What do you do during long down periods?

OK, since it looks very likely we will have a week or more with little chance of chaseable storms coming up- what do all of you do when the down time is going to be more than a couple or three days? This question especially applies to those who take "chase vacations" and do not live on the Plains and only go out in their local area.

Do you:

Go Home.

Sit in your motel for days and sulk.

Sightsee Plains attractions (World's largest hand dug well etc).

Go to a big city like Dallas and spend some time there.

Go out West to see natural wonders (this is what we do often, many National Park trips have been during chase season).

Other.


Matt
 
I like to visit the natural features such as canyons or grasslands, parks, and look for cool stuff to photograph like wild animals or buffalo.

I also like to stop by small towns and talk to people. If there is anything historical like a museum display about the west or Native Americans, or an antique store run by local people, I will go to that.

I have seen things I would have missed during a storm - things like the Bridges of Madison County (Iowa) and very cool small towns like Walnut, Iowa, and Guthrie, Oklahoma. Great towns I spent some time in during 2004. (I bought an antique lightning rod in Walnut, IA and took it all the way back to Phoenix with me).

There is a ton of stuff to see and do on fair weather days, too much to take in.
 
I like to catch up with old mates in the Midwest. I'm glad I still got lots of friends in Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas that I can go visit and hang out with if the atmosphere were to screw us.

This time around though, instead of following up on our original chase days, I think we're gonna wait and come another time :) That's the beauty of having a schedule tha tis too flexible (aka: grad student).
 
I have always gone home during extended downtimes lasting longer than 4 or 5 days. It is a long trip to WV, 1000+ miles depending on where I end up out there. But it's always cheaper for me to go home for a week than stay on the Plains for a week. In the grand scheme of things 1000 miles isn't all that far compared to a couple days' chase mileage. Plus it lets me take care of 'life' things at home like mowing the lawn, checking mail, etc that would otherwise pile up if I stayed out. If it is a day or two downtime, I can handle that. I do like driving around and taking in the open roads. Sightseeing is OK, but I have to admit I get bored with exploring the Plains after 2 or 3 days. I'm there for storms.

2003, 2004 and 2005 were all years I made multiple trips out and back due to things quieting down. In fact in 2003 I made four round trips out and back.
 
Fortunately, I have the option to return home for those extended breaks. However, I've flirted with the idea of going back to Ohio for a couple days to see old friends and chow down on a HUGE Donatos pizza!

In reality, I go home for the down days and return the day before the next event. If going home is out of the way for the next target, I'll usually splurge on a decent hotel with a pool and such and relax, catch up on website stuff, and vedge.
 
I take a chase vacation and my schedule is usually fixed. I occasionally leave early or in the case of this year, I may go out a few days later. During extended down days, I like to explore, hike and take pictures of landscapes and wildlife. During previous years, I have explored and photographed the Wichita Mountains, Big Bend National Park and Palo Duro Canyon. On future trips, I am considering a drive to the various cliff dwellings of New Mexico/Colorado. There are always cool places to visit and great restaurants to sample. Of course, I am also visiting with friends that I haven't seen sice last year.

