Rain, endless rain. Big drops, little drops. Eighteen wheelers whooshing by, flinging more water at my windshield. Wipers flashing before my eyes for hours. Brutal fucking rain.
That was the first day of our drive to Pittsburgh. We drove along with a cool-front that seemed to cover the entire nation, drenching everything in its path. If we hadn’t booked a room in Memphis I would have begged to stop in Little Rock, but we pushed on. Visual hallucinations started half an hour from Memphis. Was that someone riding a bike across the highway? No. Just a windshield wiper. A car on the side of the road? Nope. A street light. I knew I was losing it, that we had taken on more than I could handle. Thirty minutes felt like two hours.
Our plan to eat Memphis BBQ was shot to hell. It was 10:00 and I refused to do anything except lay on the bed of the hotel room while the weird visuals I experienced played out in my head. Lucas ordered a pizza and I was conscious long enough to eat two slices and brush my teeth before passing out.
We woke up the next morning and began driving north – our goal for the day was to reach Cincinnati for some chili, this time with a little less driving. The clouds were heavy and the rain was still coming down lightly. Around noon my stomach began to feel a little funny and I thought I needed to eat something. Nooo. Big mistake there. Either a stomach virus was attacking my body or the hard-boiled egg I ate at the breakfast buffet was packed with some funky ass bacteria instead of the protein I had hoped for.
Driving in the rain is bad. Driving in the rain when all you want to do is curl up in the fetal position or hurl is an absolute nightmare. When we finally saw sunshine for the first time I perked up. The sky was awash with color as the sun set and I kept glancing in my rear-view mirror to see orange, pink and purple clouds.
We stopped for the night on the north side of Cincinnati and went to a restaurant next to the hotel. Chili was out of the question, but I ordered a sandwich and immediately turned my nose up at it. Apparently I wasn’t getting better any time soon, but thankfully the next day would be the last of our drive.
It would also be pure torture. I was still miserable and while Lucas was doing his best to take care of everything he locked the keys in the moving truck. Luckily we have AAA, but we lost about an hour (for which I was extremely grateful as I lay on the hotel bed feeling like death).
The sun was shining and I did a little happy dance in my head as I walked from the hotel to the car. The extra hour we lost had done wonders for me and I was ready to drive … in the sun! We made good time and I managed to eat half a sandwich at lunch, restoring some of the energy I had lost.
A couple of hours outside of Pittsburgh I could see clouds ahead and I cursed, apologizing to the kittens, who had taken the entire trip in stride. But as we crossed the Ohio River in Wheeling, WV I gaped at the surroundings. This was definitely the most beautiful part of the drive and I will grudgingly admit that the rain enhanced the scenery. Steep grades caused eighteen-wheelers to drop back to 25 mph as they pushed their way uphill. It all felt dangerous and awesome and I loved it.
Not long after that we arrived in Pittsburgh, finalized the paperwork on our apartment and collapsed on the floor. As I lay there I couldn’t help but think about that really stupid saying. You know? Something about how you should find joy in the journey, not the destination?
Haha! That person never drove across the country with three cats, all of their belongings, in the rain with food poisoning.