OMW’s I-95 (Abbreviated) Adventures, Vol. LXXV

OMW’s I-95 (Abbreviated) Adventures, Vol. LXXV
M.D. Wright

Once again, we set out on the road with some dual purposes in mind. Initially, I wasn’t going to make any trips until I had actually and formally moved down to Maryland, but my mom hit me up the week prior saying that they were doing a lunch cruise to celebrate my dad’s birthday. Given that I am in the midst of doing everything on this end to close out a lease, I planned to handle some business on that end while I was in the area.

Of course, the best laid plans rarely work out even half the time, seemingly, of late.

I was set to leave home around 8:30 am to pick up the rental car, come and finish packing a few things and get on the road. I left Newark Airport 15 minutes later than I planned (strike one), and then had some extra things that I ended up having to take care of before I could leave. I didn’t get on 280-East to 21-South in Newark before getting on Route 1, as I needed to eat, get cash and coffee. By the time I had done all that, it was almost 11 am.

Mind you, I wanted to be on the Turnpike by 10 am, so we’re already behind schedule by an hour.

It has been raining and/or cloudy with no sun for 10 days as of this post, and it was raining at a light pace for most of the ride down, and you know what comes with that: Minivans on the left lane doing 10 mph below the speed limit with no one in front of them, and requiring you to pass two lanes on the right to get back over and pass the ignorant minivan driver.

Nonetheless, I was able to make it out of Jersey in about an hour and 45 minutes. When I’m really doing my normal, I’m able to get from Newark to the Delaware Memorial Bridge in anywhere from 75-90 minutes tops.

Despite it all, I was still in good shape until I passed through the toll booth for the bridge on the Delaware side. I saw traffic backing up even while I was midway over the bridge. By the time I got to the booth, most of the stalls were 20 cars deep. I managed to get to a booth that only had three cars ahead of me, because I shot over 5 lanes to get to it while everyone who was to the outside stuck to the four booths to the right.

As soon as I paid and pulled off, I saw “Left Lane Closed, Exit 1” and they also had a lane closed and muttered “here we go…” When you come off the DMB and converge from the toll booths (which are 14 lanes total) all the traffic bottlenecks into three lanes, and then an exit ramp. One exit ramp was closed, and an entire lane — which already runs out before getting to the aforementioned exit — closed off, as well. In short, we basically did not move for 45 minutes. By this point, it was already 1:30 pm. I was planning to be in the DC area by 2 pm. Do the math.

I had a couple of stretches where I moved normal speed, and then ran into random slow downs due to several construction zones and inexplicable wrecks on straight-aways. Then again, I saw tons of people hunched over their phones texting and on social media doing 70+ mph.

I got near Baltimore and there was a complete slowdown before and after the Fort McHenry Tunnel. We navigated through that 5 mile stretch in about 25 minutes, and then made another 15 miles before traffic locked up at Laurel due to yet another wreck. From that point until I got to the National Harbor, traffic was bumper to bumper; partly due to rain, partly due to people’s longstanding inability to drive in anything other than sun and 75 degrees (and even then, many do silly things on the road). Once I got to the 414/210 split, I was alright, until I got to Oxon Hill, which was about 4 pm (which should have been no later than 1:30 pm, without all these delays) . Many people use that thoroughfare to get to Oxon Hill, Fort Washington and points south and east from there, so it was bumper to bumper until I got to where we’re moving. That was expected, though. It was the traffic at the DMB and the random wrecks all over the place that had gotten me tight at that point.

I was unable to check in with my cousin, visit the two other apartment complexes that I had planned to visit, couldn’t catch up with my friend who lives near where we’re moving, or anything of the sort. It felt like a waste of time and money to even go, until I remembered why I initially go on the road in the first place. It was my dad’s birthday, so I got over it once I met up with my parents at the house.

