Monday, May 20, 2013

5/20/13 - Caloric Vorticity, The Art of the Hotel Breakfast Buffet

Chasing storms and finding tornadoes is no easy task.  While a good knowledge of meteorology and some lucky breaks are essential, one must not forget the foundation of a successful chase - a good night's sleep and proper refueling. 

To get a good night's sleep my advice is a heavy meal followed by a benedryl.  Spell check says I got the name of that pink pill wrong.  Please consult your doctor before undertaking this advice.   Do not operate heavy equipment or drink alcohol while under this treatment.   Consult your hotel operator for erections lasting more than four hours (or just wear very loose pants).  If all else fails, simply reread my blog to enduce drowsiness.

On the nutrition side, the skill of not only obtaining enough calories on a chase is important, but doing so under the crunch of time is essential.  This means your time spent at the hotels free breakfast buffet must be used wisely.  No lollygagging around the self-service waffle iron.  No no.  Grab the grub and head right back to the room, where your laptop eagerly awaits.   Multitask...or fail.   It is essential that you only make ONE trip from the room to the brecky bar, or the other chasers will leave your benedryled-induced butt in the dust. 

To maximize caloric return on your one trip, I recommend bringing your own Tupperware.  Forget the small styrofoam bowls and plates.  Not only are the inefficient, but bad for the environment (except in TX and OK).  Dump the cereal into the Tupperware,  top it off with the lousy pastry (unless you are at a Holiday Inn Express where they now provide little to-go boxes for the Wunder-Cinnamon Rolls).   If you can handle the weak swill known as coffee in most buffets, bring your Mega-Gulp travel mug and empty out that coffee urn.  You can caffienate for the entire day in one fell swoop.   Shove a couple pieces of fruit and an oatmeal packet into your cargo shorts.   Drain a glass of orange "juice" there on the spot.  Tuck the free USA Today under your free arm, and get back to the room.

Then, fully loaded up and calorified, race out of the parking lot onto the nearest freeway...and wait.  

Saturday, May 18, 2013

5/18/13 - iPhone Saves the Day

It was a good day - unlike the aforementioned yesterday.   We saw three of the biggest, baddest tornadoes in our chase career.   While John may take credit for this exceptional score, due to his quality forecasting skills, I actually think it was because we DID stay at a Holiday Inn Express the night before.  And another thing (as though there was a first thing), it seems like most chasers nowadays all have vehicles decked out with fancy-schmancy equipment and logos and paint jobs and enough antennas to make a porcupine blush.  We, on the other hand, come armed with old-school basics - our wits, our laptop and whatever weather-buff equipment we can get on SkyMall on the flight in.  But I digress.

What really made my day was my iPhone.  It provided us with a multitude of good information the entire day.  First of all, the phone acted as a helpful aid to John's morning run.  While I employ the use of a no-nonsense Garmin watch to inform me of the very basics, such as time, pace and distance, John goes a step further and carries his i-SmartyPhone.   Not only does the phone provide the Garmin basics but it also is able to interject helpful and encouraging comments along the way.   While John is plugging along he may likely hear such chirpy comments from a female voice in his rear pocket as "Looking Good!" and "Almost there!".  But, on the downside, as John's pace began to sag, other less-helpful comments would emanate from "iCoach" - "Pick it Up!"..."You call that running?'"..."Stop walking!"..and my favorite "Your current pace is infinity minutes per mile, ya big loser!"  To make this worse, John's iPhone continued to berate his workout well into the early hours of our chase.

The other nice service my iPhone provided me today, was up-to-the-minute results from my oldest daughter's pole vault results, at the League Championships in California.  I got jump-by-jump updates from her mom, which ultimately resulted in her placing high enough,as a freshman, to move on to the Section Championships. Her great efforts provided further stimulus for us to succeed.  

The final benefit of the trusty iPhone is its ability to allow us to brag to our friends and family about our meteorological exploits of the day.  We were able to text, email and blog all our amazing photos while dining at AppleBees.   "Look everyone, how wonderful we are"...."Pass the salt"

Due to the lateness of our chases the last couple days, we had to resort to the late-night dining establishments in town.  This being pretty much either AppleBees or McDonalds.  Since Mickey Dees did not serve alcohol, we resorted to the Two-for-Twenty Dollars place.   While AppleBees may have a bar, do not confuse the people behind the bar as "bartenders".  They are basically "beer slingers" and the occasional foo-foo drink concoctionaters.   We made the mistake of trying to order a...civilized...drink.   I asked for a glass of the Kendall Jackson chardonnay.  The waitress gave me a blank look.   I pointed to the menu, as she wrote it down, in hopes that the "bartender" could decipher.   John continued the barrage of libation overload on the obviously new waitress, by ordering a "real" (gin) martini.  Again the blank look times two.   She was not sure they even had martinis but she could ask.  Not a good sign.   John compounded her confusion by asking what gin was available.   I stifled a laugh.   She wrote down John's request and promised to report back from the bar.  While my glass of chardonnay came as hoped, John's "gin martini, Bombay, extra-cold, two olives and just a bit of vermouth proved to be bar-dude overload.  What arrived was essentially olive juice with a shot of gin.  Not good.   Lesson learned.   Stick to beer here.

Friday, May 17, 2013

5/17/13 - Dorito on the ground!

Hiatus to Hyannus

 Not a whole lot happened today.  Not bad, but pretty much an EF1 day on the enhanced Fujita excitement scale.   While we did see a storm or two that could have produced a tornado, I think the main talking points to my wife that night were 1) We at an entire bag of Cool Ranch Doritos, 2) We stopped in a city named Hyannus (that city probably got teased a lot in grade school) and 3) We ate a late dinner at Applebees.

Okay, so that doesn't quite sound like the matieral for a thriller novel, but I am sure it will have more legs once the movie comes out.   Our Tour-de-Sand Hills chewed up an entire tank of gas while our windshield took out half the bugs in the panhandle.   We did see a dead raccoon hung up on a barb-wire fence.  I didn't even know they had raccoons in Nebraska.

We drove nearly 350 miles and ended up in exactly the same place.   I think next time we just sleep in and catch a movie and maybe a round of putt-putt.   Tomorrow is supposed to be much much better.  I am no meteorologist, but I know a lot of different colors and squiggly lines all over Kansas has to mean something good.  "Storms a brewin!!"  I love saying that, with a southern accent.  My two girls say it all the time when even a small shower is imminent.  They are funny that way.   Dad genes.

Just to ensure a good tomorrow we are sleeping at the Holiday Inn Express tonight.   That way when we catch a big ole tornado, my friends will ask if I have a PhD in Weather.  "No" I will say, but I did sleep.....

5/16/13 - Breakfast of Chumpions

This has absolutely nothing to do with Storm Chasing, but I just love a picture of a big ole stack of donuts.
You'd think it was a Police Convention!   ...  Just kidding officer.....