Friday, February 14, 2014

At Least Nothing Fell Off

Two weeks ago, I hopped on a plane with my beautiful girlfriend, Red of Doesn't Speak Klingon, and my daughter Kirsten. Red was headed to Delaware to participate in her tenth Polar Bear Plunge and since I had participating a Polar Bear Plunge on my Bucket List, she asked if I would like to join her.

*Although, I suspect she had an ulterior motive. I think she likes me.

We reached Delaware two days before the plunge, so we had time to see the sights. Red had lived in this area for 12 years before moving to Indianapolis, so we met up with some of her friends, had some great meals and did some shopping.

Things are done differently from state-to-state. There were several times that I wasn't sure what was going on. For instance, I saw these signs all over the place.

Something is to the left

I would be driving through the city, trying to find my way to whatever we were headed to, so I carefully kept my eyes on the signs. Signs are useful for telling you what is around and how to get to things, but in Delaware they aren't really sure where things are either. As you can see above, the Historical Society and alternate parking are to the right and something is to the left, but the city planners aren't really sure what it is. These signs are all over town with no clue as to what they are directing you toward.

Delaware is also very liberal with how numbers work. Walking around town, I was having trouble deciding what to buy for a souvenir. I got excited when I stumbled upon a store with a sign in the window advertising that everything was under $9.95.

They had some cool stuff in there, but I was afraid to give them any money because I didn't trust their math skills enough to know if they could count change.

The day of the plunge arrived and a wonderful thing happened. The temperature started going up. We had been dealing with sub-zero temperatures in the Midwest for the last month and Delaware had experienced similar temperatures. However, the day of the plunge, the temperature rose. It was up to almost 60 degrees an hour before we jumped in the Atlantic. The water was still 34 degrees, but at least we wouldn't freeze once we got out. That was the part I was most concerned about. I was ready to brave the water, but thought I might die afterward.

The beach was packed with over 2,700 participants and hundreds of spectators. Two hours before plunge time, people were already running around in swimsuits. You expect bikinis on the beach, but not in the middle of winter. There was still snow on the ground!

The Polar Bear Plunge is done to raise money for the Special Olympics and all these people showing up to jump in the frigid water raised over $425,000 at this one event. The excitement was in the air and it was time to jump in. They started the countdown and 2,700 people ran for the water.

This entire time, I had been amazed at how I was not freezing despite having only worn swim trunks for the last 15 minutes. As soon as my feet hit the water, I understood why more people don't do this. Thirty-four degrees is not exactly a comfortable temperature, but I had flown 900 miles for this 'privilege.' It felt like little needles stabbing into my feet, but it was too late to turn back.

My plan was to run in far enough that I could jump in to go totally under and come out. However, the surf pulled away soon after my feet hit the freezing water. I had to chase after the water and soon saw a large wave coming at me. I tucked down enough that it washed over me. Thirty-four degree water on my feet was a shock. Over my entire body really had my attention. 

After this time on the beach enjoying a few days outside, I came home to this. We've had a high averaging 15 degrees ever since.

My car the day after I got back. Thank you, Indiana!