Adventures in Van Dwelling: Truck Stop Misery

It's just past midnight as we pull in to yet another rest stop in Middle-America.  A foggy haze lingers in the air as the parking stalls bask in the street lights' tangerine glow.  Moths thump and swirl around the glowing bulbs and fireflies drift silently and gracefully up from the grass and through the trees, casting their magic upon all those who dare gaze.

The gravel crackles under our tires as the van rolls slowly into it's spot and the engine shuts off.  It's quiet, but only for a moment as our ears adjust and the hum-drum-rumbles of the surrounding 18 wheelers fill the night air.  At first I find myself miffed by their inconsideration of my peaceful roadside moment, but within minutes my level of understanding raises along with the internal temperature of our van.

My skin begins to stick to itself and everything becomes wet.  In an instant, I realize... this is going to be a long night. We de-clothe to the best of our abilities and prepare ourselves both physically and mentally for our attempts at sleep.  "We can do this.  We will sleep." I tell myself as I peel my legs from the vinyl of my bench and strive to find the elusive perfect sleep position.

An hour or two pass, I really can't be sure as the lines between consciousness and sleep begin to blur.  I finally start to drift when... "UUUUUUUUHHHHHHHHGGGGGHHHH!!!!"  Seriously!?  Meisha groans out load in sheer unconscious, hot, sweaty, sticky pain.  93% Humidity. Not. Fun.  She groans so loudly that it wakes her as well.  We both have a good chuckle at the sheer misery of the situation and continue our attempts toward any semblance of rest.

Another hour.  "Screw this."  I say to myself.  "I'm taking pictures."  I felt that by capturing visual representation of our misery, maybe I could somehow begin to cope.  I pulled out the tripod, set the timer, and snapped a self portrait that seemed to accurately describe my feelings at the time.  I was pleased.

I return to the van invigorated and exhausted all at the same time, hoping Mr. Sandman was not completely allergic to humidity.  The wind picks up and I find momentary relief as the gusts breach our cracked windows and blow across my exposed skin.  The wind must have felt my appreciation and picks up a little more.  Ahhhh... now this it what I needed! Within minutes, the wind is blowing so hard that the van begins to rock from side to side.  Something starts to feel a little off and I check the weather on my phone:


This is really going to be a long night AND a long morning.  Blegh.  Heavy rains begin to flood down the windows of our van as the lighting and thunder fill the sky with an electric symphony.  Lightning flashes from end to end across the horizon in 1/2 second intervals and the clouds are moving almost too fast for our Utahn brains to comprehend.  Meisha ooohs and aaahs at the sheer beauty of this powerful storm while I frantically Google terms like "What to do in a tornado while traveling", hoping our reception doesn't cut out before peace-of-mind is achieved.

We formulate a plan to watch the sky for funnels, and if necessary, run into the rest stop and hug the toilets for safety.  If we can't make it there, strap on the seat belts and turn on the camera, cuz it's gonna be a bumpy ride!

Well...  the storm blew over, the van stayed put and our excitement waned as the sun rose.  I know, I know, kinda anti-climatic but I don't write the story, just tell it.  Maybe next time...

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