Catching 22

After the last of the west Texas tornadoes on 12 June, we spent a couple of days sightseeing and meandering northwestward toward Colorado, to spend some time with Elke’s parents and head into the mountains before the vacation ended. The weather pattern had turned largely benign for supercells, and the annual end-of-season “death ridge” (named for its extermination of major potential for severe weather) had set in.

We had been deprived by late arrival hours of the traditional, celebratory steak dinners after the prior two days’ tornadoes, so we spent a good chunk of the 13th eating Texas beef at my favorite Panhandle restaurant, the Texas Land and Cattle Company outlet in south Lubbock. [Take it from a real Texan. They know how to do mesquite fired steak.] That was followed by a toasty afternoon driving and hiking through the Palo Duro Canyon and a night in Dalhart.

The next day, we meandered through the volcanic fields of northeastern New Mexico, shooting wildflowers (such as lupine and thistle before collecting some rock samples and heading over toward I-25.

In a Trinidad fueling station, I filled up the tank and strolled in to pay, soon to discover that the most memorable moments in a “chase vacation” may be human interactions have nothing at all to do with storms. For background: As always, I topped off the tank to a symmetric price (often, say, $21.21 or $30.30) in order that the authentic gasoline charges stand out on my credit card. Recall also that Emmitt Smith’s jersey number was 22.

Standing amidst the various Denver Broncos trinkets for sale, the clerk noticed my Dallas Cowboys cap and “ALL TIME” t-shirt, picturing Emmitt Smith and commemorating his all-time NFL rushing record. In a somewhat skeptical tone she said, “All time best, huh?”

My response surprised even me, because I usually don’t have such a quick wit: “Absolutely. Why do you think I bought $22.22 in gas?”

For a brief moment, her face jolted into a priceless, slack-jawed expression of stupefaction. She then shook her head slowly and said, “Wow. I guess you are a big fan, huh?” I simply signed the slip, smiled, nodded and strolled away, amused at how the absolutely unintentional coincidence of that shirt and my gas purchase made one Bronco fan feel a little less robust about her own football allegiance.


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.