STORM CHASING USA 2011

Distance driven today: 739kms | Total so far: 2609kms

Today felt like the first day we might actually see something.

The night was spent in Memphis! No, not the big one in Tennessee, but a small town in the Texas panhandle about 100kms SW of Amarillo. Unfortunately, a good coffee was a little difficult to come by so we took off SW to the next town of Childress and patronised the local bakery. This is where we discovered that many stores, not only fast food joints, are fulfilling Americans' love of drive-thrus (it's entirely appropriate to spell it that way). We've since seen a drive-thru pharmacy and I look forward to picking up a bottle of bourbon, getting a loan, and buying shares in this speedy manner.

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My vanilla supreme coffee was more vanilla than coffee and was so thick and sludgy that it barely budged when Drew tipped half of his out on the pavement. It has so far been surprisingly difficult to find nutritious food. The urban landscape is littered with food outlets, most of which sell massive servings of usually deep fried rubbish. I'd heard this before, of course, but to experience it is still surprising and also annoying. No doubt our haste is limiting our exploration of alternative food sources, so we've been doing our best with what is presented to us.

It was also interesting and kind of depressing to see people paying for a meal by cheque. I've seen this a few times since. We've also seen plenty of front yard "For Sale" signs and endless miles of billboards clearly targeted at people struggling for cash. It feels like the major economic downturn in this country is no longer just a story on the 6 o'clock news.

Anyway, continuing the gastronomic theme, lunch was at a restaurant serving "Chinese & American cuisine". Chicken and black bean sauce sat alongside cheese hamburgers on the menu. The interior decor of this Chinese (/American) restaurant was enough to warrant a photo:

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Shortly after, the radar fired up a bit to our south past Abilene so we headed that way.

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It died on our way to it, but it was the first thing we'd seen so far that slightly resembled a storm so the drive was an easy one.

We were pretty amazed by the huge complex of wind mills across the hills.

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Another little sign of excitement:

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This abandoned hotel in Abilene caught my attention:

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Stuff fired up south again as the sun starting sinking to the horizon so we took off for Santa Anna. As we got closer, it really looked like this was to be our first bonafide USA storm:

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Unfortunately, this one also died around dusk. It did produce a beautiful sunset though, which softened the blow.

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Tomorrow is looking better for storms in our region so here's hoping!