After this past weekend I don’t think the rest of the family will let me and Sissy travel alone again, not without a GPS, hard hats and a police escort. Our road trip to Indianapolis for an Eric Clapton concert turned into quite the adventure. We were trying to behave, and we did, but circumstances beyond our control (and some within) had the family rolling their eyes at us when we finally landed in the driveway Saturday evening. And had us recalling that movie about two chicks on a wild road trip.
Funny thing, when I looked up some quotes from Thelma & Louise, they perfectly fit some of the moments during our trip. Grab a popcorn and Diet Coke for this little tale because it could take a while. Warning: It WILL leave you questioning how we ever earned college degrees.
We left Friday morning expecting a five hour drive that would put us in Indy in time to check into our hotel, eat a nice dinner and mosey over to the amphitheater in plenty of time. Note that I’m wearing a white shirt. This will be important later. And how I wish Photoshop had a fuzzy hair, squinty eye filter.
Thelma: “You said you n’ me was gonna get out of town and for once just really let our hair down. Well darlin’ look out ‘cause my hair is comin’ down.”
The drive and hotel check-in was uneventful, (and can I just say that the North side Hilton is very nice) but when Sissy looked at the hotel clock she realized we had forgotten about the time change. We had lost an hour and didn’t have time for dinner. We rushed to the amphitheater just in time to buy T-shirts and stake out a good spot on the lawn for the warm up band. The lawn was packed.
See this guy?
When we first saw him I nudged Sissy and said, “betcha five bucks he’s one of those people who starts dancing before everyone else does and dances with a real wiggly butt.” Not five minutes later he started shakin’ his groove thing. Hee hee. Takes one to know one. As the warm up band finished we noticed the sky started getting considerably darker, and we heard a rumble or two of thunder.
We decided we didn’t care if we got wet. After all, it was Clapton. It was a road trip. It was an adventure. Bring it on, we said. Famous last words. As EC took the stage, darkness descended and lightning began to flash in the distance. This kind of lightning.
(This is a picture taken that night by Sean Gilbertson. Photo courtesy of the Indianapolis Star. Indystar.com) Hmm. It didn’t seem very safe to be standing out in the middle of a field with that kind of lightning but..well, it was Clapton, so we ignored it and hoped for the best. A couple next to us consulted a Palm Pilot and discovered there was a tornado warning for Kokomo. “Where’s Kokomo?” we asked. “Oh, it’s nowhere close to us. It’s on the border.” “Great.” We didn’t know their geography was bad. For the next hour and a half we were lost in the sweet, sweet sounds of Clapton’s guitars. That man is phenomenal. At 64 years old, he sounds even better than he did years ago. It was probably the best concert I’ve ever been to. Don’t you love how everyone raises their cell phones instead of lighters at concerts now?
As we danced and sang the lightning kept getting worse, much worse. In fact, it built to the point that it almost seemed timed to peak as the music swelled during the last thirty minutes of the show. It felt very dangerous to be in the middle of it. The drunks around us clapped and cheered every time the sky lit up, but Sissy and I kept exchanging nervous looks.
Thelma: Louise, no matter what happens, I’m glad I came with you.
We couldn’t leave though…it was Clapton, right? RIGHT? We felt a few sprinkles and knew we would definitely get wet. A light rain fell and the wind kicked up during Layla, Running on Faith and You Look Wonderful Tonight, giving the concert a kind of ethereal feeling. That feeling wore off when a downpour began three songs from the end. Ponchos and umbrellas did no good, which made us feel better since we had neither. People were dancing barefoot in the aisles and sliding down the grass. I remembered those old clips from Woodstock. The rain blew hard. It blew sideways from one direction and then another direction. The lightning was fierce, and we were standing in the middle of it soaking wet and cheering for an encore. Don’t judge. It was Clapton. When the show finally ended, we picked up our stuff and along with 20,000 other people tried to find our way out of the venue in the driving rain. It was raining so hard we had to stop every few feet and wipe the water out of our eyes so we could see to move on. A river of water washed over our feet when we walked out of the gates. Just a little closer and we’ll be in the car, we thought. The car? Oh, s***! Where’s the car? We were in such a hurry when we arrived that we didn’t pay attention to where we parked. We staggered around in the storm, searching desperately for the car and finally found it about ten minutes later. A river of water ran down my backside when I sat down. In the distance lightning hit something that flashed with a small explosion. We would not have been more wet if we had jumped into a swimming pool and failed to dry off. We tried to take a picture of our drowned rat selves, but it was too dark.
We pulled into a lane of traffic to leave but hit a logjam right away and sat there for forty five minutes. During that whole time we watched other people staggering around in the storm looking for their cars, desperately hitting their remotes. Clapton’s fans span multiple generations, so some of these folks were elderly. We felt helpless as we watched one older couple search for their car. Eventually, we started moving and made it out of the parking lot and onto the interstate. We were only eight miles from our hotel, but the relentless rain and high winds made the white knuckle drive seem longer. We started passing jackknifed semis and wrecks. We saw downed tree limbs and power outages. At our exit ramp we panicked when we hit moving water. We made it though it, but our gas light came on so we pulled over at the first gas station to fill up and make sure we were headed in the right direction. While Sissy fought the wind and rain at the gas pump, I went inside for directions and to go to the bathroom. When I entered the store three men all smiled and spoke. Friendly guys, I thought. Not really. Remember the white shirt? When I looked in the bathroom mirror, I realized that you could see right through my soaked shirt and underwear. I might as well have been naked. Nice. I had to walk right past them to leave.
The rain and 70 mile an hour winds did not let up while we ploughed through the next three miles to our hotel. A quick trip through a Wendy’s drive-thru put us next to a flooded parking lot where two ducks were swimming. It was too dark for a picture, but oh, how I wanted to capture that moment. When were arrived at our hotel, we stepped into another river of water in the parking lot but laughed all the way to the third flour, relieved we had finally made it through all that mess. It all didn’t seem so funny though when after we changed and sat down to eat, I flipped on the TV and discovered that Clapton wasn’t the only thing to roll through Indianapolis that night.
To be continued……….