The Lope: February 2008

Friday, February 29, 2008

Fire in Albuquerque

I was traveling through Albuquerque New Mexico's stretch of route 66 last night when I fell upon a worrisome sight.

The street was blocked in front of the El Rey theater. At first I assumed there was a street fair in progress.

Then, I saw the firetruck and the whole scene registered with me. I was literally stunned. They aren't making any new old theaters, ya know. Fortunately, a fireman told me that the El Rey probably did not suffer significant damage from the fire that started about 6 AM yesterday.

However, the Golden West Saloon, which was built in the late 1920s, was not so lucky. I'm afraid it looks pretty gutted. You can even see right through it, to the building behind.

Somewhere at home, I have a print of the El Rey sign lit up at night. I may add it later.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Hello from Phoenix

We're on the road again - Phoenix, this time. Being a social animal, Ace made a new friend in Susan Cesarini.

It never fails. I plan the trip. I drive. I navigate. Ace gets the woman feeding him a milkshake at Fuddruckers (pronounce that carefully, pardner).

Dairy was a theme of the day. Although we missed the lunar eclipse last night due to clouds, tonight we did see the moon came out for ice cream.

This an an older Dairy Queen along old hwy 60 (Main Street) in Mesa, Arizona.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Lincoln, Illinois

(updated February 2009)

This Presidents' Day weekend, we have Lincoln on our minds, as usual.

We like Abe. Maybe it's the cool black clothes. Maybe it's that the $5 bill is the smallest one that actually buys something. Maybe it's that ole' Honest Abe is the most television-rendered dead president (He's currently selling sleep aids and Wendy's meals). Whatever the reason, we seem compelled to pay tribute.

It was July 8, 2006 - day number 4 of an Illinois Route 66 trip that began in Chicago. We'd already seen the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery and would see Lincoln's tomb the next day.

This was primarily a Route 66 trip, but we veered off the path whenever we saw anything interesting in Lincoln, hence...

Just a couple blocks off Route 66, one finds the Logan County Courthouse which was built from 1903-1905 on the site of two previous courthouses in which Abraham Lincoln practiced law before his election to the presidency. Cleveland sandstone was used for the exterior.

Throughout this post, I will refer to one of the most complete and annotated websites I've seen assembled about any city, Mr. Lincoln, Route 66 and Other Highlights of Lincoln, Illinois by Darold Leigh Henson, Professor Emeritus of English at Missouri State University. Henson lists a great deal of history about the courthouse, here.

I was really attracted to this cool dome. It is 52 feet in diameter and is 60 feet high from the base. Atop it is a lantern that is 18 feet high and nine feet in diameter. Those four clocks were originally made by Seth Thomas and are nine feet in diameter.

Northwest of the courthouse stands this 1869 monument to soldiers of the Civil War.

I've read that the statue itself is of marble. I'm amazed that erosion has taken this much of a toll on it in only 139 years.

The statue to the south of the courthouse is called the Indian Mother and was sculpted from Tennessee Pink Marble by Charles Mulligan. It was dedicated over 101 years ago - on October 26, 1906 - by the Lincoln Woman's Club. The inscription reads "A GIFT OF THE PEOPLE, BY THE PEOPLE AND FOR THE PEOPLE." On October 26, 2001, the statue was repaired and restored by David Seagraves using funds raised by local citizens and handled through Main Street Lincoln.

One of our readers, Andrea Springer, was kind enough to reminisce about the years she spent in Lincoln. Springer writes: "There's an arcade on the square and one of the places it leads to is a little courtyard. You enter the courtyard, go up the stairs and there's Guzzardo's Italian Restaurant. It's been around forever (my parents dated there) and still has great food."

I didn't see a lot of neon in Lincoln, but Becherer Jewelry on the square has some.

I always enjoy walking around a square and seeing the little touches.

Also on the square is the Griesheim Building which was built in 1932 to replace an earlier structure which burned, killing two people. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

A group of sign painters called the Letterheads repainted this ghost sign for the Lincoln Evening Courier, using an old photograph as a guide. The newspaper still exists, but is now called "The Courier."

The Lincoln Theater is about a half block off the square at 215 South Kickapoo Street. According to sources quoted by this page, construction on the theatre started 86 years ago, on Feb. 12 (Lincoln's birthday), 1922. Although it once hosted live theater and had an organ well past the silent era, it is now an extensively remodelled four-plex. However, some original elements remain inside. You can also see a more concise summery of its history at

I had time to do a little more shooting of downtown buildings to the northwest of the square. This is the 100 block of South Chicago Street.

