We were originally going to go Friday-Sunday, but decided to leave on Thursday afternoon so we’d have a full day with Darla while her two adorable kiddos were in school.
Without traffic, it’s a 6 hour drive from New Jersey.
We took Rachel’s car, agreeing to split the driving time. Did I mention her car is new? And if there’s a pothole, I’ll hit it?
Somewhere between New York and Connecticut, we (and by we I mean me) hit 37 potholes. And I’m not talking little divots in the pavement.
On Rachel’s high-tech dashboard, we watched the air pressure in the driver’s side tire plummet.
By the time we reached Boxborough, Massachusetts, we had a flat. Rachel pulled over while I surreptitiously checked her fuel tank. Plenty to keep the car running and heated for at least an hour or two. Whew.
“I don’t know how to change a tire. Do you?” she asked with a laugh.
“I’m from New Jersey. I don’t even know how to pump my own gas,” I replied. “But I just renewed my AAA membership!”
In under 30 minutes, a tow truck arrived. The driver got the spare out of the trunk and started rooting around while Rachel and I bounced up and down trying to keep warm.
“I can’t find the key,” he announced.
It took us much longer than it should have to understand that tires have unique “keys” to unscrew the lug nuts so no one steals them. The spare in your car is supposed to come equipped with its matching key.
We tore apart the car, but alas, no key. Thanks, Toyota.
Eventually, he said our only option was to go to the nearby dealership and have them change the tire – when they opened. In the morning.
Oh, did I mention Rache had 20-inch fancy rims?
“I’m so sorry I broke your car!” I wailed for the first of many times.
After the tow truck driver unloaded the car at the dealership, he said he could drive us to the nearest hotel. Nevermind that we had two non-refundable rooms waiting for us a mere two hours away in Maine.
“Do you have anywhere for us to put our luggage?” we asked.
“Just your laps.”
Our essentials were scattered between six bags, not including my swinging 1970s, fully-loaded cooler, which took up half the back seat. I grabbed my laptop and two bottles of champagne. “Screw it,” I said to Rachel. “This is all I need.”
When we arrived at the hotel, Rachel explained our predicament to the front desk. The man at the counter replied deliberately, “You have a coupon, riiight?” He nodded slowly.
“Um…yeeees,” Rachel said, catching on.
When we saw the receipt: 50% off! What’s more, our room overlooked a funky indoor pool, white lights and palm trees (you go on with your bad self, Holiday Inn), so we opened the balcony sliders, and more importantly, the champagne, and toasted to the kindness of strangers.
Rachel called the dealership at 8am the next morning, and they finally got back to us with the verdict two hours later.
“It’s not just a flat. Your rim is damaged beyond repair.”
“Of course it is,” Rachel replied.
“And since you have 20-inch ones, we’d have to custom order a replacement. It wouldn’t be here until Monday.”
“So…my only options are to wait until Monday…or get 4 new 18-inch rims and tires?”
“Correct. And it’d probably cost the same either way.”
She covered the mouthpiece. “I knew. I knew when we got that car with those friggin’ rims…” She spoke into the receiver, “I guess I’ll have to get four new tires and rims, then. How long will that take? …Okay.”
“I’m so sorry!” I cried.
“Jules, it’s not your fault. I hit them, too,” Rachel reassured me, gracious as ever. (It was totally my fault.)
Turns out they had to order the ‘regular’ rims from a nearby dealer and couldn’t start work until 1pm.
They gave us a complimentary rental car, and we killed time at a local diner.
At 3pm, they gave us the good news: “Almost done.”
At 4pm: “We just realized we have to put all of the tire censors back on. It’s going to be another hour.”
5pm: “Okay, just finishing the paperwork.”
5:02pm: “Our computers just froze.”
5:30pm: “Let me give you the damaged tire and rim. Oh, wait, it’s filthy, we need a bag. Hang on.”
5:35pm: “We can’t find any more bags.”
5:45pm: Finally, FINALLY on our way. “Good thing we left Thursday night.”
7:00pm: Reach Maine.
7:30pm: Darla texted. “I can’t get out of my driveway. It’s a sheet of ice.”
That’s right. At last we were in Maine, 24 hours behind schedule, and NO DARLA.
But there was lobster. Lots and lots of lobster.
Saturday morning, another text from Darla: “I still can’t get out!!”
So Rachel and I shuffled around the icy streets of Freeport alone, waiting for the temperature to climb above freezing.
At one point, it was so slippery, a gift shop owner reached out a hand while holding the door, towing us inside. Later, when we peered longingly into Freeport Chowder House, the man inside waved us in.
“Are you open?” we asked.
“Not for two hours, but I never turn down customers,” he replied. “I don’t have the fryer going yet, but what do you want? Lobster roll?”
Rachel and I looked at each other. “YES.”
It was noon on Saturday before we saw Darla, but she was worth the wait.
Despite the many snafus, this li’l trip north had so many heart-warming moments, I
wouldn’t trade it for anything would totally trade it for another 10am lobster roll.
P.S. – I even learned how to pump my own gas!
Since the word count on this post is already as atrocious as the potholes on Route 15, I hope you’ll head over to Rachel’s Table and She’s A Maineiac to read more about our adventures!
Have you ever had any vacations that didn’t go, ah, according to plan?