So, I last left the NYC story with our flights cancelled and the earliest flight home estimated for five days later. When we found out, we went to a bar to strategize our next plan of action. (I mean, where else do people go for inspiration during a semi-crisis?) Staying in Manhattan was out of the question, hotel rooms were getting more sparse by the minute and going for upwards of $500 a night.
As the four of us sat there in the bar, (Brandon, David, our fellow stranded friend Ted, and I) making phone calls to the airlines, me calling my mom, us dialing various friends that might be able to help, Brandon stops and says, “Wouldn’t it be awesome if we just drove home?” We all looked at him. Um, not really, but we were out of ideas and the more we thought about it, the more it made sense to just have an adventure and see our country through the windshield of a rental car…and the plan was formed.
The entire next day, we sat in the lobby of the hotel we checked out of, trying to stay warm and use their internet. We secured a place to sleep for the night in Brooklyn, thanks to a friend of a friend and we got busy. First up was setting up a fundraising website –it would cost about $2500 to get us home, and so we set our goal at $3000 so we could donate money back to help the Hurricane victims. Then we set about getting the word out through all of our collective social media networks. As the lobby filled and emptied with people throughout the day, we sat and made plans. Every step it seemed caused us to think more creatively than before. Renting a car proved difficult, but then someone saw our post on Facebook and happened to work at a car rental place and could give us an employee discount. As money from our friends and family poured in (THANK YOU SOOOOO MUCH!!!), we were humbled to see the support. In the midst of our efforts in the lobby, tensions ran high. Numerous people on the phone trying to find a place to stay, trying to get another flight out; frustrated people arguing and one lady that completely lost it and started screaming obscenities in the middle of the lobby at the staff until finally she was escorted out.
The next morning, we hit a few more roadblocks trying to get to the rental car and leaving the city. We decided to take the southern route to avoid more inclement weather. We made it to the capital around 7 pm and made a stop at the White House. We rolled into Virginia and our first hotel at about 1 am. After a game of ping pong, we went to bed.
The following morning, we had a loooong hour drive ahead of us. A briskly cold Virginia greeted us, and the guys decided to pull a prank on me partway through the trip. I saw snow and a lot of open road. Fourteen hours later, we made it to our stop for the night in good ol’ Arkansas.
The goal for the next day was to get to New Mexico…and do some laundry. We had almost been gone for a week and a half, and none of us had any clean underwear. Nashville was our target and along the way, I learned not only how to use a laundromat, but to make waffles as well. By this time, we had reached our getting home goal and was now focused on fundraising for Hurricane Relief. We ended up in Wal-mart to pick up some “costumes” and made a workout video. (I think by this time, we were all a bit delirious). We also drove through Oklahoma City in homage to our fellow NYC stranded passenger, Ted, and created our first challenge.
The excitement was palpable on the last day of our trip. We just wanted to be home. The journey was epic, but we were tired of being in the car. We were exhausted (even myself, who did not drive one mile–the boys would not let me). We stopped and had dinner with friends in Phoenix, and when we hit the California border, we cheered like our favorite team had won the championship game.
One blog post could never do justice to this last part of our New York adventure. We survived 3,000+ miles in 3.5 days together in a car. We laughed, cried, slept, sang and made our way across the country and could not have done it without the generosity and support of our family and friends. Thank you so much to all who followed and supported our adventure. And yes, the day after we got back, Brandon made good on his promise to get his nose pierced.