Because of several accidents on Interstate 81, what began as a six-hour trip on a beautiful Sunday afternoon ultimately became an eight-and-a-half hour nightmare. It wasn’t pretty. Before I even got to Interstate 81–the “Hellway,” as i lovingly refer to it–my GPS was warning me that this highway could become my worst nightmare. Accidents were slowing traffic down and would extend my trip by 45 minutes. Well, I’ve done that before, so I shrugged that off.
It didn’t take long for the slow-down to increase in time to 90 minutes; that’s when I realized I might be in trouble. Thankfully, my very helpful GPS voice was able to re-route me off the Interstate to a quicker route. Yeah, not really. I got off as instructed, along with 1,000 other vehicles also listening to their GPS’s. We traveled VERY slowly along the detour, which also had a back-up, causing a 15-minute delay along that route. It became 30 minutes, and this was only the first time GPS re-routed me. I left Interstate 81 twice more, both times following behind every other car on the Interstate and BOTH times resulting in slow-downs, adding at least 20 minutes each time to the detour.
At some point, fear took hold and convinced me I was an episode of Twilight Zone. No matter which way I went, I was blocked by traffic and slowdowns. I had driven for hours and couldn’t seem to make my way through the highway maze of Virginia. At some point, I lost all sense of decorum and began drinking my soda straight out of the 2-liter bottle. What do manners matter, after all, when you aren’t ever going to be seen again?
After a very long SIX-AND-A-HALF HOURS I slowly puttered out of Virginia. I was never so happy to see the West Virginia state line! It was then I realized my Twilight Zone episode was over, and I was going to make it. I wiped the Diet Pepsi off my chin and continued my journey.
Dear children: I will go through hell AND high water for you all, but I will NEVER, EVER travel Interstate 81 on Sunday again. Never. Not gonna happen.