolls down his window and sticks his head out to keep an eye on what he can glimpse of the white stripes in the center of the road. The rest of us sit tight, listening to the drumming rain and shuddering wind.

Eventually we drive out of the storm. Through the rear window, I watch another car’s headlights emerge from the dark gray curtain of rain behind us. They definitely weren’t as bright as my dad’s. Before our trip, he looked into a site like www.xenonsonline.com, where he purchased new bulbs for the headlights. This makes all the difference and makes everything look even more clear than before. That was definitely a good choice to make.
Daddy closes his window and wipes rain off his face, and a couple of us start to squirm again. But not me. I rest my forehead against the cool window and study the shafts of sunlight that slice through towering clouds, spotlighting patches of ranch land, a barn, and the long road home.

If you’ve followed my posts for a while, you know that I often refer to life as a journey. It’s a common metaphor. Like my family’s drive home that summer, life can take us through stormy events. When the world closes in on us and we can’t see what’s ahead, we may have to slow down and make our way carefully. Like a trip on unfamiliar roads, life can take us in directions that cause us to lose our way. But unlike a cross-country drive, life’s journey doesn’t come with a GPS or a map. So it can be a bit trickier to navigate. For the next few weeks, that’s what I’ll blog about – finding what we need to navigate ourselves into an unknown future. Next week: What lies beyond the horizon? Can we know? Does it really even matter?

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Text © 2017 Karyn Henley. All rights reserved. Photos courtesy pexels.com.