Anna the Intern – Lightning Chaser Extraordinaire!

It has been a lightning-filled summer here at Custer State Park. I’m not a meteorologist so I have no idea why, but the sky has been filled with lightning almost every night whether it rains or not. Sometimes it’s a distant thunderstorm over Rapid City and sometimes it’s just dry lightning directly over the park, but it’s been pretty cool regardless.

But not everyone agrees with me. For reasons I cannot grasp, Dennis and my boyfriend and a couple other people who work with me are afraid of lightning. Ok, when confronted with the phrase “afraid,” they’ll deny it fervently, but let’s just say they are extremely and, in my opinion, unnecessarily cautious when it comes to thunderstorms. My boyfriend insists that lightning is powerful and should be respected while Dennis launches into rants about how dangerous lightning strikes can be…yadda, yadda.

But I want a lightning photo!

Like this!

Like this!


Or this!

Or this!


Or even this!

Or even this!


I don’t even know if my camera(s) have a fast enough shutter speed, but I’d like to try and capture the light as it shoots across the sky in bolts. Because of this, when stormy clouds rolled into the park today, I headed for Mount Coolidge.

Mount Coolidge serves as the park’s lookout point for almost anything; fire, buffalo, nuclear warheads, Batman – you name it. It’s high up and has lots of tall metal posts, so I was breaking pretty much every lightning rule there is and I acknowledge that it was mildly stupid. You see, I respect weather, but I also surrender to it. I’m not going to go 20s-era pole sitting during a storm, but in my opinion if lightning wants to strike you, it’s going to strike you. There are too many “I was in the safest place possible and I still got struck!” stories out there for me to ever think I could hide from fate.

So, I drove up the steep winding road hoping to capture something cool for our Facebook page (facebook.com/custerstatepark – like us!) or for a future brochure, I didn’t know. I just knew it would be cool.

And then the clouds cleared. As if by some magic, the clouds moved on and I was left standing on top of a hill in the brilliant sunshine. I was disappointed, but I still snapped some photos. This is the best one I got:

You'll notice there's a lack of lightning. Or bad weather at all.

You’ll notice there’s a lack of lightning. Or bad weather at all.


Or maybe this one:
Of course, it looks like Narnia when I need it to look like Mordor.

Of course, it looks like Narnia when I need it to look like Mordor.


So, I’ll keep chasing the lightning until I get what I want. Maybe it’ll never happen and maybe it will, but until then, I’ll be that crazy person driving toward the storm instead of away from it.

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