Big Bend Images

Wichita Mountains

Monument Rocks

Kansas, New Mexico Landscapes

Bill Hark
 
In answer to the original question: fly 4700 miles to the central Plains (it would seem!) ;)
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My chase partner and 1st. cousin Doren Berge have gotten pretty good at making do with what we call "Blue sky days". He's from Boston, and I'm a transplanted 4th. gen. Nebraskan living in Tucson, Az. The last several years, Doren's gotten me to tag along with him while he visits old military forts and outposts from the 1800's. There are plenty of them in the alley. A lot of them have been meticulously restored...and it's not hard to spend the better portion of a day just poking around them and learning a heck of a lot.
I spent my early childhood in Nebraska...shuttling between our home in Lincoln and the grandparent's farms and homes near Albion and Norfolk. Doren had to fly home before I did last season, which allowed me to head up to the Albion area (Boone county). I bought a fishing pole, a temporary fishing license and some fat nightcrawlers from some little kid in his front yard. Prior to my dad crossing over (dying) in '93....he showed me where he and his brother would walk from their farm down to the Beaver creek (yeah...lotsa laffs about that over the years) and fish barefoot. I drove up to his old fishing spot.....took my shoes off....and stood at the very same muddy bare spot where Dad would fish in the 1930's! I actually caught some Catfish and Carp! This is in a pretty remote area. There was no noise or cars other than the occassional song of the wind thru the 110 yr. old Cottonwoods. I was drop dead gorgeous. Quite surreal, actually. Think my mind wasn't running wild? Whew.
Doren and I also love to shoot photos of many of the sights that were common in the midwest several decades ago, but are rapidly disappearing...such as old ma and pa diners...outdoor theaters....old abandoned auto dealerships (quite a few Chev and Buick stores in Kan. and Nebraska from the 40's / 50's)....gas stations and gas pumps...and stuff like the old old Pepsi and other soda pop ads that were hand painted on the sides of those old brick buildings.
To me...and I think I can speak for Doren on this as well...I feel that being a "complete" chaser....(referring now to a chaser that does not live in the alley but spends heavy $$ and vacation time each season to be out there.)..means that you can "adapt on the fly" and have an enjoyable and productive "Plan B" on blue sky days. Being able to adapt when mother nature gives you the finger and parks a stubborn ridge on top of you for a week. Oh believe me....I've sat around in motel rooms and pouted and scowled during repetitive blue sky days with the best of 'em. But...each year I've gotten a little better at the Plan B's! I feel that I'm a better all-around chaser as a result.
And don't forget that blue-sky days are a GREAT time to buy a dozen or two fresh donuts and take them out to the nearest NWS office too. As a struggling non-meteorologist chaser in the 70's and 80's I found this to be wonderful way to introduce myself to the NWS staff...and if they weren't too busy (remember...blue sky days) I always got a lesson or two which greatly helped my chasing. One this was for sure...those folks at the NWS offices ALWAYS remembered me when I would call in asking for info while on a chase. If I were in that same area the next year...I'd try to do the same thing...bring a doz. donuts. I really recommend it...and it's a great way to promote co-operation and good will between the chase community and the hardworking staff at the local NWS offices.
 
My plan this year will be to spend time with relatives. My sister just moved to Vegas and my aunt/uncle live in SW Colorado. I'll probably throw in a trip through the Grand Canyon area along the way. With my schedule, my time off is set in stone so I take what I can get during that timeframe.
 
I usually work or spend my days reviewing chase reports/pics/videos and looking over observations of major tornado outbreaks, especially those when a tornado outbreak was not expected. Other than that I'll get my chase gear in order and stare at equipment I should probably have.. over the internet... but don't have the money for. I think the best investment I should probably make is a NOAA weather radio, but my dad has one that he never uses so I'll go ahead and grab that this summer and put it to use. :)
 
And don't forget that blue-sky days are a GREAT time to buy a dozen or two fresh donuts and take them out to the nearest NWS office too. As a struggling non-meteorologist chaser in the 70's and 80's I found this to be wonderful way to introduce myself to the NWS staff...and if they weren't too busy (remember...blue sky days) I always got a lesson or two which greatly helped my chasing. One this was for sure...those folks at the NWS offices ALWAYS remembered me when I would call in asking for info while on a chase. If I were in that same area the next year...I'd try to do the same thing...bring a doz. donuts. I really recommend it...and it's a great way to promote co-operation and good will between the chase community and the hardworking staff at the local NWS offices.
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Outside of those offices that know you by the sound of your car approaching 5 miles away from the office, do you still do that today? Having quite a bit of personal experience with such placesl, im not sure you can get away with that everywhere in the Plains. Remember it is a gov't facility. Some people and places (offices) are really touchy about that so im curious if that practice is something you have done in the past or is something you still continue to do today on such 'blue sky days'
 
During our 2 week 2001 chase vacation, the 1st 4-5 days were under a big ridge. We headed west to the Grand Canyon and Meteor Crater for some sightseeing, before returning to Amarillo on the evening of Friday 25th May. A high based but electrically active storm then arrived, and heralded a pretty active 2nd week to the vacation! This year, if there are several down days (and by the looks of next week, that's possible!), we may do the same again, or perhaps head to the Colorado Rockies.

BTW, I like the donuts idea - if anyone is passing through London anytime in the future and wants to bring my colleagues and I some, there is a Krispy Kreme just a few minutes walk away!
 
