Well. As some of you know, my sister Maarja is visiting. It’s her first time in our neck of the woods.
She loves the heat… and hates the bugs, which we have many… but above all I think – she loves the Blues, and especially a group called “Satan and Adam”.
It so happened, that Mr. Satan and Adam were scheduled to play in Virginia Beach this past Wednesday night, at the “Jewish Mother”. As a good old sister – of course I wanted my sis to be able to see those guys! After all, Virginia Beach is only about 5,5 hours away. That’s way closer than she has ever been to them. So we bought the tickets online, I booked us a room at “Motel 6” (the rates at some of the ocean front hotels seemed a bit out of our reach), and we hit the road on Wednesday, August the 12’th, after picking and distributing the CSA shares.
Did I mention that this was my FIRST time of DRIVING to ANOTHER STATE… Going to Raleigh on my own usually makes me nervous enough to try to avoid it at all cost. This time however I was feeling pretty confident. What the heck, I thought, how bad can it be? I have my TomTom, the hotel is booked, I get to hang out with my sister and we’ll have a grand old time.
Our travels started pleasantly. The sun was high in the sky and my ghettowagon chugged happily along. I almost missed two of our first exits due to misunderstanding TomTom’s confusing but persistent directions, and heavy traffic – I’m sure our constant chattering did not help to pay attention to the road either… but after those two times of raised adrenaline levels, some cussing and last minute turns, things were great. We talked through a lot of stuff, enjoied the scenery and stopped at the first 7/11 to gas up and get some snacks (for the foodies out there – we tried some Grandma …. Handmade (?) fried in lard potato ships (yum!) and Maarja was initiated to the Wasabi Peas, which has become my favorite road snack. We also got some godawflysweet donut type foodlike substances, and semidecent coffe).
Things were great. I had planned our trip so that we would have arrived at the motel about 6:00 – 6:30 pm, taken a shower, then driven to the beach and found our venue, and hung out there with some cold beers until the band came up…
Radio kept mentioning thunderstorms, but that seemed to be somewhere in a faraway land… until sometime – and it is all such a blur by now – on 264 eastbound, twe got the first sprinkles, and then, suddenly the sky was pouring down! It rained so hard it was hard to see the taillights of the cars in front of us. Everyone slowed down to about 30 miles per hour or less… we crawled on through the rain, still hopeful, but getting a bit worried. The rain eased a bit, and we picked up some speed, only to come to a sudden stop, as the caars in front of us stopped – there was almost an accident right in front of us, it happened so fast.
It was about 5:45. GPS told that we were supposed to get to our destination in 15 minutes. If only we moved. We inched forward… and waited… we inched… we waited… we listened to every single radiostation there was… we listened to the traffic station…They were talking about some 264 eastbound tunnel to the city and many other roads being closed due to heavy flooding. People were suggested to find another way home, around the closed roads.
“What should we do?” – we thought – we didn’t know any better than to follow TomTom’s directions, and the car in front of us that was from South Carolina…
We were starting to think of other strategies. Like – if we stopped right here, and ran – we would still make it to the concert (??? Honestly, we were not under any influence… the craziness of that thought became clear only the next day, in broad daylight – we were pretty serious at the time though).
I had an idea – if we made it to the hotel at the last minute (say, 9pm, when the concert was supposed to begin, or even at 10pm) we’d check in quickly, grab a change of clothes and get a cab to the Jewish Mother. It seemed still doable. It was about 8:30 at the time, and GPS was being promising – we’d get to the motel by 8: 45pm… then by 8:50… then by 9:pm…
By about that time we had reached a place where cops were out, directing traffic. Following the traffic we moved like slugs through some parking lot, small streets, some bigger streets – it kept raining, huge puddles were forming everywhere… we drove through some smaller ones like everyone else… TomTom was utterly confused and kept trying to put us back on 264… I took a few turns, trying to find a place to stop and figure out where we ended up… Replanned the route… turned around a few more times, as TomTom was still trying to put us on 264… I was starting to freak out and we stopped behind another car with Georgia tag. There was a police car parked there too.
For a while we just sat there. I called Adam (actually I had already called him from the long inchworm line) he suggested to keep going and find a service station or something.
A lady came out of the car in front of us – by then there was 2 other cars stopped behind us. I decided to try my luck with the police first. We all approached the police car. The lady from the car nr.1 asked for directions, and the police barked at her with some… I’m sure he had had a log day already…
I never got to ask him anything. Suddenly he yelled something, jumped out of his car, ran across the road and kept yelling at somebody and waving his arms. It was all pretty bizarre. Looked like he had no intentions of returning to the confused clucking flock of lost chickens, so I gave up, got back in the car and we tried the driving around thing again.
