Monday, October 09, 2006

Bawlmoore... Sukkos in an SUV?!

Friday candle lighting time: 6:23 pm.
Time I thought my sister said shkia (sunset) was on Friday: 6:23 pm.
Actual time of shkia: 6:41 pm.
Time left home: 12:35 pm.
Best time, Queens to Baltimore: 3 hours, 0 minutes.
Normal time, Queens to Baltimore: 3-1/2 hours.
Time on clock in car: 5:30 pm.
Number of miles remaining until Baltimore according to sign: 59.
Number of minutes remaining: 53.
Miles travelled in previous 35 minutes: 2.
Current highway: Route 40 South, which is full of red lights and/or people travelling at 30mph.
Highway to be on: I-95 South, which we got off of upon hearing that in addition to construction on two lanes, two buses collided resulting in a 6-mile backup.
And Shoshana and SaraK thought they had it bad. Ha! As we sat in the car, I thought to myself "Too bad this Pacifica doesn't have a sunroof... I could probably find something on the side of the road to make a sukkah out of. Because we're not making it." With just an hour and a half left until Sukkos, my sister and brother-in-law were trying to reroute us around the 2-hour standstill on I-95, which was still an hour from my sister's house. It wasn't working. We did have challah in the car, and we did have some food, and I had my tallis and arba minim. But how long could we really stay in a car (which has lights that go on if you open the doors!) over yom tov?!

After 35 minutes, we were slowly moving down Route 40, but I'd already calculated that at that rate, we'd get to Baltimore at about 8:00. No good. This is where the box at the beginning comes in. We're in deep trouble...

I called my brother-in-law and asked for any highway that reconnects with I-95 - maybe after the 6 miles of cars there would be open space and less traffic... at least the speed could be better... with the understanding that if there's traffic, we're spending sukkos in the car. He said that there's a Route 272 North (yes, the wrong way) that connects back in about 15 miles. Quick calculation: Get to Route 272 at about 5:55, try to cover 50 miles in (I thought) 28 minutes. Heh. That's beyond my limits.

Suddenly, my brother-in-law says that sunset is actually 6:41 - yes! Now it's 50 miles in 46 minutes... though the last few miles are on local streets. And we're not actually 15 minutes from Route 272, we're about 25. So it's 50 in 36 minutes. (Still following? :) ) Suddenly, I see a sign: Route 896 to I-95. 896?! Never heard of it. No time to call. At the light, I ask an old couple if 896 - which is North - goes to 95-South or only 95-North. They tell me it's to both. I make the turn, and it turns out there's a connecting highway - fine. The exit is a left exit, so I take the split left... and then I see nothing. A single lane splits again to the left without a sign. I realize - after passing it - that I had to make 2 consecutive splits. I get to a busy intersection as the light is turning red, and make a quick hard U-turn in between the medians. 1/4 of a mile later, we're getting on I-95... will there be traffic?

It's about 5:40 as we get on I-95 South. NO TRAFFIC!!!! :) We pass a sign that says Baltimore: 57 miles. Three things that can't happen: Traffic; getting pulled over; construction. We're travelling about 85-95 mph down I-95, as I hear there's some construction on 695 up ahead. We make it to the Beltway at about 6:07 [yes, about 45 miles in 30 minutes - just think lots of weaving], hoping that rush hour traffic has already finished. While it's not quite as open as I-95, we're still going about 80 mph. Exit 22 is Greenspring Ave., and we're doing okay until about Exit 24 - when suddenly, all the lanes seem to be slowing. Noo!!! 2 exits away!!! We call ahead, inform the family that if/when we do get there, we need hands to help bring in Elianna, our bags, and the food. Mom and Verv are ready and waiting.

