Humor Memoir Travel

So You’re Trying to Get to Cleveland for New Years Eve and The Thruway Closes & You’ve Got to Pee

New Years Eve 2012

For years Hubby and I had a long-standing tradition of spending New Year’s Eve with friends in Cleveland.

Some people might be thinking: Cue the sad-sounding trombones.

The reality is our New Year’s celebrations in Cleveland have been wonderful.

Some years we dressed up all fancy-schmancy and traveled to decadent restaurants while other years we huddled beside the fireplace in our jammies and fell asleep before the ball in Times Square touched down.

One year as Hubby and I set out to make our annual trek, the weather looked hairy. But we were young and stupid, so we packed up our car and pressed on.

After we passed Buffalo and got on the Interstate, the snow started pelting the car so we couldn’t see.

We turned on the radio.

Yes, the radio.

It was either that or Hubby’s tape-deck and collection of mixed-tapes featuring Kenny G.

My husband gripped the steering wheel. The snow was blowing the car around and we wanted to know if the whole trip would feel like we were driving through a wind tunnel beneath the heavy feathers of a rapidly molting white bird.

And then we heard it.

The Thruway has been closed from Buffalo to Erie.

As if on cue, the cars slowed and stopped. We turned off the engine to conserve gas. There was nothing to do but wait.

And listen to mixed tapes.

Oh, I forgot to mention that I was two months pregnant at the time.

I don’t know about how it goes for other women, but during that first trimester, I had to pee.

A lot.

After sitting for three hours in my husband’s tiny black Honda Prelude, I panicked.

“I have to pee.”

The windshield wipers swished back and forth and, for a moment, we could see.

“Well, you’re going to have to hold it.”

I looked out my passenger side window, at the stillness of it all and contemplated how I was going to make it to a bathroom when I couldn’t even see an exit ramp.

But this need to pee was non-negotiable.

I tried to explain it to my husband so he would understand.

“You know how you don’t like to eat Lucky Charms for breakfast?” I said. “Well, I don’t like to pee on myself.”

In my experience, any time someone tries to ignore a biological urge, that urge becomes more urgent.

I popped open the car door. Snowflakes fluttered onto my lap.

“I see an RV ahead,” I unbuckled my seat belt. “I bet they have a bathroom. Either they’ll let me in, or I’m going to have to cop a squat.”

I walked down I-90 between the rows of stopped cars, glad for my hat with the earflaps. People saw me coming and rolled down their windows to ask me questions – as if I could tell them when the snow would stop, how much longer until we would start moving, about what was causing the delay.

I only knew I had to pee.

I slogged through the snow that came up to my knees and kept my eye on that RV with the Canadian license plates.

Knocking on the door with urgency, I was greeted by a man in a red ski-mask with cut outs for the eyes and nose.

I explained to the masked man that I was pregnant and that I had walked really far in the snow.

Because I had to pee.

The man in the ski-mask walked back up the steps and gestured for me to come in.

I looked back at my husband’s car, a white lump in the distance. Before I’d left, I told Hubby once I was in that he should give me ten minutes, that if I wasn’t out in ten minutes, he should come get me because someone was cutting me into small pieces.

So I followed a man in a ski-mask into an RV.

Surprise! The RV was filled with Canadian hockey players who were super-friendly, eh?

After I used their facilities, they offered me snacks and told me not to hesitate if I needed to come back.

On my way out, I wished them a Happy New Year, and they held up mugs and shouted something unintelligible in Canadian.

Several hours later, we got moving again, but traffic was diverted back to Buffalo where Hubby and I were forced to spend the night in a Microtel, which felt much too micro after having spent so much time crammed in such a tight space.

We didn’t make it to Cleveland for New Years that night. Instead, we had spaghetti and meatballs at one of our favorite restaurants.

I was pretty hormonal, and I remember crying as I pushed pasta and meat sauce into my mouth.

Our waitress appeared with a tiny bottle of champagne.

So long ago, not everyone was even born yet!

“This is for you,” she announced. “From your friends in Cleveland.”

And then I really sobbed.

Because I missed them.

And because I couldn’t drink champagne.

Except I probably could have.

But it was so lovely of them to remember us.

Stranded on New Year’s Eve.

Last year we made it.

And we ate raclette.

