Adventures in a Mudslide

It took two hours to get home last night.

One of my coworkers insisted I should leave early, at five, since it was a Friday and a three-day weekend, but I was in the middle of a project I wanted to finish, which I did, and I left at 5:30.

The trip home was pleasant… until I got past the Mt. Carmel Road exit, and then I ran into a traffic back-up. Traffic was moving, about five miles an hour.

Now, I thought nothing of this. It’s not uncommon for traffic to back up after Mt. Carmel. There’s a long hill to climb to the Middletown Road exit, and it’s not uncommon for traffic to slow to a crawl there if there happen to be 18 wheelers in both lanes. Usually, traffic starts moving on the other side of the hill.

It did not.

And so, for the next six miles, my forward progress happened at something between 0 and 10 miles an hour.

Traffic reports on the radio weren’t helpful. During one stopped point, I checked the Pennsylvania DOT twitter feed. “Road debris” between the Pennsylvania state line and mile marker 0.5. There was a road closure.


Then my low fuel light came on.

When I left the office, I had a little less than a quarter of a tank of gas. A full round trip — home to work to home — takes a little less than a quarter of a tank of gas, so this trip should have taken half of that. But sitting still, burning gas…

“Please, traffic, please, start moving.”

Could I make to the Sheetz at Exit 14? I was trying to do the math in my head — “My gas tank capacity is… my MPG is…” I decided I’d probably have to get off in Shrewsbury and get gas at Tom’s, which is the most expensive gas for fifty miles.

There was some forward movement, but it was because people were bailing out at Exit 36. Some people were driving on the shoulder to get to Exit 36.

Eventually, traffic started to move again. Slow at first, and it picked up.

The problem that had closed the highway? A mudslide onto 83, just beyond the state line. An embankment overlooking the highway had collapsed in the rain.

I put ten dollars — three gallons! — in the tank at Tom’s.

I wasn’t angry or exasperated. It was just tedious.

Published by Allyn

A writer, editor, journalist, sometimes coder, occasional historian, and all-around scholar, Allyn Gibson is the writer for Diamond Comic Distributors' monthly PREVIEWS catalog, used by comic book shops and throughout the comics industry, and the editor for its monthly order forms. In his over ten years in the industry, Allyn has interviewed comics creators and pop culture celebrities, covered conventions, analyzed industry revenue trends, and written copy for comics, toys, and other pop culture merchandise. Allyn is also known for his short fiction (including the Star Trek story "Make-Believe,"the Doctor Who short story "The Spindle of Necessity," and the ReDeus story "The Ginger Kid"). Allyn has been blogging regularly with WordPress since 2004.

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