As I write this, I have just spent the last 90 minutes STUCK on the freeway, stopped – completely.
I had no idea why. I figured there was a bad accident since I saw helicopers orbiting above. I figured it was Life Flight.
However, I did find it odd that the traffic going the other way was also stopped. Hmmmm. Must be a really, really bad accident. At that point, I hung my head for a bit and then called my farrier to tell him that there would be no way for me to make our appointment. I also called my work to tell them that I was fairly certain I’d be late.
90 minutes is a long time to be in your car – stopped.
You’d think the chatty morning radio hosts would stop for a moment to look at the SIGAlert sheets being shoved under their noses – but No, no one is telling me what the heck is going on.
I had to go to the bathroom. I looked around and several of the other drivers were starting to get uneasy as well.
FINALLY, I changed the radio to AM (should have done that an hour ago) and the very serious host told us all that there was a gunman loose on the Yolo Causeway (where I was) and that the Police had both East and West bound lanes completely closed while they hunted for him.
GUNMAN? AROUND ME SOMEWHERE?
We were all trapped with a gunman and we couldn’t move. Packed like metal sardines.
I furiously looked all around me to see if there was any way off the freeway. Nope.
Well, I was getting OUT OF THERE. I have a very small car and me sitting in it was like a ‘gunman present’ waiting to be opened – although he’d look totally ridiculous trying to make a getaway in it… but still, I was worried Mr.Gunman would be tapping his Glock on my driver’s window any second. YIKES!
A bit desperately, I looked around at the other drivers. Clearly, several of the others had just heard the same radio bulletin I had and they were starting to make a break for it on the shoulder.
I agreed. I was going to make a break for it, too.
So, I nudged my way across all the lanes (I was in the fast lane, of course) and luckily other motorist didn’t notice my little Bug crossing all the lanes diagonally and wedgelike.
Now, finally in the slow lane, all I had to do was figure out how to merge into the frenzied and agitated ‘shoulder motorist’ who were thrilled to be finally moving and unwilling to let me in. I felt like I was playing a schoolyard game of jumprope – remember trying to enter while the ropes were swinging – you know what I mean…
Now? no. Now? no, dang it. Now? Timing off – try again! Now?
Finally, I was in the Shoulder 5000 with all of us Mario Andrettis careening diagonally but steadfastly towards the Almighty Offramp.
I should have done what my mind told me to do.
You see, there was the lovely Yolo Fruitstand/Shop on the offramp. It was the only thing on that offramp. No gas, no store, no nothing.
But the Yolo Friutstand was closed. I figured the owners couldn’t get to it to open on time. I had pondered sitting in my car at the fruitstand and waiting for all the Police to do their thing and then just get right back on the freeway… others were thinking of that, too, because there were a few of us circling the parking lot like vultures. We probably would have stayed if we had the bathroom key.
As I motored onward, in quest of a bathroom, I told myself that I should have stopped there and waited until it opened because the side street we had all taken was now turning into a clogged artery from hell. We were now flanking the freeway, pointed in the opposite direction and still not moving.
It is tough to jam everyone from a 6 lane freeway onto a one-lane byway. Uh huh. Lotsa fun here.
CALL TO HUBBY
So, like a fool, I call Hubby to see if he can reroute me.
Hubby talks in East/West/North/South speak. I talk in street signs and visual markers.
Poor Hubby, he was trying to tell me how to get around all of it. He kept telling me to go South and then West. I kept asking “which South?, which West?”.
Unfortunately, I had to get off the phone in order to use the built-in compass to decipher what he was saying.
Luckily, I doubted I would get a ticket for chatting while driving since technically, we weren’t moving. And, I figured most of the Police were already busy…
Anyway, after passing very slowly to conveniently watch several cars who had pulled off of the byway (into the brush) to have nature calls – no joke – I thought maybe I would be one of them soon if I didn’t find a Starbucks…
The clouds opened and the angels started singing!
Yup. The first building on the byway was a CINDY’S RESTAURANT with Internet! It had my name all over it. I pulled my trusty steed to an abrupt stop – not really since I was only going about 5mph – and parked.
