2022-05-09 – Which way to go?

Travel Route: OKC – Emporia,KS

Leg 1:  Oklahoma City, OK- Geary, OK
Leg 2: Geary, OK to I-35N
Leg 3: I-35N (near OK-KS border) to Andover, KS
Leg 4: Andover, KS – El Dorado, KS – Emporia, KS

Events of the day

7:00 AM – wake, shower, dress

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.

First two TORNADOes of the trip

11:00 AM – Safety briefing; brief presentation

Bill Reid gives our first weather briefing
Joke: Emergency underpants (for when we get too close to a tornado) Useful: a digital caliper for measuring hail

11:45 AM – load the vans. Here’s the Van 1 (lead van) crew for the day!

Van 1, Day 1: Front: (left) Kathy, Phil (both UK) Lisa (me), Sonia (France), Carol (Utah), Dave (UK) Driver: Matt (Tennessee); hiding: Bill Reid (meteorologist, lead)

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.

Devastated neighborhood along Andover Rd., south of US 400
NWS map summarizing the storm damage from the 29 April 2022 Andover, KS tornado
Lots of damaged and missing windows at a YMCA building along the Andover damage path.

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.

9:30 PM – turn in for the night.

2022-05-07 – On to OKC

Travel Route:

Leg 1: Springfield,MO – Yukon,OK – El Reno, OK – Oklahoma City, OK

Leg 2: A walk from hotel to dinner and back:

Events of the Day

06:30 AM – Sleep Inn, Springfield, MO

In semi-conscious mode. Starting the day with a five hour energy shot and a hot shower (to knock off the dust of the road from yesterday’s drive).
Ah, refreshing!

07:39 AM – Semi-conscious

Travel hint for the day: ALWAYS double-check that you have the correct bottle before chugging down the morning energy shot
(“ I didn’t know this came in lime flavor!”)

#ElvisPancake time!
“Part of a balanced road-mode breakfast.
Thank you very much!”

09:30 AM: Departure: “Hope these two know each other!”

A bit of non-standard parking observed:

Blue skies ahead, so it’s a happy travel day:

STOP 1: Baker Photo & Video (CLOSED!!)

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.

Live music alongside the epic Sid’s Diner
Bobblehead versions of owner Marty Hall (left) and son Adam Hall, who handles he main responsibilities of the diner nowadays.

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.

8:40 PM?
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.
#GerMexican vibes!


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.




2022-05-06 – Southwestward, Ho! (2022 edition)

Today’s Travel Route:

Leg 1: Bolingbrook, IL – St. Louis, MO

Leg 2: St. Louis, MO – Springfield, MO:
5:42 AM

Eight hour timer just sounded. Started the process of waking up. Took my morning blood sugar reading. Not good: 61

6:03 AM

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.

4:30 PM

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.

The [Outlaw Chaser] gang’s all here. Not pictured: Lanny Dean, who had prior obligations.
8:00 pm-ish?

Posing with Paden by the Tornado Pursuit Vehicle (TPV). #OutlawChaser ! #FunnelPatrol

After dinner, we hung out, compared chase vehicle notes, and took some photos.


11:28 PM

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?


20210507 – Travel Day 1 (Bolingbrook,IL-Springfield,MO)

ROUTE: Bolingbrook, IL – Springfield, MO:

06:00 – wake-up, shower, etc.

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!

2315 – bed time.



20210502 – 2021 Shakedown Cruise #2

After building a fairly long list on shakedown cruise number one, it just makes good sense to do a second shake down and see what remains that list.

1145 – Lunch with Joe and Barb

1400 – Depart for Iowa 80 Truck Stop in Wolcott, Iowa. It was, at one time, the world’s largest truck stop. Supposedly a larger one was being built in Russia, but I’m not sure that ever happened. Needless to say, the place is huge, and technically qualifies as a national landmark.  It also happens to be reasonable distance from home. Depending on conditions such as weather, construction, traffic, the drive can be anything from 2 to 3 hours. (And on this occasion, it was just barely two.)

1559 – Cross the Mississippi river on the interstate 80, entering Iowa. (Upon inspecting my video after returning home, I find out that the crossing was captured on the starboard wyzecam. A nice surprise: the camera system delivered on its promise)

(insert link to crossing video later)

1615 – Arrive at the Iowa 80 Truck Stop. As it turns out, the shakedown cruise is also a test of the driver. I make a hasty run to the bathroom, and discover I am in real need of some Imodium AD. Given that I had a recent battle with “full on” diarrhea, I don’t mess around: I take a large adult dose of this medicine immediately (and do not have a problem with “digestive distress” for the rest of the trip, thankfully). I take a quick moment for some photos at the truckstop. To paraphrase Peewee Herman, “It’ll last longer if you’ll take a picture!”

1645 – Make a brief stop at the National Weather Service, located at Davenport airport. Grab a quick picture of myself in front of Weather radar

1655 – head back across the Mississippi and onward to home

1915 – Arrive at home. Goodness, I made good time driving back. The WyzeCams seem to be dropping out every once in a while, perhaps because the laptop is running low on space on the way back, but I do not stop to investigate. I just want to get home given the delicate state of my digestive tract.