And everyone made it to midnight.

And it was positively perfect.

Last night, we got about 10 inches of snow.

It better melt really fast.

Or else.

Hope to see everyone soon!

What are you doing to ring in the New Year?

tweet me @rasjacobson

75 thoughts on “So You’re Trying to Get to Cleveland for New Years Eve and The Thruway Closes & You’ve Got to Pee

  1. Oh your poor pregnant bladder. I don’t remember much from my pregnancy other than peeing all pee all the time peeing. Aside from all this pee talk, what a cool story or great friendships. Tom and I get downright fancy on New Year’s Eve and typically drink real grown-up cocktails at a ritzy Apple Bee’s. It’s a glamorous life, ya know?

  2. A man in a ski mask answered the door, and you STILL went in. Wow, you must have really really had to pee!! Because that pretty much describes every dumb girl situation in one f those horror/thriller movies. Good thing for Canadians, eh?

    We usually just hang at my SIL’s house, who lives a mere 15 minutes away. We get some carry out, play some games, have some drinks, and just generally enjoy the night and have lots of laughs. Hope your New Year finds you in Clevelend with your friends!! 😉

    1. Can you even freaking believe that I followed a masked man into an RV? The only thing that was missing was the knife. Have I learned nothing from lifetime television for women? Have a great time playing games I New Year’s Eve. Just play honestly. No one likes a cheater. Trust me on that. ????

  3. Loved your spunk, Renee. [Side note, someone please rescue me from my quandary about how to get the accent over your name using MS Word]

    I’ve laughed at that scene with Sandra Bullock in Two Weeks Notice where she had a similar (but, louder and stinkier issue). Now. I’ve met someone with the gumption to try it. Yay, you!

    I’ve already begun my New Years celebration. 1) compile time zone options for ringing in the New Year with imaginary new best friends, 2) organize underwear drawer, and 3) working on my 2013 goals list and I’m trying to cross a few of them off before I awake sans hangover on 1/1/2013.

    Thanks for the laugh. Enjoy! And, buy one of those pee funnel thingies Natalie Hartford found before departing for Cleveland.

    1. I never saw that movie that cinderblock was in to which you were referring. I guess I have to put that on my list of films to see you in 2013. And, Gloria, I’m nothing if not spunky. Can you believe I don’t drink a drop of alcohol? I’ll have to check out those pee-funnels at Natalie’s place. How did I miss THAT? Have a fantastic New Year’s.

  4. The photos are so cute! My goodness, the kids change so quickly! Adorable. And cheers to you braving the cold snow to go potty in the RV. Luckily, you picked the non-serial killer one……Lol. Hoping the roads get plowed in time for you to make the trek. If not, maybe you can Skype? Lame…I know. Happy New Year!

  5. The last few years we’ve been in Michigan at my wife’s familys cottage. There are plenty of kids along the lake who want to stay up late. Last year, we had a fire, s’mores, and fun. Yesterday, as I drove north it started to snow and i had to slow down – but I didn’t end up sideways in the ditch like a few others. We arried safely to a Winter Wonderland! Have a great new year’s celebration and I hope you make to Cleveland.

    1. There were so many cars off the road, it makes me wonder how people ever get anywhere. How do folks forget from year-to-year what winter is like? I mean, I know there is always a new batch of young drivers coming of age, but seriously don’t people know you have to slow WAAAY down when it’s snowy? Glad you got to your destination safely. Enjoy family in that winter wonderland!

  6. Oh man. The Lucky Charms line killed me. I love that the RV was filled with Canadian hockey players, too.

    I’ve never been trapped on a highway that was shut down, but I think I would panic. Don’t you have to turn off the car so you don’t run out of gas?? And then freeze your arse off? That’s always the first thing I think about.

    I hope you get there safe and sound this year! We’re headed to Jenn and her hub’s!

    1. We did have to turn off the gas! It was freezing! And everyone knows you have to pee more when you’re freezing. I was just really happy that those Canadian hockey players saved my ass!

      Can you believe I went in an RV with a masked man? Have I learned nothing from Lifetime Television for Women? ????

