My heart rate skyrocketed as I had no idea what had happened or was currently happening. All the cars and trucks ahead of us slowed and put their vehicles in park. This was not good. Truckers around us were taking their dogs out to walk and the driver behind us got out of his car, went into the median to look down the way and mouthed, "Holy ____." We had no idea how long we'd be here and the lack of wifi signal on my phone in this desolate section of Texas and no local radio station reports left us unsure what to expect. About 30 minutes later, we spotted a medivac circling far up ahead. I had a feeling it was an overturned tractor trailer and kept thinking, "I just hope everyone's okay, I just hope everyone's okay."
We continued to sit on the freeway. When you're in the middle of nowhere on the only freeway (let alone road) around, it's a rather odd feeling. There's no back road to take and you certainly can't just turn around and go the other way when you're trying to make it to the East Coast. All you can do is sit. And pray. Suddenly, about an hour later, the trucks started moving and about half a mile up, I saw the horrible sight. A tractor trailer ripped apart on the right shoulder. I'm sure many of us know that feeling you get in your stomach after passing something like that. You think about what happened. If they are okay. You think about their families. Where they were going. And what would have happened if you left twenty minutes earlier. It's horrible.
We continued on our way, passing into Oklahoma where we took a little break in OKC as rush hour was already quickly approaching. Just East of OKC, we saw signs on the shoulders saying, "Wreck ahead." While I think it's wonderful that the state of Oklahoma utilizes signs like that once emergency crews have arrived to caution drivers, it was again, another sad sight to see. A tractor trailer that crashed and whose cab was burnt so badly it was unrecognizable. While sitting in that backup, I learned the news about the earlier accident. The tractor trailer had veered right and into the shoulder going Westbound on I-40. He over corrected, flipped into the median and landed in the Eastbound lanes which is where we were. Sadly, the driver lost his life…
Experiencing life and the loss of life in any aspect is always such a wake-up call. This was my fourth cross country drive and I was just so grateful to be safe. That day, we ended up losing a total of three hours from the time change and backups. It was a long night, as we finally stopped in Little Rock, Arkansas.
The sun rose that morning, bursting through the horizon and welcoming us to what we hoped would be a happier day. I didn't know it at the time, but I'd soon fall in love with a city I had been to before. One of the cities I least expected to fall in love with: Nashville. It was in Nashville that I felt the first whisper of crisp, cold air on my skin and in my hair. I found a little lunch spot in Music Row that really ticked my fancy.
Edgehill Cafe. It's a fun coffee house place with an eclectic industrial feel on the inside accompanied with some deliciously fresh food. Plus, they had a ton of vegan options. My hipster heart immediately fell in love with this cafe, its vibe, its eco-friendliess and I almost just stopped right there and moved in down the block. My veggie + hummus sandwich was so delicious but I think it was the super fresh kale salad that really blew me away. So, there's a definite possibility that this non-country-music-loving girl may invest in some Nashville real estate...
There was a slight chance, I'd make it to the DC area without having to spend one more night on the road. Slight chance. But then, just over the Virginia border, once the sun had gone down, it began to rain. We were still five hours away, so we called it a night and guess what. As soon as we exited the freeway, I saw something in the sky. It was white and drifted around ever so peacefully.
It was snowing.
And it was magical. There's no better way to be welcomed back into your home state than a completely unexpected and unseasonal snowfall. And yes, I did get out of the car, throw my hands up and put my head back and I took it all in :)
Virginia's nature continued to astonish me the next morning as the sun rose in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
There is no doubt that I was deeply inspired by the natural beauty of my home in San Diego. But it sure was refreshing to see the beauty I was greeted with on the East Coast. The changing leaves. The colors and shapes of the clouds. The crisp air. There is no better time to drive across the entire United States than in the Fall. I saw nature at its finest.
My cross country trek #4 had been completed.
It was almost time for the new journey to begin.