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?


2022-05-02 – Awkward Compatibility

In order to keep up with the latest and greatest technology, I do a different equipment set update each year:

1st year: Computer upgrades
2nd year: communication upgrades
3rd year: photography/videography upgrades

This year, I ended up doing mostly communication upgrades, with a focus on cellular technology. The main driver in this process was the acquisition of sprint buy T-Mobile. A short while after that acquisition, T-Mobile started forcing customers to change equipment, whether they were fully ready to do so or not.

So my planned (computer) and unplanned technology updates for 2012 are as following:

  • New laptop (Dell 5515 touch with Windows 11)
  • Mobile hotspot (T-Mobile MiFi)
  • New phone (Apple iPhone 12 pro)
  • New tablet (Samsung 8 inch android tablet)
  • New vehicle tracker/Wi-Fi (T-Mobile Sync Drive, 2 units).

Upside: save the iPhone, none of the T-Mobile gear cost a nickel — effectively a free upgrade over the next 24 months

Downside: lots of reconfiguration and some compatibility issues between the MiFi and my Wyze cameras. The latter is been particularly annoying. I’ve spent hours and hours trying to solve the problems by downgrading the Wi-Fi security, clearing cache, doing factory reset, and a variety of other things to no avail. All the work I did last season getting a five camera mobile security system running has been totally destroyed by the upgrade process. I am miffed.

This evening I will go through the packing list and make sure I have everything packed and ready to go for the trip. I have had some equipment changes lately, so my 2019 daily checklist will have to be updated. I can pack using the marked up edit copy then print the 2022 version at my local Office Depot. This is all just part of a pre-trip ritual, but sometimes it gets old.

20210508 – Travel Day 2 (Springfield,MO – Oklahoma City,OK)

ROUTE: Springfield, MO – Oklahoma City, OK:

0700 – wake-up call

0825 – Arrive Cracker Barrel, for Lisa M’s (and granddaughter Angelina’s) birthday breakfast

1000 (approx) – Depart Springfield on I-44W
But goof around with a harmonica first!

(insert video later)

1100ish- Enter Oklahoma. Sing the state song (an old ritual of mine).
Pull out a $20 bill for tolls (about $10 between the MO-OK state line and OKC).


1430ish- Refuel at Tulsa


xxxx – Arrive at Avid Hotel, OKC. So glad they have an elevator, as this makes dragging bags much less work.

1730 – Grab dinner at Golden Palace, an excellent Chinese buffet on the Meridian strip.  Unlike Zio’s, the Italian restaurant several blocks south, the Palace had no waiting line (but lots of people dining, just the same). Given that COVID-19 has driven so many restaurants out of business, I’m delight to see that pretty much every restaurant on Meridian (between the airport and I-40) seems to be thriving.

1800 – Do  a little computer and battery maintenance. Charge up the AX53 camcorder batteries that arrived the day before I left of this trip.  Adding these batteries gives me nearly 8 hours camcorder running time between recharges!

2000 – Watched Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2 on the room TV. Still a fun flick after a number of viewings. Our generation is very fortunate to enjoy the genius of Stan Lee, creator of the Marvel universe.

2200 – Charge the Fitbit, listen to my bible podcast, and drift off to sleep.

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.



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.

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.


20190507 – T-6: Last-minute preparations

I have lots of stuff on my mind. House stuff. Packing stuff. Car stuff — OK, that’s 100% finished, actually. But I won’t have a peaceful departure until the pre-vacation ‘to-do’ list reaches zero items pending. (That’s just how I’m wired in my brain, folks.)

The last 48 hours before ‘launch’ are always a bit anxious for me: what will I forget. One year I forgot to put the water heater in VACATION mode, but I’ve never made a serious error like leaving the stove on.

Last night, I taught a 3-hour class on using GRlevel3 and CR2Analyst programs for weather awareness during emergency management agency (EMA) operations. Not bad to handle this on 4 hours sleep!

