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Around the Bluhmin’ Town


Judy Bluhm

I was stuck in the misery on I-17 over Labor Day weekend. What should have been an easy drive became the nightmare called “one lane of torture” for more hours than I care to consider. Not traveling at the peak hours of commute during a Labor Day weekend, I foolishly thought I could make it from Anthem to Prescott in a few hours. Oh, that was before the long delay that caused more than a few folks to “lose it” on the freeway.

So a brush set off a chain of events that spilled over from Friday night to Saturday morning. Long lines of cars held hostage going north and going nowhere fast. Monday the southbound drivers on I-17 didn’t fare much better. All sorts of human behavior and frustrations were exposed. Raw nerves. Honking horns. Tempers flailing. People, pets and machines stopped or crawling at a snail’s pace. Stuck with no way out. Oh, Dear Readers, the desperation of a traffic jam is horrific.

One trucker stopped his big rig and went walking up the side of the freeway, cussing under his breath. Lots of people did this. Just parked, got out and walked. Where? Why? The trucker came back to his cab muttering that ADOT stands for “Arizona Derelicts of Transportation.” People wanted the lane opened. Drama and chaos ensued.

Folks had to go to the bathroom. One man held a blanket over his wife while she went potty on the side of the road. Dogs were barking. Babies were crying. One young lady was crying because she was a bridesmaid in her sister’s wedding in Prescott and was not going to make it. The photographer was stuck about a mile behind her. A lady in front of me said her elderly father was very ill in the car and was asking if anyone was a nurse or doctor. Groups of people stopped their vehicles and stood around complaining. One woman had groceries melting in the car. It was hot out and there was no information coming our way.

State Troopers, where art thou? Hold up traffic for hours and there are several victims. People don’t always bring enough water. Sometimes not their medicines. Babies run out of milk or formula. People get thirsty, hungry, hot, faint, and have to go to the bathroom! Oh Lordy help us when there is a traffic jam.

There were things to laugh at while stopped. A young man juggled five or six balls while walking up and down the row of stopped cars. A man and woman broke out and sang at the side of the road, “We Shall Overcome.” One lady walked her yellow Labrador on the side of the road, and the dog stopped and lifted his leg on about a dozen cars. Well, some of us thought it was funny.

In a hurry? Beware of freeways that can be shut down, overloaded or narrowed to one tiny lane for thousands of cars and trucks. Once you are stuck there is no way out of the mess in front of you. Worse, you will be left to wonder what is happening because it is unlikely you will get helpful information about what is causing the big hold-up.

Dear Readers, before you get on the interstate, bring plenty of water and don’t forget your medicine. Pack a lunch. Do not carry perishables in the car because anything and everything can melt in a few hours. Maybe learn to juggle or sing a song. And take a bathroom break before leaving home, because squatting on the side of the freeway is a “road too far” for most of us to travel.

Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local realtor. Have a comment or a story? Email Judy at