Beyond the Byline: A peaceful weekend roadtrip turns comical

By Melanie Mizenko - [email protected] | March 22nd, 2016 9:05 am

WILKES-BARRE — Since my second diagnosis with cancer, I’ve decided life is way too short to sit home on the weekend and do nothing (besides laundry, dishes, vacuuming or other household chores). So, I’ve taken up mini-weekend roadtripping with my ‘travel buddy,’ Janelle, from Dallas.

This past weekend (March 19-20), we had every intention of going to the Berkshires, a rural region nestled in the mountains of western Massachusetts known for its outdoor activities and an active arts scene, to see a Berkshire Theatre Festival performance of “Special,” a one-woman show written and acted in by Rachel Seigel, because my favorite actress, Jayne Atkinson, was a co-director.

Tickets were bought, hotel room was reserved, the weather, besides a chance of snow Sunday (which never happened), was perfect for a three and a half hour drive and Saturday, after stopping at Starbucks, we were off.

Two hours into our drive, on the New York State Thruway, we heard something pop but I thought I hit a branch on the road and kept going. Then, the car started to shake and what do you know? A flat tire. I called the insurance company since I have roadside assistance and was informed New York 9-1-1 had to be called because it’s a “restricted road” and the thruway authority has to send out its tow/repair guys.

“No problem,” the operator said before adding, “within 30 minutes, we’ll have someone around to fix it.”

The tow guy found us rather quickly — within 15 minutes of putting the call in and we were back on the road with a donut on the car. We should have known something else was going to happen when the tow guy said, “Get to your destination safely.”


We’re now one flat tire and three hours into the trip and we’re nearing Albany, the state capital of New York, when the car starts to act up again.

Pull over and guess what? I kid you not. The donut went flat!

So again, we pull over on the Thruway. We’re nearer the Berkshires but we’re cutting it close to showtime and we’re calling 9-1-1 again.

The operator responds with, “Didn’t you just call about an hour ago?”

“I sure did,” I said.

We don’t have a spare, we don’t have any idea where we are and we’re not from upstate New York. Janelle and I furiously Googled tire repair places but, because it was after 5 p.m., most were closed. Luckily for us, a WalMart 10 miles back had the tire in stock and would be ready for us when we arrived.

Forty-five minutes later, Janelle, in her first tow truck ride, and I pull into the WalMart.

It’s now 6:15 p.m., the show starts at 7:30 and the race is on to get there.

I called the theatre and they said they would transfer our tickets, no extra charge, to Sunday’s 2 p.m. matinee.

“Bless your heart,” I told the ticket man, for he was our angel.

Finally, at 8 p.m. we got to the hotel in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and decide to hit the town. Our three and half hour trip took us six hours. We managed to get dinner at a craft brew place about 10 miles from our hotel.

Now, two 20-something tourists want to find nightlife, but most places, at least the touristy places we could find, closed at 10 p.m. How do you like those apples?

Sunday didn’t come without challenges, either.

Janelle woke up and learned she had a tick bite. So, before we did anything, we tried to find a pharmacy but the closest thing we got was a Price Chopper about four miles from our hotel.

Eventually, we got the tick from Janelle’s arm and she’ll be okay, we think. We saw “Special,” which was heartwarming and incredible — thanks, Rachel — and got home six hours past our intended Sunday arrival time.

But at least we were home.


By Melanie Mizenko

[email protected]

Reach Melanie Mizenko at 570-991-6116 or on Twitter @TL_MMizenko