D’artagnan and I survived the long, harrowing drive back to the Second City on a wing and a prayer. After having made the trip many times over, I can honestly say that the drive has never been longer. On average, the journey takes 12 hours. This time: 15.5 hours.
I would like to take the opportunity to blame the outlier on Pennsylvania. Yep. Now hear me out. Those who know and love me might say, “But you despise the Keystone State. You’ll find any and all faults possible and exaggerate it to epic proportions.” To my naysayers, I say “NOT SO!” It’s true. I think that PA blows. But that’s beside the point. With only a minor stupidity on my part, my tale of woe begins and for the most part ends in the Quaker Province.
You see, being a little wiped from a fun and exhausting week with my East Coast crew [ed: holla!], I didn’t leave the home of Mr. Math until 1:15 PM. As Mr. Math has a refrigerator worthy of a bachelor, i.e. half filled bottles of Gatorade and condiments, I thought it necessary to get a little lunch. Shortly after crossing the NJ/PA border, I pulled off at an exit that advertised a small eatery known as Burger King.
Unlike most highway side fastfooderies, this one was not located at the end of the exit. I needed to turn left, then go down and around a winding road, past a creepy cemetery, over some train tracks, and then take a short jog past the IGA. Et voila.
Unfortunately, it was not as easy to find my way back to the highway. By the time I found the on ramp to 80 East, I was so turned around and discombobulated, I was ready to be done with this state. So onward and upward. At some point, and mind you it took me a little while, I noticed that the exit 12 sign read “Hope/Blairstown.”
With only 14% genius left in my soul, it took me 14 PA miles, the Delaware Water Gap, and a big honkin’ exit sign for me to realize that, say it with me, I’m in frickin NJ again.
Off and around I go.
The time: 2:30. Let’s just start anew, shall we? Nah. Forget it. Let’s just skip to the highlights. Shortly after D’artagnan’s first feeding, I needed to slam on the breaks. As it turns out, not 20 cars ahead of me, a truck was on its side blocking the right lane. I’ve never actually seen someone climb out of a car after being in that kind of accident, but there you have it. In any case, there was serious rubbernecking, myself included. What? Like you’ve never been tempted?! Come on. Truck on its side. Long story short, no one was hurt, and 45 minutes was tacked onto the trip.
Fast forward to somewhere around mile marker 173. I enter into a random pocket of traffic. We stop. We don’t move. Don’t move. Don’t move. Don’t move. Turn car off. Wait. Wait. Wait. This goes on for another 20 minutes before we are able to crawl forward another 30 feet. Rinse. Repeat. There is no indication as to the why of it all until about 2 miles into my purgatory.
It seems that somewhere off in the distance, there is construction. As a complete aside, I hate the signs that say “construction zone: do not exceed 45 mph.” Now I fully agree with slowing down when workers are present. I just hate seeing them when I’m not moving at all. It’s like a big F-U to everyone stuck in the muck of traffic.
Anywho, one hour later, I am at mile marker 168. What do I finally see? Construction cones. Mind you, there is no actual construction. Just cones. No trucks, no workers, no roads being torn up, no sign of anything. Just cones. For 4 miles. Then the construction zone ends. Sigh.
As for the rest of PA, let just say: Two lanes, one lane, two lanes, one lane, and on and on.
So my dear friends, this little episode is one in a growing list of why Pennsylvania fills me with rage. Not that the Dan Ryan is any better, but that’s a rage will be there for the next 3 years, so why bother?