We walk through the hotel lobby and into a sea of black and yellow lanyards. Each SABR 48 registrant also carries a yellow canvas bag with convention goodies including a Pirates cap. We register, meet a few friendly folks and then duck outside to walk over to Pork and Beans.
Mitch wants to introduce Chris and me to one of his favorite pizza restaurants later, so this is simply a happy hour refreshment stop. Fortunately there’s room at the end of the bar for each of us and our drafts of choice: Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale for me, please.
Soon we’re on our way to our pizza dinner, except … the place is closed. Not to be deterred, we simply head for Mitch’s next pizza choice, except … we never arrive there.
Rain has begun to fall during our drive. Then it comes down harder. Then it rains so hard that visibility suffers. Then water doesn’t have time to leave the street.
Mitch pulls into a strip mall parking lot because he doesn’t trust the depth of the water on Washington Avenue. That’s when the show begins.
Driver after driver decides to push forward or pull over. Some high clearance pickups barely escape through the waves of water. A few cars and a white van aren’t so fortunate.
An audience gathers on higher ground on either side of Washington Avenue. We’re all shocked to see how quickly the street has become Washington Avenue Lake.
Stranded cars bob in the water. One man exits his passenger door and wades to the parking lot where we all stand. The rain has stopped, but the lake persists.
A police SUV arrives. A fire truck blocks both ends of the lake to turn away more potential swimmers.
The lot where we park has no safe exit. It’s fenced off from adjacent lots. We and about a dozen others are stranded here.
Fortunately, there’s a small pizza shop directly behind us. Tomatoes II becomes our favorite pizzeria for a large special and a small pepperoni/mushroom. The workers are welcoming and very happy to wait on customers. Obviously, they can’t deliver. And soon after we finish our pizza feast, the rain pelts down so hard during a couple of thunderstorms that they can no longer serve others.
Finally, our next choice is simple: we either rest in the car or page Uber and walk to a dryer pick-up point. We choose Uber. Our driver gathers us up quickly, but we’re detoured twice due to high water and a downed tree.
If this is our first night’s experience of SABR 48, what can the rest of the week bring?