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Texas Hill Country & Storm-Chasing

Part 18:  Wrapping Up with "Down Days"

The pattern was so unpromising that David decided to head on up to Oklahoma City and spend the rest of the tour lecturing, which was fine with us (some guys, like Gary and Bill S., decided to call it quits early). We stopped for lunch at the Cracker Barrel that almost got hit by a tornado during a previous tour, and thanks to some advance warning from Bill Gargan (who was chasing the thing), David was able to herd everyone in the restaurant into the meat locker (and thanks to their video, I was able to "experience" that event just a little)!

       

"Van 2" behind us on the way to OK City, and a creative sign at a gas station...

 

Leftover flooding from the storms

 

Lunch stop at the Cracker Barrel where David had the whole restaurant hide in the meat locker during a previous tornado threat!

During the lectures, I was surprised at how nicely it all came back to me (this really is a "use it or lose it" sort of thing), and I’m anxious to get into Digital Atmosphere when I have a chance and play with its tutorial so I don’t forget this stuff!  Most of the gang caught taxis or busses to go downtown after David's lecture, but having gotten my laundry done earlier, I chose to gas up the car, ice up the cooler, and shoot some butterflies in a vacant lot full of flowers that I stumbled upon (but which kicked up my allergies again big time)!  Interestingly, I found relatively few butterflies, but tons of underwing moths! I knew I should have cleaned out the cooler before the tour started, but I didn't, and paid for it, as when I drained it the water was the most putrid, foul-smelling stuff you ever came across, and that of course was due to the single apple and cheese I neglected to toss beforehand (plus a banana I totally forgot about—eeeyuck!!)  I tried wiping it out best I could, but I was hoping that with the fresh ice the smell would evaporate...

Butterflies along the way...

     

Orange Sulphurs

              

L-R:  Variegated Fritillary, Gray Hairstreak, and Sachem

A surprise was seeing more moths than butterflies!

             

Pale mystery moth

         

Possible Bilobed Looper Moths

 

Possible Indomitable Melipotis

  With the tour basically over, I spent most of my free time trying to rebuild my address book which was lost when my AOL software crashed and I had to reinstall it.    Jip was having some issues, too, but the Lord apparently "healed" them: he was starting roughly, but someone suggested I check the water levels in my battery, and sure enough, they were pretty low, so I took care of that, and Jip started up fine ever since!  The other issue was the latch on his hatchback: it worked fine one morning, but minutes later it jammed, and despite locking and unlocking the doors several times, I could not get that thing to budge!  So I gave up on it, figuring I'd have to pack the "trunk" via the back seat and get the thing fixed once I got home, but the next day I tried it again and it worked fine!  The windshield didn’t miraculously heal itself, however, but I knew that would be pushing it... J

We had another great meal at the steakhouse next door, where I met Tony, who’s driving for the next SLT tour (and is also from Britain). After kissing everyone goodbye (and enjoying more of Alister's "storm stories", like, when fleeing from a tornado, momentarily forgetting he was in the States, jumping in the wrong side of the van and thinking someone had stolen the steering wheel), I headed west along I-40 towards home. 

Mediocre shots of our gang during our last big steak-out bash (the camera had trouble focusing in the dark…)

        

L-R:  Barry, Bill K., Della, Lisa, and Kevin

                       

L-R:  "Little Roger", Don, Bill, and David

        

L-R:  Kevin and "Big Roger" look rather dubious, Rupert, Alister, Gene, and "Little Roger"  

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