Road trip: Part 1

May, 29, 2007
Editor's note: Right after Watford's season finished and before he reported to the U.S. squad for the Gold Cup, Jay DeMerit took a road trip across America. This is Part 1 of his account.

It was about this time last year that my friend Ty and I discussed what we would do for my 2007 offseason. Every year, we try to plan a trip to celebrate the end of another season for me. In previous years, we have gone nuts in Spain and recorded music in the studio. This year was designed to top them all. I've always wanted a vintage car, so last summer I was talking about it and Ty suggested a road trip with the vintage across America. Of course, at the time it was a long way until the next offseason, so it sounded like a great idea, but I didn't take it that seriously.

About three months ago, Ty calls me and says his sister Katie is graduating from college in Indianapolis around the time I would be coming back to the States -- the idea being that it could be our first stop. I had only one answer, OK and that i'd start looking for the car. It was set, I would fly to New York, where Ty lives, and we would road trip it back home -- making stops in Indianapolis, Chicago, and finally Green Bay.

It took me about two months to find a suitable car, but three weeks before we were set to hit the road, I found it on Ebay. It was a 1969 Chevy Camaro convertible. Hugger orange in color and white stripes down the sides of the front -- restored white leather interior, refurbished engine, and all new rims with 20s on the back and 18s on the front. This car was a beauty, so I called the guy and we made a deal. I got them to deliver the car up to New York from Tennessee. Ty's boss Howard allowed us to store the car at his house in the suburbs until I got there and my dad took care of the important stuff -- the title, insurance, license plates, and most importantly, the AAA card -- so we would be ready to get going once I got into New York.

I arrived in New York on a Wednesday and the plan was to party there for a few days and see some sights, then get the car and get on the road on Friday. Obviously with all the partying, I didnt get to see too many sights, so to compensate, we decided to take the car around the city and see some of the things I hadn't seen yet and also play Santa.

Every year I bring home a big bag of Watford stuff such as used jerseys, practice shirts, warm-up sweatshirts, etc. -- the stuff our equipment guy gives me. The plan was to stop by the offices of our other friends in the city and hand out Watford gear. First off, I have never seen a such a reaction as the one displayed by New Yorkers towards my car. We had people following us, taking pictures and guys yelling at us to get it out of the city so it wouldn't get ruined.

One guy who was walking across the street, minding his own business listening to his Ipod, turned and saw us, and proceeded to do what we now call the "Camaro dance" in front of the car. Holding his hand over his mouth, he was busting spin moves and crazy facials until we sped away. All was going well it seemed -- we were through Times Square and some other parts of the city when all of a sudden this little red light comes on and all it says is GEN. Now we aren't exactly car people, so Ty and I were guessing all sorts of stuff, engine, generator, etc.

We were on our last stop to our friend Mike, so we told him about this light that just came on. He said that when he got back upstairs that he'd Google it and let us know. We're sitting in traffic on the New Jersey turnpike when Ty gets a call back from Mike who said, "I think you guys might be in a bit of trouble."

He proceeded to tell us that "the GEN light does mean the generator, and the generator is now called the alternator. What the alternator does is keeps your battery charged while you are driving so your car can work properly. So, if that light is correct, you guys are now driving on the juice your battery has left, which means your car could die in a minute or an hour, but sometime in the near future." Our new priority was now to try to get out of the city and the horrific traffic before the car died.



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