I needed more time to do research at the RV Museum in Elkhart, so before leaving for Mackinaw City, MI, I spent the morning in a rush going through old trailer magazines in the library. This is another place I could spend an entire season. If only theyâ€™d let me camp in the parking lot.
But we nearly spent too much time there. It wasnâ€™t that we had a reservation to make because we had none. It was the weather. It had rained exceptionally hard the night before and more was on the way. There was a window of opportunity I wanted to take advantage of. The weather was supposed to clear for a a few hours between storm fronts and that was all the time I figured weâ€™d need to head north and away from the violent weather.
When I went into the library, I found Forrest and Jeri Bone there, researching early Tin Can Tourist articles. Theyâ€™d original thought theyâ€™d be on the road, but they decided to wait out the thunderstorms. I promised Patrice weâ€™d have lunch at 12:30 then leave, but typical of me, I was late, so we didnâ€™t actually get on the road until 1:30.
Oh my, that was nearly a very bad mistake. About an hour into Michigan we ran straight into the storm that dumped eight inches of rain in an hour on the village of Holland and spawned a tornado east of there that damaged four homes and lifted a barn from its foundation .
â€œWhy is the trailer swaying so?â€ Patrice asked.
I watched the tops of trees along state highway 131 bending into the shape of corkscrews and did not answer. Should I stop? Should I speed up? The rain blew horizontally across the road and suddenly there it was, a funnel to the west. My grip tightened on the steering wheel and I resisted the urge to go faster. The storm was moving east. We were headed north. If I could just keep us on the road the tornado would pass behind us. I wondered about the few cars and trucks heading the opposite direction.
â€œYou know when you asked me about the swaying?â€ I finally replied. â€œI think we dodged a tornado.â€ Seriously, how could I abandon our rig, then walk, pull, or even drag Patrice into a roadside ditch to take cover? Yet, that exact thought went through my mind. Pucker factor, nine. Relief, priceless.