The MO and I had been planning our trip to Indy to see the MotoGP for months, and when it turned out that Ike was bearing down on Texas as were scheduled to leave, we didn't think too much of it. At that point, the hurricane was still predicted to hit far south of Houston, and we knew that our neighborhood was not flood-prone, so our outdoor preparations were limited to not putting the trashcan out front for collection. We left a key with Prime Time Lou and the Fiberglass Badger so they could stop by and gather the mail and feed the cats, and off we went, visions of motorcycles buzzing in our brains.
By the end of Thursday, our first day at the track, it seemed that Ike had taken a distinct northward turn. G1 stopped by the house on his way home from work and took care of all the things we probably should have done before we left, tucking the potted plants up against the house on the porch and even wrestling the trash can up onto the back porch so it would hopefully not distribute its contents across the block.
Friday morning, the MO heard that his company told everyone to stay home, and we joked about getting our vacation days back. We hopped into our rental car and headed out for a road trip up to Bluffton, in search of Deam ancestors (more about this trip on the genealogy blog later). By the time we got back to the hotel that evening, the news from Houston via friends' emails and texts was still "it's not even raining, damned media hype" but Ike changed that attitude quickly. Texts the next morning included news of a pine tree javelin through PTL's roof, houses and windows shaking for hours from the swirling winds, serious lack of sleep and widespread power outages.
Media coverage was at its most sensational, of course, and they had plenty of fodder. Every broadcast we saw focused on the JP Morgan building downtown, which lost a bunch of windows or an obliterated Bolivar peninsula, Galveston or Kemah. Every time we saw that downtown footage, we thought about how close that was to our house, and crossed our fingers. Flooding was Saturday's concern as the rain continued. We commiserated from afar and fretted about our neighbor's huge pecan tree, the big old oak overhanging our driveway, and the ancient ligustrum outside our bedroom window. (We call this shrub-turned-tree "The Old Man," since it has probably been in place as long as the house has been there. Maybe it was part of an original hedge. At any rate, it's sizable and not what you normally expect from a privet. We did have a laugh when we realized that a remark of ours about "finding The Old Man in our bedroom" had been overheard out-of-context by the folks next to us in the bar.)
Sunday morning G1 braved the flooded highways and reported that not only was our house still standing, but also it didn't appear to have any damage. He sent some pictures from his cellphone and we were greatly relieved, but didn't get out of the hurricane experience altogether since Ike came right on through Indiana later that day. We had 40 to 60 mph gusts and plenty of rain at the track. We bought rain jackets and huddled with the rest of the fans in our section after the 125s finished an abbreviated race, trying to stay out of the worst of it and hoping that we'd get to see the GP race at all.
After several hours of rain delay, the weather did let up enough to run most of that race (at the expense of the 250s) and it was thrilling. (Nearly) local boy Nicky Hayden led for over half the race and every time he came by on the front straight ahead of Rossi the crowd just erupted. Rossi is undeniably incredible, though, and patiently reeled in Hayden and finished first. Our seats were perfect, across from the paddock area, high enough to see the whole front straight and into turn one, and then across the track to turns 7 through 9, although you couldn't really identify anybody at that distance. I can't wait to go back next year, preferably without any hurricanes in attendance!
Lots more pix on flickr.