Tuesday, May 22, 2012

5/21/12 - Lamar to Garden City and Beyond

Tuesday begins in the southeast corner of Colorado, in the small town of Lamar.  We choose the RodeWay Inn over our usual Holiday Inn Express for a myriad of reasons.  1. Its a lot cheaper, 2. We saw no tornadoes, so no cushy cumfy lodging and 3.  The latter was booked.

It was again late, and a Monday, so dining options were limited.  We decided to live on the edge and try the hotel bar.   I didn't catch the name but it was probably something like the Horseshoe Club, or The Roundup Saloon.   The clientelle was pretty much "cowboy" - blue-collar men with jobs and lives much tougher than ours (paper jams not being at the top of their concerns).  We wore our caps to blend in and settled on a table in front of one of the dozen big screens. The Lakers were playing the Oklahoma Thunder.  While Lamar was more likely a Denver Nugget town, I could feel the room was rooting for nearby OKC.   Storm chasers by trade, and LA haters by heart we also pulled for the Thunder.

Cowboy food has changed a lot since we first started roaming the plains.   Menus once dominated by ribs, steaks and burgers now have a more sophisticated and lighter touch.  Not quite quiche, scones and vitamin water, but ours did include turkey chili and a variety of salads.  We both tried the chili, while I paired it with a Ceasar and John with the house salad.

I was very impressed when the food arrived.  The Caesar was whole-leaf with shaved parmesan, a quality dressing and even artfully drizzled with balsamic vinegar.  I think it cost me $5.   This was twice the size I might expect at any Bay Area restaurant, and half the price.  John house was also large and well stocked with veggies.  Also around $5.   The turkey chili, albiet a bit cold, was also well presented with a dolllup of sour cream and some shredded cheese.  It was spicy enought to make us both perspire a bit and to order a second draft.  John went all Blue Moon on me, but I stuck to native faire - Coors.  All that for under $30 plus tip.  We ARE not in California anymore Toto!

Our Brunch Stop - Irish Coffee Anyone?
The next morning, after our obligatory hour run and late checkout request, we headed east to marginal dew points and favorable shear.  North Dakota was where the big dance was, but the 700+ mile drive was more than we could fathom (or make).  We opted for the local show and a more leisurely drive.

The drive found us in the nice town of Garden City (which is really neither, but then again I live in Walnut Creek, which was also named for some items which are not so readily available).   Graced with onboard internet we did a Google Map search for "yuppie eatery minus Starbucks".  Boom - Patrick Dugan's Coffee House popped up and we directed our iron horse to that pasture.

Armed with coffee cups the size of your head, a bottle of juice and bagels with cream cheese, we exercised our fingers to alert the world of our plans, as though they cared.  John plugs away with meteorological insight and blather, and I focus more on topics for the other 99%.

Upon turning on my trusty Acer Notebook I notice that power switches on most newer techie devices have the "I" and "O" on them rather than ON and OFF.  I have never quite grasped this and am admittedly too lazy to Wikipedia it.   Obviously using the first letter of On and Off would be of little use, so perhaps it means IN and OUT, so that the electricity knows which way to go.  Another theory is that these are not letters but partial emoticons - just the mouth, in the position it might be should electricy enter your head.  :-0

Storms are forming over the western OK panhandle and my coffee is cold.  Time to go.

Monday, May 21, 2012

5/20/12 - An Inappropriate Diet.

Monday's chase was a bit of a downer after Sunday's all-you-can-watch tornado buffet. There was not a great chance of severe weather and it took us nearly 500 miles of wandering the open space of Texas to confirm it. We were on a hot streak and anything was possible. Anything, by definition, includes nothing. Streak over.
Monday's Breakfast - Cheezy Sausage-Egg Croissant - Yum!
When one spends a disproportionate amount of time in one's vehicle chasing invisible air patterns, one tends not to focus on other important life skills. Like diet. Unlike most metropolitan areas,  including places which offer high-quality edibles, is not unlike finding fiber in a Twinkie. So, rather than go hungry, we eat off the land.
After a crappy run in sidewalkless NW Enid, we wolfed down some Frosty Flakes and the infamous Holiday Inn Express cinnamon rolls. Out to the open roads. Not a Jamba Juice nor a Starbucks within 200 miles. We chased a promising storm just north of Electra. It was the only show in town until it started ingesting low-dew point air and collapsed upon itself. A sort of cumulonimbus Airy-carey if you will. Self -deprecating humidity even.

We retreated back to the largest town in the area - Seymour then stumbled upon a Subway for a late lunch. We decided upon a Veggie-Delite, which in my opinion, is an oxymoron, but healthy nonetheless. All the veggies plus provolone please. "Huh?" said the sandwich maiden. provolone cheese...I said slower as though that would help. We don't have provolone. Oh, okay, Swiss then. No Swiss (a true Swiss miss). Pepper Jack? Nope. We have three types of cheese - American, white cheddar and shredded. Hmmm...I suppose shredded cheese must come from ripped muscular cows. I chose cheddar. She eyed me as though I was a bit weird. I get that a lot. I decided against asking about avacado. You want bacon with that?  No. Here or to go? "To go" I said a bit too eagerly.
World Famous!  Really?

We spent the rest of the afternoon chasing shadows of storms before retreating back to Wichita Falls. The lunar eclipse was about to begin, and our location was ideal for viewing it full on - 100% coverage. Cool, except for all those dang thunderclouds in the way. Not only were these clouds incapable of putting out, they also took up the task of blocking our view of the moon blocking our sun. We raced ahead and eventually got a peak at sol beginning his embrace of luna.

John - After his first Starbucks Double Shot
Unprepared to view the eclipse in a safe and adult manner, we resorted to the quick-glimpse method. This method not only gave us an instant view of the ultimate sun-block, but also burned the image into our retinas for many minutes thereafter. "i'll take that image to go please.  What is cool about this low-brow viewing technique is that BOTH retinas get burned with the image, and upon closing your eyes, you see TWO suns side-by-side with the moon covering a portion of it. It looked just like a pair of eyes looking down to the right. Do not try this at home.
Dinner was limited due to the 10 PM hour on a Sunday night. We were lucky to grab a bacon-cheese burger, fries and a beer at AppleBees.    Sorry tummy, the sun will not be the only thing that gets blocked tonight.