Running Barefoot Down the Interstate

August 14, 2008 at 12:21 pm 1 comment


My Journey Home from the HSA Reunion

I looked in the rearview mirror and saw her coming – feet pounding against the asphalt as she flew down I-64. Cutting across the left-hand lane of traffic, across the broken yellow lines, back into the right-hand lane till she reached the shoulder at last. Breathless and laughing she ran to the passenger’s side of the car, opened the door, and fell into her seat.

Wait . . . who is she? Where was she? And why on earth was she running down the interstate?

Let me rewind a bit.

After attending the 2008 HSA Reunion, Anna and I joined several dozen HSAers for a day at the Creation Museum. We stayed overnight in Kentucky one last time, planning to leave on Tuesday morning, drive for 10 hours, and make it home late Tuesday evening.

It was not to happen.

Tuesday morning dawned bright and cheery . . . somewhere in the world. In our little corner it was dark and rainy. As we packed our bags into the car the heavy rain poured down on us, soaking through our clothes and causing us to shiver and wish for overcoats and galoshes. Still, we managed to get out on the road by 10:30 – a respectable time given the lack of sleep we’d had over the past six nights.

One and a half hours later the sky had lightened to a dull gray and the rain clouds had scattered across the land, blessing us with only a gentle sprinkle. We left the interstate in search of food to calm the rumblings in our tummies. Pizza Hut appeared a Promised Land.

The Promised Land was slow.

After fifteen minutes we received our beverages – a root beer for Anna, a root beer for me. Another five minutes and the waitress took our order. An appetizer and a large pizza. Twenty-five minutes later our pizza appeared. It wasn’t what we’d ordered. We ate it anyway. Five minutes later we got our appetizer. The Promised Land grew dark as outside the storm found us again.

At last we left Pizza Hut, with full stomachs but low spirits. Tired and with a great desire to reach home, we turned Eastward once more and pushed onward till the sun finally began to shine and the rain ceased to fall.

And the gas gauge indicated we needed more fuel.

So we stopped at a nearby Exxon and filled up the tank.

As we left the little town of Marmet, West Virginia, and pulled back onto Interstate 64, it became quite clear that our day was about to grow much longer. Crawling into an open space between an SUV and a tractor trailer, we started the beginning of our seven hour, four mile journey.

Yes, seven hours. Four miles.

It was a long Tuesday.

Over the next three hours we moved about one quarter of a mile closer to home. Up and down the interstate people milled about, outside of their vehicles, trying to preserve the gas in their cars and take advantage of the cool breeze blowing through the mountains. Children rode their bicycles, moms stood with their little ones as they released hours of built-up energy, men tried to find out why we were stopped. And it had been a little too long since we’d been near a restroom.

In the few moments that traffic had inched forward, the trail of vehicles had rearranged several times. Instead of being behind an SUV, we were behind a tractor trailer. Instead of being next to a sedan, we were beside a pickup. And . . . there it was . . . two vehicles behind us in the next lane . . . the Greyhound bus.

I turned to Anna, more excited to see a bus than any human being should ever be, and told her how close it was. With a roll of her eyes at the ridiculousness of the situation, she pulled on her shoes and jogged back to the bus, just as the bus driver and a few passengers were climbing off to stretch their legs.

In the rearview mirror I saw her reach the bus and speak with the driver, then climb aboard the new Promised Land. As I sat and waited, my mind turned to a scene from a movie that seemed eerily familiar at that instance, and I chuckled to myself. Then, suddenly, brake lights began appearing in front of me. Traffic was moving! Anna was still on the bus!

I quickly started up the engine and moved the car onto the shoulder of the road, careful to keep the bus in sight. As traffic around us began pulling forward a mixture of anxiety and amusement began to well up within me. Then she appeared.

I looked in the rearview mirror and saw her coming – feet pounding against the asphalt as she flew down I-64. Cutting across the left-hand lane of traffic, across the broken yellow lines, back into the right-hand lane till she reached the shoulder at last. Breathless and laughing she ran to the passenger’s side of the car, opened the door, and fell into her seat.

Giggling wildly, I looked over at her. “Do you remember that Sandra Bullock movie where they’re stuck in traffic and she uses the restroom in an RV and traffic starts moving while she’s still on board?”

I re-entered the line of cars in the right-hand lane and then stopped the car and turned off the engine once the line had re-arranged again. Anna and I laughed as she relayed to me the comedy-like pieces of her “adventure.”

And then we waited. Traffic inched forward again. And stopped. And inched forward. And stopped.

Then it was my turn. In desperation I opened my door and indicated to Anna that she was to climb into the driver’s seat and pull over to the shoulder, if traffic should start moving again. Then I walked down to the owner of the RV parked two vehicles behind us in the next lane. As he opened up the door, asked me to slip off my sandals, and let his wife know I’d be coming in, he laughed, “Have you ever seen that Sandra Bullock movie . . . ?”.

This time it wasn’t Anna flying down the interstate. As traffic started moving, my dear sister jumped into the driver’s seat and pulled across to the shoulder. Meanwhile, I was leaping from the RV, onto the hot asphalt. Grabbing my sandals, I took off towards the car, barefeet barely hitting the ground as I raced down the interstate.

Back in the car, I nearly cried from laughing so hard as I asked Anna again, “Hey, have you seen that Sandra Bullock movie?”

We re-entered the line and inched forward. Then stopped.

Sunset came and, with it, the mosquitoes. Then the darkness seeped in around us. Finally, we reached the next exit. Police officers were all around, routing cars from two sides of the interstate, over a bridge, and from a local route. Another thirty minutes passed and then . . . at last! Traffic broke loose! The cars in front of us sped up and we were on our way. Somewhere in the Middle-of-Nowhere, West Virginia. The police officers were gone. The traffic cones were gone. The signs were gone.

We kept driving. And driving. And driving.

Twenty minutes later we again saw I-64. Beautiful, blessed, Interstate 64-East. And we had passed the parking lot portion.

Gleefully we went through the toll booth and entered the interstate once again. We didn’t make it home that night, but it was a trip we will certainly never forget.

Now I think I’m off to watch Two Weeks’ Notice.

(Although we’ve got some great memories, we found out later that the back-up was due not to one accident, but to two. One involved a car and a tractor trailer – the car caught on fire. Less than a mile away two tractor trailers collided and there was an enormous chemical spill. One of the drivers was thrown from his truck and killed. Please keep the other drivers and all of the families in your prayers.)


Entry filed under: Events, Life. Tags: , , , , , .

Back from Kentucky Frugal Friday: Travel Tips

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Abigail  |  February 23, 2009 at 12:51 am

    LOL! I never heard this story until now. Wow…what an adventure. 😀 And superbly written, besides.


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