It was only supposed to be a weekend getaway, at least that's how I planned it. I would leave Grand Rapids early Friday afternoon to drive 10 hours nonstop to New York (not the city), then turn around and make the same nonstop drive around 8 p.m. Sunday evening, only missing a half day of work. In my head, it would work out perfectly. Even though nothing I planned to do in NY involved sleep, I was positive I would be well rested enough to drive through the wee hours of the night on Sunday and be productive at work on Monday. Aahhh, the best laid plans.
It is now 9 days later and I just stepped into my house a few short hours ago. First, let me just say that the unexpected week long vacation was NOT my fault. Everything started out just fine. I woke up early on Friday to get the day's work out of the way so I could get on the road by 2 p.m. The first order of business in any day's work is updating my blog. Unfortunately, brilliance takes longer than 20 minutes. In fact it took five freakin hours to pound out approximately 1000 words. Okay, I'll admit that those five freakin hours were laced with instant messaging, email, my space, soap operas, and other important activities, but that's neither here nor there. Because I spent my entire morning writing, I was forced to spend the entire afternoon working, which I really did NOT want to do. The 2 p.m. departure time was working on a four hour delay. Did I give in? Did I resolve to leave first thing in the morning? No! I persevered, forging ahead towards the Empire State.
The drive started smoothly enough. It took me less than 2.5 hours to hit Ohio. Traffic was non existent, I was driving away from the setting sun, and I had a stack of CDs. Plus there was my very willing phone companion to ensure that I handled my 85 mph speeding vehicle with one hand for at least 100 miles. I enjoyed the scenic cornfields that met me somewhere along I-90. Passing by one particularly impressive barn, I noticed that I was entering Sandusky County. Interestingly enough, when I was on Map Quest getting directions for my trip, I wondered if I would pass Sandusky, OH on my voyage. So imagine my surprise when I crossed the county line. Now normally, I wouldn't be on the lookout for an unknown town in a state I haven't thought about since 5th grade U.S. geography, but on a daily basis my sitemeter tells me that a visitor from Sandusky peruses my blog so it made me conjure this weird daydream about stopping off at her (I'm assuming I'm talking about a her) home for some milk and cookies. This line of thinking makes me think I might be becoming a bit obsessive with this whole blogging thing. But again, I digress. The highway became a bit hypnotizing, but a quick stop at Starbucks for a white chocolate mocha espresso fixed that problem. Onward I drove in a state of caffeine induced alertness.
Somewhere around Cleveland, the first mishap occurred. I have absolutely no idea how it happened, but all of a sudden an interstate that is supposed to span the country ended in a backwoods town. After a quick conversation with a dentally challenged gas station attendant, I learned that I was no longer on the interstate. I still have no clue how, but I inadvertantly got off I-90. So I backtracked, and 20 miles later found my way back to the interstate. That little detour added approximately 45 minutes to my trip.
I was back on the right path for no more than ten minutes when tragedy struck. An ambitious/stupid/dare devil raccoon sprinted across the highway. My headlights shone on his big furry body within seconds of him safely making it to the other side. I breathed a sigh of relief for not hitting him. Oh, but I breathed too soon. For reasons I have yet to comprehend he didn't stay on that side of the road. Maybe he felt life was complete after that first run, or maybe he wanted to show how big his balls were, or maybe he just had a personal problem with me, but whatever the reason he darted back onto the highway right in front of my left lane driving vehicle. I have to say the raccoon put up a good fight. There were several loud thumps, followed by a severe lurch. Lucky for me, my car made it. Unfortunately I can't say the same for the raccoon. In that moment, I felt remorse like I have never felt remorse before. Thanks to Walt Disney, roadkill isn't just a stupid animal that should've looked both ways. No, no! A deer on the side of the road is automatically Bambi's mother and that raccoon was Meeko of Pocahontas fame. All I could think about was his little raccoon family, huddled in a home made of twigs and leaves, hungrily awaiting the arrival of Papa with the evening's supper. Just thinking about it now makes me tear a bit. Damn you Disney!!!
The rest of the drive through Ohio was pretty uneventful. I made it to Pennsylvania, and then to New York without any further incidents. By this time it was almost 1 a.m. and I was still 3 hours from my destination. Over 8 hours of sleep the previous night paid off because I was nowhere near tired and positive that I would make it all the way to my alma mater without having to stop. But then, I looked at the gas gauge and realized that couldn't happen. With a little less than a quarter of a tank of gas, I began looking for a good exit to make a pit stop. I thought I found one several miles up the highway, until I got to the pump and realized the gas station wasn't handing out any fuel after midnight. Pulling out of the drive, I started to hear an interesting sound coming from my car. I ignored it and kept on driving. Interestingly enough, my gas levels started plummeting faster than Enron stock the second the gauge fell below a quarter of a tank. Within minutes, my gas light was on and there wasn't a living soul in sight. A few miles later I found another gas exit, with absolutely no gas. When I got out of my car to bang on the door of the still lit Mobile mart I noticed that several pieces of my front bumper were hanging on for dear life, thus explaining that weird noise I'd heard earlier. Plastic and metal scraping pavement is always a good sign.
