The Not-so-Epic Beach Trip

On the 28th, my friend Kelsey celebrated her twentieth birthday at Stone Harbor and invited a bunch of people from our college to celebrate with her. I was super excited- while I usually hate the beach, I haven’t actually been in years and a bunch of my friends were going to be there and it was going to be a good time.

“Was” being the operative word. We never saw what actually happened that day coming.

I happily ended up in Jess’ car with our friend Kaitlin, and we took off after Kelsey to drive to the party location. We hit the first problem about forty-five minutes into the drive: ridiculous traffic. Between all of the people heading for the beach and the accident blocking the road, we were inching along for nearly two hours. Finally, though, the exit we needed came into view, and we snailed toward it.

Two hundred yards from the off-ramp, Jess’ car suddenly lost power, and she only had enough to steer onto the shoulder. We were only sort of surprised by this- the car had been doing weird little jerky movements for most of the ride, but we thought that it was just because we weren’t moving much. Wrong.

As soon as we rolled down the windows and turned the car off, the heat of which we had been previously unaware, crept over us. It was hot. And while we weren’t wearing much- our suits with dresses or shorts over them- it was still hot. At one point, I spread my towel on the seat because I was sticking to it.

Triple A was called and, after transferring Jess a few times, they determined that we were one highway too far for them to help us. I didn’t even know Triple A could give an answer like that. They transferred Jess again to a company they work with, but that is not Triple A. Again, didn’t know this was allowed. It was decided that we would need to be owed and dropped off at a random location so that Jess’ car could be fixed/look at and/or her mom would come and pick us up. It was looking like we would not be partying on the beach.

Through all of this, our friends were calling and texting, trying to find out what the next steps were. We didn’t really know; obviously we had to wait for the tow truck to come for us, and considering the traffic, that could take hours. We had to pee, we were hungry, and it was starting to rain. Being girls meant we couldn’t take care of the first one, but Jess had packed food and juice boxes like the apocalypse was coming, so we were more than able to work on the second. We had a delicious, albeit sweat-soaked roadside lunch, and probably forty-five minutes later, I saw the tow truck driving along the shoulder in our direction. That was when we met Palmer.

Palmer the tow-truck driver was twenty-four, bald, and had a really long, pointy beard. He was nice, if a little strange, but I will gladly take “eccentric” over “rapist” any day. After telling us the deal- he could take us to Stone Harbor, but we had to pay the tolls since he wasn’t part of Triple A- we climbed over the driver’s side seat into the wide-but-not-wide-enough-for-three passenger seat. None us are particularly wide, nor are we egregiously tall, so while it was a squeeze to get all of us on the seat, we made it work, especially after Palmer looked at the tight fit and said to Jess, “Uh… you could sit on the cup holders…”

The ride, which, we found out later, should have only taken half an hour tops, took an hour, even with Palmer going 85 and occasionally using the shoulder to bypass cars. He was nice, though, and seemed to find the three of us very amusing. When at last we arrived in Stone Harbor, he dropped us off in a space by the beach and Jess called her mom to try and figure out what to do about her car.

In the end, we think it was the antifreeze. Once Jess’ mom had advised her to put water in the antifreeze area, the car ran just fine. So, good, one problem solved. Now we could go meet up with our friends. Unfortunately, we didn’t know where they were because no one was answering their phones. I figured they were in the water, where they obviously wouldn’t have any electronics, but then people started coming off the beach saying the crowds had been banished due to the incoming storm. So where were our friends?

When we finally got ahold of someone, we found out that they were eating ice cream. Did we want to come join them? To be honest, we didn’t. We were hot, we were tired, and we were annoyed that they hadn’t been picking up their phones. We just wanted to go home. But it was Kelsey’s birthday and we wanted to celebrate with her at least a little, so we asked for the address of the place where they were. We walked eight blocks to the location and no one was there. We contacted them again and were told that the address was wrong. We walked to the corrected address. No one was there. Our anger was such that we knew we shouldn’t contact them right away, so we sat down on a shady bench and tried to let the relative coolness sap both the heat of our bodies and our frustration. Neither really worked, but we knew we needed to meet up with our friends. We got the new address and when we got there… no one was there.

This was kind of the last straw and we probably would have just gone home if I hadn’t seen one friend’s hat three blocks away. We called to them and they waved at us. We didn’t wave back. Three of them came back to walk with us, and unfortunately, we kind of took our anger out on them, which wasn’t very nice of us, but we could no longer contain ourselves.

By the time we reached the beach (walking back to the place where we’d started), people were allowed on it again and blankets were spread and clothes were ditched for swimsuits. Jess, Kaitlin, and I didn’t have our things since we didn’t want to haul them into an ice cream place, and we decided that we weren’t going to get them; we were all still frustrated and were developing headaches from the heat and the general craziness and we were dreading the long ride home. We agreed to only stay for a little bit and then head back. Perhaps it was rude of us, but we were just unhappy and it would be worse for us to stay and spread that around.

It was nice to see my friends, especially Kimmy, who I haven’t seen since May, and Trevor, who, in addition to having been abroad since January, will be my roommate very soon. I wish the circumstances had been different so we could have really enjoyed the day, but after about forty-five minutes, we said our goodbyes and headed home.

The three of us made it home in a laughably short amount of time and went to the hotel that Jess had gotten to avoid taking the long drive home after driving all day. We still wanted to swim, and so went to the hotel pool and splashed around and pretended to be hippos. Afterwards, we went out to dinner in a monsoon-worthy rainstorm and had to-die-for Italian food.

All I can say is, thank God Jess and Kaitlin were the ones I went through this with. We made it through the day without snapping at each other, managing instead to joke our way through the broken down car and help each other contain our anger, and then ended by having fun. It wasn’t a great day, but it ended up being pretty all right.

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