I was supposed to lead my Santa Monica Architectural and Historical Walking Tour for the Sierra Club on Sunday, March 25. I checked the weather forecast on Friday and it didn’t look good. In fact, it looked nasty. Beautiful sunny weather the day before and beautiful sunny weather the day after. The weather gods were not on my side.
The storm was supposed to move in Saturday night but it didn’t. I was sure when I woke up Sunday morning it would be raining. As I had the disclaimer “Heavy rain cancels” on the description I thought it would be a no-brainer. No such luck. Morning broke with SUNSHINE!
I checked the radar map I had been glued to for two days. That green graphic blob was definitely moving closer to Santa Monica. But ever so s-l-o-w-l-y… would it even arrive before Sunday afternoon when the walk would already be over?
The forecasts ranged from light showers in the morning to heavy rain all day.
The weather gods were surely toying with me. What had I ever done to them to treat me in such a cavalier manner?
I was wishing I had written “Showers cancel” or “Threat of rain cancels” on my description. At least then I would know what to do.
I had to make a decision and that decision was to cancel the walk. I notified my co-leader. Then I jumped in my car and drove down to the Santa Monica Pier in case some die-hard Sierra Clubbers showed up anyway. A little weather, or even a lot of weather, never scared off an intrepid hiker.
By the time I drove past the border of Santa Monica on the 10 freeway, I had to use my windshield wipers. I was feeling better about canceling. I arrived at the pier about 8:45am. I waited until 9:05am. It was cold, damp and grey. Nobody showed up. By 9:00am the dark sky was spitting rain. I was thankful everybody else had more sense than I did.
I decided since I was there anyway, I might as well walk to the end of the pier. There were no more than two handfuls of hardy visitors sharing this dismal morning. I loved it. Usually, even during the week there are more people than I feel comfortable with. And on a sunny Sunday, forget it!
I smiled at my fellow rain walkers and they smiled back in some kind of secret fellowship. The rain was now coming down quite heavily and obviously we were all fools to be out here.
The Cirque du Soleil was in town with their show OVO (not to be confused with the permanent IRIS at the Hollywood theater formerly known as the Kodak). Their colorful tents of yellow and blue were the only bright spot. I took a few photos.
As I had to walk several blocks back to the parking garage north of Santa Monica Boulevard (the closest one being closed for some kind of construction) I decided to return along Palisades Park. The rain had let up a little and it was quite pleasant. Maybe I shouldn’t have canceled the walk after all?
A few blocks along that question was answered as the wet stuff started coming down again. I had to pull down the severe weather flap of my rain jacket hood. A couple of joggers with their athletic dogs passed. A homeless person was buried under a mountain of plastic bags. The big storm had arrived in no uncertain terms.
By the time I arrived at Santa Monica Boulevard my legs were in gear and they had no intention of turning inland to the parking garage. I was on a high, albeit a soggy one. Okay, I told myself, I would walk a few blocks further and then turn back. I ended up walking all the way to San Vicente, pretty much the northernmost part of the park.
Coming back the weather gods had the last laugh. The sky opened up and the rain came down, not in buckets, but in swimming pools. My underwear felt damp. I bought this jacket several years ago for a trip to Toronto. It had kept me warm and dry through freezing rain and snow storms. But it was no match for a Santa Monica spring rainstorm.
I had made the mistake of slipping the parking ticket into the outer pocket of my canvas tote. I thought it would remain snug and dry in there. When I returned to the garage I noticed the ticket was a little damp. I put it in the pay machine slot and the screen announced “This machine is no longer in service. Pay attendant at exit.” Next to the machine was a sign stating, ”No attendant at exit. Pay here.” I wondered if I was in one of my frequent nightmares where I am trapped in a building and can’t find a way out.
After calling on the emergency phone, an attendant showed up. He retrieved my ticket from the bowels of the machine where it had transformed itself into a crumpled up ball, jamming the works. I ran for my car so he could let me out of the gate. In future, if there is even a hint of rain, I’m arming myself with an emergency plastic sandwich bag to keep my parking ticket dry!
By the time I returned home the rain was pounding my roof like thousands of nails being dropped from the big toolbox in the sky. It was good to be indoors looking at the weather through my window. But I was happy I had enjoyed a couple of hours up close and personal with the rain.
(Photos copyright roslyn m wilkins)