This year, I joined The Boyfriend and his family for Christmas down in a suburb of Jacksonville, Florida. The idea of a warm, non-white Christmas took some getting used to, as did missing my traditional get-togethers with friends and family. But this is what you do when you get to a certain point in a relationship… or so I am told.
We decided to fly out of Laguardia for cheaper flights and to accompany The Boyfriend’s sister (Sister from here on). We rented a car to get to Queens and drove down with no issues. The airport was packed, and our flight was only delayed for half an hour. Other than that, no problems.
Our stay in Florida was great. There was tons of food, lots of merriment, and the meeting of The Boyfriend’s extended family. Once Saturday (otherwise known as Christmas) rolled around with its reports of a snow storm for the East Coast, we began to get a little worried about being able to get back. But, what are you going to do? Bail on Christmas? Invent a machine that controls the weather? By Sunday afternoon, our Monday morning flight was canceled.
We spent the next hour on the phone with Delta, trying to figure out our options. They could get Sister on the last seat to get home Tuesday — for The Boyfriend and I, it was late Wednesday night. Eff that. We took a refund and spent the next two hours trying to secure a rental car to drive back. Now, we did this drive last year and never thought we’d be doing it again. Oops.
Here’s the thing about one-way car rentals: get a towel because you’re going to get hosed. Especially during a blizzard. During Christmas. No car company was less than $500 for a two day economy rental from Jacksonville to Bradley — if they even had a car available. After trying corporate discounts, Internet coupon codes, and just plain begging, we wound up with a Corolla with a AAA discount and set out at about 10 p.m. on Sunday with The Boyfriend driving the entire way.
The backseat of the car was like a cave — no sound traveled back there from front seat conversations or the radio. My five hour turn was spent mostly staring at the moon since reading in the car would be a guaranteed trip to Vomit City. When Sister was back there, I felt like I was shouting at a deaf person so she could still be a part of any conversation. Wonderful design flaw, Toyota.
Georgia brought us the nicest rest stop bathroom I’ve ever seen — shiny black tile and Kohler sinks. You’d think it was a hotel or corporate bathroom. The roads were pretty empty and clear of snow until South Carolina when we saw signs of the white stuff and I managed to sleep through South of the Border. North Carolina and Virginia were both a little snowier and brought us a stop at a Waffle House (aka a gas station bathroom serving breakfast). The DC area was boring since they managed to barely get a dusting! After a five minute nap and snack in a North Baltimore Chick-Fil-A, we were again back on the road. Delaware was lame except for the fact that such a tiny state manages to hit you with some really pricey tolls. Clearly overcompensating for being puny.
Then came the Dirty. They had lowered the speed limit on the Jersey Turnpike to a whopping 35 mph, which of course no one paid attention to. When we hit Elizabeth, NJ, the toll guy said they got 38 inches. We just figured he was full of hooey, but it turns out he was probably right.
We had to get Sister to the city since she lives and works in Manhattan, but there was no way we were driving in. Talk about Mission: Impossible. After lots of texts, phone calls, and web browsing (thank God for the iPhone), she figured out that she could find a train around Broadway and 65th in Queens. Then the snow hit the fan.
We tried to get on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, but it was a snowy mess that resulted in some awkward turn-arounds by dozens of cars, including ours. This landed us in the streets of Brooklyn around Park Slope–about a tenth of which were plowed. Even the ones that were plowed were being filled with snow as residents attempted to dig themselves out. Cars parked on the side of road were buried in what seemed like four feet of powder. It looked like a post-nuclear holocaust with snow.
We tried desperately to find alternate routes out of there for what seemed like hours. We even managed to get ourselves stuck on a semi-plowed on-ramp. Sister and I did the pushing — while several Brooklynites looked on from the warmth of their cars and offered no help. Sister even faceplanted at one point. Still no help. After a lot of inappropriate swearing, we did manage to get unstuck. After more snowventurous navigating, we wound up getting on the highway and heading back to The Dirty to reassess the situation at the Vince Lombardi rest stop. Finally, we decided to drop Sister in the Bronx where she could catch the 6 back into Manhattan — even if she had to tuck and roll to keep us from getting stuck again.
Thus, we braved the GW, and even though one level was closed, it wasn’t terrible. The Bronx was…PLOWED! (At least where we went). My theory on this is that the people in the Bronx were probably much more likely to riot if they weren’t plowed out, whereas Brooklynites would just have hipster snowball fights. Luckily, Sister ducked out and texted a few minutes later that she made it on the 6 and was headed home…about four hours after we had originally hit the city.
The ride through to CT was uneventful, although the roads were icing up a bit and we had been awake for about 35 hours (I had slept for about an hour and half — The Boyfriend about 5 minutes) and lunacy was setting in. Upon returning the rental car at Bradley, the computer would not accept the mileage we had put on it — about 1,100 miles in less than 24 hours — because it didn’t think it was possible. Now that is an accomplishment and almost makes the ordeal worth it.
Almost, but not quite.