You’re driving me to Phoenix… err, Orlando! Rainfall of Biblical Proportions

Discussion in 'Completed Trip Reports' started by gw_lit, Nov 4, 2010.

  1. gw_lit

    gw_lit DIS Veteran

    Nov 19, 2003
    Rainfall of Biblical Proportions… the drive down.

    Friday, May 28 was the kids last day of school, with a noon dismissal, so our thought was that DW would pick up the kids from school, while I finished packing the Wagon Queen Family Truckster. We’d get the boys home, feed them lunch, change clothes and hit the road by 2:00 PM, making it at least half way to WDW before stopping for the night.

    Now, I know our family. If we plan on leaving at 2:00 PM, we’ll actually leave at 4:00 PM. In fact, a friend of ours from school asked what time we were leaving after school, and my response was, “we’ll probably get out of here at the crack of 5:00 PM.” Little did I know how true that statement was. I don’t understand how it always happens, but there always seems to be a million little things that we have to do before hitting the road. So, sure enough, we pull the Truckster out of the garage at 5:30 PM ready for our trip to WDW. We had made a reservation for a hotel in Birmingham for Friday night… that would be about a 6 hour drive Friday night, and 9 hours on Saturday to our rental in Rolling Hills. So, best bet, we should get to the hotel right around midnight Friday night.

    If you’ve never had the pleasure of driving Interstate 40 between Little Rock and Memphis, I recommend you avoid it. For those that haven’t, let me describe the Interstate… 2 lanes of highway in lousy condition… tons of semi traffic as this Interstate is a major east-west trade route… and Arkansas, in the state’s infinite wisdom, has decided that the speed limits on interstates is 70 MPH… great, huh? Unfortunately, they’ve also decided that it would be safer for everyone to make the speed limit for trucks on interstate highways 65 MPH. So, you have semi-trucks driving 65 (or 70), and you have passenger cars driving 70 (or 75). As you bounce along the highway, you are constantly being cutoff by semis moving into the fast lane to pass at the high speed of maybe 68 MPH. There’s no other way to say it… this part of the drive just sucks. We complain about it every time we drive to Memphis. And then once you make it to West Memphis, Arkansas, where I-55 and I-40 intersect, you run into construction. I think in our 15 years of living here, this junction has been under construction for all 15 years, and the construction is still going strong.

    So, we make it through Memphis and into Mississippi on US Highway 78 (the future Interstate 22). This highway is interstate quality from the Tennessee/Mississippi border almost all the way to Birmingham, Alabama… stopping just short of intersecting with I-65 in Birmingham.

    As it starts to get dark, we can see lightning off in the distance to the north and the east, so we stop in New Albany, MS and get refueled, get a snack and something to drink. As we’re getting back in the Truckster, we notice the wind picking up. Literally, about 1 minute after getting back on the highway from our stop, the skies open up. It poured… HARD! It hailed… boing, boing, boing… it lightninged (is that a word?) for about 15 minutes and then it was done. We continued on to Birmingham, and made it to our hotel about 12:15 AM. We brought in our overnight bag and were all asleep by probably 12:30.

    About 3:30 AM, the thunder starts… and continues… and continues… and continues… For some reason, DS8 is petrified of storms. I really don’t know why. None of the rest of us are bothered by storms. Living in Arkansas, you have to have a healthy respect of severe weather, but you don’t have to live in fear. So, about 4:00 AM, here he comes crawling into the bed with DW and I. Now, the double beds in most hotels rooms aren’t exactly roomy for 2, but they are downright jam packed with 3. Obviously, it wasn’t a very restful night at all with constantly having to move an elbow away from your spleen (what exactly is a spleen anyway?), move a knee away from… never mind… you probably get the picture.

    With the thunder continuing to rumble, our party of 3 wakes up around 7:00. DS11 is already turning into a teenager… he would sleep until noon if we let him. We finally wake him up, get everyone dressed and head down to experience the goodness of a Hampton Inn breakfast… with the thunder still rumbling.

    With a reasonably tasty breakfast under our belt (and going straight to our thighs), we hit the road by about 9:00… with the thunder still rumbling. About 15 minutes outside of Birmingham, the skies open up and it pours… like Biblical rainfall. This is wipers on high, can’t see where you are going rain. I was expecting to see a dove with an olive branch in its mouth soon. So, the deluge stops after about 10 minutes. We get a little farther down the road, and here comes a pair of aardvarks crossing the road. A little farther and there’s a pair of anteaters… a little farther a couple of antelope. And then more rain… or should I say another deluge? Then a pair of bears… a couple bobcats. Hey wait, I’m sensing a theme here…

    This rain and storms continued off and on all day long. After a stop for lunch at Steak n Shake in Albany, GA, where – you guessed it – it was raining, we were back on the road in more thunderstorms. Then outside of Ocala, traffic slows to a crawl, then a stop. Oh great… what now? The ark blocking the highway? No, of course there was an accident undoubtedly from the heavy rain. Fortunately, it look like no one was injured, just some banged up vehicles.

    We stopped to refuel in Ocala and had to choose between past oil spill (Exxon) or current oil spill (BP) to fill up… we went with Exxon. When we got out of the Truckster, the guy across the gas pump from us saw our St. Louis Cardinals bag. He asked if we were Cardinal fans, and I said, yes, as we’re originally from St. Louis. Their family was from Columbia, IL, just across the river from St. Louis so we had a little hometown family reunion there in Exxon’s parking lot (in the rain, of course). They were just heading home from WDW and said they had a great week, lots of afternoon thunderstorms, but the weather was really pretty good… typical Florida. After wishing each other well and safe travels, we were on our way… less than 2 hours drive to our palatial week-long home in Trembling Hills… err… Rolling Hills.

    About 10 p.m. we pull up to the rental. We knew the others would beat us there, so we knew we would have the last bedrooms. Our parents were getting the big master bedroom, as they should since they were paying. Little did we know that our boys (8 & 11) would get the princess bedroom with twin beds and we’d get the smallest bedroom with a double bed and no dresser or anywhere to put clothes. We weren’t real big fans of our rental… it was OK, but not that great. Of course, DB & DSIL and their kids got the whole upstairs where each kid got their own bedroom with a queen bed and DB & DSIL got a king. Oh well, we weren’t letting that bother us, we were at the happiest place on earth, and would be spending most of our time at the parks.

    After getting all of our gear in, it was time for a quick chat and then off to bed. We had a date with a Yeti the next morning.

    Part 1 - Introduction
  2. WDWisTheBest

    WDWisTheBest <font color=darkcoral>This is better than plan one

    May 30, 2003
    Looking forward to more of your reports.

Share This Page