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Pablo Gets Stuck on I40 for 12 hours

Stuck on I40Have you ever been stuck on the highway because of an accident. Most of us have and most of us have only had to deal with a delay of an hour or two. Well try 12 hours stuck on I40 with nowhere to go and no information about what you can do or when you are going to be allowed to proceed.  That was us on Nov 20th on a Sunday night just outside of Albuquerque on the west side along Interstate 40. In fact we were only 8 miles from our turn off when the traffic came to a screeching halt. Talk about frustrating. On top of that we also had a hotel reservation, which we could not cancel. It was less than 24 hours notice and hotels will not accept cancellations that close to the arrival time.

Stuck on I40 Heading East into Albuquerque

For those of you who may not be aware, I40 is a heavily traveled truck route that runs from the west coast , through Albuquerque, all the way to Memphis and beyond.  In this area were the accident occurred, it is pretty much desert with rolling hills and not many side roads and certainly no roads paralleling the highway.  So there we are stuck on the highway , 8 miles from our destination. We are stopped in a valley were unfortunately there is only weak cell phone coverage and also limited local radio coverage. It is impossible to get any information about what is holding us up ahead or how long it will be. I even asked a couple of truckers if they had CB radios and if they knew what was going on. Apparently truckers do not carry CB radios any longer, at least the ones I asked do not.

The weather was clear, there were no problems on the road so this apparently was someone not paying attention and involved a van and several trucks. Two people died in this major accident.

Bad Information

Traffic came to a stop at 5pm and we sat there slowly moving forward for the next two hours. We actually moved another mile, and then came to a complete stop.  I guess some traffic was getting through for a while. Then we noticed that not only were our lanes closed, but also the west bound lanes as well.  The entire highway is shut down. A policeman came by around 7pm and indicated that it would be another hour or two, before they got it opened again. Little did he know what was ahead of us!

Around 8pm the cars and trucks started moving a bit and we thought the accident had been cleared. This continued until about 12 pm and we were getting really frustrated, low on gas and cold because we turned the engine off to conserve gasoline. We were debating what to do and looking on maps to see if there were any roads that we could take if we pulled across the median.

Getting off the Road

We were able to figure out that we could cross the median, turn around and retrace our route for 10 miles. Then head south for 20, then head east for 20, north for 20 into Albuquerque and then back to the hotel we had reservations at.  All in all about a 70 mile round trip. We are in the desert and there are not many roads around in this part of the world that you would take your car on.

We also had to go to the bathroom several times including my wife. For the  guys it is no big deal, however for women it is a little more delicate. She squatted between the open front door and the open back door and did her thing. Not the best situation, but what are you going to do.

At 3 am, a policeman came by and we got an update. It is going to be  another 2 to 3 hours! We decided to risk the gas situation and drive the round trip to our hotel. First step was to get between two tractor trailers. Then onto the shoulder, across the median and turned around so we could head west. We managed to do this and only scraped the bottom of the car once. As far as I know it is ok. Once we got turned around and headed west, we hoped for a gas station that was open!

After driving for 45 min’s we got to the southern part of Albuquerque and found a gas station that was open around 4 am. We filled up with gas and then headed into Albuquerque and to our hotel, which had held the room for us. We got to bed around 5 am and we were both up at 9am and  pretty tired.

Making the Best of a Bad Situation

We decided on a leisurely breakfast , checked out around 11;45am and headed for Amarillo, Texas!

Now you might think what an awful time and it was, but we decided to make the best of it. We arrived in Amarillo, found a Texas Roadhouse and a hotel right next door and went to the bar for happy hour.  Happy hour is a 22 oz draft beer for $3.00 which is pretty good in my books. After a couple of these and a nice steak with a baked potato we crashed and slept for 10 hours!

One other little tidbit. My wife had to go to the bathroom, 10 min’s before we hit the traffic delays. We were delayed about 10 minutes while she did her thing and we figure that was just enough to save us from being right in the middle of that accident!

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2 Responses to “Pablo Gets Stuck on I40 for 12 hours”

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  2. we got stuck on an interstate highway as well for a long time. it is not fun at all. we always carry emergency food and water with us now all of the time for just his sort of thing.

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