Des Plaines, IL. November 10, 2003. 

Michael graduated from Navy Basic Training in October (Congratulations Mike!), Dave graduated from Sub School (Groton CT.) in Mid September, and we've got pictures to prove it.

Now that was a trip to remember!  Hurricane Isabel charging up the East coast, G & I charging East in a mad dash to crash into it...

So anyway, we decided to head out to Groton to be there for Dave's ceremony marking the end of his year of training at the  Connecticut. Submarine training facility.  The ceremony was on Friday the 19th, and G and I left Des Plaines on Wednesday morning (not 3 a.m.).  We figured we could get half way that day, then the rest of the way on Thursday, spending the night in the Groton area.  That way, we could just go to the graduation.  

Of course nothing goes as planned.  Dave and some friends had gotten into a bit of trouble, and he was concerned that maybe we wouldn't be able to get in for the ceremony due to his restrictions.  Well, G and I thought that we needed a vacation anyway, so we'd go and if we couldn't get in, we would sightsee in NYC, Salem Mass, etc.  So we drove through to Pittsburg on Wednesday, and as we pulled into the Hotel parking lot, we saw two things of interest.

The first was that the motor started dying on corners and when we stopped.  Not a good feeling at the start of a road trip.  The second was that the parking lot was full of electric company utility trucks.  There seemed to be a convention of the Detroit Edison IBEW, but it wasn't local.  We guessed that they were staging up for the expected landfall of Hurricane Isabel.

We checked in and asked where the nearest Pontiac dealership was.   We called, they could take us if we left right away, we headed out.  They assured us that they could take care of it by morning, and they gave us a ride back to the hotel.  On the way, my ex (Dave's mom) called to say that Dave said we wouldn't be able to get in.  She was hoping to reach us before we left Chicago.  Oh, well... So we decided to head to Philadelphia, visit the Liberty Bell, then New York, you know, the touristy stuff.  

Wright Pontiac was true to their word, and they picked us up (along with our luggage) on Thursday morning just after the fleet of Detroit Edison trucks pulled out.  We got the car loaded up, and found our way back to the eastbound PA Turnpike.  It started out with a mix of clouds and sunshine, but the clouds were amazing!  You could see the rotation patterns in the sky from the low pressure area that had been designated "Isabel", and we were at least 500 miles away.

As we tooled East, we passed a whole lot of other power company convoys getting in position for a quick response.  It had been a very wet summer, and the ground was saturated already.  With the oncoming winds, they expected a lot of trees to fall, taking out power lines. (I've dated a variety of women, but I've never taken out a power line.  I have tried some power lines, like "That's a gorgeous dress you're wearing."  Watt am I saying?)  Anyway, hat's off to all the linemen that got involved in the cleanup.  I think I saw most of you on the road.

The weather slowly turned more gloomy, and we got into a lot of rain in the afternoon.  Izzie hit shore in North Carolina about Noon that day  (Thursday), and it's projected path was right up the Chesapeake and Delaware watersheds.  That's like the Eastern two thirds of Pennsylvania.  It was going to get us, but it would just be a bad storm by the time it got to where we would be.  And so we checked into a hotel to the north of Philadelphia, and got ready to sleep through the worst of it.

We got another call from Dave's mom at about 9 p.m. with the message that if we could be at the base gate at 7 a.m. Friday morning, we could get in for the ceremony.  So let's see; 10 hours, it's 4 hours away (at least), need some sleep,  OK, we'll leave at Friday morning, 3 a.m.  This way, we can get some sleep, and miss the New York rush hours. 

We hit the last leg of the PA turnpike at about 3:15, and head off into New Jersey.  What we didn't count on, was that Izzie was coming through the area as we drove, and that we'd be following it up through NJ, NY, and NE. G did a great job on the first shift of driving, and got us to the end of the NJ Turnpike.  She got some more sleep as I plowed on through upper Manhattan, the Bronx, and onto the New England Turnpike.  Rain, Rain, Rain!!! blowing winds that make it hard to see the road in normal conditions, but everything seamed to be under construction, with narrow lanes. 

After getting past a gapers block (massive multi- truck/car accident on the Westbound side), the rain seemed to die down a bit, and the construction finally ended.  My nerves were frazzled, but I could relax a bit.  We watched the clock and the ebbing darkness as we commented that "we didn't think Connecticut was so long!"  We finally got to the Grotton Submarine Base at about 7:15, and that was good enough to get in and see Dave's ceremony.

I'll never forget Isabel. It coincided with G and I driving like a hurricane to get to Grotton.   

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