Sunday, October 14, 2007

Traffic Jam From Hell

Ok! I promised to write about the "adventure" of my 45th Class Reunion from High School! Well! Karen Weaver and I got a lot more excitement than we had expected! When we had originally-planned our road trip, we had agreed that Karen would pick me up at 11:00 AM. We would then head south on I-5 and stop for lunch at the Mitzel's restaurant in Tacoma. Karen and her daughter, Tara, had spent a weekend recently in Ocean Shores on the Washington coast and had stopped there to eat. Karen was looking forward to having another Oriental Chicken Salad, which she had enjoyed immensely. She also said their desserts were "to die for." (Note: Karen's ex-husband, Ken, managed a Mitzel's restaurant in the Seattle-area for a number of years.)

But there were "glitches" in our plans! First of all, the car rental agency did not have the car ready for pickup at 10:00 AM. Karen had to wait while they vacuumed the car before she could take it. By the time we left our house, it was already noon. But, that was OK. The Class Reunion was scheduled to start at 6:00 PM. We had lots of time! However, as soon as we entered I-5 going south, we knew we were in "Big Trouble." The traffic was not moving! Let's see--at one mile an hour--we wouldn't reach our destination until the function was over! This was the Traffic Jam to end all traffic jams! What could have happened? Finally, we managed to get one traffic report which said there had been a multiple car collision near the south Pierce county line. No details, of course! Karen called her brother, Bob, who lives in Kelso, our destination. He told us that a driver traveling north on I-5 had crossed the dividing barrier and managed to hit 6 or 7 other cars! Anyway we inched along and inched along for hours! We hadn't even left Federal Way, and it was already 3:00 PM! And, of course, Karen, who said she normally packs something to eat had not done so that day Why should she? We had thought we would be having lunch shortly after leaving my house! Just south of Federal Way, all southbound traffic was detoured going west. We had no idea where we were or where we were going! We finally saw a sign saying this was the way to the Algona-Pacific "SuperMall." Neither of us had ever been in Algona or Pacific and didn't even know they "had" a supermall! We also went through lots of other communities we had never heard of! Including one place which had a campaign sign up for someone named Larry Carney! Carney was my maiden name. I wondered if we were related! Anyway, after hours of driving and lots of turns, we somehow were heading east on our way to Puyallup! We saw signs advertising the upcoming fair there and also promoting tours of the historic Ezra Meeker mansion. Suddenly before us was the South Hill Mall! At last a place where we could have "lunch." It was 4:45 PM! Luckily they had a McDonald's! I treated Karen and myself to Southwest Salads and Hazelnut Iced Coffee. Food at last! Joy! By the time we had finished, it was 5:15 PM! We had not yet left King County, our home county! However, Karen got good directions from a service station attendant, directing us to I-5 south from there. We soon were on I-5 heading south, with a normal flow of traffic and had no further delays. We rolled into the Red Lion parking lot in Kelso at 7:23 PM! Yeah! Later, I found out that that traffic jam had lasted for 12 hours! That was a trip to remember!

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