Update: Thunderstorms and Visiting Texas

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11:51 PM and the crash of lightning, not yet had the boom of thunder sounded, jolted me awake. When you’re in a twenty-year-old RV, things like thunderstorms, which all Texans are groomed to love, become terrifying monsters.


Less than 100 yards away is a small lake and the radar shows chunks of red and orange masses hovering over us with more on the way. How long would it take this lake to flood? The sign outside this small county park clearly stated that the gate closes at 11PM and opens at 5AM. In the meantime, there was no leaving.

In the bed next to me Heath is still asleep.

“Heath!” I whisper. He didn’t move. I kicked him. “Heath!”

Another clap of thunder pealed and assisted Heath’s wakefulness. We began making plans.

Just before our wedding day, a storm system blew through Austin. Heath didn’t sleep a wink. An airstream trailer less than 100 feet away from ours was struck by lightning. Everything inside, computers, printers, appliances, was fried. We didn’t want to be in our RV when something like that happened to us.

The first set of storms was orange, but not quite red. It grew in strength directly above us, having appeared out of nowhere on the radar an hour before. Two weeks earlier, we ran from our RV into the nearest building, a football field away, during an electrical storm. The rain poured, but more violently, the lightning struck all around us.

When we returned the RV after the storm, the microwave blinked 00:00. The coffee pot wouldn’t turn on, neither would half of our electrical outlets, and our refrigerator powered down, now running off of propane. The next morning, we discovered our rearview camera would no longer work and our generator wouldn’t turn over.

Were we struck with lightning? Did something short out?

I didn’t want to experience all of that again while inside the RV. I wondered if the tree under which we park would protect us from the rain or fall on top of us from the wind.

For the next four hours, Heath and I laid awake in bed, constantly checking the app on his phone. We paced the RV floor checking for leaks and watching out the window to seeing creeks of water rushing past our tires toward the lake. A few other trailers around us flickered their lights on also awakened by the storm.

I tried to let the consistent tapping of pouring rain on the roof lull me to sleep when Heath popped out of bed like bread out of toaster.


“The power is out.” I wondered how he could tell, since there were no lights on in our RV or in the park. He reached up and waved his hand in front of our A/C which stopped blowing air.

More lightning came with louder thunder. Heath bought a lightning app for this occasion that shows you where lightning strikes as it strikes. I don’t know how it works, but I know a few dozen strikes missed our little blue dot on the map by no more than a hair.

And so, we drifted in and out of sleep-like states with the booming thunder as our alarm. Somewhere around 4:00AM, the storms began to die down and we fell asleep. So deeply asleep in fact, that we didn’t wake up until 10:00AM the next morning. (Thank goodness we didn’t have work until three).

The very next day, Heath and I packed up the RV and began driving south. For 12 hours, we drove south periodically stopping for gas, state line pictures, and naps in truck stop parking lots.

You see, the midwest kind of stinks. It was hot, humid, and peppered with thunderstorms a little too intense for Franklin’s taste.

So we drove back to Texas for Labor Day Weekend. We’ve now been in Denton, Texas (my hometown) visiting with family for about a week. Franklin is in the shop getting repairs for damage from the other thunderstorms and we are enjoying recovering from months without strong WiFi, Mexican food, and being in a place where we aren’t always lost.

Franklin won’t be ready to hit the road for a couple more days, but we will soon be flying up America from Oklahoma all the way to Maine in a matter of weeks. In the meantime, I have access to real shower any time I want.

18 States Down, 32 To Go!

9 Responses

  • Hi Alyssa,
    I’m with KERA and came across your story in the DRC. I’d love to interview you and your husband before you hit the road again. To set something up, email me at [email protected]

    • Thanks for the comment, Christina! I sent you an email last night. Hope we can work something out!

  • Saw you at Camping World Denton this weekend but couldn’t stop to chat. Heath was looking under the rear end of the coach and seemed busy… as we’re we. Check out the thread on iRV2 where I posted the picture of your coach and YouTube links. You two are invited to join us as RV MUTANTS — http://www.irv2.com/forums/showthread.php?t=157739

    Best of luck… is the go fund me still open – since ya have a “Corp Sponsor”???

    Check out the link…
    Steve and Annie

    • Steve, Heath said he saw someone taking pictures! Haha, how cool. Thanks for sharing our story. Our GoFundMe is still open… our sponsor doesn’t pay enough to cover a months worth of gas! Thanks for the invite to join the RV Mutants!

  • I am originally from West Texas and grew to love those storms. Nothing like a lightning show to get the adrenaline going!

  • I am from Austin, TX. We are going to be full timers next summer or early fall after the house is sold and we have bought our fifth wheel. I am going to be travelling with my partner (we are both in our 40s) and our daughter Zoe, along with a family friend, Tommy, who caught the bug while he was renovating our house. I was just in a small RV a few days ago during a lightening storm. Scary! Look forward to your blog. I am also following the Wynns.

  • […] with whimsy, beautiful sites, and really cool people. On a bad day, there might be a leak during a thunderstorm in South Dakota, or you might be working on fixing a fuel pump, or maybe your trailer is falling off. There are a […]

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