2030 – Time to call it a day. And a good day it was. It seems the afjustments that I made in response to the to do list from the first shakedown cruise have been effective. I did not test the camera mounts but have a pretty good idea that I need to adjust the friction on the I pistol grip for the DSLR camera.

2021 Test Drive 1

I took a 90-minute test drive of the chase vehicle and the technology onboard

Here’s a list of issues I’ve found:

      1. The camera mounts easily loosened up. Fortunately, the camera “droop” did no damage to the cameras.

  1. The GPS puck is seen by Franson GPSgate, but it’s output is not seen by GRlevel3 or other applications.
  2. The dashcam needed to be tested beyond seeing it power up and display a video of the road ahead.
  3. The cabling clean-up has yet to begin, but should be a fast task. Last year’s set up is unchanged, except for the mysterious disappearance of the original dashcam micro-USB cable. I replaced it today, but have some disconnected cables dangling.
  4. The rear seat’s Android tablet needs to be re-installed.
  5. Luggage space needs to be reclaimed. It’s full of bric-a-brack at the moment.
  6. The iPhone bracket need to have the stabilizer arm glued into place. It came off in my hand! WTF??
  7. The antenna cluster needs to be road tested. It was ‘indoors’ today. One antenna needs to be glued to its mag-mount.

All this amounts to another weekend afternoon spent with this new ‘to do’ list.

20190512 – T-1: Around OKC, 2019

After a busy day yesterday, we slept in late.

Our day really started with Chinese lunch at Golden Palace, a place with over 100 items of high-quality Mandarin and Cantonese appetizers, soups, entrees and (American-style) desserts.

After lunch and a quick fuel stop, we visited the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.  If you go, allow up to two hours to walk through the amazing exhibits, pictured below.

After the museum visit, we went to the Oklahoma National Memorial (“the bombing memorial”).  Although it is a somber place with moving tributes to those lost, it also holds a message of hope and recovery. Photos are below.

We met up with most of the tour group and walked up to Charleston’s for dinner.  Simon and I split a Kale-Quinoa salad, which was still an overwhelming amount of food, even split in half.

Then, we returned to the hotel, where I spent the balance of the evening charging devices, uploading photos, and (finally) sleeping.

20190511 – T-2: Oklahoma Bound

This morning I woke up in Springfield, Missouri. Did not need an alarm clock, as one of my Motel neighbors (who I will simply call #MethMom) was shouting over the second floor balcony to her friends that this motel was “no f***ing kind a place for my f***ing kids!”  If memory serves, this is how certain moms in Missouri (and other states in the Midsouth) indicate that there is no pool for the kids. No matter. I am awake now.

After a quick round of dental hygiene (to remove that taste that I can only describe as “Walt and Jesse starting a meth lab in my mouth”) and a quick cuppa tea I was ready to face the day.

After a quick round of dental hygiene (to remove that taste that I can only describe as “Walt and Jesse starting a meth lab in my mouth“) and a quick cuppa tea I was ready to face the day.

I spent a little bit of time in reviewing yesterday’s photos and getting the updates for yesterday‘S blog page started

Today’s weather is gray and drippy day, a fairly common sight after the good storms have passed through the area a few days earlier. A quick look at the SPC outlook seems to indicate that the next few days are going to be for a little bit quiet, weatherwise. So will be playing tourist and various natural wonders instead of chasing. That’s the way it goes.

I checked Facebook and responded Do a post asking about “what equipment do you use when you chase” as follows:

* Kenwood TMD-710GA 2m/440 ham radio
* Radio Shack PRO2067 500-channel scanner
* Radio Shack TRC-519 CB Radio

* HP Pavilion 13×2 laptop/tablet
* Arnova 10-inch Android tablet

* Garmin 18X GPS puck

I also carry a good assortment of cameras/camcorders.

* Nikon D7000 DSLR (plus a lens collection)
* Two GoPro Hero2 cameras (w/3-D frame, various mounts, including the popular suction mount)
* Sony AX-53 4K camcorder (plus zoom and telephoto lenses)

Next stop: Sid’s Diner in El Reno. We arrived about an hour before closing time. I had the King Burger Deluxe, Paul the BLT, and so on. We had a moment of dismay when the British Contingent  realized no beer was available there. We survived, however.

Final tourist stop for the day: the Twistex Crew Memorial. We let Simon try his hand at rural Oklahoma driving  He negotiated gravel roads, muddy ruts, and got us to the memorial in time for some great photos, including shots of a beautiful classic western sunset.

After a quick WalMart stop, we returned to the hotel for a good night’s sleep.

(Photos to be added later)


20190510 – T-3: 103 Up then Out

103 Stories Up

Friday 10 May 2019 was a very busy day!