This is the south corner of the intersection of Pulaski and South Chicago streets.

Nearby is the Lincoln train station, which opened in 1911 as the Chicago & Alton railroad station.

It closed as a train station in 1972 and was renovated in 1977 into a restaurant. Four Illinois Central passenger cars were added in the renovation.

In 2006, McCarty's Restaurant morphed into a banquette facility.

Near the train station is the site of a key piece of Lincoln history, the site at which Abraham Lincoln christened the town on August 27, 1853.

He did so with juice he squeezed from a piece of watermelon, an event which is commemorated with this statue. Lincoln was the first city to be named for Abraham Lincoln; he wasn't even President then. By the way, Lincoln was fond of referring to water as "Adam's ale."

There's a handy-dandy explanatory sign nearby.

This Gulf, Mobil and Ohio (GM&O) railroad mural at Sangamon and Pekin streets was painted in 2004 by the aforementioned Letterheads, and was the particular project of Andy and Lori Gretzky of Tomahawk, Wisconsin. The GM&O is long-gone, as are most of the American Locomotive Company (Alco) diesel passenger locomotives shown in the mural.

If you want to see a working Alco streamliner similar to the one in the mural, check out the Grand Canyon Railway in Williams, Arizona.

This Welcome to Downtown Lincoln mural was painted by Adam May of AMP Studio, a Lincoln photo and graphic design studio, in October of 2005.

Back on Route 66, I'd never seen double stop signs. According to Bobbi Abbot, Director of the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, this one at 5th and Washington had the top sign added because it was being overlooked by too many truck drivers.

Further west on Route 66, at 914 5th Street, one finds this replica of a building with which Lincoln was familiar. This reproduction of the Postville Courthouse was built in 1953 as part of Lincoln's centennial celebration. The original was moved to Michigan by Henry Ford, according to Bobbi Abbot, Director of the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce. Specifically, Ford moved the building to his Dearborn, Michigan, Greenfield Village museum. Read more about the replica, here and here.

Yule aficionados might note that a Christmas Open House is held here the first Saturday in December. It features 1840's decorations, including a tree, along with other entertainment. If I lived in the area, I'd check that out.

Another handy sign: From 1839 to 1848, the seat of Logan County was Postville, which centered in the court house located on this site. In this structure, Abraham Lincoln, A member of the traveling bar of the Eighth Judicial Circuit, attended court twice a year. Postville eventually became part of Lincoln.

Now here's a structure that leaps out at you, no matter what its condition. The Mill, 738 Washington (Route 66), opened as a Dutch theme building with blue trim in 1929 under the name, "The Blue Mill." The windmill itself once revolved and waitresses dressed in blue and white aprons. In 1945 the building got a new owner and a barroom and dance hall were added, along with a coat of barn red paint. Fried schnitzel became the restaurant's forte. The place had lost most of its Dutch theme interior by the 1980's and, according to, "was becoming a museum of rather strange objects, including a mechanical leg protruding from a hole in the ceiling." The Mill closed in 1996 and began to be an object of deterioration, fines and controversy.

Things have changed since I took these photos in July of 2006. You can read about the complexities at, but the important thing for the tourist is that the original portion of the building has been saved, and the additions were demolished. That sounds like a practical solution to me.

You can see a video of the demolition of the back portion of the building, here.

Ace Jackalope rarely gets to wear a Route 66 pin and a tiki shirt at the same time. That's because there isn't much tiki left on the Mother Road. Out on the beltline version of Route 66, now business Route 55, we ran across the defunct Tropics Restaurant. There's no evidence the Tropics ever had tiki statues, but the sign is still worthy of note.

The Tropics was opened in 1950 by Vince Schwenoha, who chose the name because he'd done military service in Hawaii. He was also influenced by a trip to California, in which he saw a sandwich made of a bun with two patties of hamburger. When brought to Lincoln, this became the "Tropicburger."

