Chasecation 2016, Day 13: The end of the road, until next time

A last stretch of Kansas road.

A last stretch of Kansas road.

It’s always tough to say goodbye. It might seem weird for someone who lives in the urban northeast to long for Kansas, but I do. Oh, how I do.

The final day in the Plains is always melancholy. Seeing that huge sky is an otherworldly experience after spending a year in the tree-filled and hilly terrain of the east.

While we — I think of us as storm nomads — come seeking bad weather, it’s not just about that. It’s about the history of this part of the country and the stories that go with it. It’s about the people. It’s about the adventure.

In recent days, like happens every spring, storm chasing has been questioned.

As a commentator on some of the ills of storm chasing, I won’t deny that I often feel conflicted with my love of this hobby. But any of the negatives aside — and I truly believe the positives strongly outweigh the negatives — chasecation or chasing in itself is an activity that challenges the mind. It offers beautiful sights you can’t see on a regular vacation, and gives us a chance to meet up with fellow weather geeks.

I’ve now spent over two months in the Plains across the past six years. I always say “I’m taking next year off to have a real vacation.” But, honestly, I hope that’s not the case. By the end of chasecation, I’m often spent and my stomach is queasy from all the fast food I’ve eaten.  That said, I wouldn’t trade the experiences for anything.

Chasing is not for everyone, which is partly why outsiders have trouble understanding it.  It’s not weird or evil. We aren’t out to see people’s lives destroyed. Instead it’s a very American activity in its seeking of the unknown and the new.

Until the next adventure, I’ll be thinking about the good times had.

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Defense and foreign policy researcher at a D.C. think tank. Information lead for the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang.

2 thoughts on “Chasecation 2016, Day 13: The end of the road, until next time”

  1. Keith LaBotz says:

    Your post nicely summarizes the feeling at the end of a chasecation. Just ended 2+ weeks following the same storms you did. Enjoyed watching your calls hit and miss along the way – still deciding if I should blame you for clocking 800 miles to dodge ice rocks near Junction Texas 😉 Few conventional vacations offer the mixture of strategy, part science, part luck, dogged determination, and daily surprises of a good chase. And yes, uncovering the proud history of little dying towns and meeting all sorts of people are the spice. Thanks for your posts!

    1. Ian Livingston says:

      Thanks for the response, and your take. Usually Mark Ellinwood does these posts but since he took the year off it was an interesting new experience for me. I must admit the 6th year feels a bit different than the first few, so it was a nice change of pace.

      That deep Texas storm was interesting. I think if we had bought into it earlier we could have seen the tornado, although a tornado where you can’t stand outside without getting quite wet is not that ‘fun’ anyway.

      The huge days were so huge it’s hard to rank this trip anywhere but near the top.. but I still find myself thinking a lot about the at least two days we could have made better calls. Admittedly that kind of challenge is part of the fun even if it stings at the time.

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