My wife and I had an interesting experience a few weeks ago... we were in Columbia, MO for the True/False Film Festival. (My post on the festival itself is here.) There was a storm heading our way with 6-11" of snow expected on Sunday, so after our last movie on Saturday night we decided to drive back to St. Louis so we'd be home before the full storm hit.
About 90 minutes into our trip we were stopped in a traffic jam and ended up sitting there, without moving an inch, for eight and half hours. From Twitter and news websites we learned there was a big accident a couple miles down the highway involving a couple tractor trailers and an overturned fire truck. They estimated it would take 4 hours to clear, but the time kept getting pushed later and later.
We really didn't have any choice but to sit there. It was freezing cold, sleeting, and very dark out, so we didn't venture far from the car. There was a small fence in the median so we weren't able to drive over to the other side of the highway.
We were fortunate in some ways - I had stopped for gas just before leaving Columbia, so we had a full tank and were able to keep the car running and the heat on all night. (This only used a quarter tank of gas.) I have two USB plugs in my car so we were both able to keep our iPhones charged to stay connected to the world outside. If we didn't have heat and power it would have been much worse.
During the night I was tweeting about my experience, both to share what was happening and to try to get more information about when the road might be cleared. In the morning people started to notice my tweets, and I was contacted by a couple St. Louis news stations. I did three phone interviews on-air with KDSK (NBC Channel 5) - you can watch one here and another here. I was getting tweets from random people every few minutes. Erica Smith, a local blogger, even posted a full recap of my experience.
We were thrilled when they finally opened a lane in the morning and we were able to get moving. We got off at the first real exit and enjoyed some coffee and breakfast at a Bob Evans. Overall... I'd say it was kind of an adventure and definitely a memorable experience.
Lessons learned? When traveling by car (especially in winter), always travel with a cell phone, power charger and a full tank of gas.
I was even interviewed by KSDK later that day for the 5 PM local news. Video below.
Some of my favorite tweets of the day - click to enlarge.