Sunday, September 17, 2017

An Eventful 14 Days

It's been an eventful couple of weeks since I last had the time and opportunity to write about cards I've received. Since I last posted, we've had the long Labor Day weekend, two weeks of college football, a hurricane making landfall, I've been in three different states, I bought a blaster of Topps Heritage High Numbers, and my house lost power for nearly four full days.

Like I said, it's been eventful.

Let's take a look at the 2 weeks that were.

I didn't take any pictures over Labor Day, but it was a relaxing time. I posted here and on the 1980s blog, and then I got ready for my trip to Chicago and South Bend, Indiana -- with good reason.

The University of Georgia's fans invaded Chicago. Seriously, everywhere you went inside the Loop or just north of the Loop, you saw fans clad in red and black with their Georgia Gs on their hats, t-shirts, and sweatshirts. The flights between Atlanta and Chicago and Atlanta and South Bend were crazy. Everyone was wearing their Georgia gear.

That's just the gate area in Atlanta to get on the Boeing 717 at 8:50 in the morning. The flight was so full of Georgia fans that one of the flight attendants commented that it looked like a charter:

As always, the flights were overbooked. This is common because there are always a few stragglers who miss the flight or take an earlier flight. Normally, all that works itself out. In some situations, though, Delta ends up offering Delta voucher money good for use on another flight to volunteers to be confirmed on a later flight. Usually, it only takes a few hundred dollars in vouchers to get people to say, "okay, I'll take that later flight and I'll have a little money to take a vacation flight later in the year." This is, of course, as opposed to what United does -- dragging people forcibly off flights to make room for whomever they want to get on a plane.

Anyway, Delta had tons of trouble getting volunteers to get off flights to Atlanta and South Bend on this weekend. No one wanted to miss a thing, it seems, and the amounts for the vouchers to get volunteers proves this. For my flight to Chicago Midway, the gate agents got all the way up to offering $2,000 in Delta vouchers to volunteers who were willing to take a flight a few hours later with a guaranteed seat. They got their 5 volunteers for our flight at that price. That amount was eclipsed on another flight a couple of terminals away when a woman received $4,000 in vouchers just to give up her seat on a flight between Atlanta and South Bend.

My wife and I were traveling on award miles at an exorbitant cost -- 80,000 miles a piece, which usually will get you to Europe for a coach seat or, for some airports, in first class. If we had not had a scheduled tour in Chicago for early afternoon, we almost certainly would have doubled down at $2,000 and taken that money for a later arrival.

We arrived in Chicago and got to my wife's uncle's condo. He and his wife recently moved there for a job change for him, and he's doing quite well. Here's the view from his condo.

Too bad it wasn't sunny when I took this. That's Lake Shore Drive along Lake Michigan that you see. It was on that walkway right next to the lake that I saw Bastian Schweinsteiger and Ana Ivanovic walking arm in arm on Sunday morning after we had an early lunch.

So, back to Friday. We went and had lunch and then went to our tour -- one of those "architectural boat tours" along the Chicago River. I had taken one of those tours in 2008, but it was pouring rain half the time and sucked as a result. This one was much better -- no rain, and the clouds even lifted midway through the tour so we got some great views of landmark buildings like the Willis Corroon Tower f/k/a the Sears Tower:

We had a great dinner that night at Gibsons Steakhouse (thanks to my wife's uncle pulling a few strings to get a reservation).

The next day, we got up early and made our way to South Bend. It's about two hours from Chicago along Interstate 94, and we were surprised at the fact that traffic wasn't terrible for the ride out.

We got parked, and immediately we were greeted by Notre Dame fans parked on either side of us. Notre Dame has a national following, of course, being the most successful Catholic university in sports during much of a 20th Century when being Catholic would be brought up openly as a possible way to disqualify a person from serving as president. We met Notre Dame fans from Pennsylvania, Indiana, Illinois, Georgia, South Carolina, and California in just a few minutes. It was really cool.

