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Monday, June 01, 2009

TORNADO CHASE:Week 2; day 1


So here I am on, I kid you not, "Main Street" in Woodward, OK. It is the kind of town where every shop window has either a religious inspirational message, church recruitment flier, or gun class advertisement. We are heading to, most likely, Amarillo, Texas, to intercept an incoming storm, but we have time to kill, so we went "shopping" down here on main street.

Amazingly, I was able to find perhaps Oklahoma's only gay owned adult novelty and head shop in this bible belt community peppered with quaint antique, pawn, furniture, and of course, a plethora of gun shops. This town is obviously not the economic center of Oklahoma, but it has it's very own unique charm. A fresh coat of paint on everything and some classic cars would convince me I stepped into a simpler time in America. A time when the town was your family...

Or maybe it's because we are listening to the Willie Nelson station on Sirius Radio, and the blues/country mix of classic uniquely Americana music is transporting my imagination to a time before I was born. Well, that and I just saw a weathered old farmer type in overalls walk into an AT&T wireless store. I am at the epicenter of where two eras meet, and seem to blend in a harmony that would be startlingly incongruent if not for the seemlessness in which they merge.

Woodward wasn't a destination so much as a staging ground... two storm systems were moving in, one north, in the Nebraska area, and one south, around Texas. Our best possibility for severe weather was down south, so once again I am heading to the lone star state.

We picked up our new group of chasers and had our Sunday morning breakfast in Oklahoma City prior to departure. This group is quite different than last weeks chasers. Not in a manner of quality, but tone and vibe. I look forward to the opportunity to get to know the personalities while we sat around waiting for the weather. Last weeks group, maybe because they were my 1st group, maybe because there were a few that were in my age range, or maybe even perhaps because last weeks tour liked beer as much as I, had bonded with fairly strongly. As I said, a different group this week, and I look forward for their personalities and perspectives and humor to come out.

Thus far, Sunday was the most mellow day I have had since joining the chase. We only had a short jump from Oklahoma City to Woodward, so we had very little to do. We stopped at the Indian Trading Post and the Route 66 Museum prior to our stay at the Woodward Super 8. Our scouts checked the city for a local feed bag, but to our surprise, almost every place in town was closed, due to it being Sunday. So we hit a steakhouse chain I never heard of, called K-Bob's for dinner.

For me, the early night of rest was a welcome relief from the frantic "let's find a storm or a beer" party atmosphere that permeated last weeks tour. The staff pretty much needed the rest to be sharp and fresh for the incoming weather, and I certainly needed to finish my blog. I hadn't intended to go a week and make one gigantic blog post to sum up everything, but due to my lack of sobriety, among other things, I was never able to sit still or see straight long enough to put my thoughts and memories into words.

While I spent several hours searching my mind for nuggets from the first week to include, and consolidated links for the virtual blog tour, the staff and the clients sat in the lobby of the hotel and played poker together. It wasn't what we came for, but relaxing in a city far away from all of our real lives seemed to be the perfect prescription for all of us. Hopefully, this is the calm before the storm.

The Next Morning, We had come downtown because one of the drivers had considered the fact that some people might like something stronger than hotel coffee. We tried to hit the coffee shop, but it was closed. We split up with some of us going to Pollyanna's Cafe for what was described as a very fresh, old fashioned country breakfast. Another small group visited the health food store, which was religious despite the secular nature of the health food industry. Gregg and I wandered a little further down the road and found an antique/candle/nick knack shop that had a sign mentioning espresso. We went in and Gregg ordered his supercharged joe there.

The proprietor was a nice gentleman and he had what I assume was his tween daughter with him behind the counter. He was very friendly, and answered questions about the town and some of the items in his store. We mentioned that we came down for the coffee shop, but it was oddly closed at 10:15 AM. He explained that he had just found out a day or 2 earlier, but that the owner had just shut down to school in California with the goal of doing missionary work in Africa. He had explained that he woke up in the middle of the night with a call from God that he was to leave Oklahoma and go be a missionary in Africa.

I said if I got a call from God in the middle of the night telling me to go to Africa, I might be tempted to tell him "Wrong Number."

But then again... when God talks to you, it seems like a good idea to listen.

As I was finishing this post, we saddled up and began moving toward Amarillo, TX. So, as we pass through as place called "Canadian, TX," I will sign off with what I assume the locals here might say.

"Howdy, Eh!"

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