The website Mr. Lincoln, Route 66 and Other Highlights of Lincoln, Illinois shows this photo of the exterior from 1950. There was obviously a drastic remodel, if not a completely new building. A post at, mentions a fire. (photo used by permission of Leigh Henson)

Henson's website also shows this undated Tropics postcard. Tiki aficionados will note that although the "South Seas Cocktail Lounge" in the upper left looks somewhat Polynesian, the other views do not. (photo used by permission of Leigh Henson)

The Tropics closed sometime between 2001 and 2006, and is still vacant.

We previously posted about a very atmospheric treat one should not miss when visiting Lincoln: the Ghost Bridge. The bridge supports can be found by walking down a narrow stretch of abandoned 1926-1940 Route 66 pavement which happens to start between two cemeteries. How cool is that?

February 2009 Additions

I visited Lincoln again on June 21 of 2008 while attending the National Route 66 Festival.

Work has progressed on the Mill Restaurant building.

I managed not to overlook the phone booth on the roof of a building on the square this time. I'm told it was part of a previous civil defense plan.

Most importantly to me, though, was the addition to the city of a huge fiberglass Abraham Lincoln in a wagon, which was moved from nearby Diverton.

Ace tried to sneek a peek at Abe's book.

That's a law book he's reading.

Abe looks kind of sad, I think. But then he is usually portrayed as rather serious.

I thought the juxtiposition with the "supersizer" car wash across the street to be rather funny.

We'd like to thank Darold Leigh Henson, Andrea Springer, Bobbi Abbot and Adam May for their help.

For other "Ace does Illinois" posts, see:
The Beginning of Route 66
Breakfast at Lou Mitchell's
Where is Ace Jackalope (Episode 5)
A Sacred Grove on Route 66
He Belongs to the Ages, But You Can Still Buy a Souvenir
Ghost Bridge
Belvedere Motel
Where is Ace Jackalope? (episode 26)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Flowers for You, Ma'am

Happy Valentines Day to all our female readers!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Kissing Friday

With Valentine's Day approaching, I am reminded of another perfectly good holiday - one that fell off the edge of the calender.

The British lost a good one. Time was, on the Friday after Ash Wednesday, school boys in merry ole England were entitled to kiss girls without fear of retribution or rejection. This holiday petered out about 40 years ago, which is regrettable or not, depending on whether you're a schoolboy, schoolgirl or public health official. Read about here.

Ace met these fine ladies at the Mi Tierra Restaurant in San Antonio.

This is Ace's naiad friend, Stacy

Not only is the food good at La Posada, Winslow, Arizona's renovated Harvey House, but the servers are friendly, too.

Ace really loves artists...especially those that drive him around. Here, he spends quality time with a bead artist on a road trip to Springfield, Missouri.

Of course, women who write about travel absolutely rock. This is Marci Penner, author of the Kansas Guidebook for Explorers.

And this is Shellee Graham, Route 66 enthusiast and author of Tales From the Coral Court: Photos & Stories from a Lost Route 66 Landmark

Ahh, to be an antlered bunny!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Reno County Kansas Democratic Caucus

The Reno County Kansas Democratic Caucus was held Tuesday night at Memorial Hall in Hutchinson. Our own little bit of Super Tuesday was surprising in that about 640 people showed up to be counted during a driving snow storm on already icy streets.

To put this in perspective, I am told that a maximum of 80 people attended the last such event four years ago.

At shortly after 6 PM, the foyer was crowded as lines formed to check in. This procedure was much like signing in during an election, except that no ballot is given. New voters and converts from the Republican party were also there to register as Democrats. There were quite a few of the later. (this photo by Patsy Terrell)

There was a lot of friendly campaigning, and it started just inside the hall. I found that supporters of Barack Obama were the more aggressive camp; they were on the left of the aisle. The young man in the photo is Sean Buchanan, a senior at Buhler High School. This will be the first election in which he can vote and he's enthusiastic about Obama.

Supporters of Hillary Clinton veered to the right.

That's basically how it worked - a simple headcount of folks occupying the designated area for their candidate. The total count was 640 persons and a candidate had to have at least 15% to be viable, which was 96 people in this case. A first count revealed that only Obama and Clinton were viable so only they could earn delegates for the state convention, which is what this was all about.

After it was determined that only Obama and Clinton were viable, their camps were allowed to try to persuade undecideds and people whose candidates were no longer viable to join them. Most, if not all, of the undecided folks joined the Obama camp; they seemed to be following the urging of a man I was told is a union leader.

