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Hydroplaning All The Way To New England

Road trips aren’t necessarily my favorite, not when we’re driving for more than two hours, but heading north isn’t as bad because of the scenery from the road. As opposed to driving south. We were headed to Massachusetts for one of Nduku’s friend’s pre-wedding celebration.

The plan was to leave before rush hour started, but Nduku got stuck waiting for a rental car to become available. Note to self: never rent from Dollar. And we ended up with a Ford Focus. Not the worst car in the world, but little did we know we were headed into a monsoon and the Focus wasn’t quite the best car for it.

Until then, though, we had pleasant weather. We made it through Baltimore enjoying the usual view from the highway. There’s skyscrapers, the boats in the harbors and ports, the sports stadiums and the tunnel taking us under the bay.

Exit to Inner Harbor, Baltimore MD

Baltimore MD

Tunnel Under Baltimore MD

But after zipping through Charm City, you meet the first of those money hungry toll booths. And there are many. And they ask for more money the further north you go. And I still wonder where the booth workers go when they have to do a number two.

Tolls outside of Baltimore MD

Just as we were approaching New York, the storm was getting started. We crossed the George Washington Bridge pretty easily, but standing water, maybe a tire deep, caused a several backup that started to sap my energy. Driving through it, in a Ford Focus, I was only hoping not to stall, and I thought we were about to at one point. After the mini pond, the coast was clear. I got us back up to 65 or so when a sheet of water drench the car, literally blinding me, at 65 mph, forgetting where the windshield wiper for the Focus was, unsure if I should brake suddenly not knowing if the car behind us was doing 70 mph, not sure if the car in front of us also got water-boarded and was braking at that moment…

Ok, nothing happened, but it woke me up. The ride was fine for about an hour, then without warning, the sun dipped below the horizon and the skies opened up. I could not see more than 10 feet in front of the car. If that. The wipers were moving as fast as the little Focus could muster, but as soon as it passed, the windshield was flooded again. I could only see the tiny red lights of the car in front of me and just followed it, hoping they could see the white lines, the yellow lines and when the road curved.

And this went on for hours. The Focus wasn’t comfortable so my back was aching. My arms were killing me because the steering wheel sits higher than our car and I wasn’t used to it. Worst of all, though, my eyelids were as heavy as the semis flying by, fearlessly faster than the speed limit, kicking up more blinding sheets of water, daring the rest of us to at least go the minimum speed allowed. But 40 mph was too fast for a car that hydroplaned more than it gripped the road.


I had four energy drinks. FOUR! You’d think I could stay awake for at least three hours as advertised, let alone 12 total, but that rain was so hypnotic, a lullaby singing me to sleep, like the ladies who were sound asleep as I fought the sheep trying to get me to count them while hydroplaning in a monsoon in pitch darkness with hours more to go…

Finally, though, I think we either outran it or came out the other side. I got out to stretch my legs for a moment. Get some fresh air. “Oh, we’re in Connecticut already?” Check my email. “Hmmm, no signal out here.” Then one drop, two drops, the monsoon caught up to us.

As tired as I was, the thought of having to drive the rest of the way in those conditions was enough for me to shake it off and get back on the road. More tolls. More hydroplaning. More white lines hypnotizing me to sleep, when, just when I wanted to find any motel off the side of the road and put my head down, the GPS says, “You’ve reached your destination.”

I usually don’t disagree with the GPS, but there obviously wasn’t any hotels where we were. After circling the destination a few times, Nduku realized I entered the wrong address.

This is where the story is supposed to get worse, 100 more miles to go or somehow we ending up in Wolfeboro, NH; fortunately, we were only 10 minutes away. And once we got there, my eyelids slammed shut, ignoring the jitters I was suffering from all those energy drinks and gut feeling that we were heading off a bridge that I didn’t even know we were on.

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