The Agony and The Irony

I’m beginning to think that neither I, nor anyone in my family, should ever entertain the thought of traveling farther than the corner store again - maybe not even that far.

On a recent road trip to Mifflinburg, Pennsylvania – just outside Lewisburg – to attend the high school graduation of a close family friend, we became victims of what can only be adequately described as “the trip from hell.”

To give some perspective, it should have taken us a grand total of three and a half, maybe four, hours to get there. Six hours later, we pulled into the hotel parking lot.

All was rolling along quite smoothly until we approached the entrance to the George Washington Bridge, where everything ground to a sudden - and complete - stop. Of course, none of the traffic signs we had passed along the way indicated any delay whatsoever, giving us no reason to think that a search for an alternate route was in order.

Until it was too late, that is.  

Way too late.

We must have idled in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the overpass alongside Yankee Stadium for a solid hour. At least. Only after quite some time did we finally come upon a radio station which was broadcasting the current traffic conditions; and only then did we find out that there had been an individual attempting suicide on the bridge several hours earlier, which had apparently caused quite the residual delays. (For the record, the man was ultimately saved.)

That roadblock aside, we were again progressing along quite rapidly when, again – this time on Route 80 – instant parking lot. As we merged into one lane at the instruction of the traffic signs and cones, there were no workers in sight.  

Just cones.  

We were at a complete standstill. Every 20 minutes or so there was a break in the traffic, allowing us to go forward a few miles. And then…complete standstill again. This pattern repeated over and over (and over), continuing for about an hour.

Imagine our relief when we finally reached the hotel. As we prepared to head to the graduation that evening, the skies – as if on cue – opened up. Torrential downpour, huge lightning strikes…the whole bit. My father, who was at this point understandably beside himself with the whole journey, grimly joked, “Watch – next we’ll have a power outage.”

Fast-forward to later that night on our way back to the hotel. As we passed signs and landmarks that looked increasingly unfamiliar, we realized we must have missed the hotel, impossible as though that seemed. Who could miss an entire strip of stores, an Applebee’s, a Wal-Mart - and a four-story hotel?

We turned around and headed back in the direction from which we came, certain we couldn’t miss it twice. All of the sudden, amid the shadows of the night, was the outline of our Hampton Inn.

Our pitch-black Hampton Inn.

Come on, now – what are the odds?


{Published: June 13th, 2007}

Jamie Lynn RyanComment