I-17 Traffic

I-17: The Worst Place To Be Stuck In Traffic

I headed up to Flagstaff Friday evening in attempt to escape the heat and regain my sanity. The two are not mutually exclusive. Also, my roommate was moving out. Insert cynical comment here.

The weekend went beautifully; a comfortable mid-70 degrees at the day’s high point. Saturday and Sunday morning were perfect for sitting in my mini-forest of a backyard with a cup of strong coffee and my book (Fifty Shades of Grey, have you heard of it?). It’s cathartic and very much needed. Those Ponderosa Pine trees just get me every time.

I finally mustered up the motivation to remove myself from the two lawn chairs I was sprawled out on around noon on Sunday. After showering, packing, and an extra drawn out goodbye to my dog ― forget my roommates ― I left for the Valley, under the assumption it would take me two and a half hours, as usual.

Boy, was I wrong.

About 65 miles out of Flagstaff I hit traffic and I hit it hard. I have never been stopped, or even slowed below 50 mph, on I-17 before. Two lanes, no exits, but a nice view of a line of cars for as far as I can see. And, as these things always go, now I have to pee. I can practically hear my empty Starbucks cup laughing at me.

A sign I passed several miles back said there was a fire and I can’t help but think I have the worst timing in the world.

I crawl at a steady 5 mph for a while then just park on the interstate. I’m driving alone and have been sitting in traffic for a solid 30 minutes at this point. I’m getting nothing but static on the the radio and my auxiliary cord for my iPod is broken, of course. So, I pull out my book. Twenty pages later I was able to start rolling forward again.

The sluggish progression went on for about another 45 minutes. When I finally turned the radio back on I caught Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On. I rolled my windows down, blasted it and sang like there was no tomorrow. For about three and a half minutes I didn’t hate my life for sitting in traffic.

By the time I got to the actual fire, it was out. I sat in all that traffic for almost two hours and didn’t even get to see what all the fuss was about? Like I said, worst timing in the world.

I learned a valuable lesson that I will never forget since it was seared into my brain over two hours. Always check I-17 road conditions ― even when it’s not winter!

When I got back to the house I told a friend about my drive and all she said was, “Didn’t you check the road conditions online?” No, I clearly did not. But from now on I certainly will.

Always check traffic conditions. And never get Starbucks before embarking on an interstate with limited exits.

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About Kelly Church

Kelly is a journalism and English secondary education student at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Ariz. She grew up in Oak Park, CA, a small community just north of Los Angeles. She loves to read and write and hopes to get hired at a magazine publication after college. Kelly loves to write about people who better the lives of other individuals and communities. "There are powerful stories everywhere just waiting to be written about, and I can't wait to write about them!"