Sunday, May 2, 2010


Brick City Hall on the right, facing the center of Oxford Square.(All of today’s photos are from Oxford and Taylor, Mississippi.  Hover your cursor over each for a caption, or click a photo to enlarge it.) 

Yesterday I described the skies as “leaden”.  Since then, we have seen every permutation of skies other than “blue”.  As I write this, rain is POURING, POURING down, accompanied by the occasional boom of thunder as mighty storms roll over us, one after another.  The temperature outside is 72 degrees (the lowest it has been in 24 hours); the temperature inside is 78, (time to turn on the A/C again).  “Humid” doesn’t begin to describe it!

The night seemed endless.  I took the early weather watch, while Odel caught some ZZZZ’s between the alarms from the weather radio.  Around 11 pm, things were looking better in Oxford, so I went to bed, too – fully dressed except for shoes.  The weather radio awoke us three or four times between midnight and 5 am as huge, powerful, thunderstorms “with tornado potential” (and tornados, for all we know) skirted Oxford  five or ten miles to the north.   After each alert, we turned on the local news – which had been showing nothing but weather since Saturday evening – and watched as intense red and orange radar echoes slowly moved past us to the northeast. 

Odel hanging with the locals on the square. Odel took over around dawn, while I slept until 10 am, awakened by the weather radio another three or four times for “watches” – flood, severe thunderstorm and tornado.  Slowly but surely, the front is moving beyond Oxford, taking the most severe weather with it. 

We are so grateful we are here on campus!  All three of the campgrounds in the Oxford area – two state parks and a COE park – were mentioned by name last night as storms edged past us.  We’ve been in that situation before, in South Dakota.  It is a sinking feeling to hear your campground mentioned in the litany of towns in the path of a tornado.

On the lighter (and dryer) side:  three times during the day Saturday, the rain stopped long enough for us to exit the motorhome and have some fun.  We took a bagful of used books to Square Books – they were interested in half of them and I was able to pick up a new book (Cornbread Nation 5, The Best of Southern Food Writing) in exchange.  We had enough dry time to sit on a bench with a huge ice cream sandwich (comfort food), mingling with the locals.

Taylor, MS, Main Street and the Taylor Grocery Restaurant - yep, really! During another break, we drove south eight miles to the tiny village (population 289) of Taylor, Mississippi, a bit reminiscent of Luckenbach, Texas.  Taylor Grocery Restaurant is famous in Oxford and across the south for their catfish, with wait times in excess of an hour during game weekends.  Too bad for us, the mid-afternoon weather window didn’t coincide with lunch or dinner time.

Most of the rest of the town’s buildings are occupied by artists – this little village is a magnet for the creative arts.  Half a mile south of the village, a small, new neighborhood is taking shape, Plein Air – described as an “old-fashioned, traditional neighborhood with a with a vibrant town square”… and “its own sewer system, buried utility lines, master planned and maintained landscape system, and an active home owners association. Plans call for the entire site to have wireless high-speed internet access. A community shuttle will offer transportation to and from the Ole Miss campus and downtown Oxford several times per day.”  Plein Air is less than half completed now (but does have its own fire department and one-room Montessori school), but was quite appealing and intriguing to me, and I was glad we had the opportunity to visit.  You just never know what interesting spots travels will reveal!

The "commercial district" of the Plein Air community. A home in the Plein Air community.

Hey – another break in the rain!  (Oops, gone.) Things are looking up here in soggy, battered, northern Mississippi, and we have escaped unscathed, not even a leak.  Tomorrow?  Memphis.


  1. Our hearts go out with you guys...we have been there and done that and know we will once again be there at some time in our travels. We don't look forward to those moments but we also are very disappointed with the weather updates, it seems many times they feel they are better safe than sorry which raises the belief if going for shelter really should be done at that time or not.

    We have been looking for some sort of website that will include advice for the area we are currently in while traveling that will show past storms and not just predictions of what might happen. No success so far but we really do not like staying up all night if tornadoes and severe storms are just not likely in the area.

    Be safe, hopefully the worse is over and you both can get a good nights sleep.

  2. Petersons: Yes, local reporting is best, if you have access. By FAR the best resource for us was a Memphis TV station with detailed radar and two experienced weather reporters who were up all night dissecting and diagraming the threats.

    Unlike the Weather Channel, these guys had local knowledge of the area and did a great job of forecasting the movement of the possible tornados. Without their detailed reporting, we would have been likely to seek out shelter unnecessarily in the middle of a dark, wet, windy night. "Tornado Warning, move to a secure spot" is far less useful than "the storm will skirt to the west of Oxford"!

    Being able to watch radar on the internet was a big help, too. In spite of the lack of sleep, we both were happpier watching the situation from home, ready to go if necessary, than we were in the hotel room in Huntsville last weekend!

    Safe travels,

  3. I grew up in OK and know what a 'fraidy' hole is so I feel your tornado watching pain! Hopefully as a F/T RVer I won't get blown away, having escaped tornadoes in OK. We are experiencing snow/sleet here in Albuquerque today, heading for Howard, CO tomorrow. We met Carol and Dick Schneider at Jojoba and she said I reminded her of you Laurie - same haircut. (We are 90 on the wait list for a spot there.) Have heard of you from several RV-Dreams folks too. Thanks for the smoked turkey leg tip - fixed a pot of beans with it at Jojoba. Hope to meet you guys someday!

  4. Lynda, let us know if it looks like our paths will cross at some point - we can compare haircuts. BTW, after being on the Jojoba list for a couple years (?), we got the call a few months ago. We instantly realized we weren't ready at all to make that commitment... and ended up taking our names OFF the list so you probably moved up. :) We don't spend enough time in one place for a co-op lot to make sense. Maybe someday!

  5. You are smart to have a weather radio and do "watches." Many people don't take enough precautions. Glad you are safe.