Today, I’m drinking lots of caffeine and thinking about the last three items on my to do list:

  1. Purchase a wireless shutter control for my Nikon D7000 DSLR camera
  2. Pack my clothing (photographing the contents of the bag as I go)
  3. Adapt the bucket handling my roof leakage to send water to my bathtub while I’m on vacation (‘flood and mold avoidance’).

There are little ‘nice to have’ items I’d like to finish before the trip, but if they don’t get done, the trip will still be pleasant and relaxing.

The truth is that I’m a bit distracted today. The SPC Day 1 outlook showed a MODERATE RISK blob over the Texas Panhandle, one of my most favorite places to chase. It was accompanied by a 10% TORNADO RISK blob.  Those who can chase today should be richly rewarded!

While I’m not superstitious, it’s sometimes fun to consider whether or not sighting the weather radar-themed UHAUL truck is a good omen.

I guess we’ll know later today!

20180511 – CHASE2018- Day 1

11:02 AM – depart office promptly

11:45 AM – Depart from I-355, entering I-55 southbound. Drove through a brief call shower.

12:28 PM – Passed by Dwight, Illinois. Just saw a northbound Amtrak train heading to Chicago. Feels very like in my childhood memory of travel between Rockford and Monmouth, Illinois. The family used to travel US 34. We used to see many trains along that route. (Sorry, no picture, as I am in traffic.)

Traffic has slowed to a crawl. Seems there is some roadwork or a police action of a head up ahead.
“Work zone speed limit 55 mph.” (Actual speed 24, but it has been 10 mph for the last 10 minutes. Do the math!)  And there they are: those people who see the merge signs for the last 2 miles and wait to the last minute to join traffic because they think that the rest of us are stupid and will let them in. And it only takes one generous person to make them right. Now four lanes have become two lanes, one northbound one southbound. The southbound lanes of I-55 or being revealed re-built. (76.3 miles into the trip)

12:49 PM – Left the construction zone at exit 201, Continuing south on I 55. Detour signs indicating the delay was about 13 minutes with results. That feels about right. (Around Pontiac, Illinois)

1:03 PM – South of Pontiac, Illinois. It is wonderfully flat and open near here. This is prime central Illinois chase country. You can see all the way to the Verizon in almost every direction. And the landscape is almost completely free of distractions, except for the occasional microwave, cellular, or radio tower. There are power lines in the distance. A few scattered trees, I’m really not much here. Basically a blank canvas on which to paint a memory. (Tried to take a picture here, it was cut in half the long horizontal. What’s up with that?)  I have moved far enough south that I have left the 60°F weather in Chicago and I’m surrounded by 80°F temperatures.

1:36PM – stopped at rest area south of Bloomington-Normal, to stretch my legs, visit the restroom, and grab a light snack. Leving the Illinois pollination exhibit behind, By-bye busy little bee!

1:48 PM – Departed rest stop. Continuing south to St. Louis

2:02 PM – Passing the NWS weather radar at Lincoln Illinois (KILX).  It is approximately the midpoint between Chicago and St. Louis along interstate 55.

2:24 PM – travel note: 555 mile post 104 is the location of a rest area on the southbound traffic. This is a little closer to the midpoint of the Chicago St. Louis leg of the journey.

3:24 PM – Just outside St. Louis. Traffic has crawled to a near halt due to construction. We are
grinding along and about 20 miles an hour. Looks like the right lane is closed ahead. We are just south of Worden.

3:37 PM – Exited the construction zone. Very lucky to only have two delays in Illinois. On certain past trips I had 50 miles of construction; this time wasn’t so bad.

4:10 PM – Welcome to Missouri. Took I-255 across to I_44 and beyond. Definitely better than going downtown during rush hour. Temperature here is 91°F. It is like summer! I am loving every minute of it.

5:40 PM- fuel/bathroom/food stop at Roll, Missouri.

8:08 PM – Arrived at Motel 6 North, Springfield, Missouri. Feeling tired but very happy. So THIS is what vacation feels like, I had almost forgotten! Unpacked the van then went to sleep (gently). Zzzzzzz.

TODAY’S ROUTE: 499.3 miles as shown below (map courtesy of DeLorme Street Atlas 2014):