NEVER use Hotelsdotcom for a flipping thing. Due to a mix~up… misleading…a lie, the website did NOT make it clear that the B & B ALSO had a RIVER COTTAGE very far from the festival centre…about 25-mins away…via highway. We didn’t realize this until the day before the festival. Of course everything was booked by then because of the festival. BUMMER! We were deep deep in the woods and far away from civilization. No street lights, no traffic. No nuttin’, honey. What can you do with what’s already a done deal? Learn your lesson and make the best of it. Behind the River Cottage was the Genesee River where we saw two crews of women rowing down the river. The cottage was beautifully rustic to me. I felt like I was living inside an HGTV episode. I saw decor I’ve only seen on tv. This would be home for the next four days. It took us a half an hour to learn how to get the Smart TV to work ( dammit! ) and we discovered it had NO TCM! Grrr!

Click here for photos—->   <—-of our cottage


After day one of the festival, we called a cab to pick us up at the Dryden Theatre and take us back out to the cottage. Mike was the driver who’s worked with our innkeeper for the last seventeen years. We gave him the directions the innkeeper printed out for us and we went along our merry way…until we couldn’t find the driveway to our cottage. There were no lights on the road, and only in distant homes. ( You want to be a stranger in the dark knocking on someone’s door? ) The area had no clearly designated signs. We kept going deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole. The roads are gravel… not well-paved. Landmarks? Who’s looking at landmarks when you’re being chauffeured around by folks from the area. Then the rains came. Have you ever been deep in the woods…in the dark…in the rain? And NOT know where you’re going? Well that was the three of us. High beams didn’t help. We couldn’t tell what was a rut in the road, or deep standing water. WTF!

Mike remained calm, backing up…going forward… trying a different road ( “Did we pass this already?” )…wondered why the numbers stop going in sequence. The GPS can’t help you if you can’t see where the hell you’re going. I was mad, I ain’t gonna lie; more mad than scared. I silently vowed that the next day I would max out my credit card if I had to, to find a place to stay in town. Mike had a stroke of genius. He called 9-1-1 to ask the Sheriff to come out here and get us and transport us to our cottage. He had my phone on Speaker and the Sheriff was going to come out. But come out where? Where in nowhere? We drove back down to the main road along a road that took us a good 15 minutes to get down because it was the worst pothole riddled road this side of the Northern Hemisphere. It was like driving in Yves Montand’s truck of explosives in “Wages of Fear.” We drove to the main road to wait for the police. I felt a sense of relief about the cavalry coming to the rescue ( and that Mike’s taxi cab didn’t lose an axle. ) But then I felt a sense of dread. The calvary was the police.

I didn’t know what to expect. It was pouring rain, we were on a dark unlit road, a cab with its top light on. How did the cops not think this might be a set~up, an ambush. Am I thinking of too many movies? Or am I reading about a sad reality in America and me being the only African~American / Puerto Rican in the car. Too many stories of African~Americans not making it through a police stop flashed through my mind in the darkness. THAT is when I began to get kinda scared. Images of social injustices going tragically wrong danced in my head. It was now 1:30 in the morning and we left the festival at 11:15. I told my shipmates my concerns: Lets not make any sudden moves, lets not nervously babble on giving the cops more information than they needed, raising any suspicions. I’m in this freaking fix because I decided to give Nitrate a second chance?!!! What I didn’t understand at the TCM Film Festival, I’d understand in Rochester New York??! Mike assuaged my fears; he said the cops up here aren’t like New York City cops. How do the cops know you’re you?!” I asked him.  His taxi is registered with the police. I felt a little better but wouldn’t breathe until we were ‘out of the woods.’

Comrade-In-Arms: Wendy, Mike and Me

The police officer, just one man ALONE, came about 10 minutes later, flashing lights in all that rain and darkness. He approached the car and I was very still. Let Mike do all the talking. Wendy gave the cops our written instructions, he read ‘em, put something in his GPS system and led the way waaaay down the road. He seemed nice and not scared at all. Here we go again down that “Wages of Fear” road. His cop shocks were better than Mike’s cab, so it took us a while to make it down that road. We finally caught up to the policeman, and he showed us that this road to the right is where the driveway’d be. ( We hadn’t left the porch light on. )  Mike wasn’t driving down that driveway ( one raindrenched pitted road was enough for him ) and the cop didn’t think his car would make it down there. Wendy got the cop to walk us down that dark road. He walked ahead of us, lighting the road with his powerful flashlight, while Wendy and I used our puny phone flashlights to see where the hell we were stepping. The Officer got us to our cottage porch, and waited till we got the door open. We were home again. Soggy but safe. I told Wendy we’d laugh about this later. ( I’m sort of smiling…more shaking my head, as I write this. )

The biggest tragedy was not having any hard liquor in the fridge. Snapple just doesn’t cut it in a situation like this.