Tornadoes Make For Full Hotels

21 Apr

Somewhere in Virginia

Near the Monitor-Merrimac Bridge

I have been having a blast hanging out in “The South.” I’m not sure if I am supposed to call it that, as we had a whole discussion about what constitutes “The Mid-Atlantic States” versus “The South” and when do we hit “The Deep South”? I haven’t googled it so I’m just going to speculate and approximate terms.

Virginia Ceramic Pig!

Anyway, we left a rainy Ashland, Virginia on Saturday morning and drove to Elizabeth City, NC. I saw so many American history spots along the way I wanted to stop at, but alas, we had a gig to get to that night. But seriously…Williamsburg, Jamestown, Yorktown? Glory! And a ton of battlefields.

Anyway, as we got to Elizabeth City the clouds were pretty threatening but the rain held off until well into our show which kept everyone indoors…at the gig. Brilliant. When we left it wasn’t raining anymore and we thought nothing of starting the drive down the road to cut some hours off of Sunday’s drive by heading down the road. Little did we know we should have taken the chance for a hotel when it was there.

Elizabeth City, NC

Elizabeth City

Turns out that about 60 or 240 (something like that) tornadoes had ripped through North Carolina, south of where we were that day. We were going to Winnsboro, SC…south. In Wilson, NC we decided to call a motel and see what their rates were. They said ominously, “We are completely full.” Interesting. So I called another one…same deal. Then we began to put together the storms and the completely full motels and listened to the radio and realized we probably weren’t going to find anything open.

As we drove it got eerie as we noticed that whole exits, usually lit up beyond belief with trucks stops and such, were dark because of power outages. We could see some idling truck lights which is how we knew anything was even there, but nothing is creepier than an unlit truck stop because they are always open. The roads were clear but we saw quite a few fallen trees right along the edge. I am sure if it were daytime we would have been able to see a lot more destruction. The other creepy part was the rest areas, which usually have a few trucks parked in them overnight, were completely packed with cars. I’m assuming all those folks were displaced by storms, which was a somber thought.

We must have driven over 100 miles with packed rest areas and no motel rooms, to the point where we did the 6 hour drive to the next town and got there at 6 AM. The kind folks we were staying with were not expecting us until the afternoon, and we thought it would be rude to call at 6 AM, so we caught some sleep in the car before we did. It was a strange series of events but we felt really fortunate to have dodged all the tornadoes the day before…we had no clue how bad it was.

More in the next post about our time in South Carolina…they are the epitome of Southern hospitality!

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