There were speeches, of course. Various citizens spoke in favor of Obama, Clinton and Edwards. Sean Buchanan spoke for Obama. The Edwards spokeswoman emphasized his practical electability - perhaps a veiled reference to him being neither African-American nor a woman.

I couldn't tell that there was any gender difference between the Obama and Clinton camps, but there was a slight racial one. I counted at least twelve African-Americans on the Obama side and only one - a woman - on the Clinton side. I hesitate to even mention this, but with the recent controversies between the two candidates, ignoring it would be like not mentioning the elephant in the room - although I suppose a donkey is more appropriate.

Part of that difference is proportional to the amount of supporters each candidate had.

At final count, Obama had 404 which gives him six delegates. Clinton had 166 people which gives her three delegates. Dennis Kucinich had four people and no delegates. I think there may have been one person standing for John Edwards at the end.

Of course, a delegate can also change his or her mind later.

As folks conversed inside the hall, the subject wasn't race, gender or even the Republicans. This was a feel-good meeting for a political party that once felt marginal and now enjoys potency. Comments such as "I didn't know there were this many Democrats in Reno County" prevailed.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Ace Jackalope for President

Tired of Presidential candidates who are supposed to be on the same side, yet don't get along?

And when is the last time Clinton, Obama, McCain, Huckabee, Romney or Paul gave you any information on a cool roadside attraction? With all the travelling those people do, you'd think they'd tell you something useful.

Ladies and gentlemen, on this Super Tuesday, I offer you the only candidate who brought the right outfit for the occasion. (Of course, you never know what sort of fantasy wear Huckabee has in his suitcase; it's always those right-wingers who have kinky stuff in the closets.)

I humbly submit Ace Jackalope for President of these United States for the following reasons:


Ace would be motivated to keep his job as President because he understands it comes with a really big house and lawn in a city with lots of museums. However, should food in Washington DC be mediocre, he will seek only one term.

Citizenship Qualifications

Ace has obviously voted before, therefore he must be a citizen. Also, I'm pretty sure the Jackalope is the Wyoming State Mythological Animal, and Wyoming is in the USA, so there.

Ace has never been President, but neither have any of the other candidates.

Ace has, however, seen a real President speak, and he's also seen Bush.

War Policy

Although Ace is an experienced military commander, his judicious use of the armed forces will be governed in spirit by Shakespeare's Henry V:
"Now, if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter for the King that led them to it."

Foreign Relations

Ace is well-travelled and loves people of all countries.

He has listened to the experiences of former world leaders, like Gorbachev, above.

There will be plenty of foreign relations.

To be honest though, he needs some coaching on just what a country is. Ace seems to believe that Route 66 is a great serpentine nation with eight states - I'm not sure he's wrong.


We need passenger trains - lots of them - as part of Ace's mass transit program. Travelling with one's fellow citizens can be an enriching joy, not in spite of, but because you don't know them. The social stigma of "taking the bus" shall be removed. And new roads would be named instead of numbered. Wouldn't you rather drive the Wheat Belt Express than Hwy 400?

Running Mate

Ace has chosen as his running mate, Governor Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas, though I must admit she has not been contacted about this. Ace prefers her because:

  • She's a nice lady with a sense of humor.
  • We already have this picture handy.
  • She negotiates well across the aisle.
  • Look at her. I mean, you're going to have to see the Vice President on TV often. Do you really wanna roll the dice and see who the other candidates are going to put in front of you for four years?

As a matter of fact, Ace says that if she wants this President thing, she can have it instead of him; he's heard it's a lot of work.

The Campaign

Ace would campaign the way candidates were meant to, with whistle stops.

Entertaining Speeches

Recognizing that Presidents usually don't write their own speeches anyway, Ace would employ the best writers and make it entertaining. Why, with writers like Garrison Keillor, the State of the Union Address will be popular enough to be pay-per-view, which also helps the budget. And wouldn't news of a recession go down much better with a Norwegian bachelor farmer joke?

Of course, speeches could be customized to their purpose and audience. A speech inaugurating a new radio telescope array designed to measure the mass of distant stars by "listening" to their energy emissions might best be written (and sung, why not?) by progressive rock icon Jon Anderson in his stream of conciousness style. It might go something like this:

Suns high streams through
Star song ageless
Awaken gentle mass touch

Health Care
Health care is the true national defense because disease is simply a terrorist without a political agenda. After all, what attack is more personal than one on the health of your loved ones?

