And That Was Just The Edge

It’s Monday morning and I have traded the gas station food, tennis shoes and the middle seat of the van for sushi, high heels and the corner office. Though I’m back to the calendared days of to-do lists and responsibility, I can’t shake the renewal of the depth of fascination that the events of last week cultivated for me.

Upon my return home, a friend asked, “So are you satisfied? Did you see what you wanted to see?” Though I saw, learned and experienced far more than I expected, the irresistible curiosity that drove me to seek such an adventure has only been deepened and cultivated further than when I began. I am not satisfied because the more that I learn, the more I realize that I don’t know. And it’s there, within the hours upon hours of traveling, learning, laughing, and growing that I found a home of sorts.

It’s a home that stands between the quiet hours of pondering and the adrenaline-laced moments of excitement at the foot of an awe-inspiring natural phenomenon. It’s a home that beckons me in to marvel and explore, and it’s a home that invites me in to rest and enjoy.

I think we were created to dwell in the adventure. Created to embark on a journey with an undetermined destination. Created to live each day with the wonder of the unknown before us. Created to explore boldly, learn richly and love deeply. Created to enjoy the land in between where we have been and where we are going. That’s the abundant life. And whether I am standing beneath the most magnificent supercell storm and lightning show I can imagine or tackling my to-do list in the corner office, I choose to embrace the adventure of each new day. It is there, in the “road less traveled by” that “has made all the difference” (Robert Frost), that I find my home.

Last week, I caught another glimpse of the “fringes of His glory.” Though worth the pursuit and life-changing in its capture, it has only compelled me to pursue His glory further . . .

“And these are but the outer fringe of his works; how faint the whisper we hear of him! 
 Who then can understand the thunder of his power?” –Job 26:14

“Here I Am”

My memories of today (Thursday May 19) will forever be accompanied by the Mission Impossible theme song. If the term “epic” wasn’t grossly overused by my generation, I would apply it here. Okay, I am applying it here, and rightfully so, I believe.

We began the day with a quick weather and chase strategy briefing in a central Kansas hotel room. After breakfast, we embarked on a truly invigorating mission. The outlook for severe weather looked great with high dew points and CAPE values (google it :)), so we were hopeful and energized.

We stopped through Greensburg, KS, where an F5 tornado rolled through in 2007. We had studied this tornado in class a few weeks ago, so it was enlightening to be where it happened. A  resident named Ruth Ann told us her story and showed photos of the before and after – a humbling reminder of the devastating power behind these phenomena.

And then it was time for “chase mode.”
The diversified musical stylings of Mr. Carey’s iPod were replaced by radio
updates and radar readings as the skies turned dark.

The “chase mode” process is basically drive, stop, get out, stare at the sky, take photos, get back in the van, drive faster, stop, stare at the sky, get back in the van, turn around and drive the the other direction, stop, stare at the sky, and repeat. That’s basically what we did all day. And it was awesome.

We didn’t see any tornadoes, but we did see some fantastic wall cloud formations and a truly spectacular storm at sunset. The lightning show at the end was perhaps the most breathtaking. I was thinking of Job 38:35, which says, “Can you send forth lightnings, that they may go
and say to you, ‘Here we are’?”

The same God who directs each lightning bolt where to go with the utmost attention is the same God who captivates my attention on a daily basis. What other response could I have to this remarkably, incomprehensibly powerful God than, “here I am”?

Post script: This mission has been powered by cheez-it’s, donuts, M&Ms and Easy Cheese. Adventure food is the best (worst).

Vagabonds

There’s something terribly invigorating about waking up in the morning with no idea where you’ll end up by day’s end. Such is the life of a vagabond … Or a stormchaser.

Today we entered “chase mode” and perfected our van-loading time to a seamless few seconds. We started seeing the first significant cloud developments of the week during our drive from Childress, Texas to the Oklahoma panhandle. We may or may not have quizzed each other a bit on the cloud types (cumulonimbus for the win) as the adrenaline got pumping for the severe weather possibilities for the day.

