Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Mom's in Heaven and The Drive Through Hell

Mom's enjoying Heaven. Time to change the subject. Let me tell you about the drive through Hell.

We planned to leave NYC on Sunday morning and drive to Washington, DC so our youngest could spend the day with her friends who now live in the capitol. While she enjoyed their company, hubby and I were to visit the new Martin Luther King Memorial and have lunch in our favorite sushi restaurant (located in the home of Mary Surratt, where the assassins planned Lincoln's murder). Keeping in mind that I had not watched TV or read a newspaper since arriving in NYC, two weeks ago I ignorantly reconsidered my plans as the weather got warmer each day last week. I was blissfully unaware that the forces of nature were beating down on the middle part of the the eastern states.

At the luncheon after the funeral, our daughter's best friend, who lives in DC and flew to New York that morning to attend the funereal, heard me talk about going to DC the next day and warned me that a storm had knocked out power to several million homes and half of DC was without power, including her home. I heard her but did not absorb the importance of that information, as you will understand if you read on . . .

Temperature in New York on Saturday was ninety-one. It dropped to 87 degrees by 7pm. We would be staying the night with our daughter in her tiny two room apartment. Our daughter does not have air conditioning. Rather than pay $400 for a hotel in NYC for the night and rather than try to squeeze the four of us into the oven and hope we would not kill each other, we loaded up the car, kissed our oldest daughter good-bye and began the trip home via DC, planning to stop for the evening in either south Jersey or Delaware.

We made good time to Jersey and decided to stop in Delaware. There were no available hotel rooms. We continued to Maryland. No available hotel rooms. A combination of pre-4th of July travelers and those who traveled to hotels because their homes were without power had filled every hotel room. By 1:30 in the morning we had reached DC. Our daughter was on the Internet in the car contacting every hotel chain with a property in the DC area and they were all full. Desperate, I called the luxury hotels we normally like the Hay-Adams and the Willard - both completely booked.

My husband and I have spent many late nights walking around the monuments and in the area of the White House and have felt perfectly safe. We decided to catch a few winks in the car by parking in areas we knew were well patrolled. Well guess what? You cannot park in those areas between 2AM and 6AM. I guess, since we were always walking, we never read the street signs before this. We attempted to drive to our daughter's friend's neighborhood but the electricity was out to the street and traffic lights leading to that area.

At 3AM we made the decision to leave DC and drive to Virginia. We stopped at each exit. No rooms available. The rest stops along 95 were jam packed with people looking for hotel rooms and places to nap. At 5:30 am we reached southern Virginia and I stopped in the parking lot of a Cracker Barrel for a 30 minute nap. At 6am the restaurant opened and we went in to use the rest room and have breakfast, including coffee. My breakfast was not the best choice. I had pancakes. They were tasty but I am not use to the wheat or the butter, not to mention the caffeine in the coffee - or the milk.

By this time we accepted the obvious - we were not going to find a hotel room until the afternoon. We only had a few minutes until we reached North Carolina so we decided to drive straight to South of the Border in South Carolina and then find a place to stop. By the time we reached South of the Border it was 11am and the temperature was 108 in the shade. The heat index had the temperature at 122 degrees. This is not a dry heat, either. When they say it feels like 122 - they are right. Leaving the car at a rest stop felt similar to walking from the fridge and jumping into the oven. Ugh.

Getting back into the car, we all got a second wind and made the decision to drive to Savannah. Our daughter got us a two room mini suite at an Embassy suites. We checked in at 4:30pm. The heat index was 111 degrees when we arrived. We grabbed a light dinner, had our complimentary drink at the manager's reception in the hotel at 5:30 and took turns showering. I was in bed, in the middle of changing the channel on the TV when I fell asleep. My husband says I looked so cute with my hand still pointing the remote at the TV while I was obviously unconscious.

Four hours later a severe storm hit Savannah and the electricity went out at the hotel for three hours. I was so tired I did not wake up for the storm. I came to right about when the lights came back on and I suddenly felt extremely hot from being in a room that had no AC the previous three hours. I stayed up for about 2 hours and then fell back asleep.

Monday was spent touring Savannah on foot and by car and then we drove to Orlando. We are home and perhaps over the next few days we can find our new normal. I am well aware that the 'afters' are knocking on the door to my brain. I am feeling hot and tired and even with the AC set at 75 I am too hot today.

I hope you all have a wonderful July 4th. I will be watching 1776 and singing all the songs. Maybe I will play the HBO John Adams series while I am working. We are not barbecuing or eating things like hot dogs, burgers or ice cream. I am planning to have chicken. I might make Jello.



Vickie said...

We lost power, at home in Indiana, right as I was headed east last Friday night. By the time I got to my son's (where we had planned to spend the night and start early saturday) he had lost power too. We decided at least there was ac in the car and started a 12 hour drive at 10pm Friday. We had the same idea of stopping. We chased the storm east and by the time we got to each state, there was no power. We slept for three hours in a hotel parking lot and were good to go. By the time we checked into our east coast hotel, they did have power. And we did find a great apartment and took care of all kinds of grad school things this week. Good trip. Drove part way back home tonight. Was good to see lights back on as we headed west tonight. On the way east, last friday, with total blackouts everywhere we drove, it was eerily weird.

Noxluna13 said...

I am so sorry that your trip home was such a disaster. Now that you are home with power and comfort, I hope that you can recover from all that you have been through and find that place of "normal" again so you may continue on.