The crimson sun sets in the west, over a hazy sky, as my little american airlines turboprop settles toward the runway. I have the absolute very last seat on the plane, and am the first to step off and into the tiny joplin airport.
I cought my first sight of the tornado waste driving through joplin to wyandotte. The carnage is breathtaking. There is a fat slash several miles long, by several blocks wide, gouged east/west right through th middle of the town. Entire shopping centers and suburb tracks are shredded, what was a joanne fabrics 5 days ago is a torn up mess of rubble. There are police roadblocks and the national guard is out to help direct traffic, enforce curfew to prevent looting.
I stop at the first roadblock I see, and chat with the officers and guardsman. They welcome me, offer their gratitude for coming to help, and direct me to missouri southern university where the volunteer effort is headquartered. I drive there, and register my self. There are many volunteers I hear, while the place is empty, in the morning several thousand will flock there, to be broken up into work parties, and bussed out into the town. Then, I drive to find dday adventure park.
Lesson learned. Smart phone and other technology are good tools, but can never ever replace knowing where you ae going, and old fashioned maps.
I couldn’t find dday adventure park entrace, so I parked off the road and spread sleeping bag under the stars by two old rusted car bodies and the sign that points to the entrance which I couldn’t find. Its so dark here at night, no moon is out, very sparse population leads to nonexistent night glow.
It is past midnight, dark, I am alone, I was lost driving in circles, the thick vegetation and sounds of this place are creepy and foreign. Yet after I emptied my pockets and stripped off my boots, and cocoon into my sleeping bag to rest, I feel much better. With all of the cars lights off, my eyes adjust to the dark, and suddenly I can see.
Then as I am writing this on my phone, a band of coyotes not far choruses to the night sky, and is soon joined by a second pack of the little prarie wolves, howling off in the distance to my left. What a beautiful sound, what magnificent creatures. Even here 1500 miles away from my. Hills in riverside, the coyotes have a distinctly different note, but their presence is unmistakable. Suddenly, though far away from the southwestern desert that I have come to know and love, I feel at peace, at home. I can sleep now. Then in the morning I can figure out where the hell I am supposed to go.
Just as I finish up writing, a car drives out past me. I am suddenly worried when I hear it stop, and see it re erse back to scrutinize my rental grey impala and sleeping bag clad figure next to it. Yet I am just beginning to learn the wwarmth of the people here. The driver asks me if verything is alright. I chirp up yes, that in the dark I couldn’t find the entrance. He assures me that it is just down the road, that he would come check on me again in the morning. He says he is Geo, one of the event staff. He directs me to the trailer where my contact, one of the two hosts, is staying. I will go find him come morning. It is nearly 2am central time. Time to sleep.