six and a half hours

Normally it takes about three hours (with rest breaks) to drive to Gloucester (NSW) from Sydney; from North Sydney, you’d expect it to be a little quicker. Not so two Fridays ago: A big accident on the F3 freeway (the only real way to head north from Sydney) meant that traffic had slowed to a crawl. Leaving work at 8pm meant that peak hour traffic was over, so it was a quick drive to the freeway itself.

Sadly, the next two hours saw us travel a giddy ten or fifteen kilometres north: traffic would stop for about ten minutes, and then start up for five hundred metres or so, then stop again. Picture a line of cars as far as you can see in both directions, then all the headlights and engines switch off: complete darkness.

One car thought that cutting across the (empty) oncoming traffic lane into the
breakdown lane on the other side of the road would be a good idea. The car raced off, only to be followed by a police car that appeared from nowhere, and pulled over about 20 car lengths ahead. The driver was still talking to the police when we drove past 10 minutes later.

We made the mistake of racing through all of the “how was your day” dialogue, so we were a bit low on different things to talk about… One of those moments where I wish I had more profound things to talk about – I could spend time encouraging my wife about Christian things – but that’s not where my brain was at the time.

By the time we had made it through the clogged up traffic, all the rest-stops had closed for the night… the last 70km of the journey was a bit of a blur… then finally sleep at a friend’s house about 2:30 in the morning.

In a way, it was a bad start to a road-trip holiday, as it made us a bit weary of driving, but it has made every moment where we can drive at the speed limit a lot better. Plus, by having a bad experience at the start of the holiday, it’s made the rest of the holiday seem even better.

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