6th Night (Storm Chaser)

372 miles, 21.5mpg, $82 gas, $24 camping Angostura Rec Area (SD)

After last night’s 65mph wind and lightning storm, this morning’s sunrise was beautiful. Cool, and less humid. I surveyed the aftermath. Got some good tips about the Black Hills from the park ranger before we left.

Leaving the park we headed up to Rt.20 with the top down. Flat and straight, 77 degrees, thru corn fields, we averaged up to 22.5mpg until…

We stopped in O’Neil, NE for gas, lunch, and a $5 shower at “Cubby’s” truck stop.

On our way west to Chadron, NE we encountered some very dark sky, and a little rain. Huge, ominous death-star clouds pounding lightning into the ground, surrounded by a clear sky. Thought we were through.

Then we arrived in Chadron, NE, where it was suddenly 90 degrees, and another death star dead ahead. We’d been hearing thunderstorm warnings on the weather radio, but now they were talking about tornados. Oddly, most of the drive, it had seemed that wind was at our back. And moreso as we approached Chadron.

We filled up with gas and watched two white vans fill with 20-somethings running out of the gas station, and tear off.

As we turned at Chadron and headed north on 385, the wind really picked up. And I mean REALLY picked up. Grass was blowing sideways, and dusty squalls. We passed the two white vans. The passengers were all out with their cameras glued to the horizon where the dark storm was brewing.

As we drive by, we see more and more stopped cars mesmerized by the impending doom. We decided to turn back and ask the van-folks (who turned out to be Storm Chasers – you know, from the series “Storm Chasers”) which way they were headed, since we wanted to be going the opposite way, or taking shelter somewhere if it was too late. They said ” head North – and fast”. So, with the storm in our rearview mirrors, and the weather app indicating the storm was bearing down on us, I high-tailed it out of there. 75mph Northbound, hoping the storm would loop behind and below us as it passed. The temp dropped to 63, and huge drops if rain fell. Eventually, it dimmed in the rearview mirror, as we approached Angostura Rec Area but it was still threatening as we set up camp, and another storm passed through within the hour.

Much nicer bathroom at this park, but ironically, since it’s on cattle land, it reeks of manure. Perhaps we’ll camp at Wind Cave National Park tomorrow, 17 miles up the road.

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4 thoughts on “6th Night (Storm Chaser)

  1. Wow! Beautiful pictures but scary. You’re certainly having a once in a lifetime experience driving west. Stay safe –
    Love,
    Mom

  2. Unlike the calm note from your Mom, I have to say OH, MY God!!!! Maybe it’s because I grew up in Ohio and this would have had us head for the basement. No basement? Then what – lots and lots of Nyquil! (Or something) So now you’re both kind of Storm Chasers, too. I could live without that knowledge. Good decision to head north after checking storm direction. This trip is almost as stressful for me as it is for you. I hope today is a little easier and calmer!

    Love ,
    Me

  3. How fun! Not being from Ohio, you wouldn’t know that when the sky starts “looking funny” you may want to watch. We didn’t always head to the basement, either as your Mom said. The big tornado we had in Oak Harbor had your grandfather drinking coffee in the trailer while Grandma and I had to wade knee deep to a brick building with the Spauldings. (Better to have been drinking – coffee of course.Ha!)
    Anyway, your trip sounds great and just think, you might be on T.V. someday as Storm Chasers – with a trailer.
    Love you both
    Mike and Carol

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