Thursday, May 14, 2015

Cloudy Skies

Busy is the word to describe the last two weeks, which is a blessing and what we were hoping for. But it means I become a slacker in other areas, especially updating this blog.

Not much of interest to share now either. Just the two of us, sitting in a parking lot, waiting for a call and a load. We are in Virginia and hope to work our way home from here. Time to start haying! More importantly, just plain time to go home for the sake of our sanity.

I do have some pictures to share though.
A week ago today, we were loading in Oklahoma. And it was a week ago on Wednesday, that they had all those nasty storms and tornadoes. And Thursday was still rather rocky in the weather department.

We started our day in Fort Smith, AR delivering, and the skies didn't look too friendly as we were pulling out.

Maybe for most, the potential for bad weather is a cause for concern, but I'm weird in that I'm a bit of a nut for storms! The sight of ominous gray clouds gives me a little adrenaline rush, although, I was hoping for smooth sailing. I wanted to admire while making good time. 

A little ways into Oklahoma and it was looking more promising for an easy ride.
We loaded fertilizer in Muskogee and after getting some fuel and food in Billings, OK, Malcolm went to bed and I headed north into Kansas. 

I was deep into my audio book when I reached Wichita and things turned ugly.
Seems like if I get into bad weather, it likes to happen when I'm also getting into traffic. So here at this point, I got off the toll road and headed up through Wichita, right on the cusp of the going home rush. The temperature dropped 17 degrees in a mile and a half, and the buckets fell out of the sky at about the same time. To add to all this pleasurable fun, the windows fogged over and the defroster chose that moment to go on one of it's strikes (it's a problem we've been trying to figure out and finally have it fixed that we probably won't need it for several months). 
So there I am, thickening traffic, torrential down pour, completely fogged over windows, my driver and passenger side windows rolled down half way trying to compensate for a failing defroster, and my face getting pinging with pea size hail and rain water. Such fun!

 Not so much of a storm lover at that moment! 

Fortunately it was one of those intense but short deals. A few miles later I had gotten north of it. It looked a lot uglier in my mirrors but I couldn't get pictures of that. Storms seem to look a lot more nasty on their backsides than when your in front, as I would rediscover later in the day.

Onward we roll, because we are more determined to get the job done that even the post office. You know that whole "neither snow or rain or wind or flu...." however it goes. Yeah, that's Johnson Trucking's motto. Sometimes I question it's logic.

About a half hour later I was off the interstate and on the two lanes, and on a route I'd never taken which is always a thrill for me, as I shared in the previous post. It doesn't happen that much anymore!

It was still over cast, but patchy, and I was thinking, "I'm in the clear." Then the road would turn and I'd think, "not so clear." Then another turn, and ....those two lanes wind quite a bit even when they look straight on the map. So it was back and forth in my mind for a while as I watched two more little rain storms in the distance, trying to judge whether or not I was going to get rained on or not.
Really didn't look like much. I figured if I did end up under it, I'd just get wet and it would be brief. No big deal.

But a little further down the road I was still trying to guess if I was going to get into it or not, and it was looking a tad bit more like a little bit bigger deal.
And there was this AWESOME pull off just ahead of where I took this picture, right on the lake, with room for a truck or three to fit, and I was DYING to park and do a little storm watching. But I really didn't want to disturb Malcolm because he'd been so tired when he went to bed. 

So onward, ever onward.

 I had just skimmed the north side of the storm clouds and right as I was getting around behind them, right as I was reaching the intersection where I had to turn north which would put the storm out of my line of vision, Malcolm woke up and told me to pull off on the wide shoulder so we could switch drivers. 

It was PERFECT timing!!! Because right as I pulled off on the shoulder, I looked off to the south, but really not that far south, and the sky had done THIS!
Pretty cool isn't it? 
Here's the other end of it.
We stood on the shoulder enjoying the breeze and listening to meadowlarks and cows and admiring this beautiful wicked ugly thing. A few minutes later another truck pulled off and the driver got out to watch and talk to Malcolm. 

I've never seen anything like this. And it kept changing, getting more defined and changing shape.
Little clouds would form almost at the ground, out of no where, and rise up into it. And formations would appear and just as quickly, like blink your eyes quick, they would seem to vanish.
Then this appeared, for about 2 minutes. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't, but for the first time I have a clear image of what Laura Ingalls Wilder was seeing when she talks in her Little House books about seeing a finger descend from the clouds towards the earth and withdraw. It may not have been the real thing but it looked close enough to it to make me stand there captivated, watching to see what it would do...
...which was disappear into the cloud. Probably for the best.

We probably stood there and watched for a good half hour. The other driver finally drove off, which I appreciated because he'd left his truck running which was drowning out the meadowlarks, and wind whispers, and distant thunder.
I was captivated. I'm probably crazy. I've wanted to see a tornado on the plains for.....forever! (from a safe admirable distance knowing that no one was getting hurt of course) This wasn't the day, but it's about as close as I've ever come. There was so much movement in the clouds. The lower level of that odd line moving one direction, and the upper level moving in the opposite direction, just slowly churning there in the sky. And the whole thing was nearly stationary so we had lots of time to watch. It didn't seem in a hurry to go anywhere, which I suppose means those poor farmers to the south were getting pounded.
It was moving towards the east and was safely south of us, but eventually we were getting hit with an icy cold wind and we were starting to get random little rain drops, so we decided to get in the truck and pull out before the hail arrived. 

It seemed like the drama was winding down anyway. As we pulled away, the clouds were stacking up instead of stretching out, and looked like they were kind of disintegrating.

We were headed north towards Nebraska and the storm was headed east towards Osborn, KS. Hopefully all they got was some rain. 

An hour or so later, we enjoyed a Kansas sunset under mostly clear skies.
And we parked shortly afterwards and went to bed. 

The rest of the weekend, all the way to Washington, was windy, and it snowed on us in Wyoming, which I find rather insulting in May. But I was thankful it was just flurries because I know after we left they got a lot more than that. It was doubly insulting to wake up Sunday morning near Butte to discover it was 23 degrees. Summer is so slow to come out there sometimes. Or rather, Winter fight a long, but thankfully losing, battle to hang on. 

So, now you know. I'm an idiotic storm watcher who stands on the side of the road gawking at violent storm clouds and just barely containing my giddy joy. Didn't get to see a prairie tornado this time, but it may still happen for me one of these days.


  1. Those are awesome photos! You can really see the power in those clouds. I bet storm chasers and weathermen would just die to have photos as good as these! Glad you made it thorugh the storms.

  2. WOW Those are some great pictures!