Thursday, July 05, 2012

Harbinger

Harbinger: a person or thing that foreshadows or foretells of the coming of someone or something.
Our harbinger was in the form of a State Trooper that blew by us when we were on the way home from lunch with our good friends Wes and Deidra in Huntsville.
We'd struggled with the decision to go, but we hadn't seen our friends in a long time and it would only take a few hours to run up, have lunch and then blow back home in time for an early afternoon practice session and cap it of with a nap. No problem.
We headed out at 10 and made the trip in about an hour and twenty minutes. The morning was a bit cooler but the humidity was still brutal.
We lunched with our friends and then headed home. As we navigated the onramp to I 65 south a trooper blew by at an alarming rate of speed. Had he been two minutes earlier, I might have taken the bypass through Decatur which would have added about 20 minutes to our trip home, but at the point he passed, we were committed.
The interesting thing is that the Tennessee River runs near Huntsville and the bridge across the river is a few miles south of the onramp from Huntsville....the direction we were headed.
We drove about a mile and traffic came to a complete halt.
Normally, that would not have been an issue. We come up on construction areas or mishaps frequently when we travel. But today, the mercury was bumping 100.
A car can idle with the air conditioner on in that kind of heat for a while, but even the best of cars will overheat if left to idle very long.
We sat for about 20 minutes and I decided to cut the engine. At that point, traffic seemed to be backed up for miles.
We learned that an eighteen wheeler had lost control and jack-knifed on the bridge blocking the southbound lanes.
We had two water bottles, but they'd sit in the car during lunch, so by the time we headed home, the bottles were hot enough to brew tea.
After about 45 minutes, we abandoned our car and stood in the shade of the transfer truck in front of us.
The guy sitting by us in the other lane left his car running. He had no choice. His wife was wheelchair bound, and they had their tiny dog with them. I'd be willing to bet his Ford will never be the same.
Another 15 minutes and I began to get seriously concerned. Since Jilda has been taking her infusion treatments, it reset her internal thermostat and she never gets warm.
I looked at her today as we stood in the shade of the truck and her face was red and she was sweating.
Just as I was about to ask the folks next to us to make room for us to got between so that I could try and cross the ditch which separates the lanes of the interstate, a state highway department truck pulled up in the other lane about 50 yards in front of us. He dumped a load of gravel in the ditch and then packed it down. A few moments later another rescue vehicle came down the median and began to block oncoming traffic from the other direction which allowed us to cross over the median and to an alternative route across the river. A four hour excursion turned into nine hours from hell.
There were a lot of take aways from today and I won't bore you with all of them, but I will tell you this:
If you're traveling through the south during summer, make sure you have a boatload of water, ice, a portable air conditioner, and 4-Wheel drive.
I'm going to have a test on this later, so make sure you write this down.

9 comments:

  1. Not a great way to pass the time when the interstate is shut down. Glad you guys had a way off finally.

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  2. AUGH! There's nothing worse than coming to a standstill in major traffic when the temp is over 100 degrees. Glad Jilda was OK!

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  3. Oh Gosh! I feel soo bad for Jilda.
    Not feeling good as it is and then to have to go through all this.
    Glad it all ended well.

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  4. Sorry you had that experience but we had something similar heading up to DC from Richmond. Hot, hotter and hottest!
    Good thing you were able to rescue Jilda!
    Hugs to you both!

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  5. Yes, just read Jilda's post! What a nightmare journey but glad all were safe - well as safe as can be! Take care
    x

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  6. I've always been big on learning from other peoples experiences...fact noted....always take water when you go out especially in the summer.
    glad everyone is okay now and hopefully resting

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  7. I have a 4 wheel drive and water is always in the car (although it isn't cold)
    I have a handgun, flares, a first aid kit, blankets, gum, granola bars, and always a full gas tank.
    I guess I need to carry a small cooler with ice eh?

    I am sorry about your ordeal, I hope your wife didn't have any lasting issues because of it.

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  8. Reason #1,000,000,000,0001 why I don't live in Chicago anymore. It gets just as hot and traffic is just as jammed..everyday! I'm so sorry you were stuck and I sure hope Jilda is OK..I will take your advice and if I pass the test can we come and visit? Have a good weekend! (stay cool!)

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