23 April, 2014

Musings of a Snow Refugee

White-out our Red winning wave? No way

Never has a hockey rink seemed as warm as entering Verizon Center did to me this morning. Like so many thousands around our region, I’ve been without power in my home since late Friday night. I got to see all of the Capitals’ victory over Atlanta, and not long into the Comcast post-game the fatal and lasting and extinguishing power surge arrived. Temperature in my home then was a comfy 70 degrees. By 6:00 this morning it was in the middle 40s.

This weekend, we’ve been powerfully reminded who’s really in control, no?

Reebok’s newish hockey jerseys, I suspect, are of little warming utility in blizzard-frigid conditions in a rapidly cooling home. So as my third and outermost layer I donned a classic old CCM heavy-threader vintage 1995. I slept like a bear in hiberation in it Saturday night. 

Hardships are very relative. No I wasn’t comfortable, and I didn’t enjoy battling worsening cold symptoms in a rapidly refrigerating home, but I had shelter (not everyone in our region does), scores of blankets and candles, a well-charged hand-held and cell phone with which to keep in touch with deeply concerned family and friends. On the bright side, Mother Nature did afford me a handy natural refigerator out on my patio with which to preserve puck sodas. And preserve other of life’s necessity staples. Perhaps to my neighbors my patio took on the appearance of someone who’d endured a remarkable domestic dispute and was consigned some serious winter camping.

SmartCar. Around 7:30 this morning I snowsuited up and walked less than a half mile to the garage at the Groversnor Metro station, where I ditched my Jeep just as the heavy, street-sticking stuff arrived Friday night. In four-wheel drive I easily navigated — entirely alone on Wisconsin Avenue — to the Rockville Silver Diner a couple of miles away. No more than about a dozen diners joined me there. Never have a more valued a hot breakfast.   

The Bally’s Fitness in Rockville was open at 8:30 this morning, so after breakfast my gym membership availed me of a hot shower, a shave, and fresh and warm clothes by which to feel human again.

Down Wisconsin Avenue in my four-wheel drive I navigated, that high-traffic road still buried under snow and, most dangerously, a thick sheet of ice formed by the pre-snow precipitation of Friday afternoon. My mother told me never to pick up a hitchhiker, but she never cautioned against aiding a solitary fella wobbling about a snow-caked thoroughfare in a bright red Alexander Ovechkin jersey. Of course I picked him up. My new friend in the Red Army and I agreed that were we to pass any Pittsburgh-sweatered patron we’d leave him to the northern exposure. Humanitarian impulses have their limits.

Pittsburgh media in Sunday’s pre-game encounter with Capitals’ head coach Bruce Boudreau raised objections of unfairness in light of the Penguins’ Saturday travel ardor. Late yesterday afternoon they skated off the ice in Montreal 5-3 losers to the Habs, then began a travel odyssey that last more than 9 hours before lodging very late in the night in D.C. Cry me Three Rivers. If you think Pittsburgh’s players or any other NHLers haven’t been through dozens of death-defying bus rides through winter’s worst storms over the course of their hockey careers — most particularly CHL alumni — I’ve got a snowcone stand to sell to you for your weekend beer money. 

Boudreau made an important rebuttal to the Pittsburgh press Sunday morning: it wasn’t as if his players were all home by the hearth at leisure while awaiting their adversary. Like many fans, no small number of Capitals’ players lost power in their homes during the storm, and like us, they had snow-shoveling and neighbor-aiding duties to carry out. The head coach was genuinely concerned about his players’ welfare, noted Tarik in his blog:

“Pittsburgh’s late arrival would seem to give the Caps an an advantage, right? Not according to Boudreau, who has become really adept at building up opponents and making his league leading team seem like the underdog.

“I think it’s totally the opposite,” Boudreau said. “All they had to do was sit on a bus. We had to shovel out our houses. Half the city was without power. I know a lot of the guys had no power. You’re digging out cars . . . and I think that’s more taxing than just sitting down.”

