This past weekend we went to go see Phish at Deer Creek and Alpine Valley (pictures from the trip will be forthcoming on Flickr). This will be the first in a series of posts detailing our trip.
Friday morning started out with some final packing and last minute errands. I happened to be out (dropped the recycling off, filled the tank and checked the tire pressure) and on my way back home to pack up and go when I heard on the radio that we were under a thunderstorm warning. It was in the north-west suburbs and I hoped that it would stay to the north and not affect us. But, the sky to the west looked pretty bad.
I got home and told Carrie that we had to hurry up and try to beat the weather. (If it did hit, at least we’d be driving south and heading out of it.) I took a quick shower (like 5 minutes, tops) and by the time I got out it had already started raining. It started slow, but quickly escalated. Within minutes, it was a downpour, and even started hailing. Crap. I ran out and pulled the car up in front of our building so we could load up, but things were getting worse.
I ran back inside, where Carrie was collecting our luggage and other things by the door. I checked the local radar, hoping that I would see a small blob that would pass quickly. No such luck. It looked like it would last at the very least a half-hour, but likely much longer. If we waited for it to pass, we’d be potentially severely behind schedule.
So, I started lugging stuff out to the car to throw in the trunk. As the street was already flooded, I had to stand on the curb (which itself was under at least an inch of water) and toss the stuff into the trunk from the side. I had to do only one thing at a time, since I couldn’t set anything on the curb, and had to open and close the trunk each time to keep it, and the stuff in it, from becoming drenched. I fit as much as I could in this manner (obviously, I couldn’t really arrange everything to fit properly), and told Carrie to grab the rest of the stuff and meet me in the alley, so she could get in the car without trudging through the water – the alley being on slightly higher ground.
(It is worth mentioning that at one point I was standing in front of our building, in the rain, yelling and swearing: “God DAMMIT! Why couldn’t this have waited five fucking minutes more! Five FUCKING MINUTES!” I don’t remember exactly when in this narrative that occurred, but I’m sure all of our neighbors think I’m completely insane now.)
I climbed into the car through the passenger side (there was no way I could get to the other side of the car at this point, as the water was too deep), scooted across the back seat, and opened the driver’s side door enough to swing around from the back seat to the front. I was completely soaked at this point. (The umbrella was useless in this heavy rain, and I couldn’t really hold it while I was trying to load the car anyway.)
Carrie was just getting to the alley behind our building when I pulled around. We drove off and headed back into the streets. Unfortunately, most of the streets in our neighborhood were already flooded and littered with large tree branches, and we had to drive a few blocks up and around to get out to the main streets.
We still had to stop to pick get some ice before hitting the road, so that our beer and food would keep cold during the three-and-a-half-hour-on-a-hot-day drive. I figured we could just hit the gas station on our way out to Lake Shore Drive, and I could parking under the cover by the pumps and just run in to get the ice. When we got there I ran to the door to find it was locked. The girl inside was trying to tell me to pay through the window, thinking I just needed gas. This is the night-time procedure at the gas station, but it was 10:30 in the morning. I don’t know if the girl just didn’t want to clean up the mess from soaking wet people coming into the store, or what. But, since I couldn’t communicate with her effectively through the glass to explain that I just wanted a bag of ice, and more importantly was I standing in a torrential downpour, I ran back to the car.
I was angry to the point of shaking as I explained to Carrie that the door was locked and the attendant wouldn’t let me in. I spent some time swearing and besmirching the attendant’s character. We drove to the grocery store up the street, as we still needed to get ice before we hit the highway. Luckily, while it was still raining, it had subsided a bit from the monsoon by the time we got there. (It didn’t matter much to me at that point, since I was completely drenched, but Carrie was merely a little wet at this point.)
We spent a little time in the store getting the ice and a few other things to take with us for the drive. It was nice to be out of the rain, plus there was a chance the rain might pass while we were in there. But, such was not the case. At least it still wasn’t as bad as it had been only minutes earlier when we were at the gas station.
Back out to the car, we loaded the ice into the cooler in the trunk and got in the car. Luckily, we had a couple of towels that Carrie packed to dry off a little with. Plus, one of the bags that I couldn’t put in the trunk and put in the back seat instead was my own luggage. I was able to change my shirt, socks and shoes before hitting the road (I had no desire to drive that far in wet shoes). Carrie couldn’t change, but she wasn’t as thoroughly soaked as I was.
Out to Lake Shore Drive. There was standing water along the outer lanes, so we had to keep to the middle two lanes. Some people tried driving in the outer lane, sending up walls of water as they drove by. At one point, there were three lanes closed due to a very large tree that had been blown over on to the highway.
Soon enough, we were far enough south to be out of the worst of it (which was starting to taper off, anyhow) and on our way to Indianapolis, not too far behind schedule.
Next up: Deer Creek (which I refuse to call by their new corporate moniker).