National Holidays

Talk like a Pirate Day will be a national holiday. This ties in with the health care plan because it's impossible to be depressed when talking like a pirate. Just try it; you'll see.


History ended neither with the Victorian era nor with WWII. In the 20th century we reached for the stars with our architecture and and threw big neon boomerangs.

Our policy toward demolition should be "STOP - THINK - DEBATE."

Businesses should be encouraged via tax benefits to maintain old neon signs.

National Songbook

We're a big BIG country - too big to be limited to one national anthem. We need a whole national songbook to allow a singer to surprise and delight us with one of many good ole American compositions before an event. "America the Beautiful" is easier on singers, and what could swell the heart with pride more than Copeland's "Fanfare for the Common Man" played by the high school band before the big game? (In deference to one of our readers requests, "Play that Funky Music White Boy" will also be considered.)

Stopping Corruption

Ace will be the first Presidential candidate to say "Yes, somewhere along the way, something will be done improperly in my administration, and I'll take care of it with speed and transparency." Toward that end, he will personally invite Washington Post reporter and Watergate lid-blower Bob Woodward to scour his administration regularly for corruption. Just think how honest people would be with the author of "All the President's Men" looking over their shoulders.

Value of the Dollar
Too long have we ignored the influence of the dollar - and by that I mean the physical presence of our currency - on our quality of life.

Think about it. You handle these things constantly. Shouldn't they be interesting, edifying, uplifting and tell us about each other in the process?

That's why Ace will give dead presidents a rest and let artists, poets, writers and philosophers grace our greenbacks.

Did I say "greenbacks"? Shame on my short-sightedness. Paper currency could be red and green for Christmas. Yellow Lorax bucks could pay tribute to American author Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss).

Money could bear poetry, like the works of American Langston Hughes. In this aspect, it can be used to educate us about other parts - both physical and cultural - of this great country. We've been wasting this opportunity. It's like we've been passing notes to each other all the time, and they don't say anything new.

As a people, we should vote on cultural things more often. A nation is remembered by the art and culture it leaves behind; let's never forget that. Toward this end, there could be state commemorative dollars, voted upon by the residents of that state. This could encourage tourism.

And these currency changes needn't be limited to paper. Mint sets designed in tribute to American sculptor Alexander Calder could be arranged in a mobile for kinetic coinage.

As to the falling international value of the dollar, ask any collector how to increase the price of something and they'll tell you: limited editions. Orange and black Edgar Allan Poe dollars could be issued for Halloween, then, nevermore.

Ace Jackalope for President in 2008. Why the heck not?

Mardi Gras 2008

Ace has a little help accessorizing his Mardi Gras outfit from Natalya Haden of Creatures of Habit in Paducah, Kentucky. We don't have a lot of time to linger on Mardi Gras this year, but please enjoy our posts from 2006 and 2007.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Site Changes

I did some site maintenance these past few days. In response to reader requests, I added a search bar. I had periodically tried using the Blogger search bar but it never worked, so I added a google one.

This pointed out another flaw: labels. Labels seemed like such a good idea when Blogger introduced them. Attaching them to all posts of a certain category seemed very user-friendly, and it would have been if the Blogger label system produced a menu of all posts under a label, but instead it simply produced all posts under a given label in reverse order.

This caused a slow-down in publishing, as a post would have to publish under its own name, its monthly archive (I may get rid of those, too), and whatever labels it was also under. For some reason, blogger wants to republish every single post, including the labels, when I post anything. In a few cases, I would try to publish an update on an issue (i.e. El Vado) as I travelled, only to see publishing fail over and over again due largely to this bulk.

The last straw was that search engines would often latch onto the contents of a post under one of its label identities. This meant that if google chose to index an older post under a label I used often, a viewer would have to swim thorough all of the more recent posts to see it. This became darn near impossible with some of the more inclusive labels (i.e "Kansas"), even for users with fast computers and great connections.

So, I eliminated all labels last night. This will create a problem for awhile as some of the other websites and discussion boards linked to some of the label categories; as did search engines. The search engines should re-index in a few days.

I already see a couple flaws in the search bar system, namely that it latches onto the "previous posts" titles. It's too bad you can't fine-tune the way a search engine works on your site...hmm.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Six More Weeks of Winter

Happy Ground Hog Day

Last year we visited Wilma, the Hutchinson (Kansas) Zoo's groundhog (above), for the scoop on groundhog day.

