Nothing feels worse than seeing a good storm on your radar app, but being sidelined due to work commitments. Here I am, stuck in Chicago while good storms are going on in the field. (Yes, there was a confirmed tornado corresponding to the radar image above.)
1019 – Raton Pass (7840ft) – Sangre de Cristo Mountains to Our west
1024 – enter Colorado On I-25W
1032 – Trinidad, CO – the TRINIDAD sign tops a peak just west of the interstate
Xxxx- Walsenburg,CO –
1203 – cont N on I-25 through Pueblo,CO
1232 – Approaching Colorado Springs,CO from the south on I-25N
1409 – Lunch – Qdoba (I-25) – Castle Rock,CO
1418 – WalMart run (10min)
1426 – Dpt E from Castle Rock,CO on CO86 Twd Kiowa,CO
Xxxx – Stop at c-store in Kiowa
Xxxx – stop in the middle of nowhere; take 360 photo.
Xxxx – enter I-70E toward Limon,CO
Xxxx – Arrive at Econolodge, Limon, CO
xxxx – Dinner at Oscar’s. Delicious pot roast and steamed veggies. A low-carb delight!
Xxxx – Do laundry at the TA Limon, across US24.No quarters required: machines take credit cards AND add no surcharge Woohoo!
1000 – Errands
_____ — Home Depot: a long quest for a SEEK infrared camera for Phil (they aren’t sole yet in the UK)
_____ — WalMart: searched in vain for a Bruce Springsteen album for Kathy. Fellow traveler Eric Meola photographed the cover art for the “Born to Run” album. The WalMart music section was so disorganized that five of us could not find a single Springsteen album. Bad WalMart, naught WalMart!
_____ – Continued on to Penn Square Mall to visit the Apple store (and search for another music store). Phil spent a bit of time looking or the new Apple Watch. We discussed lunch at Whiskey Cafe, but the wait was almost two hours (as this is Mother’s Day).
_____ — Venture northwest (on Northwest Expressway) to F.Y.E., a real music store. Plenty of Springsteen, but we cannot find “Born to Run”. *SIGH*
_____ — we head south to Reno and MacArthur, ending up at Lin’s Restaurant for all-you-can-eat steak, sushi, and Chinese food. Stuffed, we return to the hotel, to allow safe storage of our purchases. We take a short break to allow all to regroup.
13:30 — We head up to the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum (just off the Kelley exit from I-44). Many great exhibits, a lot of walking, and a visit to the souvenir shop.
16:45 — We hed back to the hotel, then regroup later for dinner.
19:00– Walk to dinner at Frosty Mug (a bar and grill a few doors down from the hotel). We aree later joined by David Balfour, who arrived s bit earlier in the afternoon. The British/Aussie/Kiwi contingent is complete!
22:30 — Wrap up the day by frafting the day’s blog entry.
0730 – Wake up; shower; pack, but leave everything in the room since it’s a little ways to the breakfast room and the vans are closer to my room in the front of the motel.
0830 – Ate in the breakfast room. My waffle stuck to the waffle machine, and I was barely able to get it out before started burning. It was so funky looking I decided to do something totally off the wall and put white gravy on it instead of throwing it out and getting a biscuit. All things considered it was pretty tasty, but I certainly got some strange looks.
0930 – Meet at the vans; load up; we do a short weather briefing, and discuss what things look like for Saturday and Sunday, which look like our first days with a reasonable prospect for severe weather on the high plains. Patience!
1000 – Depart Cheyenne on westbound I-80, for Laramie, after breakfast.
1040-1100 – stop at the Ames Monument, a tribute to a pair of brothers who made major contributions during the building of the Transcontinental Railroad.
____ – continue to Laramie for lunch at Lovejoy’s: spicy buffalo burger! We do a bit of shopping afterwards. I’m running low on laundry, so I buy a T-shirt to hold me over until I do laundry tomorrow morning.
____ – head south towards Walden, CO; beautiful snow-capped mountains rise to our west, south, (later) east
____ – Enter Medicine Bow National Forest (elevation:____)
____ – we rise to 9150 feet in elevation, allowing smaller vehicles to pass us.
____ – As we descend, we hunt for a turnout with a scenic view. The drivers, Bob and Rook, get plenty of practice downshifting.
1450-1501 – Scenic overlook #1 (photos in gallery, below)
1513-1526 – Scenic overlook #2 (photos in gallery, below)
[Gallery will be inserted here a bit later… laptop battery DYING]
1600 – We enter Walden from the north; check-in at the motel.
1640 – I chat briefly with the motel manager, whose daughter is fascinated with both storm chasing and Antarctica. I offer to chat with her if she is interested. I wander over to the town bank to buy a couple of roll of quarters, as it has reached the point of the trip or I will need to do laundry pretty quickly. The T-shirt that I bought in Laramie will buy me an extra 24 hours, but no more.
1658 – I get my quarters for laundry, with two minutes to spare before the bank closes for the weekend. I wander around the main strip of town just looking to see what is there and taking pictures of some interesting stuff I encounter along the way. I wander up to what looks like a good place for dinner, the River Rock Café. Looks like they have a terrific menu and I bump into Bob one of our drivers there, who agrees this is a good choice for dinner.
1800 – The gang gathers close to my room to wander up the main street for dinner. It looks like Eric is sitting this one out. I hope he is feeling okay.
I order the Volcano Burger, opting for the 1-pound size, because I’m a little bit hungry. There is a 3-pound size available called “the challenge”, but I don’t feel up to eating that and the waiter warns that the burger is extremely spicy, made with jalapeños and habanero sauce. I later discovered that the burger is hotter with every bite, and barely finished 1 pound burger, guzzling several quarts of water along the way to cool my taste buds. I reward myself with a scoop of vanilla ice cream at the end of it all, partly as a self–congratulations and partly to cool the heat of the habaneros that have saturated my taste buds when this time.
