Classes ended yesterday. I went to Maine today, my first trip north in almost two months. I planned to get on the road by 11:30, a plan as successful as most of my scheduled departures–which is not successful at all. I worked all morning, making progress on some stalled projects, doing laundry, packing the car, and pulled out the driveway at 1:50 pm. Leaving then, before rush hour on a non-holiday weekend, should have meant arriving about 4:30, plus whatever time I spent shopping for groceries.
I got here at 7 pm. A tractor-trailer fire on the Maine Turnpike between the York and Wells exits stopped and backed up northbound traffic for miles. I mean cars-parked-in-the-middle-of-the-highway, dogs-being-walked-in-the-breakdown-lane, w-t-f-is-going-on stopped. I sampled everything the experience offered. I let the dogs roam the grass beside the road. I strolled southbound and commiserated with fellow travelers. I made phone calls, checked email, and went to the Maine Turnpike website for news. I considered a power nap. It was like the New York Turnpike at Woodstock minus hippies, rock music, drugs, rain, and fun. Duty made me open my laptop to write exam questions. Two or so hours after stopping we all started up and began slowly to move, miles of cars, motorcycles, RVs, trucks, buses, flatbeds, and wreckers. We crawled for miles, three lanes of traffic squeezing left into one lane to pass the accident site. And what a sight: a small, charred, twisted pile of metal identifiable as a tractor-trailer cab only because it was hitched to the burned-out hulk of a trailer. I don’t know if the driver or anyone else was hurt.