Friday, May 04, 2007

Death From Above!

I tell ya, we coulda DIED! And all for the love of biscuits and gravy. (mmmmmmm!) One of my favorite "you're-dead-if-you-eat-too-many-of-these-meals" is found "down on the farm." Yup. Bob Evans biscuits and gravy. I eat this meal fully aware of the risks. Heart disease. Coronary artery disease. Choking on the huge chunks of sausage floating in the oh so lovely white gravy. It could happen. Probably will someday.

But never in a garzillion years would I have guessed that my insatiable craving for this southern delicacy could cause the demise of my wife and I like ... death from above. I am so naive.

I had downed my last biscuit. Sucked the last of the gravy from the bowl with a straw. Made friends and actually shared my faith in Jesus Christ with the husband of the couple sitting across the aisle from us. (Hey, if I'm going out I'm going to be on extraordinary terms with God when it happens.) We had watched the rain falling as we sat at our window-side seat. It had subsided when we paid the check and left the parking lot in "Emma" the Mustang. A couple of quick turns got us northbound on I-255. It is a short fifteen miles or so between the restaurant and our home. About half way through our trip we came across two Illinois State Police cars in the median strip with a wrecked black Mustang between them.

Odd. The road was dry. No other vehicles were even nearby. Why did this guy drive off into the ditch?

Within the next two or three miles we counted over twenty cars, trucks, and even a motor home stopped along the side of the expressway in both directions. A helicopter flew directly overhead. Other traffic flowed along with us, their drivers probably wondering what we were wondering. "What the ....????" We looked in every direction and saw nothing. It was cloudy. Ugly cloudy. Steam was rising from the refinery in Wood River but that's not exactly a traffic stopper. It occurred to me that the only time I had ever seen cars stopped randomly like this was years earlier when I was bringing a youth group home from a mission trip in Marshfield, Wisconsin. We drove through a really bad rainstorm. As we emerged from the other side there were cars on the entrance ramps and alongside the expressway. Many of them had cameras out taking pictures of the storm we had just driven through. I started playing with the electric mirrors outside the van and spotted a tornado tearing through the fields behind us. I quickly radioed my drivers in the other vans and they watched it with me. Most of the teens were asleep and never knew of their near brush with flying cows or houses heading off to Kansas. But today we looked and didn't see anything.

So, we made a few stops on the way home. When we got there I walked into the living room and picked up Tess the laptop to check my email. I clicked on a bookmark for KSDK, one of the television stations in St. Louis and, well, here is what I saw ...

As it turns out there were three tornadoes. One was in front of us. One was behind us. One was to the right of us. Nobody got hurt. Only farmers fields got torn up. Debbie and I both looked in every direction. Neither of us saw anything. Nuttin. The whole county was taking pictures. "News Chopper 5" was flying over us (in between the storm cells) and showing the twisters live on St. Louis television. And we ... we were oblivious.

Ok, so. Lessons learned.

1. God is good. Everybody was safe.
2. Debbie and I are effectively blind when it comes to seeing objects of imminent danger to our mortal bodies.
3. People in black Mustangs are obviously bigger weenies than other drivers who somehow managed not to wet themselves or drive off the road when surrounded by tornadoes.
4. If the biscuits and gravy don't kill you ... the trip to get them might.


Anonymous said...

I have a picture of this on my cell phone from my drive home friday. There is a funny story to go with it to....remind me to tell you.

Meg McCormick said...

Ron, how close were you to that town that got leveled? It was on the front page of the Wash. Post today. WOW!