Thursday, November 19, 2009

Fun in Philly, misadventure on the road

The wedding in Philadelphia over the weekend was great, but getting there and back was not so hot.

I was scheduled to fly Friday at 1:25 p.m. so that I could meet up in Philly with Emily and take a cab to the hotel in downtown Philadelphia or possibly go straight to the rehearsal dinner held at an old bicycle manufacturing factory-turned-art gallery in a borderline area of downtown where artists are moving in.

On my way to the airport, Emily called to say that my flight was canceled due to bad weather in Philly. I could either take the 5 p.m. flight, in which case I would miss the dinner but get there in plenty of time for the next day's wedding, or I could drive – between 5 and 6 hours. I was so psyched to get there, I decided to drive, even though it was raining on and off. I talked to Ben about stopping in Trenton, N.J., where he is an editor and writer at The Trentonian, a daily newspaper. The paper is on the way, and we decided I would come by and he would look up directions to the reception.

The drive down was fine. Different things kept me entertained. One of them was the traffic report. Out here in Springfield, Mass., I laugh at the traffic report; we have about three big buildings and about five main roads. They make a big deal about announcing the traffic, which takes probably less than two minutes. Coming from New York, I know what a traffic report should sound like, and as I approached the George Washington Bridge and got onto the New Jersey Turnpike, I listened to it over and over. It is a work of art, tying together arteries and exits and bridges and tunnels and all the roadways. The announcer does it at a fast clip. It could be come kind of song.

The stop at the Trention was wonderful. Ben took me around and introduced me to his co-workers and showed me his desk. I was one proud mom. I also felt like diving in and working; it made me realize how much I miss newspapers.

We printed out directions to the gallery and I was off. By this time it was dark. Either I missed a turn or the directions were bad, because I soon found myself in a very seedy part of the city. I went into a deli where the two customers and the guy behind the desk looked at me with curiosity, as if saying, "Why are you here?"

They gave me directions which got me lost again. A police car's siren blared, and the streets were mostly empty. I pulled over and got directions from the nicest-looking group of (apparent) drug dealers I could find. These directions got me even more lost. I ended up at the top of a deserted street and decided to give in and call Emily. But I couldn't find my phone. So this is how it ends, I thought. Finally I found the phone. Emily passed it to Tami, who gave it to Heath, the father of the groom, who calmly talked me out of the neighborhood. When I finally found the place, I hugged him.

The next day Emily, Nancy and I walked around a little, exercised, and found a great place for brunch. Philadelphia is really a wonderful place. Made me have that "I need to live in a city"
vibe. Onwards to the wedding: The bride, Sarah, was beautiful, and she and her new husband, Walker, looked very happy. Tami was gorgeous too, and beamed through the whole evening. Sarah was our high school group's "first baby," making it even more special.

I headed out the next day after brunch. I was tired, and the drive was much more difficult. While it was still daylight, I pulled over and took a nap. I stopped once for coffee and a take-out sandwich, but I felt like I was fighting fatigue the whole time. It was dark when I got off the highway, and when I was just about 15 minutes from home, I must have let up my guard. I fell asleep and ran over a curb. Bump bump bump. That woke me up. I had two flat tires and one wrecked rim. It shook me up, but of course the good news is that I didn't hit anyone, I didn't hurt myself and I didn't damage any property except the car.

A tow truck brought me and the car to the shop and then brought me home. I needed two new tires and a new rim.

In hindsight, I guess you'd say I should have flown. But I was anxious to get there, and I didn't want to miss anything, so I just kept on going.

It was good to be on the road.


PJ said...

Ronni, I probably would've done the same thing. You're still standing after all you've been through because you're one determined woman. Sure it was a risk to drive. Yes, you were lucky that falling asleep at the wheel didn't have worse consequences. But you did what you had to do. Glad you had a good time at the wedding celebrations.

Nelle said...

I am only about 40 mins from Trenton. Last June we went to a wedding in Philadelphia. I was prepared with a GPS because my last trip there I ended up in a neighborhood where people told me it was not safe for me to be in. It is a wonderful city and the wedding guests were treated to a bus tour of the city while the wedding party took pictures. Glad you made it home safely and that the damage was minor from the curb.

Jonny said...

Oy vey, indeed! You can tell Tami (as the saying goes): I'd go to "Hellfaya or Philadelphia". Okay, that's kinda dumb...but that WAS a hell of a trip!Next time pull into a truck stop and get some of that "extra strength" coffee.

Hang in there. Jonny