Monday, March 31, 2014

Treacherous Travel

We have been making the same trip back and forth from PA to SC for 15 years in our pickup truck. For the 10 years before we retired, we traveled there in a motorhome once a year. We now come and go three times each year, adding up to 45 truck trips to date. One way is 764 miles, a total of 22,920 miles and the Mister drives it all. I’m the navigator, of course. Yesterday’s travel caused us to be on our game every minute - more so than ever. Usually we make it in 121/2 hours to 13 hours. This one took 141/2 hours, but the end result is that we are home in PA and safe. 

We got through SC and NC pretty well. We hit several rain showers and then snow in VA. Heavy, wet, slushy snow.  It was a good thing that the truck still had its winter heavy duty storm blades in place instead of the lightweight summer wiper blades. Of course the window washing fluid was filled up before we left so there was plenty of it and we sure lowered the level throughout the journey. After we hit PA  at 3pm, we started seeing cars going off of the roads into the deep gullies of the grassy medians that are all along Rt. 81. There are concrete divider barriers in several areas. At 4pm it was awful! When 18 wheelers going south passed us going north, if the concrete dividers were there, the slush was thrown over them onto our windshield with ominous messy and blinding splats! The ice was evident on all of the trees, causing them to droop heavily and the wind was coming on strong at us broadside and then changing to head winds. It was rough going.

We hit a rest area at 5pm and the temperature was 31° just before exit 80. At mile marker #112, it had dropped to 29° and we saw the first catastrophic accident, a car upside down in the median. None of the following accidents were witnessed by us but all had happened within just a few minutes of our passing. Now I’ll detail the rest. (mm=mile marker)

mm116- one totally smashed car in median, mm122- one car upside down in ditch, and everyone else crawling along the deep slushy mountainous highway at 20 mph near mm140. mm173- one car deep in median gulley, AND at mm175- another car was in deep median gulley. 

At mm176- 6:25pm- our truck was put into 4 wheel drive. At mm178- a car was in the ditch, and then at mm188- two cars crashed in the left lane (ours at the time) right into the concrete divider! At mm192- a car was in the deep median gulley and at mm193- one car was crashed into the guide rail on the right side of the highway. At mm214- in the southbound lane there were three cars in the median gulley with two of them upside down. At mm216- a car was in the median. FINALLY our exit 223 appeared through the snow and very foggy surroundings. It had not been salted, sanded or plowed and we drove down and around the curve with great caution, another car on our tail. On the highway, however, PennDOT was out everywhere, plowing, sanding, and salting. 

The arrival home was wonderful, even though the roads weren’t plowed. It was snowing and 29°. The cabin was warm and power was on and the water pipes didn’t freeze. Whew!

We know that at least 14 cars didn’t make it home last night and wonder if their occupants did. 

This morning our roads were plowed. Another area in our county had snow ten inches deep!


  1. Wow! That was stressful. We had none of that; we had only driving, torrential rain and winds. Worst of it for us was only that our two sump pumps are working - that is, doing their job. I am so sorry you had to witness all that trouble; that had to be the epitome of nerve-wracking driving. I hope today sees you both recovered from that stress, and that your home is in good shape (you have come home to trouble there, after bad and damaging weather, in the past). I am glad to hear from you, always. I am, as ever, thankful that you are all are special to me.

  2. I am so glad you are home safe and sound. No snow on the ground here at all!!!!! Sunny and warm and very windy.

  3. I would've been a nervous wreck after witnessing all that and driving in that temperate zone. Glad to read you made it back safely and all's well!!

  4. Sounds like my first week at my job location except my drive to work is only 30 miles each way. Still that's more than enough for me. Our weather is finally improving but as they say around here, "If you don't like the weather wait a minute." We missed the snowstorm but Cape Cod got about a foot.