Monday, March 19, 2007


The Trip I Had, Not the Trip I Wanted

Oh, dear... I am so exhausted that I am paraphrasing Rummy? Allow me to explain.

My treasured friends, Sydney and Jacqueline, and I were off to the march on the Pentagon. We were pumped up, to say the least. We were also going to stay on another day and a half to see a bit of DC. Off we went to the Manchester Airport.

Cancelled! Our flight was cancelled! I'd heard forecasts of freezing rain in DC, but cancelled? My companera Jacqueline is a sort of amateur travel agent. She found a flight still happening in Boston, and we headed there.

We arrived in Boston, just in time to learn that our flight there was also cancelled. Lunch. Distress. Discussion. A decision. We'd rent a car and carry on. That way we could drop the car (which is an inconvenience in DC) and use our return flight tickets home. We hopped a rental shuttle and headed for Avis.

Here are Jacq n' Sydney on the shuttle. Purty cute, huh?

We rented a (yawn) Ford, and began our journey south, delighted with our new plan. We would rotate driving duties and arrive in DC in time to snooze a bit at our hotel before the march.


We crawled along in Mass Turnpike traffic while snow increasingly bombarded us, leaving a thick, greasy frosting on the road. Our top speed was 15 mph. As we approached the Hartford turnoff, more frosting, more gridlock. More cancellations and dire forecasts on the radio.

Was this not Meant To Be? Why hadn't we taken a train? Well, because a train would have taken too long. (Insert another hah here). Now we were going to not take anything. Reluctantly, we decided we had to return the car. We'd been out in the soup for an hour.

We returned the car. Avis was understanding. We went back to our own car in the airport garage and stood looking out at the mess that stood in the way of our trip. Nothin' moving except the snow plows.

We then sadly turned for home, up a clogged Interstate 93. By this time the snow was piled up everywhere, with hardly a snow plow in sight. It was just us and 93,000 other idiots on the road, with about half of them yammering on cell phones as they drove. This meant that we would stop many times while the cops and the emergency vehicles would clear the accidents they caused off the road. Then we would slowly start up again. What fun.

Finally around Manchester we got into a groove. We were moving! A fleet of snowplows scooted along to our right as if in some sort of parade. Cool!

We stopped in Bow for a shitload of junk food. By then I was reconciled to going home, seeing my dear spouse, my Maddie-dog, my Rudy-Toot-Toot of a cat. Home!


The gas we bought in Bow turned out to have water in it, and our gas line froze, somewhere about ten miles out. Sputter! Stop! I looked out the window while Sydney tried to wave someone down. The snow covered him quickly while J and I tried to keep our spirits up by singing "Hop, Bunny Bunny," the most ridiculous camp song I've ever known:

"I like a wabbit, a cwazy, cwazy wabbit, Hop-hop, Bunny-Bunny, Hop-hop, Bunny-Bunny..."

It's a chick thing. Sydney did not find it at all uplifting. The snowy window was pretty, but my feet were getting cold. I wiggled my toes and sang. A guy offered us a ride to a nearby (tiny) town, no doubt shuttered for the night. A cop told us to stay with the car, and he would call a garage for us. For us and 50 other drivers similarly stranded on the same stretch. I wiggled my toes for another couple of hours.

Rescue finally came at around 11. Up went our car on one of those flatbeds that has partially replaced the old fashioned tow truck. We crammed into the front seat of the truck and enjoyed our driver's taste in heavy metal music. Really. I hadn't heard ACDC in years. What could be more appropriate than "Highway to Hell," I ask you!?!

Then it was on to a motel room. I love motel rooms. I love their big beds and Gideon Bibles and little packaged soaps and cable television and tiny free shampoos. I settled into my room and turned on the telly.

HBO! And a poetry reading at that! Now we were getting somewhere! After the reading I channel-surfed for a while after that, read the end of a novel I'd brought with me, and settled in for sleep.

There was one of those nice continental breaskfasts at our motel, and I munched on Cheerios and watched Fox News emphasize the counter-demonstration over the demonstration on a flatscreen TV while we struck out on getting a mechanic on a Saturday to check out the car.

So we called AAA again, and eventually along came Vic. The snow had turned into freezing rain, so the last of our flight hopes were dashed, and we really were going home. This time the truck could hold only one passenger, (it was a genuine tow truck, not a give-your-car-a-ride truck,) and I volunteered to join Vic. I'd enjoyed my trip with the metal guy so much that I wanted to see what this guy was into.

Vic wasn't into heavy metal. He was and is into his wife and three kids and helping other people out. We talked about them and tea and fair trade coffee and homeschooling his kids and his faith.

I didn't engage him on the subject of the war. I could tell that we probably weren't on the same page about that. Still, I enjoyed our conversation and thought he was a pretty fine guy. Such are the possibilities in this country of ours.

So I didn't get to the march. I did get to see snow make pretty patterns on the car window, to sing "Hop-Hop, Bunny Bunny" with Jacq, to make the acquaintance of a couple of guys who pull the rest of us out of the snow, to enjoy an Afro-American poetry slam on HBO (who'd have guessed that they even broadcast such a thing?), to see how the media played down the march, even turned it into some Socialist agenda event.

You know, the Congress isn't going to get this all right as the result of our March-march. We're not going to see any response to our efforts, either at the Pentagon or at home. I'm already planning to head to DC for the May march.

You can bet we'll have to have another march. I'll be at that one, you can bet.

What an adventure! And here I was picturing you down there with the crowds in DC. Sorry you didn't make it, but it was obviously out of your control. I'll be out marching tonight here in Santa Cruz and will think of you, Lulu!
P.S., yes your friends are adorable!
speaking as a professional travel agent, I suggest that Peace Marches on the Pentagon not happen in late winter/early spring. Rather, they should be held in late spring/early summer when there is less chance of a freak snowstorm like this one happening.

I'm just saying.
Well, that sucked.
No wonder all the Land's End and Eddie Bauer catalogs I get are still full of winter clothes.
I'm wearing shorts and a tank top right now, and I will be until sometime in November 2007.
By the way, Vic pictured in a short sleeve shirt kinda casts aspersions on your claim that the weather was too bad to get to DC.
I'm just sayin.'
You've never been in a tow truck in the dead of winter, I can tell. You throw off every extra article of clothing till you get out.

The heating system is set to replenish your bodily warmth once you get back in the truck from having rescued flatlanders from large snow banks.
aw, girl..wotta trip you had. You have a great outlook, I would of been pissed beyond recognition.

But you had a good adventure and you were with it gave you fodder for a great story!

Thanks :)
I have only heard of one trip that ended so badly, but I do not really remember the details. Your trip is incredible. From start to finish, you captured moments and described them in such a way I felt I was there when reading your story. What a trip!!!!
I marched in the Million Musician Peace March in Austin and we marched for peace and musicians played their instruments and sang songs like This Land Is Your Land. It was fabulous. The Crawford Peace House had a float with a band of female percussionists and a man handing out flowers. Best day ever.

Your trip, while stressful and not at all what was intended, does sound interesting in a nightmarish sort of way. It was like you were in a bizarre reality TV show.
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