Commentary -- Highway realities in Arizona: Bring plenty of water and pack a lunch

Judy Bluhm

Judy Bluhm

It happened again. I was stuck in the misery on I-17 over Memorial Day weekend. What should have been an easy drive became the nightmare called “going nowhere fast” for more hours than I care to consider.

Not traveling at the peak hours of commute during a holiday weekend, I foolishly thought I could make it from Anthem to Prescott in a few hours. Oh, that was before the long delay that caused more than a few folks to “lose it” on the freeway.

There were long lines of vehicles held hostage going north. Monday, the southbound drivers on I-17 didn’t fare much better.

All sorts of human behavior and frustrations were exposed. Raw nerves. Honking horns. Tempers flailing. People, pets and machines stopped or crawling at a snail’s pace. Stuck with no way out. The desperation of a traffic jam is horrific.

One trucker stopped his big rig and went walking up the side of the freeway, cussing under his breath. Lots of people did this. Just parked, got out and walked. Where? Why? The trucker came back to his cab muttering that ADOT stands for “Arizona Derelicts of Transportation.” Drama and chaos ensued.

People had to go to the bathroom! One man held a blanket over his wife while she went potty on the side of the road. Dogs were barking. Babies were crying.

One young lady was weeping because she was going to a wedding in Prescott and was not going to make it. A lady in front of me said her elderly father was very ill in the car and was asking if anyone was a nurse or doctor.

State Troopers, where art thou? When stuck in traffic for hours there are many victims. People don’t always bring enough water. Sometimes not their medicines. Babies run out of milk or formula. People get thirsty, hungry, hot, faint and have to go to the bathroom! Oh Lordy help us when we are eating jam on the freeway.

There were things to laugh at while stopped. A man and woman sang at the side of the road, “We Shall Overcome.” One lady walked her yellow Labrador on the side of the road, and the dog stopped and lifted his leg on about a dozen cars. Well some of us thought it was funny.

In a hurry? Beware of freeways because once you are stuck there is no way out of the mess in front of you. Worse, you will be left to wonder what is happening because it is unlikely you will get helpful information about what is causing the big hold-up.

Dear Readers, before you get on the interstate, bring plenty of water and don’t forget your medicine. Pack a lunch. Do not carry perishables in the car because anything and everything can melt in a few hours. Maybe learn to sing a song. And take a bathroom break before leaving home, because squatting on the side of the freeway is a “road too far” for most of us to travel.

Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local realtor. Have a comment or a story? Email Judy at

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