What a year. 2014 was by far the most interesting year I've experienced. Lots of new experiences, lots of personal life changers.
Started off well enough with a job as a carpenter and a one night excursion to Nebraska to try and catch auroras. The job didn't last long as I injured my back about 3 weeks in and they canned me for it. That weekend a friend paid me to drive him down to Shreveport for a day, and on our way back I decided to swing by my relatives in Oklahoma City. Sadly I haven't seen them since. While still job searching (and doing everything I can to help make sure we didn't lose the apartment) one of my roommates paid me to drive him out to a small town in western Colorado to visit his family as they sent one of his brothers off on a religious mission to upstate New York. That weekend was nice, as was the detour we took on the way home through nearby Moab, UT.
Storm chasing started a few weeks after that with a two-day trip to the Flint Hills of Kansas and extreme north/northeastern Oklahoma. Saw several nice thunderstorms but no tornadoes, and in fact the only reported tornado was a weak rope that was barely visible in the grainy, late-evening photo it was seen in. Not long after I managed to land myself a job as a delivery driver for Pizza Hut in Firestone (a job I still hold 10 months later). Thanks to that job I was able to start saving up a serious bit of cash for the first time in my life (or at least what I considered a 'serious' bit of cash
April saw me on my first trip to California. Specifically San Francisco. I spent a weekend there in the SF Bay Area at an MLP convention and I gotta say I quite enjoyed my time out there. I wasn't sure what to expect from California but I think I understand why people like it there so much, despite things being a bit more expensive (though not as expensive as I was lead to believe). While I was there I was able to get my first glimpse of the Pacific Ocean, and my first glimpse of any ocean since I moved away from Florida in 1995. Didn't see it very clearly as that weekend as particularly hazy, but it was better than nothing!
Early May saw me and some storm chasing friends out on the High Plains region of eastern Colorado chasing a storm we spotted over Deer Trail. We caught up to it near Akron, CO and found a good spot to watch it for a bit. We observed a small and suspicious looking lowering on the storm, but due to the fact that the storm was moving away we decide to relocate. Just as we were turning around, I spotted a needle-like formation descending from the lowering, revealing it to be a wall cloud. We stopped everything and watched as the needle descended all the way to the ground, making it my first tornado, nearly stationary in an open field south of the town. It was back-lit from our vantage point, and there was nothing to obstruct our view or really even any other chasers around us. Once the rope tornado dissipated (it lasted about 4 minutes) we relocated to see if the storm would produce again, and it did. It produced a family of landspouts out in open fields about a mile away from our position, one of which lasted some 25 minutes. I haven't had a chase go nearly as well as that one since then (in fact every chase since then was pretty awful), but I've got high hopes for 2015.
Case in point was the chase across Nebraska in early June. A meteorological set up that screamed potential across central Nebraska, but it quickly turned into a messy high wind squall line. Didn't help that there was a circus of chasers out chasing the same storm. What I would give to have not gone on that chase...
July came and so did my first trip to the Pacific Northwest. I spent a weekend in Seattle at another MLP con. The con itself was...okay, but what I really enjoyed was Seattle itself (the scenery in Washington is beautiful!) and some of the people I got to meet there (including one Living Tombstone). The evening before our trip home some friends and I took a trip to the Space Needle (the views from up there were awesome!) and explored Seattle for a good seafood joint. We found one on the banks of a river north of downtown, and the fish there was far and away the best fish I've ever had. For our trip back instead of going through Oregon and southern Idaho we decided to take I-90 across Montana...was not too impressed with most of Montana, though the Idaho panhandle was gorgeous.
Not much happened after that for awhile. Finally made it to my first concert and saw Linkin Park at Fiddler's Green Amphitheater (and through a series of insanely fortunate events I even got to meet them and get a copy of The Hunting Party signed)! Spent a weekend in Salt Lake City working a convention for drawponies
and chased a setup in South Dakota, but the only other thing of note from that point on was Running of the Leaves Con, which was an amazing success in its second year!
I've got a lot of high hopes for 2015, so if all goes well then 2015 will be the year that things really start happening for me.
I guess from here I'll just let the photos speak for themselves...