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Cocoa, Florida, lightning by Chris Kridler
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The railyard in Garden Spot Village’s model train setup.

I’m traveling right now, but it’s not what it sounds like. I’m actually dealing with a family crisis and trying to work in the scant time in between. Still, I took a short break today and visited a wonderful model train display. I would say toy trains, because it sounds more fun, but I think the serious train guys might object.

The display is located at Garden Spot Village, a retirement community in New Holland, Pennsylvania. It was open for a couple of hours today during a fall festival. So I spent a few minutes decompressing and imagining myself in the tiny world of the trains through the eye of my iPhone.

This is a laid-back little video. The models range from various gauges traversing sophisticated settings to cute Thomas the Tank Engine trains. The attention to detail is fantastic. If only I’d had more time to capture it all! I suppose the same could be said of life. My thoughts are certainly running that way as I see a dear family member struggling with age and illness.

Treasure the time you have, friends.

The SpaceX Inspiration4 launch from Cape Canaveral, as seen from Cocoa, Florida.

It was a beautiful night for a rocket launch this evening in Cocoa, Florida, where I set up a Nikon and a GoPro to capture the launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. This was a special mission – Inspiration4, the first private human spaceflight mission to orbit. Commissioned by Shift4 Payments CEO Jared Isaacman, it aims to raise awareness for the St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. And also, no doubt, to mount a landmark adventure.

The rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral at 8:02 p.m. EDT. A few clouds made the launch even more beautiful as the rocket lit them during its ascent, and then the sun caught the vehicle and its contrail, creating the “jellyfish” effect one often sees just after sunset or just before dawn. The SpaceX launches are always visually interesting at night for their colorful effects during the journey, especially when captured with a zoom lens, as in this post.

Tonight, I used purely a wide angle lens on the Nikon D7100, my trusty 12-24mm, and I stacked a handful of images to create the still photo. I probably could’ve gotten a cool image just by leaving the shutter open, but I wanted to try it this way. I set the GoPro to shoot in “nightlapse” mode to produce the video.


Back when I published the Storm Seekers novels, I made book trailers for FUNNEL VISION and ZAP BANG – but not for TORNADO PINBALL. And I LOVE this book. I was crazy busy, time went by, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it, in spite of the challenges involved in teasing to a book that plays like a big-budget movie in my mind.

Well, while I don’t have a special-effects budget, I have lots of tornado footage! And while I’d love to see this book made into a film someday – because we need more good movies about storm chasers – the books and their trailers will have to suffice.

Without further ado, here is the debut of the book trailer for Book 2, TORNADO PINBALL.

About the book

“Tornado Pinball” is a storm-chasing adventure and the sequel to “Funnel Vision,” by Chris Kridler.

Just when TV shows about storm chasing can’t get any more extreme, along comes a production company with the ultimate exploit: the Bubble, a manned tornado probe. As the reluctant consultant, expert storm chaser Jack Andreas must get the show’s nervous star, failed tour operator Brad Treat, into a twister. But Jack is losing his customary cool as a comedy of errors unfolds. Distracting him is co-star Saffire, a Hollywood actress who is more than she seems, and producer Wynda, who will do anything to make her documentary succeed. The daring star of another show pursues them, desperate for a shot with his own flying machine. As the disasters mount, will Jack be able to launch their device into a tornado?

The sequel to FUNNEL VISION, a Storm Seekers novel, TORNADO PINBALL delivers an unforgettable adventure with action, humor, romance and stunning storms. Learn more on the books page.