Coming into this year’s chase trip I was in part excited, and in part disappointed and apprehensive. For the first time in several years, I am only chasing for one week. Why would that lead to disappointment, one might ask? Well, before the trip even started, I was mourning the end. Two weeks of chasing is both enough and too much. One week isn’t either. One week isn’t enough. I asked myself in the weeks leading up to the trip whether it was worth it at all since it was unlikely that I would be as fulfilled this year as I have been in previous years. This is especially true in the follow up to last year.
I decided to go chasing anyway. How could I skip it? It’s who and what I am. It’s in my blood. It’s become a part of every fiber of my being. I love it.
While we were on our drive out, Dave's article about storm chasing, Once More Into the Breach, was published on The Mantle, an online forum for progressive (and often liberal) human interest stories and critiques. It is a beautiful representation of what chasing is like and I was thrilled to see that quite a few of my photos had been featured in the article. With my cousin's permission, I posted the link to the article on my Facebook page because I wanted others to have the opportunity to read this article. I was (and still am) proud of his writing and my photos.
It wasn't at all surprising that several members of the storm chasing community shared the article, even though it was written with the average reader in mind. What WAS surprising, however, was a comment one one such chaser's post made about my photographs. He said that he remembered one of my photos (it happened to be the cover photo for the article) from last year's Moore Tornado on May 20th. He stated that he remembered that I "had that very image...up for sale" the day after the tornado. He went on to say that he "just thought it was incredibly bad taste," even though he "admired the photo." While I don't really give a fuck what people think about me and my morality, I wanted to address that issue. ALL of my photos are for sale. Every. Single. One. After processing a number of the Moore photos, I put them up on my website for my friends and family to see. Due to the nature of the storm, and the media frenzy that came with it, there was some expressed interest in some of my photographs so I included a little blurb at the top of the gallery that told people to contact me by email if they were interested in purchasing a digital copy of the image. I wasn't deliberately marketing my images. I wasn't selling them to the highest bidder. I wasn't contacting media entities and telling them that I had tornado photos for sale. I was simply putting my images on my own website for people to view. If someone came to me and wanted to buy one, I would have sold it, of course. If that makes me a callous, unfeeling person, then so be it. I never responded to that comment because I didn't want to get caught up in the dramatic bullshit that this person so clearly wanted to occur. However, I did not want to let that issue go unaddressed. I do hope that someone shares my point of view with him, but if not, I'm ok with that, because, as I said, I don't really give a fuck what he thinks. I do, however, give a fuck what my friends and family think...mostly. :)
Once we were in Norman, Oklahoma, we were ready for our chase to begin. Enter a lack of moisture in the plains. Sigh. No moisture equals no storms. No storms equals no chasing. No chasing equals sitting in Norman, Oklahoma for three days. While it was lovely to spend time with Roger, Elke and Donna, it was not what I had planned for my annual trip out to The Plains. By day 2 of sitting around, I was starting to get antsy and irritable. While we were were in Oklahoma City, we did visit the site of the El Reno tornado. We saw where Tim's car crashed on that fateful day. We saw where we generally were and retraced our steps. We saw the house that got blown to bits in the video footage. It was a bit cathartic to see the place that changed the face of chasing for so many.
On Sunday afternoon, we began to head north with final destination of somewhere along the Nebraska-Wyoming border. We planned to spend the night about halfway, and ended up in Colby, Kansas. It was an uneventful drive, but it felt good to get out on the plains.
Let the real chasing trip begin.