Sunday, August 17, 2008

Another long day

We are at a Petro truck stop on I-75, just south of Gainesville, Florida (map).

We drove 640 miles today, our longest day ever. We might well have continued on all the way to Kissimmee, except for the fact that, as of dinner tonight (at a chain restaurant back in Lake City), our official deployment orders still had not come through. This spot, believe it or not, was the first allowable parking spot we could find south of Lake City, unless you want to count the strip joint one exit north of here. We did try the Wal-Mart in Gainesville first, but it was posted No Overnight Parking, as many in Florida are, even though our no-parking directory made no mention of it.

We had another set of delays today, including a short stop in Gulfport for fuel, a bargain at $3.999 per gallon at the Kangaroo station on US49. We also passed another wreck in the westbound lanes, on the Mobile Bay causeway, which was a short rubbernecking delay for us, but a nightmare in the other direction -- we counted our lucky stars again. Lastly, a huge wreck happened right in front of us in torrential rain on I-10 in the panhandle.

We were virtually first on scene, and Louise phoned it in while I ran over to put out the engine fire in a totaled car with one victim -- I caught the well-meaning neophytes this time before they yanked her from the car; with no further danger of fire, I wanted to wait for EMS, as she clearly had multiple fractures and I was worried about a C-spine injury. (Nothing life-threatening, fortunately.)

Between firefighting and directing traffic, we were on scene for perhaps 20 minutes, but that was still less of a delay than those arriving after us -- the freeway was closed, but we were at the front of the scene and could just drive away once law enforcement showed up to take over. Another lucky break. Incidentally, it looked like the solo car driver had lost control (probably hydroplaning) and crossed the median, where she struck a big rig, ripping one of its side-saddle fuel tanks clean off, and causing it to jackknife. She was lucky to live through it -- the big rig literally crushed the front of her car, and debris was strewn across both eastbound lanes for perhaps a hundred yards. I think Louise got a photo, which she'll probably add to this post when she gets a chance.

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