  7. Love your post! Bless your dear spunky/reckless/innovative soul.

    After three pregnancies and a lot of trips to in-laws/parents 4 hours away (in opposite directions), I’m familiar with every potty between Philadelphia and Virginia Beach. Oh, and if it’s a Sunday, the Chik-Fil-A will be closed. Just sayin’

    Our plans change from year to year, but New Year’s typically involves cozy stay-at-home-ness or local travel to friends with an awesome collection of boardgames, fab food, and a hot tub. The Y2K New Year’s was the only exception to that, when hubster got called into work as the computers went kaflooey. I missed my kiss that year, but he made up for it later, IYKWIM.

    Here’s wishing that 2013 will be everything you want it to be, Renee, and thanks for being such a fab cyber-friend. Maybe we’ll meet someday! 😀


    1. I love that you know when the potty at Chik-Fil-A is closed. There was a time when I knew where every bathroom was in every county in New York State. I could’ve told you the best bathroom in the Eastview Mall was in Lord & Taylor. I don’t know if that is still the case.

      I remember how everyone was so freaked out about Y2K, how everyone kept saying all the nation’s computers were going to shut down that night. How weird that your husband had to go and deal with computer issues. I’m glad you got some good stuff later, IYKWIM. More love to you in 2013! Wishing good things to you and yours in 2013!

  8. “You know how you don’t like to eat Lucky Charms for breakfast?” I said. “Well, I don’t like to pee on myself.”

    …and this is one of the many reasons I adore you.

  9. I understand and as a Canadian I am so proud that those hockey players from my humble and proud and polite homeland were so good to you–btw-I love the card from you for Christmas–what a perfect family you have and what a wonderful surprise it was and if I were not so stupid I would actually be sending you an email rather than writing this in your comment box–but that is unsavvy me–Happy New Year–and I am putting in a good word that the roads be clear for your sojourn (I do not have much pull with the big guy or gal though)

    1. I’m so glad you got my holiday card! I was wondering if you did. I’m glad it gave you a smile.

      And yes the Canadian hockey team was fabulous, but seriously can you believe I followed a masked man into an RV? Have I learned nothing from Lifetime Television for Women? I mean the guy had everything except the knife in his hand. LOL. I guess I saw the maple leaf on the side of the vehicle and knew I’d be okay. I tend to have faith in people — which sometimes gets me into bad situations. Luckily, all ended well back then.

      Thanks for being such a great cyber friend. May 2013 be wonderful for you and your family!

  10. This is such a funny story Renee!
    I love the Canadian ski masked dude and the microtel! I have stayed in them and never knew their proper name! Hahaha!
    My son is DJing for the City of Denver on New Year’s Eve so we will rock out to some dub step!

  11. Cop a squat…loved that! I camped as a scout and learned to pee anywhere anytime! And, it’s my go-to when asked “you’re gonna pee HERE?!!!” “Hey, I was a Girl Scout!…I trained for this” And, Rene, when in Thailand you get to cop a squat with the best of them (didn’t know that’s what it was called…t.y.). I rang in 2012 on the other side of the world, and it was the best eve and year I’ve had so far :). Thanks for the share….it was a great post!

    1. Author Leanne Shirtliffe always talks about Thailand and how she had to “cop a squat” in some fascinating places. I guess you’ve developed some strong thigh muscles. Have a wonderful New Year’s celebration. May 2013 be your best yet.

  12. Of COURSE the RV was filled with hockey players! If this had happened to me, it would’ve been full of old men playing bingo.

    There is NOTHING more terrifying that a full bladder when you’re preggo. Glad you survived. Great photos, too, Renee!

  13. Oh, man. I’m no good at holding it even when not-pregnant, but pregnant? Fuggedaboutit! I was a little apprehensive reading about you approaching the RV, even knowing it had to have turned out reasonably well, and delighted to see how it did turn out. So sweet.

    It’s another year at Disney California Adventure for me! It’s gonna be good, I think. Like it is every year, even though it’s seldom an adventure. 🙂

    1. I tend to trust strangers, even rely on the kindness of them upon occasion. And while this might not have been the smartest move, well…all’s well that ends well, eh?

      Have a wonderful time at Disney. I’m sure L’il D will help you find the magic. ????

    1. I know what you mean about the peeing now. Every once in a while, when I’m laughing really hard — um, you know. I should probably try to get some stock in Depends. Oh, and if it hasn’t come up yet here’s a hint: avoid trampolines. Just sayin’. ????

