8:00 AM – Large, hot breakfast: Eggs, yogurt, fruit, bagel, cream cheese
10:50 AM – Matt and I take a photo of ourselves and our chase vehicles.
11:00 AM – Safety briefing; brief presentation
11:45 AM – load the vans. Here’s the Van 1 (lead van) crew for the day!
12:00 PM? – headed west to Geary,OK.
2:00PM? – Had lunch (BLT) at the Broadway Cafe.
3:00 PM? – Weighed our options: position ourselves for a play in Texas versus head into the northern plains, where are the next three days all have decent severe potential. Mosied North then entered I 35.
6:00 PM? – Detoured off of I 35 to visit the damage path for the Andover tornado (29 April). The path was quite narrow but had some F2 damage.
7:00 PM? – Reentered I 35 and continued north. Exited at El Dorado. Ate dinner at Anita’s (Mexican: shrimp cocktail and Carne Asada; great tasting food, but I ate too much and got an upset tummy).
8:15 PM? – Continued north on 835. Bill called numerous hotels and we finally ended up at the Super 8 in Emporia, Kansas.
1:50 AM – Met Phil and Kathy (both from UK) in the hotel. Did a WalMart run. Found Phil the #PerfectStorm of backpacks, a battery bank, and some Diet Cokes.
3:50 PM – met Jodie for the second Walmart run. Bought myself a couple T-shirts, as I forgot to do so on the first Walmart run. Jodie found some nice organic Gala apples. I was gifted two of those, which is great because apples travel well. We made another visit to the electronics section at the Walmart pick up a phone bumper for Jodie. Look for a specific charger for Jodie’s camera gear, but it turned out not to be a Walmart item. Such is life.
6:00 PM – The team met in the lobby and went over to Chili’s for dinner. I ordered a $10.99 special in a margarita. Pretty good food value for under $20
One of the advantages of owning your own business is setting your own hours.
Sorry to miss you, Hank!
STOP 2: Sid’s Diner, El Reno, OK – Get a world famous burger, fires, shake (lunch)
The walls of the epic diner are covered with awards. And the award winning burgers are worth the wait (though mine was a mere 15 minutes. The 50s-style decor, numerous awards (from “Man vs. Food”, “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives” and other foodie TV shows) are explanation enough why the map pins in the YOU WERE HERE maps cover every continent. The young man from Poland (vacationing in Oklahoma with his mother who spoke no English at all) really enjoyed the burger and fries. As much as music is the universal language, a perfect hamburger also speaks in the vernacular.
Stopped at the Holiday Inn (4401 SW 15th Street). No reservation found.
The hotel desk clerk suggested I try the Holiday Inn Express down the street (4401 SW 15th Street). Yup! Checked in, sprawled out, and watch Forrest Gump on the TV, starting from Forrest’s arrival in Vietnam.
I heard brass music coming from below my room (204). I thought “104 must be an orchestra fan.” I tried to locate the music as I made my way from the first floor elevator bank to the front door, to no avail. As i exited the front door, it became clear that a bar or restaurant down the street was the source of the blaring music. There was something odd about it: classic mariachi music … with a tuba added. Had I discovered the first “Mexican Oompah band? What an odd sound, especially with the tuba player trailing the tempo slightly.
After a bowl of chili, a Caesar salad and a couple of fruity libations, I strolled back to my hotel, with tuba and guitars still pounding out the beat.
10:00 PM – Off to dreamland. Oompah, Oompah, Oompah.
Eight hour timer just sounded. Started the process of waking up. Took my morning blood sugar reading. Not good: 61
Waiting for they Redberry serial to be absorbed. Started the day with the blood sugar reading of 61, which is pretty low. Felt pretty dizzy as I went to the bathroom for my morning P. Sat there for a long time rather than get up too quickly and pass out. Today will be a busy day with about eight hours of driving. Once I feel well enough to be up and around, I will grab my roll-on bag, jump in the van, and hit the road.
Arrived at Texas Roadhouse (TRH). After confirming our reservation for 5pm (for 9 people), I set myself to the task of finding a hotel room for the night. I paused for a moment, fixated on the building across the parking lot. Someething familiar about it. Looked at the windows and decided to walk around to the front of the building, as I had a hour to kill. A hotel!! What luck, Booked my room for the night. Thanks for being so fortunately located, Sleep Inn.
Did a double-take at the sign along the front walkway. Remember that all-import SLASH (or somebody may give your dog a cigar):
5:09 PM: Birthday girl, Lisa McGeough, has arrived with others in tow.
It took a long time to get a table, as two peoplw in our party were unavoidably stuck in traffic. We almost lost our reservation, as a matter of fact. FORTUNATELY, the manager stepped in to allow 7 of 9 of us to get seated. Our server, Farrah, took excellent care of us (and I let the tip reflect that, as all grateful diners ought to do).
Most of us had not seen each other is a year or so. Several of us had not crossed paths in 5 years, so this get-together was a big deal for all of us.