Maarja, poor thing was pretty scared, but tried to be helpful by looking at the map and figuring out where we were (the map was of just the few blocks around the Jewish Mother – and we were far from it still).
At some point I remember saying – and I can’t remember who has said this – that as long as you have gas – you’re not lost – you’re just having an adventure.
Well, we tried to keep our spirits up, but it was starting to get scary. Lost in a HUGE (we were starting to understand how big this place really was) city, at a late hour, most of the streets flooded… I had no idea what to do. I’d paid for the concert so I was gonna get to the damn concert somehow… but first we were gonna get to our motel…
We drove around sort of random in some downtown. Finally there was a gas station and we stopped for directions. The guy behind the counter looked at us puzzled and had no idea where we were trying to go. “Euclid road”, I said, “our motel is there, Motel 6?!”
A guy who was buying something jumped in and started babbling al sorts of directions. I tried to write them down. ”I’m going that way, you can follow me, I’m actually leading some friends out that way…” he said, followed by more directions, as he was backing out the door.It looked as if he suddenly got afraid that we may carry some strange virus. Just like that – he was gone.
We tried to follow his directions. Go straight, until there’s a tunnel – go through the tunnel, then turn right, you should get to 58, then… a blur after that.
We went straight, there was a huge puddle, but everyone was driving through and there was nowhere else to turn, so we went through also… my car sputtered, jotted, made some strange noises, almost died, sputtered again, and we were through the water. My poor old wagon was doing the best it could to take us to our destination. By that time I think we were both starting to accept the grim truth, that we may not make it to the concert… if only we mad it to the motel!
There was the tunnel. SCARYYYYY… knowing there was water everywhere, it was scary to go through it. My car sounded like it was gonna die, but picked up, and carried us through the scary tunnel. We turned right and kept going with the flow of the rest of the traffic. Cars were left, abandoned here and there by the side of the road. It kept raining. It was dark. We were completely lost in a big city, far away from home…
Traffic came to stop and we were being redirected again. I stopped and asked the cops for directions – they sayd to cut through a parking lot of a big shopping center, and take Princess Anne Rd. I did that and TomTom adjusted itself. For a moment it seemed like we were gonna beat the adds, and make it to the motel. Maybe even to the concert to see Mr. Satan play the last song.
Then TomTom told us to turn right. I did. There was a lot of water, but no way of knowing how deep and I did not know what else to do. I wanted to get us safe somewhere. I think I had called Adam again at some point asking if he could call the motel to make sure we could still stay there, due to our circumstances – since we had missed the check in time…
I turned right, and we were half way making the turn, when it became apparent that there was a LOT OF WATER, and my car did not like it. It gave up. There. We were flooded. Within minutes water crept up into the car and soon it was ankle deep.
Maarja said it was the worst thing that had ever happened to her. I started to cry. I called Adam again, panicking. He said to call AAA. He was gonna look up some phone #’s for cabs, or something.
I called AAA. The lady at the phone sounded tired and not interested in partaking in someones worst day of their life. I started crying again and aksed what the heck was I supposed to do, some warmth sneaked in her voice as she told me it was gonna be allright. Maarja was tougher, she did not cry. She tried to calm me down too, but I was the one responsible, and I know there was more to deal with after “it’s all over”.
The AAA lady connected me to someone in Virginia. There was a lot of waiting. The lady in Virginia said that it would be 4-6 hours before anyone could come and get us. I told her I coud not wait that long and she suggested to call 911.
Wow. Never thought I’d have to do that.
I called 911. Then we waited. Every time a car went by it felt like we were in a boat. Then we just sat there, kind of dumbfounded until the police came. He arranged for a tow truck to come and hung around until it arrived, saying it was a bad neighbourhood. He took us to the local firedepartment after the car was towed and we hung out with the firefighters, wached some TV and they called us a cab after giving us some orange juice (we had not had any supper). Good guys – the cop and the firefighters – I’m so thankful we were not just left at the streetcorner.
The cab driver finally took us to Motel 6. It was $25.- with the tip. He asked what we had learned from this experience. I said – “eee… never to leave home again?” “NO!” he laughed, “Never drive through water!”
It seemed pretty plain and clear by then, how didn’t we think of that earlier?!
To top things off the motelroom looked sort of grimy, and the bed sheet inspection revealed some stains of questionable origins, which prompted us to sleep in the same dirty clothes we had picked the veggies earlier that morning.
Adam was gonna leave NC early the next morning to come and rescue us, and we fell into a fitful sleep.
By now it all seems like a bad dream. Did we have the same nightmare?!
Ghettowagon is dead. We never got to the concert. Life goes on.
Pix to follow, whenever the connection gets better…