What a day.
OK…here’s the deal. I tried to give myself plenty of time and planned it so that if traffic was heavy, I’d get to the Franconia-Springfield Metro station by 11:30 at the latest. That would give me an hour and a half to buy tickets, ride to the Metro Central station. Walk the two or three blocks to the National Press Club building, find it, get to the 13th floor, find the ballroom, find a seat and settle in. Plenty of time.
Well…traffic was heavy and, although a bit slow, was moving well. Driving through Fredericksburg at about 11:00 I was on track to make it to the metro station by 11:30 or a little before.
Then it happened. I passed one of those big highway traffic signs that said “Accident 25 miles ahead. Expect Delays”
Oh crap. That’s only about 5 miles from my exit for the metro. Well, hopefully the backup will only be a couple of miles and I’ll still make it in time. Even if I’m delayed 1/2 hour, I’ll make it to the Metro by noon. That will be cutting it close but I think I can still make it.
About the time I finished that thought, the traffic in front of me started slowing and ground inexorably to a complete stop.
Traffic stopped at mile marker 142. My exit is 169. 27 miles. about 20 miles or so to the accident scene. Well, usually, when this happens, the only alternate route, highway 1, comes to a stop too from all the people bailing off of 95. Lets stick this out for a while and see what happens.
Ok. We’re movi…oh…no we’re not.
hup…moving agai…wait…nope…false alarm. Still just creeping.
Man it’s hot out here when you don’t have 65 mph winds in your face.
I wish I’d thought to put some sunscreen on before leaving the house; oh well. Getting some work in on the ol’ farmers tan.
OK, there’s exit 143, making some progress.
I wonder if I can hide in that semi-trailer’s shadow for a while and get out of the sun.
Oops. People are starting to get annoyed because I’m not keeping up with the flow of traffic. What, do they think that 5mph is going to make a difference over 4mph?
Hey, that guy’s flashing a hand signal at me. What’s that? I’m number 1? Hey, thanks.
Marker 145, what time is it? Crap 11:30. Not looking good. Three miles in a half hour. The Quantico exit is up ahead. I guess I’ll bail out there and see what highway 1 looks like.
Fast forward to exit 148. Quantico. 12:00. Six MPH for the past hour. At this rate I’ll get to my exit just before 4:00. Great.
Time to bail. Not much traffic on the road to Quantico, but…nope…there it is. The ramp to 1 is clogged. Highway 1 North is a parking lot…just as I suspected.
At that point, I realized that there was just no way I was going to make it there in time for the debate. I might catch the last panel if that, but I mainly wanted to see the debate that was scheduled to start at 1. Not a chance in hades I was going to make it. So…I jumped back on 95 south and headed home. I’d be willing to bet I made the 15o miles home in less time than I would have made the last 21 miles to the Metro station. Any takers?
It wasn’t a total loss. I got a day off work. Got a good solid 300 miles of riding in on a beautiful, sunny…if a bit hot…day and only two people tried to kill me while on the road.
I knew I was taking a chance trying to get up there on a Friday…It was worth the effort even though it didn’t pay off.
I do have one other observation to bore you with before I go take a cool shower: What the Frack is the deal with the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel?
Granted, the tunnel is only two lanes so the third lane merging in a mile or so out slows things down, but you would think that once you got past that traffic would speed back up…but no.
Let me explain: This happens mainly during the summer. Unless you’re going through the tunnel at 3am, there is always a backup. Where it happens depends on traffic, but it always happens. Today it was only about 3 miles so it only took me maybe 20 minutes to get from the start of the backup to the tunnel. Anyway, at some point, you run into the back of the backup. Traffic stops and creeps along at 5 to 10 mph. At times it speeds up to maybe 25 or 30 for a few seconds and then slows back down to a crawl.
This holds all the way into the tunnel. About half way through the tunnel, the traffic starts speeding back up. At about the halfway point, your usually back up to about 45. It really kicks in when you can see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel and by the time you hit the tunnel exit, your back up to 55 or 60.
Keep in mind that the road is exactly the same number of lanes and width of lanes on the outside of the tunnel as on the inside. There are exactly the same number of cars on the road (there sure aren’t any exits or on-ramps inside the tunnel). The speed limit is the same.
I say again: What.The.Frack. Does the tunnel bite? Is it because it’s dark and scary? Is it just the thought of thousands of tons of water over your head? What is it that makes you slow down? If you’re afraid of the freaking tunnel, I’d think you’d speed up to get out of it quicker, not slow down so we’re in there forever.
I just don’t get it. Anyway. There’s no accounting for some people.
Oh…and just to top my wonderful day off: I decided to stop at the local heart attack shack and pick up a McCholesterol and McShake on the way home. I was hot, tired, sunburned, frustrated and hungry so I didn’t want to eat there. I ordered, the McServers got the Mcfood to me quickly and with a McSmile. I threw the Bag O’ Death into the trunk and put the McShake in the cup holder and rode home. Got home, stripped my sweaty clothes off, slathered some aloe on my broiled arms, called the spousal unit to let her know I was home and what had happened, took a load off in my nice comfy chair. Opened the Bag O’ Death, pulled out the McCholesterol and took big bite to savor and….What The Heck?
Where’s the McBeef?
Yes…you got it. They forgot to put a freaking patty on the bun. I had a McCholesterol, hold the Cholesterol. I guess I got a McAir.
Anyway, so the finish of my day, just before sitting down here to document the travels and travails of the day, I had to throw some clothes on, go back to the Heart Attack Shack and punch that stupid clown in the nose.
Actually, I was very pleasant under the circumstances. This happened at one of the better McDonalds in town. They are generally very fast, courteous and friendly there, so I wasn’t too hard on them. And they gave me a free refill on my shake to compensate me for emotional distress, pain and suffering, so that worked out OK in the end. And I didn’t even have to give a lawyer a third of my shake (plus expenses).
I’m done. Sorry this was so long. It was a frustrating day and I’m just glad I had a place to vent. If you hung in there all the way to the end, thanks for reading.
I’m out. Time to hit the shower.