Storm Chasing in New Mexico
Its been nearly 15 years since I moved to Southern California from Northern California; same state different planets. As I recall, it was early January when I moved here; a balmy 70 degrees. Standing on the beach in shorts and a tee shirt I felt I had reached the promise land. I remember in that first year having a conversation with my then roommate, one of the rare native San Diegans I know (seems we're all transplants here, climate refugees). He said, "You know, I think it would be cool to live in a place with seasons." It was a bizarre statement. Where I grew up, it rained three months out of the year, nearly - but not quite froze in the winter, and burned you alive in the summer. 70 degrees all year was fine by me.
Fast forward to the present, and I've learned what he meant. The brain craves novelty. If we're honest, San Diego has two seasons: one where I need a sweatshirt in the morning, and one where I don't. Over time my wife and I have begin to harbor quiet fantasies of becoming storm chasers. Collectively we have 11 different weather/radar apps on our iPhones with real time GPS weather alerts and candy color doppler goodness. Of course they're useless to us, it only seems to rain here at night.
Last May I spent a month in Albuquerque New Mexico, its high desert country; beautiful in a surreal way, unfolding around you like a short story by T. Coraghessan Boyle. It also has weather, random epic weather. So when on a sunny Sunday afternoon I found myself standing in the parking lot of the Albuquerque Costco, $4.99 rotisserie chicken in hand, and giant black thunder heads rolling over the plateau I knew the chase was on. What followed was a fugue storm chase covering 200 miles over eight hours. Pure joy.