Favorite Travel Quotes

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts."
-- Mark Twain
Innocents Abroad

"Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey." -- Fitzhugh Mullan

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." -- Lao Tzu

Vehicular Madness

©Bert Gildart: Driving on the east coast has proven challenging for Janie and me, but little compares with our experience several days ago along Interstate 95  just north of Richmond, Virginia.

We were bound for Cumberland Island National Seashore, when suddenly drivers started jamming on their brakes. We followed suit and within seconds thousands of drivers had slammed to a stop. Slowly, in a way that was almost agonizing, the minutes became a quarter of an hour, then half an hour… then an hour. Then two, and still there was no hint that we would soon be moving on.

By this time, natural needs began mounting and soon became urgent needs. Fortunately, this portion of the interstate is engulfed by dense pine forests  and before long dozens of men began making their way toward these thickets, strolling in a kind of nonchalant manner. After all thousands were watching and discreetness seems — at times — to be nature of Americans.


Interesting the percentage of woman taking to the woods was relatively small and Janie was grateful for the fact we had our Airstream in tow and that it was equipped with a bathroom. As entrepreneurs the thought occurred to us that — by George — we could make a little money here!

“Let’s announce that we’ll provide potty service and that we’ll only charge $5.00 per person.”


Vehicular madness along I-95 just north of Richmond


By this time people were still cordial, greeting one another with smiles, sharing what little news they’d gleaned from the traffic station. Our holdup resulted when the driver of a huge UPS apparently over-corrected, then turned over in such as way that his huge two-trailered cargo truck blocked all three lanes of traffic. The traffic station was advising drivers that traffic was now blocked for about 30 miles and that travelers should avoid I-95.

Quickly I did a little math trying to calculate the number of cars in the one mile stretch I could see. Because the congestion was great my initial estimate was much too high (I was thinking millions), so I tried to be analytical. Figuring that the average car (my truck is 20 feet long) consumed about 30 feet I divided 5,280 by 30, then multiplied by 3 as this was a three lane highway. Finally, I multiplied by 30 – the number of miles of congestion (lots of threes) for a conservative total of 15, 480. That’s the number of vehicles now sitting bumper to bumper. That figure may not seem overwhelming, but it was for me. In context, Montana has less than 1M people and the town in which I live has but 20,000 people; and because of geographical features it is crowded, now suffering drugs, increased crime and even an occasional drive by shooting.

You simply can’t crowd people together without having a breakdown of society.


And so we sat for an hour; then two hours, and soon I could see tempers were starting to flare. And as an avowed environmentalist I could not help but think about oil consumption, global warming, and over population, among other things. And then I began to wonder why we don’t do something about it when it occurred that the world population of humans is doing something. Wars are raging everywhere, and Americans are involved in three of them. That’s just us; look around and you’ll quickly think of manifestations: North Korea, South Korea; China and its mandatory birth control. 9/11 here! It goes on and on.

Three and a half hours later the authorities had cleared the highway and traffic began to move. I have no idea how many more miles of traffic had gotten tied up but it had to be considerable.


Armadillos are abundant on Cumberland Island National Seashore and their biology fascinated


Because waiting can prove frustrating and tiring we didn’t drive much further and quickly found a campground. We turned on the TV and learned more about the accident, but, interestingly, heard nothing about the driver of the UPS truck. Was he injured or did he survive?

Guess as the population in America now approaches 300 million (350 million expected by the year 2040) the life of an individual becomes irrelevant.

CURRENT TRAVEL: At the moment we’re in a KOA in Kingsland, Georgia,  located near Cumberland Island National Seashore, our reason for being here. Yesterday we made an exploratory trip to the island, and now want to herald loudly the virtues of this national park administered area.  I photographed my first armadillo, saw many wild and wonderful things — and concluded we Americans are so lucky to have these remnant pockets of sanity interspersed between these vast ribbons of sheer madness.
More on Cumberland to follow…



*Chaco Culture National Historic Park


2 Responses to “Vehicular Madness”

  1. Tom & Sandi Palesch Says:

    A good ‘read’ Bert. I enjoyed your perspective on the insanity of urban congestion. Freeways? I thought you knew better!

    You paid the ‘price’ and missed an opportunity to make your fortune.

  2. Bob Baran Says:

    Great story Bert,
    You are living the life I hope to lead some day :-)
    Look forward to seeing you back in Borrego again.