Traffic slowed, but it keeps moving. We get to the exit at 6:23 or so. We start driving on Greenspring Ave., but I know that I can't speed anymore because Baltimore cops are notorious for being jerks and picking people up on the wide-open road for going 40. We crawl along, but thankfully there's almost nobody on the road, save the people going to shul. At 6:30 the security guard at the gate decides that now is a good time to write down my plate number and name. At 6:31 there is no parking, and I just stop the car and we unload it all. At 6:33 I'm about to start looking around for parking elsewhere, when someone pulls out to go to shul. I take the spot, and run inside.

We have just enough time to put my arba minim out of the way and for me to jump in my brother-in-law's car and get a ride to shul. We pull up at 6:40, walk in, catch mincha in the hall, and hear R' Gottlieb of Shomrei Emunah give the same speech I've heard from different rabbonim in different cities every year: "Since it's raining, these are the halachos regarding eating in the sukkah..."

Some things never change.

Oh - don't miss this hilarious video at Shoshana's. :)


  1. talk about stressful!
    glad you made it in the nick of time.
    it does make for an entertaining blog post though ;)
    hope you guys had a relaxing two days after all that!

  2. My uncle left the Lower East Side at 1:30 arrived at my parents at 6:15.

    I know that the traveling north seems counterintuitive, but if you look at a map when traveling from NY to Baltimore you are traveling mostly West. 40 parallels 95 to the north.

    From what my uncle said my most common shortut - taking 295 - for the southern part of the turnpike wouldn't have worked.

    On my way to Shul I saw a gut getting out of his car. I offered to help him, assuming that he was going into the house he was parked by.

    He had come from Silver Spring. He left at 4:45 and it was now almost Shkia, (6:50, candlelighting was 6:32 yes I was a bit late to Shul) and he was still a mile away! He had to ditch some of his stuff at the Shul I was davening at and walk.

    The Baltimore Beltway was not a good scene on Friday.

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  4. You're lucky. The daughter of the family that I was staying with had to have a cab meet them in Aberdeen, Maryland (about 45 minutes from Baltimore) and have them drive the rest of the way, leaving their car in a parking lot of a grocery store (don't ask me about halachic implications - Rabbi Hauer is very, very nice). They managed to roll in (in the cab) around 7:10. The last half an hour before Shabbos started was full of frantic Internet searching for Chabad of Delaware and taxi companies in Aberdeen, along with pleading with the cab driver to hurry to pick them up before Shabbos started. Lots of adventures going on Friday.

    Was good to see you for a few - sorry I didn't get more of a chance to catch up!

  5. And you guys looked so calm yesterday ;) This is why I travel at night. Made it from KGH to Baltimore on Thursday night in 3 1/2 hrs and same on the return trip last night. Not bad...

    Shoshana, That sounds harrowing! Oy vey...

    Here's to hoping that Friday afternoon misadventures does NOT become the newest blog post category. My nerves can't take it!

  6. Oh my goodness, but that's nervewracking! I've been involved with pre-Shabbos misadventures on the road, but I haven't been involved with anything quite that close to the line in a while. Glad you made it!

    Moadim l'simcha! :)

  7. Whoops, you were right. 6:32 candlelighting must have been Erev Yom Kippur.

  8. Sarah - :) Yeah, pretty relaxing. It wasn't even all that stressful - we were kinda resigned to either having a crazy time making it or roughing it...

    SD - Ouch. Yeah, 295 wouldn't have helped much - most of the problems were after it ended. The Beltway wasn't bad by the time I hit it, though...

    Shoshana - Well, now you did! :)

    SaraK - Last night went a bit faster... :) I have plenty of other close calls, but I'll be nice...

    Scraps - Chagim U'zmanim L'Sasson! :)

  9. kind of reminiscent of the shabbos i spent at your home recently, except we figured walking part of the way from brooklyn wouldnt be THAT bad...

  10. There are times when you can hold by Rabbeinu Tam shkiyah when you're on the road. That would have given you a major chunk of time to work with.

