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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Missing Blogfest + Other Assorted Tales

I know that I am not the most outwardly social person on the planet.  Myers-Briggs tells me, in fact, that I am probably as introverted as a human being can probably be without degrading into Bridge Troll -dom.  This noted, I did have every intention of attending Blogfest 2011 in the thriving metropolis of Pittston last night.  Needless to say, I did not make it.  What happened?

My youngest daughter Rebecca attends West Chester University, which is about a hair shy of two and a half hours from Scranton.  Since she wanted to come home this weekend, my thought was to leave work at 4ish, make it down there and back, and slip into Blogfest for a few minutes in and around the 9pm time frame.  Sounds reasonable, right?  Of course there is a "but" here, and this particular "but" can be summarized by a few different words, so I'll just pick one:  monsoon.

Yes, it was raining basically all the way down the turnpike from Scranton to Philadelphia.  Going down I would hit patches of incredibly heavy rain inter-spaced with periods of light precipitation.  I could count my blessings and claim that "at least it wasn't snow", but I have other blessing to count.  Read on.  Anyway, my normally steady speed of 65-esque was shunted down to the 50's for much of the ride down and over to West Chester.  Coming back? Well that was quite worse indeed.

So I arrive in West Chester on or about 6:45pm.  This was a good 20 minutes later than I should have, but again my travel was inhibited by road conditions.  That and the two enormous ladders laying in the middle of Route 202.  By the time I got there, my daughter and her room-mate (who lives in NEPA and was hitching a ride with us) were all ready to go.  Some quick car packing and we were back on the road sometime slightly after 7pm.  From there, it seemed as if the rain picked up in intensity.  At times it was steady, at times it was so dense that visibility was really horrid.  Then there was the tunnel incident.

Coming up the turnpike approaching the NE Extension tunnel, the rain seemed to abate as the hole in the mountain grew near.  At that point I'm thinking "good, I can pick up some speed and make up for lost time", so once I got into the tunnel I got the car up to about 65, which was a far cry from the 40-50 mph that marked the journey so far.  Bad idea.  Popping out of the tunnel like a cork out of a rapper's bottle of Cristal, I almost immediately hit was seemed like a torrent of rain. What didn't hit?  That would be the wheels of my Kia Rio and the road surface.  For about a good mile I was basically floating on the road surface, more or less out of control of my vehicle.  I want to note that Kia Rio's weight about as much as your average washing machine, so it was the perfect storm of imperfect conditions:  slippery road an tiny, light car.  So what happened next?  Well I guess there are three schools of thought that could describe those few minutes in time:

  1. Skill - Having been driving for something like 30 years, I knew enough not to over-steer the car and to not slam on the brakes.  I carefully corrected the direction of the car, preventing a mashing into the retaining wall (or off the road itself) by making slight directional changes and lightly touching the brake until the car got some traction and slowed down.
  2. Higher Power - Some could argue that some kind of higher power guided me and prevented what would have been an ugly accident.
  3. Some combination of the two above.
I don't want to sound overly dramatic here, but I was seriously in some deep doo-doo on this one.  The Physics of the situation were working against me:  I was clearly driving way too fast for the road conditions on a car that is only slightly evolved from a go-cart.  This was not a good time.  In the final analysis this morning, I am going to heavily weigh my after-the-fact conclusions on #1, above.  I'm also though not going to discount the fact that I was clearly pretty damn lucky...or pretty damn blessed.  #3 perhaps?  I will say that I did take a few minutes this morning to pray & contemplate it all.

Almost being turned into road-hamburger rightly noted, by the time I dropped my youngest daughter's room mate off and delivered daughter #3 to her mother's house it was exactly 10:15pm.  I would have missed almost all of Blogfest and besides, at that stage I was more or less a blithering idiot after having survived the West Chester trek.

I can't wait until the next Blogfest.

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