My Three-Strike Rule – The One Time I Broke It
I have a three-strike rule.
Regardless of how I initially feel about something, I’ll do it – going somewhere, seeing someone, whatever. Within reason, of course, but I’ll make an effort. The three-strike rule goes like this – whenever obstacles pop up, making it difficult to do said task, I’ll move past it and keep trying. I will go so far as to ignore the second obstacle that tells me “Do not pass go, do not collect $200,” and keep going, but I usually draw the line at the third obstacle when I will take notice and throw in the towel. I’m just persistent that way.
I know that before any decision, large or small, I really should listen to my intuition to see if what I am about to do is the right choice, but I don’t, so thus the reason for the three-strike rule. Some sort of a compromise between my impetuous and conservative natures.
But one year I didn’t heed the signs and just burst through them, guns a-blazing. Why? Because I thought what my family and I were about to do was so damn cool, so renegade, so free.
Well, that one year I spent pushing the envelope, was a year I’ll never forget. About nine years ago, I was bored and needed a change. Fortunately, the ex and I were on the same wavelength and, being that I could work on the road via satellite internet (we had bought a mobile one), there was nothing to stop us. So we sold almost everything we owned, put some stuff in storage, bought a 34-foot motorhome, and headed across the country.
We started out in March, I think it was, and mapped out a route going south from Central California down towards Arizona. It was our intention to stay south and make our way up to Indiana in time to see the Indy 500 (my ex’s big dream). Everything was going fine until we were in Huachuca City, Arizona, and it started to snow. We were headed towards Albuquerque, New Mexico when the weather channel reported tornado warnings popping up everywhere.
Let’s mark that as sign #1.
So we turned back around, warmed up in Palm Springs for a couple of days, then headed towards the northern route, thinking we might have a better shot at missing one of those tornadoes. But, as it turned out, they chased us.
Halfway across a seriously long stretch of lonely highway in Wyoming, where the wind howled like a banshee, our awning let loose and damn near turned into a parachute. Trying to get it back under control in a hurricane-like wind was really hard.
A smaller sign, so we’ll mark that as sign #1A.
In South Dakota, in the middle of the night, I remember staring out the window of the motorhome in total disbelief at a lightning storm – not one of those storms when the sky lights up every few minutes or so. No. In this little display, the sky lit up nonstop. Literally nonstop. The rain was coming down so hard, I had to yell at my ex to be heard. NOAA radio tracked a tornado 30 miles away, headed in our direction. The crazy part was that no one in the RV park was freaking out. The office was closed and there was nobody to ask what to do. For a girl who grew up in Southern California, this was incomprehensible. I was looking for some underground shelter, but none existed. Anywhere. All I could do at the time was hope that the storm would fade away before the tornado got too close.
I raised my cup of tea (with a shot of brandy in it) to sign #2.
There continued to be storm after storm, and we continued to look over our shoulders, storm after storm. This entire time I was working full time via the satellite, homeschooling the boys, and with the added lessons in the force of Mother Nature, my nerves were being stepped on.
Another shaker-upper happened somewhere between South Dakota and Indiana, on a really busy freeway, going freeway speed, when we came way too close to demolishing a truck that was at a standstill in one of the lanes. No hazard lights, no flares, no nothing. Do you have any idea how hard it is to stop a 20,000-pound vehicle going 70 miles an hour? It’s possible, with a little bit of time, but we had none. Fortunately, the shoulder was clear and my ex was able to steer around the truck before swerving back onto the freeway. Can you imagine what that looked like? I’m thinking that wouldn’t have been a happy ending for anybody if the shoulder hadn’t been clear.
My heart hammered at sign #3.
By then, my nerves were crushed. But, damn it. Stuff like this happens all the time, doesn’t it? So with our blinders firmly strapped on, we forged ahead.
Finally, we made it to the Indy 500. My ex went by himself and left me and the boys at the RV park. It didn’t take long for the weather to turn sour. Then…guess what…sirens. Loud sirens. And I’m not talking police or fire truck sirens. They were sirens of the natural disaster type. Tornado type. I got out of the motorhome, looked at everyone running around, and said in my calmest voice to the nearest woman dashing by, “Where are we supposed to go?” Her reply in her most frantic voice was, “To the lower bathrooms!”
The bathrooms? Was she kidding? The bathrooms? Hiding from a possible tornado with winds up to 100+ miles an hour in a bathroom? Seeing no other option, I did whatever any good woman would do…I called the ex and told him he’d better come back, I grabbed the boys and their bike helmets, and headed for the bathrooms, which, to my untrained eye, were pathetically inadequate.
The women and children sat in the bathroom and waited, listening to portable radios for news of disaster, while the men, macho as they were, stood outside the bathroom door, arms crossed over their chests, like some sort of sentry, looking at the sky. Not terribly comforting. I felt better under the sinks with my arms wrapped around the boys and my arm linked through the plumbing.
Let’s label that as sign #4, shall we?
As it turned out, a tornado had touched down three miles from where we were. Too close. Hell, any tornado touching down in the same state was too close. But did we heed that sign? No….
We continued east, determined to make it to the coast and head south to Florida. Still the storms chased us. NOAA was our constant friend. I was beginning to find it a little difficult to enjoy the scenery when I was always looking to the sky. We stayed at a couple of RV parks where tornadoes had dropped down not two days before we arrived. Sign, sign, sign. By the time we made it to Niagara Falls in New York, I was done. I wasn’t quite up to pressing our luck by heading east any more. Besides, by turning around, we were going to be headed straight into the very same storms that chased us. Kind of a buzz-kill.
We made it back in one piece to California, a little wiser, a little traveled, a little in debt, with memories wonderful and not so wonderful. It was fun for the most part, but in all honesty, I think I would have been better off listening to that little nagging voice in my head that kept telling me to turn us around. The stress made me a little bitchy, a little closed off, and a whole lot paranoid for months afterward whenever clouds rolled in. Tornadoes, to me, are too unpredictable and as crazy as it sounds, I’d take a California earthquake over a tornado any day.
P.S. At one point the Indy 500 was postponed because a tornado had touched down not too far from the track. Sign. And all of the tornadoes? It was reported to be the worst tornado season on record – Typically 500-600 tornadoes in the season, this one had 500 in the month of May alone. Just my luck.
So, do you listen to that “inner voice?” Do you have a three-strike rule? Where do you draw the line?
Posted on November 2, 2011, in Family, Personal, Travel, Uncategorized and tagged adventure, Diana Murdock, Diana Murdock's blog, inner voice, intuition, lightning, motorhome, storms, tornado, travel. Bookmark the permalink. 25 Comments.