Road trip: Part 3

July, 8, 2007
Editor's note: Right after Watford's season finished and before he reported to the U.S. squad for the Gold Cup, Jay DeMerit took a road trip across America. This is Part 3 of his account.

Back on the right highway and feeling warm and fuzzy after leading our convoy to safety, we were about an hour from Harrisburg, Pa., our first stop for the night. Our plan was to get a good night's sleep in a hotel, get up early and cruise the rest of the seven hours to Indianapolis -- with enough spare time to take a late afternoon catnap.

The plan took a hit when the GEN light in the Camaro suddenly came back on. That stressed out feeling crept right back into us and we were back to needing to find out how much juice the battery had left. Just outside Harrisburg, I saw an exit with a Holiday Inn -- we decided to get off there in case we had to stay the night.

We pulled into a nearby gas station to regroup, and bought a wrench -- since we'd now become expert mechanics, we figured we could tap the alternator and get back on the road. Yeah right -- thankfully the car was already dead when I tried to restart it, so either way it was a no go. Ty got back on the phone to AAA and they sent a tow guy.

When the tow guy arrived, he said he could tow us to a Pep Boys and they could probably help in the morning. I didn't really want to leave my car in the middle of nowhere in a Pep Boys parking lot, so I asked he could just jump my car and I'd risk parking it in the Holiday Inn parking lot. It was still in the middle of nowhere, but at least it was close. So the tow guy jumpstarted my car and offered to return in the morning to take us to a repair place if needed. After thanking him, we drove across the street to find a nice bright light to park my car under. But, much to our surprise, as we pull into the parking lot, we saw that it was filled with vintage muscle cars. As we parked right in the middle of all of them, a couple of people asked, "Nice car guys, what time you going to the show tomorrow?" Apparently we had just stumbled into Harrisburg and straight into the biggest car show in the state.

So naturally we lied and said we'd make our way there in the morning after breakfast. We cruised into the lobby, thinking we were the new gear heads in town and asked for a room. The receptionist laughed and said, "Sorry boys, but because of the show, you won't find a vacant hotel room within 40 miles of here." At this point, Ty and I were starting to get tired of the "Oh my God, what are we going to do now?" look. Our only solution was to sleep in the Camaro. After finding out the seats didn't recline, we spent about 20 minutes trying to find the best sleeping position. We decided on both of us seated in the back, seats folded down forward and crisscrossing our bodies so that my feet were on the passenger seat and Ty's were under the steering wheel. By now it was 12:30 a.m. and since the lights in the parking lot were blinding, we tried sleeping with T-shirts over our heads.

After about two hours of the most uncomfortable sleep ever and barely being able to breath (the T-shirt thing), Ty starts to freak out and says, "I can't take it anymore, I can't sleep, I'm a freaking ice cube and I don't care if I have to start knocking on doors, I'm going inside!" He leaves and about 30 seconds later, he came sprinting back to the car and said that there was no one at reception, so we could sneak inside.

By now it was 3 a.m., and there we were, Thelma and Louise, sneaking into the Holiday Inn to try and find somewhere to sleep. We both started looking for hiding spots, under tables, chairs in reception - at that point they all looked like Serta Super King Mattresses to us. Finally we decided on a banquet room on the second floor. Around the corner we 'd seen some stacks of chairs and moved them out about three feet, creating a cubby hole of sorts, and a good hiding spot just in case someone walked in. A carpeted concrete floor had never felt so good until about 6 a.m. when the lights turned on. We sneaked around the stacks and saw the breakfast buffet getting set up by hotel staff. Once they turned around we snuck out of the back exit unscathed, but we were still dead tired and had two hours before we could start making calls for the new alternator.



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