Our Chalet Truck Camper

Our Chalet Truck Camper

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

May 10 and 11 - Geology and a Tornado

May 10 – Custer SD to Ogalla, NE

Custer State Park again lived up to its reputation as a superb place to visit. The day started off with a herd of mountain goats right outside the camper. We had breakfast watching them jump back and forth over the campground fence. Even the smallest one made it over easily.

We’d planned on making this a geology day and headed off for Toadstool Geologic Park Trail off Route 2 as you enter Nebraska. After three miles of bone jarring, dusty, very unpleasant travel over a corrugated road, we decided the other 10 miles would not be worth it and managed a turn around. Hard turning on a road that is one car width!

On to Fort Robinson, a historic recreation of a fort that went from Indian wars to the Phillipines. Too early in the tourist season so the buildings were closed. We did drive the Smiley Canyon Trail and got out to walk in among the horses. I don’t know if they are truly wild as they were quite curious and kept approaching. Fortunately the fellow with horns was fenced in.

Agate Fossil Beds National Monument was next. A rancher found a 2 foot thick slab of bones back up in the hills and had sense enough to call in a few scientists. Skeletal remains and the Indian artifacts and old crafts were quite interesting.

Followed a lonely road down to Ogalla to camp.

We got up in the middle of the night to pull in the dinette slider since the wind was actually rocking the camper. Don’t know the mph but it was pretty scary with thunder, lightning, etc. Camper did well, no leaks, no damage.

May 11 – Ogalla to Ashland, NE – via a tornado

A bit of philosophy (?) to start with. Everyone of us has had times when we wondered what would have happened if we had been a minute earlier or a minute later arriving at a certain space or situation in our lives. Today was one of those days to wonder.

Stopped in Grand Island, NE for a oil and filter change. They took us in earlier than we had been told and got us out quickly. Off we go down I-80 headed east. There was obviously weather clouds ahead of us so we kept looking at the I-Phone app for weather.

Just after looking at this map

look what dropped down RIGHT BESIDE US. Nowhere to go, not trained in what to do, no shelter, no nearby underpass and I’m driving.

Stop? Slow down? Speed up? Hmmmm…. Can I drive fast enough to get past it before it arrives over I-80? Is this one of life’s moments when one minute earlier or one minute later would make all the difference?

Do you know how fast you can get a heavy camper and a F350 diesel going in a short time? I We didn’t dare glance down at the speed but had to have been 80-85mph.

It gets closer.

Joe’s yelling faster and I’m yelling “Take Pictures”. The photos are blurred because the camera wasn’t on sports setting and we were really moving.

This is a tornado. Yes it’s small and probably weak as these things go but sure didn’t look or feel like it at the time. Truck actually moved sideways at one point.

It passed behind us but the winds and rain bands took a long time to slow down. First overpass we got to that had room under it, we stopped and gave thanks and checked the camper and truck. Other than a very small amount of water under the propane tank door, camper did great.

Give me a blizzard any time - snow, cold, wind, howling gale, no power, feet of snow. You folks who live out here in tornado country can keep it.

Tonight we are at Mahoney State Park near Omaha. It’s quiet, no wind, and amazingly the state park has wifi. Wonder what’s next for tomorrow?

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