Friday candle lighting time: 6:23 pm.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?!
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.
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. :)