My Snow Bound Night on a Pocono Highway

by on November 27th, 2013
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During the winter of 1996 I left the Poconos on my way to Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. It was snowing lightly but the roads were clear. It was a straight drive on route 80 west about 70 miles. The snow continued lightly. I passed the Lake Harmony exit. I was going about 60 mph in the left lane. I started to notice a buildup of slush on the roadside. I thought it best if I slowed down a bit. I very gently tapped my brakes. That was all it took for my car to start skidding, I remember doing at least a 720 degree turn. Somehow my car didn’t roll over. I was also grateful I didn’t go off the left side of the road which had a steep, forty foot embankment. I simply went around in circles coming to rest in the left lane facing the wrong way. I was stunned for a several seconds trying to process what had just happened. I saw a tractor trailer coming right in my direction about ¼ mile away. I corrected my car’s position. When it was safe, I got back on the highway and continued my drive to Bloomsburg. That’s where I made my biggest mistake. I should have turned around and went straight back home. My guardian angel had done his job for the day. However, my manager frowned upon snow days. So I felt pressured to continue.

I passed the split where route 80 intersects with route 81. It had stopped snowing. I exited off of route 80 into the town of Bloomsburg the sun was out and the cloud cover was nominal. It was noon and my contact and the plant manager offered to take me out to lunch. Just then my cell phone rang. It was my wife Diana. “You better come home early. It’s snowing really hard right now.” I was surprised. It wasn’t doing anything in Bloomsburg. I promised my wife I would be careful and after finishing my work, I turned down the lunch offer and started to drive back home. My wife had asked me to pick up some cookies and a container of milk for my daughters. I took care of that and got on route 80 eastbound.

About 3PM the weather conditions started to deteriorate. I had a hard time seeing because the defroster couldn’t keep up with the intensity of the snow. It was particularly dangerous because you couldn’t see well. The snow was now at a whiteout pace. People were stopping in the middle of the highway to clean the ice off of their wipers. I passed the Lake Harmony exit. I was plowing along at about 35 miles per hour. I was close to my goal route 380. When I merged onto route 380 I figured I was home free. I was about a mile from the Mount Pocono exit when everything stopped. It was 4:30PM; apparently two tractor trailers had flipped jamming the highway and the exit. I was low on gas. A state trooper was on a snowmobile stopping by each vehicle for a quick assessment on medical conditions etc. The trooper stopped outside my door. “What’s the story officer?” I asked. He explained to me that they wouldn’t be able to get the cars and trucks cleared up for hours. He advised me to sit back and relax.

At about 2 a.m. I was turning the car off for 20 minutes and on for 10 minutes each half hour to save gas. I was cold, tired, and my socks were wet. I had gone out into my trunk to get the spare blanket and to clean off my windows. I remembered that I had bought cookies. I was sitting in my car at 3 AM. I used my daughter’s teddy bear as a pillow. I was drinking milk and eating some cookies. I prayed “Lord I think it’s time I reevaluate my life.” I realized God was probably laughing at me. At 3:30AM the highway started moving again. All the roads in Mt. Pocono were closed. There was no way for me to get home. My car was running on fumes. My gauge was way past the mark for empty. I pulled into a gas station and put my car by a pump. AT 6:30AM the station opened. I fueled up. I had what seemed to be the best cup of coffee all winter. I finally arrived home at 8AM. What a road trip!

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