Thursday, December 6, 2007

Giving Thanks, Despite 170 Miles of Reasons Not To

I feel like I have a lot for which to be thankful, despite my getting stuck in a 170 mile long traffic jam over the Thanksgiving Holiday. I know it's a bad time to travel, especially by car, but I had to go see my new grand daughter, Mya, and youngest daughter, Jennifer.

I got the news that Mya had been born late Friday, and was on the road by 5:00 Saturday morning. The traffic wasn't bad until after I passed through Memphis, but then It got dense--and a little crazy. There were way too many people trying to go so fast that they were slowing everyone down. But it was nothing by comparison to what lay in store the next day.

That first day, I put over 900 miles behind me, and made it all the way to Nashville--leaving me only about 700 miles to go. Another early start on Sunday gave me nothing but open road ahead, and it remained easy going after I left IH-40 to take IH-81 north--until about Pulaski, VA.

That's where it got a little hairy, like the day before. The traffic would slow to a crawl for a mile or so, and pick up to highway speed for another mile or two before it came to a screeching halt, literally!

After 30 miles or so, just south of Roanoke, the traffic turned into a solid parking lot--and the news I was hearing was that the traffic was pretty well backed up all the way to Strasburg, where IH-66 peels off toward Washington, DC. That was another 120 miles or so up the road. I had had enough by then, and left the interstate at Salem to take US 11 and State highway 360.

Since 360 followed the route (more or less) that Stonewall Jackson took during his Valley Campaign, I stayed with it all the way to Winchester (I had written a paper that analyzed his employment of the principles of war during my graduate history studies, and just felt compelled).

The rest of the trip was a cake walk, but that day's travel took three hours longer than the day before, despite being 200 miles shorter. By my estimate, the detour had cost me only about an hour more than traveling by IH-81 might have, had the traffic not been as bad as it was.

Yeah, I'm thankful. My daughter is well and happy. My granddaughter is healthy and vocal, very vocal. Mya's dad is a great guy, and takes being Daddy very seriously--and he knows a lot about parenting. I survived the trip without being rear ended (my car, a Mercury Grand Marquis, is a Molotov cocktail on wheels) Not everyone on IH-81 that Sunday had as much for which to be thankful.

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