Early bird

An early commuter waits for a bus at Halsted near Canalport. (E. Jason Wambsgans, Chicago Tribune / February 2, 2011)

Pat Powers, 55, who lives in Wicker Park, walked south down Ashland Avenue this morning. He had a three-mile walk ahead of him to the Marriot at Medical District/UIC, 625 S. Ashland Ave., where he was meeting his boss.

He called the dire warnings about venturing out in the storm “an overreaction.”

“Look at the roads, they are completely clear,” he said. “Other than the snowdrifts, it’s not a big deal compared to what they’re getting on the East Coast.”

Nearby, Pete Wulff, 33, and Sue Huinker, 35, walked east on Augusta Boulevard. They were trying to get to Forest Park and were hoping the Blue Line was still running.

“Otherwise, we’re going to hitchhike a ride on a snowmobile,” Huinker joked.

Wulff said he normally drives to work but his car was buried waist high in a snowdrift. He was walking through the slushy street with plastic bags on his shoes because he does not own a pair of boots.

“I deserve this,” he said.

Stacie Hudson, 25, was taking pictures on the 1000 block of North Paulina Street of her car buried in snow to send to her parents in Florida. She said the last snowplow came down her street at 6p.m. Tuesday evening.

“So all this stuff accumulated overnight,” she said. “It’s going to be miserable.”

When Christian and Otylia Hoberland let their Yorkshire Terrier, Mishka, out the door, the dog sunk over its head in the snow.

“We came outside and she jumps out the door and falls in about three feet of snow, completely stuck,” Hoberland land. “She likes the snow, but I don’t think she’s quite used to this much.”


Diane Watry attracted the wide eyes and snapping cell phones of gawkers as she cross-country skied along Michigan Avenue on her way to work this morning.

Watry, 55, left her South Loop home at 8:20 a.m. for quite a feat - skiing 7 miles to work in Lakeview. By about 9 a.m., Watry was cruising along near Wacker Drive.

"It's been fabulous," Watry said with a smile as flurries of snow stuck to her reddened face.

The only thing she forgot? Goggles.

On a Blue Line train into downtown from Oak Park, a front car was nearly emtpy, save for two teenagers out to make some cash with their snow shovels and a homeless woman sleeping in the corner.

As the train rolled forward, the Eisenhower Expressway was filled with snow and only a few cars braving the slippery road.

"Damn! That's the highway out there?" one of the teens exclaimed as he and his friend stepped off the train together.

University of Chicago software programer Martin Feller, 37, made it to the Van Buren Street Metra station downtown from the Clark and Division Red Line subway station.

Feller was going to take the Metra Electric line to 59th street. But with half of his commute behind him, Feller said he might return home rather than wait for his Metra train, which was running on a Sunday scedule.

"I think almost none of my colleagues will go to work today," he said. "And the train back is only running every two hours." A dozen commuters cleared the waiting area of the Van Buren station at 8:20 a.m. to board the Metra train destined for University Park.

Mary Brandon, University of Chicago associate dean of the Social Science Department, was among them. "This isn't my usual route," Brandon said. "I am avoiding the buses and Lake Shore Drive."

Brandon, who rode a packed Red Line train from the Sheridan Road stop, said commuters. "People are helping each other," she said. "Its nice to see.

Hyde Parker Gerard Raulud found his journey downtown harrowing.

"It took me 15 minutes to negotiate my way from my front door to the street," Raulud said, describing a five-foot snow drift he encountered.

To walk the four blocks between his home at 5500 South Dorchester Avenue to the Metra Station at Lake Park Avebye took another 45 minutes.

"Dorchester is a major artery (street), it should be plowed," said