I actually figured this out last night.
Mostly because I was going downtown for a Girls Night Out (GNO, hereafter) at Fulton’s by the River. It was raining and scheduled to keep raining. I’m nothing if not prepared, so I brought my umbrella. It was one of the little fold up ones that would be easy to take into the restaurant and carry on the train.
I first realized there was a problem when I stepped out of Ogilvie and opened said umbrella. It was one of the tiny short umbrellas that really can cover only about three-quarters of a person. Unfortunately, this umbrella was also partially broken, so one side of it flopped down sadly.
I was not to be deterred, however, and soldiered on to the restaurant. When we left, it was raining harder, and it’s possible that I got a touch damp.
Before I continue with my narrative, please note that I know this is nothing compared to the devastation being wreaked by Ike in Texas right now. I feel for everyone there (including my friends’ parents who are without power and didn’t stock up on food), and I pray that everyone is safe and that normalcy is restored quickly. The below is meant to poke fun at me and not to belittle the suffering of anyone experiencing an actual hurricane.
Today, the rain continued. In fact, it was supposed to rain more and harder today than yesterday.
But today is a Saturday in the fall. That means college football, and yes, Northwestern had a home game. Neither rain (been there), nor snow (done that) nor dark of night (done that, too) shall keep me from my appointed seat.
I prepared. I work shorts and a tee-shirt, knowing I’d never be able to keep jeans and a long sleeve tee dry under my poncho. I packed a backpack with three pairs of socks, a pair of jeans and two more tee shirts, one long sleeved. I added binoculars in case the rain was bad enough that I’d move to high seats under the overhang. I took out my camera from my purse (and oh did I wish I had it several times today!) to avoid it getting ruined, ditto with my Blackberry. I brought along a semi waterproof lined jacket. Oh, and I packed a chamois to dry our seats.
We drove my husband’s car. He has a Camry. Given the weather, I would have driven mine, but he got to the cars first and was waiting for me in his car with it running directly behind mine, so I said nothing.
As we were driving on the Edens, traffic suddenly slowed to essentially a stop just south of Tower Road. Having listened to traffic that morning while getting ready just a little before that, I knew that there had been several accidents and that it was tight by Touhy. I figured it was just that.
As we got closer to Skokie Blvd (our exit, of course) we finally realized that the three lanes of traffic were merging to one. Because under an overpass, there was a river. And this river was deep. And cars were slowly braving this torrent. One by one.
My husband started freaking out. He found out the hard way that Camry’s have the air intake valve under the engine. Yeah, he figured this out when he ruined the engine of his last Camry (long before I knew him) driving through water that didn’t look as deep as this did.
So he did what any logical person would (read: not me).
We backed up the three quarters of a mile to the Tower Road exit. When we got there, we saw many cars in the waiting traffic turning around and driving up the exit ramp. He waited for a break and then u-turned it and drove up the ramp.
It was about this point that I addressed the radio and told the Wildcats that I expected good football karma for all that I was going through to get to the game.
As we drove east on Tower Road, we got ohhhh a half mile before the police had the road closed due to flooding.
Now. If you were a normal person (I’m not claiming that I am), what would you do here? Keep in mind that I have attended every home game of Northwestern’s since the fall of 1994 (except one that occurred before school started when I worked the summer in Minnesota).
Lucky me, I’ve spent a little bit of time in the Skokie / Winnetka / Evanston area.
We turned around and I started finding roads I knew were major enough to not dead end into neighborhoods, and we started jogging south and east. Twice we ran into more flooded roads and had to turn around to try another route. Once we ran into fairly deep standing water, but my husband decided he could brave it. At three miles per hour so we wouldn’t create many waves.
And somehow, we made it to the stadium before kickoff. Phew! Of course, this is when I dared to mention to my husband that I was a little concerned about getting home. As much trouble as we’d had already and knowing that it was going to continue to rain for the entire game, I wasn’t optimistic. But that was a worry for after the game.
I put my backpack on front ways, knowing that it wouldn’t be comfortable to sit with it on my back. Oh, and that I’d look pregnant so the security guards would let me take my backpack into the stadium. The jacket went over the backpack, and the poncho over the jacket. I left my purse on the outside, so I’d have something for security to search. As I’m typing this, I realize that I’ve been to way too many sporting events that I can think all this through without breaking a sweat.
My broken umbrella protected me from getting too wet, and when we got to the stadium, I tossed it into the pile of umbrellas others had to abandon. I did this before being asked, and unzipped my tiny purse for security to check. The guy looked at me and waved me through without looking at anything. Pregnant ladies wouldn’t do anything untoward, you know?
The chamois was pure brilliance, I must say. No matter how much it rained, I could just wring it out, wipe down the seats if needed and stay dry. I saw others with towels. Amateurs. They’d use the towel to push some water to the side, but inevitably, they were soaked.
Of course, I didn’t do a good job of instructing the rest of the crew. My husband had on jeans and a long sleeve tee. My friend had on grey velour pants (that she could at least wring out) and a shell that was only mostly waterproof. Her husband had on khakis (which are see through when wet we discovered) and a windbreaker. They were all soaked. Hugely soaked.
At halftime, we went into the concourse to dry off and so my friends could get something to eat. It was then that my friend’s husband discovered that his Blackberry was toast. It really didn’t like sitting in a wet pocket in his jacket. He dried it off as best he could and we placed it into my warm, dry backpack. Midway through the third quarter, he realized that his bluetooth was in the same pocket, and we’re pretty sure that’s toast, too.
I also took this opportunity to change my socks into dry ones. My shoes were somewhat wet, but not totally squishy. New socks really made a difference.
At the end of halftime, I used the chamois to again clean the seats, while snickering at the woman a couple rows ahead of us sitting on a towel that was just soaking in water from everywhere and depositing it on her bottom.
When the game ended (33-7, Northwestern beat Southern, thank you very much), we walked to the exit, and my broken umbrella was, not surprisingly, still there. No one had tried to steal it, and I had additional cover as we walked to the car.
We did (obviously) make it home safely. We sort of cheated though. Knowing that the roads into the city from Evanston weren’t flooded, we went to my friends’ house and hung out there to watch the Michigan game. By the time we left at 7, the Kennedy was back to normal and we didn’t run into any standing water.
The only thing I didn’t think of? A second pair of shoes to put on after we got back to the car. Putting my shoes on when we left my friends’ house was not pleasant. It was pretty much the same skin crawling sensation of putting on a cold wet swimsuit, just on my feet.
Here’s hoping my purple Pumas dry out by next Saturday. After all, we play Ohio, and they played Ohio State tough!
PS Wish us luck. We’re supposed to fly to St Louis tomorrow for the Rams game. The blue line and the 190 ramp were both shut down earlier today due to flooding, and it is supposed to keep raining all night tonight and all day tomorrow. I’m a glutton for punishment, aren’t I?