Greetings from Arkansas’ Mississippi River

violet and orange sunset through the trees of a van's campsite


It had been a long day, to say the least.

With baby, and our two older boys, onboard, we left a trash pit of a free camping spot on Lake Enid.

Oxford, Mississippi was our goal.

We’d stock up on groceries, check out the local skatepark, and then it was an easy 20 minutes to some Army Corps of Engineers site that promised at a minimum warm showers and a place to pop the top for the night.

Instead, after pushing our skateboards around a fun—but waterlogged—Oxford Skate Park, we heard the shrill scream on the radio. It’s a staticky, then piercing noise that banshee wails “Tornado Watch in effect!”

A Tornado Watch is the real deal. They have two levels of severity when it comes to these things. A Tornado Warning means, “There’s a chance a tornado might happen, in all reality it likely won’t.”

A Watch means, “There’s definitely a tornado coming at you. It’s real, and we’ve seen it, hope you took the Warning seriously, it finally is real.”

Most people from Pennsylvania to Michigan to Kansas and Florida grow up hearing the Warning. We ignore it. They say, “Always have a flashlight, canned goods and water!”

And we never do. I mean, they also say to seek shelter in a basement. Even if you’ve got a backpack or shelf full of canned goods in your tornado basement, what then? Did you install an oven down there too? Do you have a can opener? A full set of dishes, maybe a fork, or will you be gnawing open a 22 ouncer of Bush’s Grillin’ Beans with your teeth and scooping them out cold with your non-bloodied finger?

Meanwhile, back in reality, all we had was a campervan with everything we needed for the night…except a storm shelter.

And then the sky opened up, the campground was empty, and life was perfect for the night. So far, Arkansas, so very good.