We’re OK: I Slipped by Hurricane Sandy

I’ll echo to you what much of my Facebook news feed says right now: We’re ok. But as large areas of NYC are underwater and out of power, that doesn’t really tell the story because, to be honest, we weren’t there.

Cool Mum and the Cool Bros have been in Florida since early October, and my plan was to drive down and join them this past weekend. We’ll be here for a few weeks, so we needed the car.

I was going to pack on Saturday morning, watch the Florida-Georgia football game with friends, and then hit the road early Sunday morning. But then someone mentioned to me that a hurricane was headed our way. 

I loaded the car on Saturday morning and had three choices:

  1. Skip the Gator game and start driving well before Sandy’s expected landfall in the Mid-Atlantic U.S.
  2. Watch the game and start driving afterward.
  3. Stick to the original plan: Leave Sunday morning.

Clearly, the most responsible choice was to forgo the game and start driving.

The queso-sausage dip my friend Tiffany made for the game was sublime. And of course, since I risked driving headlong into Frankenstorm so I could catch the game, the Gators played terribly and lost. I wasn’t tired, but I figured that falling asleep at the wheel was a bigger danger than hitting a storm – I could always just turn around or wait it out – so I went home to sleep.

I woke up early Sunday and hit the road. Apple Maps gave me two choices to get to Orlando from the Bronx. I figured that I could take Route 2, which was well west of Route 1 on the coast, and avoid Sandy.

Praise the Lord – it worked. At most, I hit mild sprinkles and winds. This is no thanks to Apple Maps, which kept changing the turn-by-turn directions to Route 1. If I hadn’t noticed, Siri would’ve let me straight into Sandy’s 90-mile-an-hour gusts. That’s what I get for sticking up for Apple Maps?

I planned to spend the night somewhere midway. As I drove down, I stopped for quick naps at rest stops, but I never really got tired. By the time I should’ve found a hotel, I only had 6 hours to go. I took a nap, downed a Red Bull, and arrived in Orlando 25 hours after I left the Bronx.

I wouldn’t advise the straight-shot solo NYC-to-Florida drive, but here’s what got me through in case you have to do a long drive alone someday:

Don’t push yourself. At the first hint of drowsiness, find a rest stop or any safe parking lot, lock the doors, and take a nap. Sometimes I may not have even fallen asleep, but I still felt refreshed when I got back on the interstate.

Have plenty of stories to listen to. I love music, but it doesn’t help keep me awake. I need the twists and turns and tension of a good story. Audiobooks are great. I listened to at least eight episodes of This American Life on its iPhone app.

Keep the car stocked with water and high-protein snacks. Nothing fancy needed – I just had a big cup of water from lunch and a few packets of trail mix.

Have a strange obsession with fast food. I devoted more brain cells than I’d like to admit to dreaming about what fast food to eat. We almost never have fast food. And calories on a road trip don’t count, right? If it weren’t Sunday, CFA would’ve been an obvious choice. Lunch was Arby’s Turkey, Bacon and Ranch with curly fries, a classic combination during road trips with my band. Dinner was McDonald’s Daily Double with fries and hot fudge sundae. I really wanted Taco Bell, but the ones off I-95 in South Carolina were all closed by the time I started hunting my first Doritos taco.

Have your best friends waiting for you. Yup.

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