Totally Tornadic in Washington — By Jennifer Shipp
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Totally Tornadic in Washington — By Jennifer Shipp

029 We just barely made it to the open mic at the Mestizo Coffeehouse in Salt Lake City last night. After getting the pop up situated, preparing our food, and setting up the potty tent it was 9:30 PM. Open mic night at the Mestizo Coffee House at 631 W. North Temple starts at 9:00 on Friday nights. We walked in just as all the other musicians were closing up shop for the night.

It was a supportive group of people. Lydi and Camile went over and talked with the people in charge of the event. The other people in the room took their seats and some chairs were provided in the front of the room for the girls to play. It was a remarkably cool experience and definitely worth missing out on an hour of sleep.

But I was grumpy today as we made our way from Salt Lake City to Yakima, Washington. The drive was calculated at 10 hours and 25 minutes, but I think we’ll probably end up clocking in at 12 ½ hours by the time we pull into the RV park. We left early and I slept very poorly due to the suffocating heat in the tent camper, the smell of sewage from a nearby RV, and the impending sense that we’d be waking again in only 5 hours. The next day, I dozed part of the trip through Oregon with my mouth ajar, breathing heavily, my body and mind finally agreeing to work together so that I could feel rested by the end of the day at least.

Again, it was a day of changing landscapes. We’ve passed through five states since we began our journey in Nebraska and

Mestizo Coffee House in Salt Lake City, UT
Lydian and Camile standing outside at the coffee house.

there have been all sorts of landforms along the way, most of them fairly desolate except for the cars passing us on the interstate.

The open mic that I mapped out in Yakima turned out to be a dud. Lydi called to confirm the time and they’d changed it to Sunday nights (bummer). So Lydi and Camile will be playing at the RV park unless they can find some other place to jam, which is totally cool with me. I envision myself going for a nice long jog and then setting myself up on the bed to stare at the vinyl ceiling for an hour before falling asleep early so that I can wake up tomorrow fully human again.

As we reach the peak of a hill heading toward Yakima, a huge funnel cloud looms in the distance (or so it seems). Apparently, Washington and Oregon rarely see tornados, but this giant reaches toward the ground from what appears to be a wall cloud. I wouldn’t doubt for a moment that it was the beginning (or end) of a tornado if we were in Nebraska, but for all I know, I’m just looking at a strange pattern in condensation. You don’t hear a lot of news reports about tornados in the northwestern United States but anything is possible. We seem to bring a lot of weird weather patterns with us when we travel.

Despite the fact that I’ve gotten a little bit of extra sleep today, I’m still not totally

Apparent Funnel Cloud in Washington State
High winds and this strange looking cloud welcomed us to Washington.

with it tonight (perhaps the tornado is merely a hallucination). A clerk at a gas station in Pendleton, Oregon said to me, “Have a great day!” and I said, “Thanks.” And then, I hesitated and stared at him blinking. I thought isn’t there something I could say back to that? Instead I just turned around and left, later noting my odd state of consciousness.

Whenever there’s chaos in my life, I dream of strange, psychedelic tornados. “We won’t be able to set up the tent camper up in these winds.” John mused as I snapped photos of the exciting meteorological development to our west. Although I always hope for a little excitement, it’s best when it comes when I’m well-fed and fully rested.

But beggars can’t be choosers, I guess.

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