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Anything outdoors!  Tornadoes, eagles, blizzards, or auroras.  If it is in the sky, running through the woods or swimming in the water, I'm there!

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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Shots from last weekend and a few thoughts on the loss of Andy Gabrielson

Wow, I never thought it would go down like this. The next person who says they are not surprised by the death of Andy Gabrielson is a liar. Um, his chasing style didn't kill him. A drunk driver did. Call it the law of averages or whatever. There are a lot of people who are not chasers who drive as many (or more) miles. Some say Andy used up his mythical 9 lives. Maybe. Was the November rollover his last wake up call from God? Not likely. Bottom line is I may not have condoned how Andy chased or what appeared to be a lack of ability to put one's life priorities in the correct order, but I respected the guy. He lived. He didn't just survive. His father, Greg, made a good point regarding Andy's life in the fact he did more in a decade than most people do in a lifetime. How true was that? The best laugh I ever had with Andy wasn't in person but over the impersonal void we call electronic communication. The week after the August 7, 2010 Wilkin county MN EF4, KQRS (KQ92) in Minneapolis had some fun with our respective audio tracks from our videos that day. Andy and I both got railed by the morning show crew for having thick Minnesota accents. I sent Andy the link and he agreed...we both sounded like we walked out of the movie Fargo.

What a wild ride. From some punk kid who annoyed the heck of me with question after question back in the mid 2000's to becoming a pinnacle chaser to becoming a drunk driver statistic at the age of 24. What an incredible climb and what a horrible, unfair end to a life. Again, I may not have approved of how he did what he did, but who I am to judge? Last Saturday Andy met the only entity who has the authority to do that. We all will one day. I will truly miss his contributions to the storm chasing and media world. If there was one guy who could get me to say " he is f'n nuts" at the end of a chase day....it was Andy G.

In wrapping up this subject, I appeal....no I PLEAD, to Andy's close friends as a parent. The reality of the fact is his daughter is too young to remember her dad other than possibly a few fuzzy memories. It is going to be very important she gets to know WHO her dad was and not WHAT he was. He may have been one hell of a chaser with some of the biggest brass balls when it was showtime, but in the end it really doesn't matter. It's going to be important she knows what type of man her dad was, his character, his personality, and most importantly, his integrity as a human being. It's the least you can do for her as she grows. Please don't fail her.

Before receiving the awful news about Andy late Saturday afternoon, the weekend started out on a much happier note. I have been on an 18 month quest to get a decent shot of a snowy owl. There was one last year near Clearwater Lake which I was never able to locate. This year is the invasion of the snowy. Report after report of the stunning white birds have been pouring in since November. I caught a glimpse of one near the airport in our town about 2 months ago but never saw it again. Several bird clubs reported seeing one on the lake behind our house but I never saw it...even if it was the same one. Then came a last ditch effort on Saturday along the glacial ridge in central Minnesota which forms the boundary between the great open plains to the west and the scrub / hardwood forests to the east. It looks a lot like the tundra with gently rolling hills covered in grass or snow (depending on the year). Success.





There it was. FINALLY! Surveying the landscape from a short pole near a turkey farm in Stearns county. I was shaking as bad as a 12 year old kid on their first deer hunt. 500mm handheld was a problem. After a few deep breaths my ability to focus (pun intended) was back on track and I shot frame after frame of this wonderful creature. After about 40 minutes, something caught the owl's attention and he took off to the east. I tried to keep a visual on him but the section of land he was in was over 6 square miles of rolling grass covered hills and I lost him. Excitement was an understatement at this point. I can honestly say I think this was as exciting as my first tornado many years ago.

Sunday was, well, pretty crappy. I was still shook about Andy's death and the persistent fog was dragging my spirits down but I still went out for a short jaunt to clear my head.




The hoarfrost from Saturday and Sunday mornings due to the freezing fog:



Hanging on a thread from my kayak rack on the truck.



Another shot of the kayak rack.









Horribly processed...but it is good to seem them still working on the nests. Spring is not too far off now!



Geese heading back north upstream along the river...another sign of things to come.



And finally an example of nature doesn't always clean up. The river otters have been back on one of their favorite feeding rocks. Hmmmm, wonder how those things taste? No thanks!

So, onward and upward. I will be making a road trip on Saturday to pay my respects to Andy's family, friends (chasers or not)in Luvurne, MN. I was not close to Andy but chasers are a unique breed. We stick together.

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