Summer vacation: Terror in the Tent, part II

After recovering from the fright of a snake slithering over my sandals and the horror of crushed feet there was more traveling to do for this summer vacation. (Read part one of this adventure.) I rolled with the punches and pretended I didn’t live through terror in the tent. Rolling with the punches included getting up way too early, packing up camp, and roasting in the car for eight hours. The highlight of the day was stopping for ice cream in a small town on the Nebraska-Colorado border. We had permission to order anything we wanted. So of course, we all ordered the decadent and rare treat of ice cream sundaes. He served four of us immediately. Then the server disappeared into a back room for about ten minutes. The three who were not served were curious, then irritated. By the time the server reappeared, my father had finished his ice cream. The server took Dad’s sundae dish, washed it, and filled it with an ice cream sundae which he served to me. And so it went. As each of the first four finished, their dish was washed and refilled until the last three had their ice cream. The seven […]

Summer Vacation: Terror in a Tent

When I was kid summer vacations were about getting away from home. I grew up in Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio cities. Often childhood family vacations were trips to visit grandparents and aunts and uncles. In my teens, my family chose the adventure of camping. But sometimes the adventure turned into terror in a tent. At first, our camping vacations were to area lakes and parks. This time we were going to visit the Rocky Mountains. Now, I was already an insatiable reader. Usually, I spent camping trips reading ensconced in one of those folding chairs with that plastic webbing. I did some fishing, some hiking, and enjoyed cookouts and campfires. But stories were my thing even then. This time, though, I looked forward to the adventure of visiting the Rockies. Being a female teen I was up for an adventure to the mountains as long as I could wear cool clothes. No, I don’t mean the latest fad. I mean cool. We spent hours and hours in a four-door sedan. My younger brother, my much younger tomboy sister, my infant brother, my parents, my father’s “ancient” mother, and I squeezed into the “comfortable for four” car. Seven people in an […]

The Special Effects of the Sky: Thunder and Lightning

It’s May in Kansas which means the special effects of the sky: thunder and lightning get a workout. Thunderstorms affect us in a powerful, emotional way. Our response to thunder and lightning shows up in everyday speech, in literature, and on the weather channel. Below is a collection of facts and fantasy all about thunder and lightning. “They say all marriages are made in heaven, but so are thunder and lightning.”  ― Clint Eastwood Fact: Warm, humid, near-the-surface air rises and cools. Water vapor in the air condenses into a cloud and releases heat. Which makes the air around it warmer and it rises and cools and condenses. This process continues until a tall convective cloud is formed. This is the thunderstorm. The cloud can reach up to 12 miles high. What if NASA invented thunderstorms to cover up space battles? Fact: The sudden increase in pressure and temperature caused by lightning results in the sound we call Thunder. The sound is refracted through the lower layer of the atmosphere and reflected off the Earth’s surface. Temperature, air density, and the curvature and composition of the earth affect how the thunder sounds. “Lightning doesn’t strike twice, but you know, baby Nothing is […]