Heading North for the Winter

Here is something from the vault I wrote several years back. It’s a true story, and seems like a lifetime ago. To put this in a time perspective I would have to say this was some time around December 2002 or 2003. Enjoy.

Heading North for the Winter

Everyone thought we were either crazy or stupid for doing what we did, but I was in a state of joyful madness about the whole thing. It began when a friend of mine, James, asked me if I’d assist him in an endeavor for his soon to be pregnant fiancé. As I listened to his offer while working well into my fifth or sixth pint of Guinness reaping the benefits of a good buzz, the same type I had the night before, and sighed in agreement at the proposition. Two days later, I received a phone call to make sure I was still up for it. I agreed not for the mere pleasure of helping a friend, but, and also, for the destination the proposition would bring me…Boston. Two thousand miles away from anything I knew or grew up with. The prize was a Jeep Wrangler James got a hell of a deal on and we were set. I took some time off work, three days to be exact that straddled a weekend, and it was only a matter of time until we would go.

The day came and we set out with two itineraries in order to fool his Mrs. and mask our whereabouts and fiendish ways. The plan was to drive the entire distance in one shot, and we did. The countryside swept past in an interstate frenzy as I squirmed in my seat while the road moved beneath me. I was back on the road, where I like to be, and all there was between us was time, asphalt, and our endurance to reach our destination. We passed welcoming signs letting us know which state we were entering. Signs, some of them anyway, I had seen countless times and new ones to come. Somewhere in Virginia, or Tennessee (I cannot remember which), I took over so my driving companion could sleep. I had fallen asleep somewhere between Birmingham and woke somewhere north of Knoxville, a few hours of rest to say the least. Before I took charge of the helm and progressed us further into territories unknown to either of us, a cup of coffee, some breakfast, and half a hit of speed were required to make sure I could endure the solitary travels as James attempted to sleep before the sun came up. That’s how we made our trip, both ways. A combination of coffee, speed, adrenaline, and the little food we’d purchase from dive gas stations.

It was somewhere toward the end of Virginia when the snow began to fall and collect in the grass on the sides of the highway. Around the Pennsylvania New York border James took over. The speed had begun to wear off and I figured by the time I fidgeted enough to get comfortable sleep would soon follow. By the time I was situated in the reclined seat, listening to the music playing on the radio, and feeling quite comfortable, Mother Nature decided to keep me up for the remainder of the voyage.

The skies darkened more than usual making the late evening turn to night quicker than it should, and snow fell at a surprising rate to two southern boys from Louisiana. Traffic slowed from its speedy pace to 60 miles per hour, then 50, then 45, until we were creeping along at 25 mph on an interstate that lost its markers due to the accumulation of snow. The radio changed from FM to AM so we could find answers to just what the hell was happening. The car slid as we kept along. My hand firmly gripped the “Oh Shit!” handle above the doors as passerby’s moved past us, most likely seeing our license plate and wondering why we were even on the road during such a force of nature. But, we kept on moving at our snails pace as Hartford, Connecticut came and went. All the liquids previously consumed wanted out of our bodies, but we kept on for fear of what the interstate would turn to during our absence until we had no choice but to pull over and relieve ourselves. At the gas station we talked with locals for a few moments trying to assess what our next move would be. Keep going or stop short.

“It’s only going to get worse tomorrow,” a man said and we agreed and slid back onto the interstate and kept on. Our car continually swayed from one side of what used to be a three or four lane highway. Cars sped along each side of us effortlessly while our fist clenched onto whatever we were holding. At some points we were laughing in pure madness as to what we had gotten into, while other times we’d scream in horror, followed with sighs of relief, as an eighteen wheeler came beside us at an alarming rate. The snow was relentless. We constantly searched for the one lane in the road that had the most wear to give our tires traction even though we still could not travel any faster than 30 mph. We would lose site of the vehicles, no more than 30 feet, in front of us. From time to time I grabbed the disposable camera we’d purchased earlier in the trek to take pictures of this blizzard so that we could one day show our friends back home the extent of our lunacy.

We were counting down the miles until Massachusetts as we figured out our estimated time of arrival of Boston. We came to the border, I read the directions, he steered the car on its path, and the snow broke. There was just a light drizzle of the flakes as it was when we first encountered it back in Pennsylvania. The Roads cleared and we arrived in Boston in no time. We were in a frenzy of laughter. James’s fiancé would have no idea what we had accomplished until we told her after Christmas. It was close to 11 pm, 27hours after our departure, when we approached a tollbooth.

“Where’s the closest bar,” we asked the attendant.

“Keep going until you see the Fenway Park exit. Go back behind there and there are plenty of good bars around there,” he said, leaving all the “r” off in his accent.

We had made it. We were there, and so it began.

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