In the old days (when I was coming out on vacations), I could find plenty to keep me occupied on down days. I'd hang out in the motel's pool, go to the zoo, hike (Palo Duro Canyon in particular), museums, go back to see towns that I'd be quickly passing through during a chase, photography of some of the local scenery, rock collecting (there's a place close to the Quartz Mountains I need to go check out....found that one while we were out a few weeks ago B) ), and supporting the local economy (also known as checking out the malls and shops...woman does not live on storms alone :p ). Now that I live out here, any or all the above, plus cleaning my place :huh: .
 
Outside of those offices that know you by the sound of your car approaching 5 miles away from the office, do you still do that today? Having quite a bit of personal experience with such placesl, im not sure you can get away with that everywhere in the Plains. Remember it is a gov't facility. Some people and places (offices) are really touchy about that so im curious if that practice is something you have done in the past or is something you still continue to do today on such 'blue sky days'
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Chris, I never had even what could remotely be called a negative experience back in those days when I would visit an NWS office with some donuts. Quite the opposite, actually. Many times, the staff(s) would seem to be flabbergasted that someone would show some kindness now and again. This was "pre-Twister" time, but still it was a time when a lot more people were beginning to chase...and a lot of newbies would barge into offices and act like they owned the place. I remember this was beginning to get bandied about (the "ugly" chasers at NWS offices) within the pages of the old hardcopy StormTrack publication.
For the record..I wouldn't just come flying thru the door of the NWS offices...donuts in hand. I would always ask whomever greeted me at the door or buzzed me in if they were willing to "trade some donuts for a little bit of chase info"...it was always done cheerfully, and always well received. The few times that I was denied entrance was when there was truly some other obligations that the staffs had to deal with (meetings, etc.) but I always was welcomed back there at a better time for them.
I don't often go into the NWS offices nowadays, but I still visit one or two annually. With on-board computers, there isn't so much of a need. However, last season on a basically blue-sky day my 13 yr. old cousin from O'Neill Neb. that lives on a horse ranch and I visited the Sioux Falls office for about 15-20 minutes. We didn't take donuts, and once I was buzzed in, I asked if perhaps we could take a quick little "tour" ....for her benefit, of course. She's chased with me three times in her young life...we've seen naders on 2 of those (my LUCKY little chase Cuz!) and believe me.....she LOVED it. And the staff at Sioux Falls couldn't have been more accomodating.
Thanks for reading my postings.
 
Since I can't do much until school is out for my teaching in about 2 weeks, I do:
taking astronomy pictures
look at spaceweather.com (try it)
look at Astronomy picture of the day
care for my carnivorus plants
look for hummingbirds
cook all sorts of recipes and scour my database and recipes for interesting stuff
watch storm stories and weather channel
watch 24, the Unit (both I don't miss so If chasing I tape)

I am working on some movie and DVD projects and trying to get my 2001-2005 storm stuff on DVD along with my eclipse chasing and other earth-spaces stuff

I troll the stormtrack forum for reports and see whom I can possible chase with
Keep up with my camera and videocameras
Get ready for my 2 week JUly Earth-space computer course for kids at Johnson County CC (show them how to use doppler, storm stuff , take photos with telescopes, use powerpoint and more)

honey do stuff with my wife (of course ) and more

Dr. Eric Flescher
Olathe KS
 
hi gang,

well being on a chase holiday here in the US from overseas we dont have the opportunity to go
home for a few days or so, So to kill the last couple of dead days my wife and I drove down to Johnson
Space Centre on sth side of Houston
what an excellent place to visit highly recommend it to anyone who hasnt been there


cheers
Dave and Cindy Nelson


currently in Texarcana TX

hahahaha the other side of the street opposite our motel, is in Arkansas ...
state line rite down the middle of the street
 
Thanks. The date was 4-15-06, the distance was probably 3 miles, and it's a video capture. I shot it on a Sony TRV-310 digital 8, a dinosaur by today's hi-tech standards. I'd venture to guess I'm the only chaser in the world who uses this model as their main camera.
 
I sit at home in Southern California and look at the models and day dream. Ohhhh, and enjoy my awesome family....

I sure hope I day dream for much longer. We are planning a trip on the 6th...
 
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