For months I had been looking forward to my cross country road trip with my little sister that I dubbed “The Southern Belle Tour” starring me as the southern belle. I imagined driving through the south, drinking mint juleps in adorable towns, perhaps meeting a handsome southern man with whom I’d have a fairytale romance, and say things like, “I declare!”
It was not to be. Like most of my dreams that don’t come true, the Southern Belle Tour was nothing like I imagined, it was a complete disaster from day one.
My little sister moved to Florida a few years ago and was moving back to Arizona. So like the good big brother I am, I flew to Florida to drive with her back to Phoenix.
Right before we left her house I said, “This will be the best cross-country slog ever!” To which my sister nodded in agreement and said, “What’s a slog?” But my joke comment was prophetic.
Her 2002 Mustang was stuffed to the ceiling with her belongings. The rearview mirror was basically useless, the trunk barely shut and the passenger seat was cluttered with bags as well. It was cramped, but no biggie, it’s a road trip! Fun! Excitement!
Then everything went wrong. First the a/c went out. Not the end of the world, we knew the trip would be uncomfortable but that’s why windows roll down. No big deal. Then the rains came. Heavy hurricane-like rain. The car was getting soaked, the glass was fogging up and the windshield wipers ceased working. We were flying blind. And I mean flying, my sister was driving like a bat out of hell and I feared for my life.
“You’re going way too fast! Slow down!”
She gave me one of those disgruntled post office worker sighs and rolled her eyes, as if continuing to live was a burden. All I could think was, “I’m not afraid to die, but please god don’t let it happen in Florida.”
The rain cleared and we made our way to Savannah. The Southern Belle Tour was back on track! I WAS going to have a mint julep on River Street! And I’m happy to say I did. This was the only part of the trip that wasn’t a nightmare.
Once we left Savannah, the knob to the headlights busted off. We could turn them off, but I wasn’t sure how we were going to turn them back on. I figured we’d deal with it later. Then the speaker blew out as we got lost in Birmingham. We made it to Tuscaloosa, Alabama and decided to stay the night thinking the worse must be behind us.
The next day the south was stricken with a heatwave, which wouldn’t be so bad with a/c. But we didn’t have that luxury, it must have been 300 degrees in the car. We were sweaty hideous pigs as we crossed into Texas. Later that night as we filled up at a gas station, we were attacked by a swarm of angry bees. We went another couple hundred miles then stopped for the night.
But day three is where the Southern Belle Tour died. By this point we both just wanted to get the eff home, but it was not to be. Somewhere in the middle of nowhere New Mexico, plumes of billowy white smoke began seeping through the dashboard.
“What do I do! What do I do! What do I do!” my sister yelled in panic.
I told her to pull over and she did. Now let me set the scene of the breakdown location: it looked like a Roadrunner cartoon with mountains in the distance, rocks, and no sign of civilization. Except for the little shanty town we broke down next to.
“Let’s go see if they have water.” My sister suggested.
“Ummm… no. I’m pretty sure that is how Texas Chainsaw Massacre begins. We’re not going anywhere near there.” I told her.
So instead we just threw rocks at it and named it Murderville.
I called AAA and they said they were sending someone out, but since there were no signs or noticeable landmarks, I couldn’t describe where we were. All I could tell them was that I was in New Mexico on the I-10 next to Murderville.
About an hour later a flatbed tow truck arrived. The driver was training a new guy and said there wasn’t enough space for the 4 of us in the cab of the tow truck and would we mind to sit in the broken down car on top of the flatbed. Seeing as we really had no choice, we sat in the car, on the flatbed, in the middle of the heatwave without a/c or water as we were towed about 80 miles.
As the tow truck pulled us into the shop in some little town in Arizona, the rains came. The mechanics looked over the car, said they could fix it, but they didn’t have the part and couldn’t get it for two days. Suddenly I was living the plot of To Wong Foo… There was no way I was staying another night is some craptasitic motel, so I tried to rent a car. Problem was the nearest car rental facility was in Tucson, about 200 miles away.
So we hit the streets to hitchhike.
It started raining, no one picked us up. We went across the street to McDonalds which I renamed the Fail Shack. That was the moment my Twitter account was hacked and sent a million spam tweets to everyone I know.
My other sister saved the day. She drove about 3 hours to pick us up, then turned around and drove another 3 hours home.
We got back to Phoenix about 1 a.m. The Southern Belle Tour was officially over. I declare.