Storm Chasing

Great beads of sweat fell from his forehead from pure excitement and exhaustion. We bounced the car up on the Algiers ferry and found ourselves crossing the Mississippi river by boat. “Now we must all get out and dig the river and the people and smell the world” said Neal bustling with his sunglasses and cigarettes and leaned and looked at the great brown father of waters rolling down from mid-America like the torrent of broken souls—bearing Montana logs and Dakota muds and Iowa-vales and every cundrum clear to Three Forks where the secret began in ice. Excerpt taken from page 133 on the original scroll of On the Road.

To the west across the river

To the west across the river

The delay caused by car trouble led to a hybrid journey across the Mississippi into tornado chaos. Without any trouble the gas tank took us 400 miles for under $25 with a Giant Eagle GetGo discount. The tank did require a refill along the way for the final leg of the trip. The caffeine amped meteorologists on the weather channel talked of the recent outbreak of tornadoes citing previous killer tornadoes. Outside things did not seem bad at all. The barren Iowa fields, unable to show the changing winds, stretched into the dark clouded horizons. Recent days have accumulated more rain than needed and led to unwanted weed growth in the fields. Immediate surroundings were peaceful but other areas were not as fortunate. The timing brought us clear around the warning zones and free from harm other than a flash flood of the English River a couple miles away from the farm house.

Iowa Hawkeye murals were painted on the sides of several barns along the two-lane roads that separated much of the crops and led in all directions including 30 miles north to the University of Iowa. Smaller farms between 1000 and 2000 acres are not always confined to one patch of land, but instead are mixed between other farms and rental land. The larger farms encompass more land, but with greater vested interests come greater risk and potential loss when prices drop, diseases spread, or the weather turns for the worse. The storm did not hit though.

The journey to the west is only beginning and whether the weather had some meaning is unknown, but along the road storm chasing did come to mind. I’d always been attracted to storms. People who seemed on the edge or had some monumental circumstance had a quality of interest greater than those whose days always went to plan. Crashes, explosions, lightening, and all the other special effects encapsulated the major motion pictures of the 1990s when so many children of that generation were inundated with several televisions in every house. We can not help our fascination with violence. Violence does not always mean one human hurting another human. Violence instead can be the waves crashing on the break wall, or trees slamming into the ground after aged collapse, or even high density high speed traffic on the highway. Now when the day slows down and all that noise is silent, the iPod’s battery is out, the party dwindled to just a few, the mind is free to think again. And when we think about what we seek, what is it?

We are a generation of storm chasers. Always on the lookout for some new exciting app and ready to experience it all, no matter the cost. But every once in a while, we can drive hybrids or recycle or hold the door open or volunteer or visit the old persons home or tutor a child or even call a lost friend. Storm chasers are never satisfied until they run smack into the middle of an F5.

Prius averaged 50 miles per gallon on the first day

Prius averaged 50 miles per gallon on the first day

Storm chasers are never satisfied until they run smack into the middle of an F5.

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