Right after I got back from campmeeting, I had to make another trip across a state, this time heading east instead of west. I wish I lived in New England where going across a state can take a couple of hours instead of a a whole day, but out here in the west, we believe in SPACE. And people here grow used to making 6-8 hour trips for shopping or medical care---come Christmas you hear people talk of going to Fargo or even Minneapolis to do their Christmas shopping as casually as someone might mention driving to the mall.
I have not grown used to it, but a few more trips across the state and I'll at least be acclimated. Those drives have a way of wearing you into submission!
So anyway, there I was headed to Fargo, a trip of about 7 hours. I had my bags packed for an over-nighter and a cage of motherless kittens in the back. I left at 4 AM so I could arrive on time for my appointment, but half-way there I came smack up against the perpetual curse of summer driving....road construction. As I made my way through one of the towns along the route, traffic suddenly came to a standstill and I found myself behind a large dump truck and a black pickup truck.
We waited there a respectable length of time, then traffic began to move as first the dump truck and then the pickup pulled out and around the.....Frito Lay truck? Why was the Frito Lay truck just parked there in the middle of the road? Maybe its engine stalled or something. Oh, well, at least we were on our way again. I, too, pulled out and around the Frito Lay truck and saw to my horror a long, unbroken line of vehicles, probably 100-150 stretched out before me.
"Why didn't you just pull back in?" people ask me. Because I just didn't, that's why! The dump truck, no doubt part of the construction and radioed to the front, led our impromptu parade past car after car of formerly bored and now very amused drivers. I tried to pull my cloak of invisibility around me, but I think it had a few holes.
When we reached the end of the line and came upon the flagger, he frowned fiercely at us and gestured us onto a side road. I already had my turn signal on, and while the black pickup did a u-turn in order to get back on the road, I grandly pretended I had meant to do that all along and continued driving down the side road. Around here everything is laid out on a grid, so I knew all I had to do was make a right turn at some point and I would find the highway again.
Sure enough, I found a road, followed it, and was back at the highway again. Only to find out that the construction went for miles and I was in the middle of it with no flagger. The only traffic in sight was going the wrong direction. Thankfully, another large truck lumbered by just then and I pulled desperately behind it. As long as I kept on his tail, I knew no one would crash into me. We zigged and we zagged through the construction, crossing lanes and dodging equipment. At one point there was a line of stopped cars going west, in the middle a bunch of west-bound semis whizzing around them, and then in the far lane, our little convoy of two heading east. I never did see any cars going my direction or I gladly would have joined them.
At last we reached the end of the construction and the semi pulled over to dump his load of dirt, no doubt wondering if I would follow him right through his dirt pile. I drove bravely off, trying not to signal any low-flying aircraft with my flaming red face, and resolved not to drive through that town again until I've changed the color on my van.
The rest of the trip was fine and I had fun, but when it was time to return, like the Wise Men of old, I "returned a different way." Highway 3 is lovely this time of year.