  11. Pobody - Eh, you guys were there in plenty of time... we were the ones not ready!

    Nephtuli - True; furthermore, we could have done what Shoshana's hosts' daughter did (see above) if we had to, which we've done once before. But we got going well right before we were going to call to find out when that was...

  12. Ezzie, I'm impressed. You're only the second person today (out of many) who actually came up with the correct response to that salutation. :)

  13. I was going in the opposite direction and thought I had it least I made it with enough time to unpack my car and shower!

    I left DC at 12:30, arrived in Staten Island at 5:55. I'm currently considering taking Amtrak back to NY for the second days, even though that'll bring me back to DC at either 12:30am or 2:30am motzei yuntif.

    BTW - R' Gottlieb rocks, he was merely reminding the kehila as is his job under such circumstances.

  14. Sounds like Friday was just that kind of day. Drove up to Massachusetts and dipped into the 18 minutes to get there. Very nervewracking...any chance you are in Baltimore for the last days too? heading down on Thursday...

  15. That is just TOO close! Ouch. Now I remember why we leave at really early hours.

  16. SL - you leave waaayyyyyy too early for most people ;)

  17. Too bad I was in Atlanta for the first days. We could have had a small blogger convention.

  18. Seems like it was quite a weekend for Baltimore near-misses. Someone in my community had a case where someone didn't make it to Brooklyn on time. See my post here.

    The Wolf

  19. Funny how small this world is--it turns out that I know some of the people who were in the car that got stuck in Aberdeen.

  20. Wow. Great suspense!

    Where'd you daven (aside from Shomrei Fri. night)?

  21. Jewboy - I know. My BIL was even talking about your blog (and how he loves the Falcons posts), and said he'd introduce us. We'll be around last days as well...

    Wolf - See, nobody should ever be going to Brooklyn anyway. They deserve it. :P

    Scraps - Ah, isn't that always how it works?!

    Alan - Shomrei for all... is that where you daven?

  22. We'll have to meet up over the last days, then. I'll mostly be at Shiomrei, though I normally go to hashkamah. It starts at 6:30 the first day though, so i may hit up the 8:15 instead.

  23. Well, drop by the main shul...

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  25. I'm a die-hard Shomrei 8:15'er on Shabbos. That being said, I just took a job 2x a month leading a teen minyan at Beth Tfiloh...the money was too good to turn down. Perhaps we'll cross paths...

    During the week, I either daven at a minyan in Silver Spring, or in my apartment, as I leave for the Washington area at ungdly hour.

  26. That's one thing I don't get - why take a job where you have to commute forever? (My commute, in NYC, is 35 minutes door-to-door.) Especially when you're out of NY!

    I'm sure our paths will cross at some point. They always do...

  27. i thought i saw you pull into shomrei a bit late. (lol!). there were so many stories in shul on friday night in shomrei about peolpe who didn't make it. they had to park their cars in aberdeen or somewhere like that and take a car service (shvus d shvus). i davened at the 815 shabbos morning and there were some more stories. it was unreal. B"H i came thursday night (talk about a good time to use a vacation day)

  28. btw- i think, with all my baltimore experience, route 1 is the best way to go- not so many lights and not so many people there

  29. btw- i think, with all my baltimore experience, route 1 is the best way to go- not so many lights and not so many people there

  30. NY Funnyman - And you didn't come say hi?! I'm insulted...!

  31. Ezzie,

    You could have stopped at my house. {{grin}} I'm just up Greenspring from Shomrei, and I daven there (sometimes) on Friday nights or Shabbos Mincha if the weather is poor.

    Erev YomTov I got a call from Rabbi Bamberger, who was on the phone with someone, trying to find my son's yeshiva in Harford county. I hope they made it before yomtov.

    Twice in my life I've been stuck on the road before Shabbos. Each time I walked home (in once case east across Washington, DC in a blizzard and in the other across Baltimore), and took days to recover. This has made me very careful to leave extra extra time and to know many alternate routes.

    Next time you're in Baltimore, let me know, and please let us have you by us for a meal.