We had completed our application and been screened before I left home, so it was to only be a formality to finalize paperwork and get the keys before I came back to Jersey on Saturday evening. Without going into detail, nothing that should have been done — and easily, at that — occurred, and I still needed to drive to Culpeper, Virginia thereafter, and beat the sunset before all the oversized, wild, brolic deer came out and began bogarting the two lane roads that dominate those backwoods in the Culpeper area. Traffic was completely locked up from Woodbridge down to Fredericksburg. Dead standstill. Got several notifications on my phone to seek an alternate route, as the stretch from Exit 161 to Exit 128 (approximately 30-35 miles) would take two hours if I stayed on 95. I know the back roads, because we used to go to Culpeper to visit our family friend in this area all my life dating back to childhood, so I knew how to get there using the back roads, but MAN I saw deer everywhere. The does were as big as the bucks you see on NatGeo. And they don’t flinch when they see cars coming. They just do the gangster staredown and move on their own time.

That meant going from getting to the house at 6 pm to getting there at 8 pm. Whatever. I got there in time to watch some of the Stanford and Washington game, during which I fell asleep since I had been up all day on two hours’ sleep. Woke up, chatted a bit, and slept again until 7 am. We had to get up, beat any traffic between Culpeper and Baltimore, and be ready to board the cruise ship by 11:30 am for the lunchtime cruise. It rained most of the way, but we got there with an hour to spare. Better to be early than get stuck in traffic, given that we had to use I-66 and 95/495, we couldn’t chance leaving any later than 8 am.

The cruise was good, regardless of the weather. The food was solid, and of course I spent half the time at the bar, I think the World Ventures thing is a good deal, especially if you travel like I do, and like to do these cruises, so that was cool  And it is always good to be around my dad, particularly on his birthday, which I have made a point of doing, even though we haven’t lived in the same area for ages now.

From there, I needed to find a place to watch the Florida State game. Anyone who knows me knows how I feel about our current (and hopefully soon-to-be-fired) defensive coordinator — the worst in college football, with the stats to back up that “worst in college football” status), so I was already on edge about a game that we really needed to win. Except my mans didn’t tell me he had moved from the area to Virginia Beach until I got there, so I had to scramble and find a place between Fort Washington and Baltimore to watch the game at a bar. I stopped at Buffalo Wild Wings at White Marsh — my normal stopping point every time going down and coming back, so I knew I could run the rest of my errands there and get home quickly.

I don’t need to discuss what happened in the first half of the game, but I left before halftime, and developed a headache from watching my team. Something that has rarely happened. It’s how bad and non-existent the Florida State defense has been since Charles Kelly arrived in 2014. I could — and did — track the game on my phone while I got home in time to watch the over-hyped Clemson/Louisville game. If I hadn’t pulled over to vent on social media about how Florida State gave up 28 first half points to North Carolina (!!!), but held them for the entire second half, even coming back to tie the game, before they allowed UNC to score to go up 6 (missing an extra point; blocked actually), leaving FSU a couple of minutes to potentially get a win. The Noles went down and got points, and the all-important extra point, and had a 35-34 lead with 23 seconds left.

The fact that UNC got the ball at their own 25 yard line and got into FG range (including a typical ACC refs-against-FSU call along the lines of the call against Sheldon White in 1989 in the “Flipper Anderson Game” when the Rams “beat” the Giants in the NFC Wild Card that year) and kicked a 54-yard FG to win 37-35 triggered me to level 10. I pulled into the Starbucks at the Delaware Welcome Center for 45 minutes until I used up all the time I freed up by leaving Buffalo Wild Wings at halftime, so I got back on the road and gunned it the rest of the way.

I got home in time to catch the 2nd half kickoff for Clemson and Louisville, and despite a feverish comeback, Louisville fell short, as I expected.

Too bad FSU didn’t do their part by beating a team they should have blown out. As has been the case all year, but the defensive coordinator…

All in all, we’re in position to move in the next few days, and I got to celebrate my dad’s birthday and be around good people, so all was not lost, even if I didn’t get a chance to see the rest of the people who I was hoping to catch up with.

I got home safe and sound, so I shan’t complain.

Photo Credit: Gannett.


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