Monday, July 15, 2013

A Taste of Indiana

Robert Burns was a very smart man. It was he who said, “The best laid schemes o’ mice an men often go awry.” Our plan was to kind of paddle our way to the East Coast by camping by rivers and lakes along our route, and paddling their waters before moving on. Our plan was definitely awry, and our experience getting to, and staying at, Cagles Mill Lake was not going to help.

We left Meramec River behind at 9 the next morning. Rounding St. Louis, we continued east on I-70. Making good time, we were within a couple miles of the Illinois and Indiana state line when traffic suddenly came to a dead standstill. We’d move a couple car-lengths, and then walk around on the highway talking with other motorists. From a truck driver we learned that a couple hazardous materials trucks had rolled over at Mile 11 in Indiana, just across the line. We only saw one. It was forever before traffic began to just creep, and eventually we were waved onto US40 and 150 into West Terre Haute, then Terre Haute. This experience was totally mind-blowing. It was like diverting the Mississippi River into your local storm sewer.

Then make mine a Snickers.  Trapped with us in Terre Haute,
this Milky-Way was going to curdle before getting anywhere.
Before we were done, it would become obvious that we had been dispatched from the interstate for no reason but to get rid of some traffic from the highway. There was no disaster plan, no traffic plan, no routing plan. Thousands of vehicles were sent off an exit ramp with no design as to where to go or what to do next. We were just supposed to disappear. In the town of West Terre Haute, we saw only two policemen, both of them standing on the sidewalk watching the same intersection. In Terre Haute, we saw only one, who was investigating a tractor-trailer accident that all too obviously would never have occurred if there had been any traffic direction. Whenever I’ve encountered such apparent incompetence, I’ve usually felt it’s because the local, county, or state leaders have failed to lead, and have denied the frontline personnel the needed direction, training, funding, or equipment. No one goes out to do a job for which they are so obviously ill-prepared. The public turned out to watch the spectacle of a parade of vehicles operated by those of us creeping along like lost, forlorn, lemmings. We finally struck off on our own, having no idea if where we returned to I-70 would be accessible to us. We did get back on the highway, having taken five hours to travel nine miles. That did not mean we were in the clear. We were still moving at the rate of 30 minutes per mile.  We had but one saving grace.  With the RV, we were towing our own toilet with us.


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