Everybody has one. One vacation during which all forces of the universe work together to create the perfect storm of events, a storm that picks you up by the collar of your shirt, tosses you around, and leaves you wondering: why me? A storm that, in our case, leaves you stranded in a Go-Kart facility with your car flooded and your feet wet.
We boarded the plane Sunday morning. Our destination: Tampa International Airport where we would then rent a car and drive to Clearwater Beach. That was the plan anyway. However, nothing went as expected, for almost as soon as we arrived Tropical Storm Debbie hit the Florida coast and managed to dampen our spirits (and just about everything else).
â–º QUARTER FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
The rain never seemed to stop for the first 96 hours we were in Florida, but instead came in varying magnitudes. Elevating from a light drizzle to an endless bombardment of water against pavement when she was at her most ferocious, Debbie was uprooting trees, stalling cars, and ruining my vacation. Needless to say, by the second day of being stuck in a hotel room with each other, my family was getting agitated and anxious to do something, which is exactly how we found ourselves, at 11 o’ clock in the morning, at the Tampa Bay Grand Prix, an indoor racing facility off of what appeared to be an otherwise deserted side-street.
Unfortunately, we weren’t the only ones looking to escape the rain, for the wait for go-karts was two and a half hours. We didn’t want to wait. The water, which was already around five inches deep in the street, looked ominous, but we decided that if we could get in, there was no reason we couldn’t get out. Our car turned out of the parking lot and traveled roughly five yards before sputtering, straining to stay alive, and dying right there in the middle of Automobile Boulevard.
After a few moments of shocked speechlessness and a few more moments of angry outbursts (the contents of which can’t be repeated) we trudged through the near knee-deep water back into the complex. As my dad made innumerable phone calls, first to our insurance provider and then to Enterprise, I stood by the door watching as everything from a Ford F-150 to a Prius drove by our car, easily navigating the water that defeated our vehicle. That was probably the worst part of the day for me. Watching as a Prius conquered what our Chrysler 300 could not. It was like adding insult to injury; the world was laughing in our face. Unfortunately, our fortunes were only destined to get worse. After a plethora of phone calls, high tensions, and prayers to whichever entity helped people out of sticky situations, we still found ourselves, five and a half hours later, sitting in the same facility, watching as the rain grew deeper, drowning both our car and our spirits. The tow trucks, unwilling to chance getting stalled themselves, ignored us.
As it is with most catastrophes, however, there was a silver lining. We were blessed with two Good Samaritans that day. One kind gentleman who drove up around six o’ clock in a massive pickup managed to do what the tow trucks could not and got our car out of the water and into the nearby parking lot. Another family was able to plow through the water with their SUV and drive us to the airport where we were able to rent a new car. Needless to say, this time we went with a Jeep.
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