First, drove from the motel in Bolingbrook into the Loop of Chicago. After an unplanned orbit of Lower Wacker Drive, we got into our parking garage and walked to breakfest.  I had a tasty apple-walnut oatmeal and my first-ever (and probably last-ever) keto coffee.

Then, we walked across the street and went up to the 103rd story attractions of the [former] Sears Tower (a/k/a the Willis Tower).

The views were spectacular, but when I stepped out onto The Ledge, I got dizzy and withdrew immediately. My #FearOfHeights kicked in hard.  After a moment of calming down, I backed into my slot in the transparent box so high above the street and we were able to get a few pictures.

Looking out in each of the four compass point directions, we took in the amazing views.  The multiple shades of view on Lake Michigan, looking to the north, was astonishingly beautiful!


Along the Way: Fill-Up Philip

After of hour of “103” time was up, we returned to the car, headed west on Madison Street, and took I-94 and I-55 southwest, departing Chicago.

A few hours later, we stopped at Dwight, Illinois for lunch.  We had a classic American cuisine lunch (burgers, BLT sandwiches, hot soup), then visited the 1950s-vintage gas station across the street.


One Tall Tomb

Next stop was the Lincoln Tomb (the actual final resting place of Abraham Lincoln, his wife Mary Todd Lincoln, and three of his four sons. The route to the monument took us through some pretty unassuming side streets (and I was beginning to the the GPS had misguided us). The tomb is topped off with an imposing obelisk and has many beautiful statues of Lincoln, depicting the various stages of is life from young adult to the final year of his presidency.

Quarter of the Way ‘Round the World

Continuing southwestward, I pulled the van to the shoulder for our ‘mystery stop’.  I must have given half a dozen hints where we were going, what it was about, etc.  We got WAY past twenty questions, but my guests finally figured it out without me telling them outright. Here we are after arriving.

Bee’s Knees

After many more hours of driving, we arrived at our dinner destination in Versailles — pronounced ‘ver-Sails’ — in Missouri.  Thanks to a cable between the van’s CarPlay port and my iPhone acting up, I had to rely on my guests’ phones for navigation. (Excellent job adapting to the situation, gang! I am in your debt.) Fortunately, we never got off the desired route, arriving at around 9pm. We met Kathy’s stepdaughter, Allison, at a local microbrewery and restaurant call The Bee’s Knees.  Other than a brief whiff of the beer, I abstained (as I was driving). On the other hand, I enjoyed a generous portion of the delicious varieties of thin crust pizza. It was a good thing we were driving; I could barely walk after the meal.

One Last Push

In a final push to our goal of Springfield, Missouri, I drove us on MO 5 toward Lebanon, Missouri and I-44.  The winding road, hilly terrain, and stretches of re-paving activy along the way made for a challenging drive, but we arrived safe and sound at Springfield around midnight. Four sleepy travelers went to sleep about 30 minutes later for some very solid and well-earned rest.

20190509 – T-4: The British Contingent Arrives

This Thursday was like any other Thursday, except for my great excitement that my friends are arriving from London. Well I did get work done at work, I am mostly prepared for being absent. I sent a quick email delegating various responsibilities, reasserting the chain of command, and outlining a few goals for the team during my vacation.

Other than leaving my mobile phone at home, the day went pretty much as planned. But I had to come back by the house anyways after work because I was not going to drag a company laptop with me on the road. Absolutely no reason for me to incur that kind of risk when it is in my power to simply store the laptop in a safe place.

After a quick stop by the house, I headed to O’Hare airport. The drive was everything I expected it to be cold and slow moving, filled with cars, trudging along. Here’s a quick time-lapse video to give you a taste of my drive:


Fortunately I got an early enough start that I arrive right around the time that my friends’ flight was arriving.  That said, fortune seem to smile on me: I found a parking spot that was only two or three slots from the sidewalk leading into Terminal 5 (the international terminal), encountered my friends quickly, and left almost as quickly (after Phil ran back into the building to pay for the short term parking, as I flew right on by the pay station without thinking about it).  From the time I arrive to the time we departed could not of been much more than 10 minutes, a personal best for an airport pick up.


Kathy, Phil and Simon were happy and energetic as we exchanged hugs. Their Dreamliner flight seem to agree with them and they even remarked that the meals exceeded their expectations. Sliders anybody?

Our ride from the airport down the tri-state, 88, and I 355 went smoothly (but slowly due to moderate traffic).

We sat down to a nice dinner at the Family Square Restaurant in Bolingbrook, just a few minutes From the British contingent’s hotel.

I hung out during the check in process to make sure everybody was able to get into their rooms and settle in for the night. Getting to the rooms just before sunset and having a large meal contributed to everyone aligning their sleep schedules to U.S. Central Time. Jet lag is not much fun, but I hope we were able to get it under control by lining up sunset and meals.

Friday morning comes with an early start, so hopefully everybody gets some good solid sleep so we can enjoy the day. I’m pretty sure the positive attitudes will carry us through no matter what, but some good sleep will really help. I’ve been really tired lately, so the rest will be welcome.