Friday, September 2, 2011

Getting Caught In The Pinions Of Progress

  Even though I am older and more matured (sometimes people may want to debate with me on the later), I am still learning.  Often times learning is comprised of proving what I already suspected to be fact.
  Case in point:  As we all know, Hurricane Irene made it's way up the coast to the northeast on Sunday, August 21.  At my location, we were essentially unaffected except for wind, rain, and leaves and twigs scattered about.  It wasn't until I started traveling around the state that I really noticed the impact.
  Okay, so where am I going with this?  Well, we all use the interstate system frequently during our travels and take it for granted that it is there.  We don't think much about it except when we wonder why there are tolls collected in the East and not in the West.  Anyway.....I started traveling down one of our interstate roads, assuming, in good faith, that I would reach my destination.  I drive for about a half hour and there is a sign on the road saying the interstate is closed ahead and everyone gets off at the next exit.  WHAT?  Not even a sign of warning at my entry point.  So I and everyone else are in line at the toll booth so we can pay them for the pleasure of this major inconvenience.
  At this point, I need to interject some information.  Prior to 1956, there was no interstate system in the U.S.  Everyone traveled via the state highways.  As far as I know, we managed just fine.  With the advent of the interstate, we could travel to our destinations faster, both in time and speed.  As time goes by, more and more vehicles are on the road.  No problem, the interstates are multi-laned and have also been expanding with time.  In 1956, when the construction of the interstate system commenced, there were 65 million vehicles on the road.  Prior to that, it could be assumed that the state roads could handle something less then 65 million vehicles.  Fast forward to today;  the number of vehicles on the road has quadrupled and we are doing okay.  Now throw Hurricane Irene into the mix....the hurricane caused flooding on several parts of the interstate making them impassable in some areas, hence the closure.  At the point where I was forced off, I was still some forty miles from my destination.  There were two alternative ways to go, the state highway that ran roughly parallel with the interstate, but that was closed to flooding, too.  The other was to swing wide taking rides onto far flung roads that ran on higher ground.  Here was the rub;  ALL of the multi lane traffic that was being carried on the interstate was now being funneled into single lane roads that frequently went through busy towns and villages.  The result was very slow moving, stop-and-go traffic.  The next time you are out and about, take notice of how many trucks are around you.  My guesstimation is one third to one half of them will be trucks.  So what was to be a three hour cruise, no, wait, that was Gilligan's Island.  So what was to be an hour drive each way, turned out to be a five hour drive each way.  Boring!  Though it was interesting to really take notice of the countryside around me while I was sitting in traffic.  One area was populated with  Amish folk.  I am sure, as they looked at us floundering in our machines and going nowhere fast, they thought us very foolish.
  So my point is, we can become very dependent on our modern conveniences, but sometimes they can turn against you.  There is not much we can do about it, just go with the flow and grin and bear it.  With everything comes a price.  Happy motoring!

There is no reason that the universe should be designed for our convenience. - John D. Barrow

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