After dinner, we hung out, compared chase vehicle notes, and took some photos.
Difficult to fall asleep until my hotel room neighbors finally pass out after 30 minutes of impassioned moans and groans. I guess you cannot shout out “get a room!” when they already have one. Ha, ha, ha!
Daily Weather Trivia
Which forecast office is YOUR local area forecast office?
Unlike years past, this year I am doing a lot of last-minute preparation’s. Typically my bags are fully packed I need the van a full week in advance. This year, I am running up to the wire, completing only two days before the trip. Letting my preparation run right up to the last minute reminds me of some thing I’ve known a long time: there’s good adrenaline and bad adrenaline. Now that everything is ready for the trip, the bad adrenaline is draining out of my system little by little. It is fading as my level of distress (that’s negative stress) falls. Hopefully the reward on this trip is lots of good adrenaline (eustress, the good kind).
In it average year, two days before the trip I am mowing the lawn. This is partially to avoid getting a citation from the local code enforcement people and partially to get the grass cut at the last possible moment. Like most people, I also don’t like the idea of pissing off my neighbors by having overly long grass. The newest neighbors to move in our a little bit fussy about such things, and I try to be sensitive to their needs.
The very last moment before the trip are occupied with things like unplugging the kitchen appliances and several odds and ends around the bathroom. The last thing I need is to accidentally leave some thing on and hear from my neighbors that my house burned down while I was away. Also, as a volunteer with a local fire department it would be especially embarrassing to have the house burn down. It seems that every year there is one of those “my, how ironic“ stories about a fire chief making some terrible mistake and returning home to find his house burned to the ground
One of my favorite things during the last few days before a vacation is that stretch of days where I don’t want to make any trash. Who wants to come back from vacation with the house stinking from two week old trash, right? During this stretch I tend to eat meals that are more like my “road meals“ and do my best to avoid any kind of leftovers.
I try to do this once the chase is underway, too. I am certain I have probably left 100 pounds of food in the motel refrigerator in one town or another over the last 20 years. I only hope that the hotel maids enjoy the food and (on rare occasion) a few beers that I may have left in the fridge.
In any case, the part a vacation that seems to start first is vacation meals. And I really like it!
xx:xx: Pass Happy, TX (Saw an F3 tornado here on May 5, 2002
xx:xx: East of Tulia, TX – Stop to discuss storm options
18:24: Olton, TX – model stop
19:34- Sudan, TX – funnel cloud in progress; tornado develops 2 minutes later. Tornado stays on the ground 6 minutes.
After a moderately long drive from the Guymon, OK, we caught this photogenic tornado a few miles from Sudan, TX:
A more complete update (with details of the forecast, chase strategy, and maps) will be posted later.
Start – Oklahoma City,OK End – Del Rio, TX Distance– 669 miles (664mi captured on GPS track) DRAFT – map and more photos to be added soon
07:00 – Wake up call; packed my gear; morning chores
07:30: Light breakfast with a couple of my fellow travelers
08:15: Pack my gear in the #2 Tempest van
08:30: Morning briefing : We are heading to South Texas, as it is the only area with a slight risk of storms.
09:00: Depart Oklahoma City on I 44, possibly the bumpiest the interstate in the country
10:41- Enter Texas, crossing the Red River. It is obviously a drought year as much of the riverbed is visible.
11:01 – Depart Wichita Falls on US277S.
13:01: Around Anson, TX, follow US 83, Passing by Abilene and many smaller town.
15:59: Anvil Time! South of Junction, TX (and I-10), we choose our first storm for the day. We are in rugged territory south of interstate 10. The road network here is very sparse, so we have to choose carefully. The cost of a mistake is missing a storm and ending up several hours travel from the next one.
1850: Decision Point! First storm fizzles, so choose our second storm of the day. Daylight is running out, but there is still atmospheric energy to fuel a good storm.
20:40: We briefly see a conical lowering that could be a funnel. Our storm gets tornado warning, probably for this feature which might be interpreted as a developing Tornado.
21:10: We arrive at the La Quinta motel in Del Rio, TX. We grab our gear and pack it in for the night
07:00-11:00 – work from home, online, that is. (Don’t lots of folks do that now?)
11:00 – Lunch at Charlie’s (Bolingbrook Clow International Airport).
(They have scheduled flights to Canada, so ‘International” is quite real.)
12:12 – Depart Bolingbrook Airport, traveling southwest on I-55S.
14:09 – A brief pit stop in Atlanta, IL. Still good on fuel!
14:22 – Resume southwesterly course on I-55S
15:25 – Oh no. traffic jam!
17:28 – Refuel at St. Clair, MO, just west of Six Flags enough to avoid paying a premium price for gasoline.
2100 – Arrive at Red Roof Inn, Springfield. Check in then eat dinner at Jimm’s Steakhouse and Pub. Had the monstrously generous prime rib dip (like a classic French dip, but using prime rib). Too much food!