Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Trip To Hatteras


Yesterday, three groups of Dunnevants left three different locations headed for Hatteras, North Carolina. Kaitlin left from Winston-Salem, the law firm of Schwartz, Hawkins, Garland and Roop from Richmond, and Pam, Patrick and yours truly from Princeton, New Jersey. Kaitlin left at 11:00, the Richmond contingent at 9:30, and the New Jersey group at 7:30. What follows is mostly true.

We got our first text from Paula around 11, “As God is my witness, I will NEVER make this trip again!!” She was in her first back up on 64 and was handling it with her characteristic calm and understated detachment. Meanwhile, Kaitlin was sending YouTube videos to us featuring profane black women raging about the heat wave. “I’m not tropical, I ain’t no toucan!”

Soon, I hit my first toll booth, one of the many plagues afflicting our northern states. There was the $2.90 one for the privilege of travelling 28 miles on the New Jersey Turnpike, a road dedicated to some long dead New Jersey Governor. Then I was separated from another $8.00 for going over the Delaware Memorial Bridge, and here I was, so ignorant I wasn’t even aware that Delaware had died! Each time, and I mean each and every time I sat in the long line to pay my toll, my son would remind me that if we had an EZ Pass, we would already be on our way. Each time, I would say something like, “Yes Patrick, and if I only had a son who looked like Trayvon Martin, I would be President.” But just about the time I thought the tolling was over, we reached the Chesapeake Bay Bridge tunnel, a 21 mile feat of engineering which featured not one but two tunnels. When described this way, it makes the $12.00 price tag seem almost like a bargain. Almost. When the total toll expense exceeded the $25 dollar mark, it occurred to me that in 2013 America, it even takes money to be a drifter.

Meanwhile, down south, Paula had reached Def Com 5 on the freak-out meter. “It’s useless. We will never get there. We will die in this car.” Kaitlin sailed through North Carolina listening to country music, blissfully unaware. The New Jersey group was getting very cocky, since our all-knowing GPS women kept rerouting us around traffic backups with steely precision, notifying us in her slightly creepy accent that she was busy, “seeking alternate routes”, but then all of a sudden, around 10 miles west of the bridge leading to the Outer Banks she dejectedly announced, “Mother of all backups detected ahead. You are screwed.”

10 and a half hours after leaving our Hampton Inn, we finally pulled up into the driveway of our beautiful beach house, the last to arrive, whereupon Patrick reminded me that if we had an EZ Pass, we probably would have beaten everyone.