Even so, UGA took over Notre Dame and its campus. Everywhere I went, we were greeted by Georgia fans. The Notre Dame folks wore expressions somewhere between bemusement and annoyance -- bemused at the fact that Georgia fans were treating the trip like a tourist event, annoyed at the fact that there were so many Georgia fans as to nearly outnumber the Notre Dame fans. To give you a sense of what it was like on campus, this is the reflecting pool in front of the library mural of Touchdown Jesus:

Of course, my wife and I had to get our obligatory tourist shot of us in front of Touchdown Jesus. The photo was taken by a very friendly Notre Dame fan from California, who joked with us -- rightly so -- that the reception in Georgia may not be as friendly for the Domers as it was for UGA in Indiana:

Then, there was the game. Georgia really could have and should have won the game by two touchdowns had they simply (a) had a wide receiver catch one ball that hit him in the hands on a long pass play, and (b) caught an interception inside ND's 20-yardline that the defensive back had hit him in the hands twice before it hit the ground harmlessly. That said, UGA still won and, in the process, really took over Notre Dame Stadium.

Lots of red everywhere. Some Notre Dame folks were a bit salty about the whole thing in the week after, but really -- if someone is offering you a $500+ profit on a ticket for a game, wouldn't you be tempted to sell out?

The whole time we were in Chicago, though, we also had Georgia on our mind (and I'm not talking about the song). We were watching Hurricane Irma's track to see what it was going to do. Was it going to hit Atlanta? If so, how strong would it be? As the weekend developed, we knew we would get back to Atlanta without a problem -- even if it was a bit windy when we landed on Sunday night. It was a matter of how long, though, we would have without problems.

As it turned out, my office closed on Monday per the request of the local and state governments asking businesses to close. It was nice that I got a day off that I sorely needed after the weekend's festivities. The power flickered a couple of times during the day, but I was hopeful that we would get through things without much problem.

My hopes were dashed, however, when the power went off at about 4:30 PM on Monday. At first, it was kind of fun. I got out my headlamp that I use for fire site investigations to be able to find my way around the house more easily. I ended up using it to cook dinner on our gas stove:

We did not get power back Monday night, and Georgia Power did not even have an estimate for us to get power back at that point. I learned through Twitter and using my phone for news that my part of town was probably the hardest hit thanks to the combination of strong winds and having a lot of tall trees.

I did not know why we lost power, though, until Tuesday. I took a walk to the grocery store on Tuesday morning to get some coffee and some cold cuts to eat and saw our problem.

I'm told that a transformer snapping off the top of a power pole is a bad thing. You can see that transformer on the opposite side of the road from the actual pole here. It took until Thursday afternoon -- fully 3 days after we lost power -- for our power to be restored.

Thankfully it was and no one around here got hurt by the storm. But, my Friday afternoon and Saturday mornings the last two days were spent taking care of our cleanup. We had a bunch of limbs and one small tree that we had to cut up and put into yard waste bags to dispose of in the trash. We still have some more to do, but the bulk of the work is done.

Still, it's been an eventful two weeks. Of course, this coming weekend is a big football game in Athens too -- one I'm going to with a couple of friends -- so radio silence over next weekend might result too. So, I'm pushing myself to write more during this week to catch up more on things I should have thanked people for weeks ago.

So, how's your September been?

Thanks for stopping by and, to those of you who have sent me things, thanks for your patience.


  1. I've never been to Chicago (outside of going to the airport). I'd love to visit someday as it's the only major US city I've yet to visit.

  2. Sounds like you've had a fun couple of weeks. Or at the very least, a lively couple of weeks.

  3. I've taken that same architecture tour in Chicago. Pretty interesting stuff.

    Glad the Bulldogs were able to beat the Irish. Always like when the road team takes over a stadium. Fortunately that hasn't happened too much in Morgantown. Probably the biggest road crowd that I could remember was Ohio State back in the late 90's.

    Glad the storm cleanup is going well.

  4. The view from that condo is absolutely amazing! And I'm glad to hear that your team ended up winning, as it would've sucked to travel all that way, only to have them lose.

    As for the hurricane, it might be time to start thinking about a generator, just in case.