December 02, 2002

A pseudo-journal of our post-Thanksgiving trip from Dinkytown NY to BigCity VA:

  • 11:00 AM, Sunday, December 1, 2002 Depart from Father-in-Law's house. Pat selves on back because, after some checking, we are still sane after exposure to screaming hypervelocity projectiles (a.k.a. "the boys", 5 and 8 years old) for more than 24 hours.
  • 11:45 AM Drive through ArchieBunkerland on the Garden State (ha!) toll road is uneventful, although after the 67th 35c toll plaza we were becoming a little worried as we were running out of quarters. For some reason keep expecting to see this guy in a plaza. Ellen does not think this is funny.
  • 12:00 AM Enter the New Jersey Turnpike. Make sure this time to go southbound, not as simple as it sounds. Northbound takes you deeper into Sopranoland. Ellen doesn't think this is funny either.
  • 12:15 AM Run into "slow traffic". Bumper-to-bumper across all six lanes, rolling along at 15 MPH. Remain reassured because this is probably caused by the traffic merge (this section of the turnpike separates trucks from cars).
  • 12:30 AM Finally crawl up to a recognizable landmark after cruising at idle for past 2 miles. Realize traffic merge is fifteen miles away.
  • 1:15 PM Learn to appreciate a whole new definition of "irony" as we cruise at a brisk walking pace underneath a "SLOW: TRAFFIC CONGESTION AHEAD. REDUCE SPEED TO 45 MPH" sign.
  • 1:30 PM Reach truck/car merge area. Notice remarkable lack of trucks, in spite of gargantuan number of cars. Decide truckers are the smartest human beings on the planet today.
  • 1:45 PM Discover god-like ability to control dozens of cars in our lane. By allowing the car ahead to spool out several hundred yards, can maintain near-constant trotting speed without stopping. Delusions of grandeur soar as we realize all cars behind us Must Obey.
  • 1:46 PM Note snag in automotive deification as clear lane ahead collapses red-sea-like when asshats from adjacent lanes think this means they'll make better time. For 30 seconds.
  • 1:47 PM Pray to the God of Traffic to Smite These Infidels
  • 1:49 PM Pray to the God of Traffic to Smite me. At least then someone will be entertained.
  • 1:55 PM Give up praying altogether and instead start examining Jersey walls in their native habitat
  • 2:00 PM Realize Jersey walls are the ugliest form of prefab concrete in existence.
  • 2:15 PM Realize Jersey walls are essentially alike everywhere on the planet
  • 2:20 PM Ponder forming the Cult of the Concrete Divider.
  • 2:30 PM Begin to pick up speed as Jerseians are siphoned off to their various home bases.
  • 2:35 PM Get thumped by pregnant wife, barely visible underneath seven layers of clothing and two jackets (I called it an "endothermic hormonal reaction". Ellen didn't think it was funny), "I'm hungry and I gotta pee."
  • 2:40 PM Stop at the World's Most Crowded Rest Area for fuel and waste management. Note stadium-at-halftime-like waiting lines in front of Women's room and stadium-at-halftime-like stench from Men's room.
  • 3:00 PM Discover that there are absolutely no attractive people at this rest stop (well, except for us of course). Note this place would probably turn Cindy Crawford into a halo-haired gum chewer with an inch deep coating of eye makeup.
  • 3:20 PM Get back on Turnpike (normal speed) and wave at the poor bastards going in the opposite direction at 5 mph. Get off 3 exits ahead of final toll plaza because we're not that stupid.
  • 3:30 PM Note that it's a Bad Sign when your "work-around to avoid jammed up toll plaza" route is jammed up with people trying to avoid the toll plazas. Clears out soon enough. Home free! WoOt!
  • 3:45 PM Turn onto the approaches for the Delaware bridge and discover the treacley mass of traffic we thought we'd avoided was just lying in wait for us, sucking and bubbling as it oozed along its evil way. Glittering in the sunlight, filling all six lanes of a towering celery green suspension bridge, is a solid mass of four wheeled vehicles moving at exactly. Five. Miles. Per. Hour.
  • 4:00 PM Drive the 200 yards it takes to get to the bridge, speculating on just how much weight that many cars packed that tightly must exert on what at this distance looks like a strip of paper held together with hair. Ellen doesn't think this is funny.
  • 4:05 PM Start fantasizing about what it might feel like to plunge 300 feet into the icy, olive-brown, windswept waters of the Delaware river because it would at least be more interesting than this glaciating traffic-born hell. A small mittened fist cannons out of the misshapen pile of clothes, coats, and blankets to my right and lands on my bare arm (I'd long since changed into a T-shirt). "That's not funny!", a muffled voice says.
  • 4:15 PM Creep through the bridge toll plaza and "after traffic", only to face a new nemesis... the sun.
  • 4:20-5:15 PM Watch as thousands of my fellow travelers become captivated by the strange glowing light slowly sinking toward the roadway in the west. Each time it appears they must all slow down for fear of this new and frightening god which they have obviously never encountered before in their lives. Each time it disappears we speed back up, only to jump on the brakes again as we top a hill because My God! It's STILL THERE!
  • 5:20 PM Decide that Garrison Keillor is the funniest man on the planet.
  • 5:30 PM Decide we are the funniest man on the planet.
  • 5:45 PM Feel the blood congeal in my veins as it mixes with the sugary sap pouring from the radio. While I was busy trying not to get killed on the Beltway, the blanket-swaddled mound next to me extruded a mitten-clad arm and started twiddling with the radio. We have finally come in range of Ellen's favorite "all Christmas all the time" radio station.
  • 6:15 PM Arrive home just in time to avoid third rendition of "Deck the Halls".

But you know, I learned something on that trip. I learned that there are thousands of people who think being stuck for hours in traffic with their dogs is a fun way to spend an evening. I learned that no matter how much crap you stuff in the back of an 84 Dodge Reliant, it still won't drag the ground. And I learned there really is something worse than having a piece of barbed wire pulled slowly through your nostrils.

And those are the greatest lessons of all.

Posted by scott at December 02, 2002 04:05 PM

eMail this entry!

Important "life's lessons" to be learned. Funny piece, just remember next Thanksgiving there will be three of you or eight of you counting my grandcats. LOL

Posted by: Pat on December 2, 2002 07:47 PM

My friends learned that lesson already. They come home on Monday instead of Sunday. Of course, these friends are slightly older and went to PA instead of NY.
If I could have, I'd have been in The Bahamas man.

Posted by: Cindy on December 2, 2002 11:50 PM

There were people stuck in that line with us from Florida and Georgia. I can only hope things started to clear out for them. I think I would've killed something had it gone on for another 7 hours.

Posted by: scott on December 3, 2002 09:14 AM

you should have stayed another day. Did you put your tool chests together?

Posted by: granny on December 4, 2002 12:02 PM

you should have stayed another day. Did you put your tool chests together?

Posted by: granny on December 4, 2002 12:02 PM

Yup. It's taller than Ellen is! I had to remove a shelf in the garage so it'd fit. But it's waaaayyy cool. :)

Posted by: scott on December 4, 2002 12:03 PM
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