My First Solo Road Trip (BB&B)

By the time I turned 16, I was living in a variety of places. With friends, family members, my car, step parents…wherever. I had my trusty Chevy Vega (hatchback, of course) and all of my belongings in my car. 

While bouncing around in Missouri, I decided to take a trip to Florida to visit my Mom. Now, while it is true that the Vega drank 3 quarts of oil a week, she had never failed me. So, I packed up my stuff, including my awesome color TV bought with hard earned dishwashing money, and hit the road. 

All was fine with the world as I barreled down the highway blasting the latest and greatest 8 track tape from my strewn together sound system. I was in the Tennessee mountains, near Chattanooga, when the first sign of trouble struck. 

Smoke started to come up from under my hood. Now, normally, I would have stopped, lifted the hood, and looked generally perplexed. (I didn’t then, and still don’t know, the first thing about cars). Since it was about midnight, I was feeling less than anxious to pull over in the middle of nowhere. So on I trudged… 

Soon, a variety of red warning lights came on and said, “Hey, dumbass, your car is broke”. While I appreciated the info, I pretty much knew I was already in trouble. The fact that I was driving with my head out of the window to avoid the smoke was my first real clue. 

I am not sure how long this smoke filled state lasted but I remember one trucker coming up on my tail end and blaring his horn. Like the nice dummy lights, he was also telling me I might be having some car trouble. Ya don’t say….thanks trucker brother. 

As I prayed to anyone that would listen and became increasing convinced that Deliverance was awaiting me when I pulled over, a miracle happened. The smoke cleared up and some of the dummy lights went out. The car seemed to be doing ok and all was right with the world. It was now the middle of the night but I made it to a car dealership in Chattanooga. 

I slept for a few hours until the Chevy dealership opened. The guy said something about my pistons not having pressure or some such double speak. I told him I had $50 and would that be enough to fix it. Once he stopped laughing, I asked if he thought I could make it to Florida in the cars current condition. Once he stopped laughing, again, he said I had a 50-50 shot. 

I made it about 2 miles before flames started shooting out from under my hood. This time, a real fire had started but, at least I was still in town. I gracefully pulled my burning car into a gas station and turned it off. I then gently removed myself from the car, jumped up on the hood and started stomping the hood cursing in every bad word my 16 year old vocabulary owned. As I looked up from my rant, an old couple seated at a bus stop watch me with the most perplexed look on their faces. 

The gas station guy said the car was officially dead. I asked if he would watch my belongings, including my beloved color TV, while I caught a bus to Florida and figured out a way to come and get my stuff. He said he could make no promises but would do the best he could. I knew for sure this was the kiss of death for everything I owned. 

Undaunted, I bought my bus ticket and got to my Mom’s house. Although she had no car, she was able to meet a guy in a bar that drove her to Chattanooga that night. Now, if you live in this kind of world, this makes perfect sense to you. If you don’t, there is no way I can explain it to you. 

Two days later, Mom pulled up in strange dude’s car with all of my stuff in tow. My dreams had again been answered. Also, the gas station guy gave her $25 for the car parts. (My awesome sound system and 8 track was worth at least $30). I let Mom keep the cash and made many more of those types of road trips over the years. It’s a great way to see the country. 

Oh, and no offense, but fu** you Chattanooga.

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19 Responses to My First Solo Road Trip (BB&B)

  1. Bart says:

    Sounds like you had your own “Into the Wild” experiences. No frozen tundras, but plenty of “Brotha Truckas”.

  2. kevin john says:

    Damn, no shit. At least they didn’t have a ‘break in’ after you departed. Count your blessings dude. Funny, the more I read you the more…well, I had a VEGA too. Bought it in Florida from my girlfriend’s grandparants or something and it died on me a month later on I95 heading north. I sat waiting while more lucky and sophisticated drivers who had cars that ran, ran past me @80mph but what the hell I was young and had all the time in the world. FINALLY an emergency road crew guy came by and gave me a jump which lasted until I made it to a gas station. They gave me $75 for the car which seemed alot more than it was worth at the time thinking back, but hey, there are good people everywhere. God (where ever She/He is) bless them.
    I got the money to get my shit and buy a plane back to Chi-town wherest I belonged at the time.
    I considered myself one lucky SOB.
    But I gotta tell you, Tennesse is one freaking wierd part of.. town.

  3. Ram Venkatararam says:

    Funny but Fu** you chatanooga choo choo is one of the songs in the upcoming prison musical.

    Anyway, that’s besides the point. Well done TL. Another good installment.

  4. Sarah says:

    Gawd, there are now *four* people I know unfortunate enough to have owned POS Vegas…… LOL

  5. elizabeth3hersh says:

    Since we are all sharing…my first road trip was more along the lines of Hunter S. Thompson in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. My pharmacist husband-to-be loaded a suitcase of pharmaceuticals (for me), bottles of whiskey sours (for him) and the rest of our possessions and we took off from Las Vegas headed to Missouri. The first night we stopped in a desert town, where we played “soldier” along the roadside (no, we did not have real guns) and tried to avoid getting pricked by the cacti. By the second night I was so sh**faced that I did not notice that I had veered onto the other side of the road headed straight for a huge trucker. I heard my future husband shout excitedly “hey, watch out!!” which was enough for me to run the car over into a ditch, smoke billowing from under the hood. State police were quickly summoned, probably through a trucker’s CB radio. I remember my ex hurling all the bottles out of the car and coaching me on what to say to the police (yes, we got away with it). He absolutely saved my life that night. I wish I could say that I swiftly grasped a lesson in this story, and there was a lesson, but I would not realize it for several decades. What can I say, I’m a late bloomer and a slow learner.

  6. yorksnbeans says:

    I have a story about a Ford Maverick I had. My parents had found what they thought was an excellent deal that I shouldn’t pass up. Thing though, I had to fly to NC to pick it up and drive it back to Atlanta. (Still worth the excellent deal). Well, on the drive back to Atlanta while on I-85 in SC far from the next exit, all of the sudden there was this horrendous sound emanating from the roof. It was like a herd of buffalo dancing up there and it wouldn’t stop. I thought, WTF!! It was hurting my brain it was so loud. Finally I got to an exit and pulled into a gas station to find that the vinyl top had peeled off and had been flapping in the wind against the metal roof. The gas station attendant said it was not the correct vinyl to use on a car but the kind you use for furniture. Way too thin for automobile exteriors. Being like 2 hours from home I had to do something, so the guy taped the entire roof with duct tape to keep the vinyl from flapping. What a lovely new(used) car to present to my friends back in Atlanta. When my parents told the dealership about it, they paid for a new vinyl roof for me. I never did like that Maverick.

  7. art vandelay says:

    I got nuttin.

  8. nursemyra says:

    I was on a road trip once when the car broke down late at night and my boyfriend went to get help. a couple of hours later i heard this bouncing noise on the roof of the car, then a cop told me to “get out and walk towards him and whatever you do, don’t look back….”

    No wait…. that didn’t happen to me. It was my cousin’s neighbour’s niece…. or was it my niece’s neighbour’s cousin?

    • tannerleah says:

      I thought it was a scratching on the door handle? In any event, that’s what you get for being out late, whoring around. Do you not watch horror movies?

  9. This sounds hilarious, though not for you at the time. Glad to see it didn’t keep you from taking future trips. More trips = more funny stories 🙂

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