This year, we're on the road but we did check to see if Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow at Gobbler's Knob, Pennsylvania - and he did - thus predicting six more weeks of winter weather.

We wish you a Happy Groundhog Day, a joyous Brigit's Day or just a pleasant Saturday, whichever one is applicable.

For some of the fascinating cultural history of this day, see our coverage last year.

And I still think prairie dogs deserve their day.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Throwed Rolls and Rotating Clouds

After a few days in Kentucky, Ace and I began a drive back this past Tuesday, during which we rendezvoused with occasional lope chauffeur Patsy Terrell for a late lunch at Lambert's in Sikeston, Missouri. Lambert's is - in case you haven't been there or seen any of the zillions of billboards - the "home of the throwed rolls." They really do throw them.

Now, I usually love Lambert's and we've also enjoyed the one near Springfield, despite its status as a docking station for tour buses; they have macaroni and tomato sauce that makes up for that. This time, however, they had air conditioned the place to a degree of frigidity that impacted one's ability to enjoy a meal and we were leaving, prepared to brand the episode a below-par experience.

Our experience (mine and Ace's, anyway) was redeemed when Kayla (left) and Debbie - not even knowing we were unhappy with the cold - gave Ace this cool little Lambert's t-shirt. I had looked at some of the souvenir bears in the gift shop on the way out, and decided the bear was a bit expensive as a shirt donor for a one-time deal. As I reached my car, Kayla popped out the door and yelled that they had something for me; Debbie had wrapped up a free shirt. I don't know how he does it. I mean, women don't just offer me t-shirts out of the blue.

Anyway, this was a nice example of how a random act of customer appreciation can salvage an experience; I'll be back.

Travel timing was a bit of a concern as I had to make it all the way to Joplin (six hours) that day and would be driving through some iffy weather, but, lacking any common sense, I stopped to shoot signs along Malone Avenue (highway 62).

The Mid-Towner Motel is at 833 East Malone Avenue. I've seen this sign template before, so I bet the Mid-Towner isn't the original name of this place.

At Main Street I went right (north) just far enough to shoot the giant chicken because...well, I's a giant chicken, isn't that enough? Jay's Krispy Fried Chicken is at 218 N Main Street and has a good review at Chowhound.

We parted company with Patsy and prepared to head west while she headed east to Kentucky for a few more days. Going south down Main Street toward Highway 60, I encountered only this minor add-on sign of roadside interest.

Heading up the on-ramp onto Highway 60, these ragged clouds dominated the view at 3:53 PM.

The clouds were moving very fast. later, I heard on the radio that the storm system was headed east at 60 miles per hour. It was 3:54 PM.

Looking west at 3:55 PM, the edges of this very dense cloud reminded me of torn construction paper, frayed at the edges. I am told it may be a wall cloud.

4:00 PM - five or six miles west of Sikeston - and the wind is worse. Not only is it severe, but it's erratic in a way I've never felt, and I live in Central Kansas, a land of wind. The rain isn't too bad but one brief salvo of hail hits the car. It felt like one edge of the car lifted a bit and I slowed down. That's when I looked up and to the left (south).

I don't know if it was a funnel cloud or not, but there was rotation - not so visible in the protuberance itself, but in the cloud structure ringing it. I'd have shot more but I was actually having trouble keeping the car on the road so in a rare display of good sense, I stopped shooting and just drove. When I was confident of the car again, I called Patsy to make sure she was out of Sikeston and heading east, away from the storm.

She wasn't. She was in the Sikeston Wal-Mart but took off soon after I called to warn her about the cloud rotation. She did, however, run across some excitement herself rather shortly. Read about her experience here.

So, how bad was that storm, and what did I see? There was more than report of a funnel cloud and at least one tornado warning. See a list of the reports and damages at this National Weather Service page.

Fifteen minutes can make a lot of difference when you're driving 70mph under a storm that was reportedly moving at 60mph the other way. I was in a sunny gap in the storm system at 4:16 PM, and it was time to catch a giant catfish to go with the giant chicken. The wind was still blowing - gusts of as much as 60mph, I was later to learn. You can see effect on the green streamers on the fish's trailer. Weekender's Fish House and Grill is at 16335 North Outer Road in Dexter, Missouri.