    1. THAT’S what a toque is? Seriously? I had no idea. I’d always heard Bob & Doug McKenzie sing about them, but Google wasn’t invented back then, and I was probably too lazy to look it up in my dictionary. See, you learned about my crappy bladder control and I a risky learned something useful! Thanks, Liz!

      Sorry to hear about all the barfing. I hope everyone is 100% soon.

  14. My wife is not pregnant- as far as I know. But when she has to pee there is no reasoning with her. We were in the middle of the desert, no one around, no cars on the road, and she orders me to pull over. She hikes behind a small outcropping and chooses the one place to go where a photographer comes around the corner and catches her mid squat. It’s OK, though. The photographer was me. And I got a great shot. Use it every so often as blackmail.

  15. Oh man. I would’ve done the same as you. I think in most cases, the kindness of strangers is always there. Glad it worked out for you.

    For New Year’s, I’m once again working. But I’ll still do my tradition of staying in – the house to myself – and watching guilty pleasure movies and journaling about my year. I’ll definitely have a little bubbly too!

  16. Great story and pictures! I love your resourcefulness and your luck – an RV full of Canadian hockey players no less. I’m sure you made their night! I would have done the same or squatted next to the car – like you, I don’t mess with my urge to pee! Our plans for NYEve are TBD – my favorite times have been having a few people over to eat and hang out, maybe play some games. That’s our speed these days! Hope you get to Cleveland safely and easily this year – though that won’t make as entertaining a story! 😉 Enjoy!

      1. Well, I was thinking of the Canadian RV’ers (which I guess I thought you were going to read my mind on or something?) but if your pee is super sweet you might want to look into that too. I think that might be KrispyKremeatosis.

        1. Gotcha. I was thinking you had skimmed the first paragraph and then read the last sentence and missed everything in between. But yes, an RV of Canadian hockey players would normally be HOT STUFF, except…you know I was pregnant. And I REALLY had to pee. 😉

          1. Ha no prob, I promise to address all salient blog points in the future;)

            True (and embarrassing) story, I used to be a pretty serious distance runner and I once ran close to 5 miles off my normal course (it was on roads unfortunately, not out in the wilderness) looking for a gas station. Found it, and the bathroom was out of order, so I bought a bottle of Gatorade and emptied it. Best pee I ever took though.

    1. Hi Ray! Glad you enjoyed reading about my crappy bladder. 🙂 Hope you ring in the new year right. Just hold off on the “celebratory shooting.” Because that’s just stupid.( I know someone who got hit in the head by someone else’s New Years’ fun.) Maybe wear a helmet. Then I’ll know you will be okay.

    1. Patricia! Gotta love our friends to the north. I especially appreciated not being chopped into little pieces. And I did eat some snacks. (Don’t tell my husband. We were stuck for many hours and he was really hungry. I never told him I had a handful of nuts while on board the RV.) Have a great New Years celebration with folks you adore. Thanks for being such a wonderful cyber friend!

  17. Four years ago my husband, our son, and I drove to NYC to spend New Year’s Eve at Times Square. It started snowing – hard – right about the time we left. A pile up on I-95 in CT stopped traffic for 3 hours and I had to pee, too. BAD. Our car was a 2-door, so I opened the door and had my husband stand behind me holding my coat as a kind of wall and I copped a squat. Would have been better if we’d had a 4-door so that I could have squatted between the 2 open doors, but the one door and my husband holding up a coat worked. Desperate times require desperate measures! 😉
    I hope you make it to Cleveland this year! Happy New Year!!

  18. We are SO going to miss you & the family this year. All our love! The raclette grill will be plugged in, if plans change.

  19. The comparison of eating Lucky Charms to one peeing on herself. Ha! Bravo. That is one for the history books. I absolutely loved it and was cracking up. In fact, I read over that sentence a few times. No, I do not have a fetish with either of the two. I just love random humor. 😉
    Great story. Thanks for sharing and making me giggle! 🙂
    x melissa little

  20. I love this post, especially picturing a pregnant you in an RV full of Canadian hockey players. I did get worried for a minute at the ski-mask part of the description, though. Just a little bit.

    Did you know that we lived in Cleveland for three years, during my husband’s residency (no, it wasn’t at the Clinic)?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop