Getting the Photo by Beating Fear and Pushing Through the Storm in Orchard, Nebraska
Monday, December 1, 2014 at 12:54AM
Kaleidoscope of Color

There's a personal existential crisis this image reminds me of. It was made just this last Summer in Orchard, Nebraska during a particularly intense stretch of day that whipped the land with baseball-size hail and rare gigantic tornados. One that even split itself into a twisted monstrosity of conjoined twins just the day before.

I often get very lucky with the weather I endure on my motorcycle trips. Mostly because I've constantly got one eye on the cloud movement, how the wind is moving the trees, sensing the changes in temperature. I combine my observations on the ground with weather reports in not only the area I'm riding, but all of the towns in the extended region to get a bigger picture to better track and predict a potential storm's severity. When I get into the zone, I can call it with more accuracy than the best meteorologists.

However, this last Summer was different for some reason. There were just too many components changing radically with the whim of the breeze. I found myself frequently riding right into a severe storm or running for my life away from one. This was one of the several days I got it completely wrong and found myself focussed on the colors of the storm clouds to my left, changing into alien turquoise hues. The clouds and wind were maniacally angered as the temperature snapped down cold and hard in the blink of an eye.

Art Prints

I'd also been watching the rural countryside looking for images along the way when I saw this scene of an old farm house and vintage car for sale. Started looking for a place to pull over to make a shot, but then looked back over to my left. The cloud intensity had intensified even more in just the few seconds I'd looked away, and the colors changed in such as way that launched the following dialogue.

"Why are you stopping? Are you blind? Hit that throttle and keep moving compadre!"

"I know, I know... this is crazy and borderline suicidal. You're right, I better keep moving and focus on beating that storm and finding shelter."

Twisted the throttle full and laid on the gas tank to better cut through the intense wind. I figured if there were any cops around, they'd likely understand and let me slide as I bolted a good three or four miles down the highway. Until the dialogue plagued me once again.

"I'm sorry buddy, I'm going to have to turn back around and get that shot. It's what I do."

"That's just crazy hombre! You're going to risk your life for something as insignificant as a snap shot? What's wrong with you? No one will ever even give that image a second thought and nobody cares. Keep moving!"

"But, if I turn back now, I think I can get the shot and still make up the time. If it's so insignificant documenting the most memorable moments of my life, what is it I'm doing anyway? Should I just follow my passion when it's lovely and I shy away from the ones that induce real fear?"

"Are you even listening to me? Nobody freaking cares champ. This image isn't going to mean anything to anyone except for you. Now get these idiotic thoughts out of your head and focus on the highway."

"That does it. I'm turning around."


"I don't know where this obsession comes from, or if there's any benefit at all down the trail, but if this is't why I'm here and if I'm only doing this for the approval of others, then I should drop all of this and just head back home. This has to be something I do for me, and if I give in when it gets too uncomfortable, then I'm not being true to myself."

Pulled on both the front and rear brakes, hit the throttle full heading back to the farmhouse as the coming storm intensified even more.

Didn't even get off the bike. Found an acceptable spot on the highway and fired off a few shots until I was sure there was something acceptable, and then funneled the adrenaline of fear back onto the throttle. The wind was blowing me so hard that I was leaning with all my weight to the left side, but still being pushed almost all the way over to my right. It was all I could do just to keep the bike on the road as the rain and sleet began to punish my foolish arrogance.

"Now you're in it you imbecile. Happy now?"

"Actually, yes. I am happy now. The shot itself doesn't matter as much, but the fact I met fear and didn't cower, stayed true to my purpose, and am now riding an electrifying wave of focussed adrenaline all the way to beat this storm, makes this all worth the while."

It was right after that last thought that the other voice became silent.

Article originally appeared on Kaleidoscope of Color (
See website for complete article licensing information.