Sunday 28th May 2017

There was no time to reflection, there was no time for melancholy.  No sooner did our chase end, we were on the road heading back to Winnipeg.
From NE Oklahoma it was a 16 hour drive and the plan was to drive nonstop, swapping out drivers along the way.  As the only non-driver I’d been assigned to help keep the nighttime drivers awake and so spent most of my journey to Oklahoma yesterday asleep.  Not that it was hard.  After a hectic 10 days I was ready to sleep just about anywhere.
We stopped to photograph the amazing lightning.  I decided to give my intervalometer a go to see how well it handled lightning.  The answer was that it didn’t manage it at all.  I wasn’t mad.  I’d come to the conclusion that my focus was on video, which meant either pure video or timelapse.  The fact that I couldn’t do lightning photography was just one less distraction I had to deal with.
We stopped at Sonic for a final meal and then got on the road.
I slept until the first driver change over which was at Nevada, Missouri around 12 midnight.  This would be our 10th state on the trip.  In the distance we could still see the storms we left firing.  Kim took the driver’s position and I took the passenger seat.
We made small talk until Hamburg, Iowa where Kim began to fade.  We got gas and Shannon took over driving duties around 4am.
I stayed on in the passenger seat, and had the pleasure of enjoying the moment our GPS went haywire in Omaha, Nebraska, taking us back on ourselves and then on to a tour of the city, before putting us back on the freeway less than a mile from where it had made us turn round.
We stopped for breakfast in Sioux Falls around 8am.  Shannon was after something decent for breakfast and so I suggested Cracker Barrel.  I was surprised that I was the only person who’d been to one and so felt quite pleased to introduce everyone to it.  For people in the UK, Cracker Barrel serves hearty stoge, so it’s a bit like a Harvester but with more paisley.  They have a country shop which looks like the home decor section of your local garden centre, but much more ‘Murican.
The breakfasts were good and everyone agreed I’d made an excellent choice.
We then shifted around and I got some sleep.
I pretty much slept through the Dakotas, waking only for pit stops.  I’d bought a travel cushion yesterday on our way down to Kansas and it was put to good use.  The nighttime session just about finished me off.
There were no problems at the Canadian Border and an hour later we were in Winnipeg enjoying a Tim Horton’s.
We dropped Kim off and then it was my turn.  I decided that I’d book myself a decent hotel for the last couple of days.  Primarily this was because I wanted decent internet to upload a backlog of vlogs, but after such a gruelling 10 days I really needed some comfort.
And so I was dropped off at the Sandman, far too tired to say an emotional goodbye.  It occurs to me that people’s lives change and you never know if this will be the last time you ever get to see anyone.  Social Media makes it so much easier to stay in contact, but still, there’s part of me that longs to see people in person.
I’m practical about next year.  Patrick was due to come with us this year but dropped out due to family issues.  Paula dropped out of going with ETT in order to do a play.  Life happens and so I cannot say whether we’ll chase together again next year or not.
I hope so.  Chasing is gruelling.  The long days and sleepless nights coupled with stressful situations bring out the worst in people and so to end 10 days of chasing without a row is something very special indeed.
But whether we chase together again, or even whether my fellow chasers decide to chase again, I currently plan to come back out next year.  I’d prefer to chase with the crew again but if not, I feel ready to form my own crew and attempt to do it.  It’s no use worrying about it now.  A year is a long time, so we’ll see how things lay after xmas.
I checked into my room and started to get the vlogs uploading.  I also had a long overdue shower.
My legs had swollen very badly from being in the car for so long, and they started weeping.  However, it’s something I’ve experienced on every chase I’ve done and so I’m used to it.  Just as well I bought all that gauze.
I went to Denny’s for dinner.  I had the same Cake Batter Milk Shake that I ordered in Colorado on Thursday night except this one was actually like a milkshake instead of a desert.
I came back and passed out on my bed, waking at 2am.  I set a few more things uploading and remembered to finish the day’s vlog at 5am.
I’m aware that there’s so much to reflect on following Chasepalooza, but I’m too tired to really think about it.  All I know that it was a success for all the right reasons and I come away more comfortable with labelling myself a storm chaser than I did before.  Not that it was an aim, or something I worried about, but still…  I feel I’ve levelled up this trip.
I have a day in the city tomorrow before flying back on Tuesday.  I plan to do a bit of shopping and then repack my case.  Only when I get home will there be chance to look back at these incredible 10,746km travelled over 10 days and really let the magnitude of what happened sink in.  The only thing I do know is that Chasepalooza was a massive success and I can’t wait to be back out here chasing again, in whatever form that might take.
If you want to follow more of my journey, then be sure to check me on my social channels.  Likewise, if you’d like me to expand on any point mentioned above, please say so in the comments.

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