“I’m more worried about our players, too, having to shovel out,” Boudreau said. “I wanted to make sure they didn’t do too much shoveling. Maybe I’m old, but I’m sore as hell today.”

The Atlanta Thrashers departed D.C. early Saturday morning in the most malicious of our weekend maelstrom, traveling just 120 miles in nearly five hours to catch a flight out of Richmond, and actually had their bus slide off the road en route to Richmond at one point. The Examiner has a vivid account of their travel terror.

“Somewhere along a slippery route where the road signs were obscured with snow, the team’s charter bus clipped the mirror of a oil tanker along a snowy stretch of the highway. . .”

“Precious moments were lost as Atlanta’s scheduled departure time of 2:40 pm slipped. Three o’clock. Three-thirty. Four o’clock. The start time of the game was pushed back to 7:30 PM.

“The Thrashers sat on the team’s charter, a Miami Air Boeing 737-800, for another few hours while the plane was deiced twice and the club’s equipment was on-loaded onto the charter.” 

Eventually, the Thrashers made it to Philips Arena at 6:25 last night for their 7:00 faceoff with Florida. Then they went out and beat the Panthers 4-2.

More big-snow spirit: Caps’ fan Kristy Tweeted of her devotion – she chose televised hockey over heat in her home: FashionKristy: “Day 2 of no electric[ity]. Plugged the computer and wireless into the generator and watching the #caps game online! Let’s go caps!”

Down in the Bethesda Metro station soldiers in the Red Army were greeted to 30-minute intervals between trains. Thirty minutes? Really? For the biggest hockey game of the season? Had there been no notable sporting event, how long between trains, Metro – 45 minutes? 60? I hope the members of Metro’s governing board go without power in their homes until spring.

Neither interminable delays nor a top-5-of-all-time snowstorm couldt douse the Red Army spirit. A couple hundred hockey fans, most in red, waited their ride on the platform and chanted “Let’s go Caps!”


  1. Cathy W wrote:

    Um, Metro was running trains 30 minutes apart on Saturday and announced last night that it was doing so again on Sunday. There is still no Metrobus service. Metro is having problems with its employees being able to into work.

    7 February, 2010 at 2:46 pm | Permalink
  2. xke4me wrote:

    I think GMGM should make sure all essential personell have a snowblower – just make sure that Joe Sakic doesn’t teach them how to use it!

    7 February, 2010 at 3:56 pm | Permalink
  3. Heather J. wrote:

    We had friends at the game today … totally jealous! But we had a blast watching from home (no power loss here, thankfully), and MAN was it a GREAT GAME!

    7 February, 2010 at 4:12 pm | Permalink
  4. Cathy,

    All of Metro’s above-ground stations were closed, so a full compliment of staff wasn’t needed. If it’s a dedicated workforce you want to discuss, consider Caps’ radio voice Steve Kolbe: He hasn’t been home since Friday, actually sleeping in the Phone Booth that night, so he wouldn’t miss today’s game. There were others in media who did the same.

    Also perplexing about our third-world rail transit was its 10-minutes stops between stations on today’s Red Line. Took my bloggermate Andrew 40 minutes to navigate three stations, he said. This was underground.

    7 February, 2010 at 4:18 pm | Permalink
  5. FISH&CAPS wrote:

    I was supposed to make a journey from Williamsburg, Va up to DC…… but with all the uncertainty about getting around in the Capital District, I decided to stay on the couch and watch NBC…… sure did miss JoeB and Locker.

    7 February, 2010 at 6:24 pm | Permalink
  6. Hershey Boosters wrote:

    We had a bus planned to come to the game since we did not have a Bears game scheduled. Well we all know how that turned out. However 42 of us made our way into your town via the Parkway thanks to our great bus driver. It was worth it to see Ovi come up with the hat trick and Caps win the game. Travel home took over 3 hours for a normally 2 hour trip. Keep safe and hope you get your power back quickly.

    8 February, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Permalink