Tornado in Denver.
I've always been up for adventures. Spine chilling. Gut wrenching. Knot-in-throat. Jello legs. ...All in thirst for that last feeling of relief, thrill, and absolute adrenaline.
Even in fear, I've mastered the "fake it 'til you make it" mantra, while secretly unsure if I was making the best decision. But no life mantra could've prepared me for my first visit to Denver.
I landed in the Denver National Airport, after what seemed like a smooth ride with clear skies. Distracted by the beauty of this relatively newly built facility, its questionable murals, and the rumored conspiracies behind the airport's construction and purpose, I roamed around for a bit and absorbed my surroundings. However, my distraction was soon interrupted by my iPhone's emergency weather alert, cautioning of developing tornadoes. As my phone's piercing ring grew louder and louder, those around me began receiving alerts on their phones as well. The halls echoed with ringing and the relaxed air filled with anxiety. I spotted both the tornado shelter and ground transportation signs. Yet, instead of staying put, I was more concerned with getting to the convention center for a tradeshow booth I needed to set up. There goes work again: interfering with my life and safety!
So, like the workaholic that I was, instead of taking heed to the second alert that rang in, and the airport siren that began going off, this time advising to seek shelter and stay put for the next hour, I jumped into a taxi and yelled "Go! Go! Go!"
That man was just as crazy as I was. While other taxis sought cover and rejected customers, mine flew past the taxi line and got on the freeway. The sky began to drastically change in front of our eyes, strong winds kicking up, and dirt hitting the car at high speeds; it was only a few minutes before I began to see the dark sky begin to form a funnel cloud.
Crap. I'm in the movie, Twister. This is Twister. I'm a storm chaser, and this is Twister. They'll never believe me. I've got to take a photo.
I grabbed my camera and tried to get a good shot, but the car was driving too fast down the swerving roads and the windows were covered in dust. There was only one way to get a decent shot.
I opened the window and held on tightly to my camera. The cabbie glanced at me through his rear view mirror and said he'd seen much worse. I reached my hand out the window hoping it would be enough for a photo. It wasn't. The wind made my hands unsteady and the dirt interfered with my vision. I was blindly trying to record this moment while being chased by what looked like a developing funnel cloud. I needed to commit. So I propped myself up on the seat, onto my knees, and leaned the upper half of my body out of the window. If anything happened to me at that point, I was clearly asking for it. The cabbie held the car steady as much as possible and I started flicking away. We passed a few abandoned cars and continued down the deserted highway.
I got my shot and we survived the twister by a hair.
The sky cleared beautifully the moment we got out of its vicinity. The calm air made it hard to believe that there was just a funnel cloud nearby.
I'd been in Denver for less than 90 minutes and loved it already.