December 29, 2004

Worst Conditions I've Driven In Locally!!!

I've lived in generally sunny San Diego, California, since January of 1955, and I have never, ever, ever driven in worse conditions here than I did just now!

It's 2:30 a.m. and I've been home about 25 minutes. I went to Winston's in Ocean Beach on Tuesday night and enjoyed four excellent performances by Joanie Mendenhall, Marcia Claire, Carol Ames and Saturns Day.

The sounds of rock 'n' roll inside the building had kept me oblivious to what was happening outside, though, because when I walked out into a light rain around 1:30 a.m., I immediately knew something bad was up weatherwise, as I spotted pieces of palm trees lying all over nearby Narragansett Avenue. I was parked across the street from Winston's on Bacon, so I carefully turned left onto Narragansett and worked my way through the debris as I began what would be a pretty scary drive home.

I turned left onto Cable Street and followed it north to West Point Loma Boulevard, where I found lots more pieces of palm trees to dodge around as I made my way to Sunset Cliffs Boulevard. I took that north to Highway 8, where things really got hairy. As I headed east, rain began pouring down in the proverbial buckets and sheet after sheet of water blew across the freeway, while bright bursts of lightning lit up the night sky!

I felt pretty confident about my own driving ability and also about the fairly new Michelin tires on my Ford Ranger, but I was kind of worried that someone else might spin out and smash into me. I therefore decided to get off the freeway a few miles early at Qualcomm Way, rather than going all the way east to my normal exit at Waring Road. Then I headed north toward Friars Road.

When I tried to turn east onto Friars, however, I found my way blocked by a tree that had fallen completely across the on-ramp. I carefully backed down the ramp, then turned around and headed south on Qualcomm Way to Rio San Diego Drive, where I turned left and headed east again. I drove rather slowly and circled around lots of tree pieces that were scattered all over the road. There was one limb I didn't spot soon enough, though, so I ran right over that one! Fortunately it was a pretty small limb.

I took Fenton Parkway back to Friars, and eventually made it to Zion and headed up the hill, working my way around more pieces of trees as I went. At the top of Zion I turned left onto Glenroy and drove toward my house. A couple of blocks before I reached home, I had to move all the way to the left side of the street to get around a tree that had fallen almost all the way across the roadway.

The rain had started to let up by the time I pulled into my driveway. I saw that the gate to my backyard was blown open, but I was relieved to see that the large, tall jacaranda tree in my neighbor's yard was still standing. Every time we have bad winds, I worry that thing will fall over and land on my garage, which is where the office and computer I'm sitting at right now are located.

I did find some damage in my backyard, though, as a drain pipe on the patio roof had blown completely down, along with part of some latticework beside it. I was able to put the drain back up, but part of the plastic had broken off, so it's a bit leaky now.

As I said above, these are the worst conditions I can ever remember driving in here in San Diego. I drove through a blizzard near Chicago, Illinois, way back in February of 1973, when I went from San Diego to Grand Rapids, Michigan, during a mid-winter snow storm, so that entire trip still rates as my #1 bad-weather driving experience, but tonight's 10-mile drive is now #2 in my memory book!

I hope everyone else who left Winston's around the same time I did also made it home safely! I was thinking about going to Lestat's Wednesday night, but if it rains again, I'm staying home!

It's now 3:12 a.m. and I just heard a tremendously loud clap of thunder! The rain has begun pouring down again. I'm going to post this message and try to get some sleep. I suspect tomorrow will be a busy day, as there will be lots of stuff to clean up and other stuff to fix.

Posted at 3:20 AM in San Diego