Not wanting to take a chance with another gasless exit with less than 3o miles to go on the current tank, I decided to call it a night at a Days Inn less than a mile away. The room was pleasant, and I slept well. In the morning, I checked out of the hotel, put some gas in the car and got on the road again. I thought all my troubles were behind me. But I was wrong. Late that night, while driving on the back roads in upstate NY my car fell victim to several more potholes, causing the bumper to begin leaning at a 45 degree angle. Upon seeing the new damage, I determined that my car while driveable, was in no shape to make it back to Michigan. I decided that I would call my company's vehicle assistance hotline the very next day. Priorities are an interesting thing. I didn't get around to calling the hotline until after 9 p.m. the next day and was informed that I would need to have my car towed to a dealership in the morning as it was too late for them to do anything that evening. So much for emergency service. I can't say I was upset though. After staying up for nearly 24 hours the extra time to rest was more than welcomed. I called my boss who grudgingly accepted that I would not be at work on Monday, then crashed at a friend's house.
When the tow truck came to get my car at 8:30 a.m. I assumed I would have it back by 5 p.m. Once again, I was wrong. Turns out that cute not so little raccoon did over $1000 worth of damage to my car, creating a need for new parts and lots of labor. The bumper was cracked, fog lights damaged, and the undercarriage was dented and sprinkled with animal bits. I was soon informed that my car wouldn't be ready until Thursday at the earliest. I made the mechanic break the news to my boss thinking she would take it better from him. She didn't, and I'm convinced she spent the next 4 days conjuring ways to tell me, "You're fired."
At this point, I'd run out of clean clothes, so I was forced to resort to washing my three pairs of panties along with the matching bras and some deoderant stained T-shirts. To make matters worse, I started receiving threats against my life if I did not update the blog. Cece even tried to stage a coup and steal all of my readers. I was forced to acquiesce to the demands of a rabid militia, further adding to my stress. By Thursday afternoon I still didn't have my car, and was beyond tired of rewashing my Vickie's. So instead of doing another load of laundry, I hauled ass to the mall and took advantage of the 5 for $25 deal. I also picked up some pants and shirts to get me through Saturday. I knew I wasn't going to make it back to Michigan for work on Friday, so I figured, why not just stay an extra day or so. I stayed til 5 p.m. on Saturday.
First thing Friday morning, I picked up my injured car. The sun radiated off the freshly washed exterior, and there was no trace of the bird shit and dead bugs that previously decorated the hood. Even better, the interior had been thoroughly vacuumed for the first time since June 2005. My baby looked as good as new. But looks can be deceiving. "You're going to have to get your front tires changed cause they are nearly bald. And your back breaks are almost out," the mechanic said to me as he handed me the keys. I guess tires and brakes don't rate as high on the safety scale as a new bumper and fog lights. Assured that it would be safe to drive back to Michigan with faulty brakes and no tread on my tires, I pulled out of the dealership's lot.
When I departed New York on Saturday, I assumed I'd be driving straight through the night. That motivation left after I got a speeding ticket for going 84 in a 65. I tried to convince the officer that an urgent need to pee was causing me to speed, but that reason didn't wash when he pointed out that I just passed a rest exit no more than 100 feet behind me. Then I tried to leverage my Michigan license to convince him that I knew nothing about New York State driving laws and didn't realize the speed limit was 65. I fucked that up too when in the very next breath I claimed my alumni status at Cornell University. I guess after all of that I deserved my ticket. When I pulled back onto the interstate with a little piece of paper guaranteed to cost me at least $100 I decided to stop at the first hotel in Ohio and call it a night.
The Days Inn was clean and I clocked 8 hours of sleep. To avoid any more calamities I took my sweet ass time driving from Ohio to Michigan. I stopped at Cracker Barrell and dined on a yummy pancake breakfast that caused a bad case of sulfuric smelling gas to emanate from my ass for the next hour. But that was nothing compared to the stiff ache that began to creep up my neck as I drove through Detroit. I'm sure the ache was less a by product of the drive and moreso a result of sleeping on a love seat for the past week, with the exception of one night spent sharing a twin bed in a college dorm room (no college boys were molested during this trip). I arrived home around 6 p.m. this evening with the intention of immediately blogging about my adventures. However, hunger followed by a severe case of the itis (if you don't know what this is, ask a Negro) prevented that from happening. Please do me a favor, the next time I think I am capable of driving cross country and back in one weekend, remind me of everything that happened and talk me the hell out of it. Thanks much.