I know…it’s supposed to be “kicks” from the old song, but the fact is, Route 66 as it is today, is kinda tricky to find in most places. There is a romance that surrounds this piece of highway heritage, as much of it follows the same path as the great railroad line that connected the Union Pacific and Northern Pacific Railways. The original route, much of it two lane highway that cut through the heartland of America, started in Chicago and ended up in Los Angeles, California.
But, like I said…finding today can be pretty tricky…just like many small towns that used to be on the original route, they have succumbed to “progress.”
But we DID find our share of Route 66 in refurbished and thriving little gems that were often not well publicized.
And some of them were pretty damn cool…once we worked our way through the TORNADO.
I know…I sound like a hick to those who actually live in “Tornado Alley.” But, what we experienced on our way to Amarillo was every bit worthy of a chapter in “Storm Chasers.”
It was a blisteringly hot day, with the temperature reaching 106 as we crossed the open prairies of upstate Texas. But, I could see a huge storm line, with lightning flashing in the distance, and several cells that were clearly “wall clouds” as the chasers call them. These are areas where two fronts meet, and the sudden shift in temperatures causes severe wind that begins to rotate, often tightening up into a “twister.”
The 106 registered just North of Lubbock, TX on our way from Brady- We didn’t notice the drop in temp until just outside of Plainview TX, and it continued to drop another 2 degrees.
In less than 25 minutes…as we drew close to the front that stretched for miles across the horizon, the temperature dropped from 106 degrees, to 66 degrees. That is not a typo. A 40 degree shift of temperature in a small area usually signals trouble…and boy did we get it.
As the wind picked up, the rain began pounding with lateral burst of energy. As the temperature raised rapidly back up into the mid-90s, I realized that the wind was suddenly driving hard…in a huge circular pattern, and debris and dust was starting to blow hard across the road.
Semis started pulling over as their trailers were blown sideways, cars started darting off of the highway. For reasons I’m not sure I understand (except that I have watched too many episodes of “Storm Chasers” on TV, I kept going through it…
I’ll let the video do the rest of the talking…
I’m done with my “career” as a storm chaser. That is just too close for comfort, and this one wasn’t even a full blown tornado yet. These things form up fast…and the last place you want to be when one starts to turn, is in the middle of it.
Cross that one off of my bucket list.
We DID find a ton of Route 66 locations, buildings and loads of fun…but, not where we expected it to be.
Next Up…Route 66 Part II- finding the REAL Route 66.
I always tell people who never experienced a tornado, “When the sky turns green, run”