I was driving on back roads from Monroe to Toledo yesterday evening when I saw some ominous-looking storm clouds forming, rolling in at a high rate of speed from the southwest. I convinced myself that I could outrun the storm, and thought I had at least a few minutes to spare.
I was wrong.
While traveling south on Strasburg Road near the village of Ida, I came across a scene that was equal parts American Gothic and an M. Night Shamalayan film, as a grim-faced old man riding a combine crawled toward me on the country road. He was standing about 12 feet in the air driving the machine, and from the angle at which I approached him, the distant lightning lit up the sky and created this eerie effect.
At the moment I wished I had a camera to capture the scene, but in retrospect, I think this might have been an omen.
I headed west on Ida Center road into the oncoming storm, and as I reached Lewis Avenue, a thought entered my head: I could drive north a few miles to M-50, then sprint west, and come back behind the storm through Sylvania, OH. I gazed at the approaching wall clouds looming over the newly-sprouted cornfields, and then dismissed what turned out later to have been a much better idea.
The first strong winds began battering my 1995 Hyundai Accent before I reached Secor, and seconds later the rain began to fall so hard that my visibility was reduced to mere feet. I spent what seemed like an eternity crawling south on Secor toward Toledo, dodging fallen limbs and sudden flooding, while experiencing at least a half-dozen lightning strikes that hit so close to me that the light and the explosive noise were almost simultaneous.
My car was hit by winds so powerful - especially as the road cut through open fields - that I occasionally could not control my steering. Yet I feared that if I stopped on the side of the road, or pulled into a driveway, I was likely to be crushed under the weight of a falling tree, since so many oaks and maples swayed at snap-producing angles approaching 45 degrees.
However, I think an even greater menace during my hair-raising hell ride was produced by other motorists, like the idiot in the oversized pickup truck who rode on my bumper from Todd Road to Erie Road. Even when I tried to straddle the shoulder to allow Captain Hurry-Up Pants room to pass, he insisted on tailgating me with his high beams blaring in my rear-view mirror.
The single-fingered salute I offered him, I am sure, was not visible through the driving rain.
Yet through it all, this rusty-but-trusty Hyundai never even sputtered, despite plowing through dozens of deep puddles that washed onto the road, and my respect-inducing brush with the powers of nature ended safely. I vow, however, to never again try to make a mad dash through a storm, and to trust my instincts regarding ways in which to avoid another such deadly meteorological haymaker.
Like parking and waiting it out.