Lessons in Traveling

I’ve neglected my poor little blog for long enough, I suppose, so here’s a funny (well, it wasn’t funny in the moment) story that I’ve dubbed as the Series of Unfortunate Events (not to be confused with the book series/movie).

A recent weekend began with a charity mission in which my mother, my boyfriend, and I embarked on a 9-hour journey to the state of Texas. I say charity because the driving force for the trip was meant as a rescue of sorts of my aunt and uncle who, while on their way to California, not only broke down on the interstate, but fell ill and were subsequently hospitalized. (Their own journey is another avalanche of truths that are unbelievable, yet are undeniably true.)

Anyway, this is my mother’s only sister we’re talking about, so of course my mother is riding off into the sunset to save her. I offer to drive since–hey, roadtrip!– I recently purchased a new car. I’ve made a total of two payments on this little rocket. I feel confident and safe and holy cow it has AC! I enlist my boyfriend to ride along for male companionship. Two females, alone, on a 9-hour trip is never a good idea, new car or not.

So, we go. The weather looks a little iffy, but we’re worried more about the safety of my aunt and uncle than we are of ourselves at this point. The trip is going well. I take one wrong exit, but it’s easily corrected and we’re back to booking it down the interstate in no time.

And then the rain comes.

It’s manageable for a while. The wipers are new and the defrost is doing its job. But the rain falls faster and harder, and was that hail?!? Traffic is slowing considerably as visibility is shot. Many are pulling onto the shoulder to wait out the squall. But not us.

We exit to find food and gas– maybe a place to spend the night, even. We’ve been on the road for about six hours at this point and I had already worked a full 8-hour shift that day. I was tired. Okay, we’ll stop. No problem.

The rain pounded the car and I’d never felt more like I was driving through a mile-wide waterfall than in that moment. The amount of water spilled in such a short amount of time is impressive. Scary, too.

The off ramp had already begun to puddle, but I was able to push through with no problem. My heart was pounding already because it’s dark, for one, and I hate driving in stormy conditions… especially in a place I don’t know.

Seeing the glittering diner lights through the downpour was something akin to that light at the end of the dark tunnel and we dashed inside our safe haven.
Once the rain let up, we decided to forge ahead. Only three more hours to our destination. We can do it, we thought. But the exit ramp had other ideas.

It was flooded, yes, but it didn’t look deep. I just knew I could ease through it like I had splashed through the other ramp only an hour before. Sadly, this was not the case. My little rocket hovers too close to the ground and the puddle (more like a racing river as minutes ticked by) snuffed the engine.

Now we’re stuck. Call 911 because we’re blocking traffic. The water is rising, it’s dark, and my frantic mother forbids us from exiting the car. We could have pushed it out of the way. Instead, we wait for the blue strobe of lights to arrive.

Let me say here that sometimes when people help, well, they aren’t very helpful. Take the brave soul who offered to push us out of harm’s way. Sure, I’m thinking. Now that the road is blocked off, we can push the car out of the way without getting hit by another vehicle. Helpy Helperton didn’t help us so much as helped himself, however. Not only did he push the car into an area of deeper water, he then jumped in his truck and drove around us, splashing us with waves as he went by. Others followed suit.

In spite of all that, plus the plethora of chaotic antics that followed, we did finally make it to our destination. We arrived in a rental car that smelled like a 1970s model pimp-mobile (the path to acquiring the rental involves an entirely new set of unfortunate events), but we made it.

The moral of this story? Well, there’s more than once, but all I’ll say about it is this: Remember to laugh. Humor is the best bandage for any wounded ego, and when nothing seems to go right, laugh louder. Trouble tends to avoid insanity.

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