After filling up on five cent coffee and a small five dollar slice of pie, I set out from Wall Drug, South Dakota and head east. I skip the interstate and head out on state two-lane.
An enormous thunderstorm forms over the prairie to the north, growing dark and angry. I parallel it for miles, listening in on AM radio reports of baseball-sized hail and 60 mph before the station plays a set of the Carpenters' greatest hits.
I finally give in and drive toward the storm, helped along by a 30 mph tail wind as the cloud begins to spiral upwards and suck in air at its base. The radio blares a civil defense alarm warning, then returns to playing the Eagles.
The sky grows creepy dark as I drive under the enormous cloud. I head into a wall of rain as lightning starts to crackle above me. A bolt hits very close, blinding me for a second. Not that I can see much to begin with as the wipers struggle to keep pace. Hail hits the car like a bucket of rocks, and this starts seeming like not such a great idea after all.
The radio reports the storm moving at 50 mph east, and there's no way I can get out ahead of it. I drive for an hour buffeted by wind and sheets of rain before breaking away and trying to find a hotel for the night.
Just because I'm done doesn't mean the storm is and I slog through waves of rain, hail and wind. I look at the silver lining; at least I won't have to wash the car.