From Dallas to Oklahoma City to Russell, Kansas
March, 2001

We were having a great time in Lafayette until our weather-alert radio kept going off early one morning.  There was a "severe thunderstorm" headed straight toward us from the Gulf of Mexico. We had thirty minutes until it would reach us so we decided to hitch up the trailer and get out to dodge the storm.  I went out to hitch up the trailer and Cheryl quickly put stuff away inside.  One of the boys had read that being on the edge of a lake is one of the most dangerous places to be during a thunderstorm and that's right where we were parked.  I also remembered the huge tornado that had picked up fifteen trailers and dropped them in Deer Lake in Alberta last summer just a few days after we had passed by.

So there I was -- under big trees, on the edge of a lake, soaking wet in a heavy down pour with lightning striking less than a mile away.  There was a huge BOOM and Max said, "What was that?"  I replied, "that is the sound of lightning when it's fifty feet away."

The radio kept saying that we were in a "watch box" and not to go outside -- do not drive, stay in your house!  Did they mean stay in your RV under trees, next to a lake?  I DON'T THINK SO!

I could tell that we had talked about leaving too long before deciding to go, so I came back in and we chose a second plan.  We all jumped into the truck and headed into town.  We weren't sure what to do -- we feel ignorant when it comes to thunderstorms, tornadoes and all that scary stuff that people from California and Washington aren't used to.  We had asked locals what to do in severe weather, but they never seemed remotely phased by these storms.  They'd just say "not to worry about them" and then they'd asked "where are you from?"  When we said "the West Coast," their response was "Oh my gosh!  What do you do with all those earthquakes?  How do you survive?  I would never live there."  However, since we live in an RV, I'd rather be in an earthquake than a tornado storm cell.  We always figure that RVs and mobile homes have big targets painted on their roofs when it comes to severe weather.

So off we went to Home Depot and an Albertsons grocery to take shelter and do some shopping.  (You know, those big buildings where the entire roof blows off or falls in.)  Soon the storm passed, (as it probably does twice a week.)  We went back, hitched up the trailer and headed for Dallas.  Most of the people in the RV park were still sitting in their RVs by a window, sipping their morning coffee and reading the paper.  Boy, are we weather-whimps.

After a few days at the Escapees park in Livingston, Texas, (where our "official residence" is,) we headed north to Dallas.

We stayed on a lake north of Dallas near the town Colony.  Friends of ours, Johannas and Joan, live here.  I worked with Johannas at Boeing twenty years ago.  He now works for Raytheon.  He took me on a tour the Raytheon facility.  It was a culture shock.  It was just like being back at Boeing.  Cubicles everywhere, improvement slogans and quality charts everywhere, bulletin boards with award pictures and project stories.  We talked with a security guard and a co-worker and I told them all about our traveling adventures.

The next day we all went to the Dallas Science Museum.  In the picture above Johannas and Mitch test their paper airplanes for flutter in a wind chamber.  His wife, Joan, is in the background.

Fun with mirrors.  Max looks like he is floating

Paper airplane design station, with Joan, Johannas and Max.

Here they built a suspension bridge out of folded paper.

Joan is the Director of the library in Colony.  Last time we were in town her new library was under construction.  We toured the library during the construction phase, and now we had the chance to see the finished product.  Unfortunately, I was enjoying myself so much visiting with them that I forgot to take photos of her beautiful library for the web page. 

We had a few things to get fixed on our trailer and the King of the Road service center is located in Kansas.  So we headed North toward our next destination, Russell, Kansas.


A days drive from Dallas put us in Oklahoma City.  We stayed two nights and had a chance to visit the site of the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial.

It's hard to get a sense of what it must have been like for the families involved.  Seeing the damage to the buildings across the street from the Federal Building starts to give a sense of the devastation that occurred. 

The reflecting pond

A memorial chair for each life lost

We also visited a very good science museum in Oklahoma City.  It's a nice city with a "home town" feeling.

After Oklahoma City, we drove on to Russell, Kansas.  Russell is a tiny little town, located near the center of the state.  It's number one "claim to fame" is that it's the home town of Bob Dole.

We stayed for two days while I made a few repairs and collected some spare parts.  The factory guys told me that they had a few other trailers to work on before they could get to ours.  I told them that I just needed parts and maybe some info on doing the repairs.  They were pleased that they didn't have to squeeze me in.  They were not only helpful but also loaded me up with spare clips, fasteners, hinges, sealants, shock absorbers, trim and other parts that I may use for future repairs.

The day I spent in Russell working on the trailer was clear and in the mid 70's.  That was a good thing since I was repairing the shower drain tank under the trailer.  I got all of the insulation and the under belly closed back up about dark.  As I was picking up my tools the wind start blowing and, as Max put it, "it was raining ice cubes"  It's not nice to stand outside in 40 MPH winds when it's raining ice cubes. 

I didn't think about taking a picture until we were out of most of the snow.  The interesting think about this was that the snow was not on the ground but on the side of everything.


The next morning we woke up to heavy winds, 31 degree temperatures and rain, or as Max says "raining ice cubes."  Hitching up was difficult.  Our hands would get freezing cold real fast.  If we dropped anything light it would blow away.  The winds were coming straight out of the north.  We planned on heading due west to Colorado.  As we left, the weather reports were not good for going to Colorado.  Something about I-70 being closed, made us think we should change coarse.

Santa Fe, New Mexico sounded like a good alternative.  We could be eating green chili burritos by night fall.  So we charted a course to the Southwest.  About 40 miles from Dodge City we came to a small town with semi-trucks parked everywhere.  As we exited town we found out why.  A roadblock!  The whole freeway had been closed.  They told us we could either wait out the storm or head due South.  They said it was white-out conditions to the West with 40 to 60 MPH heavy thick blowing snow.  I said "cool, let's go get some pictures."  (OK, we're afraid of tornadoes, but not of a little snow.)   But the state trooper had other plans.  So we turned left and headed South.  The northern side of every standing tree, road sign, vehicle and building had three or more inches of snow on the side of it.  However there was hardly any on the ground.

So, since Colorado and New Mexico didn't work out, we headed South to Amarillo, Texas.  What the heck, we've never been there and it's on the way to Big Bend National Park, on the boarder of Texas and Mexico.  No snow there!
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