Traveling at the speed of 36.8mph Staff 12/30/2006 My wife and I just returned from a weekend in New Jersey, where we spent about as much time on the road as we did visiting our old friends. I all beg

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 30, 2006

My wife and I just returned from a weekend in New Jersey, where we spent about as much time on the road as we did visiting our old friends.

I all began Saturday morning when we left Suffolk about 30 minutes later than we had planned. Things were going well until we came out of the downtown tunnel on Interstate 264 and approached the bridge. It was in the raised position and traffic was stopped. That cost us some time.

While sitting there in traffic I looked up ahead and saw a kitten scamper underneath a truck a few vehicles in front of us. When traffic started moving again cars in our lane were pulling well to the left of their position in order to avoid running over the little guy.

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When traffic finally cleared in front of us we saw the kitten, scared to death, lying flat on the concrete. Martha immediately jumped from the car and walked toward the frightened feline.

Just as she reached down to pick it up n not sure what we would have done had she been successful n the kitten ran across several lanes of traffic to the concrete wall on the right side of the road. I pulled over as far as I could and waited. The kitten eventually ran down the shoulder of the road and off the highway into the tall grass.

We were on our way once again.

We had decided to take the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and go up through the Eastern Shore, Maryland, Delaware and into New Jersey.

It was a beautiful drive, save for the heavy rain we encountered and the slow speeds we had to maintain through the little towns along the way.

Yahoo’s mapping program said it was 368 miles, about 7.5 hours between Suffolk and Belvidere, N.J., across the state line from Easton, Pa. We made it in 8.5. Not bad I figured, considering the slower speeds we traveled and stops for coffee, gas and bathrooms.

We departed New Jersey about 7:30 Monday morning, armed with a different route, one that would take us to Allentown, Pa., then south on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, around Philadelphia, and into Delaware around Wilmington.

We hadn’t gone more than 35 miles when traffic came to a dead stop along I-78 outside of Allentown. About a mile or so ahead, in the opposite lanes of traffic, several vehicles, including two 18-wheelers, had collided and shutdown both east and westbound lanes of the superhighway.

We sat motionless for nearly three hours and then spent another 30 minutes traveling through the crash zone like snails. We were already more than three hours behind schedule at that point.

A funny thing about sitting in traffic for hours on end with no relief in sight – people swallow their pride and do what they have to do n particularly when it comes to locating restroom facilities. While I won’t go into great detail on what we saw and experienced, I will say that some of those folks were quite creative when it came to nature’s call.

As we started rolling once again we thought things would be OK. But we spoke too soon. Not long after entering Delaware the skies opened up and we were in a deluge of rain.

Our friends have disconnected their TV cable so we didn’t have the opportunity to watch the Weather Channel or any other media outlet that could have provided us with some idea of what we were driving into that day.

I have driven through some pretty heavy downpours, and even been in the monsoons in Southeast Asia, and I can tell you the rain that day was some of the heaviest I have ever seen.

We even drove through a small town in Delaware, Seaford, where you could see strip mall parking lots under water and vehicles submerged to their rooftops. Later that night we would see a report on the Weather Channel from that town and learn just how bad it had been prior to our driving through.

Despite all the set backs that day, we made it home safely n 11.5 hours after we left.

The way I figure it, we traveled 736 miles in 20 hours. That’s an average of 36.8 mph.

We were on the road for 20 hours and away from home for only 59.5.

I think the next time we visit our friends, we’ll fly.

Grant is the managing editor of the News-Herald. Contact him at, or 934-9603.