Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Back to Real Life

By Maggie

Okay---Real World is waiting is calling me from Colorado. "Come on back. Schedules and work are waiting, Enough of the travel."

Last week I returned from Italy on Monday night, Oct 6th, The next day, Tuesday, was non-stop with appts and errancs. The first was to Ortho doc office to have stitches removed, Yea!! No more showers with plastic bags tied over my arm. That day ran non-stop because, believe it or not--I had to return to the airport Wednesday morning for a flight to Washington, DC area. The mystery convention Bouchercon Started Thursday Oct 9th, and I was scheduled for a 10:am panell.

That presented a bit of a challenge since I had rented a car at Dulles airp0ort after landing and driven to my daughter Christine's house in Fairfax, No Virginia. I'd decided to combine family visit with business, which meant I had to put in a fair amount of time behind the wheel driving between Northern VA and Baltimore, Md. But it was worth it bec the convention was great. I hadn't been to Bouchercon since 2006 in Madison, WI. There was a great turnout, too. Of course, I always enjoy conferences/conventions because that's where I get to meet readers. Weather was perfect too.

Only one downside to the driving----Saturday night after attending the Penguin cocktail party for their authors at the downtown Baltimore hotel, I retrieved my car and headed back to interstate 95 South like I had the previous days. Of course, by now it was 8:30 in the evening. I hadn't gotten more than five miles outside of Baltimore---if that---when traffic came to a standstill. All four southbound lanes. I was in the farthest left lane since I was bypassing all those other closer exits.

I figured it was an accident and hunkered down for the wait. Shouldn't be too long, right? Six cop cars roared past me on the shoulder space, so they'd get us moving again. Maybe an hour or so. Right?

Wrong. Turns out I was in the "Moither of All Traffic Jams." At least, the ones I've witnessed. We were there three hours. Our lane moved better than the rest. We got to go forward ten feet then sit for ten minutes. Then another ten feet. The only thing that kept me from tearing my hair out was the radio stations.

When I saw the black hearse-type vehicle roar past me, I figured it must be an awful accident with lots of casualties. I expected ambulances. Nope. But a half hour after that, I clergyman walked between lanes of traffic. Whoa. I started picturing even worse scenarios.

Finally two State Trooper cars roared past and half hour later we inched forward to a real live Trooper directing traffic. But he wasn't directing us into a single lane forward. Instead, he and fellow trooper had removed some center median guard rail and was directing all four lanes of us through that opening to the other side of the interstate---going northbound. Other troopers had blocked off all four lanes of northbound traffic so we could get through. Wow. They told us to head to another ent4erstate which lead to the Baltimore-Washington Pkwy southbound.

Most of us stranded motorists were so grateful to be moving again, we hightailed it out of there and eventually were southbound and westbound (for me) and headed home after 12:30am. Happy to be alive.

I checked the online Baltimore tv news outlets for details. Turns out several motocyclists were driving recklessly, weaving in and around cars. One lost control, hit guardrail and flew back iunto traffic, where he hit two cars. Awful. His bike bunced back into traffic and hit another car which caused that driver to be ejected. Sheeeesh! All of it happenihng in a few seconds.

Makes you thin, doesn't it?