So it’s 11:00 AM, we all join hands and we say a short prayer then and head out for the interstate.
So where is it that we are headed for?
All of our relatives that don’t live in South Louisiana are either in Florida, North Carolina, Virginia or Texas. All are too far to run away to for a couple of days until the storm clears so we need somewhere far enough inland that the storm will weaken, but not too far from home so we can return and get back to normal.
The weather is overcast and windy but we haven’t had seen any rain yet as we head toward the interstate. Looks like we were not the only ones to wait until the last minute to leave town. Which direction should we head, East or West seem to be bad choices to me, if the storm shifts one direction or the other we might not be running away from problems but towards them. North makes the most sense, maybe Jackson Mississippi or Memphis, yea, that’s not a bad drive, Jackson is only 2 1/2 hours and Memphis is 6 hours on a bad day. That’s the plan; we’ll take I-12 to I-55 and head North.
As expected the roads are crowded, we we’re not the last ones to leave buy any measure. The city of New Orleans and the entire metro area has actually been under an evacuation suggestion / order for a couple of days. The state police have instituted the region’s evacuation plan for the area and all the interstates are now in contra flow mode, meaning they have been blocking off access ramps and redirected traffic in one direction, outbound on both sides. It’s a strange sight to see traffic on both sides of I-12 heading away from our town, and so we join the exodus.
So much for a 3-hour trip to Jackson, the traffic is heavy on both sides of I-12 and we are moving but only at about 30 miles per hour. Finally we make it to Hammond and make the turn on to I-59. Wow, even heaver traffic, but it actually makes sense because there are limited North bound interstates leaving the area and this is the main one. The I-10 out of the city runs East and West and it looks like many, many others decided, just like we did, North was the preferred choice.
As we make our way along with the multitude it’s surprising the number of cars on the side of the road with mechanical problems. I feel for them but there is not much that we can offer for help since we are at max load and at least a day behind when we should have left town so we keep plodding along with the flow.
The two cats in the pet carrier together obviously don’t appreciate the closeness, but then they never did like each other all that much. Fortunately the dogs seem to have settled down at least for a while any way.
We fire up the cell phone and start calling hotels in Jackson to see if we can reserve a room. Everyone we manage to get to answer has the same response, no vacancies. Even after a call to a major chain that I have Gold Member travel status with, no way, no how. So what’s the next closest, can we reserve something in between Jackson and the Memphis area we ask? Same answer, no way, no how, all our places are booked solid from people fleeing the storm. This plan B is looking worse as time passes.
How about a campground? That might have been an option if I had not have sold the camper that the girls complained was too small a year back. Or if we had room and were able to pack the tents we still had and the camping gear. Right plan C sucks, really who’s going to want to be sitting in a tent during a hurricane or at the least tropical storm winds. We got to come up with a better option.
How about somewhere in Texas, that’s the direction my Dad is headed. We are almost to Jackson Mississippi and a quick check of the map shows we can get on I-20 in Jackson and have a straight route West to the Dallas Fort Worth area. Some quick calculations and it looks like it’s about 500 miles so this is going to be a long trip.
We make a phone call to a co-worker than works for the same company I do at our Dallas branch. He tells us that his wife has some connections in the hotel industry and is sure she can find us a place that will accept the pets for as long as we need to stay. All right, so finally some good news at least we have a destination to head for.
The West bound lanes of I-20 are crowded but not nearly as bad as I-55 North bound was. We drive on a few miles to the West and then stop for gas, walk the dogs and grab something to eat. We met a number of people here that are from New Orleans, doing the same thing we are.
The rest of the trip into Dallas is slow due to the heavy traffic but otherwise uneventful. The sun is beginning to come up just as we pull into the parking lot of the hotel that my co-workers wife found for us. The trip from Covington to Dallas during regular conditions should have taken 8 hours. Instead we’ve been on the road 18 hours. If there is a next time we even think we need to bug out, we will be leaving earlier than this time, I hope…..
1. Have several options on places to go in different directions that take you away from the event.
2. If you have any advanced warning that there is going to be a localized event, like a hurricane or other severe weather, make hotel reservations in three different cities, in different directions that are outside of the predicted area of impact. That way if you do have to leave and you don’t have friends or family that you can go and stay with, you have options of several different places to go in different directions. When you decide which direction / city is the best, cancel the other reservations.
3. When it’s time to leave, leave early rather than later.
4. While already mentioned, printed maps are good to have. No batteries to die on you like a GPS or cell phone.
5. Everyone that has a cell phone should have a 12-volt car charger for their make of phone to bring along. As inexpensive as they are it’s not a bad idea to buy and leave one in each car you have. My wife’s I phone’s charger is different than my Motorola Droid’s so we need two different chargers.
6. Pet’s can present an entire new set of problems when traveling. Some hotel chains make accommodations for them but most do not. It pays to shop around.
7. Again, we were lucky. Gasoline and food were readily available on our route. If it was a more wide spread event we could have been in major trouble.