On my way out the door, I get a farewell hug from River Rock Café’s mascot, Fred the Bear.
EOD – North Park Inn & Suites
I-80W, through Medicine Bow National Forest, to Walden (CO 14)
0600MDT/0700CDT – wake; shower; pack bags. Can’t find my neck pod (Sima VideoProp) – later found in my duffle bag.
0850MDT – Pack the vans. test the Diet Coke and Menthos myth: VERIFIED!
[I’ll add video later]
0910 – Weather briefing. Another down day today.
0920 – Depart Imperial, NE westbound on US 6.
1000- enter Colorado, heading to Holyoke, CO for breakfast
1040-1140(est.) – breakfast at Kardale’s, Holyoke, CO.
1222 – I turn on the GPS Tracks app. (Oops!)
1250-1400 – We stop at Sterling, CO to look for a replacement 400-watt inverter. Without this key piece of equipment, we have no laptop power and no radar images or weather models. After the team lead and one of the drivers check out several local stores, they find the needed item at the NAPA Auto Parts store. Eric and I visit the Verizon store, in the meantime, to locate a phone battery for his iPhone.
1431 – Entering Raymer, CO, traveling west on CO 14, then angle northwest on County Road 390 toward Wyoming.
1446 – We wander off the main route to Keota, where it looks like they’re doing oil exploration or fracking.
1533 – We continue north from Keota, CO.
1556 – We pass through Hereford, CO
1600 – We cross into Wyoming, our sixth state on the journey; the road is now WY 217
1620-1640 – Burns, WY, I-80, WY217 exit – Fuel/snack stop; we enter I-80, heading west to Cheyenne.
1700 – Arrive at Rodeway Inn, Cheyenne, CO. The desk clerk is overwhlemed, so we leave the details of our party and go get dinner, so the poor man can catch up with check-ins, preparing our rooms, etc. (This happens more often thatn you might think with smaller, older motels.)
1720-1930 – We take a liesurely meal at a local Chili’s, near the Wyoming Air Group airfield. Many C-130 cargo planes here! A brief weather update (video) follows:
EOD – _____
US6 to Holyoke, CO,CR 390 to Keota then north to Grover and Hereford,I-80
0800 – Breakfast and conversation with chase team. I overcooked my Carbon brand motel waffle because I did not hear the timer ding after the mandatory 2:30 cook cycle. Crunchy waffles are OK, too, once in a great while (LOL).
0830 – Return to my room; brush teeth, re-pack my bags, and work on my blog for a while.
1000 – Weather briefing (breakfast room)
1100 – Depart Hoisington to the west
1430-1450 – Photo stop at abandoned farmstead
1458-1525 – Stop at Monument Rocks. Bill chills outs to David Bowie’s “Panic in Detroit”
1553-1653 – Lunch at Colonial Steak House, Oakley, KS. Ate at the buffet, as we save steak for after we see our first tornado of the trip. Re-fuel and head for Nebraska
1748CDT – Distant cumulonimbus to our east, a tiny rain shower on our west:
1834-1904 – Stop at another old, abandoned house for photos
[photos to be added later]
1938 – pit stop – St. Francis, KS
1956 – cross into Nebraska on KS27. Jct US34. Head east. Hotel will be in Imperial, NE.
2111(est,) – N on NE61 from Benkelman, NE
2157MDT – Rodeway Inn, Imperial, NE. We grab dinner at a local convenience store. Mmmm, hot dogs!
0630 – Wake; edit this blog site; shower, dress, pack.
0830 – Breakfast: waffle, highly homogenized scrambled eggs, orange juice, toast.
0945 – Pack the vans; weather briefing. The Great Plains will be quiet until Friday or Saturday. Blech! Time to play tourist on our way northwest.
1035 – Depart Days Inn.
1045 – Arrive Walmart
1122 – Dpt Walmart
1140 – Started using the GPS Tracks app to record our route. (Thanks For pointing me to this, Eric Meola!)
1230(est.) – Enter Joplin. Inspect 2011-05-22 EF-5 damage path.
1315(est.) – BBQ brisket and pulled pork at Sawmill BBQ (612 S. Main St. in downtown Joplin, MO; 417-782-7225). SO MUCH FOOD!
1418 – dpt Joplin
1449 – cross into Kansas on US160/MO96
1503 – cont E toward Sherwin, KS
1520 – At Oswego KS, briefly separated from the lead van. Reunited 3 min W of town.
1550 – Reach Jct US160/US169; continue W US160 to Independence, KS. 15 minute pit stop at Citgo.
1638 – cont W on US160
1700 – cont W from Elk Falls, KS
1709 – N KS99
1730(est.) – Stopped to take photos at Hubble’s Rubble metal sculpture exhibit (Howard, KS)
1744 – W on US400 toward Wichita, KS
1825 – Augusta, KS , going W on US400.
1836 – x I-35
1900 – re-enter US400 after meeting with Jim Reed (to get a set of keys); exit to I-235 N, which becomes KS96.
1933 – Haven, KS near KS96. We stop for some sunset photos. I tangle my hand in the latch for the van door after I loose my footing. I’m luckyt to not break a finger! My hand hurts so much, I almost miss a beautiful sunset:
EOD – Arrive Rodeway Inn, Hoisington, KS
EOD – Also ate dinner here: Grilled Chicken sandwich and a diet Coke (with a shot of cherry liquer).