I sprinted through the front doors to find only one person in line for the restroom! I was saved! And, they served food and coffee here! Yahoo! The day was getting better!
Within minutes, I was at my own table, enjoying a short stack and sipping a local java brew while I watched the ‘slow moving parking lot of irritation’ passing in front of the windows.
Slowly but surely, more Freeway Refugees arrived. Onsies, Twosies – all dazed and desperate – bursting through the front doors heading straight for the restrooms.
We all nodded in brotherhood.
CINDY’S had never seen such a boon! There was only one waitress on duty and she couldn’t keep up with this customer rush so the dishwasher and prep cook had to come out to attend to the weary crowds. This was going to be a banner day for them… a very, very good day indeed.
The coffee was plentiful and we are all becoming Road Warrior Lifelong friends. As they say, there are no atheists in foxholes… well, we had one of every kind of person in there. Blue collar, white collar, Harley Davidson, executives, punkers, hipsters, Mac, Pc…
Quickly, management turned the TV on to watch the local news. Like wasps on a fresh arm, we all sucked up whatever information came before us. Everyone wanted to know what was really happening and what we had just escaped.
When more roadweary commuters arrived , we jumped on them for their fresh stories.
“REALLY? THEY HAD M-16S OUT THERE AND 50 SEARCH DOGS?”
“Oh yeah, I heard they closed down all the schools and are searching the pre-school with automatic weapons…”
“I hear there are three of them and they are wearing camo and hiding in the marsh…”
It was a an epic drama full of theatrics playing out before me – at Cindy’s Restaurant.
Outside, we all continued to hear the helicopters and sirens. Unfortunately, the police were having difficulty merging into the area, too, due to traffic. Hmmm. Go figure.
The guy was still loose somewhere on the Freeway or under it.
And, as I sat there, safe at Cindy’s, I pondered the horse.
If I was on a horse, there would be no way any gunman would try to steal my mount. If I was on a horse, I could maneuver all the countryside on both hemispheres of the freeway and probably be to Sacramento by now… If I was on a horse (and felt particularly superheroish) I could also ride through all the parked cars and find the idiot who thinks carjacking at gunpoint is a good idea. If I was on my horse, we’d be off somewhere, enjoying ourselves while the rest of crazy life was doing its thing on the Freeway.
Today, and most days, my horse would have won – hands down.
As I sat at Cindy’s, writing this blog, a lady refugee burst through the doors saying that she was parked at the (above noted) Yolo Fruitstand “waiting it out” when the Police swarmed onto the scene saying that they thought the gunman was in the Fruitstand building. OMG!
I guess I did the right thing after all… Cindy’s is good.
Once the Police came to Cindy’s and told us that it was OK to move onward as they had cleared the area, several of us mounted up and headed out onto the alternate routes.
Well, that was a joke. You cannot close a main artery, both ways, and expect to shove a river flow into a creek bed, so to speak. It was horrendous. It took me an hour to go 2 miles. At one point, Hubby told me to “just take the 113 through Yuba City and come back around”.
I had no idea how to do that except for the motorcycle cop who was suggesting to anyone who wanted to go towards Grass Valley might want to take the 113 through Yuba City. He pointed the way and I took the bait.
For about 30 miles, about 10 of us Refugees were speeding along and feeling fine.
And then it all stopped.
Yup. Road work on 113. Serious road work. The kind of road work where they can stop you for 30 minutes.
So we sat. Again.
After drinking all that coffee at Cindy’s… well, I needed another rest stop. But, I was stuck, once again.
Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh (gulp) Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
Fi-na-lly we started moving. There were no businesses with bathrooms anywhere. I looked.
In fact, all I could think about was finding a bathroom.
Eyeing my empty Starbucks cup, I contemplated my ‘clean catch’ skills.
Luckily, just before the dam broke, I found a Chevron.
Hallelujah Glory Be!
From start to finish today, for a trip that should have taken me 2 hours, I was on the road for 8.
But, I’m safe at home on the ranch – and no Glock tapped on my window…
HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth… if you like this, please pass it around!
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