DAY FOUR OF THE “INTO THE STORM” TSWAILS.COM CHASE POWERED BY DAHL FORD.
Okay, if you’re looking for a fun place to hang in Montana, I would highly recommend Billings. The city has a cool, funky western vibe that just works. We decided to sample the refreshments at the Montana Brewing Company in the downtown. All good until ceiling started dripping and splattering in our drinks. We told the waitress who informed the manager who informed us that “oh yeah, that happens every now and again.” Since he was blasé about the whole thing, we were too and just slid down the table out of the waterworks.
Montana is big sky country and it is a well deserved moniker. The vistas are endless. It was a spectacular drive to Lewistown where we set up for the afternoon we deemed “art day.” Which means we realized the supercells would in all likelihood not produce tornadoes, but they could produce some beautiful saucer-like structures. And in big sky country, it would be hard not to get great shots.
I’m gonna come clean. Normally storm chasing means skipping meals, eating junk from gas stations, and in general imbibing in a very poor diet for the week. But we have been living like kings. Finding amazing out-of-the way mom and pop restaurants with good prices and great food. We found such an animal in Lewistown at Harry’s Place where I had a fantastic prime rib sandwich for $8.00. (I skipped the fries.) Then there was the artichoke and chicken pizza at the Montana Brewing Company (again $8.00).
But I digress. Back to the chase. After lunch it proved to be a waiting game. We wandered around the downtown where we ran into a German film crew trailing behind two women. No idea what they were shooting, but it sure did look official. Then we waited some more. Lounging around the chase van. Sitting in the grass. Sprawled across the seats. We seem to slowly rotate through the different positions. Van, grass, seats, van, grass, seats, van…
Finally the atmosphere got its act together. We headed to the top of a hill and watched the sky transform into a show of strength. The supercells appeared to be large leviathans suspended from the sky. It was awe-inspiring to watch them hover from above. It doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination to see them as alien space ships coming down to claim Planet Earth.
But no little green men appeared. Instead we were rewarded with a gorgeous rainbow against the background of a supercell. The cell also produced a huge anvil providing more photo opportunities.
In the end, it’s not what we came to see but at least we were on storms in one of the most breathtaking parts of the country. It’s also been a wet spring here and it’s far greener than it will be in 2-3 weeks. Antelopes and cows are plentiful and there’s few humans to bother them so they graze unperturbed, rain or shine. Roaming in Montana