Monday, March 09, 2015
Aardvark's Harrowing Tales of Commerce!
Last week was Snow Week in the Southeast, first a little, then a lot. I was scheduled to go to St. Louis for KawaKon this past weekend, so we watched with some not-inconsiderable trepidation as TN and KY roads were shut down, and slowly began to be cleared. Most states have reasonably helpful DOT websites with nifty color-codes to let you know how progress is being made. Noel and I left for the con around four-ish in the PM on Thursday, and overall, the roads were excellent. Many areas permitted normal highway speeds. As we began to make our way through KY, we considered taking an alternate (non-interstate) route, but as we approached the exit, we saw brake lights ahead. Three miles from the Hopkinsville-Cadiz exit, I-24 became a parking lot. Noeru kept checking on his Android, and I called home. The wait was estimated at two hundred minutes (apparently, there may-or-may-not have been a truck accident, or two truck accidents, with-or-without a fatality) which was increased to four hours. Well into that dreadful expanse of time, Dale, the trucker ahead of us, walked back to check on us, offering heat and food if we needed it, and news that trucks up ahead had gone dark, and apparently there would be no movement 'til morning. We thanked him for his kindness, but we were comfy, with a 3/4-full gas tank and blankets. We listened to John B. Wells and Old Time Radio programmes, and felt increasingly isolated, what with having zero info as to what was actually going on. Noel was contacted by a friend in the area on Facebook, and I suggested that she call the Highway Patrol, we were westbound...eastbound traffic was zooming past, but we saw zero evidence of police, state nor local. After an hour or more, we saw Close Encounters-like flashing lights on the horizon, and the State Patrol contacted each vehicle, telling us that we were there 'til morning.
We bundled up in the blankets, and I would run the heater to hothouse levels, then turn off the car accept for acc. power, and we would sleep 'til it became uncomfortable, which level was reached, because the temperature finally leveled off at -13 F. That's MINUS, kiddies! We used a quarter-tank of gas in all, which wasn't bad. Noeru meanwhile had downloaded the Waze app, which is a combo of social networking and a GPS map function. Members can report on road issues or conditions, and it enabled us to feel not as isolated. We were able to get some data. We slept, braved sub-zero temperatures to empty the wing tanks, and come 7AM, we began to move.
We were aware of dodgy interstate conditions beyond, so we took the exit, and detoured for about an hour through a National Park of lakes, with decrepit bridges of the sort which cause me to revert to my charismatic roots. I am rarely speaking English on one of those spans by the time we get over it. But we made the more-icy-than-the-interstate back roads, and hit a clear I-24, and onward. We found a Cracker Barrel un-blockaded by ice, snow, and J.B.Hunt trucks, and breakfasted in style and comfort. We had not had supper the night before, so we were ready for a feed. Their blueberry pancakes use REAL blueberries, not sweet blue industrial goo-bits.
We made it to the con in time to set up before the dealer room opened. We did as well as we ever do at this convention, which means no growth. We must consider this next year. Here is the shirt design they sent us to print on their shirts:
The irony, she is palpable.
We did OK, though, got home safely, and now report to you.