Thursday, August 02, 2007

The Lunchtime Commute as an Extreme Sport

A Message from Tuesday's Karen:
The way things are going at the moment, it's becoming clear that this entry, a photo essay, can't be completed tonight. You see, I did buy the SONY Vaio for $599.99, and it's currently copying files from my external hard drive. Guess where my edited photos for this entry are? You've got it - on my external hard drive! So I'm going to save this to draft, do a quick entry about the computer instead, and finish this Wednesday night. See you then!

Okay, it's Wednesday night and I've made much progress on setting up the VAIO. My Word docs and photos are on it now, I've installed Office 2003, PhotoStudio 5.5 and Firefox, and even managed to track down and copy in my AOL saved mail and such. At the moment it looks as though the only major casualties of changing computers are OmniPage SE (a free version of OCR software, but not Vista compatible), and the software that came with my current camera (I can't find the CD, but I didn't like it anyway). So. Time to double back and tell you folks about yesterday's storm.

Oh, I knew it was raining. How could I not? It was 2 PM Tuesday, and co-workers were congregated at that windows, looking out on the worst storm so far this year. I was reminded of a line from Arizona 101, a book we bought when we got to town 21 years ago: "When everyone rushes to the windows, it's raining." Yup!

I didn't have an umbrella with me, or a jacket, or a hat, but I went home for lunch anyway. Partly it was to eat a cheap lunch out of the freezer (got to economize to pay for this computer!), but mostly I wanted to experience the fully glory of the storm, even if it meant getting soaked! And I did. I was parked not only "beyond the berm," but in one of the furthest possible spaces, behind a different company's building - the best space available when I'd arrived at work, later than most people. It was raining hard and the parking lot was under several inches of water. I even saw a whirlpool over a storm drain beyond the berm. By the time I got to my car I was thoroughly soaked.

And this is what I saw when I got in - a windshield with darn near zero visibility, and a temperature reading about 20 degrees cooler than it had been 4 1/2 hours earlier.

Driving home was a real challenge, not just because of the flooding, but because the visibility was kind of poor. It wasn't the worst I've driven in, but it was the worst in AZ. The very worst was on a fogged-in freeway near Pomona, California. The second worst was driving the Bee Line between Orlando and Cape Canaveral in a torrential downpour, back when the Bee Line had hardly any exits, no shoulders, and alligator-infested canals on either side of the road.

To be honest, I should admit that I saw the road a little better than the camera did. This photo is unedited except for resizing and a "sharpen lightly."

It was still challenging driving, though, that stretch of three miles or so along Wilmot. And Calle Mumble was a lake again.

I got home safely, threw my shirt in the dryer and grabbed my jacket to wear on the return trip. By the time I went back to work, the storm was mostly over, but not the flooding.

When I left the office, the clouds were doing that cool thing they do over the slopes of the Catalinas. The roads were well on their way to being dry. I decided to drive over to the wash behind the high school, and see whether it was passable. It was.

And kids were hanging out in the wash itself.

My squelching shoes didn't dry until late in the evening, but the streets were almost dry at 8 PM when I drove across town to buy the laptop. Good thing, too!


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