We stopped for a bit near Woodward, Oklahoma to watch, wait and play a bit of frisbee. A mesoscale discussion was issued by the SPC which indicated favorable conditions for severe weather development just north of Woodward. We located a cell that appeared promising and spent a few hours watching it develop and dissipate before proceeding to Pratt, Kansas. We’ll spend the night here and be in position for the best chasing possibilities in the morning.

Who knows what another day will bring? I, for one, am ready to find out.
Being nomadic is actually quite thrilling.

In the Staging Grounds

Today we traveled from White City, New Mexico to Childress, Texas. We stopped in Odessa, Texas and walked around a meteor crater. We did not, however, encounter any aliens this time. In fact, I think we’re the aliens in these here parts…

In other news, we’re watching some clouds moving in and getting into position for some severe weather that may be moving in tomorrow.

But in the mean time, I’ve enjoyed the unexpected adventures and ample time in the van to ask questions, listen and learn more about the world and the people around me. Even in the downtime,  there’s a wealth of knowledge and friendships to gain.

Hiking through Guadalupe Mountains National Park in SW Texas

Destination Unknown

I am writing from the back of the van today. The ambience includes the most unexpectedly eclectic playlist imaginable, courtesy of Mr. Carry’s iPod. We are surrounded by desert on all sides with nothing but open road ahead of us. Wonderful.

Today we returned to Carlsbad Caverns and trekked into its depths. Though two and a half hours wasnt nearly enough to fully absorb its magnificence, the time was sufficient to cultivate a deeper sense of fascination for the intricate details of the depths of the earth.

We spent the afternoon in Guadalupe Mountain National Park. Our hike was a tad longer than expected but exactly as long as it needed to be. There is nothing like standing on a secluded ledge high above the ground with the wind encircling you as you overlook the vast expanse of creation below. Those unforgettable moments of tranquility in the midst of rapidly paced adventure are truly my favorite.

This evening, we went to the salt flats, where I may or may not have tasted some. And I may or may not have participated in a footrace across said flats. And I may or may not have lost.

In other news, I had fried cheesecake tonight. And I do not regret it. Yet.

Tomorrow, I have no idea where we are headed. And I am completely okay with that. But I am convinced that the richest adventures begin with little to know destination in mind.

Off The Beaten Path

Everybody needs some time to “waste” doing something outrageous and unusual. A little adventure broadens one’s perspective and fosters the depth of experience that hesitancy and normalcy would otherwise leave untapped. Today, we disembarked in Amarillo and proceeded to wander off the beaten path (quite literally, at times), and into the richness of experience that can only be embraced through bold exploration.

Our curiosity led us first to a TexMex lunch (priorities). We then proceeded to the flea market because the junk of a community defines the essence of its culture. (Want to really get to know somebody? Check the trash. Tells you everything you need to know. :))

After some nerd time in the American Quarter house museum (I now know how to tie a quick-release knot, in case you were wondering), and a rather authentic American Indian gift shop, we opted for a quick power nap until the time came for the stormchasing meeting. That was an enlightening experience, much like the Big Texan, where we immersed ourselves in (not quite all) things Texas.

The richest experiences are often the most unusual. Looking forward to another week of discovery off the beaten path!

Cloudless Exploration

Today was a delightful “sunshine tour” day. Though we spent most of the morning in the van traveling from Amarillo to southern New Mexico, we certainly didn’t waste the time since Mr. Carey has an encyclopedic knowledge of the history and landscape of the area and an incredibly observant eye to point out the nuances that our untrained eyes wouldn’t otherwise see. I also logged a few reading / pondering hours (yeah, nerd).

But then we arrived in Roswell, NM, where we learned of aliens, UFOs, and numerous surrounding conspiracy theories. We even met an alien. We know he was one because he said so. I know you’re all jealous about that.

After a trip to Carlsbad National Park to observe the bat exodus at the batcave, I am thoroughly exhausted yet completely energized by the adventure of it all. There’s something about the exploration process that awakens me to a new depth of fascination.

Though we don’t have any severe weather yet, I’m grateful for the opportunity to explore. And the latter part of the week may know what the earlier never suspected …