I didn’t realize the excitement I was getting myself into when I decided I was going to drive a thirty-one foot long motor-home into Boston. I had been to other busy cities so this should be no problem. The size and height of my RV however proved to give me a hair raising experience than I had least expected. One that not only stressed me and my entire family out, but one that left us with no desire to see the historical sights of Boston. Within half an hour I squeezed through enough of Boston to last me a lifetime.
I got lost after entering an underground tunnel that was taking me into the centre of Boston. This tunnel went on forever and had 6 exits with unfamiliar names. Being underground my GPS did not work well as it simply saw the road above me. I tried following its directions as best I could, but every few seconds it would say, “recalculating, recalculating, recalculating” until my already tense fingers were ready to yank it off of the windshield and throw it out the window. That wasn’t going to make my predicament any better, I resisted, ignoring the Australian accented navigator that was telling me where to go. As far as I was concerned she had no idea of the stress I was going through driving such a large vehicle in a crowded city. She would just have to be patient with me until I was above ground again.
I soon realized that I was getting further and further away from my destination. I slid in between the traffic to my right as the other motorists blared their horns. I tried desperately to ignore them too. My family and I were only trying to visit a historical site in Boston, not participate in the NASCAR race that seemed to be zipping around us.
To my relief I made the exit and found myself above ground where my GPS could recognize the road I was actually on. It directed me to what seemed like the centre of Boston. I had been through many large city centres but this one was much different than the rest. The one way streets themselves were not a problem. It was the other motorists that zipped around us like flies in a window on a hot day. They acted like they knew where they were going and they didn’t care who or what was in the way.
I looked at my watch and noticed that it was only 2 pm… fortunately far enough away from what would definitely be worse rush hour traffic. I let my fate be determined as I followed my calmly voiced GPS through the city. The only problem was that my GPS did not know I was an RV. Some of the streets did not seem to be made for my size of vehicle. I had to carefully manoeuvre around corners so that I would not rip the bumper off of the cars parked on the side of the road.
Finally I arrived at an intersection as the light turned red. The cars behind me were not very pleased at how slow I was going but I was just trying to buy time. The road was a bit confusing. I quickly surveyed my surroundings to discover that there were about 5 possible exits. It was unclear as to the direction my sweet talking GPS was wanting me to go in. As the light turned green I hesitated. Even with my GPS I was lost for the moment. The directions didn’t seem to make sense to me. The drivers behind me did not like the delay and they forced me forward as they leaned on their horns. Flustered I crossed the road and moved on in the general direction I thought I was to go. Within seconds my GPS started saying “recalculating, recalculating, recalculating” and I knew I was in trouble. My Australian friend did not sound as calm as she once did and I didn’t feel so calm anymore either. I was on a freeway heading out of Boston. I would need to take the next possible exit to double back, but that did not happen until 3 miles later. To my surprise, the closest exit was a toll station and so I had the privilege of spending $2 for the wrong turn I had just taken. My GPS, calm once again directed me back to where I came from which is when I noticed the “Cars Only” sign.
It didn’t matter that the sign said “cars only”, my GPS was directing me to my destination and I was tired of driving around in circles. Did it really matter? I had been in Boston for only 30 minutes with my Motor-home but already I was having difficulty navigating around. There wasn’t really a place to turn around anyways, except for a hotel parking lot. I continued on in the right direction.
Things seemed to be going smoothly as I continued down this four lane split highway that was leading me back into the city. It was like a freeway with two lanes in either direction, except the lanes were a bit narrower. I felt corralled in as the iron dividers parallelled our two lanes of traffic on both sides.
About 2 miles into town I noticed something that made my heart stop. It was another sign. This time however the sign was hanging from an overpass that crossed over the road I was driving on. The sign said “12 feet”. Normally such a sign would not cause me any concern but this time I was driving a very tall RV. I had no idea how tall it was… except for the fact that I had made it under a 3.7 metre overpass while in Canada two weeks earlier. I quickly did my math according to approximate data and determined that this was fairly close to the same height but I was not entirely sure.
As I approached the overpass it seemed a bit lower than what I was comfortable going under. With cars zooming past me in the second lane of traffic I started to slow down. The cars behind me were not impressed and leaned on their horns as they pulled over and sped past me. I came to the point were I was within a few feet of the overpass and uncertain as to whether or not I would be able to make it without taking the top off of our RV. My wife who was at this point panicking, stepped out as I stopped in the middle of the road in heavy traffic. She wanted to see with her own eyes exactly how close we were to decapitating our RV. After taking a quick look she opened her door and said, “There is no way you are going to make it!”
Drivers continued to blare their horns at me as they drove by. One driver however drove by silently only because he wanted me to hear the choice words that he had for me. Obviously my predicament was getting in the way of his quick drive into the city. Knowing that there was no place to turn around my mind raced through the limited options. The only way back was to drive backwards through heavy traffic for 2 miles. Being that I was driving an RV, there was no rear window to look through. I would have to do it using my two side mirrors. This was not a relishing thought.
I asked my wife, “Are you sure?” She walked back a few feet from the RV and climbed up on an embankment that was to the side of the road to try to get a better perspective. She shook her head, unsure as to whether or not I would be able to even attempt such a feat. I inched forward slowly paying close attention to the anguished looks on her face. I heard the antennae on the RV bounce off of the overpass above us as the front half of our RV cleared. Then as we continued through ever so slowly my wife could see as about one quarter of an inch remained between the air conditioning unit on our motor-home and the overpass above us. Within seconds she was back in the RV totally embarrassed by the honks and choice words that were being directed at us. She was only too happy to hide inside.
We all breathed a sigh of relief as we continued on our way into Boston. I was tired of driving in the city and wanted to just park the RV somewhere safe. Finally we came to the first exit in 3 miles and were anxious to take it and get off of this road. That is when we noticed the sign on the overpass. This one said “11 feet”. We all looked in horror at this sign not knowing if this was some kind of practical joke or if it was real. We had barely made it under a twelve foot overpass. There was no way we would make it under an eleven foot overpass.
We were so close to the end of this highway and could see the exit just 100 feet in the distance. We pulled out into the exit lane as it approached the overpass. How on earth was I going to be able to back up this big beast of a vehicle for three miles I thought to myself. I was in the most impossible of situations.
I quickly thought about the other alternatives. Could I somehow disconnect the air conditioning unit from the top of the RV? Would I have to make myself smaller by deflating my tires in order to get out of Boston? That is when I noticed a slight dip in the road to the right hand side of the road. I slowly inched forward as my wife got out once again to survey the situation. This time however she was not able to get a level view of the top of our motor-home. 11 feet on the other hand seemed absolutely impossible. Fortunately there was enough room here for the cars taking the exit to go around me without any problem and so I took my time.
We all held our breath thinking of our monstrous vehicle as a tiny Austin-Mini. We envisioned ourselves as the smallest little vehicle and held our breaths as we inched forward. Once again we heard our antennae smack the overpass above us which seemed to break our concentration. A silent prayer went out as I continued to inch forward hoping not to hear the air conditioning unit as it was ripped off of the top of our beastly vehicle.
To my absolute astonishment we went under the overpass and nothing fell on the ground behind me. It was indeed a miracle and our silent prayers were answered. We knew that this was indeed a sign that Boston was no place for an RV and no place for us. I promised myself at that moment that if I ever return to Boston in the future, I would fly there and have someone else do the driving. As I redirected my female GPS to a place far from this city, I only hoped that this time she would find me a route with no overpasses. Thanks to this incident I had nightmares about overpasses. For weeks later I had to recoil my head into my shoulders like a scared tortoise as I passed under each and every overpass.